One marketing audience I know you forgot

“Our employees are our most valuable asset.”

“We treat our customers like guests and our employees like people.”

Every organization says crap like this. Even the worst organizations on the planet say crap like this. I’m sure your organization does, too.

What makes it crap isn’t that it’s not true. Your employees are your most valuable asset. But most organizations don’t back up these words with actions.

If your employees are so important, why don’t you market to them? Your customers are important and you market to them. Prospects are important and you market to them, too. You market to members of the press, business partners – the list goes on and on.

Every single person who can influence your business gets some marketing love, except the most important group of all. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t marketing to employees basically marketing to yourself? In other words, isn’t it kind of a dumb idea?

No, it’s not. Let me give you an example.

Back around 2002, when I was at Symitar the second time, we got wind that our reputation for providing magnificent, mind-blowing, amazing, unbelievable client service was slipping. The word on the street was that Symitar service wasn’t what it used to be.

To me, that meant employees weren’t as enthusiastic about working for Symitar as they used to be. And that struck me as a marketing problem. (Admittedly, all problems strike me as marketing problems, but this one really was.) Thus, my challenge was to essentially market Symitar to Symitar.

How did we pull that off? My team and I put together a three-part program called Be the One. The three components were:

  • Posters. We created a series of inspirational posters, all based on the Be the One theme. Each poster had that headline, a photo of someone taking ownership of a situation, and some copy that talked more about taking ownership and why it’s important.

  • Rewards. To reward good service, we created the SymiStar, a golden star pin with a Symitar logo in the middle. Each time a manager received an email, letter or phone call commending a particular employee, that employee received a SymiStar. It became a competition to see who could collect the most SymiStars. I believe some of the old-timers at Symitar still have their SymiStars on display.

  • Community Service. We wanted Symitar to be more than just a job. We wanted it to mean something bigger. So we created SCORE (Symitar’s Community Outreach Rewards Everyone), a Symitar-sanctioned committee organized for the sole purpose of completing community service projects. I’m proud to report that SCORE still operates in the San Diego office today.

The program was a success. One year later, our service woes were a fading memory.

All this took place before social media was even a glimmer in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. Today it’s even more important to market to your employees because, for better or worse, they’re representing you online.

They’re on LinkedIn and Facebook, with you listed as their employer. When they have a bad day at work, the whole world knows. And they may be posting things about you anonymously on Glassdoor. Too many negative comments can scare off prospective employees before you even call them in for an interview. Market effectively to your employees and you won’t have to worry about your reputation as an employer.

Employees really are your most valuable asset, so approach your employees with the same marketing attention that you give to your customers and prospects. It’s the smart thing to do.

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