Tag Archives: Employee Branding

Are Your Employees The Best People To Sell Your Product?

Stereotypical Employee Photo

A recent WSJ article noted that 10% of Microsoft employees (about 10,000 people) use iPhones to access their email, an interesting statistic when many smart phones that run on a Microsoft platform are available.

Closer to home, after canceling Comcast cable for AT&T U-verse, Comcast sent a rep out to pick up my equipment.  In conversation, he revealed that he uses Direct TV at home, instead of Comcast, because Comcast did not offer discounts to employees and DirectTV was more affordable.

Both stories got me thinking: While your employees can certainly sell your product without using it, imagine how much more effective they can be if they actually use your product as well.

What can you do to ensure your employees become advocates for your products/services?

  1. Make Employees Customers. Even if you have to subsidize the product, make sure your employees use your product over a competitor’s.  Car dealers have “dealer” cars so their sales people can speak intimately about the products they are selling based on their own experiences.
  2. Educate. Let your employees know everything about your product (good and bad).  Don’t let them find out about any functions or problems from a customer.  When the latter occurs, it can cause unnecessary conversations among the employees about the quality of your product.
  3. Transparency. Communicate with your employees regularly about your services.  If you are making changes, tell them why.  It will help them better communicate with consumers.
  4. Let Them Compare. You want your employees loyal to your products, so encourage them (and even subsidize) using a competitive product/service.  This will allow them to see how your product is different and will help in emphasizing your product strengths from a personal experience.
  5. Ask for Feedback. When your employees are using your products/services, you now have a in-house focus group to gain learnings on how to improve your offerings. Asking for their feedback, and acting on it, will foster loyalty among employees and ultimately create a better product.

No matter how good your product or service, your employees are integral to selling the product and connecting with the consumer.  Give them every opportunity to get to know your products and services better, and your efforts will pay off in so many ways.

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Don’t Drive Angry.

In honor of Groundhog Day and one of my favorite movies by the same name, I wanted to recall a blog post from a little over a year ago regarding the elusive elevator speech.  It continues to be a hot topic with many of my clients and networking groups.  While getting it right takes work, once it is done it can make the difference of whether or not you get your foot in the door.

Originally Posted January 5, 2009

I am often amazed that even in the smallest companies discrepancies exist between how employees convey the company story.  And if you can’t get your story straight, you can’t expect customers to truly understand what you do.

So what to do.

Have all your employees memorize your mission statement?  I have seen it done and it doesn’t work.

Create the perfect elevator pitch* and print it on the back of their business cards? The elevator pitch is a good start, but if it feels rote, it won’t be believable.

The answer – create that elevator pitch, but help your employees make it their own.  Help them internalize the idea you set forth for your brand and let them express it in their own way.  That way it is delivered with conviction.

*Your elevator pitch is the 10 – 15 second description of why someone should hire your company.  If you don’t have one, creating one should be a priority.

To see where you stand, conduct a simple exercise.

  1. Write down what you think is your elevator pitch.
  2. Have everyone write down what they think is your elevator pitch.
  3. Analyze the findings to see if everyone is on the same page.  Be honest and do not infer what people mean to say.
  4. If everyone is on the same page, great.  If not, you have a starting point to see what needs to be fixed.
  5. If the differences are significant try to identify trends.  Do the customer-facing people describe your company one way, and the back office another?  Do your long-time employees have a different perspective than your newer employees?
  6. Honestly assess the findings and determine if your elevator pitch is the best one or does a better solution exist.
  7. Present the final elevator pitch to your employees and have them write down what it means to them.  Doing so will help them internalize the pitch so they can it with conviction.

With any branding activity, it does require monitoring.

Every six months ask your employees if they think the elevator pitch is still relevant to your audience.  This is a non-threatening way to get their input and to ensure they know how important it is to you.

If things begin to stray repeat the exercise outlined above.

What is your elevator speech?  Help each other out by posting your in the comments section.

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Customer Service Doesn’t End – Part 2

images

Last week I wrote about the importance of having your employees positively represent your brand – even if they are on break.  I highlighted a negative experience I had at Starbucks with some employees on break who decided to smoke near patrons when an alternative was available.

Yesterday I had an interesting experience with another popular brand, one that provided a nice counterpoint to last week’s topic.

I was at a neighborhood CVS yesterday when I approached the check-out line at the same time as a Best Buy employee (though nowhere near a Best Buy) who immediately let me take the place at the front of the line.

When another register opened, that same person let someone else go ahead to the register.

Those small gestures made me feel good about Best Buy and has me thinking about Best Buy in a positive light.

It’s amazing what a positive experience — even an unrelated one — can have on your brand.

Remember, your employees are always representing your brand.

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Customer Service Doesn’t End – Even On Break

imagesEmployees are always representing your brand as long as they have on your uniform or are at your place of work. They play the most important role in creating a brand experience that is consistent with how you want your brand to be perceived.

One company that works hard to manage its brand is Starbucks.  One key element of the Starbucks brand is creating an environment in which its patrons can enjoy coffee.

Imagine my surprise when two Starbucks employees took their break to have a cigarette, and instead of sitting on the side of the patio in which no one was sitting – and smoking was allowed – they decided to sit near myself and other patrons.

I am not sure what offended me more – the smoke or the ignorance of these employees about the message they were sending to customers at a time when Starbucks is struggling to keep its customers.

Being a marketer and brand advocate, I decided it was the latter.

When your employees interact with the public, they are your brand.  If your truck cuts someone off the road, the person you cut off will remember.  If an employee spits gum on the ground before walking in for their shift – the customer will remember.

Branding starts at home so make sure your employees understand their role in making your brand and your business a success.

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