Article | February 17, 2021
In today’s world, brand marketing goes much further than marketing campaigns and advertising.
When it comes to brand advocates, we typically think of social media influencers and the more traditional brand ambassador. However, what better brand advocate than your very own employees?
Matthew Hayes, managing director of brand agency Champions (UK) plc, explains the importance of using employees as brand advocates and the benefits to both the brand or business and its staff.
What is a brand advocate?
A brand advocate is somebody that shares the same values and ethos as a brand, representing them in a positive light, often helping to increase brand awareness and even sales.
Typically speaking, a brand advocate is often a social media influencer, a brand ambassador or there is some sort of mutual, or contractual agreement in place.
However, who are the most powerful spokespeople for a brand or business? The people who work there, of course. These people are often the living embodiment of the brand and front-line representatives that can make or break that brand interaction.
It may not be the most traditional concept or the one we necessarily think of first, but it definitely makes the most sense. Particularly in a time where employee retention and communication are so important.
Brand advocates are a way to drive organic and authentic traffic to a brand or business. Whilst the Internet and social media are incredibly powerful tools for raising brand awareness, nothing quite beats word-of-mouth marketing.
In 2016, a global study found that 50% of employees share something on their own social media channels about their employer. And given that social media has upped the ante over the last few years, I expect this figure to be significantly higher in today’s climate.
So, with that in mind, brands should be working towards improving their internal communications to create a better relationship with employees, promote their vision and mission, and raise brand awareness through organic brand advocacy.
Brand advocacy builds brand love
When done correctly, brand advocacy can build brand love and there are a number of ways to do that.
Whilst many brands focusing their attentions to external communications, however, many neglect or overlook the importance of internal communications and training.
Internal communications are a phenomenal way for brands and businesses to collectively communicate with their employees. Whether this is done via training courses or conferences, internal Intranet or even an email newsletter, this can help improve employees’ knowledge of the business, the brand and the products or services.
Not only that, but internal communications help boost staff morale, providing them with motivation and detailed information ensuring they are involved and up to date with all aspects of the business.
They also provide a sense of togetherness, connecting employees through a series of shared visions, missions, goals and objectives.
Here, is where consumer and employee sentiment is key. Consumer sentiment has always been an important variable in businesses, allowing owners to forecast production, plan ahead or adjust their output depending on popular opinion – and the same goes for employees, too.
And if brands aren’t entirely sure how to turn their attention to employee sentiment, the first step to make is investing in a brand audit or brand value proposition. These can help to educate and ensure stakeholder and employee perceptions are aligned, as well as making sure people are communicating the same messages, vision, mission and values of the brand.
A brand vision is simply intent. The vision should support and reflect the long-term business strategy and help guide the future. And a brand mission, is a statement that communicates the purpose and objectives of a brand.
And with the vision and mission of the brand in mind, it is important for brands and businesses to consider both employees and consumers to ensure values are shared across the board.
Employees are key
Employees are a pivotal part of any business. And quite simply, without them, businesses wouldn’t be able to function. It is the employee’s business just as much as the employers, so it is only right for them to play a part and get involved.
We are beginning to see more well-known brands implementing this strategy and using their employees as a face of the brand, rather than just working their magic behind the scenes. Disney are a great example of this as its employees have been the embodiment of the brand and its ethos for years.
The likes of Sass and Belle, Lindex and Zoella are all putting staff at the forefront of their brands, getting them just as involved as main stakeholders.
Sass and Belle, for example, have a website filled with images of their employees and often share quotes and content from them, too. This in turn, creates a more personal and emotional bond between the brand and the consumer, as the brand is no longer faceless.
Similarly, in 2015, Lindex launched an underwear campaign and instead of tapping into their network of professional models, they used their own employees and have continued to do so. Again, this improves their position in the market by appearing more relatable and creating that all-important emotional connection.
And Zoella often shares content, crediting employees for their ideas, allowing them to take part in social media takeovers and truly getting them involved. By doing so, they are adding personal and humanistic elements to their branding – and it’s paying off, too.
In doing this, the brand achieves an even wider reach as employees share the brand’s content across their personal channels, get to know their online connections and create organic relationships with potential consumers themselves.
Not only that, but this creates reputation, making brands come across as a desirable employer and recruiter, as well as helping to retain current staff and employees.
Listening to new ideas, accepting criticism and being transparent is also paramount. Your employees may well be your consumers too, and as they say, the customer is always right.
After all, employees are the ultimate representative of a brand, and Amelia Neate, Senior Manager at Influencer Matchmaker says, “It’s important to remember we’re living in a social age where employees are becoming micro-influencers in their very own right.
“For example, Emily Rose Moloney started out as an employee for ASOS and now, working as a fashion influencer, is promoting them on her social media channels, with her Instagram account gaining almost 80k followers.”
What employees think of a brand or business they work for speaks volumes. And employees help to drive brand awareness, so empowering them through a plan of brand advocacy is a sure-fire way to achieve great results.
So, next time you are seeking to boost stats and see results, consider the power of your employees and come together to create your very own culture.
Lead by example, work together and invest in your employees.
Article | February 17, 2021
When COVID-19 began spreading across the U.S., marketers scrambled to figure out how to respond. Sudden work-from-home mandates, cancelled business trips, postponed conferences and frozen budgets threw a wrench into usual expectations and plans. Users’ needs and online behaviors have changed in tandem, forcing marketers to meet them on their new terms. Search is more important than ever now because people are spending almost all of their time at home and online, consuming media, researching, browsing and shopping.
Article | February 17, 2021
In the age of influencer marketing where brands and marketers feel somewhat new to the idea, it’s becoming clear that Public Relations professionals aren’t getting the credit they deserve. PR pros are the original influencers. I’ve been working under the public relations umbrella for *cough* two decades now. I describe PR as an umbrella because it covers so many different communications functions. From media relations and community relations to investor relations and crisis communications, PR practitioners know the brand story better than anyone and often serve to give a voice to the story.
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with a series of professional sports franchises as well as my fair share of technology startups. In each role, I’ve led and impacted every function of Public Relations. Whether it’s using athletes or CEO’s as spokespeople or finding industry “thought leaders” whose ideas are established and trusted, public relations has been influencing since, well, forever. And the most exciting part of all of my roles has been in the relationship building.
Article | February 17, 2021
Every business has a story that goes beyond products and services. No matter how great your products are, what really creates loyal, repeat customers is your ability to engage with them, relate to them, and be authentic with them.
By sharing your story as part of your marketing strategy and connecting with clients as real people, you are effectively showing them that you are interested in more than just completing the next sale. A little bit of openness goes a long way in busting open doors to future business.
Here are five tips for strong storytelling while marketing your business:
1. Share your truth. Be honest about your story when you tell it and you will create a bond with clients. Don’t overexaggerate or embellish your background and instead think about the most compelling parts of your journey and accentuate them. The key is for people to see you as not just a business owner or vendor but as someone they can relate to.
For example, if you served in the military, you can share a little bit about your background and explain why it was important for you to serve your country as well as how you transitioned into your current career.
2. Show your personality. According to Fast Company, 92% of consumers want businesses to tell stories in their ads. The more you show off your personality and the person behind the brand, the more emotionally connected your clients will feel towards your business. When a human bond like this is formed, it creates brand loyalty because of the sentimental value that is now attached.
3. Build relationships and you will build sales. Be inviting in your marketing campaigns and leave the door open for further communication and engagement. For example, send a personalized postcard via direct mail and include a QR Code for more information that drives traffic to your website. Then, make sure your website matches the intent and sentiment of your postcard so that it creates a uniform, consistent feel that strengthens your relationship with customers.
4. Be active on social media. The best thing you can do to further your story is to be active on social media every day. Pick the two or three social media channels that you feel work best for your business and stick with them. The last thing you want to do is have a social media page that hasn’t been updated in months because then the potential clients who visit those pages will question whether or not you are still in business. Also, act like yourself, don’t overpromote, and continue to reveal parts of your personality in a meaningful manner.
5. Be involved in your community and give back. Last but certainly not least, it is vital to get involved in your community and give back. People are more likely to do business with you when you share common interests, and everyone wants to see community members lift each other up. If you are passionate about certain causes, you can remain authentic and also show you are empathetic to others. Empathy is a strong, effective tool in telling your overall story because when you care about others, people will care about you. When they care about you, they are more inclined to do business with you.
Ultimately, we all have a story to share of how we got to this point in our careers. For business owners, it is crucial to add authentic storytelling elements to your marketing efforts so that you are seen as a genuine person who cares more about people than sales.
And, in doing so, the sales will follow suit.