All too often, company culture becomes an excuse for not hiring a diverse range of otherwise qualified candidates. In fact, according to HR platform provider Onbordia, over half the nation’s companies use “cultural fit” as a way to exclude rather than include. Yet I would argue that this misuse of company culture dampens the organization’s potential. Never is this misuse more evident than in its marketing results.
Four years ago, I suggested that businesses should remember why they exist: “to solve a customer problem, and that the solution to that problem was born of insights gleaned from talking to potential customers.”
When your company culture doesn’t welcome those whose ideas or way of life differs from the status quo, how then can you reach diverse customer segments with your marketing campaigns?
How can you become aware of those customers’ problems if your company’s culture isn’t on the same wavelength? How can you ask the right questions?
Too often, when a company’s culture excludes other perspectives, that shows in their marketing efforts. Campaigns can become awkward, even overtly offensive when you try to sell without awareness of different customers’ unique challenges.
Yet when you know how to ask the right questions, you can come up with the answers your customers need. And when you provide those answers, you earn the right to explain what your business can do for them.
Transform your culture, and you’ll transform your marketing. Here’s how.
To transform your marketing campaigns, transform your culture through
Build a culture of inclusivity when it comes to hiring. I’m not talking about quotas here. I’m talking about finding talented people from all walks of life, bringing them in, and allowing their unique gifts to enrich your company culture.
That means that if you have a potential employee who’s a Baby Boomer and you manufacture boho fashions, don’t rule them out. Their insight from a couple of generations ago might bring in a whole new customer segment—the aging hippies whose fashions inspired yours might just adore your clothing.
And, if they’re skilled at communicating to millennials, they might become your best PR people. One only needs to look back a few years at the appeal of septuagenarian Bernie Sanders to that generation to realize that sometimes what looks like a culture misfit might turn out to be a perfect 10 when it comes to marketing success.
Similarly, don’t rule out a hijab-wearing chemist for your brewery. If she’s willing to work there and her talents are up to the task, she might bring a level of consistency to your product that your other employees haven’t found.
In other words, prioritize talent, innovation, and team spirit over the familiar when it comes to hiring. In doing so, you’ll open whole new vistas of possibility.
A 2016 Deloitte study discovered that 82 percent of businesses see company culture as a major competitive advantage.
That means that chances are, your competitors are shoring up their workplace to gain an edge over you. But you have an advantage. You’ve already transformed your hiring process to include those talented people who have differing personalities and diverse demographics.
Now that you have such a team, put them to work on transforming your culture. Your number one priority should be employee engagement: helping people love where they work and love the work they do.
Companies with a high level of engagement, as Cameron Brain points out, financially outperform others in their industry by up to 147%. Employees are also (duh!) more likely to stay, cutting down on recruitment, onboarding, and training costs. It’s a win-win.
Not only that, but the 50% of them that already post on social media about their company will become brand advocates—if you engage them in the first place.
Know your employees’ personal goals and help them meet them. Involve them in making decisions, taking their feedback to heart. After all, they’re the ones on the front line.
Invest in their growth in their profession. They won’t leave you if you have a place for them a rung or two up the ladder.
Plug them into your company’s mission. Recognize them for making a difference in the company—and in the world.
When they feel secure, trusted, and valuable, they’ll do the lion’s share of your marketing for you.
Here’s how to put that transformed culture to work for you: with employee-generated content that complements your marketing team’s strategy.
Good marketing content, like good business, focuses on helping people, not selling stuff. Since marketing is all about providing answers to your customers’ questions, every employee on your payroll needs to get in on the act.
Whether they’re office assistants, executives, or assembly line workers, your employees come into contact with a wide range of people. Empower your employees to answer potential customers’ questions about your products and services.
Provide them with all the product knowledge they need to answer questions when they come up in conversation. Encourage communication among various teams so your assembly line workers know about upcoming marketing campaigns, your engineers know about next week’s press release, and your office assistants are comfortable enough with industry terminology to engage potential customers in conversation while they wait to talk to an executive.
Inspire them with your dedication to your company’s mission. Keep them in the loop when you make decisions and make sure that they know how those decisions help you fulfill your mission. Team spirit starts at the top—and if you’re a leader at any level, you need to make every employee feel like part of your mission.
Empower your employees to post about your company on social media. Encourage them to post messages that:
When you give them that power, you activate not only your employees, but more importantly, you activate the trust factor in your customers. Writing in LinkedIn, Seismic Software’s Evan Kelsay cites statistics showing that when employees share brand messages, customers share them 24 times more often.
Furthermore, as EveryoneSocial’s Todd Kunsman points out, brand messages have a 561% greater reach when employees share them than when the brand itself shares the message.
No matter how high-tech your marketing team’s distribution, it can’t top that kind of outreach.
What in the world does company culture have to do with marketing?
If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content that’s consistently published for your employees to share, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.