1 Ingredient for a Happy New (Marketing) Year

Business success has long been founded on making products that make people happy and making people happy about products. For most, the driving vision and mantra has been: Make people happy with my product and service and they will come back for more.

Business success has long been founded on making products that make people happy and making people happy about products. For most, the driving vision and mantra has been: Make people happy with my product and service and they will come back for more.

Yes. And no. Many studies on human happiness find that “Happiness” from materialistic, external things is fleeting and does not always result in repeat business. In fact, it rarely does. We may be happy with a buying experience. And we may tell people about it as it occurs — and intend to go back for more. But then once the novelty of the product purchased wears off, we move on to new things and find new sources of “happiness.”

This kind of happiness, the kind that comes and goes — and is assigned to new products, places or people — is often no more than a dopamine or oxytocin rush. They’re hormonal experiences that make us feel exuberant, ecstatic, on top of the world, loved and appreciated. At least for a moment.  Creating these feelings among our customers can bring them back for more product when they need that happy rush again. But it is not sustainable for the long-term in a market where they can get similar rushes of “happy” feelings from competitors who can imitate, duplicate and replicate anything you do faster than ever before. Or in a market with customers who are well-conditioned for instant gratification, and so the demands and expectations to keep them happy change instantly, too!

So what’s a product marketer to do? Ugh.

Do we buy more technology? Clean more databases? Create more content and social dialog and push it out more often?

While all of the above may work for generating sales and happy customers for the short-term, what is it that we can do to generate a lasting commitment, long after the novelty of our product or initial experience wears off? It’s kind of like asking what keeps couples together after the hormonal rushes and honeymoon become past tense.

You might be thinking, “build a better experience,” “create more emotional relevance and value through better relationships,” and many of the things discussed in my posts over the years. And yes, these matter, but there’s another element that is critical and not often thought of building customer bonds— culture.

There’s a lot of sociologists, bloggers and reporters out there trying to discover the “happiest place on earth” and many of those on this mission end up at the same place.

Denmark

Denmark was just named the “Happiest Country on Earth,” per the United Nations’ “World Happiness Report,” according to an article recently published by CBS News.

It may seem odd that the happiest place is not some tropical island where its always warm, sunny, and pina coladas run free for locals and tourists. Instead, it’s Denmark, where it can be cold, dark and a bit on the dreary side in terms of climate — with rain 50 percent of the time.

So why Denmark? It’s the perfect example of how a culture has more lasting impact than purchase alone.

Here are some insights:

While Denmark’s culture has many elements to it, there are three that stand out to me as elements we marketers can bring home to our brands. These are:

Equality

Loyalty programs have morphed into elitism for VIP customers. And while these programs may be profitable, they can also be limiting in terms of acquiring new customers and keeping a base of steady but lower transaction value customers who provide the long-term stability all brands need. In Denmark, equality reaches a different level. People view each other as equals, despite occupation and income, and thrive on socializing often with people who have like hobbies and interests, building bonds on common values — not common bank accounts. I loved the example shared on a site promoting tourism to Denmark, quoting a garbage man about how he feels comfortable with lawyers and doctors because wealth does not matter as much as time with friends and family, as well as what you do to bring light and warmth to your circle and to others around.

How Does This Apply to Marketing?

Quite simply. Instead of finding ways to elevate the elite in your customer base, find ways to make all customers feel equally important. One of the things that just baffles me is how airlines treat you so blatantly differently for boarding. Remember how airlines used to roll out a red carpet for first class and extremely high mileage customers? What a blatant statement of inequality to all of those whose collective value for economy fare far outweighed the value of the six to 10 first class tickets who were made to feel like superior human beings. Yes, give perks to high-transaction and high-value customers, but not in ways that make others feel worthless. Present experiences and interactions that make people feel like your most important customers. It’s not hard to do.

Social Values

Hygge (pronounced hug) refers to the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures and embracing friends, family and graciousness over wealth, status privileges and materialism. This translates into a culture where all feel welcome, appreciated and secure. These feelings translate into staying power and loyalty for consumers to brands. When people come together to celebrate bonds, relationships and kindness, they create a welcoming atmosphere of acceptance and safety that outweighs the fleeting joy of a new toy, digital widget or out-of-the-normal experience. People go back to social circles like chess clubs, book clubs, cooking groups and so on, where they can mingle with like minds and feel equal, despite their social status or wealth contribution to the hosting organization.

Marketing Application

Bring customers together just because. Not to try or buy a new product or to spark sales in any way, but to do what the Danes do — share light, warmth and friendship, and create an atmosphere of coziness and happiness. We will come back to these experiences and communities and stay loyal to those who continue to make us feel enlightened and valued at the same time.

Trust

Despite being one of the most written about and overly discussed topics, it still is and will always be the structural pillar of strength and success. Trust is one of the primary cornerstones in the Danish culture, and in ways that would be scary in our U.S. culture. Danes are comfortable using the honor system in business and letting kids play alone at parks while parents shop nearby.

Elevating Trust

Consumers need to have unbridled trust that they can count on brands to:

  • Deliver on the product and service promises made directly and indirectly in all communications, promotions and experiences.
  • Stand behind all purchases and meet customer expectations for service, refunds, returns, repairs and so on.
  • Create an atmosphere of transparency on all levels. By sharing financials, corporate values, updates on product and industry issues, and other insights to keep customers informed about your brand and related issues, you build indirect trust that creates that sense of hygge mentioned above and stronger emotional bonds that transcend price and other competitive elements.

Essentially, when you build a culture, you build a community. And building communities is critical in a world where consumerism is turning to minimalism; people are turning to experiences over materialism; and trust and respect for business is waning. It’s is critical for short- and long-term success. Largely because people flock to communities more than they do to products or brands that distribute them. As we learn from religious and political “communities,” we humans tend to stay aligned with people who reflect our values, as well as build our sense of belonging to a safe, secure group that understands us and what motivates us.

Takeaway

Study what matters most to your consumers in terms of values, lifestyle and culture. Create events, experiences and communications around those values, and find ways to bring customers together around those values. State Farm is a good example of just this. If you go to the brand’s website, you can find a calendar of volunteer events you can join along with local agents in order to further good causes in your community, and of course experience “hygee” with agents and employees that can result in sales and loyalty.

The Power of Purchase List Targeting

It’s important to have a trusted purchase list source. You should be informed of where the company gets its data, how often the data is updated and its policies on bad data. Once you have a good source, you need to take on the challenge of choosing your list options.

targetaudSince your response rate is directly related to who you are sending mail to, purchasing a mailing list can be a real challenge. There are so many options to choose from that it can be overwhelming. But first, it’s important to have a trusted purchase list source. You should be informed of where it gets the data, how often the data is updated and its policies on bad data. A couple of big purchase list players are Experian and Acxiom — you can check them out, as well as many other reputable list brokers. Once you have a good source, you need to take on the challenge of choosing your list options.

Top industry list option examples include:

  • Nonprofit: Income, net worth, age, children, causes donated to in the past, organization membership, fundraising engagement, location
  • Retail: Number of children, income, age, gender, apparel purchase habits, brands, online shopping habits, location
  • Political: Children, homeownership, voting propensity, location, age, political party affiliation
  • Entertainment: Age, income, children, hobbies, purchase history, location, marital status
  • Healthcare: Age, income, number of children, location, gender, homeownership
  • Education: Age, income, gender, highest level of education, location, interests

You may pick from demographics as well as psychographics. There are so many options, make sure to give yourself time to look over what will target your best potential customers. You want to get the right offer to the right people — the more targeted your list, the better response you are going to get. Marketing personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, so if you have mapped personas beforehand, it will be easier to make your selections.

You can pre-map customer personas by taking a look at your best customers: Who are they? The more details you have, the more accurate the persona will be. Look for trends in how your customers find you and what they buy. Make sure you are capturing important information about customers in your data so that you can use it to build your personas. You should also interview customers to obtain key answers directly from the source. Too many assumptions can cause you to create an inaccurate persona.

Once you know the personas you are looking for, choosing the right selections for your list becomes easier. Select the options that best represent your customers. The more characteristics you pick, the better targeted your list will be. But keep in mind that more selections often result in a higher-priced purchase list. So make sure you only use the options that really reach your target.

Your list is now ready! Your final ingredients for successful direct mail are your creativity and your offer. Don’t spend all your time on the list and forget these other two components — without all three working together, your direct mail will not generate the response you are looking for. Make your offer clear and concise. Make your creative design catching, but not overwhelming. Give people a reason to read your direct mail.

Direct Mail Designers Stealing Smart … From Digital

A few weeks ago, I was standing at my desk, opening the boxes of direct mail that get delivered to our Who’s Mailing What! offices. We all have a ritual like this with our mail at home, right? Multiple studies say it’s a just a few seconds at best for each piece. Thanks to the work of designers and copywriters, we keep what gets our attention, and dispose of the rest, one way or another.

A few weeks ago, I was standing at my desk, opening the boxes of direct mail that get delivered to our Who’s Mailing What! offices. We all have a ritual like this with our mail at home, right? Multiple studies say it’s a just a few seconds at best for each piece. Thanks to the work of designers and copywriters, we keep what gets our attention, and dispose of the rest, one way or another.

What stopped me and prompted this post was something I quickly saw on the front side of this direct mail membership appeal from The Ocean Conservancy. No, it wasn’t the image of the shark, although that is pretty cool, like a lot of what I’ve seen in the group’s direct mail over the years.

OceanC_01It was the clickbait-like teaser on the front: “10 THINGS you never knew about the ocean that will amaze you! NUMBER 3 will take your breath away …”. On the back, the clincher: “WARNING: NUMBER 1 might make you cry.”

I had to open it to see what this was all about. The leaflet inside with the 10 ocean facts didn’t disappoint me. It skillfully and quickly connected all of them to the organization’s mission of protecting ocean life. By the way, fact No. 1 — that only one in a 1,000 sea turtles now survives into adulthood because of human activity — did make me tear up.

Using a tactic like this got me thinking about other ways marketers have been adapting elements familiar to digital audiences to stand out with their direct mail. To paraphrase Dorothy Kerr, whose advice to study successful direct marketing inspired the launch of Who’s Mailing What!, they are “stealing smart”.

Seasonal Giving: More Reality Show Than Reality

I don’t know about you, but this past Tuesday — dubbed “Giving Tuesday” in the holiday spending cycle — my email inbox was overflowing with charitable solicitations, from companies I regularly interact with as well as ones I’ve never had any contact.

Christmas in September may be looked at as a jump start to the retail holiday selling season by some, but others think it’s simply too much, too soon.I don’t know about you, but this past Tuesday — dubbed “Giving Tuesday” in the holiday spending cycle — my email inbox was overflowing with charitable solicitations, from companies I regularly interact with as well as ones I’ve never had any contact.

A 2012 GuideStar Survey reported that half of the organizations surveyed said they receive the majority of their contributions between October and December. It’s a well-known fact that individuals feel encouraged to give more generously during the holidays.

However for most Americans, this time of year is financially burdensome. Lavish holiday meals, gift shopping, and added travel put a strain on the monthly household budget. So as a marketer in a world with ever-increasing expenses, how do you help targets take the sting out of charitable giving?

A few months back, I received an email from FitBit (a company I do interact with daily via the bangle on my wrist). They were promoting a holiday challenge to their users, which would culminate in one charity receiving a $500,000 donation from FitBit. Users who register for the challenge make a walking commitment to support one of three charities, and the charity with the most steps at the end will receive the donation. Being the competitive person that I am, I immediately clicked on the link, selected the charity of choice, and upped my fitness participation, further engaging me with FitBit.

More recently, I learned of a challenge put forth by “healthy” Northern California burrito chain called High Tech Burrito. Their seasonal giving pitch involved offering their Burrito Club members a chance to donate their “earned” free menu item to a local food bank as an account credit. In return, HTB would donate a matching $7.25 in account credit. Voila! No expense to the member, and a benevolent (and tax-deductible) gesture by the company.

But in the spirit of social philanthropy, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the “selfless selfie.” Yes, those self-absorbed vanity pics can also help those in need this holiday season, thanks to the Pay Your Selfie app. The business model involves paying it’s members a small commission for sharing task-related selfies. And yes, those newsworthy gems could each pay out $0.25 or more. But this season, that quarter could become a dollar donation (or more). Between now and the end of the year, for every selfie a user takes in front of his or her open fridge, Pay our Selfie will donate $1 to Midwest-based anti-poverty organization Heartland Alliance. While this particular challenge is trying to shed light on America’s poverty problem, I doubt users are making the connection between their well-stocked Frigidaire and the long lines at holiday soup kitchens. But maybe that’s just me.

My bigger question is: Have we now migrated to outsourcing our generosity?

Remember the highly successful ALS Ice Bucket challenge last year, with endless videos and photos of people hoisting buckets of icy cold water over the heads of the future financial gifters? Despite raising a staggering $115 million (and an additional $13 million to the organization’s regional branches), concern was raised whether ALS actually achieved their primary goal of increased awareness of the disease (although $128 million is nothing to sniff at).

Clearly the ALS Ice Bucket challenge has led the way to push marketers to innovate on ways to make their fundraising efforts more successful. But I’m not 100 percent convinced that merely “gifting” my earned “freebie” in a loyalty program, or stepping up my fitness for a month, or taking and posting a selfie, is truly a gift from my heart.

So take a minute after reading this blog post to take that $10 bucks you’d put aside for lunch, and drop it in the Salvation Army red bucket … or buy a bag of groceries and walk it into your local food bank. Those are people who could clearly use your help this time of year – and that is an authentic act of kindness.

Let’s not keep the holiday gift giving between the “haves” – let’s reach out and share our bounty with the “have nots.” And keep your selfie to yourself.

You Won’t Believe What Happens Next in this Shocking Post About Clickbait

For me and many other Millennial Marketers, the word “clickbait” makes us roll our eyes and mutter a curse against sites like UpWorthy and Buzzfeed. It’s often lazy copywriting, cashing in on people’s curiosity for the sensational, but then failing to deliver relevant content (and usually the websites are a hot mess, IMHO).

Clickbait memeFor me and many other Millennial Marketers, the word “clickbait” makes us roll our eyes and mutter a curse against sites like UpWorthy and Buzzfeed.

It’s often lazy copywriting, cashing in on people’s curiosity for the sensational, but then failing to deliver relevant content (and usually the websites are a hot mess, IMHO).

For some of us, hearing someone benignly say, “You won’t believe …” causes a collective shudder, and if you tell me something is going to shock me, it better be pretty horrific.

That said, Pat Friesen — one of my copywriting mentors — presented on a recent All About eMail session titled “You Won’t Believe It! Clickbait and Email Subject Lines,” and made a great point: All subject lines and headlines are bait of some sort. They’re in place to convince readers to open, click through, read, etc. The editorial staff here at Target Marketing knows that all too well: Our subject line can make or break our daily e-newsletter’s performance.

But here’s the caveat: It’s what you, the marketer, provide after the click.

Buzzfeed Chips StoryOkay, admittedly, I’m already skeptical. Chips (actually, in this case, the Buzzfeed piece is referencing what most Americans call fries) are a pretty basic food. A little salty, a lot potatoey. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but I don’t consider them capable of blowing my mind. So let’s look beyond the headline.

Buzzfeed Chips Body

Ohhhhhhh. Yum. So we have a few things going well here.

No. 1: excellent food photography (seriously, who would stick around on an article about food without some photos?! Instagram has trained us all to well).

No. 2: Each listing links to a recipe. Yes, that’s right: You’re going to scroll through this Buzzfeed piece, get a bunch of ideas, and when something looks really good, you can click the link and go to the recipe, which you can then pin on your Pinterest board for later. To make my point, here’s the Buzzfeed link so you can get pinning yourself.

Now, is the Buzzfeed headline kind of ridiculous? Yes.

Is it kind of clickbaity? Yes.

But does it deliver on the headline?

YES. And better yet, to throw back to last week’s post, this content arguably levels me up. How? Because now I have a recipe for kimchi fries for my next party and everyone attending is going to be impressed. Thanks Buzzfeed for making me a better me.

Now for something completely different …

ClickbaitIn comparison … well, Macaulay Culkin is still very much alive, and the other two headlines result in sites that try to sell you suspicious products (not provide you any information about how to do the thing). These three are the epitome of time-wasting and useless clickbait. I’ll pass.

So remember, there is a difference between provoking your reader to make the click, then delivering on that headline, and being a lazy marketer who’s just out for clicks. Don’t be that guy.

If you’d like to listen to Pat’s complete session, register to access entire virtual show on-demand, because I barely scraped the surface of all the solid copywriting information she provided in our 30-minute session.

And now, as a special treat, here’s a taste of @clickbaitrobot … yes a Twitter bot that takes trending topics and attempts to turn it into bizarro clickbait. (I dare you not to laugh or at least question humanity.)

A Hard Call for a Softer Side to Advertising

Social sustainability can be a key differentiator and motivator in our sharing economy. In consumer markets, TOMS built its message upon redefining “Buy One-Get One” as “Buy One-Give One” – and 35 million children around the world (and counting) – and by giving its customers a mission.

Build an emotional connection to your brand.

Change the world, one pair of shoes at a time.

Every individual has an opportunity through education.

We are not data, we are human beings.

One primary take-away from &Then 2015, a DMA event, last week in Boston is that effective advertising today is most certainly about strategy, creativity and results – all over this year’s International ECHO Awards. But let’s add another key ingredient: Social sustainability can be a key differentiator and motivator in our sharing economy.

I’m not talking about some modicum of a social responsibility tie-in … “Buy our product and we’ll plant a tree.”

But rather that, in an economy filled with attention deficit, good advertising, effective advertising, must make us pause and consider. The table stakes for engagement happen when we trust and connect to emotions in ourselves.

In consumer markets, TOMS built its message upon redefining “Buy One-Get One” as “Buy One-Give One” – and 35 million children around the world (and counting) – and by giving its customers a mission. While TOMS has moved its social responsibility mission beyond shoes to eyewear, water and other projects, I choose TOMS precisely because of its giving back along with its very comfortable shoes.

Singer John Legend has his handlers, most certainly, but when you heard his call to action for education reform, justice reform and minority business leadership – therein lays substance and authenticity behind his own storytelling in music. He may not sing about those subjects, but his celebrity is leveraged strictly for those causes that motivate him to act, that have defined his life, in how he was raised and how he sees the world as it is and what it can be through positive change.

Even look at this year’s winning crop of ECHOs. Many campaigns used emotion to tell compelling stories — with breath-taking results. Skoda’s Guardians of Winter, Uniforms for the Dedicated’s Rag Bag, Huggies and Volkswagen’s Eyes on the Road are just a few examples of campaigns that took individuals on an emotional journey of one sort or another – and made you think twice. You literally spend a moment walking life in someone else’s shoes, and realize it could be your own.

Suffice to say, these motivators are hardly new to advertising, it’s just great to see them in employed in data-driven campaigns and breaking through cacophony. What is new is that, as brands seek to connect with target audiences, truly making the world a better place to be is more meaningful today than ever.

5 Tips to Position (or Reposition) Your Offer

Does bundling products together in your offer result in higher sales? Bundling can be an effective way to sell, but research suggests it can backfire if you don’t approach it thoughtfully.

Does bundling products together in your offer result in higher sales? Bundling can be an effective way to sell, but research suggests it can backfire if you don’t approach it thoughtfully.

Product bundling, good/better/best choices, add-ons and free bonuses have been a part of direct marketing offers for generations. Any smart direct marketer will test offers in small volumes first before rolling out the best performing test in larger circulation.

But product bundling can have its own set of purchase and perception challenges. Research from authors at Pepperdine University and Northwestern University suggests that consumers are not always willing to pay as much for a combination of items as they would for, say, two separate items. In this study, primarily for retailers but with application to direct marketers, reveals:

  • Consumers think in categorical terms. When an item considered expensive is combined with an inexpensive item in a bundle, consumers perceive the combination to be “moderately expensive.” Consumers forget they are purchasing multiple items and the bundle can result in a perception that they should pay less for the combination.
  • Sales declined 15 percent when an inexpensive item was added to the expensive item.
  • Consumers perceived that the combination of an expensive item and inexpensive item should result in a price decrease of 25 percent.

In direct marketing, our sales environment is different than retail. Fortunately, as direct marketers, we can test in a controlled environment. And we can be confident in the outcome of the test by applying sound statistical confidence intervals when evaluating the results. If you offer multiple products, here are a few bundling recommendations for testing. They can be done as A/B, A/B/C, or any combination of these five options:

  1. Bundle products together for one price.
  1. Charge full price for the expensive item, and give the less expensive item away as a free premium.
  1. Charge full price for the expensive item and price the second item at a deep discount.
  1. Create a “Good/Better/Best” offer, which makes it look less like a bundle and gives your customer choices.
  1. Position additional items as add-ons that enhance the primary product you offer.

Your offer is often considered to be a substantial contributor to the success of any direct marketing campaign. With multiple items, bundle thoughtfully and use your imagination to position your offer.

The Direct Mail Advantage

Does a less crowded mailbox translate to a better response? The answer is that it may not. You still need the right list, the right design and the right offer. When you do all of this and the mailbox is less full, you do have an advantage. Not only does your piece stand out more, but recipients are more curious about what is in the mail.

Does a less crowded mailbox translate to a better response? The answer is that it may not. You still need the right list, the right design and the right offer. When you do all of this and the mailbox is less full, you do have an advantage. Not only does your piece stand out more, but recipients are more curious about what is in the mail. That translates to spending more time looking at your marketing materials. Another thing to note: studies have shown that consumers spend more time with direct mail and remember it better than digital marketing. Are you taking advantage of the benefits offered via Direct Mail?

There are many more advantages to direct mail that have been beaten into our heads over the years, but for you to realize the benefits you need to be doing it. That means looking at your prospects and customers as they are now, not how they were ten years ago.

Who are recipients now?

  • They check the mailbox less frequently
  • They read bullet points and PS lines and skim the rest
  • They like a clear call to action
  • They like easy response methods
  • They like innovative ideas and technology

Does your direct mail cater to the items listed above? If so, you are doing great! If not, and you are not getting the results you want, then it is time to make some changes. The key is to not change more than one thing at a time to track what works best. It also helps to keep a base version going out the way you usually do it for comparison. It is ok to have several segments in one campaign that are testing different things.

Try new things:

  • Change the list: Who else could benefit from your product or service? Buy a list of those people.
  • Change the design: Consider what you could do with the design that incorporates the items above.
  • Change the offer: Think of other things you can offer that may generate interest. It does not always need to be a greater discount. Think outside of the box.

You can gain valuable information by asking current customers to evaluate what you are sending them. Don’t be afraid to ask for their feedback, they may just give you a brilliant idea. So now that you are taking advantage of direct mail and testing all the variables, you are gaining knowledge about your customers and prospects. Continue to build on what they respond to so that you create better direct mail they can’t help but respond to in the future. Building database personas and assigning them particular qualities allows you to send the right offer to the right person.

We are in no way advocating that you should only use direct mail. That will not work these days. You need to reach out to prospects and customers on multiple channels. The beauty of direct mail is that it integrates well with them. Triggered email, mobile, social and digital channels can all drive engagement and results.

Your Secret Weapon for Amplification: Employees!

There are sales enablement programs, partner and channel enablement programs and even influencer enablement programs. Why are there then, so few employee enablement programs—especially when both the knowledge of the company and the CRM/integrated marketing technology is already in use?

There are sales enablement programs, partner and channel enablement programs and even influencer enablement programs. Why are there then, so few employee enablement programs—especially when both the knowledge of the company and the CRM/integrated marketing technology is already in use?

Very few companies fully engage employees in the work of connecting with customers, prospects and new markets, according to a 2014 Altimeter Group survey of HR and marketing executives. Only 41 percent of respondents reported having a strategic approach for employee engagement, and just 43 percent say they have a culture of trust and empowerment. Yet, Altimer finds that company who do engage employees in a purposeful digital outreach enjoy measurable business impact, greater reach and improved customer satisfaction.

One of the biggest factors in this untapped opportunity, according to the report, is that most employees don’t have a clear understanding of what they can or should share on behalf of the brand. As a result, most stay quiet.

A quick way to measure the impact on your business is to assess the variance between the collective reach of your employees on LinkedIn, Twitter or Pinterest and the number of fans and followers on your branded corporate pages. That delta is your opportunity-every professional post or pin by an employee is an opportunity to connect people back to your corporate properties.

Of course a purposeful approach to empowering employees must be respectful of everyone’s personal brand and voice. Forcing people to stiffly spout the company line will not only backfire in terms of employee loyalty, it will be a turn off for readers. The engagement has to be authentic in order to resonate.

The technology is here-in the past decade there has been a plethora of new digital tools for helping employees connect with each other and with their professional communities. Many tools are embedded in the CRM and sales enablement tools already in use for outside engagement. Why aren’t people using them internally? Perhaps because the presence of a tool itself is not enough-to create business value the tools must be accessible, helpful and aligned with the business culture.

Marketers who want employee engagement must develop a repeatable and respectful plan for advocacy:

  • Cross-Functional Reach:
    While sales, marketing and service teams often advocate for the business as part of their job descriptions, employees across the organization can also be incentivized to participate. Making these activities a win-win for the employee and the employer is key to participation.
  • Training:
    Most employees would be happy to support a respectful program, but truly do not know what to say. Setting clear boundaries and sharing sample messaging is a start, but also be explicit about the “how to” aspects. Encourage employees to make the message personal-and thus of higher impact-by translating the corporate message into their own voice.
  • Culture of Mutual Respect:
    Employees who cannot be trusted with confidential information also can’t be expected to fully engage in any innovation or forward-thinking programs. If this is the case for your organization, then your culture may not be a fit for employee engagement.
  • Content:
    Most businesses are publishers today-from blogs to social media to customer service scripts. These are rich sources for content that can be easily shared and amplified through employee engagement.

Creating active and visible employees may give some managers pause. Altimer recommends encouraging personal brand building anyway, claiming the risk is low that top talent will be poached. The opposite is usually true, the report says. Employees build a sense of pride and connectedness, and become invested in the company success.

Beyond email signatures and call center scripts, how is your company tapping the rich network of your employees to build the brand, amplify messaging and generate leads? Are your employees already active participants in sharing your company brand story? If so, how can you bring that forward into a more purposeful program? Share your challenges and ideas in the comments section.