These days, one of the hardest things in the world of business is to get the attention of your customers and prospects. This is because we are all so heavily inundated with marketing messages. It’s hard to find a website that isn’t filled with banner ads. Everyone has a blog or a YouTube channel or a Facebook page they want you to visit. On the receiving end we are aware of how overwhelming this can be, yet as we approach our businesses, we tend to fall right in line and add to the noise.
With so much competition for eyeballs and ears, how can you be sure your company will stick out? How can you make your company, your brand, and your products or services more memorable? There are numerous ways to approach this question, but one commonly tried solution is to infuse your company culture with what you want people to think of when they think about your brand. To accomplish this, an integrated approach is vital. The marketing team will not be able to find the right voice or the right tonality in marketing messages if the company’s culture (or one might say “personality”) is not clear. Moreover, if different people in the company define your culture in different ways, your company may end up simply seeming confused and fragmented versus memorable.
There are numerous resources today that talk about what a company culture really means. You can reference The Now Revolution (not an affiliate link) by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund for the big picture. John Jantsch also discusses company culture in detail in The Commitment Engine (not an affiliate link). All of the advice really boils down to one simple idea, however. Just as you like to get to know an individual before you do business with them, people now have the luxury of getting to know companies before doing business with them. How your company presents itself in your marketing messages, including on social media platforms, can now play a significant role in whether a person chooses you or your competitor.
“Fake it till you make it” does not work
When I first started tweeting, there was a common quote that got passed around on an almost daily basis. The statement was, “Fake it till you make it.” The logic behind the statement (I think) was that you can present yourself as an expert, a celebrity, or whatever you want until you actually get to that point of achievement. This approach will most decidedly NOT work for your company as you try to formulate your brand’s personality. At the very least, a sloppy approach to reaching this objective will, as we have already noted, spotlight communication gaps and other weaknesses within your company. For example, if your advertisements are dry and overly promotional, this will present a disconnect if your Facebook page is goofy and informal. Your company’s story, unique voice, and your approach to your industry (whatever that may be) should be consistent across the board, just as you would expect an individual’s behavior to remain fairly consistent despite a change in scenery.
Think about company cultures you know
This may seem abstract, but if you begin to think about companies you say you like, the point crysallizes. Perhaps the most cited example of a company culture that is present throughout the company’s marketing, sales, and customer service processes is Zappos, the wildly successful company that began as a simple online shoe retailer. The company hires people who are passionate about working there. These people know that the main purpose of the company is to leave customers happy, however that may be done. This approach to business leads to ecstatic customers who are happy to talk about their great experience with the company. These stories then become the core of the company’s approach to marketing. Suddenly, Zappos is not just a shoe company. Zappos is that company that is really dedicated to their customers, and they also sell shoes.
How can you model your company after other companies you admire? It is not just the job of marketing to present a message that your company will live by. From the top down, everyone must understand your culture. From the hiring process to how you present your company at a sales meeting, this overriding sense of who you are as a company should be easy to spot by anyone outside your walls.
Other benefits of defining your company culture
Apart from helping your company stand out from the crowd, defining who you are as a company alleviates many of the problems we have discussed here in the past. Your culture will define how information is passed from one person or department to another. Your culture will guide how you approach product development. And of course, your culture will provide the backbone for any marketing messages you release out into the world.
Have you been working on determining who your company is and what your company is really all about? If not, it is high time to start.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/newfrontiersmedia/5568116666/ via Creative Commons