Why Employee Activation Is the Future of Marketing

What if your organization was staffed by a team of experts – employees who are skilled, driven, and have a lot to offer, not only to your customers but also to society?

Imagine what a powerhouse your company would become. We’re not just talking consumer trust here. This is about respect and your audience fostering a deep confidence in what your company can do for them – because your employees are recognized as thought leaders and individuals who are passionate about what they do.

Here’s the thing. You are sitting on this golden egg right now. Your employees are skilled experts with their own unique and worthwhile beliefs, perspectives and insights to share. But, it’s your job to activate them in order to harness this potential.

Through employee activation, you’ll find yourself as the coach of the dream team of your industry. You’ll be leading people who your buyers turn to for advice, tips, and to learn how things are done. For B2B brands in particular, where confidence in your brand supersedes details like pricing strategy and ad campaign by a long shot, activated employees will motivate your buyers and forge customer loyalty like nothing else can.

The Brand vs. Employees Who Represent Your Brand

The reality is, ‘your brand’ is an entity without a face. It’s a thing. It has no family. It’s never struggled. It hasn’t accomplished anything. So, how much, really, can you expect consumers to trust it?

But, when your employees are themselves the face of your brand, you’re giving your audience someone to believe in.

That’s powerful stuff.

Still emerging from (and for many, still living in) the traditional corporate structure and the traditional marketing methods, in which a structured, controlled, carefully crafted brand identity is used to market to customers, a lot of companies aren’t tapping into their employees’ voices for marketing, sticking with the brand voice only.

And let’s be honest. Change takes time. So, let those other companies slowly wake up while you are running with your industry’s dream team.

Employee activation involves relinquishing control and empowering employees to share their expertise. It’s giving them a platform, supporting and encouraging them to express themselves and share their own personal brand, which, in turn, comes back as a positive reflection of the ‘mother brand.’

That’s not just a marketing technique. It’s a shift in organizational culture. But, it’s one that will stretch the reach of your marketing to a whole new level, helping to engage, inspire, and retain customers.

Here’s why you may want to start launching your employee activation initiative, or improve what you already have, today.

Activated Employees Talk

One of the biggest reasons employee activation is so effective is that it is another channel for person-to-person communication. You already know how useful word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is – 64 percent of marketing executives view WOMM as the most effective marketing method and it’s believed to drive $6 trillion in consumer spending annually.

But, WOMM is only as powerful as the voice the word is coming from. Where a lot of marketers go wrong is they believe social media marketing is WOMM. But, the reality is, as much as two-thirds of word of mouth that makes an impact happens offline.

Market researcher and author of Shops that POP, Pamela Danziger explains:

“While digital WOM is important, the most effective and powerful WOM is analog taking place person-to-person. Engaging customers in conversation that makes them feel valued and appreciated can go a long way to encouraging them to tell others…Retailers need to put a word of mouth marketing system in place that is heavy on the analog side of the equation that will amplify social media efforts.”

When your employees are invested in the company they work for, not just to earn a salary, but because they are viewed as a valued part of the brand, they are more likely going to have those engaging conversations with customers.

Think of it this way. What they say about the company they are a part of, is also what they are expressing about themselves, their career, and what they believe in for their future.

Your Employees Are Micro Influencers

Like word of mouth marketing, using micro influencers – niche experts within your industry who have a social media following – is a powerful tool for building trust with your target buyers. A study by Expertcity found that 82 percent of consumers are highly likely to follow a recommendation from a micro influencer.

Your creatives, data analysts, strategists, and other experts on your team are the skilled, passionate, knowledgeable influencers people want to learn from. You have to look at who your audience is looking for, but there are people within your organization who can expand the reach of your marketing simply through sharing news, insights, and their own thoughts on personal or business social media profiles, as well as other channels.

Here are some examples:

  • Financial services – what financial advice are your finance experts sharing by writing featured blog posts on your company website?
  • Software company – encourage your internal experts to share their knowledge through online tutorials. Hold Q&A sessions where your audience can ask questions – even better, use Facebook live streaming or a live chat platform to up the appeal of your marketing event.
  • Even B2C brands can harness their internal micro influencers – think beauty tutorials, golfing instructional videos, healthy eating eBooks, style guides – all created by your internal experts. This is how you can get premium content to generate leads, and at the same time, build relationships between your customers and your experts/employees.

When you tap into your employees for micro influencer campaigns, you also tap into their social networks. But, more importantly, in the long-term you are effectively helping to grow their individual online presence, giving them even more influence with your audience.

Employee Activation Translates Directly into Customer Loyalty

If customer loyalty isn’t on your marketing priority short list, it should be. New customers are expensive to convert while your existing customers are likely to bring in more revenue. You may have heard the stat – or experienced the difference in your marketing ROI firsthand when you focus on loyalty and retention – it costs 5 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to motivate action from a current customer.

And what’s the number one way to encourage customer loyalty? Like I said almost a decade ago – it’s cultivating satisfied and engaged customers. Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by as much as 202 percent.

Pay attention to your employees. Ask, measure, and track employee sentiments so you can see where you can improve and what you can do to empower them.

Communicate with them – how can you support them to create a platform to share their expertise? What ideas do they have? When they are engaged, inspired, and motivated, the impact of their positivity and expertise is mindblowing.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

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