Every employee matters, especially when running a small business. A single employee could be responsible for bringing enormous success to your business. Or one employee could bring you down. Why not motivate your employees to work FOR your brand, rather than against it, by cultivating a brandful workforce.
How It All Began
The brandful workforce approach was developed as a practical guide to help business leaders better engage employees with the products and services they help deliver every day. It was informed through my own career journey, working for both small and large organizations, private, public and non-profit.
Most recently, I was in charge of employee engagement at JetBlue Airways. My colleagues at other companies used to ask me: “How do you get your employees to be such fantastic brand ambassadors?”
It wasn’t something that JetBlue purposefully set out to do. It was the result of a successful business. Yet there wasn’t a recipe that others could easily follow. So I took it upon myself to figure it out!
Let’s look at how you can create brandful employees for your business.
Building a Brandful Workforce
Start with your product or service. After all, who will want to promote something that they don’t personally believe in?
One common mistake small business owners make with employees is not defining and communicating the consistent delivery of the business. What does it look like? If you don’t know, then how will your employees? Help them understand the details of your business, your brand and especially your customer promise.
When your employees understand your business, the customer promise and their role in it, they can get to work promoting your brand. In fact, they may even exceed your expectations!
Create Brandful Communication Channels
The next step in creating employee brand ambassadors is giving them the means to go out and promote your brand. I call these brandful channels.
These include tools and resources such as social media, swag, celebratory events, and community volunteer efforts that spread awareness of your business.
Remember: not everyone is going to want to engage in social media, so it’s helpful to offer your staff some other options.
For example, you may have an employee who enjoys the backstage planning of an event. Or another employee may be athletic and can represent your business in a marathon. The brandful channels approach provides opportunities for everyone to participate in amplifying your brand in a genuine and authentic way.
Recruit Brand Ambassadors
. Some small businesses find it hard to compete for talent with larger organizations. Yet, as a small business, there are a few areas where you can favorably recruit top talent by accentuating your unique brand:
- Offer a “jack-of-all-trades” employee experience. Employees can learn and be involved in many aspects of the business, rather than be narrowly focused on a specified role within a larger organization.
- Provide a family feel and local culture as opposed to a larger, bureaucratic environment.
- Give employees the opportunity to make a direct, meaningful impact on business success
Keep in mind that brandful candidates care less about salary (as long as it’s within a reasonable range) than the quality or purpose of the job. If you have to negotiate hard to get someone to accept, it may not be the right fit for your business.
Here’s a quick checklist to help determine if your job candidate is brandful-minded:
- Do they love or use your products or services?
- Do they know how to talk about your products or services?
- Do they have fresh ideas about how to expand or improve your business? (Do they act like “owners,” or do they simply want a paycheck?)
- Do they give you honest – and helpful — feedback?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you’re well on your way to leveraging the talent you’ll need to create a brandful workforce of your own!