Allow me to introduce a largely misunderstood and negligently undervalued marketing channel. It’s not anything new, or some fancy techno tool. This channel is sitting one desk over from you.
Your fellow employees. They are your very best marketers, salespeople and customer relationship managers and you may not even know it. Fred Reichheld, the creator of the Net Promoter score once wisely said, “You can’t have happy engaged customers without happy, engaged customer-facing employees.”
I couldn’t agree more, except that I’d say that each of your employees is a tweet away from being customer-facing. Fast food restaurants Burger King, Taco Bell and Domino’s Pizza all got a taste of this with some unsavory employee activity concerning the food they serve. The negative stuff certainly makes for good headlines.
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But so does the positive stuff. Years ago, a heartwarming Trader Joe’s story went viral on Reddit. An employee of the supermarket went above-and-beyond delivering groceries (they don’t normally deliver) to an elderly WWII vet who was snowed in.
An iPad was returned to Apple with a post it note on it that simply read, “wife said no.” Apple’s returns department refunded his money and sent the iPad back to him with a post it note that read, “Apple said yes.” That’s cool.
Since 1946, fast food chain Chick-fil-A has had a policy of staying closed on Sundays. This allows workers have a day to worship and spend time with family. After the tragic Orlando mass shooting, a few employees decided to work on Sunday and make meals for first responders and those waiting in line to give blood.
These are undeniably great stories: authentic, emotional, newsworthy and shareable gifts to their respective marketing and sales departments. So, how are these companies creating such employee-fueled goodwill and word-of-mouth?
It all starts with a declaration.
Russel Redenbaugh, a blind man who accomplished extraordinary things, says in his powerful TEDx Talk, “Declarations precede leaps. They precipitate action.”
Declarations are nothing new to companies. But many declarations never see the light of day. They are labeled “for internal use only” and kept safely under-cover, tucked away in a brand book or on a hallway poster. This practice of confidentiality keeps companies safely sheltered from the public microscope.
But the companies that have the nerve to hang their declarations in public are offering transparency when none has been asked for. It’s a bold, confident move challenging skeptics to look deeper and asking customers to expect more.
In the Trader Joe’s example, you don’t have to look far on their website to find these words: “At Trader Joe’s, we create an outstanding customer experience around the discovery and enjoyment of amazing food and beverages.” The first six words are seemingly simple but deeply powerful and an industrious employee was given permission to follow through.
“Join Apple and help us leave the world better than we found it” is front and center on Apple’s jobs page. Clearly, Apple’s returns department took this to heart and turned a dejected customer into an elated one, which certainly makes for a better world.
Chick-fil-A’s website makes the declaration: “We also make a commitment to take care of the people who take care of our communities.” On the surface it may sound like marketing puffery, but when you hear of employees actually following through, the statement becomes a powerful promise.
All companies want motivated employees that bring inspiration and create customer goodwill. So start with a declaration, but don’t just keep it to yourself.