Popular Mechanics

Only employees can keep a company running like a well-oiled machine.
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This story appears in the July 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In branding your organization, keeping your employees topside is key. As InteliTarget learned, employee buy-in can bring phenomenal returns.


When Joseph Smith, 51, started InteliTarget in late 1999, keeping the corporate culture afloat was a nonissue. After all, the company had just four employees, and every day was a race to gain new customers and meet payroll. By April 2000, however, the company made a dramatic sea change: It transformed itself from a database profiling firm to a virtual sales and marketing organization. Revenues swelled 300 percent. The time was now to imbue the company with the zest and zeal of its founder.


The firm's foundation was built on honest communication. All employees received the harsh truth and encouraging facts of the state of the biz at monthly "All Hands" meetings. "Whatever It Takes" awards were bestowed upon employees who took extra steps to satisfy a customer. And, to create contagious enthusiasm, a huge musical triangle was hung in the center of the office. Representatives who achieved a milestone-from closing new business to booking promising sales appointments-rang the triangle to the fervent applause of their teammates. Teamwork is taken to another level by referring accounts to the colleague who is the best fit.


Today, the results shine. Not only is business expected to grow another 200 percent in 2002, to sales of $4 million, but turnover in this difficult sales environment is virtually nonexistent. Recruiting efforts are a breeze, as employees themselves refer nearly all job candidates. Remember: Branding full steam ahead with your employees can translate into huge returns.

Elizabeth J. Goodgold is CEO/chief nuancer of The Nuancing Group, a brand consulting firm in San Diego, and author of the monthly newsletter Duh! Marketing.

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