In the age of Snapchat, Slack messaging, and selfie sticks, transparency into company culture isn’t just commonplace – it’s inevitable. Customers follow their favorite brands on Instagram, sign up for their email newsletters, and read extensive online reviews before making any purchase or investing decisions. Potential clients seek out companies that share their interests and values, and they want to feel like the brands they choose really walk the walk – and not just talk the talk to attract revenue.
This can understandably make marketing difficult in financial services and beyond. After all, if what a customer sees is different from what a company is projecting, even the most carefully crafted marketing strategy can’t align the experience in a way that cultivates trust. Without establishing and communicating a company culture that reflects integrity, it’s difficult for marketing or advertising to really do its job – in fact, we’d argue that it’s an essential first step in building a profitable, scalable business.
Establishing a Foundation
We’ve already mentioned that internal marketing is built on the idea that customers’ attitudes toward a company are based on their complete experience with that company, including their own perceptions, but it’s also helpful to understand what goes into the broader culture that makes enduring, integrated internal marketing possible.
So, what is company culture, exactly? Much like the cultures we all live in and come from, company culture is the sum of shared values, beliefs and assumptions that shape the behavior and energy of an organization. Company culture dictates how conflict is managed, how major decisions are made and who gets to make them, how professional or casual the environment is, how employees interact with one another, and so much more. It’s an admittedly abstract concept that doesn’t seem easily distilled or quantified– but you might be surprised to find that both are possible.
Engaged, happy, creative employees typically lead to satisfied customers, both indirectly (in the form of higher quality products that more accurately solve a client’s problems) and directly (in the form of customer touchpoints). Company culture may still be crafted in part by HR, but it also falls squarely in marketing’s wheelhouse. Ultimately, an organization can (and should) collaborate on cementing a few key elements that will make for a greater alignment productivity and satisfaction across all departments, setting the stage for marketing that delivers:
Defining and understanding company values is perhaps the most fundamental step of building a constructive company culture. Values function as both an operational compass, providing guidelines for each employee or department in terms of expectations and direction, and as a way to clarify what a brand really stands for.
As companies get larger and more complex, the founding story or original mission can get lost or forgotten. This can impact how motivated employees are because a sense of purpose in each role is crucial. It’s also what makes holding the company’s origin story close to the heart so effective for a brand’s overall success. [See Gate 39 Media’s origin story]
Values can also serve as the thread between internal and external marketing. What we stand for inside our companies – such as how we treat one another, what impact we hope to have on the world around us, and how we understand right from wrong – is also how our brands can operate in the marketplace at large. Customers can sense these values (or lack thereof) when observing and choosing a company to work with or buy from.
If that wasn’t enough incentive to define and verbalize company values, they’re also just plain efficient. When each department is using the same compass, they’re going in the same direction, making for more momentum and stronger impact.
After distilling core values comes creating a strong sense of community both inside and outside the company. There are a multitude of ways to foster genuine camaraderie inside the workplace to nurture happy, creative and motivated employees.
Leaders can begin this process by turning the company values into action. By creating roles that reflect individual employee strengths instead of cookie cutter standards, creating on-site spaces that foster conversation, and by scheduling dedicated team building events. Employees serve as brand ambassadors out in the world, and the more they enjoy their jobs and working with one another, the more positivity they’re likely to share.
There’s another way to leverage values when building a community: by finding the customers who share them. Speaking directly to the customers who will benefit most from a product or service help eliminates the haze of trying to appeal to everyone – and instead helps you more clearly address their specific pain points, tell them stories that will resonate, and create an even more cohesive brand.
Remember that mention of Snapchat, Slack, and social media? Happy employees live on all these platforms, sharing bits of their days and lives. You know what they say – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and in this case, share a little peek behind the curtain on the company social media platforms yourself. Customers love to know what’s happening behind the scenes, and they love supporting companies that make employee fulfillment possible even more.
Transparency can also apply to conflict and reputation management and accountability. Companies that own up to their mistakes and apologize help their clients feel safe and valued, and they ensure clients that the brand operates from a sense of integrity. Which brings us to…
Ultimately, customers want to buy from companies they trust, and a clear, compelling company culture often engenders it. Even when a product is appealing, people generally don’t buy from companies they don’t trust – especially when it comes to financial services. There are few other industries that require so much faith from their clients and customers, who often remain skeptical about buying or investing until they understand more about what a company stands for.
Trust is also important when it comes to hiring. As workplace expectations shift with the generations, potential employees care more and more about the benefits a company offers, including the company culture itself. Employees are trusting you with their livelihood just as much as customers are in many ways.
The way these pieces of company culture – values, community, transparency, and trust – come together sets the foundation for both internal and external marketing. Happy, engaged employees create better products and services, and they tell their friends and family about their wonderful workplace. They do excellent work with customers, who sense that this company cares about the impact it has on the people it comes in contact with. Turnover stays low, productivity stays high, and perhaps most tangibly, the brand sets itself vastly apart from its competitors. Is there a better way to prime a business for success?
Interested to learn more how Gate 39 Media’s dedication to client success is rooted in our company culture? Get in touch.
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