“Shall we aggressively leverage corporate culture to facilitate (product) marketing?”
(A Chinese team-building event in Negeri Sabah in Malaysia.)
This was a question from one of my friends, Annie Yu, a marketing head with a leading IT business, challenging to a community where I was one of members back 3 years ago.
My response to this is of course, a positive Yes, we shall aggressively leverage corporate culture to facilitate (product) marketing, and As Soon As Possible.
Why am I fond of this question?
This challenge is actually highly relevant to my domain over the past 6 years.
With over 10 years working experience, Annie has accumulated rich experience in marketing and branding field, understanding employee bearing corporate culture will act as a medium, but didn’t consciously realize there is a new concept, a cross-functional one out there is backing up her idea, which is called Employer Brand, overlapping both traditional marketing and human resources management disciplines.
Why have I been devoted into the research and sponsorship on the concept- Employer Brand, after I worked in a range of professions, including marketing communication, sales and HR? As I draw out from my combined working experience, the common sense: people behind them; accordingly I honestly believe–
“Everything behind a brand is people; sharing the same / similar value proposition, a group of people (Employee) live the brand and deliver the brand to another group of people (Customer).“
–I like to call this rationale the “People to People (P2P) Brand Model”.
When talking about brand, you actually talk about people!
We all know this is a concept named “brand ambassador“ in the marketing and advertisement discipline. The way the concept works, is typically, that when to market a brand to the public is you hire a well-known celebrity or public figure to be your brand or product ambassador, putting him or her into your advertisement, at a huge cost. We have seen a lot in the past, and now see them on stage nowadays, but this is the old-fashioned way.
What’s the fashionable way to do the old job then? You will have your employee to be the brand ambassador for your image and product, by copying the way you put celebrity into your advertisement, Of course, you only select the excellent ones from your employees.
Typically, those excellent employees are High Performance ones which are naturally producing more revenue at the key positions, or Highly Engaged ones which are easily spotted out when you review the conclusion from customer and employee satisfaction survey.
More importantly, they hold a high recognition of your corporate culture. Otherwise, it would be hardly for us to capture such high performance and high engagement there in their jobs. And of course, you will naturally include those selected employees into your leadership pool or succession plan, to be future leaders (I don’t see any good employer selecting seed players from employee not appreciating corporate culture).
We give those employees selected a name Employer Brand Ambassador.
In the case, Employer Brand Ambassador feels compelled to join your show, to be brand ambassador in the advertisement. With the pride as Employer Brand Ambassadors, you will channel more morale from the “selected employees” to your workforce, meanwhile you are able to deliver more authentication which your targeted customers are keen to validate for the brand.
The beauty of the thing is that you don’t hire them to act like you did to celebrity, as you already hired them, worked with them, and you will have their volunteer service as a bonus.
Now, you understand where to go, right?
Don’t limit employer brand thinking in the very limited recruiting process any more.
Let’s start thinking Bigger!
Re-organize yourself, make sure a mechanism in place to facilitate cross-functional coordination between HR, marketing and even sales.
HR guys to embed EVP (employee value proposition) management into people practice to develop employer brand ambassador, meanwhile marketing guys to leverage employer brand ambassador in channeling messages to your customers who share the same value (CVP – customer value proposition) with your brand, in your advertisement or wherever social media site is.
If you happen to be a big organization with tens of thousands of employees, think about it, 10% of total workforce will be a amazing number to imagine, when you start utilizing the concept Employer Brand Ambassador. Through them, not only will you attract the high quality candidates, but also you will save a lot in both advertising and customer service for your products.
All in all, my point is
“Employer Brand will be cornerstone for Corporate Brand, and EVP(Employee Value Proposition) shall drive CVP (Customer Value Proposition) for total brand experience.”
Taking advantage of this inspiration, we may see good chance that marketing and HR functions will be regarded profit-centered departments from the cost-centered ones, which may lead to your business model re-defining.
Author: Steven Li is the producer of EBS (Employer Brand Strategy) Learning Event Series with LinLead Consultancy, he conceived this idea “People to People (P2P) Brand Model” in March, 2015 and first published on it on 9, April, 2015.
- this was originally published on April 29, 2015 on LinkedIn. I made some slight change to it for this publication.