Your employees are so much more than just the people that complete day-to-day tasks to keep your business in operation. They’re the doers, problem solvers, innovators, creators, communicators, and trail blazers — they’re the lifeblood of the company and by far its most important success factor.
And if you’re engaging employees the right way, they’re building your brand from the inside-out.
That’s because employee engagement drives company performance and growth. When employees are active participants in shaping the company, can recognize their direct contribution to its success, and resonate with its vision, they’ll be inspired to put their best foot forward.
They’ll want to stay with your company longer.
They’ll want to do their best to ensure customer satisfaction.
And they’ll actually want to advocate for your brand — organically — as brand ambassadors.
Good HR, Good PR
Engaging with your employees and activating them as brand ambassadors is more than just good HR. It’s great for marketing, too.
Tapping into your employees means tapping into your biggest and best asset for:
Building brand awareness;
Shaping public perception of your brand;
Recruiting stellar new talent; and
Driving company culture.
That’s because your employees are the living, breathing embodiment of your brand. They bring your brand to life.
Really, your employees are your brand.
If your employees are brand evangelists — distributing content on new channels, leaving glowing reviews of your company on job sites, referring top talent to join the team, and championing the brand to personal networks — you’re getting the best kind of marketing from the most trusted messengers (and for free).
Here are 5 strategies for nurturing employee talent and developing brand ambassadors on your team:
1. Engage your employees in the company vision
Simon Sinek popularized the notion that the most successful companies lead with why:
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it” - Simon Sinek
This isn’t just true of your customers — it’s also true of your employees. Make sure your company’s “why” is top of mind for your whole team.
(If you’re not sure of your company’s why, stop what you’re doing and watch Sinek’s TED Talk — it’s a must-see.)
Bring your staff together regularly to share the company vision. Workshop the company’s “why” with your team. Make it a collaborative exercise to align employees around a shared understanding of why your business does what it does, your brand positioning, and what makes your company remarkable.
This brings us to another best practice for empowering employees as brand ambassadors:
2. Solicit employees’ ideas, suggestions, and feedback
You’ll improve your company, increase employee retention and recruit new talent by fostering a work environment of collaboration, transparency, and a commitment to learning and growth.
Your employees bring different experiences, expertise, and perspectives to the table. Make collaboration a common practice in the workplace to introduce fresh ideas, insights, and innovations into your business strategy. Solve problems with the braintrust of the full team.
Don’t fear employee feedback — embrace it.
You’ll lose talented people if you’re imposing systems from the top-down. Instead, actively solicit input from your employees (with anonymous surveys, for example) for valuable insight on areas for improvement, as well as to create a work culture where your team feels heard, valued, and empowered.
This kind of active employee engagement is exactly what empowers your team and inspires brand ambassadors.
3. Activate your brand from the inside-out
Your brand should provide a complete experience, one that drives action, inspires engagement, and builds long-term customer relationships. That experience begins internally with the people closest to your brand — your employees.
Use branded swag and logo apparel to put your employees at the center of the brand experience and make them feel like part of a team. Staff loving their apparel and wearing it outside of the office is absolutely priceless brand awareness.
If your employees aren’t inspired by your promotional products, there’s a good chance prospects won’t be, either.
4. Make it easy for employees to be brand ambassadors
Like any behavior you want to encourage, incentivize and simplify.
Make it as easy as possible for your employees to be brand ambassadors. Curate content specifically for staff that is easy to share. Provide inspiring promotional products and quality branded clothing that your team members want to use and wear in their everyday life. Launch a staff referral program when recruiting for a new position so your team can build talent from talent. Recognize those employees going above and beyond.
The process of formalizing and incentivizing brand ambassadorship looks different for every business, but the underlying principle is the same throughout: engage your staff in building for the short- and long-term.
If you’re looking to go deeper into building an internal brand ambassador program, HubSpot crafted a handy 4-step roadmap.
5. Lead by example
Lastly, as a leader in your company, it’s important that you lead by example to help your team align around shared values and a common purpose. Pivot to your company’s “why” in all strategizing, planning, and decision-making. Create a brand experience you’re proud to tout. Build towards the future shoulder-to-shoulder with your biggest asset: your team.
Help your employees grow, and in doing so, help your business grow.