It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?
Except we often don't consider that this concept relates to much more than just people. Companies can easily reflect, for better or worse, their internal values and beliefs via the external affinity customers have for their brand. At its worst, a poorly run, mistrustful environment can breed discontent for a product. But even at its best, a well-run company with strong beliefs can miss the golden opportunity to build trust from the inside out.
We like to talk to our clients about the importance of our PTPA ‘Circle of Trust’ which brings together factors from inside and outside an organization that strengthen the bond between leaders, employees and customers.
There are a few key ways to create this symbiosis inside and out of a company:
Take a Stand
We like to emphasize the power of standing for something (and certainly work to practice what we preach at PTPA Media). Many brands today are missing a huge opportunity by only evangelizing product features rather than organizational beliefs. And even those companies that do articulate a purpose, often don't bake it into everything they do. Helping all of those related to your brand internalize a purpose will go far to ensuring customers feel it too.
A great example of taking a stand is Patagonia. A historically activist brand with low employee turnover, the company took a stand this year by deciding to donate the $10 million dollars it received from last year’s US tax cuts to environmental charities. Without a doubt, this is standing firmly for a company’s purpose and beliefs.
Walk the Walk
It’s those at the top of an organization that need to set an example for employees to follow. A good leader puts the business into context. For instance, we have a client that makes mattresses. But their focus is not just on creating a quality product, it’s in helping consumers get a good night’s sleep. And by focusing on sleep, the brand is able to think differently about their advertising, social media outreach, offers/guarantees, customer service and even the ancillary products and services they offer.
Because we all sleep better knowing that an expensive purchase, such as a mattress, was not a mistake, focusing on the mission not just the product makes good business sense. But these nuances need to come from the leaders at the company...and with authenticity.
Talk the Talk
The great thing about establishing a purpose and then having leaders stand up for a company's beliefs, is the power of trickle down. And it’s not only trickle down into your community of employees but through the work they do each day and into their own personal communities.
This is where the ‘talk’ part comes in. Brands need to ensure this 'purpose' is communicated through sales calls; via customer service; on the sales floor; in warehouses; at agencies and within the halls of partners, investors and other constituents. Employees armed with the right way to communicate a company's beliefs is the most powerful, cost-effective marketing tool available.
Create a Trust Team
Social media has become, hands down, one of the most effective ways to talk, listen and learn from customers. And since this type of activity builds trust, we often recommend that our clients think about their social media team as, instead, a 'trust team'.
And ‘trust teams’ shouldn't just look at their role as the first line for product questions and customer services issues, but instead as enthusiastic participants in any conversation that matters.
In recent research we conducted, 79% of consumers said they were more likely to buy from a company that supports a cause important to them. And there is no better way to both understand and support causes than to talk to these users, with sincerity and authenticity, via social media.
As Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said: "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." Listening to understand goes far toward building trust.
Like any relationship in our lives, the more honest and authentic you are, the stronger the relationship and the longer it will last. Living by this is the secret to success in business and life.