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Today, my focus is on a view from the inside, from the employee perspective. What is the employee's contribution or impact on creating a cult brand? (Given my recent push for focusing on the employee first, this follow-up perspective should be no surprise!)
Can employees become raving fans? A simple answer is this: Yes; employees are your "customers" (albeit internal), too!
As you already know, if you read my blog regularly, the employee is nothing short of critical to the success of the organization. And when it comes to raving fans, if employees are, you know they'll help your customers become fans, too. Why? Because people buy from people.
As Douglas Atkins points out in The Culting of Brands, people buy into the group, the community, before they buy into the ideology. They bond based on friendship and a common activity; they feel reinforced and supported. The people and their interactions with the customers (people buy from people) make the difference. It's the staff behind the stuff. (I like that one!)
I don't want to rehash everything that I've written about employees in the last several months, but I'll pull out some highlights that will remind you of how employees can become raving fans.
- You must start with hiring the right people. Heck, hire your customers. They already love your brand and your products.
- The culture must be employee-centric. The view from the top must be "employees first" because employee engagement leads to customer engagement.
- Clearly and consistently communicate your brand promise and your purpose.
- Define, communicate, and live by your core values; find and hire people who are predisposed to living by those same values.
- Give employees direction and (then) freedom.
- Treat employees well. Respect them, and they'll reciprocate.
- Develop and support a culture of employee ownership. Facilitate a grassroots effort to help employees make the brand their own.
- Like customers, employees also live the (brand) lifestyle; they become a part of something larger than themselves.
- Employee passion drives results. For themselves, for customers, and for the organization.
Because of that enthusiasm and passion for the brand, for the business, employees are eager to contribute to its success. And when we're all working together for the success of the business, I believe that, ultimately, customers will win, too. As will your shareholders.
In Tuesday's post, I mentioned that that's how raving (customer) fans are defined, as well. They are passionate about the brand, and they will work together, provide feedback, and campaign for the brand's success.
Think about this. If your employees are raving fans, they are doing (at least) two things for the betterment of the brand/organization:
- They are sharing their passion and joy with their customers; they are drawing them in with their enthusiasm and compelling them to want to be a part of that, to feel that, too. To be a part of the lifestyle, part of something bigger.
- They are going to tell people what a cool place it is to work, and so they are not only advocating or selling but they are also recruiting. They're encouraging others to enjoy the lifestyle and become a part of something (bigger). Remember, cult brands are inclusive.
To close, here's a quote from Tom Peters.
CEO Hal Rosenbluth chronicled the incredible success of his travel-services firm, Rosenbluth International, in The Customer Comes Second. Love that title! Who comes first? Don't be silly, says King Hal; it's employees. That is -- and this dear Watson, is elementary -- if you genuinely want to put customers first, you must put employees more first.