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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Internal Branding Series & Employee Engagement Series

Fourth and Final Internal Branding Thought Leadership Piece

Here is our fourth and final installment in the series on Internal Branding/Employee Engagement. In our last email, we discussed our framework called Inward's Internal Dialogue Marketing™ Framework, which takes the theory and makes it practical. In this email we will spotlight Inward's Brand Alignment Process - How to Operationalize the framework into four phases and creation of an execution/tactical plan.


Inward's Brand Alignment Process - How to Operationalize the framework into four phases

Internal Communications Excellence Program

Our process is a four-phase engagement with multiple steps. The four phases are:

  • Phase 1 - Setting direction, conducting research among the company's associates/employees
  • Phase 2 -Internal Dialogue Marketing Planning and Training Curriculum Development (Communications Strategy)
  • Phase 3 -Tactical Implementation Planning and Design
  • Phase 4 - Implementation Launch & Roll out, Measurement

Within each phase are a series of sequential steps. These steps have a wide variety of activities and deliverables that become dependent on creative ideation, scope of work, budgets, timeline, etc. In addition, the processes and steps should be customized to the company's internal branding requirements and unique culture.

Internal Brand Challenges

Having a codified process is not enough however. A company must anticipate the internal brand challenges in advance and be prepared to address them. Here is what we believe are the critical success factors that should be incorporated into planning an effective four phase tactical plan.
  • Acknowledgment and recognition that internal branding is a process, rather than a deliverable. It requires sufficient planning, implementation, maintenance and patience to transform an organization and align with new brand values and behavior.
  • CEO commitment of time, resources, budget and patience by identifying the internal branding initiative as a high priority strategic imperative so that the company can become more responsive to the needs of the customer and their own employees by re-dedicating itself to the company's brand vision.
  • Clear statement of corporate vision, mission and values, as well as proper alignment with the brand, HR processes, effective communications, training, incentives and recognition/rewards.
  • Benchmark measurement and tracking of associate/employee awareness and understanding of what the "brand and desired behavior" are, and how it affects their performance and on-the-job behavior.
  • Apply continual process improvement procedures by reviewing and adjusting tactics to ensure message/creative continuity for maximum efficiency and impact.
  • Having a recognizable (branded) internal brand initiative that associates/employees understand and talk about by use of creative metaphors, symbolism, storytelling and anecdotes. It should be obvious when it is working properly. People will get it.
  • Designing an integrated internal branding program that is engaging, fun and easy to understand, and that remains relevant by involving everyone in the process through brand ambassador programs, peer-to-peer recognition and incentive programs.
  • Establishing a recognizable and active brand ambassador program where employees promote customer centricity and satisfaction at every customer touch point.
Summary

So there you have it. Internal Branding is an organized, outcome-driven approach to get to a desired state while continually answering the question ...

"What's in it for me?"

Companies must work HARD to make the working environment relevant and important to every employee through SIMPLIFIED relevant communications, so that they change their behavior and know what to do to reinforce positive customer experiences every day, which makes it EASY to live up to the corporate brand values and external brand promises.
  • The company's employees are its brand. Employees must be educated, motivated and inspired about the customer experience - and realize the power personally. It doesn't happen naturally.
  • People deliver the brand promise - when they don't, there is brand breakdown.
  • It is about the customer experience and how associates/employees perform their jobs, as well as personal behavior in support of positive customer experiences.
We are eager to share our ideas with you and your staff. If you would like us to come by and conduct a half day seminar or webinar, we would be happy to do so. Just give us a call and we can set it up.

We hope you have found our four part series educational and helpful. Please be sure to pass the series on to your colleagues and friends inside and outside the company. Also we invite you to visit Inward's newly redesigned Web 2.0 website where you will find numerous thought leadership pieces and white papers. Also you can sign up and become a member of our Inward community.

Thank you again for your time and support. We also welcome your comments so drop me a line.

Sincerely,

Allan

Internal Branding Series & Employee Engagement Series





Third of four installments. Keep an eye out for the whole set.

Here is our third installment on Internal Branding/Employee Engagement. In our last email, we discussed internal branding by sharing an easy to follow model called Inward's Internal Communications Model. In this email we will spotlight our framework called Inward's Internal Dialogue Marketing™ Framework, which takes the theory and makes it practical.
Inward's Internal Dialogue Marketing™ Framework - making the model come to life

Dialogue Marketing Framework

Our codified framework is designed to be a practical consensus-based process designed to move employees through four phases of tactical communications with specific outcomes and goals in mind.
  • First is informing the organization through experiential tactics using simple value messages, such as all-hands meetings, emails from the CEO, screensavers, Post-it note pads, embedded videos via e-mail, employee brand book, internal advertising campaigns and direct response using dimensional items, periodic podcasts by the CEO that can be downloaded to cell phones and iPods, etc. It is important for the tactic to be aligned with the message. Often companies make the mistake by giving out premium tee shirts and baseball caps that have no meaning at all with the message they want to convey. Choose a tactic that has meaning to the overall message and desired behavior.
  • Second is gaining employee understanding through curriculum and training programs that teach individuals what is at stake and how to adopt new behavior. These could be video games, classroom workshops, puzzles/games, online tutorials and workbooks/collateral, in-store training sessions, regional managers meetings, with incentives and rewards attached, etc. Don't assume that if the employees know about the brand, that they understand the brand. The education process is a critical step.
  • Third is changing behavior by conveying specific messages that result in personal commitment. This happens by implementing peer-to-peer recognition programs and appraisal systems aligned to the brand values and new behavior. It can include creation of local, regional and international brand ambassador programs that will create surrogates and internal brand advocates. The HR group should also play and active role in setting annual goals, appraisal programs and managing the feedback to employees.
  • Fourth is to reinforce behavior through implementation of companywide recognition, incentives and reward programs. Some sophisticated tactics could include an internal social Web 2.0 website with relevant content/messages regarding the initiative that identify people who are living the brand, updates from senior management, a dialogue (asked the CEO) exchange with transparency, 'living the values' blogs, peer-to-peer recognition and reward programs, tutorials/training online, contests and incentives, employee of the month, online/off-line prize/premium incentives, mystery shopper recognition programs, etc. More simplified ideas are employee of the month/year programs, special bonus pools, etc. The main idea is to recognize people for doing the right thing.

When these four phases are planned and executed sequentially with a strong creative metaphor idea and common messages; directed to the right audience at the right time with the right incentive - a company can achieve powerful alignment and behaviors that they could never have imagined.

AFC/Tellabs - Case History

Before - AFC, after a long, thoughtful process, repositioned itself with a new external brand marketing communications program built around a new theme called "AFC - The Acronym for Access". This new brand represented a significant departure from their former positioning which was old-fashioned and engineering centric. The new branding, which was young, spontaneous and smart required all employees to adopt a new attitude and behavior to support the program. Inward was hired to help plan and implement a comprehensive internal brand communications with their ad agency. The plan was designed to inform and educate the staff about the change, as well as incent and reward employees to embrace new behavior that was consistent with the new brand of values.

After - Inward, in close consultation with the client and their ad agency, established an internal communication architecture/platform to explain why the company was embarking on such a dramatic program. Once the message architecture was complete we created an experiential communications program that was engaging, entertaining and relevant to their intellectual/engineering needs. It resulted in an employee population that was supportive and enrolled behind the brand with new behavior and attitudes towards the company and the marketplace as a whole.

The creative included an experiential launch event at an art deco theater, as though it was a movie premier, with all the gala accoutrements of a red carpet for employees, look-alike celebrities, spotlights, ushers who were senior management, playbills and the feature presentation - the new ads. This was followed by departmental training and signed commitment posters for each department. By examining their employee population, they learned that the majority of their workforce had young children, so they created a bed-time story-book about the new brand that could read to their children and learn about it themselves. In addition, we established a brand ambassador program where any employee could be quizzed about the brand by a designated roaming brand ambassador and if they got the answer right, they received a stamp in their brand passport, which were also distributed to all employees in advance. Once filled with passport stamps from the brand ambassadors, employees could redeem the passport for valuable prizes.

The result, in the end, was that the employees really got behind the brand and started to live the new values to distinguish it from the competition. They understood their company's role and how their individual efforts could contribute to the success of the company. After substantial market success and a growing stock price, the company was acquired by Tellabs just before it implemented the last phase, a post-campaign, all-hands employee recognition and reward program.

Summary

If you would like to discuss the model in greater depth, please let me know and I would be very happy to walk you through the steps and make it relevant to your company.

In our next email, you will receive a spot light on how to operationalize the framework into an action/delivery process called Inward's Brand Alignment Process.

We hope you are enjoying the series and encourage you to save the emails and forward them to your friends and colleagues.

Sincerely,

Allan

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Internal Branding Series & Employee Engagement Series

Second of four thought leadership pieces - Keep an eye out for the complete set

Here is our second installment on Internal Branding/Employee Engagement. In our last email, we discussed internal branding by simplifying the complexity of the theory into; 1) an easy to follow model called Inward's Internal Communications Model, 2) followed by Inward's Internal Dialogue Marketing™ Framework, and 3) operationizing the framework into an action/delivery process called Inward's Brand Alignment Process.

In this email we will focus on Inward's Internal Communications Model specifically.
  • The model recognizes that effective communications and change requires a sequential order - funneling through the hierarchy of effects which informs employees, educates them regarding how well they personally understand the consequences of the brand, gaining their commitment to adopt the brand into their attitudes/opinions, and finally to be recognized and rewarded for outstanding performance aligned with brand values and behavior.
  • Secondly, these steps must correspond with a variety of cause/effect related and sequential tactical media and programs, such as broadcast corporate messages, training and workshops, peer-to-peer recognition and HR appraisal systems aligned with the brand values and, finally, rewards for living the brand values and adapting new behavior. Each tactic builds on the previous step to achieve greater personal relevancy.
  • Thirdly, as employees filter through a media hierarchy funnel towards recognition and reward, there must be correspondent message architectures (Hierarchy of Relevance) that inspires the employee with personal relevant messages, delivered in such a way that it becomes valuable in their lives and daily behavior. This is often referred to as "WIIFM" (What's in it for me?) This is achieved through a message architecture process, whereby we create highly relevant/valuable corporate messages - why is the company doing this? Next comes a highly relevant individual message delivered from the local level --why is this internal branding important for me as an employee? Finally, an individual message given by the manager or supervisor to their employee that conveys what new behavior or attributes the employee must embrace in order for them to adopt new behavior - what does the company want the employee to do differently as a result of this new internal brand knowledge, and how will the employee be rewarded?
  • Fourth, to round the model out, we recommend that when speaking at the value level, communications should come from corporate and be distributed in a common fashion company-wide. When distributing the message at the regional or local level or segmented employee level, the message should be at the benefit level and address their segment's needs. Finally, when speaking to an individual one-on-one or in small groups at the attribute level, the message should come from their direct supervisor or office/store manager/HR. No matter what the message is, or the form it is communicated in, there should be continuity of look, feel, tone and manner to convey one vision, a common purpose and one set of brand values and behavior.

This sequential order contributes to employee engagements and higher productivity and support for major corporate-wide strategic change to adopt new behavior.

If you would like to discuss the model in greater detail, please let me know and I would be very happy to walk you through the steps and make it relevant to your company.

In our next email, you will receive and spot light on making the model practical with Inward's Internal Dialogue Marketing™ Framework - making the model come to life.

We hope you are enjoying the series and encourage you to save the emails and forward them to your friends and colleagues.

Sincerely,

Allan Steinmetz
CEO & Founder
Inward Strategic Consulting
asteinmetz@inwardconsulting.com
617-558-9770

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Internal Branding Series & Employee Enagement Series

Internal Branding and Employee Engagement Series


A Bit of History


Inward practically invented the concept of internal branding 11 years ago, this month, when we formed our firm to help educate, motivate inspire and enroll employees to support major change initiatives like reengineering, new brand launches and strategic M&A’s.


We were encouraged create the firm by the late Michael Hammer. Dr. Hammer who founded the reengineering movement in the late 80s/early 90s realized that unless you get your key stakeholders engaged and enrolled behind change, the likelihood of a corporate transformation was less likely to occur. So while I was the SVP, Worldwide Director of Marketing and Communications at Arthur D. little, I formulated an "Inward Marketing" methodology that would encourage employee buy-in and engagement through a sequence of persuasive communication techniques. I tested these ideas with a major pharmaceutical company that had made a recent merger and global acquisition that needed to enroll the employees of the combined company with a common vision mission and values. That experimental engagement turned out to work immensely well. Our credo at that time was, “Corporations have to educate, motivate, inspire and engage their people for the company to achieve its strategic results”. We still believe in this credo today.


Moving Forward


We are proud to say that we most likely are the first to recognize that employee engagement and internal branding can improve performance and enact cultural change. Because of our history and thought leadership, we have been able to invent and codify an internal branding model and framework that works. We engage employees to become involved in our process. In addition, we established the industry definition for internal branding which has become the category standard.


Inward’s Definition of Internal Branding


Internal Branding is an organized, outcome-driven approach to get to a desired state

while continually answering the question …

What’s in it for me?”

Companies must work HARD to make the working environment relevant and important to every employee through SIMPLIFIED relevant communications, so that they change their behavior and know what to do to reinforce positive customer experiences every day, which makes it EASY to live up to the corporate brand values and external brand promises.

The company’s employees are its brand. Employees must be educated, motivated and inspired about the customer experience — and realize the power personally. It doesn’t happen naturally.

People deliver the brand promise — when they don’t, there is brand breakdown.

It is about the customer experience and how associates/employees perform their jobs, as well as personal behavior in support of positive customer experiences.


Simplifying the Complexity - Establishing three theoretical steps


We approach internal branding by simplifying the complexity of the theory into; 1) an easy to follow model called Inward’s Internal Communications Model, 2) followed by a framework called Inward’s Internal Dialogue Marketing™ Framework, and 3) operationizing the framework into an action/delivery process called Inward’s Brand Alignment Process.


Watch for our Internal Branding/Employee Engagement Series


Over the next few weeks, in celebration of our anniversary, I will be sending you additional emails devoting specific thoughts, ideas and examples of our theory to illustrate the how it all works together. Keep an eye out for it.

Lastly, I have to say thank you for all your support, encouragement and business all these years. We would not be a success if it weren’t for our devoted clients and friends.


Sincerely,


Allan Steinmetz

Monday, October 5, 2009

Internal Branding Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Quite often, and even as recently as last week, I get asked the question, "What challenges do you anticipate within the company when launching an internal branding effort and what strategies have you used in the past to overcome similar ones?" Well I decided to write them down and share them with you. Here are Inward's "Top Ten Internal Branding Challenges and Pitfalls."

There will be many pitfalls and challenges that most companies will have to overcome to have a successful implementation. Here are some of the challenges we have had to address over the last 11 years that get in the way of a successful internal brand program.

  1. Challenge: Overpromising through external brand advertising without preparing employees to deliver on the customer expectations as a result of lackluster communications, training, recognition/commitment and rewards systems.

    Solution: Companies have to address this challenge by implementing effective communications and training programs that orientate and prepare employees before the external campaigns are launched and incentivize and teach them what is expected in their behavior.

  2. Challenge: Failing to integrate brand-building initiatives with other internal efforts. Often internal branding is an afterthought and part of the external marketing program.

    Solution: Internal branding needs to be integrated with other corporate-wide HR, process redesign and strategic planning initiatives by demonstrating how individual brand behavior and values can contribute to the success of corporate wide strategic initiatives and not just the advertising alone.

  3. Challenge: Over-relying on external communications to build the brand-driven organization. When the organization employs multiple thousands of people it is easy to communicate the message to employees through mass advertising.

    Solution: Internal branding is a process-driven approach that incorporates training, peer-to-peer recognition, alignment of appraisal/assessments, as well as rewards. Internal branding cannot be delegated to pass through advertising alone.

  4. Challenge: Over-relying on internal communications that is the same for everyone, everywhere to motivate employees.

    Solution: Here, too, the company must recognize that an integrated communications program and experiential communications and dialogue are necessary to inspire people to change their behaviors. It often requires different messages, different media directed to different audiences, while keeping the original intent the same. It is not about one off communications. It is about process and integration of tactics with common design/themed elements that build on one another over time.

  5. Challenge: Not enlisting support from senior management, operations, manufacturing, sales & marketing and HR to overcome cross organizational barriers.

    Solution: In order to have an effective internal branding program, senior management, marketing and HR have to be "attached by the hip" and partner with marketing/communications. They will need to reconsider changing their business processes for appraisals, feedback and incentive compensations so that they are aligned with the brand values.

  6. Challenge: Not backing up internal branding with sufficient planning and resources.

    Solution: Often we see that internal branding is thought of as a tactic rather than a process. Therefore, insufficient resources and money are not budgeted to maintain a sustained program over time. We recommend allocating a third of resources and budgets to planning, a third to tactical rollout and a third to maintaining the program for at least three years.

  7. Challenge: Going overboard so that employees perceive the internal branding initiative as corporate brainwashing, over the top, flamboyant, costly tactics/events can also counter the brand's message.

    Solution: Here, too, there has to be the right combination of tactics, messaging and symbolism to gather the attention of the rank-and-file so they can realize that the initiative is for real and not just another "one off" that people will forget about in a month or so. You need a proper balance of message and tactics.

  8. Challenge: Over-depending on IT to disseminate brand knowledge sharing.

    Solution: The new buzz phrases are webinars, Web 2.0, social networking, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc. The list goes on. All can be facilitated by IT, which is wonderful. However, technology innovations and applications still need content that can be leveraged. And messages and creativity need to have the desired impact based on clear objectives and goals.

  9. Challenge: Not changing employee performance measures to be aligned with brand behavior.

    Solution: It is not enough to realign all of the other components of an effective internal branding program and not realign employee feedback/appraisals and incentives, too. At the end of the day people are motivated by an inspiring message and incentives/rewards that demonstrates that the company is serious.

  10. Challenge: Changing behavior is a slow proposition and does not happen overnight.

    Solution: Clear expectations of results, as well as patience and sufficient delivery timelines are important requirements so that management understands expectations, deliverables and changing behavior over time. A great mentor of mine once reminded me, "Sometimes you have to go slow before you can go fast".

So if you are planning an enterprise internal branding effort or change communications program to engage employees to change their behavior, heed our advice. Or just call us. We specialize in marketing strategy development, change management, internal branding, change communications, market research and all forms of qualitative research. After 11 years in business there is no challenge we have never seen. Let us help you overcome the challenges. If you would like to learn more about this topic visit our all new web site at InwardConsulting.com.

If you would like to share your internal branding challenges, add your thoughts to our community dialogue on our web site, drop me a line or call.

Happy Fall!

-Allan Steinmetz

Monday, September 14, 2009

Inward Celebrates 11th Anniversary With Launch of New Website

I am pleased to announce we are celebrating our 11th Anniversary. On reflection, a lot has changed in the 11 years. Here are just a few things we have observed:

  • We witnessed the meteoric growth and rapid decline of the dot com boom
  • An Increased interest in the learning organization
  • Expansion of employee advocacy and customer centricity
  • We saw the decline of mass advertising/sponsorship towards a shift to online brand presence
  • In-store shopping marketing has become a sophisticated tool with rigorous analytics and econometric measures
  • More recently, we have witnessed the Internet evolve from Web 1.0 to 2.0 with the explosion of social networking and building of online communities. This growth has established iconic brand names such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace
  • Marketing power has shifted to the consumer with strong community advocacy and online buyer power, blogging and endorsements
All these developments at first appeared as fads with a short lifespan. But that didn't happen. At Inward, we see all these marketing phenomena as sequential events that have generated incremental productivity, efficiency and effectiveness at managing marketing and brands. We believe that each innovation leads to the next and this created a plethora of abundant marketing methodology, processes and tactics that has made marketing and branding better for the future.

In celebration of our 11th year in business we are contributing to the evolving nature of marketing and internal employee advocacy with a totally redesigned Web 2.0 website. You can now join our community dedicated to being the single source for internal branding by logging on to InwardConsulting.com .

You will see valuable information, numerous cases histories, tutorials, interactive discussions, as well as access to my blog, numerous videos and thought leadership from industry experts and so much more. It represents a totally new look for us and puts us on the cutting edge of internal marketing community building and thought leadership. We see it as our 11th year celebration and contribution to the marketing/branding of thought leadership.

Please send me your thoughts and ideas on how we can improve our site by joining our community and building an abundant mentality about internal branding and employee advocacy. Also, feel free to e-mail me directly with your thoughts and comments. I am eager to hear from you.

Lastly, thank you all for your continuing support as we enter our 11th year in business. We are nothing without your encouragement, business and friendship. While these past 11 years have certainly been both terrific and challenging, I wake up every day doing something that I am passionate about and enjoy very much. Thank you for that opportunity.

-Allan Steinmetz

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Internal Branding? What Is That Exactly?

Everyone knows what a brand is, and everyone knows what advertising is. Some of us may be confused about promotion and merchandising but most have a basic idea, at least, of what they are.

Lately, a lot of people have been asking me about internal branding. What exactly is internal branding? It's definitely a hot topic, on which seminars and workshops are offered all around the country. By my count, seven major internal branding conferences were held over the past year and a half, and we participated in four of them, and even chaired the American Strategic Management Institute's Internal Branding Summit last year, where we heard some outstanding presenters address the topic.

It's hot, but what is it? Very little is written that defines internal branding; so as one of the pioneers of this new branding phenomenon, I decided to pound a stake into the ground with my definition. We have earned the right to do this, because, for six years and more, since we started our firm, we have been promoting the power of internal branding with our Inward Marketing Methodology: we really are the internal branding company.

Before I explain what internal branding is, let me clear up some misconceptions. It is NOT letting your employees know about your new advertising campaign. It does not consist of handing out t-shirts and baseball caps to announce a new strategic initiative, name change or company vision statement. Really, it is not anything remotely like these things.

So what it IS internal branding? Why is it important? When should I do it?

Here is Inward's definition: Internal branding is a cultural shift within an organization, where the employees become more customer focused and more business focused. You achieve this by an organized, communications and behavior driven process, which leads to a desired end state. Meanwhile, at all levels in the company, one big question is answered - "What's in it for me?" After they hear and learn about the internal brand initiative, every single employee should understand what job behavior you expect from them, and how they contribute to the company's success. You need to reinforce the behavior you want, and bring it into line with HR policies, internal communications and corporate marketing efforts and strategy.

Effective internal branding brings huge benefits. Companies whose workforces understand how they operate and make money perform better. Committed employees provide stronger performance and higher customer satisfaction.

Important data that supports this connection between understanding and internal change was released recently. This study (produced, much as I hate to admit it, by our competitor, McKinsey) concludes that change-management programs succeed only when employees at all levels-senior managers, middle managers, and the front line-share the will and the skills to change. McKinsey studied change programs at forty organizations, and found a strong correlation between good skills for managing change and the value an organization carries away from these programs. These skills, I would add, are the product of effective change communications and internal branding programming. The more knowledgeable, convinced and supportive the workforce is, the faster you can implement change. Strongly accepted change is sustainable, and that saves both time and money.

When all is said and done, successful internal branding lifts brand equity, customer focus and ultimately shareholder value. One of our high tech presenters at the April conference shared startling numbers that demonstrated a powerful correlation between internal branding efforts, external branding efforts and shareholder equity. It's all about the facts, the data, the metrics and accountabilities.

So the question becomes, "How should a company do internal branding or Inward Marketing?" Here are some of key elements/best practices we've gathered from studying this topic for the past seven years.

* A brand is a process driven, long-term proposition. Not a deliverable! And so is internal branding.
* Internal branding follows a sequential process; through which employees achieve internal brand success. There is a difference between communicating a message, getting it understood, and changing behavior.
* You must have senior leadership participation and involvement throughout the process of internal branding. You can't delegate this or let the managers drive it.
* Start with a clear company vision and purpose. If you don't have one, work with the senior team to establish one and communicate throughout the company by both words and action.
* Set clear objectives and well-defined roles at the outset, and revisit them throughout the process.
* Consider assigning dedicated people to internal change communication and internal branding. Let them create a sense of such urgency that staff see no alternative to change.
* Conduct an audit of the enterprise understanding of the business objectives and strategy so you can address areas where people don't "get it".
* Internal branding, done well, allows employees to transition from being "Informed," to "Understanding" the information, to becoming "Committed", so that they "Change Their Behavior' in support of the company goals. As a result they should "Receive Recognition & Rewards" and positive reinforcement for changing their behavior.
* Recognize the importance of the customer and all their points of contact with your company: call and service centers, sales associates, statements/invoices, advertising and more.
* Align your brand externally & internally. Let your inside be like your outside: what you say externally should be the same thing you say/do internally.
* Go for participation, consensus and employee dialogue. These work better than edicts and policies that travel down the hierarchy.
* Having "Employee Brand Ambassadors" is critical--involve a cross section of employees from all levels, who will promote the brand internally through experiential communication.
* Obtain metrics and measures before, during and after program implementation. Research your employees regularly and track their progress over time.
* Hard, Simple, Easy - Work hard to make complex concepts and ideas simple, so they are understood and communicated easily.
* Seek outside help from experts and consultants in the field - this is hard work, but with help in methodology and process, it can be done effectively.

If you are thinking about an internal branding program, or need help to create internal support to initiate a program, let us assist you. We have proven methodologies, delivery teams and the thought leadership to lead your company to a much better place. We will also be very appreciative if you share our ideas with others who may be thinking about internal branding, or send them to our website.

Friday, July 31, 2009

New Innovations in Marketing Leadership Councils

Introduction: What Is a Global Leadership Council?

A Global Leadership Council consists of successful, principle-oriented company CMOs. These leaders, visionaries, and marketing-change proponents demonstrate a powerful commitment to the betterment of marketing across their organization. The Council’s purpose is twofold: to enroll, inspire, and align programs and services for marketing units, and to share best practices to increase efficiencies.

Creating a More Strategic Role for Marketing: The Greatest Challenge

One of the greatest challenges today is to transition marketing from a purely tactical to a more strategic role. With respect to new product development in particular, the need is acute. Marketing must do a better job of identifying unmet needs in the marketplace, offering competitive intelligence, and then assuring that new products are relevant and solve real customer problems. This last objective, identifying the “voice of the customer,” is particularly important and often lacking.

When marketing is only involved at the tail end of the process, with a rather limited charter to make products seem desirable to the target audience, chances are that there won’t be a desirable product to market.

There are several areas of great interest to global corporations for CMOs to explore in frequent Council meetings, including the major themes and trends outlined below.

Setting Mission and Vision

One of the Global Leadership Council’s first activities must be to draft and achieve agreement on the group’s mission and vision as well as establish guidelines for participation and responsibilities. Clearly defining who is responsible and empowered for what types of actions or decisions is critical. Inward Strategic Consulting recommends a Visioneering™ Session, a facilitated workshop to create team-wide mission and vision.

A key topic these days for any marketing organization is accountability in all of its facets: brand value, advertising effectiveness, promotional payout, etc. Equally important is quickly building an apparatus that measures marketing and advertising impact with speed and efficiency, and has credibility with the entire senior leadership team.

Reviewing Marketing Operations

Another timely topic for the Council is to address its own marketing operations. How does the Council compare to peers and best practices, and how can its effectiveness be increased? An industry benchmark study would shed light on this topic.

Going From Selling-In to Selling-Out…Internal Branding is Important!

A major leadership challenge today has to do with employees. Many executives are asking a single over-arching question:

“How do we get the most out of our people so that we achieve the company’s profit and long-term growth objectives?”

We’re not just considering marketing people here but all employees—from the executive councils to mailroom operations and security desks.

The concerns and worries from marketing executives with regards to the employee challenge generally fall under five categories:

1. Inspiring and Influencing: This point relates to the executive’s leadership skill itself, the ability to command attention and respect, to draw and inspire followers, and to motivate them towards a vision and a goal.

  • How do we instill in our people the same degree of enthusiasm and commitment that we have for the company’s vision and mission?
  • How do we encourage employees to commit to “stretch” goals, and how do we help them achieve these goals?
  • How do we inspire our people to come to the office filled with energy and enthusiasm, ready to take on all the possibilities and opportunities that the day presents? How do we turn our company into a humming, thriving hive of human activity where great ideas pour forth in endless succession amid the din of competing voices and laughter?

2. Teamwork: Executives are faced with the challenge of bringing together people with different backgrounds—academic, technical, cultural and ethnic, political and religious—and getting them to work as a team. This challenge takes on gargantuan proportions in multi-category global settings where executives must lead international teams from several disciplines towards a common goal.

  • How do we channel all the intellect and energy coming from so many sources into a single focused beam?
  • It’s hard enough to get consensus from a few talented and outspoken people sitting around a conference table. So how do we do this with a hundred people from a dozen countries? How can we get them all to talk as one?
  • And then how do we get these people to act as one? How do we do it without over-centralization, without slowing down speed-to-market, without dampening individual and local initiative?
  • How can we improve our use of technology for this purpose? And can we do it without losing the human element?

3. Innovation: Competitive pressure—not just from players within the same industry but from other wholly unexpected sources—has made innovation an imperative to corporate survival. The challenge many marketing managers face is promoting innovation, especially in those large and successful organizations whose key executives indulge, paradoxically, in feelings of complacency and false invulnerability.

  • How do we drive our people to think out of the box? We need scientists who can tweak molecules into breakthrough product formulations. We need production personnel who can consistently make on-standard products at the least cost possible; marketers who can magically differentiate our brands from the competition’s. Advertising, PR, and promotions agencies must be able to thrust our brands in the face of consumers and communicate our message in provocative and memorable ways. Salespeople must place our brands wherever our consumers shop, merchandising them in ways that cannot fail to grab attention.
  • How can we train our people to think more like entrepreneurs? How can we get them to ask the question: “If this were my own business, what would I do if I was faced with this situation?”
  • How do you encourage risk-taking? How do you push people to the edge and give them the courage to jump and find out if they can fly? What if they have a fear of flying?

4. Customer Service: With most competing products offering comparable performance, often the differentiating advantage belongs to the company that gives the best customer service.

  • How do we motivate our front-line people to give the best customer service? To provide the most memorable and delightful experience possible, so that customers cannot help but rave and refer us to their friends?
  • Likewise, how do we motivate back-office and support teams to help the front-liners in this goal of turning customers into raving fans?

5. People Retention: Many marketing managers are very concerned about the painstaking process and huge cost of screening, hiring, and training people.

  • How do we attract the best people in the industry? How do we create a reputation among top university graduates and practicing professionals that our company is the industry Mecca for job challenge and empowerment, compensation and benefits, and skills development?
  • How do we retain people once they’re in? What environment—cultural and physical—should we create that will encourage them to stay? What is the optimum pay and perks package that will satisfy and keep them from considering a move to another company?
  • How do we help our people keep a proper work-life balance, prevent them from burning out, and ensure that they receive support for what they do at our company from the people who matter to them most—their families?

Focusing on Customer Service/Experience (Through the Brand)

CMOs have similar concerns about the teams they manage:

  • How well is the team integrating product solutions that will provide a seamless experience for the customer, not just our customers?
  • Does the team have a collective view of who the customer is?
  • How much do team members know about the health of a well-known brand in each of their markets? Often there is confusion between brand salience and brand comprehension. This could be a particularly important distinction if customers have been affected by the recent mortgage meltdown.
  • How well does the team understand the online channel for customer acquisition and customer management? How about strategies for developing alternative business practices, such as collecting payments in developing countries?

Sharing Success Stories

Sharing success stories and pinpointing strategies that can be leveraged in other geographies have major benefits, helping break down two common syndromes:

  • "Not invented here."
  • "They didn't come up with it/pay for it, so why should I share what I did? Will I get the credit?"

Identifying Internal Experts

Identifying the internal experts and best-practice centers for various skills and topics creates a framework for networking internally.

Assessing Competitive Intelligence

A fairly accepted practice is anticipating the next moves your global competitors are likely to make against you and run an exercise where you actually try to beat yourself. In other words, think like your competitors and create products, strategies, programs, and processes to out-compete yourself. This excellent exercise forces you to leave your own comfortable thinking and assumptions and look at your organization and offerings from your competitors' point of view.

Using Analytics, Measurement, and Web 2.0

Here are three issues for the Council to consider:

  • Use marketing analytics to improve marketing ROI and reallocate resources to reflect this mission. Marketing automation should also be explored.
  • How do you collectively measure success? Measurement is important! While it has always been on the agenda, it has definitely risen in significance over the last few years. And, if nothing else, measurement can extend a CMO's tenure in these days of "24-months-and-out" thinking on the part of CEOs.
  • There is a lot to share and learn in of all the Web 2.0 activities. Many interesting topics for discussion and analysis can be generated by looking at trend forecasts, such as demographic/firmagraphic and World Future Society.

Playing War Games and Simulations

Take time out and think of your company as the competition to yourself:

Examine your strategy. Conduct an exhaustive analysis the same way you do when you plan a new marketing program against your traditional competitive set.

  • Reexamine your key unique differentiation, personality traits, leverage points, and messaging platform.

You’ll come up with some fresh ideas that can be implemented as brand extensions and product innovations.

Conclusion: What’s next for the Global Leadership Council?

In summary, Global Leadership Councils are a wonderful way to incorporate best practices, communicate with peers and your marketing groups, leverage existing talents inside the organization and instill a sense of openness and communications within marketing departments. When they are done right and led from the top, they have the potential to instill change and inspire leadership from all employees.

We hope you have found this thought leadership piece insightful and helpful to your marketing challenges that may lie ahead. If you would like to chat with us about your specific marketing/communications issues or would like Inward to help you build a Global Leadership Council, give us a call or email us at any time. We’d be happy to brainstorm unique solutions for your specific situation. If you have any suggestions for future thought leadership topics you would like to see addressed, please let us know and we will do our best to provide you with information that best focuses your challenges.

Regards,

-Allan

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Inward's Brand Ambassador Survey Results are In

I am very excited to share the findings of our first Brand Ambassador Survey. We had a good response which yielded some dramatic findings and surprises. Here are a few top line flashes, however we suggest you click on the link below to review our full whitepaper analysis and call us to schedule a personal in-depth PowerPoint presentation on line.

While employee advocacy and brand ambassador programs are considered to be a strong leading indicator of brand equity, two thirds of our sample feels it is not endorsed or embraced fully within their companies. That is amazing.

The biggest surprise was that despite employee brand advocacy being a high contributing factor to brand equity, only over 68% of the people we surveyed said that their companies did not fully embrace the concept of brand ambassadorship programs that formally promote brand values and new behaviors. Only a third (32%) felt their companies fully embraced this idea. And in comparison to the previous year, 25% believe that their companies will invest less time and money for employee advocacy and brand championship programs. These are startling findings in our opinion.

The second big news headline is that in addition to not embracing brand ambassador programs, few companies are effectively deploying process and tactics successfully within their company.

Respondents cite not having a sophisticated tactics in place, lack of process or integrated plans, limited resources, lack of senior management support and generally an uncoordinated program that does not have an orchestrated goal and objective in sight. We know from our experience that the best employee advocacy companies use social networking and Web 2.0 platforms have highly engaging company wide training programs, and integrated HR appraisal and recognition rewards systems. They also employ groups of people who are charged with the responsibility of championing and promoting the corporate brand promise. The survey results indicate that these techniques are not being deployed in large numbers.

Very few companies according to our survey are relying on an integrated internal communications platform or process and only utilize limited effective tactics to achieve employee brand advocacy.

In the detailed analysis, we provide our top ten take-a-ways that will help you design and measure an effective employee brand ambassador program. The prescription for success is addressed in a simple fashion so that all internal communication professionals can achieve greater success with their brand ambassador programs.

Please click on the link below to see the analysis and order a detailed report. Also, call us to schedule a personal presentation appointment on line. In the near future will be having an on line webinar presentation as well, so keep an eye out for our announcements.

http://www.inwardconsulting.com/docs/Brand-Ambassador.pdf

Last but not least, thank you to all the people who participated in the survey. You helped contribute significant insight to our learning community of Brand Ambassadors.

Happy Reading!

-Allan Steinmetz

Monday, April 6, 2009

Take Our Brand Ambassador Survey

Over the last 10 years we have been asked what represents best practices in internal branding and brand ambassador programs. To this end, we have decided to embark on a significant study of companies and their employees to determine the commitment and measurement of organizations that have invested in internal branding and brand ambassador programs. The results will be disseminated to all the people/companies that participate in the study. The results of the study will provide insights as to current best practices and the extent that brand ambassador programs are being implemented and managed properly.

http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e2i0sl2eft7g71n9/a007ft7iy2k3/greeting

Inward defines Brand Ambassadors as "Employees of an organization that embody the brand values, culture and behavior that provide great customer experiences and positive perceptions that exemplify the brand image of the company. Brand Ambassadors activities can be exemplified through their corporate knowledge, promoting and communicating ideas to peers and customers, changing personal behavior and attitudes supporting the brand and recognizing and rewarding colleagues for their proper actions and behavior."

We invite you to take this ten minute survey. In addition, we kindly request that you help us forward the questionnaire to as many people as possible, through your social media networks and communities (LinkedIn. Twitter, Facebook), among colleagues, friends and relatives and through list serves you may be part of. The questionnaire is relevant to anyone who works in a company of any size. The more people who participate in completing the survey, the better the findings will be.

Our goal is to have as many as 2000 participants complete the survey.

Many thanks in advance of your participation. After taking the survey, drop me a quick line and tell me what you thought while going through the questions. I am always interested in your feedback.

http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e2i0sl2eft7g71n9/a007ft7iy2k3/greeting

Happy Spring!

-Allan Steinmetz

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Using Social Media to Promote Your Internal Brand

Lately, it seems that every time you open a newspaper, read a blog (a blog is also a social media app) or surf the Internet there is someone commenting about social media applications, such as Facebook, MySpace and more recently Twitter. Social networking Web sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, now attract more than 100 million visitors (the most recent stats I have seen say Facebook has 175 million users and MySpace has 110 million) a month and are valued in the billions of dollars. Those statistics are staggering.

The past four years has proven social media is no longer an Internet phenomena but rather something that is here to stay that drives innovation, collaboration and unleashes human potential. It brings people closer together to create abundant conversations around topics that range from consumer topics like pregnancy to business topics like production throughput.

From a consumer perspective it has created an environment where the collective knowledge of a group is leveraged to the benefit of the individual user. For instance, I recently joined Facebook, because my son posted some photographs of a recent trip he took with his wife. As soon as I joined I was inundated by friends, relatives and old acquaintances that requested that I befriend (term is "friend" them ("befriend them" - I didn't even know that was a term until two months ago). My first reaction was how much time do these people spend on the sites? When I started digging deeper I realized it wasn't just for passing gossip and reconnecting with acquaintances, I realized that real knowledge on a variety of subjects is being conveyed.

Social Media Applications Work For Business Too

Some of the most popular consumer social media are real people promoting their own views and sharing with others who have similar interests such as Moms talking to Moms, gamers communicating with gamers or political junkies talking to whomever. A simple Google search of blogs on your favorite topic will yield limitless results. The same can be said for business topics:

  • Blogs: A blog (a contraction of the term weblog) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. Check out the Inward Consulting blog as an example: http://inwardconsulting.blogspot.com/. We use Twitter to allow our readers to follow what we are doing every day. http:twitter.com/shteinman.
  • Social Media: Social media is information content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies that is intended to facilitate communications, influence and stimulate interaction with peers and with public audiences, typically via the Internet and mobile communications networks. Sites such as LinkedIn, and even Facebook and MySpace are very useful in disseminating and collecting information. Check out my LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/43/333.
From a business/professional perspective I have been a member of LinkedIn from its inception (at least four years ago) when a professional colleague who I respect asked me to join his LinkedIn group. At the time I had no idea what I was doing, why I was doing it or what benefit I would derive from making these connections? However, if my professional colleague made that request I couldn't deny him. Over the four years I've come to realize that it indeed is a very powerful tool for business development, asking probing questions and receiving advice, and finding talent for filling vacant positions

The referrals I receive through LinkedIn are substantial and have benefited the growth of our company in many ways. More importantly, I have been able to expand my relationships with people all around the world, in several networking groups to clients and friends in ways that I would otherwise rarely have a means to communicate with them. I now have 289 connections and 28 recommendations. If you would like to join my network, send me an email invitation, or let me know and I will invite you to join mine.

Using Social Media to Promote Your Internal Brand

To take it one step further I started to investigate how the aforementioned social media applications are being used within corporate cultures as a medium to facilitate effective change/communications. What I found was amazing. I found that social media is now being used through corporate platforms to unify, and establish collaboration, create innovation, solve global client problems, establish corporate standards across large multinational corporations and the list goes on and on.

Here are a few poignant examples:

EMC has an internal social platform called Global/One:

  • Their goal was to build relationships on a one-to-one "personal reference" level amongst staff and the corporation with virtually zero-budget toward branding.
  • Over the last three years it has become the driving force behind a cultural shift in a collaborative environment that is spurring innovation, global collaboration and solutions that solve client's problems.
  • It has created social media "rock stars" within the company who are becoming recognized leaders for their blog writings as the go-to opinion leaders who people respect and follow for their thoughtful ideas and inspiration.
IBM has created a similar platform called Beehive:
  • Beehive is an internal social networking site that gives IBMers a "rich connection to the people they work with" on both a personal and a professional level.
  • The Beehive team created the site to help IBM employees meet the challenge of building the relationships vital to working in large, distributed enterprises today.
  • The team is also exploring if Beehive can help IBMers discover people with common interests or the right skills for a project, whether learning more about someone -- either personally or professionally -- facilitates making contact, and to what extent it entices people to learn about ongoing projects and activities beyond their immediate team.
Google uses social media tools as a reporting mechanism:
  • The company's engineers use blogs and wikis as a way to report work progress.
  • Managers stay abreast of their progress and provide direction by using tools that make it easy to mine data on workflows.
  • Engineers are better able to coordinate work with one another and can request back up help when needed.
Pixar has a video wiki for animation collaboration:
  • The company started with text based-then moved to video based wikis to share information about films in production and to document meeting notes.
  • Once the system was installed, critique lead to increased efficiency and faster film development.
Change Management Mindset

Social media advances are getting so much attention that McKinsey recently conducted a analysis and assessment of what major corporations were doing and what some of the impediments and obstacles were that were preventing more wide scale participation in social networking technologies. The result of their analysis was reported in the February issue of McKinsey Quarterly.

http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Six_ways_to_make_Web_20_work_2294

In summary there are six initiatives/ideas that are promulgating effective use of social media. McKinsey sees it as a major development within corporate cultures with potentially higher success factors in comparison to the CRM and ERP initiatives of the late 90s. It is not just a timely phenomenon that will likely pass with time, but rather a rules changing paradigm shift that will dramatically change how companies will compete and conduct business. Some of the items they suggest are as follows;

  1. The transformation to a bottom up culture needs help from the top. Social media channels need senior leaders using it as an example to gain credibility and traction. Senior executives need to become role models and lead through informal channels for it to catch on across the board.
  2. The best uses come from users-but they require help to scale. Applications that drive the most value through participatory technologies often aren't those that management expects. When management chooses the wrong uses, organizations often don't regroup by switching to applications that might be successful.
  3. What's in the workflow is what get's used. Adopt social media as part of the daily work routine-not just something extra on the side.
  4. Appeal to the participants egos and needs-not just their wallets. Recognize and reward employees' positive participation in social media experiments publically. Like EMC, shower contributors with public praise, make them "Rock Stars" and reward their enthusiasm, acknowledging the quality and usefulness of contributions.
  5. The right solution comes from the right participants. Getting the right audience to participate is critical to the quality the social media channel. Select users who will help drive a self-sustaining effort (often enthusiastic early technology adopters who have rich personal networks and will thus share knowledge and exchange ideas). And be committed to create collective value.
  6. Balance the top down and self management of risk. A common reason for failed participation is discomfort with it, or even fear. In some cases, the lack of management control over the self-organizing nature and power of dissent is the issue. In others, it's the potential repercussions of content-through blogs, social networks, and other venues-that is detrimental to the company. Make sure the content and participants in any social media channel are managed and expectations are set so there is a balance. Include all stakeholders in the discussions to resolve potential issues before they arise.

As all the current thinking suggests, there are major employee mind set adjustments and change management communications requirement with implementing an effective social media strategy inside your company. Change management communications were also required during initiation and launch of reengineering and process redesign in the mid 90's and CRM systems after the millennium. If you don't motivate your people to embrace the new technological change by educating them, by demonstrating how the change is relevant to their lives/jobs, the acceptance/adoption of new habits will never occur and your firm will fall behind on this new technological social media movement.

We have put together a timely PowerPoint tutorial explaining the trends with advice on how to get started. If you would like us to set up a time to review that with you and your team or would simply would like a copy, reply back to this email. Also at Inward, we are curious how social media is changing the rules of engagement, so if you have stories from your own experiences and ideas to share with us please reply back to this email as well.

So jump into this new social media world. You can decide to dip your toe into it or your whole body. Let us help show you the way. We have the skills, strategic relationships with some of the best social media designers, strategists and technologists around and the change management communications capabilities to insure your success.