We’re all familiar with the idea of ‘Brand.’ Creating something unique and recognisable about your business that people associate with it, this directly correlates to being remembered and trusted. Building your Brand gives your business an identity of it’s own, something your customers and prospects can identify with. When done correctly your Branding should invoke feelings of trust, turn customers into fans and be recognised simply from a logo or catchphrase. Whether you’re B2B or B2C having a strong Brand is key to ensuring your businesses success.
What many businesses overlook is the internal aspect of their Brand. Herb Kheller, CEO of SouthWest Airlines had this to say:
“Years ago, business gurus used to apply the business school conundrum to me: ‘Who comes first? Your shareholders, your employees, or your customers?’ I said, ‘Well, that’s easy,’ but my response was hearsay at that time. I said employees come first and if employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right, the outside world uses the company’s product again, and that makes the shareholders happy. That really is the way that it works, and it’s not a conundrum at all.”
What does this mean? Essentially, one of the biggest slowers of growth in a business is the quality of the employees. Mediocrity is the enemy of greatness, it is the enemy of success. Not every employee can be the best but if you fill your business with employees simply happy to be ‘ok’ at their job your company will suffer.
Though there is a huge labour pool out there, finding the best people to hire is far more difficult. The most basic problem is that normally the best people for your role are already hired. You might get lucky and find people applying or down on their luck but chances are the best are already hired by someone else. This means you have to create a business people want to work for. Just as you create a Brand people want to buy from. Think of the success of Brands like Google, they’ve done this with a great deal of success. Amazon have recently had a lot of trouble as their ‘Employee Brand’ has taken a huge knock with revelations of poor employee satisfaction, punitive action and general chronic overworking.
For many SMEs simply offering more money and benefits-in-kind is not an option, cash flow won’t allow it. Instead you’ve got to focus on an environment that will attract successful people. Think about the core values of your business, or the business of your clients if you’re recruiting for them. A huge amount of company LinkedIn pages aren’t fully filled out, or simply have generic rubbish in the sections where they should be really differentiating their business from others.
If you’re a small business looking to recruit talented, proven individuals, what can you offer that your larger competitors can’t? Input into the direction of the business? Autonomy and trust? Real chance for development, learning and progression? Being a member of a small team that deals with many business aspects rather than simply being a cog in the Marketing department? Strong work/home life balance or a thoroughly ethical ethos?
Talk to your senior team members about what you think you offer, talk to your junior members and ask them to talk about their likes and dislikes of working for the Brand. Take this information and see how it aligns with your outward facing Brand ethos. Aligning these 3 experiences and goals allows for a cohesive and congruent Brand that stretches from the back of the office right out to the end-client.
Once you’ve come to some conclusions it’s time to think about your Employee Personas. Similar to your Buyer Personas, what does your perfect employee look like? You can have more than one. Use these to target your search for new talent. Hiring the right employee can be a huge asset to your business and to your Brand, conversely hiring someone who sounds good on paper but doesn’t fit into the business can be a massive waste of time and money. Worse, they can derail your Brand vision. We’re not saying surround yourself with ‘Yes Men’ but surround yourself with like minded people willing to drive toward the same goal.
If you want a Sales Person who comes in at 9, clocks off at 5 and sells but has no investment in the company then by all means hire them. But know what you’re getting yourself in for. Blindly hiring people you ‘think’ fill a need as opposed to taking a few hours to work out exactly what the role you want filled is can be a costly mistake and slow your business growth by years.
If you look after your employees and hire the best people for the job then your Brand will build it’s reputation naturally. By advertising for positions in the right place and being active with talking about your business’s attitude and ethos you can essentially start building your Marketing Funnel and using it in the same way you would a normal Sales/Marketing funnel. This often requires rewriting company Employment/Careers pages, especially on Social Media pages. This short investment of time can lead to a much better qualified pool of candidates applying for your positions, even outside of specific recruitment times.