Trade shows and conferences are a mainstay of the title insurance and real estate industry. They offer the opportunity to improve your industry knowledge and network. If you own or manage a title company or law firm, you can't attend all of these shows, so how do you make sure that your employees are representing your company's vision with enthusiasm?
Richard Gootee from Bowe Digital gives some ways to create and maintain excitement about your company's brand among your biggest asset.
Our founder, Wayne M. Stanley, shared a perfect metaphor the other day. He was recounting how he was excited to talk to fellow conference-goers about a new brand and website for their company, but the employees did not share the same enthusiasm. “It’s like they popped my balloon,” he said of his unrequited positivity.
Our whole team knew what Wayne was talking about. The happiness that a balloon tied around a wrist brings a small child. And then the horror of someone going up to that kid, popping the precious balloon and then running off. Terrible thought, isn’t it?
What the employees – and the company they represent – didn’t realize is that they missed an opportunity to capitalize on Wayne’s happiness and eagerness to learn more about the brand. Instead, that excitement he once had is replaced by ambivalence for the changes happening within their company.
The employees had valid reasons for not feeling as energized by the new changes: They weren’t directly involved in the re-brand and their responsibilities and expectations did not change because of it. Despite this public change for their company, for them, it was business as usual. We’re certainly not trying to chastise them for that, of course. It’s natural to not feel a part of something that you have no feeling of ownership in at all.
Buy In is Critical for Any Re-Brand or Marketing Launch
So, where did the process go wrong? We think it started at the beginning – way back when the company decided it needed something new. The reasons for why such a change was needed or what the company wanted to accomplish with the brand refresh were not conveyed with the rest of the employees. Bowe Digital is a small company. We know communication is more difficult the larger a company becomes. However, Wayne would never dream of springing such a major change on us without communicating the reasons why to each of us first. Maybe we’re just a nosey bunch, but that openness is a trait of his that we certainly appreciate.
Of course, simply alerting people to change is not enough to get them to buy in. There are reasons why such marketing campaigns are expensive – it’s well worth the professional guidance to get your message across. However, it’s a mistake to not let your employees in on the process and gather their input for any new direction. Blindsided people are the least likely ones to support a new concept. Even if you don’t use your team’s suggestions (pro tip, you’ll probably at least learn something you weren’t considering before) the process will certainly feel more like a team effort. These are the people who work hard for you every day. They certainly care about the company and how it is portrayed.
If you’re a bigger company than Bowe Digital, this step might be more difficult. But you can use smaller groups of employees to take suggestions as you start any re-branding or website creation process. Then, at least you can say it was employee-shaped. Plus, those company-wide email messages were invented for these sorts of announcements!
Lastly, make it known that you expect your team to be excited about the changes and that you expect to be able to explain them outside of your four walls. It’s quite possible that the people Wayne encountered were just speaking their true feelings without thinking what it means to the brand because no one told them that they should consider themselves front-line ambassadors for the change. But you can’t expect them to become cheerleaders overnight. Most of your employees will want to know why the changes are being made, what the company is trying to accomplish, what it means for your customers (current and future) and how they can help in the new campaign. Set aside some time before the new concepts are unveiled to the public and answer these questions for your loyal and hard-working team. Trust us, it’ll be time well spent. Challenge your team to practice explaining your new brand/website/app/product/service to a stranger at the grocery store or the gas station. Let them tell you how the experience went and reward those that share their stories with a small gift card or public recognition of some kind.
You certainly shouldn’t mandate that employees pretend they love something they truly hate. But if they are don’t care either way, tell them your expectations and remind them that if someone else shows excitement for your new brand or logo, they should celebrate those feelings, not disregard them.
Your employees can be your best referral source or your biggest rumor mill. Empowering them to promote your company and its new message will be the most inexpensive (and enlightening) part of your new campaign. You must find ways to get them involved. That means making sure they know change is coming, delivering clear messages on your new brand or website and listening to their feedback.
No one wants to hold a popped balloon.
Bowe Digital is a small business marketing firm based in Indiana. With clients around the U.S., Bowe Digital specializes in brand awareness, content marketing, website development and social media for the title insurance industry. To learn more, or to connect directly, please visit www.bowedigital.com.