When we want new business, we often turn to our marketing departments for help. They are the experts for sourcing opportunities, finding new customers, creating calls to action, and ultimately, driving revenue. This month, I asked Hutchinson Consulting partner Carol Stratford for unusual marketing advice for operators seeking to gain market share without the need for spending additional marketing dollars. Her advice? Make your employees brand ambassadors.
If you want an authentic voice to evangelize your brand’s benefits, look no further than right under your own roof. Employees live and breathe your brand all day long, and each of them has a different kind of understanding of what makes it special. Take advantage of any opportunity to put that understanding to good use.
To find your ambassadors, look outside your typical marketing teams. Your front line has the most interaction and most credibility. Identify employees who are friendly and outgoing. If they love their job, they love your brand and will find it easy to talk about it. Seek out those who are mentioned on guest surveys, social media, and on review sites. Let your general manager or spa director know who the potential brand ambassadors are. Sometimes just connecting with them and acknowledging their great work is enough to take a valued employee from good to great.
Once you have found your ambassadors, encourage their natural enthusiasm. Urge them to share their excitement about your brand in their own words when talking with customers. Many of our clients are working with us on training tactics to help employees do this successfully. Let them experience as many different facets of your company so that they are knowledgeable field experts who can improve your customer service perception and engage your customers. Encourage them to share what they love about your brand outside the workplace, such as on their personal social media accounts. This acts as the ultimate brand endorsement from the ultimate brand experts.
Open a dialogue and keep them informed by making certain they are kept up-to-date on the latest on company news and happenings. Invite their feedback. Let them experience what you want to promote, and give them the opportunity to weigh in. The more they are invested in your business, the more likely they are to want to share and personally endorse your brand. Don’t just put out a newsletter but also encourage department ambassadors to share pertinent company information to improve cross-property integration of teamwork. Ask them to share customer responses and build upon that. Over time, they will have a valuable sense of what motivates and interests your customers most. When your ambassadors share this information, encourage them to create new work solutions to improve the customer responses they receive from your guests. Take communication to action, and allow your ambassadors to roll out their initiatives after managerial approval.
Finally, reward them for a job well done. Recognition is always the best way to keep them inspired and actively engaged in your brand’s story. Recognition does not always need to be monetary. Offering praise at all staff meetings, a personal note from the executive team, or even a visit to their area with a handshake and thank you is often times enough to make an ambassador feel valued.