Posts tagged Business

Why Heineken Understands the Importance of Employee Culture

When you look at a lot of the talk on the social web around brands, much of it centers on a few core mindsets:

Be your customer; listen to your customer; be there for your customer; be where your customer is.

Wise words, and definitely core for any business to succeed, not just on social. Yet as important as customers are to the longevity of a business, there’s another very core component – the employee.

The Internal Customer

I’ve written before about the value of your employees, and the very smart Leon Noone has shared his thoughts on the value of looking after your employees by creating the right culture and expectations from the start, as well as continuing to live by them.

Yet so many businesses miss this, and instead talk a good talk about customers while missing the walk when it comes to internal customers – your employees.

They’re the folks that represent your brand in public; they’re the folks that determine the customer experience; they’re the folks that keep the wheels turning. The importance of having the right culture and making sure there’s a good fit on both sides – brand/employee and employee/brand – is evident, as highlighted in this article from Forbes:

  • Companies that acknowledge employee value can see three times as much return on brand equity than those that don’t;
  • Aluminum producer Alcoa saw income growth of 500% over 10 years when employee safety was made the #1 priority;
  • A study by Bright Horizons showed 89% of employees who felt appreciated were more productive.

This should be common sense, but unfortunately it’s not, as seen by the high amount of employee churn at many businesses and corporations. Which is why the video at the end of this post from Dutch beer manufacturer Heineken made me smile.

The Right People for the Right Culture

The video follows the hiring process for a new intern position at Heineken. It opens with something we’ll all recognize – the canned answers to interview questions that candidates hope will be what the hiring company wants to hear.

For Heineken, though, getting the right person for their culture is much more important than being spoon-fed answers that may be complimentary, but don’t really show the personality of the potential employee, and whether they’d be a good fit or not.

While the video itself may be part of a marketing campaign on showing what Heineken is all about, the actual company culture speaks for itself – Heineken’s core brand values are Respect, Quality and Enjoyment.

These have seen Heineken receive numerous employee-centric awards and features, including Britain’s Top Employers 2012, features in People Management, shortlisting for the Employee Benefits Awards 2012 and much more.

As I mentioned at the start of the post, it’s key to appreciate your customers, especially in this fast marketing world we live in today where the smallest dissatisfaction can become the biggest online buzz.

Just remember the equally important internal employees, too – get that part right and your customers will automatically benefit.


Influence Marketing: A Business Book for the Next Wave of Influence

This is a cross post with the Influence Marketing blog.

Since Sam and I announced our book at the end of last year, many people have asked us one primary question about it:

Is it for people looking to increase their social score, or is it something different?

The one sentence answer to that is fairly simple:

This isn’t a book about improving your social score; instead, as you’ll see below, this is a business book around the topic of influence and how it shapes marketing as well as other business verticals.

While today’s influence market is (arguably) led by social scoring platforms, we see things very differently.

We’ve already shared where we see the future of influence marketing and which platforms will be leading the way.

With regards the audience best-suited to the book and what it offers, below is the full overview.

Read More

The Art of Great Service and When We Stopped Listening

Offering great customer serviceYears ago, I led a customer service team for a well-known telecommunications company in the UK.

Despite its size, one thing that was always drummed into us was that no matter what the problem, have empathy with the customer and acknowledge that any verbal attacks are aimed at the company, not us.

It did the trick.

We knew that our company wasn’t perfect – which one is? We also knew that some of our company’s practices wouldn’t go over well with our customers, and that would lead to unhappy customers calling in to complain.

Though they sometimes got vociferous in their argument, we would always listen, offer empathy and look for a way that we could both work together to resolve the issue.

Again, it worked.

At the end of the call, the customer would apologize and say they were really sorry that they came over as argumentative – they were just frustrated and felt as if they had no-one to talk to about it. All they wanted was for someone to listen and show that their problems were being heard.

Even if nothing could be done about them, just knowing someone cared made a huge difference.

So when did we stop listening?

I come across businesses every day that seem to have forgotten what customer service is. Public transport that’s always late with no apology or explanation; banks raising charges on credit cards with little warning and no alternatives; restaurants changing menus without any kind of customer survey (and often losing the best food in the process).

Even social media isn’t immune to this malaise – look at the thousands of unhappy Facebook users when the company changes its front-end without asking users what they thought first? Even worse, when users complain, Facebook pretty much sticks its head in the sand and says, “Take it or leave it.”

What amazes me more about this apathy toward customers is that businesses can’t afford to have this attitude. All around us, businesses are folding, communities are suffering and families struggling to keep their heads above water.

New business will be almost impossible to come across with any great success, which is why it’s more important than ever to look after your existing customers.

Business is tough enough as it is. We all want to attract new clients and build our brand, but we can’t afford to do so at the expense of our existing customers. Along with employees, they’re the soul of any company and the ones that can offer you the best kind of new client attraction – word-of-mouth advertising.

Something for businesses to keep in mind the next time they review their customer service policy.

image: gumption

The Changing Face of Multicultural Marketing

Multicultural marketing

If you’re in the business of marketing to different cultures – and, in a way, aren’t we all? – when was the last time you took a look at how your marketing is focused?

For instance, with the continued rise in use of social networks, are you using this medium or are you still in the “scared of social media” camp?

If it’s the latter, where else are you spending your time and energy? Perhaps it’s time to revisit your plan and see how it shapes up next to the latests figures released about multicultural marketing.

The Medium is Still the Message

Perhaps one of the more interesting results is that SEO – search engine optimization – is the #1 platform for targeting multiple cultures. Then again, maybe not – since the “SEO is dead” mantra usually comes from digital or social media specialists with an agenda to sell their services.

But, as you can see from the image below, it’s still the leading choice for multicultural marketing, and it’s still a growing choice as well – up 6% from two short years ago.

ANA Growing Platforms for Reaching Multiculturals
(click image to expand)

As expected, social media comes in at a string second, as the “fad platform” becomes further entrenched in more business tactics and strategies. Mobile is also a strong player which, given that the Latin American phone market, for example, is the third largest in the world.

However, take a look at the biggest growth areas since 2010 – Twitter, webinars, blogs, wikis and location based apps (think Foursquare and Gowalla).

Twitter, perhaps, makes a lot of sense, since its mobile usage makes it more attractive as a target for multicultural marketing campaigns. And you’ll get no argument from me on the strength of blogs as a marketing tool, no matter what market or niche you’re going after.

But the others – especially the wiki approach and webinars – shows that there’s a very different marketplace in front of us than there were in 2010. So what does this mean for your business, if your audience is multicultural?

Choose Your Markets Wisely

If you’re marketing currently doesn’t include most of the options above, you’re already behind. As social and mobile continues to play a huge part of the overall marketing mix, your business needs to be on the platforms your audience prefers.

This is nothing new, of course – even back in the day, you’d choose your markets wisely, from the type of newspaper your advertised in to the radio show you’d buy ad space on.

The difference now is that your audience is more fractured; wants information sooner; and wants it on their terms.

  • If you’re planning any kind of mobile campaign, make sure your target destination is mobile-optimized or, at the very least, mobile-friendly. Otherwise you’re wasting your money and your customers’ time.
  • Webinars are inexpensive, can share a lot of information at once, and offer the perfect opportunity to gather emails for list building and future campaigns. Use them, and benefit from them.
  • Consider creating a wiki on your own website, with the most common questions; solutions to common issues; shared resources, and more. The more information a customer has on your product, the more they’re likely to try.
  • Be smart with location based marketing. Don’t just reward Mayors for checking in – create loyalty programs and time-sensitive offers. Also, cross-sell with other locations if you have multiple stores in the same city. Buy jeans at location A and get a matching top for 50% off if you also check in at location B.

As the ANA report shows, customer mindsets have changed drastically in just two short years. Now the question is, has your business mindset?

Creating Your Business Playlist

Creating a business playlist

I was going through my iPod tunes over the weekend, adding some new ones and building some new playlists.

Looking at the tracks, I saw there’s no real genre that stands out as a favourite – there’s everything on there from hard rock to R&B, Motown to 80′s pop, classical arias to hip hop. Quite the mix.

Instead of being fractured, it makes sense for me to have so many different styles on there – I’m sure it does for you as well.

It all depends on how the mood takes us at any given time.

For instance, if I’m driving in the summer, it’s time for hard rock, windows down, full volume. But if I’m melancholy or introspective, it’s Marvin Gaye and Ella Fitzgerald time. Different sounds for the need at any given time.

And that should apply for us in business as well.

Building a Playlist

We shouldn’t be concentrating on just one area all the time. Sure, let’s be strong where our strengths are, but does that mean we need to limit our knowledge to these strengths?

People aren’t satisfied with the one-trick pony anymore, no matter how strong or sturdy that pony might be. Agencies and organizations are having to adapt to offer an umbrella service.

PR; Marketing; Creative; Customer Service; Sales; Design – couldn’t they be available from one source (or at least have an option to offer more than one core strength)?

Think about what you offer at the minute, and what you don’t. Can you build on that? Can you learn what you need to know, so that you can offer multiple practices instead of just one? If not, how easy can you learn? It doesn’t matter if it’s online or offline, you can find the solution:

  • Webinars
  • Forums
  • User groups
  • Networking events
  • Workshops
  • Social learning
  • In-house or on-site training

Think about what you’d like to see as a customer. Are you happy with having to go to 5-6 different agencies to get core skill sets at each one, or would you prefer a solution where everything could be under one roof? Or at least half the current amount of solutions.

Sell Your Strengths, Buy Your Weakness

Even if you don’t have the time to take onboard the new skills you need, why not outsource but keep it under your banner?

Search for freelancers that you can call on for projects that need a specific expertise. Nurture relationships, build portfolios, treat as equals – you never know what could come from it, and it opens your own business up to many more possibilities.

Having a favourite band is normal. Having a favourite type of music is normal. But just think of the amazing sounds you could be missing out on if you don’t mix up your iPod every now and again.

Is it time for you to freshen up your business playlist?

We Are the Supercool

We are the supercool

We are the supercool.

That’s not a smug or ego-stroking statement. It’s more a statement of celebration.

Why are we supercool?

We’re the conversationalists. We’re the network communities. We’re the end user champions. We’re helping to transform business into the way it’s meant to be played.

We’re the brand evangelists that the brands are listening to. We’re not the mouthpieces; we’re simply the words. But the words are being heard. We’re the provider and receiver of the eyeballs.

We’re the new storytellers and the old story sharers. We have a mass media appeal with a core media approach. We’re here to help and educate; we’re here to be helped and be educated. Our stories are the ones that are helping shape our needs and the people, and businesses, that want to meet them and meet us.

We’re no longer me; we’re now we.We’re no longer I; we’re now us.

We share; we learn; we teach; we absorb; we support; we offer; we respect; we build; we talk. Most of all, we converse.

We are at the dawn of the socialization age.

Isn’t that reason to feel supercool?

image: doctor paradox