The New Marketing Strategy: Company Culture

I have a confession to make. You want to know the real reason why I love it when a company boldly goes “all in” with content marketing and social business transformation?

Because it means that organization is about to invest in a stronger company culture.

If the new sales strategy is building trust and humanizing your brand, then the new marketing strategy is company culture.

Becoming a social enterprise is about more than marketing. It’s about connecting. It’s about people.

It is about your brand coming to life because employees live it and your customers celebrate being part of it.

Truth >> Social business transformation scares the pleated-pants off business executives with a weak company culture.

To be a social business and have a content marketing culture, business leaders must trust employees:

  • to have a voice
  • to be good listeners
  • to be agile problem solvers
  • to communicate via new mediums
  • to be great collaborators
  • to be your living brand

Do all these things happen on their own when you “go social”? Not. so. much.

For a social business and a content marketing culture to thrive, executives must provide great leadership, clarity, mission and humanity to the organization. Otherwise, an executive command of “go forth and be social” is about as dangerous as kicking up an ant hill… barefoot… and then standing in it. Not cool.

Being a social business that rocks content marketing is much bigger than strategy. It’s a culture.

Dear Corporate Leadership

Please get back to being a business of people… serving people. Sounds a tad cheesy but seriously. Stop trying to be a big “corporatey,” over-processed, over-mechanized, over-bureaucratic, over-org-charted machine. Smoke and mirrors and perfection is out. Authentic, human, collaboration and innovation from real-time engagement is in.

If you treat your business like a machine then don’t be surprised when your employees act like passionless robots. Ever find yourself scratching your head wondering why on earth your machine-like, killer strategy isn’t thriving? Check your culture (and check your heart).

Strategy + Culture

If you’re going to be a social business on the outside, then you have to have a social company culture on the inside. [Outside = Inside]

If you’re going to be transparent and helpful and collaborative online, then you have to model those same qualities offline in the way your employees and departments and leadership interact. [Online = Offline]

If you’re going to be a brand that acts socially helpful, respectful, patient, encouraging, and optimistic then you need to be those (as well as hire for, coach and encourage those qualities). [Act = Be]

If you’re going to be a social business, invest in your employees and your culture. Lead by example internally first.

Because:

Here’s the good news… Transforming your company culture starts with you. You can do it. Every company on fire started with a spark. Be the spark.

Examples

If you’re looking for a variety of examples of organizations aligning culture and social marketing strategy here are a few of my favorites to watch and learn from.

1. Block Imaging – They are a small business in a very niche market (refurbished medical imaging equipment and service) that involves every single employee in their content marketing efforts. Below is a video from their President, Josh Block, with a special message for other businesses considering a content marketing culture. He shares the powerful implications of a content marketing culture on sales, business growth, branding, team relationships and organizational culture.

2. Enterasys - On top of being an award winning provider of unified communications solutions for the healthcare and education industry, they’ve not only pursued social business excellence, they’ve written the book on it… literally. Social Business Excellence is packed with tons of actionable ideas for any organization looking to pursue “going social” but the one specific idea I’ll highlight here is their culture card. As you can see in the image below, their culture card spells out the qualities and expectations of the Enterasys culture. What isn’t shown in the image below is the second page of the document that contrasts the traits of an average company versus the traits of an innovative growth company. I wish I could show you the table because it is a very smart use of stark contrast and succinct examples to provide context and understanding for the entire team.

Enterasys' Culture Card for Social Business Excellence

Enterasys’ culture card spells out clear expectations for social business excellence

An additional resource would be the Forbes article, “If You Aren’t Social, You’ll Shrink” in which Enterasys’ Chief Customer Officer, Vala Afshar, reveals 10 steps to becoming a social business.

3. Burberry – Angela Ahrendts transformed the Burberry brand into a truly social enterprise and is often asked about the company culture’s role in achieving such significant growth and performance under her leadership (in their case, “performance” means doubling revenue). Here is a 5-minute video interview with HBR where Angela shares the reason why being a social enterprise and culture of digitally connected employees, suppliers and customers is the future of business.

social enterprise culture example burberry

I could go on and on about the social strategies and cultures developed at these companies but I’ll save those for future posts. Bottom line, it is strategy + culture = success. But none of those work if you forget the people part.

Your Input Matters

Does culture play an important part in your company’s strategy for growth? What other companies do you see rocking a great mash-up of sales and marketing strategy embedded in their culture? What shapes your company culture?

Comments

  1. I believe brand architecture in a positive and social way is very important to today’s company culture. I agree with the article pointing out the corporate culture that some businesses fall into “you treat your business like a machine then don’t be surprised when your employees act like passionless robots”. To convince your clients/customers your brand has a social and fun culture it must start from inside the company i.e employees. Company culture will not only have positive return on your company environment and brand but with profits as well.

    • kristakotrla says:

      Hi Matthew, appreciate your comment. The important thing is not to “convince” clients/customers of your culture (in a marketing sense). Very important for your company to live it and for customers to experience it. If customers don’t FEEL your positive social culture in the way you interact with them, then marketing your cool culture without delivering on it can backfire and damage trust. That’s why it is increasingly important for companies today to invest in aligning marketing AND culture. In this very socially connected day-and-age, it is very powerful if you do and very powerful if you don’t. So the call to action for businesses and company leadership is to make sure it is powerful good! :-)

      –kk

  2. Love this section:
    Please get back to being a business of people… serving people. Sounds a tad cheesy but seriously. Stop trying to be a big “corporatey,” over-processed, over-mechanized, over-bureaucratic, over-org-charted machine. Smoke and mirrors and perfection is out. Authentic, human, collaboration and innovation from real-time engagement is in.

    Can someone comment on what the MBA programs are doing out there to help their students develop these characteristics? What sorts of courses (or events) should MBA programs be offering? I’d like to suggest some trips to homeless shelters, nursing homes, hospitals, psychiatric wards, 12-step programs, etc. — in order to develop more compassionate hearts, where the end goal is not about making the most money possible.
    Daniel Christian recently posted..The transience of power: The powerful do not stay that way for long [The Economist]My Profile

    • kristakotrla says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Thank you for the feedback. Appreciate your engagement on the topic and great questions. I can’t speak to MBA programs but agree that it would certainly be beneficial to incorporate these concepts in that setting. The best way to encourage a more compassionate and social company culture is for leadership to live it, model it, encourage it, hire for it and train it. Leadership also sets the standard by defining a bigger purpose for the company’s existence other than making money. It is very important for everyone in an organization to understand how what they do everyday impacts others lives. To quote Dan Pink, “Make it personal and make it purposeful.”

      –kk

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