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Agrimarketing : May 2015
AGRI-MARKETERS UPDATE PEOPLE POWER: BEGIN WITH BEHAVIORS T by Joe Bannon, Sr VP, 5MetaCom he decision making process for buyers of agricultural purchases always involves multiple stakeholders among the buyer’s and seller’s side. While promotional tactics alone generally work well to create awareness and motivate impulse purchases, considered agricultural purchases typically involve many people. In addition to sales people, technical specialists and many others may be involved in the selling process. And in this regard, it is the behaviors of employees in the selling organization that represent the company brand to customers. Yet despite the significant role employee behaviors play throughout the considered purchase process, companies rarely pay much attention to these behaviors in their brand planning and implementation. Such dismissal of behaviors is unfortunate because when employee’s behaviors do not align with the brand, inconsistencies arise and the brand is likely to suffer. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Brand enrollment is a process of actively engaging employees to connect personally with a brand so that they live it out in their on-the-job interactions internally and with customers. Employees who are enrolled with the brand deliver a customer experience that strengthens the brand at every customer touch point. In “The People Powered Brand — A Blueprint for B2B Brand and Culture Transformation,” (Paradigm Market Publishing, 2014), my colleague and co-author Chris Wirthwein and I discuss a brand enrollment process that connects employees’ behaviors to the brand. We use an “enrollment workshop” format that is driven by dialog about the brand and its connection to employee behaviors. While every company’s discussion is unique, following is an overview of the enrollment workshop process. GETTING STARTED When it comes to fostering dialog, small groups work best. I usually keep brand enrollment workshop groups to fewer than 50 participants — for example, a department manager and their direct reports. The point here is that as employees interact with each other — even employees who never interact with a customer — their behaviors should align with the brand. An agenda that specifies objectives and ground rules at the outset helps manage participants’ expectations for the enrollment workshop. Leaders should be prepared for some skepticism or push-back as some employees may view branding as a “touchy-feely” topic best left to the marketing department. That’s why it is important for leaders to establish why participants are gathered and what the workshop aims to achieve. BRAND DIALOG Through dialog comes discovery. Leaders should talk with employees to uncover what they think about the company brand. Questions to facilitate dialog include: What is a brand? Why is the brand important? Why are employee behaviors important to the brand? Howemployee behaviors affect perceptions of how the company operates internally and externally? With brand basics covered, it’s time to establish an understanding of the company brand, including what the brand is and who it is for. Information from customers, employee surveys and other data help explain the current state of the brand to employees. Workshop leaders may also find it useful to discuss how the company brand should encompass what Chris and I call the “five foundations” of a people-powered brand: consistency, credibility, uniqueness, desirability and do-ability. MAKE IT PERSONAL In order for people to live out the brand, individuals must be able to connect their on-the-job role to the company brand. During this portion of the workshop, we ask participants to consider what the brand means to them personally. Some questions to ask include: How would you describe our brand to a friend or family member? What does our brand mean to you personally? Who is affected by our group’s behavior (customers, other departments, industry groups, etc.)? THE PATH FORWARD While listening to the group is important, leaders should also express their own personal feelings about the brand’s path forward —both pro and con. The culmination of the discussion happens when leaders ask employees if they are willing to act in accordance with the brand. We suggest leaders ask the question, “Will you follow?” As they wrap up the session, leaders should put down their notes and speak from their heart. Realize that brand enrollment is not a “one and done” process. As market conditions change, new people come on board and team members’ roles change, most companies find it useful to conduct recurring enrollment workshops. But over time, the lines between brand and culture begin to blur and merge as employees live out the brand through their behaviors. And that’s a people powered brand. AM Joe Bannon is Senior VP, at 5MetaCom. Prior to joining the agency, Joe spent 32 years at Elanco where he served in a variety of sales, marketing and leadership roles, retiring as VP of Global Operations. Joe has conducted brand enrollment sessions with thousands of employees in dozens of countries. Contact him at email@example.com. May 2015 s Agri Marketing 51