Loud and clear

Loud and clear

Do the messages you send into the marketplace match what you want to be known for as an organization? Business consultant and guest columnist Dan Coughlin says no matter how well your company does things internally it is the ability to interface with people outside of the company that will largely determine its success.

February 17, 2017

Every company regardless of its size or industry shares several common factors.

Intentionally or not, every company has a reason for existing beyond making money, a strategy, tactics, operations, a level of execution, leadership, teamwork, and interfaces with people in the marketplace. I want to focus on that last item.

No matter how well the organization does things internally it is the ability to interface with people outside of the company that will largely determine its success. And there’s one primary test that you should consider in all of these marketplace interfaces:

Does the message that is being sent from your company match with what you want to be known for as an organization?

Intentionally Work to Try to Build Your Brand
I define a brand as the value people think they receive from an organization when they buy its products or services. I also define a brand as the value people think they will receive if they do buy from that organization.

No company owns its brand because its brand exists inside the minds of its customers and potential customers.

All you can do is try your very best to send messages out into the marketplace that represent what you want to be known for.

Here are the steps involved in intentionally working to grow your brand:
1. Write down what you want your organization to be known for?
2. Think about every interaction any one in your organization has with people outside of your organization?
3. Work to influence how people in your organization think so they consciously deliver messages that represent what you want your organization to be known for?

Let’s say a local grocery store wants to be known for highly personalized service with good products at reasonable prices.

The store interfaces with the marketplace through advertising and through what its employees say to their neighbors and people they interact with in the community. They need a consistent message to deliver in all those interactions. Perhaps it is simply, “Our store is not as well-known as the bigger chains, but when you come in someone will ask your name right away. And then people will ask if you need any help finding an item. And in a lot of cases they will offer to run and get what you need so you don’t have to go all over the store looking for it. I doubt you will ever find a friendlier or more personalized service in any grocery store.”

There’s the message. It’s consistent with what the store wants to be known for.

Then you can hire and fire people, provide professional development sessions, develop tactics, focus on execution, build teamwork, and lead in ways that support being a very friendly grocery store that provides extraordinarily friendly service.

This same process applies for Fortune 50 companies, medium-sized businesses, and small businesses.

Take the Time to Answer these Questions for Your Organization
Take out a sheet of paper. Write down your answers to these questions:

Question #1: What do you want your organization to be known for?

Really think about that and write it down. Get other people involved in this thinking process, and consider their input.

Question #2: What are the messages you want delivered into the marketplace about your organization?

Really think about that and write it down. Talk it over with several key people and clarify what you want the messages to be.

Make sure your organization truly does what it says it wants to be known for, and then encourage every employee to talk about the organization in the way you want it to be talked about. Make sure every corporate message and every piece of advertising supports the type of organization you want to be known for.

Brands are built in many ways both big and small, and they all have to be consistent with one another.

Look for Disconnects and Address Them Right Away
There are two types of messages that go out from your organization into the marketplace: planned and unplanned.

When a planned message (advertising, official statements, television interviews, etc.) in retrospect turns out to not support what you want your organization to be known for, you can discuss it and make adjustments in the future.

The more challenging messages are those that come from people inside the organization and go out into the marketplace that show a significant disconnect from what you want to be known for. In the world of texts, instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook, and so on, it is very easy for a person inside an organization to send a message out into the marketplace that is the opposite of what the organization wants to be known for.

I suggest you meet with that person right away. Ask why he or she feels that way. See if there is a real issue that needs to be addressed within the organization. Let the person know how important it is to discuss these issues inside the organization and not in the marketplace because his or her voice has increased credibility because he or she works for the organization.

If the person continues to send messages into the marketplace that do not support what you want to be known for as an organization, then I think you have to consider whether that person should remain a part of your organization. People have freedom of speech. They can say what they want. You also have the freedom to decide who you want in your organization.

The messages your organization sends out into the marketplace are extremely important. Do they match with what you want to be known for as an organization?

About the author
Dan Coughlin is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, seminar leader and executive coach who teaches practical ideas on how to generate sustainable, profitable growth.