Hewlett-Packard (HP) has enlisted retired HP employees to pitch its products in person.
In today’s NY Times, Going to the Company Elders for Help describes how HP asks long-term loyal employees, now retired, to volunteer. Their job? To promote HP products in retail outlets like Circuit City.
That’s right volunteer. No pay.
These retirees feel loyal to HP, very loyal. Rare in Silicon Valley anyway.
However, from a marketing standpoint, it’s not about the volunteerism. Although free always helps.
It’s about branding and word of mouth. Making a personal connection between buyers and seller.
This tactic adds the personal touch to HP sales, on top of its mega marketing. Asking retirees to act as good-will ambassadors and volunteer sales people.
We’re moving forward with an effort to capitalize on the fact we have these great brand stewards, said Michael Mendenhall, chief marketing office of Hewlett-Packard. When you look at the importance of great word of mouth and great third-party endorsement who better to do that than your own employees?
Who Says Great Things About You?
You have your reference list of golden customers you can count on. So does everyone.
But what about your current employees? You have more employees than customers, right?
That larger number represents a potential army of brand stewards.
And they’re motivated. They have every reason to want your company to succeed – because they’ll benefit from it.
3 Reasons Your Employees Aren’t Brand Stewards
#1 YOU HAVEN’T ASKED
You haven’t asked customers what they value, or asked your employees what you’re good at, or found out the unique place in the market you can own. You can’t make this up in a vacuum. You have to ask people other than your executive team.
#2 THEY CAN’T ACT ON IT
You haven’t defined your brand (customer experience) in actionable ways. Mission statements on marble plaques or jazzy logos are worthless for employees interacting with customers. They need guidance and training. Tools with the flexibility to enable them to act 1,000s of different ways and still be on brand.
#3 NOT LIVING YOUR BRAND WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES
If your company doesn’t serve your employees the way you want them to serve customers, why would employees deliver your brand to customers?
Don’t get confused; employees are the primary vehicle for delivering your brand.
And it should happen in all instances with employees, as it should with customers.
Your employees should experience your brand in all their company interactions. From all departmental functions, such as:
- Time-off policies
Avoid the hypocrisy of asking employees to provide exceptional service when their own needs and requests are ignored.
Everything in your company runs directly from your brand, through your employees, straight and true, to serve customers. For more about your employees and delivering your customer experience read The Leaning Tower – Parts I & II
What are you doing to make your employees brand stewards?
President, Service Performance
Technorati: Branding, Marketing, Service Industries