Some companies have bupkis in the marketing budget.
However, a lack of cash doesn’t mean you can’t flex any marketing muscle. If you have employees, you have a powerful messaging force at your disposal.
For better or worse, your employees talk about what it’s like to work at your company. Either way, what they do say has a significant impact on your company’s reputation. Whether it’s in casual conversation or online, your staffers wield a lot of power in shaping the perception of your organization.
That’s why it’s crucial to systematically identify, cultivate and recognize your brand ambassadors. Here are four tips to do so:
1. Choose the right brand ambassadors.
Not everyone is an ideal brand ambassador. Seek out employees who clearly enjoy working at the company and who routinely go the extra mile. Select somebody who is gregarious and has risen in the company.
Employees who deeply understand your culture will come across as genuine rather than forced. Brand ambassadors should also be savvy social media users and confident communicators.
2. Encourage them to speak in their own voice.
Avoid scripted or heavily edited material. Employee testimonials are useless unless they’re sincere and believable.
Let your brand ambassadors speak in their own voice, and give them platforms where they can share raw opinions, ideas and feedback. Honest, candid employee testimonials can be a powerful (and cheap) recruiting tool.
3. Encourage and reward positive social media activity.
Your employees probably won’t go out of their way to start social media accounts representing the company. Most won’t even share a link unless prodded—or piqued.
Use gift cards, thank-you notes, public praise from the CEO or some other form or recognition to encourage more workers to share your content online. Make sure you’re doing your part to produce content that’s worth sharing.
4. Keep employees engaged, interested and inspired.
Do your best to remind colleagues of the big picture. Your jobs provide a means to pay bills and care for your respective families, and you’re all in it together. You’re all part of the same team. Every small bit contributes to the larger goal of creating—and sustaining—a successful company.
Provide a steady stream of useful, uplifting and compelling content to keep your colleagues connected and engaged. Keep them feeling inspired, motivated and part of something bigger than themselves. That’s the key to empowering brand ambassadors who can provide the kind of marketing that money can’t buy.
A version of this post first appeared on the Rezoomo blog.