We spend weeks, sometimes months, developing our “marketing strategies.” Examining and monitoring our members and incoming prospects. Who are the new members we’ve brought in over the last 12 months and where are they coming from? How are they enjoying the club? What is their usage? Are they bringing in the guests that could potentially become new members themselves? These internal reports are invaluable to the growth of our prospect list and retention of our membership.
However, there is an area that is almost always forgotten in the planning phase of our new year strategy or the restructuring of the previous year’s concept: training staff to understand and reflect our message and brand.
The truth is, branding starts from the inside out. Do your employees believe in your product and the services that you offer? Are they standing 100% behind you in the mission of your brand? Are they living your brand? It is important that your employees are informed and involved in the new initiatives and strategies that take place within your club.
I recently attended a presentation for sales and marketing professionals where the participants were asked to raise their hands if they thought their business would not be around in the next 15 years. Nearly half the room raised their hands! Fifty percent of those business’ brand managers didn’t believe their own message. Now you can imagine that this can only trickle down through the staff culture. If your staff is unable or unwilling to support your marketing efforts, it can have detrimental results. How do you begin an internal branding campaign within your company?
- Step 1: Synchronize Your Brand Personality, Values and Corporate Culture
Your marketing team should be working closely with your Human Resources team to ensure that the common values of your company internally and externally are in sync. At your upcoming staff meetings, play quiz games about the history of your club, upcoming events and who the new members are.
- Step 2: Get Your Employees Behind Your Brand
Align your criteria for recruiting and rewarding employees with the criteria of the brand value. Look for the right skills and aptitudes that will represent your brand promise effectively. Sometimes the best incentives are recognition. When I was a member relations director at ClubCorp we had a recognition program called “STAR Card.” The Members were encouraged to recognize the staff with these cards when they went above and beyond. Rewards were given to those employees based on a point system for each card they received.
- Step 3: Reinforce and Repeatedly Explain Brand Values and Behaviors
Use your internal communication to reinforce and explain the values and behaviors that reflect your brand promise. Your employee newsletter should be similar to your member newsletter, recognize those who are excelling, new hires, new members, promote upcoming events and then quiz random employees about the content in their newsletters. Continuously do this until it becomes second nature.
If you thought the process of involving your staff was not important, take into account that your employees meet, greet, and assist your members in many different ways. They are the face of your brand. Engage your staff right from the start and encourage individual input. Use your staff as a focus group – after all who knows your clientele better than they do? By doing this, you will not only get support from your staff but you will be given insight and ideas that you otherwise may not have considered.