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How an MSP Made 'Corporate Culture' More than Just a Buzz Term

Corporate culture isn't lip service at Corporate Network Services (CNS), a Poolesville, Md.-based MSP -- it's a way of life. Karen Kalantzis, CEO of CNS, says, "It all started because we wanted to apply for awards, like making the 'Best Places to Work' list. We felt it would help us build our legitimacy as a company as we were growing."

Then, last year, Karen attended a conference where Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh spoke about the benefits of corporate culture to the growth and performance of organizations. Borrowing an idea from the Zappos success story, CNS employees were asked to write down their thoughts about working for CNS. The result was the CNS 2011 Attitude Album, a 26-page booklet that describes CNS core values, community services, awards and lots of photographs of employees with their comments about the company.

The Attraction of 'Real' Personality
"Authentic" is an overused term these days, but the CNS Attitude Album deserves that label. The most expensive full-color glossy company brochure out there doesn't hold a candle to the value of this unpretentious booklet. This book makes you feel like you are part of a family, a family that cares about its customers.  

The bulk of the content for the Attitude Album comes directly from CNS employees based on their thoughts on what CNS means to them. Here are a few examples:

"Thinking about my time at CNS, the people I have had a chance to work with, the clients I have had an opportunity to help and the knowledge and skills I have gained, I am struck by what an enriching experience it has been."

"Working here means working for a company that cares for its employees and its customers."

"The culture means that we are here to support the customer as well as each other by going above and beyond what is expected."

Unexpected Results from Corporate Culture Initiatives
Just as with Zappos, the focus on corporate culture has generated positive results both inside and outside CNS. "As part of an award program that we were judging, I met a woman from a staffing company who was impressed by our programs," Kalantzis remembers. "She was looking for a new technology partner and wanted to work with a firm that had more to offer than just technical expertise. I gave her one of our Attitude Albums and she loved it. Now her company is a client."

While the booklet was not intended to be used as marketing collateral, it has become a valuable asset. "We use it for new sales and new hires. Our whole attitude program is helping with new hires," Kalantzis said. "One of our newest employees told me that our awards program was one of the reasons he decided to accept our job offer from among three companies. He said it looked like we really care about and invest in our employees."

Hidden Assets That Can Build Relationships
Next week we'll talk about how to find and build on the hidden assets in your organization to help you connect with customers. Post a comment below or let me know if you have a story about a unique marketing approach so we can share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on August 18, 2011


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