Channel Call

Corporate Culture as a Marketing Investment

To make your business stand out, what you do internally behind the scenes can be even more important than what you do externally.

To make your business stand out, what you do internally behind the scenes can be even more important than what you do externally.

In previous columns we looked at marketing and encouraged top executives and employees to reach out as thought leaders through social media and by giving interviews and talks.

Looking inward at company processes and procedures can also yield some critical benefits. When it comes to differentiating your company in the market, there's a lot of value in creating and fostering a positive corporate culture.

There are many ways that corporate culture is important in projecting a unique image.

Great People
There's an old saying in both business and sports that "talent wins." If you have great people working in your company, you will most likely win more opportunities because of the experience and credibility these people bring to the table. These folks also talk to other people within the industry. And, with the advent of social networking, word will spread even more quickly than it used to about the talented people working at your company. Talent costs more in the short term, but the long-term returns should more than make up the difference.

Recruit great and focused people and in turn your company will stand out. The model here is elite firms such as McKinsey & Co. or the big accounting firms. They stress hiring great people and, in turn, these people produce great work.

Strong Culture
Having great people helps create and project a positive culture, but there are plenty of steps, many of them small, that make the culture strong. A strong culture helps you attract great people and ensure that they thrive.

One solutions provider in the Northeast hangs pictures of employee gatherings on the wall, keeps copies of articles that the CEO has appeared in on the coffee tables, and provides up-to-date information on sales metrics and customer wins on video screens around the office.

This is done to make every visitor -- and employee -- recognize what the company is doing right. You walk in the door and feel simply great about being there.

Just as important, though, are progressive compensation plans, creative marketing activities and flexible working conditions, all of which help to establish a winning culture.

Customer Referrals
If all this sounds too touchy-feely, it's not. There are tangible business benefits to hiring the best people and developing a culture that allows and encourages employees to do their best.

First, not only are the people who work at your company talking to others via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, the work being done by your employees becomes known among customers, as well. After all, the best customers come from referrals.

Another byproduct of having top-notch people and a growing reputation of fantastic work is that you'll attract more and more vendors wanting to do business with you. This is actually good because now you have leverage to pick and choose the vendors you want to do business with on the terms you want.

Sink or Swim!
If we stack all the things that we have been discussing in the last few columns, you will notice that everything rests on the culture of the company. If your people are not great, then they are not producing. If they're not producing, then they're not happy and motivated. If they're not motivated, then they're not creating marketing or thought leadership that will make your firm stand out. If your firm is not standing out, you're not beating the competition. If you're not beating the competition, it's sink or swim time! You get the point. Create a good culture and ultimately you will stand out on all fronts.

About the Author

Keith Lubner is managing partner of Channel Consulting Corp., a N.J.-based global consulting organization focused on channel strategy, design, enablement, outsourcing and training for growing companies.