Voices of the Engagement Economy: Activating Employees on Behalf of Your Brand

Engagement Strategies


More than ever, organizations of all sizes can’t just rely on traditional marketing messages to win in the marketplace. One of these “non-traditional” approaches involves activating one of an organization’s strongest assets: it’s employees. Employees play a central role in creating an effective market presence. Yet The State of Engagement found that only 43% of employees think their organization is effective at increasing their loyalty to their company through engagement.

How can marketers activate employees to create a resonant experience for customers?

Here’s what we learned:

Experience Goes Beyond Marketing

The environment changes too quickly for marketing organizations to only look inward. They need to look for support beyond the marketing department to drive real impact.

“I work closely with our internal communications manager and rely heavily on having in-sync conversations with our operations and field teams to make sure there is one voice. For example, if we’re rolling out a new recipe, I want to make sure our operations team is well informed and on board.” –  Chris Ruszkowski, SVP of Marketing and Advertising, Quiznos

 “Employees are our biggest brand ambassadors. They are the ones that should be your biggest believers because they are your first line of both offense and defense. If they don’t believe in your solutions, products or purpose, why should anyone else?” – Steven Wolfe Pereira, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Neustar, Inc.

“Technology, Marketing, and Customer Care all need to be in the loop when improvements are needed. They all need to understand that they not only can affect change but are required to do so. Everyone needs to be on the same page in order to impact customer experience.” – Dan Williams, Chief Revenue Officer, 3 Day Blinds

“Further driving engagement has a lot to do with changing the company culture to being more customer-centric; this includes our credit, warranty and administration teams. Currently, these teams do not believe they touch customers, but what they do does really impact customer experiences. We all need to be vigilant about being more responsive to customer needs rather than being internally focused.” –  Quan Nguyen, VP of Marketing, Lennox Residential

Marketing + HR, an Essential Combination

Looking beyond the marketing department only works if you have the right employees in place. Marketing can and should partner closely with Human Resources, both in communicating with employees and hiring the best talent.

“As a part of our brand development project, we are partnering with Human Resources to incorporate how they think about brand engagement when attracting and retaining great talent. Our goal with this partnership is for Human Resources to become our brand ambassadors along with employees and customers.”—Fred Kohout, CMO, Cray

“Marketers also need to do a better job of engaging employees. Employees are your best assets. Therefore, they should form a close relationship with the talent acquisition team. Acquiring talent should consist of 1) acquisition, 2) onboarding, 3) deepening relationship, and 4) retention.”—Jennifer Dominiquini, Chief Marketing and Digital Sales Officer, BBVA Compass

“I look to my team to be forward-thinking … Part of this is having the right staff, which means hiring employees who are savvy about today’s customers and living like our customers. I like to have smart, creative thinkers who push the envelope to get our brand noticed.” —Chris Ruszkowski, SVP of Marketing and Advertising, Quiznos

“I believe the organization needs to spend more time marketing to employees.  We are in a business cycle where companies need to ramp up employee-focused initiatives. Otherwise, before you know it, you’re losing your best assets: your employees.”—Suzanne Copeland, Former SVP, CMO, Sterling National Bank

Rally Employees Around a Mission

Engaging employees across the organization is a worthy goal with significant potential impact. However, it is easier said than done. Key to success is to engage employees with a sense of common purpose.

“In a company, people often show up for a paycheck, with a mission we get them inspired and can craft their role within the company more easily. There is much written about how millennials want to work for a company with a cause, a mission. But we found that all employees value working for a company with a mission.—Jennifer Welch, former Head of Brand Strategy and Stewardship, Shell

“Having a purpose-driven organization makes a big difference because people understand what they are trying to deliver. Of course, you also need to make sure what you deliver is valuable because it all goes back to having the points on the board.”—Jennifer Dominiquini, Chief Marketing and Digital Sales Officer, BBVA Compass

“You have to think about engaging employees holistically. You have to think about the continuity of experiences. It’s most important to reach those employees who come out of the woodwork and want to be a part of the shift your company is taking on. The way you engage with employees is critical to rallying them around this shift. You really need to get the employee base passionate about the mission, vision, and value.”—Stephanie Meyer, CMO, Connecture

“Effective Marketing teams become a company’s connective tissue, penetrating the whole company and connecting information across teams. To be authentic, the same language and messages that are shared internally should be amplified externally. If everyone understands our purpose and can answer the “why” internally, then we’ll be able to have clients and partners understand our why externally.”—Steven Wolfe Pereira, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Neustar, Inc.

“Overall, the transformation of the enterprise has enabled engagement with employees to further our mission. Successfully driving engagement can make them become passionate, and that, in turn, leads to a lot of influencers or ambassadors who will help build a loyal customer base.”—Sunil Notani, AVP of Big Data & Cloud, JDRF

Final Thought

One of the challenges marketers have faced traditionally is that the influence of marketing can only reach so far. At some point a prospect’s experience moves beyond marketing’s reach, taking with it the ability to influence or control results. An increased focus on the internal audience breaks down those traditional barriers. With the right focus, marketing can broaden its influence in the organization, drive a more engaged set of employees, with positive effects across the business. In this Engagement Economy era, that is the new benchmark for an effective marketing team.

See how marketers across the globe are addressing employee engagement in our latest research, The State of Engagement.

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