Putting humanity back into Business
People create businesses, people are businesses, people drive businesses and people break businesses. So why overlook people and the human aspect of business?
This is the information society and we need to change our tactics!
People know more than we think. People have more power than we think. So why should they choose you? It’s time to change how we communicate and connect with our people, change our marketing, advertising and PR practices and change the entire ‘ecosystem’ of our company.
Accessibility to technology and media saturation has informed people and empowered them to engage in the public sphere. If they feel strongly enough about an issue they can garner huge support to oppose or protest against it. The growth of this ‘civic’ power has seen the rise of advocacy and social pressure groups and, their actions could cause losses for a company. Consider, for example, the role of anti-alcohol-abuse groups to bring about a ban on alcohol advertising in SA.
Big business is beginning to acknowledge its interdependence with other groups; it can’t act irresponsibly or unethically and not be accountable – what it does affects others and if it impacts negatively on them, there could be negative consequences. Hence, as companies are part of society, they should act like social and economic entities, become corporate citizens and change how they do things.
To survive as part of a greater system: A business or organization should focus mindfully on the following:
1. Know why it exists. Get to its ‘source’ and develop a goal and values-driven mission which must be turned into a written statement by which it conducts itself. If a mission statement is only about sales and profit, customers will go to someone who CARES. It has been proven that people support companies not only for their prices, they choose them because they understand them and their needs.
2. Do some research and planning to develop strategies, objectives and tactics to guide your communication (SWOT and PEST analysis will help to set you on the right path). There is nothing haphazard about PR and integrated marketing communication. Plan and strategize to achieve your goals.
3. Develop an identity and brand that is unique to you and your goals, is recognisable & memorable. Based on cognitive psychology, visuals like logos and slogans can attract people and create associations that are positive, based on their own good experiences which are often emotional not rational.
4. Identify its key target groups or stakeholders, not only customers, but community, media and environmental groups. Understand them and their needs and connect with them based on this knowledge. Ask what information they need about your product and your company. And use all platforms, traditional and online, to share relevant and focussed information with them.
5. Connect proactively with your stakeholders or targets. Engage with key target groups thru’ managing the flow of relevant information sharing (not giving) to build relationships and reputation. Don’t engage in ad hoc marketing communication activities. It’s an ongoing dialogue to influence the perceptions people have of your company which impacts your image and company reputation.
6. Keep communicating, creating ‘stories’ for exposure, identification and image. Position your company within the stories. Add to the narrative regularly so as to attract attention and convince them of what makes you different from others and tell what you have been doing to make their perceptions of you better, or their lives better.
7. Manage your reputation – thru’ messages, behaviour, employees, CSR et cetera. Use the media (editorial not adverts) to create news and publicity about you and what you do. If people perceive you in a good light, your image improves and your reputation grows stronger.
8. Keep all the pieces of the Marketing Mix together. Plan for integrated campaigns that ensure that you speak with ONE voice and your products and services uphold your promises. Your actions and communication must be in unison. Contradictions confuse people. Don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes by giving information for your own ends, rather share it collaboratively. No longer are companies seen as the owners of information – there are no ‘fundis’ – everybody is a learner and a teacher.
Today people can access whatever information they want about a product or service and they can verify the information gathered. They ‘google’ a product or service, get thousands of companies doing similar things. But what makes them choose one and not the other?
Do things differently and see the difference!