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Keeping Social Media Simple – a Facebook Live Chat

An inpromptu social chat with Catherine and Heather from Keep It Simple Social Media

In this Facebook Live chat broadcast by BeLive.tv, I chat with social media mavens Catherine Aird and Heather Clifford from Keep it Simple Social Media.

We cover three main topics:

  • Engagement Strategy: how to design two-way communications and engagement with your core target customers and clients
  • Advice for small businesses or start-ups: how to choose the best marketing approaches for your business with a strapped budget and limited resources
  • The evolution of marketing over the last decade: how to navigate the ever-changing world of marketing and what has stood out the most for an old-school marketer like myself

Let me know what you think! Tools like Facebook Live are new and exciting ways to engage with  your target audience in an easy and affordable way.

Want to learn more about these and other tools to effectively engage on Social Media? Sign up for one of Keep It SImple Social Media‘s Whistler workshops coming June 26:

Social Media Workshops in Whistler: June 26

Get your business ready for the summer! Join us at the Aava Whistler Hotel for a fun day of learning everything there is to know to take your business to the next level with social media.  Join us for the morning or the afternoon workshop, or both!

Find on more on our NEW and improved website:
Facebook & Instagram 101 & 202 + Photo and Video

 

B Corporation Community

Helping business become a force for good

By Michelle Ratcliffe

Make business easy – tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber showcasing a Whistler Business innovating in their sector.

It’s commonplace for the bottom line to define business success, but there is a growing global network of over 2,000 Certified B Corporations leading a movement to redefine success. These B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. 

Whistler’s Seeds Consulting is part of this global movement and Principal, Diana Mulvey believes that a healthy profit can be achieved parallel to progress for the planet and people. 

Mulvey has built a business that takes action on social and environmental issues. Working with companies that aim to do good for humanity and for the planet, her business helps growing enterprises define the difference they are trying to make in the world and market themselves, creating an inspiring identity that stands out. 

She believes that while already sitting at an impressive height, Whistler businesses have the opportunity to elevate their impact on the world.

“Whistler’s business community could be known not only as the best IN the world, but the best FOR the world,” said Mulvey. “I’m helping mobilize business owners to be a force for good and tackle social and environmental challenges in their industry.”

Planting Seeds with Purpose

As any gardener knows, even with seeds in hand, your work still requires a little digging before you can plant and nurture growth.  Seeds Consulting’s strategy starts with digging deep to find a client’s highest mandate.

“I’ve been helping clients uncover their higher purpose and get clear on why they are in that business,” explained Mulvey who says she shares the philosophy of author and corporate culture thought leader Simon Sinek, who teaches organizations how to inspire people by starting with “Why.”

“I Share Simon Sinek’s belief that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” said Mulvey.

Once the “why” is clear, she can set sights sky high and map out the route to lift her client’s entrepreneurial ambitions to great heights. Clarity on a clients purpose empowers them to create an identity that rises above the noise, attracting the right customers and building brand loyalty.

Events Inspiring Action

Mulvey is a key fixture in the entrepreneurial community in Whistler – an inspiring group of innovative minds.

Her respected perspectives have led to collaborations with likeminded organizations and created events aimed at inspiring entrepreneurs to do good for their community.

“I’ve spoken at and introduced events in Whistler that encourage entrepreneurs to learn about and take on environmental and social problems,” she said.

In the last year alone, her hands-on help has seen her teach workshops for the Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s Social Venture Challenge, present on “how putting employees first boosts your brand” and at the Whistler Open Forum Speaker Series and collaborate with the Business Development Bank of Canada to bring a screening of “The Millennial Dream” documentary to Whistler accompanied by empowering discussion around different kinds of success in the new economy.

Confronting the Status Quo

In addition to speaking up with new ideas entrepreneurial events, Seeds Consulting connects with and empowers with their market online. The thought leadership exemplified by Mulvey on the Seeds Consulting blog offers an inspiring a dialogue for change, contributing valuable knowledge and resources to her community.

“I’m and avid blogger,” said Mulvey. “I use this platform to share ideas, confront the status quo, introduce best practices and build the business case to tackle social and environmental problems.”

Mulvey’s leadership is being felt throughout the resort where the number of businesses who are embedding social causes into their strategy is snowballing and her impact was recognized earlier this month, with Seeds Consulting honoured as a Finalist for “Sustainability in Action Business” at the 2017 Whistler Excellence Awards. Mulvey is helping shape a thriving local economy, from inspiring startup social ventures in their infancy to helping established organizations redefine an inspired brand identity. 

“Companies that are better for workers, better for communities, and better for the environment will lead the way and raise the bar for business success beyond the bottom line”

“Companies that are better for workers, better for communities, and better for the environment will lead the way and raise the bar for business success beyond the bottom line,” said Mulvey.  “I believe Whistler business owners have an opportunity to take on social and environmental problems and be recognized around the globe as being the best for the world.”

How putting employees first boosts your brand

If a company treats its employees well, what does that say about a brand?

Recent studies show that consumers are more likely to purchase from brands if employees are treated well. Further, they may even be willing to pay more and recommend the company’s products or services to friends. Should a business aim to bolster its brand through better worker policies and practices? If you’ve ever experienced the challenges of recruiting and retaining great people at your organization, a better question might be: can you really afford not to?

A study conducted in 2016 with Cone Communications  intereviewed 1,000 adults uncovering some compelling data on what motivates employees, and it’s not just about financial gain. About 85% were looking at making a meaningful difference through their career. About 76% were looking for meaningful personal experiences, such as meeting new people and exploring new places. Breaking down the survey data looking at the Millennial segment responses, a full 79% consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. They are also more likely to be loyal when they feel they can make a positive impact on issues at work.

79% of Millennials consider social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work Click To Tweet

When a brand takes a stand and is not shy to share its environmental and social commitments, this goes a long way toward attracting and retaining great employees. It attracts consumers and influences their purchases. A study on global corporate responsibility showed that 84% percent of consumers consider a company’s social commitments, including employee treatment, before deciding what to buy or where to shop, and 82 percent consider them when it comes to which products and services to recommend to friends.

Leading Brands: B Corporation examples

To find examples of how leading brands put employees first, I looked at certified BCorps, a network of over 2,000 companies that aim to use business as a force for good. Assessed by a third party, these companies are ranked on their policies and actions related to governance, workers, community and the environment.

Beau’s All Natural Brewing, based just outside of Ottawa, has had incredible year-over-year growth since its inception in 2006. At its 10-year anniversary, the company announced that it would sell the brewery to its employees, shifting to 100% employee ownership. The company decided that keeping the operation independent and Canadian owned was important and it wanted employees to have a shared responsibility in the company’s future and plans for expansion across Canada.

Fairware provides promotional products to North America’s leading change makers. Every product meets the company’s strict environmental and social standards while manufacturers are held to a code of conduct. Fairware’s 12-person team is based in Vancouver and 100% of its employees are paid living wage. It also covers 80% of individual and family health insurance premiums. The company culture reflects its commitment to community and the environment. At its a bike-friendly office in a 100-year old building, the team hosts monthly collective lunches and happy hour with some of the local breweries around the corner in East Vancouver.

Outdoor retailer Patagonia was a pioneer in on-site childcare, being one of the first companies in California to offer it. It extends health care benefits to part-time, retail, and warehouse staff with 80% coverage of health insurance premiums for full-time workers. About 50% of full time employees participate in external professional development, an important incentive that encourages loyalty.

There is a strong business case for investing in your employees and going beyond the bare minimum mandated in our national and provincial employment laws. To build a respected and trusted brand that people love, you need to look within and ensure your employees respect and trust your organization.

Whistler Open Forum Event February 1

Learn more about how putting employees first boosts your brand at the February 1 Whistler Open Forum. Here’s what we’ll cover in this evening session:

  • Clarify how your brand is a reflection of your employees along with the benefits of building synergy between them.
  • How a ‘living wage’ impacts our local communities and why it is considered one of the best local economic development strategies businesses can implement.
  • Ideas on best practices for small and medium sized businesses that you can use to optimize your recruitment and training dollars for an effective retention strategy.

Don’t miss out on the chance to build a stronger brand. Register today.

Open Forum Event

REGISTER FOR THE WHISTLER OPEN FORUM

SeedSprouting

New social venture start-up program based in Pemberton gets ideas off the ground

Root Ventures NURTUREs entrepreneurs WITH FOOD OR ART-FOCUSED business CONCEPTs

At a kick off event last month, aspiring entrepreneurs crowded into the local coffee shop for a night of inspiration and networking with community members.  What brought them out for the evening was the prospect of putting their ideas into action. The Sea to Sky corridor has always been a draw for people who like to do things differently and make a living by their own set of rules so they can maximize their time in this beautiful place.  Based on the strong turn out, it is clear that there are plenty of good ideas buried in the fertile soils of the Pemberton Valley, and the time is ripe to get them off the ground.

In Canada, the start-up community has become a fast-growing movement from coast to coast. Incubators, design labs, catalyst programs and more have cultivated innovative and viable business ideas with the support from a network of mentors and fellow entrepreneurs.

The Whistler Centre for Sustainability is the champion for a unique program called Root Ventures that supports food and art-based start-up enterprises in the Pemberton Valley. In addition to having a focus on either food or art, the venture should generate some community benefit – whether it be for our environment or a social cause.  As a Certified BCorp, I’m thrilled to work with purpose-driven entrepreneurs and I’ll be teaching two learning sessions for the course.

Inspirational examples

At the kick-off event, the Whistler Centre hosted two successful entrepreneurs Dion Whyte and Jaye-Jay Berggen to share stories on how their businesses got off the ground and into a thriving and growing venture.

Persephone’s 11-acre farm-based brewery prides itself on producing the highest quality beer. It also grow hops, food and community at its farm just off the ferry terminal in Gibsons, BC. The company is a BCorp, a certification earned largely due to Persephone’s environmental initiatives and community partnerships. In addition to making really tasty craft beer, Persephone converts spent grain into compost, reuses waste water for irrigation, partners with locals growers and chefs to provide a hyper-local culinary experience and hosts numerous community fundraisers and events that brings its community together with visitors from afar.

Sea to Sky Soils supports local food production through cradle-to-cradle composting and closing the recycling loop. Its services help to remove organics from the landfill and this waste becomes nutrient-rich compost for area farms and landscaping projects.  Its founders have established many positive, long lasting relationships within the local First Nations communities who operate a highly efficient compost facility near Rutherford Creek just north of Pemberton. Its innovative system requires only a small infrastructure and is easily duplicated, so many other small communities across BC are consulting with Sea to Sky Soils to set up similar operations that divert waste from landfill.

Root Ventures Program Details

root-ventures-logo_sm-300x221Over the three-month program,  Root Ventures participants  will get assistance shaping their ideas into a business model canvas which maps out key elements for a viable enterprise. They will also receive one-on-one coaching with mentors and support to build capacity for their venture.

The program is open to entrepreneurs based in the Pemberton Valley.

The applicants must also be:

  • Solo entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations, cooperatives or small businesses
  • Aiming to create a community benefit through the enterprise
  • In the start-up phase of developing their business idea or concept
  • Committed to participating in the whole program starting in January through to March 2017

To apply for the program, eligible applicants need to complete an application and submit their idea to the Whistler Centre for Sustainability by January 8, 2017.

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION FORM

Bike to Work

November 22 event: The New Economy Will Be Driven by a Millennial Mindset

Could your business do well by doing good?

Decades ago, the concept of The American Dream was to study, work hard get a job, buy a house, pay off your debt and build wealth. Not only would many agree that this was a lie,  a whole generation of our workforce just do not buy into it as their dream. “The Millennial Dream” is a feature length documentary that explores the values that may replace the cultural motif known as The American Dream.

As the Millennial generation becomes the most significant portion of the workforce, what will change about what we want from our education and jobs, what kinds of companies will succeed in the new economy? And with values and lifestyles shifting, what kinds of communities will be desired and what can cities and regions do to attract this new economy? The filmmaker’s interviews with experts such as best selling author Seth Godin and the personal reflections of young workers stir debate and encourage a dialogue around what might emerge as the Millennial Dream.

On November 22 BDC, Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, will showcase The Millennial Dream documentary in Whistler followed by an empowering discussion on what kinds of companies will succeed in the new economy.

If the Millennial Dream is about doing well by doing good, how do business owners need to adapt?  

Some business owners may be struggling with the belief that Millennial workers are not as loyal as previous generations. But evidence shows they will work harder and be more committed if they believe in the higher purpose of the organization. In fact, according to a Deloitte survey of over 7,700 Millennials from 29 countries, Millennials are more likely to stick with an organization if they share its sense of purpose.

During an interview with filmmaker Greg Hemmings, he mentioned a focus on relevancy as the biggest opportunity for business to seize the Millennial dream. Traditional institutions stuck in their ways are being sideswiped by companies like Uber and airbnb that are crowdsourcing solutions to systemic problems, effectively disrupting entire categories in their industries. Further, these companies lead with their values, openly sharing stories about their impact in the world.

If the Millennial Dream is about doing well by doing good, how do business owners adapt? #BCorp Click To Tweet

At the film screening in Whistler, business owners can learn how they need to adapt and aim to do well by doing good. After the film, examples of how business can be used as a force for good will be shared through a panel discussion with Greg Hemmings from New Brunswick-based ‪Hemmings House, along with Whistler-based Leah Garrad-Cle from ‪Love Child Organics and Diana Mulvey from Seeds Consulting.  The evening will wrap up with a chance to continue the conversation while mixing and mingling with entrepreneurs and representatives from BDC.

The Millennial Dream Documentary Film Screening in Whistler

Tuesday, November 22, 2016
5:00 p.m. Networking, Appitizers, Drinks
5:50 p.m. Introduction
6:00 p.m. The Millennial Dream
6:45 p.m. Panel Discussion moderated by Carla Heim, Senior Advisor Social Entrepreneurship at BDC
7:15 p.m. Networking (cash bar)

       Click here to reserve your seat today!    

View the Trailer

header_big-news-story

PR may be dead, but it’s taking on a new life

Is THE PRACTICE OF Public Relations really A done Deal?

Guest blogger Sandra Nomoto of Vancouver-based Conscious PR weighs in…

In the last few years, people have been saying that the Public Relations practice is dying. In fact, Robert Phillips, author of Trust Me, PR is Dead, declared the practice “dead” after a career spanning 23 years, eight of them working as a President for the largest PR firm in the world, Edelman.

After I put off reading the book for a year, I finally took the plunge and was surprised to find myself agreeing with most points in the book. But before I go into all that, we should define what PR is and how it relates to Marketing.

#PR is the management of #relationships between a company and its public, through #communications,… Click To Tweet

PR AS THE NEW MARKETING

I have been saying for years that instead of PR dying, it’s become the “new Marketing.” With the exception of direct mail and sales promotions, every Marketing Communications touchpoint can now serve public interest and involve a customer responding directly to a company’s call to action.

Marketing teams can no longer just think about push campaigns, but rather what’s going to engage their audiences the most. When I participate in PR chats on Twitter, I’m surprised to see that peoples’ examples of “Best PR campaigns” are simply advertising campaigns that have a good message. Not necessarily PR, but Marketing campaigns integrating PR tactics into them. Many marketing practices are now blended together.

PR AS PART OF CSR

Now, onto the Corporate Social Responsibility part of my premise. In Trust Me, PR is Dead, Phillips iterates that PR will be replaced by open, honest, and explicit relationships between a company and its customers, a sort of “citizen capitalism” relationship. Leaders will earn trust through honesty, transparency, and accountability, and businesses will only be able to achieve success through social responsibility, becoming a “social movement corporation.”

@citizenrobert: Business can and should be an agent, a catalyst for societal change. – Trust… Click To Tweet

A big part of PR is the concept of Internal Relations and how employees engage with each other and the outside world. In the era of transparency and workers wanting more than just a place to earn a paycheque, what goes on inside a company is becoming just as important as the stories they share externally with their target customer. Enter CSR.

Last month, I presented on the concepts of CSR and Public and Media Relations, and my research on CSR reaffirmed what I’d read in Phillips’ book. Companies must not only have CSR policies or programs, they need to implement these through engaged employees. Otherwise the CSR plan is just a document, and disengaged employees could potentially breed bad stories for media (think Glass Door ratings).

In PR strategist and author James Hoggan’s latest book, I’m Right, You’re An Idiot, he talks about his observations and insights following his 30+ year PR career. Like Phillips, he argues that in this age of excessive messaging and ego, we should get back to basics and learn how to connect, engage with, and genuinely care for each other in order to practice good business and move the world forward.

This idea of human love before PR is pretty wild, but also foundational. Companies that have genuinely integrated CSR and take care of their workers will have employees that become ambassadors for their companies. Authentic stories are then amplified through the employee network. Related story

RE-LEARNING HOW TO FORM RELATIONSHIPS

Today, instead of clients asking us to help them with social media, they manage their channels in house, understanding that their own voice is the best one to represent their brand.

The Media Relations aspect of PR still remains a mystery to businesses.  I find that companies are aware that it takes relationships with media in order to get good story placement, and this is a big part of our client service. Unlike other companies: we don’t use news releases. We target messages to each person, make phone calls, and use Twitter or whichever means of communication they prefer.

Even if PR tasks get swallowed by other departments within companies, media relations is one of those practices that you just can’t just manage off the side of your desk or assign to an intern. It’s so much more than having a media list; it’s being able to pick up the phone and have a real conversation with a media person. Not leaving a message on voice mail. Relationships, baby.

While it’s easy to say that PR is already dead, without good relationships – the basis of good communication – it will be very hard to change the status quo and create a world where all will prosper.

Trust is forever fragile and attempts at control futile. Robert Philips #transparency… Click To Tweet

If building relationships with media interests you, register for Conscious Public Relations’ Be Your Own PR Star in 90 Days online course and use the code SEEDS10 for 10% off.

A fellow B Corporation, Conscious Public Relations Inc.’s mission is to positively change what we see in the media and online by passionately embodying Positive Relations in all aspects of our work and lives.

If you’d like to learn more about James Hoggan’s approach to PR, join Diana from Seeds Consulting at the Whistler Chamber’s Power Lunch on October 27.

BrandVoiceTone_credit_Pixabay_mic

Writing Rock Star Marketing Content That’s Authentic To Your Brand

After hitting a legendary music festival this summer, you might be inspired to sing in your car or round up your friends for a night of karaoke so thought I’d refresh this story in time for the festival season.

Find your brand’s voice

Content marketing strategies are on everyone’s to-do list these days. It’s with good reason, since developing dynamic, unique content is an effective way to reach out to target audiences and promote your organization’s expertise. To build stronger recognition for your brand, a consistent voice, tone and language should be used across all marketing and communications touch points. As a company grows, extends its reach and impact, all brand extensions should share the voice and tone to capture your brand’s unique personality.

Once the strategy has been set, it can seem daunting to shape the ideas into stories, but these tips: lessons learned from karaoke sessions, will help to create rock star content.

Singing in the wrong key and out of your range

Stepping up to the microphone? Then pick a song you can actually sing! Technically, can you hit those notes that push against your range? In content marketing, if you venture beyond a comfortable range, the words come across to the reader as off key or ‘pitchy’ like they say on the Idol shows. Avoid straining: stick to a comfortable range and content that you really know. Create a powerful and unified voice for your team and stay current – you may love those moldy oldies, but the tech savvy generation z will tune out immediately. Here’s a related story that explains further – Tone and Voice: Showing Your Users That You Care.

Picking a song that’s way too long

There’s a short window to keep everyone entertained at the karaoke bar, and it’s no different when writing online content. Remember that poor soul who picked the six-minute song, only to lose the crowd’s attention after the first guitar solo a quarter of the way in? Painful!  Stick to a shorter word count and run a few tests to see what will be read and understood by your readers. Break up longer concepts into a series that keeps them coming back for the encore.

Inviting others who can’t sing up to the mike

When building a content team, make sure all contributors understand the strategy and have an editor critique their work. Companies that share ideas with other audiences as guest contributors may even get in front of entirely new audiences. Guest writer’s stories need a review to ensure the content fits. Much like inviting tone deaf friends up to the mike, one bad song can lose the audience, so keep control of the process and only host contributors who complement the marketing strategy.

Bringing down the house with a sappy or diva song

Time and time again, the person who chooses the song with the sad story or crazy vocals brings down the energy in the room. The whole point of going to the show is to be entertained and feel like you’re part of a community. When someone thinks they can play the big diva at the mike, they exclude everyone else from their pedestal on the stage. So consider the audience when writing content and understand their motivations for reading the stories. Do they want some drawn out sad story that has no positive solution, or do they want to to be drowned in detail about how great your company is? Probably not.

Getting on a roll once you’ve warmed up your voice

The first person to grab the microphone is pretty brave, so they deserve a round of applause even if their voice was a bit weak or crackly. As with singing, writing warms up with each new story that’s pumped out. Get momentum going and ensure each story builds on the other while cross-referencing and linking to key learnings. What’s the ‘liquid courage’ that will keep the stories coming?

Like any legendary rock star knows, there is a way to stand out from the crowd and build a loyal following. Find your authentic voice, tweak the messages and keep extending to a broader audience as you find your groove and hit the right notes. Need a coach or producer to help you find your voice?  We’ve designed Voice and Tone Guides for clients to make it easy.  Contact Seeds Consulting today.

Purpose wooden sign with a forest background

Harness the difference you want to make in the world

your purpose is the foundation for business growth

Much of the work I do with clients involves reviewing business goals, then mapping out a marketing strategy to help drive those goals forward. Before we get started, it surprises me if the leadership team can’t clearly express the company purpose, vision, and mission. Sometimes, founders bumble along for five minutes and insert explanations. Chances are, if the leadership can’t easily share these foundational concepts, it’s unlikely their employees can. How is company purpose tied to marketing and why should you care? There is growing evidence that it can be a competitive advantage and big reason why some companies thrive while others wilt.

My preferred definition of purpose, mission, and vision come from Conscious Capitalism, a book and a movement developed in collaboration with Whole Foods’ co-founder John Mackey:

“Purpose refers to the difference you’re trying to make in the world, mission is the core strategy that must be undertaken to fulfill that purpose, a vision is a vivid, imaginative conception or view of how the world will look once your purpose has been largely realized.”

This simple hierarchy sets a solid foundation for a business, laying the groundwork before designing the business or marketing strategy. A clear purpose can be the glue that holds a company together and a draw to attract the right people – from employees to customers, suppliers and investors, to your big idea. Purpose gets everyone pointed in the same direction; while a well-designed strategy maps out HOW to get there.

Your company purpose is a competitive advantage. What is your Why? #consciousbiz Click To Tweet

So what is your WHY? According to Beyond the Brand, Why Business Decision Makers Buy Into Strong Cultures, 80% of over 500 executives surveyed around the globe felt that the biggest idea of a company is likely the one upon which the company was built. What exactly inspired your founders to start the company in the first place? Getting to the heart of a founding idea is a key differentiator for any business. It may be that untapped opportunity for a company to completely stand out from the competition.

According to 80% of respondents, the biggest idea of a company is often the one upon which the business was built. Beyond the Brand, Why Business Decision Makers Buy Into Strong Culture

If you’ve launched a business, gained momentum, hired new people, and taken a few turns, have you veered off track and lost sight of this? That same study noted above found that the penalty for losing your culture and sense of purpose may be losing your customers.

To better understand this reality, you need to look at human nature and how decisions are made. The rational side of our brain looks at analytical thought and language. The limbic brain however, looks at our feelings, such as trust and loyalty. It guides human behaviour and decision making, but not language. This side of the brain connects to that lingering feeling in your gut when you have to choose between a few options.

This science is the premise behind Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. His big idea genuinely resonates with my clients when we talk about it in the context of purpose, branding and marketing:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

The video of Sinek’s TED Talk, “How great leaders inspire action,” has received over 27 million views. Its popularity is a sign of the times, illustrating that more than ever, people seek to make a deeper connection with a business before buying.

Beyond the Brand also revealed some other notable insights: about two thirds of respondents that develop long-term relationships prefer to do business with companies that clearly define what they stand for. This is a huge message for brands in the B2B space. Further, while purpose may have previously been an idea reserved for rallying staff at annual retreats, companies are now more transparent about their big ideas, with 85% of executives now sharing their company purpose with a range of stakeholders.

85% of executives are sharing purpose with stakeholders, more than ever in last 5 years. Beyond the Brand, Why Business Decision Makers Buy Into Strong Culture

So before embarking on a strategic initiative in your business, how about starting with WHY? Reconnect to purpose, mission and vision. Dig deeper, ask Why? at least five times to get to the soul of why you do what you do. Remember what inspired this journey to begin with before hitting the road and taking a new direction.

When you’re ready to explore how to embed these ideas into the heart of your brand, don’t overlook how your purpose nourishes corporate culture. Contact Seeds Consulting for advice on how to get started. Learn more in a related post: A healthy company culture = stronger brand promise.

BrandLove

A healthy company culture = stronger brand promise

why a solid company culture bolsters your brand

I recently had breakfast with a young professional who decided to hang up a shingle and go out on her own as a writer and content marketer. A millennial with big career goals, she left behind a great job with a director-level position at a well-known brand. The reason: the company was not living up to its brand or the inspirational values it promoted, particularly in how it treated employees. Business owners who want to build a stronger brand that is known and respected with their target audience need to take note. The health of your company culture shows up in how your brand is viewed in the marketplace. If your employees are not buying into the brand promise, chances are your customers won’t either.

A company’s brand strengthens when it is consistently represented across all touchpoints, inside and outside of an organization. Marketing (what you do) is really what builds the brand (what you are), and your employees are a critical target market that are often overlooked. Ever design a marketing campaign aimed at informing employees or designed for recruiting new ones?

This is not just about sharing the business strategy or sending out an internal newsletter highlighting a new marketing initiative. It’s about finding ways to activate the brand in the workplace and convince employees of the brand’s power and promise that your customers have come to expect.

“You can’t be special, distinctive, and compelling in the marketplace unless you create something special, distinctive, and compelling in the workplace. How does your brand shape your culture? How does your culture bring your brand to life?”  William C. Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company

A brand often becomes fragmented when employees sense that the leadership team are not living the company values. For example, if the front line does not trust the brand, it’s unlikely your customers will have great experiences. If operational staff aren’t aligned with company culture, they may cut corners, which shows up in product or service quality.

A brand often becomes fragmented when the leadership team are not living the company values. Click To Tweet

So how can you improve company culture to help build a compelling brand promise? Start with sharing a lofty purpose: What’s the difference you want to make in the world? Go back to why the company was built in the first place and revisit what motivated its founders to start the business.

six measures of a strong company culture

Once you’re clear on the big WHY?, consider these six components of a strong company culture noted by John Coleman in a Harvard Business Review article on organizational culture:

Vision

A foundation for the corporate culture. Imagine your company purpose (the why?) has been realized. What’s the vivid, aspirational view of the world when this happens?

Values

These are guidelines on behaviours and mindsets. Choose up to five and consider writing them as verbs so they are active and alive in the organization.

Practices

Your policies need to support certain behaviours and values. Ensure your team is empowered to enforce the desired outcomes.

People

Hiring people who share and want to exemplify the core values. Do you recruit and attract new hires with a focus on higher purpose and values? Are they truly on board?

Narrative

History, folklore and easy-to share anecdotes about the company. What’s your organization’s unique story and who can share it? Make sure your are passing along wisdom and insight from company founders.

Place

Aesthetics, architecture, virtual and in-person gatherings. Does the place you do business reflect your values? Let’s say your company values include ‘open communication’ but employees are constantly closed up with office doors shut, perhaps the work environment could use an overhaul.

Take the time to audit company culture across these six areas and see where there may be gaps. Better yet, ask a millennial on staff where they think culture is broken. Like my friend noted above, these young employees really care about the company’s foundation, and they’re the new ‘culture police’ you can enroll to keep the purpose and company culture at the forefront. Review each component of company culture and pull these ideas together into a story that can be shared within your organization. When your internal ‘customers’ believe the company culture is alive, it will resonate with your target audience.

“By weaving the brand messages into employees’ everyday experiences, managers can ensure that on-brand behavior becomes instinctive.” Selling the Brand Inside, Harvard Business Review

Linking company culture to the brand’s essence is imperative to creating a brand your customers and employees will love and respect. Their loyalty and positive word of mouth referrals are priceless and can help a company reach its wildest goals to grow and thrive.

Need help auditing your brand and igniting it within your company? Contact Seeds Consulting and get started today! We love working with purpose-driven brands.

B the Change

A B C’s of becoming a B Corporation

Certifying businesses that take on social and environmental problems

More and more entrepreneurs are going into business and growing their enterprises with a broader focus than building shareholder returns. Instead, these purpose-driven leaders see the potential for a much broader impact, one that includes society and the environment.

Increasingly there are businesses that want to create value for all their stakeholders, not just their shareholders. These companies are competing not just to be best in the world, but best for the world.” B Lab Founder Andrew Kassoy

Certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business. Companies that achieve B Corp certification have agreed to voluntarily meet higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance. They know that they can stand out in a cluttered marketplace through their higher purpose and a shared vision that businesses can create benefits for all stakeholders; not just shareholders.

What’s driving business owners to invest in the certification process? There is growing acceptance of brands doing well by doing good. Across the globe, 75% of consumers believe it is acceptable for brands to support causes and make money at the same time (up 33% since 2008). A full 80% of consumers feel it is important for companies to share their efforts to address societal issues. Edelman goodpurpose Study

“These companies are competing not just to be best in the world, but best for the world.” B Lab… Click To Tweet

How do companies earn B Corp certification

Starting with an online impact assessment, business owners can complete a questionnaire that summarizes their business as it relates to four categories: Workers, Governance, Community and the Environment.

Just the exercise of tackling 174 questions in the four categories above is time well spent by any organization. As a business grows, questions like these below can shape the future of the company:

  • What percent of non-executive, full-time employees participated in the company’s bonus plan in the last fiscal year?
  • What practices apply when evaluating the social and environmental performance of your suppliers?
  • Has your company gone through an environmental review or audit in the last 12 months?
  • Are there key performance indicators or metrics that your company tracks on at least an annual basis to determine if you are meeting or social or environmental objectives?

Some organizations may not be able to achieve the minimum 80 points required to earn the certification, but the impact assessment tool is an ideal way to focus resources toward next steps. Learn more about my journey toward certification.

A growing NETWORK with many benefits

Companies aiming for a passing grade have done the math for the business case and understand the ABCs of joining this fast-growing group of certified companies:

A – Affiliation: A B Corporation will join a community of like-minded businesses that want to change the status quo. Fellow businesses in related or complementary industries have a network of entrepreneurs they can rely on to help manage business challenges.

B – Baseline: Rather than re-inventing the framework, the impact assessment can shape a company’s commitment towards: Workers, Governance, Community and the Environment. There are ample opportunities to learn form other B Corporations on how they raised the bar in each category.

C – Credibility: Since the assessments are conducted by a third party, this helps ensure there’s no greenwashing or trying to look good with slick marketing. It is unbiased and based on a consistent approach that helps owners measure what matters and ultimately, build a better business.

About 150 businesses in Canada are currently certified, along with over 1,600 companies in 48 countries. BC-based Persephone, Salt Spring Coffee, Lunapads and Fairware are in good company with global brands like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and Method. This movement is growing fast and Certified BCorps achieve brand lift from their affiliation, which also helps to attract employees, earn publicity an gain competitive advantages in their sector.

Ready to measure what matters and understand your company’s impact in the world? We work with conscious brands that are ready to “B the change”. Let’s talk about how to build and share your stories.