Let me be brazenly honest.
Winning inside your organization is the most important thing you can do. Your employees, your internal advocates, partners, contractors should be some of your loudest fans. If they aren’t empowered and aren’t intentionally encouraged to carry your brand message, you won’t win long term. Even the best marketing can’t save you. Sounds harsh. I should know — that’s part of my story.
When I started Fervor more than six years ago, it was simpler times. Mostly me and a few trusted creatives. We were good at taking a few clients and exposing their real strategic needs from a marketing perspective. We developed a pretty cool process called a Brand Impact Assessment™ + Strategy. As part of that process, we help clients develop three Ideal Advocate Profiles. It’s at the center of our whole thesis. So of course, we did this for ourselves . . . well, at least we did about 1.5 years into the business. Cobbler’s shoes and all.
Here is where I really missed it. In our three Ideal Client Profiles, we didn’t have one focused on our own people. I was out winning business with the other profiles and business was slowly growing. But no profile meant no real focus, no real intentional programs to engage and grow these internal assets. Sure, we paid them. Sure, we tried to be a cool place to work. But we . . . ahem, I, missed a huge opportunity.
Collins says: First Who, then What.
But you only know if you have the right people on the bus if you really know who they are, do they buy your why, your mission. Do they make you better, not just make you money. Do they make each other better. Are you communicating to them or assuming they know what you are thinking. Starting to get it? I didn’t….until I did.
It was like turning on a light bulb with a dimmer switch. I had hired an organizational consultant in 2014 (four years into the business) to do an assessment on Fervor, similar to what we do for companies but focused more on operations and finances than sales and marketing. I knew I had blind spots, and I wanted to know exactly what they were. I wanted Fervor to grow and I knew there were bottlenecks. I figured, we had this great game plan — which we did. But along the way, as I read the surveys, met with the consultant, talked and dreamed about my business and prayed for clarity about how to steward this, it hit me. The best advocate I have isn’t a client. It is our team of creatives. It was inside my own organization.
Damn, how had I missed that! I mean, I have worked for some large companies. I’ve managed some really productive, really large teams of people. But I did miss it, and it hurt. It hurt because I was disappointed in myself for missing this blind spot for so long. I felt frustrated. I felt like I’d missed opportunities to develop talent and thereby grow the business and the clients we serve.
So we changed it.
Armed with a newly created Ideal Advocate Profile for Fervor Creatives, I was ready to try to create engagement tactics for them. It’s an ongoing process. But here are a few things we’re doing:
- We created a Strategic Advisory Team to help lead and speak into what we do at Fervor.
- We created five Pillars of Focus (I stole from a good friend): Faith, Family, Finances, Friendships and Fitness. And we are striving to enhance each category in some tactical way for our creatives.
- I started communicating regularly to our team, with a monthly internal email, sharing the wins.
- We started a monthly happy hour for the team, which includes something family friendly every quarter.
- We started Yoga Thursdays.
- We started office day Thursdays.
- You get the idea . . .
People first. It’s not a trite mission statement hanging on the wall. Living this is tough and often forgotten. But even the best of us get caught up in focusing outside our organization instead of inside. It’s a miss.
The results have been pretty killer. Some of the results are hard to explain.It’s hard to quantify momentum, and when you have it, you know. But the numbers measure up: our top line and bottom line growth is well over 150%.
Please don’t miss your biggest opportunity to grow: it’s winning inside. If you do nothing else, do that. I can just about guarantee it will pay huge dividends.