The Rise of Internal Evangelists
This blog was originally posted and featured on FastCompany.com. The original post can be found here: http://www.fastcompany.com/1695023/the-rise-of-internal-evangelists
In our last blog on FastCompany.com, we talked about putting some personality in your marketing, but we wanted to expound a bit due to some questions we got. This whole concept fits in very well with the new transparency movement, which you've undoubtedly heard a lot about recently, because letting people know who you really are is an important part of transparency. But you might be saying, "Well I'm not a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, or (insert what you do here) so that won't work for me." Or, "but I run a large company, and it's not just about me." What we want to share with you today is the fact that this same exact concept also works really well for big companies too, not just for solo practitioners and small businesses. Corporations can use this concept to create what we call "internal evangelists."
Look at it this way, if you were to take your entire staff of let's say a hundred people, and you were to train them well, (this is the key, training them well up front) and then set them loose on the Internet and social media. What do you think that would do for your business? We know it might sound scary but, if you set them loose with the knowledge they have, here's what would happen--you would create your own Wikipedia of sorts for your business and your industry with a bunch of personalities who would go out and reel in the business of people who connect with that they have to say. Your sales team isn't going to be able to connect with everybody. They will likely only be able to making meaningful and lasting connections with a small portion of the market that you could be serving. For example, if you are in the tech industry, your sales team might not connect at all with decision makers at other companies who have backgrounds as coders or graphic designers. But, what if you could match up a coder, with a coder? Get the point?
If you would set the knowledge free that's in the minds of the employees that are working with you, you would be creating internal evangelists, people who work internally for you and spread the word about what your company does to the outside world, by doing this more prospects will come across your employees' information and will create bonds with new potential clients that you might never reach on your own. We all know that consistent, relevant content drives traffic online and the beauty of this type of system is that the knowledge your company will be spitting out on a regular basis will be voluminous if you have 20, 30, 50, or even a hundred employees out there using social media and the Internet to push and let people know about you. This works even better if you can teach them to display their expertise, and show their personality, like we discussed in two of our previous blogs. This concept can absolutely make your business explode.
Another key point that we want you to understand is this concept works in any way, shape or form. Let's look at a quick example, back on the small business side, of someone you may not normally consider as a small business owner--a dentist. So, if you went to a typical dentist's Web site, what would you see? You'd likely see a bunch of stock photos of random smiling people.
You've seen these types of photos on all the stock photo Web sites, but here's the thing, they are useless when trying to build a relationship with your prospects. All you are showing them is some random people! 99% of the time these aren't even people who the dentist has ever worked on! What a mistake! These Web sites, with random photos on them would not let you in at all to who the dentist is and why you might want to choose them as your dentist. Compare that to a dentist who has used some of the tactics we've talked about in our previous posts, who is displaying their personality and expertise.
Now, let's say you you're new in the community and you didn't really know anyone but you needed to go to the dentist. So what you would most likely do is hit the search engines and look for a dentist in the area? That's also where your potential clients are starting, but we digress. In our example, let's say the search engine delivers two Web sites that seem relevant to you and are in a close enough proximity that is convenient enough for you.
The first one, we'll call him Joe Dentist. He's got these random smiling people on the front page and his office hours, maybe a phone number, perhaps a map to his location--but that's probably it. The second dentist, who we'll call Jane Dentist, who has perhaps been reading our blog, has a big button encouraging you to download a portion of her bestselling book that happens to be about the exact issue you're experiencing. She's got video of her being interviewed recently on the local news, or even just a video of a friend or patient interviewing her. She's blogs regularly about things her patients would be interested in, she's got articles that cover common myths about what is and isn't good for your teeth, all searchable so you can find what you want when you need it. She's got press releases too! The first one is on how she was just named top small business in her community and the second one talks about how she just filled her 10,000 cavity.
Now, let's stop and ponder: which dentist are you going to want to go to? The boring guy or the lady who you now not only feel is amazingly qualified, but after watching some of her articles and videos you actually feel like you know her?! The first guy you probably couldn't pick out of a lineup!
If you want to take it even further, to a level of sharing your hobbies and affinities with your potential clients, you can become even more magnetic. Let's talk about the dentist who likes Harley's and he post pictures of himself taking Harley tours up and down the East Coast and he has a link to his local Harley Club. It may not be for everybody, but the people who are into Harley's--where do you think they're going to go?
To ping on the concept of allowing your employees to get involved on more time, you should note that Twitter recently started allowing accounts to have "Contributors" because there was a big debate on whether or not it was misleading to have multiple employees tweeting from a corporate account. So, Twitter came up with the concept of having group accounts and they now allow contributors to tweet from group accounts, so they can amass more follower, but each contributor is able to be identified.
Twitter accounts used to be associated with just one person and it was tricky for big corporations who wanted to amass lots of followers, but had multiple talented people who wanted to tweet, but now you can have multiple contributors inside your company, again let me point out that they need to be good hires who are well trained, who can go out and become evangelists for what you do to the outside world. A great example of this concept is Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. Zappos allows all of their employees (more than 1800 last I heard) to get on Twitter in the name of Zappos, with one goal--to help customers get the best customer experience possible.
When I stopped and asked Tony if he was afraid about what they might say, or what the rules were for social media he essentially said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "We don't have any rules for social media. We just hire right and we fire fast if we need to." You've got to give your employees some room to be themselves, and you've got to let them display their expertise and let them get out into the world in ways that they normally wouldn't in a typical corporate structure. If you do that, your business will grow in new ways and your business brand will come alive based on the way your employees are out interacting in ways that you could never do on your own.
In case you missed our point, these strategies work for everybody, everywhere and you can use them in any business. But you've got to display your expertise and you've got to show your personality and you should really consider letting some of your employees get involved too. Who knows where it might lead!