Do you know what your company’s personality is in the market? Have you asked the question? And is there anything you can do to effect it? And how does it effect your market position?
If you’ve ever flown Southwest Airlines, you know immediately what I’m talking about. Now there’s a company that has a personality. Always? No. Most of the time? Absolutely!
Like individual personality, corporate personality is born from its leadership, and influenced by every member of the company. And like positioning, you can only cover the smell of a lousy personality with phony marketing for a limited time. Your corporate culture will eventually shine through, or create a funk that each and every customer, or prospect that calls, will sense right away.
Personalities, just like individuals personalites, must vary. We can’t all be like Southwest Airlines. Imagine walking into a Law Office, and everyone dressed like clowns, laughing and having a party. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but you get my drift. Some companies need to be deadly serious, others can be light-hearted and more fun, but they all need to be respectful and kind. And unless you’re the cable company, not taking this to heart, can effect your revenue. And like your marketing position, knowing your company’s personality and making it consistent in your marketing is very important. Things to know?
- Know your company’s personality. And I’m not talking about what YOU think it is. Getting out of your “odds are” and asking others is key. Open a Word document and start taking notes. Ask your secretary, your customer service people, your sales force, your vendors, and most importantly….your customers! Focus groups? perhaps. But you need to be able to sit back and listen, not defend or question the remarks, just hear them, write them down, and over time, you’ll get a good idea of what the business community thinks about your company’s demeanor.
- What does your personality need to be? Is your law office too casual? Is your bakery too serious? That decision is up to YOU, the leader of the organization. Marketing can not change the personality of the company. It MUST come from the leadership.
- Effect the change by starting with yourself. If things need to loosen up, you need to be prepared to dress more casually, spend more time outside of your office, in the cars of your salespeople, lunching with the front line, and cracking a smile or joke from time-to-time. If you need to tighten up the professionality of your office, then make the appropriate changes. If changes need to be made to the dress code, then make them. But by all means….COMMUNICATE!
- Rally the troops, share what you learned through your research, and explain WHY you are making the changes. If people are kept in the loop, and allowed to voice their opinions and concerns, they’ll feel PART of the change, and not a victim of it.
- Be patient and diligent. Rome, contrary to Wall Street, was not built in a day. Look for the small changes, compliment when noticed, and don’t tolerate dissention. Change will not take place if you do not insist it takes place. Recognize people for their efforts, and if need be, reward publicly.
- Make sure your marketing efforts reflect your new, or current personality. Look at marketing materials of leading brands. Everything from their advertising to sales materials will have a consistent “feel” and will be in line with what you would expect to experience from that product or service.
- Be sure that each and every point of contact your prospects and customers could make with your organization reflect these changes in their personalities while on the job. Not everyone is going to fit your corporate personality. In that event, they need to become the best actor or actress they can be. If I get on a Southwest flight and experience an uber-serious, uptight flight attendant, it would be contrary to my expectation. And while people will miss the mark on occassion, it’s important that they strive to reflect the new image.
- Don’t let up. You’ve made your decision, and things are slowly coming around. It takes a lot of work, but it is very important that you continue your efforts. Get feedback from the troops with small meetings or lunches, and find out what you can do to continue to forge ahead.
- Go back to #1 and assess your new personality by conduction the same research you did when you started.
It’s been said “image is everything” and having an image or personality that is consistent with your industry and your expectations as a leader is important. Assess yours, if it’s not in line, get started right away. Take small steps, but stay the course and it will eventually pay dividends.