If It’s Your People Who Make You So Great, Why Are You Hiding Them?
Some of you know who John Dykstra is. But many of you don’t. All he did was revolutionize film-making forever and make the first Star Wars the phenom that it was…one that 41 years later is still generating products and mind-blowing revenue.
For my purposes, this isn’t that great of an example. Because at least Star Wars became so massive that every crumb of minutiae about it’s been deeply explored, so Dykstra’s been well-profiled for serious fans who made the effort to learn about the people other than the onscreen stars who made the movie what it was. For everyone else, he was a name flashed on the screen.
You hear it all the time in corporate PR and marketing copy; “It’s our people that make us the great company we are.” It’s one of the most honest statements organizations make. It really is that employee who came up with the logistics of getting packages where they’re supposed to go. It really is the coder who created the product that made the founder a media golden boy. It really is that woman on the factory line that came up with a more efficient way to move items through the process.
But while honest, the statement is mostly left an empty cliché. We, the customers, never get to see or meet or know these people. They’re anonymized. And in a world where companies are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to be more human & real, and how to build trusted relationships between the brand and its customers, that might be the single greatest missed opportunity in business today.
What do you think is harder, getting someone who’s never seen a single episode of a drama to watch one, or getting someone who’s seen many episodes and knows the characters and what’s going on with them to watch another episode? The answer’s obvious. If you know the people, you’re more emotionally invested; you care.
No amount of brand-entity marketing can overcome an absence of the ability for humans to connect to other humans. Specifically, if you’re not putting humans in your company out there to connect with your human customers…what kind of loyal relationship do you expect to develop? If there are no faces or personalities that come to mind when people think of your company, that’s a pretty easy brand to break up with isn’t it? It’s ironic that the corporate structure was partly developed to create a wall behind which the people in a company could hide. Now all that hiding and separation has become an Achilles heel.
We had the pleasure of realizing this concept of profiling a person who represents just one part of a successful organization and introducing them to the public. Not in a corporate or sanitized way, but by creating a story-driven, 360-degree view of this person. Where did they come from? What were their dreams? How did their interests develop? How did they get where they are? What pain or obstacles did they overcome to get there? What do the people who know him think of him?
The result was a mini-doc on 92.9 The Game and Atlanta United radio color commentator Jason Longshore. Fans knew the voice, but we wanted fans and non-fans to come to know the person. In doing that, another layer of emotional, human connection to those brands has developed through Jason. And it’s repeatable. The more team members in a brand the public knows, the closer they can grow to that brand. It’s that simple, yet companies aren’t leveraging their self-declared greatest asset, their human resources, which are each contributing so much to the success of the whole.
Three arguments against letting customers connect to your people: A) Too risky. People leave. B) How do we profile team members without insulting the others? C) Introducing our individuals to everyone isn’t scalable.
A) So? You’re featuring more than one team member. And even if customers take a shine to one and they leave, the positive impression of your company based on the quality of people who’ve been there remains.
B) If team members resent you for proudly featuring their co-workers before you feature them, you may have people who don’t represent the best of your company. That said, there are nomination and selection mechanisms that can be put in place.
C) The scalability opportunity is one of the reasons to launch a team member profile program. Today, it’s through media we meet and learn about new people. And each video feature is like a goodwill tour making the rounds on behalf of your brand every day.
We challenge you to put substance behind your belief that it’s the people on your team that make you successful and make your company what it is, be they entry-level, middle management or director level. If the C-suite’s stories haven’t even been told to customers and prospects yet, that’s most definitely a foundational content gap.