The CPO is the new CTO


For years, headlines have shouted how it’s critical for Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) to partner with their Chief Technology Officers (CTO) to create new marketing dynamics. We agree it’s important. Between emerging digital media, third-party delivery, increased hand-held tech in every multi-unit model, and upticks in pressure from the credit card industry, the race to upgrade and raise the tech bar is well underway.



However, there's been little conversation about leveraging the biggest expense for many service companies: employees. Well, let’s take that back. There’s plenty of talk, but far too little action. It’s commonplace for a brand to tout its commitment to people. There are values, mission and vision statements as far as the eye can see. Today’s low unemployment rate has turned the labor market into a war for talent. Companies are moving mountains to offer more advantages than their competition. Taco Bell is testing $100,000 salaries for General Managers, Netflix is offering unlimited parental leave and Shake Shack is offering 4-day workweeks. All with the mindset of cracking the code to create the perfect environment to attract industry's top talent.


Employment branding is not a new concept, but in a tough competitive landscape for sales and great people, it’s more critical than ever.



Still, most companies don't align themselves to take advantage of the fusion between the marketing (often spearheaded by a Chief Marketing Officer) and people departments (or human resources departments, led by the Chief People Office (CPO)). CMOs are invested in the guest experience, and they’re driven to ensure employees deliver on that experience. But their interaction with CPOs is often limited to post-decision relay of promotion and campaign details. And it’s sealed with delivery of a high-level brand guidelines manual. While marketing departments are busy chasing sales and improving offerings, their influence over guest experience execution is limited to “hoping” that teams on the front line follow their training.


We watched this take place in our former corporate roles and with agencies. And we asked ourselves, “Is this working? Can’t it be better?”


At MindHandle, we believe great stories carry ideas with the strength to attract and engage both consumers and employees. When executed well, these storylines have a 1 + 1 = 3 effect, building brands to new heights.


How do we arrive at these ideas? It’s called Magnetic Storytelling


Think of it this way: large restaurant companies like Pizza Hut and McDonald's have over 300,000 employees. At an average salary of $10,000 per year (we know that’s low, but please follow along for the sake of simple math), that’s an annual expenditure of $3 billion dollars. A budget line item that tends to not be traditionally affiliated with any  marketing message. However, we like to think of this outlay as a $3 billion dollar buy in walking and talking modern media. This is because employees – when they believe in what they’re doing – become living and breathing billboards and avatars. Notably, they can be viewed as experiential marketing at its best. Yet when engaged, employees can carry a message far more effectively than a TV ad. They can generate loyalty even faster than an app. And if anyone wants a pulse on a brand’s reputation, look no further than how a brand's employees talk about their employer on social media channels.


In a world where talent is a critical commodity to be acquired and treasured, the experience you deliver to your consumers should match the employee culture of your brand. Every CMO and CPO are cheering right now. Yes, that’s right. We all agree that a happy employee will deliver a better experience. But what are we doing about it?


The benefits of treating our internal audiences (employees) as we do our external audiences (consumers) has benefits that extend beyond just marketing.



When talking to consumers, companies like Domino’s are leveraging their employees in new ways. They are drawing connections between the human that receives the product and the human that delivers the product, but in relatable and authentic ways.


Consider this: A talented, underemployed student is sitting on her couch, surfing the internet for jobs. She wants a job where she can make a difference. She sees a commercial with an employee who is “changing lives” while delivering pizza. She first thinks, “Man, I love pizza.” Then, “Hey, why don’t I try working there? I want to have the power to give someone pizza if we mess up…everyone makes mistakes and should own up to them. That matches up with what I believe is right.” And this is the front-line, lowest compensated, yet highest valued employee! If she does go to work for the brand, she’ll be expecting the company to deliver on her experience.


So, wait. Now we have a pizza-loving brand enthusiast and all we have to do to make them brand ambassadors is to provide the SAME transparency and values that I do my consumers? (Mind? Blown.) Employment branding is not a new concept, but in a tough competitive landscape for sales and great people, it’s more critical than ever.


The benefits of treating our internal audiences (employees) as we do our external audiences (consumers) has benefits that extend beyond just marketing. An engaged employee platform attracts better candidates for employment and keeps them with a company longer. This creates a virtuous circle as long-term employees have the best chance of being brand champions.


To measure the strength of a brand, we created a simple tool called the Magnetic Scorecard. With a detailed analysis of both marketing and employee training/communications efforts, we can plot a communications solution. That sets the stage for Attraction, Adoption and Championship for both employees and consumers. 


We have found great success with this approach for our multi-unit clients in the food service, healthcare and entertainment categories. Upon adoption, success comes on stronger and more rapidly. And it leaves lasting, powerful dynamics for both the marketing and people teams.


Topic: internal communications


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