12 Jun Unknown Communications That Can Tarnish Your Business
Companies today usually have a good handle on what they officially publish to the public domain. Messaging, PR and branding are typically well thought out and have evolved from a structured, cohesive, and creative marketing strategy. However, as companies grow in size, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a consistent message while managing the outflow of content across the web, social media and email. Employees will gravitate towards what they feel is comfortable, saying and commenting as they see fit. Unfortunately, not all of the outgoing communication aligns with the true intentions of the message.
For most organizations, there are numerous communication mediums connecting a business to its target market. Outside of the basic channels such as websites, social media and print collateral, there are also one-to-one communications with prospects and clients that are as unique and varied as the individuals in your corporation. It is extremely difficult to control what and how people communicate all of the time, which leads to the increased potential of risky communications that may unknowingly impact your business. This is an insidious liability that could be killing or severely limiting your growth opportunities if you aren’t paying attention.
To help mitigate your company’s risk, consider the following:
- Develop, document and enforce a company-wide communication strategy.
Each and every employee within a company should have a clear understanding of the company’s mission, competitive advantage and key differentiators. There should also be a document that outlines protocol and policy around how employees should act and be portrayed in both their professional and social profiles. Accessibility to personal information opens up a large gray area between private and professional lives. It should be made clear as to how your business views the intersection of these channels, especially with those individuals that are on the front lines of sales and client engagement. Dictating behavior in employees’ personal environments can be difficult, posing sensitive privacy issues, but it’s important to educate employees on how their personal life can impact their professional image, performance and potential business opportunities.
- Perform a regular audit in your CRM to see what is being said to prospects, clients, and candidates.
This exercise can be quite telling. If your CRM and/or applicant tracking system is integrated with email, it might be wise to review random outbound communications from your customer service reps, recruiters and sales team. It’s often the case that your business is portrayed much differently than what is intended. In addition, there may be feedback from prospects and clients that would give indication that something may be getting lost in translation, altering crucial market perceptions of your capabilities.
- Scan social media profiles or utilize social media monitoring.
Businesses that exploit social media for awareness, engagement and lead generation likely make use of various monitoring tools for mentions and new links that pop up on the web. However, if your presence on social media is vital to your business, you may want to dig deeper and acquire tools that will manage this process more closely. Setting alerts that tell you when your company is being mentioned across blogs, websites and all social media platforms could prove essential to your business by addressing potentially damaging material that your customers and prospects could be reading. Using these tools will also give you an opportunity to create consistent messaging if it appears that your employees are tarnishing your company description and value propositions (LinkedIn is especially vulnerable in this case).
- Ask 10 random prospects if they would buy from you after visiting your website.
The ultimate source of corporate communication and messaging starts with your website. The messaging conveyed by your website may be perfectly clear to you, but a prospect or visitor may have no idea what your company does. A common practice is simply to ask others, based on the website’s explanation, if it is obvious to them what you do. This is an excellent way to obtain unbiased feedback from your target market at no cost to you.
SMB companies that aren’t paying adequate attention to external interactions should reconsider their communications policies. As the available platforms of communication continue to expand, a corporation’s liability exponentially increases. It’s nearly impossible to monitor everything; however, it certainly is possible to create an environment that will continually educate and consistently promote your intended brand and messaging.
Kevin O’Brien is a Co-Founder and Partner at echogravity. Kevin’s credentials include being a top recruiter for a international Big 8 consulting firm, top business development rep for a global consulting and staffing firm, and consulting with over 100 companies across North America.