As a small business owner, your employees are your marketing secret weapon.
If you run a shop, chances are they already can sell. They sell your products to your customers every day. They may also have untapped marketing skills, expertise, and ideas.
Here are five ways your employees can help your marketing. It all starts with you. As the shop owner, it is up to you to create an environment that encourages them to think outside the box and to use their energy to promote your brand.
Five Ways To Empower Your Staff To Promote Your Business
1. Empower Your Employees to be Your Brand Ambassadors
Small retailers have a head start. Chances are, you already chose friendly, personable people who can sell for your small team. You can expand on and channel those same skills they use with your customers to their lives outside of work.
The first step is to create a fantastic working environment. Beyond that, here are some steps to take:
Inform each member of your staff of your current vision and goals.
Educate your staff on every product you sell, you may even want to ask your staff for help choosing new styles and products. If they are excited about the products, they are even more likely to talk it up to their friends.
Teach your staff your elevator speeches so they are ready to talk about your brand at a moment's notice.
Don't pressure employees to do extra work or promotion. The most effective word of mouth promotion is authentic and organic.
Your staff may act as ambassadors online or offline. Coffee retail giant Starbucks and retailer Zappos are two companies that encourage their employees to contribute to company social media channels and to post about the brand on their personal channels. According to a feature from The Fast Company, Zappos even trains employees on the basics of social media marketing.
2. Make Use of Their Talent and Expertise
Be aware that some of your staff might already have talent and connections that may help market your brand. For example, one of your sales reps may be a talented photographer with a huge Instagram following. This employee might be able to create those behind the scenes candid photographs that do so well on social media. The crafty employee might be an untapped genius at creating window displays that attract pedestrians to enter your store.
3. Ask Your Employees for Ideas
A resourceful business owner asks staff for ideas then listens to their suggestions. One of your employees just might have a great idea that can grow your business. They might know the best festival for your shop to vend, they might be up on the latest trends.
4. Create a Social Media Policy For Your Business Accounts and For Employee Mention of Your Brand
These days, a strong online presence is essential in business. A strong presence is engaging and authentic. It also reaches mobile phone users and social media enthusiasts. The challenge is that a vibrant social media presence is full of both risk and opportunity. When you expand to include your employees, the risks increase (as do the rewards). A strong strategy and policy mitigate those risks.
Your policy should outline how your brand's channels will be run, including:
Who is authorized to post
What are the company's values and what type of content is contrary to those values
The review process
Who is authorized to respond to comments and questions
Standards for images including legal sourcing of copyrighted images
If you actively encourage your employees to post from their personal accounts, set a few guidelines.
Don't overstep your boundaries by telling employees how to run their private accounts. However, you can set the standard for when and how they mention or showcase your shop.
Have graphical assets like photographs available in case they want to share news and announcements with their friends. If it is easy, they just might decide to share your annual sale or other event announcements.
Set a standard concerning how they talk about the competition. For the sake of everyone, it is best not to comment negatively about competing businesses.
Educate them on Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosure laws that require mention of any material or financial relationship when endorsing a brand or product. In other words, don't encourage your staff to post customer reviews on Yelp. But they can share the latest window display, mention a fun product, or announce a special event on their social feeds. Ideally, they should mention they are an employee.
5. Offer Incentives
You may want to create a fun rewards or incentive program to encourage your employees to act as ambassadors in their spare time. The rewards may be intangible like a sincere thank you or mention at the next staff meeting. Or they might be tangible like a gift card, cash bonus or free product. If some of your employees are students, they may enjoy awards that they can showcase on their resume.
Running a small business is often challenging and a little lonely. The good news is that you don't have to do it alone. Keep your mind and eyes open for ways to let your employees help market and promote your business.