Company culture has become increasingly important and is on the mind of every astute CEO. CEO’s realize company culture improves ROI and that customer loyalty starts with happy engaged employees. When a company chooses to focus on company culture as a strategy, the mandate almost always comes from the CEO, but she/he cannot possibly be both the evangelist and the implementer of culture programs. If the strategy is left to be cascaded down from the executive leadership team to the rest of the organization, let’s face it, we know what will happen. If someone doesn’t “own” it, it won’t get done. The question is: whose job is it to oversee company culture?
Company culture is everyone’s job, but unless someone steps up to take responsibility for leading and implementing programs to support and sustain a thriving company culture, even the best of intentions will fizzle. If you do a quick scan of your org chart, you will quickly realize that the only logical person to lead this important function is your marketing leader, or Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). The CMO is uniquely positioned to champion company culture because so many of the responsibilities are already so closely aligned with a CMO’s current responsibilities. Here are the top 5 roles of the CMO that intersect with company culture.
1. Internal / External Brand Guru. Marketing is already responsible for developing and owning the corporate brand. They help others in the organization understand the soul of a brand and its relationship to the company purpose. Companies invest significant effort and expense to create brand messaging and positioning, all of which will become diluted, or even irrelevant, if the internal brand (which IS company culture) is not aligned with the external brand. The internal brand must be a mirror image of the external brand or there will be a huge disconnect in the experience customers have with your brand.
2. Customer Experience Wizard. Many people across an organization influence a customer’s experience with a company, but marketers are responsible for designing and implementing the customer experience. Marketers segment markets, create customer profiles, analyze customer data, and track customer interaction across several touch points including websites, social media, customer service agents, third party vendors, and several other sources. Customers don’t separate their in-store experience from their online experience and they want seamless engagement across multiple touch points.
3. Internal Communication Expert. It’s no coincidence that companies that make communication a best practice in their organization also have the best company cultures. Marketers are responsible for many types of marketing communication materials and messaging from the brand promise and how it is delivered through customer experience, to business strategy and planning documents. Relentless communication anchors company culture, so it’s important to communicate shared values and beliefs that cascade from a company’s purpose and why it exists. Communicate stories that describe examples of the people who bring the company purpose to life through their actions and behaviors. This is the core essence of company culture.
4. Strategy Leader. CEO’s often appoint the CMO to lead strategic business planning. Working closely with their peers, CMO’s can ensure that the strategic marketing plan is a collaborative, aligned, process. The plan must not only answer the question, “Is the strategy right?” but also “How will we communicate the strategy to make sure it is understood and executed?” Since one of the biggest problems organizations face is making sure employees understand the company strategy, marketers must communicate the plan on a continuous, ongoing basis. Marketers and senior leaders must encourage others to interact and ask questions, ensuring the strategic plan is understood by the people who are accountable for executing it.
5. New Product Innovation Champion. As customers engage with a brand, they may post comments on a blog, post product reviews on several types of media sites, recommend a product or service to their friends on Facebook, suggest product and service improvements, offer ideas for new products, or even create and post a video about their experience with a company. As marketers interact with customers and gain insight across multiple touch points, this information must be shared across teams such as R&D, product development, sales, HR, and customer service. As I said in a recent post, “marketing is not a department; it’s a state of mind.” Marketers must inspire others to embrace this idea and create a unified brand to its customers.
Similarly, culture is not the job of one person or department. It’s the result of how everyone in an organization works together to create an amazing experience that will wow customers—and it’s how they will treat each other in the process. But someone must be the champion who is charged with facilitating the conversation and implementing the appropriate actions to create a thriving culture. It’s too important to leave to chance.
Marketers, are you ready to step up to this challenge? Seize the opportunity…or lose it.