Your Reputation Far Exceeds Your Marketing

Marketing is a lot closer to home than often realised.

The bad news for companies; This form of marketing cannot be controlled. This form of marketing is your staff – your employees, from the most junior to the most senior.

A lot of companies will allocate a large part of their spend on advertising and marketing, ensuring that their brand is exactly aligned to their wants and wishes.  It has the right colours, it has the right logo, the fabulous strap-line and more.  The brand (most people think of the logo and packaging) is the company’s ideal.  It is controlled and managed.

However, whilst the brand package might draw your attention to the product or service and may even influence your decision to buy it; will it keep you coming back if the service or product does not meet your expectations?

People often think of brand and reputation as one and the same. However, in a business environment when you consider brand you must consider reputation as a separate entity. Consider for a moment Sir Richard Branson the brand and consider Sir Richard Branson’s reputation. Branson’s reputation is someone who is a go-getter, a risk taker, a perfectionist and entrepreneur…. a very, very successful entrepreneur and a lot more positive associations as well. Now think about Richard Branson the brand, the brand is Virgin. Virgin has had many successful and not so successful companies and ventures, from record shops to cosmetics (where are they now?), from banking to air.   The brand has had mixed success.   However, with Branson’s name behind it, and his great reputation, you’re more likely to stick with it and trust it.

So brand and reputation are very different and when considering yourself or your business, or even the business you work within, there needs to be clear division between them.

You must consider all your marketing avenues, and the most influential one is often the most overlooked.  Your staff, the employees, the people!

IMG_4167CRACK1MYou may think that advertising, eMarketing, telephone marketing, social media and so forth are the most important aspects of marketing, and I suspect, like around 95% of companies and individuals, you do not focus on your greatest support and greatest  asset, your staff.

Your Human Marketing

Marketing is a lot closer to home than often realised and for a lot of companies the unfortunate part is that this form of marketing cannot be controlled.   This form of marketing is your staff – your employees, from the most junior to the most senior.

Your Reputation Exceeds your Marketing

Recently, I was watching my son in his swimming class.  It was 8 o’clock in the evening, I was sitting in a very quiet location with three or four other people around me, including two gentlemen. Both gentlemen were talking about their company; it appeared from the conversation that the company they worked for wasn’t a good employer or even a good supplier of their services to their clients.  The gentlemen involved in the conversation went on to discuss how unhappy they were with their jobs (they were being very descriptive with their language) and that Finance were this and that HR were not any better.  In a very short space of time – 5 to 10 minutes, I had made up my own opinion with regards to them and their company. The company, or the individuals in question (who shall remain anonymous) is not one that I would now consider working with. The company could very easily have been a supplier.  Yet from that brief conversation (that I overheard) and purely based on  the knowledge I now have of that company and the individuals, it is not one that I would consider going to for a quote. Yet I have never directly met anyone from the company.   I have had no dealings with them as a business.  However, if and when it comes to wanting to engage with a company who provides their products and services, they will not be in the running.

From overhearing that brief conversation between the two gentlemen, I suspect that they are Junior to middle managers, I suspect they are underperforming in their role, and I know that they both have negative attitudes towards the company and their roles.   Their attitude and behaviour will be influencing their team and therefore I assume (it is only an assumption) that the team will also be underperforming. Their company can send out all the marketing materials they wish, spend a great budget on advertising, however, my opinion on that company is now tainted, and I have never worked with them.   On this occasion (and I suspect there will be many others) their reputation far exceeds their marketing.

Are your staff building or breaking your Reputation and Brand?

ILM recently carried out a research study (ILM Research Study), which found that ‘Over one third of workers plan to move jobs this year’. If over a third of your employees were to leave the business, how do you believe you would fare in bringing in high performers to replace them?  Before you can answer that you need to be very clear of your reputation.

Managers influence in making or breaking a reputation and brand

Individuals within their company tend to perform better when working for a good manager. It would be near impossible to have 100% of managers demonstrating excellent management skills 100% of the time. However, if you are to observe what percentage of your managers are demonstrating excellent management skills at any given time, what would you expect the results to be?  I would now half that figure and you are possibly nearer the truth.

How do you manage the unmanageable?

Managers need to be nurtured and developed.  Managers must be invested in.  Investment is not just choosing a manager  and giving them a new title and a salary rise (or not!), it is also not placing them on the team management course and then expecting them to work wonders.

There needs to be investment in their attitudes and behaviours and therefore the return on investment should be about outcomes. In order to do this, managers need to feel that the business is investing in them; they need to feel that they are getting something from the business before they invest their time, loyalty and trust.   They need to feel they are individuals and that one size does not fit all. It is a false economy to believe that placing your manager on a generic five-day management programme will have a long lasting impact on the business.

Managers need to be held accountable for their actions; Managers need to feel trusted by being allocated authority and responsibility and they need to be held responsible for their outcomes.   They will only take responsibility if they feel that they are getting something in return. It’s all about the balance between giving and taking.

If a manager has an opportunity to discuss their issues and concerns as well as receive constructive feedback on what the business feels is required to develop their skills and behaviours, the return on investment is greater.   If the manager feels that they can be challenged and can challenge back within a safe environment that allows them to work through issues and concerns, they will come away with clear direction, clear goals and clear objectives, and that will have a longer lasting impact on their behaviour and so on their outcomes.

Managers need to enhance your reputation further than your marketing.

So, how do you provide a management course that is individual and specific. That doesn’t just tick the boxes, but develops people in a way that works for them, and ultimately for the company?

Key Components

Coaching, as part of management training, is a key part of this. An individual can learn the management techniques, can read the books, but unless there is also an opportunity for that individual to examine themselves in a safe environment, to address their own specific development issues, to learn about themselves and how they can mould their own personalities into successful skills, then training may well fall short.

It may well disappoint both the company and the individual. And that would be worse than not providing the training at all.

Investing in both can have a significant impact not just on the company or individual but also on the wider team.  Having a great manager that will inspire and make others also want to perform better and want to stay at the company, will reduce turnover.   Having a great Manager that engenders trust, and positively markets the Company both internally and externally will in turn make staff feel that the company cares , therefore they will strive to be the best they can.  And  this can only reflect well on the company.

Changing Attitudes | Influencing Behaviours | Impacting Outcomes…


Margo Manning is Managing Director of Bute Learning and Development and Margo Manning Ltd. Margo is a professional speaker and is an Executive Coach. Margo works with Managers and Leaders to move them from static performance to high performance.  She works with her clients to Drive Success Through Performance.

Margo has been in the development arena for 20 years and more specifically in coaching for 11 of those.  Margo has worked with companies such as UBS, Goldman Sachs, AON, Balfour Beatty, Brunswick LLP, BBMV, Tower Hamlets Homes to name a few.