Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Employees Help Build Social Brand, Interview with Loomis President, Mike Sullivan

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Loomis_Podcast Sometimes its who you know and who they know.  Last summer I was introduced to the president of The Loomis Agency, Mike Sullivan.  Maybe re-introduced is more accurate.  We first met years ago at the wedding of mutual friend, Lauren Mulkey.  Now Lauren, in her business development capacity with Loomis, a 20-year old Dallas creative firm, was getting us together again to talk about some ideas to get Loomis more brand recognition in Social Media.

Like many companies, Loomis was sort of half way into social media.  But Sullivan knew they could do more.  And being a brilliant executive, he consulted with people who had expertise.  And he also talked with me.  I had a couple of suggestions that they actually put into practice with great success.

Loomis had a few things going for them that I suggested he take advantage of.  One of those things was numbers.  They have a pretty good sized team.  I recommended getting everyone in the shop to get on LinkedIn and Facebook to help Loomis establish a presence there.  From an SEO standpoint, having all those users with Loomis as their current employer, and with links back to the Loomis homepage, LinkedIn and Facebook would be a great asset and would give them additional Web real estate at a very affordable price.  

Mike Sullivan himself is a pretty dynamic guy.  So I also suggested a targeted company blog with Sullivan being very visibly involved.  I thought that would be enticing to both prospective clients and prospective employees.  It also gives the current staff a solidified vision straight from the top. 

Recently I caught up with Mike to see how his plan was coming along.  I knew Loomis had done a great job with their revised blog.  And I had seen a viral holiday video they produced that was a stroke of genius.  So I was curious to get his feedback on the impact social media branding has had on Loomis.

Me:  This summer we met for a brainstorming session about corporate brand marketing through social media (social networks, corporate blogging, personal branding of employees, etc.)  What ideas from that meeting have had an impact on your strategy?

Mike: First off, I’ve encouraged all of our team members to get on LinkedIn and Facebook and begin using those tools actively. We’ve created a company presence in both those places, as well. We’ve used both tools as a means for generating traffic to our blog site, and I’ve noticed that it seems to have improved search results for our company.  If you search “Dallas ad agency,” for example, we’ve moved up quite a bit.  Depending on the day you search we pop up just above or below the fold.  I believe that’s largely a function of the increased social activity of our team members. 

Me:  What new steps have you taken to boost your brand awareness?

Mike:  I’ve personally built a fairly tight LinkedIn contact base. I think I have somewhere around 290 professional contacts, and most of my team members have fairly large, but tight, contact lists as well.  We have extended the distribution of our regular monthly e-newsletter, “Off The Chain,” to this group of professional contacts.  I think our total team member list is somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple thousand contacts on LinkedIn.  Of course, we have an opt-out option, so we are not engaging in SPAM tactics.  But, we’ve received a ton of positive feedback on the content of the e-newsletter and I know it’s been forwarded to others.  We used this tactic to launch our “sock puppet” video during the holiday season and that video was ultimately viewed by more than one million people.  Again, the content was the rocket fuel for that, but the initial LinkedIn database was the launch pad.

Me:  How has this new approach complimented your more traditional marketing efforts?

Mike:  I think that’s just what it is-a complement to the traditional business development work we’ve done for years.  We still do all of the traditional stuff–OB calling, direct, networking–and the social networking and blogging has been an excellent overlay for that activity.  The goal is to show up in as many places as we can, and this helps us accomplish that with limited resources.  We’re exploring other ways to use the social tools, as well. For instance, we are putting the final touches on our first monthly podcast this week and will be distributing that the way we’ve distributed our blog and e-newsletter.  The social sites will play a big part in that distribution.

Me:  Has this had an impact on your efforts to hire or retain talent? 

Mike: It certainly has been great for hiring.  We were fortunate to be in hiring mode recently and found several excellent candidates through LinkedIn and hired two of them.  We always prefer candidates who come with a referral from somebody we know and trust, and both of these panned out that way.  The interesting thing is that one of the hires came directly from a referral through one of our team member’s LinkedIn contacts (2nd degree).  If it hadn’t been for that tool, we would never have found that particular candidate.

Me:  What kind of feedback have you received?

Mike:  It’s been excellent.  Certainly, great content drives the best feedback. A really good blog post or something like our sock puppet video garners attention and generates a lot of positive feedback.  With respect to the video, we had people calling and e-mailing from all over the country.  That was fun and effective, and we plan to do it again. Of course, we’ve also had a lot of companies contact us asking if we can do videos for them. 

Me:  After your research and experience in the process of social brand marketing, what advice would you offer to other business owners and executives?

Mike:  First, just be sure to get in the game and encourage your staff to get out there and represent you.  Old school thinking tells people to stay away from this stuff during work hours, but I think nowadays our professional and personal lives are blended to the extent that it simply doesn’t make good business sense to try to restrict social networking activity during business hours.  Encourage it, and recognize and reward those who do the best job of it on behalf of the company.  Writing good blog posts and making smart use of social networks requires good thinking. 

Second, stay current because it changes fast.  Twitter is a new frontier for us, as an example.  It feels like that just popped up and we’re already playing catch up.  But I know a lot of people swear by the results they are seeing with it.  Staying current also requires a forward-leaning disposition as a company.  It needs to be an encouraged activity.

Finally, it still all comes down to quality content.  Are you communicating something people want to hear, read, or watch, or not?  The marketplace will vote as it always does.  Be sure to use the right side of your brain when you’re leveraging all this left-brain technology!

Twitteriffic Susan Kang Nam Gets Creative with Reasons to Twitter

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Award_Image1 by pinkolivefamily.A big question I am often asked about Micro-Blogging service, Twitter, is simply this, "So what do you do on Twitter, just tell people what you’re doing?"  And my answer is usually, "No".  I use Twitter to network with early adopters and people all over the world who have similar interests in social media and web2.0 technology.  I post helpful links about careers, employment, and job searching.  And I use it to promote my blog, where I write about using those technologies for recruiting, career branding, and employer branding.  I also use Twitter to promote my company, A-List solutions, a full service staffing and recruiting firm for management, marketing, and I.T. positions.  (how about that shameless self promotion!)

One of my Twitter networking friends, who I originally met through on, is Susan Kang Nam.  She is what I like to call a social media darling.  She is a master networker with a knack for recruiting, collaborating with the top players in social media and recruiting.  She supports her sister’s boutique, Pink Olive Inc. based in NYC, where she uses various social media tools to network and build relationships with customers, vendors, and community organizers around the world.  Susan also has responsibility on the boards and committees of numerous groups and associations related to social media, recruiting, and careers.  You can see a full bio of her at her Google profile page:

When we talked last week about ways to encourage more participation in a Twitter networking group that she runs on,  she told me that she had been invited to sit on a panel at the upcoming BlogHer conference.  She thought this was slightly ironic because she doesn’t have a blog.  In January we had talked about her plan to start a blog and she told me at the time that she hadn’t done so yet because she was still finding her voice, -deciding on the right content, key players, and collaborators- to present persuasive information that is original and unique to readers. 

Susan excels at the concise format of micro-blogging, which, with the help of Twitter, has become the hottest new form of blogging.  The BlogHer panel she has been asked to sit on is a "micro-blogging" panel called "Is MicroBlogging the Key to MommyBlogging Bliss?".  But she is still working on the idea of a real blog.  She has encouragement from blogosphere luminaries like good friend Chris Brogan.   But she is in no rush to set one up, having such enthusiasm for twitter (She’s happy to be a micro-blogger) offering values & engaging in interesting dialogues via tweets.

Still she joked, in a tweet she sent to me after our call, that she doesn’t do that much creative writing.  I tweeted her back with a gentle nudge and she responded the way I would expect her to.  By writing something so useful that I wanted to blog about it.  She posted the following note on Facebook shortly after our exchange.  It’s a great lesson for would-be bloggers.  And it is great info for anyone wondering what this Twitter thing is all about, highlighting some of the multiple ways that it is useful. 

Why Tweet? Tweeting for 5 reasons so far…

By Susan Kang Nam

Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 2:23pm

Encouraged by my latest "tweet" from a twitter recruiting pal Craig Fisher, I decided to "practice" my creative writing on this post via FB notes today. His tweet to me was:

Fishdogs (Craig): @PinkOliveFamily (Susan) That’s crazy. You are plenty creative. It’s like anything else. Research + Practice makes perfect : )

Ha! So as much as I’d like to believe that I am a creative writer. I solely admit I am not. However, here is my further attempt to continue writing and exploring via this post.

Many ask me why I "tweet" and there is no short answer for that obviously. To be honest, from the beginning it was just another tool ~ an exploratory tool that I have used after hearing it from a couple of recruiters over at back in late June of ’08.

I tweet for the following 5 reasons:

1. Content: Initially I came to twitter to review and correspond with other recruiting professionals to share content. I find some of their links that they share online quite useful i.e. Fistful of Talent to various other recruiting bloggers that showcase their knowledge and thoughts. I also came in initially to reach out to other pink olive customers and to provide value i.e. Tory Johnson over at ABC news Good Morning America, Women for Hire CEO – as her little one was a fan of pink olive boutique in east village location. I was happy to reach out to other Pink Olive customers and give information back to my sis Grace Kang, founder/owner/designer for Pink Olive Boutique. Other contents I valued overtime include Social Media in general, Marketing sources as well as reaching out to mainstream media professionals (i.e. CNN, Wall Street Journal to Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick etc and the list goes on and on). As I continue to look out for my next executive recruiting position I’d like to continue to explore connection via Twitter and find it worthwhile. In the meantime, appreciate sharing contents via peeps I follow on Twitter.

2. Contacts: As I started to lead a club called Boston Salty Legs Career Club, I have utilized all social media tools including Twitter to reach out and get referrals for our membership roster. I found it quite helpful and the contacts I have made via twitter has been phenomenal. Of course, I talk about Chris Brogan quite often however since I have the great opportunity to meet him via his New Marketing Summit I have been in awe of what he has brought reference to contacts I have made via Twitter. I highly recommend following him on twitter if you have not yet to recognize the "value" that he brings to connecting with professionals all over the world utilizing this platform. And yes I would not have had the opportunity to connect with someone like Tory either if it wasn’t for our tweets shared back in October of ’08. Currently I have little over 4400 followers and I am humbled by what they know and share (even funny jokes really helps – that reminds me – can’t forget about @animal – aka recruiting animal ;P).

3. Presence: At Jeff Pulver’s SocComm summit I had the opportunity to share my thoughts via being part of his twitter team in NYC. At the Summit, many mainstream media industry moguls spoke on topic of "presence" on social media. I highly recommend to attend his next SocComm2 Summit in June and continue the conversation on various topics. The topic of "truth" from Fred Wilson was an eye opener for me for sure. His thought processes intrigued me.

4. Branding: There has been lots of tweets regarding Branding lately and I hope to explore more on this topic as I am not 100% clear on both personal or professional/employer branding. I’d like to "think" that I know what exactly it means to brand yourself using twitter however that topic is open for more to come.

5. Fun: I know we speak of ROI for everything ~ however twitter is also about having "fun" engaging in conversations while making an impact in this "new" social media world. For good example, Jyl Johnson Pattee and Carissa Rogers, founders of MomITForward and #GNO have done a great job energizing the 200+ mommy professionals providing "fun" content on Twitter along with their efforts to reach out. Their mission is "to change the world one mom at a time." achieving that by 1) strengthening women, 2) helping them become the best moms they can be, and 3) providing ideas, opportunities to, and recognition for carrying out the Mom It Forward mission in small and large ways, locally as well as internationally. I am in awe of their efforts & energy and I do my best to join their #GNO hashtag party in Twitter every Tuesday night from 9PM EST.

As a micro-blogger, I am happy to share content, RT contents, making contacts, defining presence, learning about branding and having fun utilizing this tool. It helps me to pinpoint what I’d like to get out of for that day. Usually I’m on from 5:30-9:00AM on weekdays to engage in conversations (except this week I am "suppose" to be on vacation ~ so I have been on more often than usual ;P). On weekends it really varies. Sunday early mornings are an interesting "time-frame" to tweet.  Why?  Hmm, that can be another post.

So, why do you tweet? :) What drives you to use this platform over others out there, not to mention already "addicted" to twitter ;P

On Twitter
@shuffergreene (for #GNO ladies and gents)
@saltylegs (private for members and guest speakers/ update for the club)

Craig Fisher Featured in ZoomInfo Newsletter

Friday, February 20th, 2009


One of the web’s top business information search engines, (which I find extremely helpful in sales and recruiting research), has kindly featured an article I wrote, Employer Branding with Web 2.0 & Social Media, in their February Recruiting Newsletter, Zoominformer.

Thanks to Flora Felisberto and Martin Burns of ZoomInfo for including me, alongside recruiting industry great, Lou Adler, in this edition of the newsletter.

If you haven’t done so, I would recommend going to and searching for yourself.  If you find yourself, but the info appears out of date, claim your profile and update the information.  This is a great place on the web to stamp "brand you".

Here is an excerpt from the February Zoominformer:

The social media phenomenon is no longer breaking news, but its impact on talent (finding, recruiting, and retaining) has started to accelerate.

Over the coming months, we’ll be taking a closer look at social media trends. We’re working with our clients and industry thought leaders to get to the "actual" behind all of the hype. It’s our goal to help you work in the present, as well as understand the future. This month’s newsletter will focus mainly on some of the practical impacts of social media, but we are also looking to a future that may be wildly disrupted by new methods of connecting with prospects, companies, and candidates.

If you have any ideas and interesting examples, please let us know. We are always amazed by the creativity of recruiters in navigating this world.

Stay tuned….

Are You a Web 2.0 Wannabe?
by Lou Adler

According to Lou Adler, "If you don’t invest in finding tomorrow’s candidates today, you’ll become history." By investing time in key low-cost technologies, recruiters can increase both the visibility and interest of their job postings. In this article, Lou Adler describes the six most important web 2.0 trends and tools. Read on to find out if you’re a "Neanderthal or a new ager."
Click here for the full article

Employer Branding with Web 2.0 & Social Media
by Craig Fisher

If your company’s HR department is not already utilizing web 2.0 tools and social media to market the company to job seekers, it should be. A new report by Gartner, Inc., shows that even though corporate marketing and web strategies are embracing social media, HR departments are generally slow to align with those efforts for the purpose of employer branding.

Click here for the full article

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ZoomInfo is a business information search engine used to quickly find information about industries, companies, people and products. ZoomInfo is used by sales and marketing professionals to identify business opportunities, by recruiters to locate talent, and by anyone conducting in-depth research about products, services and businesses. ZoomInfo’s semantic search engine continually crawls the Business Web – the millions of company Websites, news feeds and other online sources – to identify company and people information which is then organized into fresh, comprehensive and objective profiles. ZoomInfo currently has profiles on more than 40 million people and over 3.5 million companies, and its search engine adds more than 20,000 new profiles every day.

Why Are Some Employers Missing the Social Boat?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Social media sites are fast becoming the go to outlet to compliment a marketing campaign.  Companies of all sizes are embracing the technology and the ability to interact with their audience to boost sales and enhance marketing.  But as I stated in a previous post, Employer Branding with Web2.0 & Social Media, HR and PR departments are lagging far behind.  Those responsible for a company’s image, apart from sales, and product or service marketing, should be at the forefront of the company’s efforts in the online arena.

We have already seen two recent cases where a company’s reputation can be hurt quickly by the viral spread of stories or video posted to networking sites like YouTube, FaceBook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter.  The cases of KFC and Motrin are now well documented.  Just do a google search on KFC and rats, or Motrin and Twitter, and you’ll see what I mean.

My question, apart from the obvious effect of tarnished reputation and loss of market share, is how does this effect the morale of existing employees, and the interest of perspective employees, of the companies who own these brands?  Motrin responded with an apology and stopped running the offensive material.  This was material that was meant to be good marketing and ended up as a PR headache. 

CV Harquail at has found a nice presentation that illustrates the basics of reputation management.  She points out in her article, Online Reputations and Authenticity a few keys that can be derived:

* Many managers and management scholars are unaware of how important an organization’s online reputation management is to the organization’s overall corporate identity, the organization’s corporate social responsibility efforts, and the organization’s employer branding.

* Managers who remain ignorant of blogs, or twitter, or whatever online tool is being used to discuss an organization, do so at their organization’s peril.

  • Although online reputation management seems to be taken seriously only by those in social media and marketing circles, an organization’s online reputation can influence everything about how an organization is perceived . When you consider how perceptions of an organization affect how every stakeholder in the organization’s circle responds to the organization, you can begin to imagine the power of an organization’s online reputation.

And, if that is not enough to get you to pay attention, think more selfishly about your own ‘brand’. Online reputation management is also critical to individuals— as any teenager on Facebook can tell you.

Four points made nicely in this presentation — That we all should use online reputation management tactics to:

  1. Offset negative content by promoting what is good, and true
  2. Take ownership of your reputation in (yet) another medium,
  3. Address negative feedback in a constructive way, and
  4. Be open and transparent — and authentic — in your communication and self-presentation.



Employer Branding with Web2.0 & Social Media

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
Leveraging Social Networks at Affiliate Summit...

If your company’s HR department is not already utilizing Web 2.0 tools and Social Media to market the company to job seekers, it should be. A new report by Gartner, Inc., shows that even though corporate marketing and web strategies are embracing social media, HR departments are generally slow to align with those efforts for the purpose of employer branding.

Job seekers today research companies the same way recruiters research job seekers.  They look at what other people are saying about them on social media, blogs, and other Web 2.0 outlets.  HR Organizations who don’t attempt to control their employer brands online are missing a great opportunity and run the risk of missing the most sought after job candidates.

A recent study by Potentialpark Communications, a Swedish-based research and consulting firm, surveyed 1,800 U.S. students and recent graduates in an effort to identify the leading corporate careers sites.  Rusty Weston wrote an article about the study, Checking Out the Best Corporate Careers Sites, that states:

"about one third of the rated companies use videos to present possible future colleagues, a walk through the office or the day-to-day work,” says Potentialpark’s Magdalena Knott. “The use of blogs, pod casts and web casts has not advanced too far until now, but the importance is rising."

The Top 10 U.S. Corporate Career Websites

by Potentialpark Communications

  1. Deutsche Bank

  2. Microsoft

  3. BCG (Boston Consulting Group)

  4. Merrill Lynch

  5. Accenture

  6. Charles Schwab

  7. UBS

  8. Booz Allen Hamilton

  9. Intel

  10. Bertelsmann

The Gartner report concludes that "By 2011, Organizations That Do Not Manage Their Employer Brands Effectively Will Fail to Attract Key Talent.

"Organizations are investing significantly in adopting marketing and sales strategies for social software, and Gartner predicts that by 2010, more than 60 percent of Fortune 1000 companies with Web sites will have some form of community that can be used for marketing purposes. Although many organizations hasten to adopt and exploit social computing in marketing, sales and customer support roles, Gartner has found that HR tends to lag behind."

According to Gartner, the first step that organizations need to take is to understand what is being said about them on social networks and informally benchmark this against competitors and peers, as well as companies that tend to lead in this area. They need to be prepared for candidates to enter the recruitment process with a much-deeper understanding of the organization than would have been expected previously. The organization must also look at new ways of improving its image online."

So where is an HR organization to start?  UK-based Web 2.0 development firm, Organic Development, offers these suggestions.

5 ways social media can benefit an Employer brand

1) Blogging is a great way of building up your online presence and generating awareness of what it is like to be employed ‘on the ground’ within a company. They help the business engage with candidate and employee audiences directly. Moreover, with blogging comes the opportunity to ‘comment’, where readers can actually speak back to the business, giving their opinions and input: free market research.

2) Engage and respond to feedback. Responding to your candidate and staff opinions makes for a stronger relationship, gaining your customer’s trust and understanding. If people say good things about you, say thanks. This shows that they are genuinely being considered and their opinion matters.

3) Recruitment and HR Managers should welcome social networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and Myspace into the workplace. Not only are they tools for colleagues to recruit, promote HR policies, interact with employees and build relationships with each other but having them viewable by the public makes the company seem more approachable and engaging. Many companies are now using these sites already to recruit new members of staff, search for new business or to induct new team members.

4) Advanced search facilities allow people of all interests and niches to find and target what they are looking for quickly and easily. New and evolving audiences can be identified and reached without spending a penny.

5) If you create media that people enjoy and find useful in some way, they are likely to pass it on. Therefore, it is worthwhile seriously thinking about how social media could be incorporated into your business. The beauty of the concept is that through processes such as word of mouth, making a success of social media means sooner or later your audience will start to do the work for you. "

Blogger beware!  Corporate blogging has its pitfalls.  In an article written by Forrester Research analyst, and co-author of the book, Groundswell, Josh Bernoff comments on the recent Forrester survey that showed Only 16% of online consumers who read corporate blogs say they trust them.  Bernhoff says, "This means that if you blog, your goal should be to create a blog about which people say “I like that – I don’t think of it as a company blog.” For the most part, that’s a hurdle you need to jump to gain their trust. I don’t mean to hide who is writing the blog. I mean it has to be more about your customers than it is about you."

The survey, and Bernoff’s comments, are geared more toward corporate marketing efforts than employer branding.  But the lesson is good for both.  The job candidates you are seeking are savvy.  They do read blogs and utilize social media.  So relying solely on a blog for your HR and employer branding is not advised.  Nor is posting the usual HR propaganda.  Get your real employees involved and make your message transparent and believable.  And use that content in conjunction with social media to create an organic source of top job candidates.  Give them a real face to associate with your Employer Brand.

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Jobs are Now Partnerships. A lesson from the Great Depression

Monday, November 17th, 2008
Tony Hsieh, CEO

As I sat watching live, streaming video from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summit and Research Symposium in Vegas last week from the comfort of my cushy office chair in Southlake, TX, it occurred to me that the corporate philosophy being shared by the enigmatic CEO, Tony Hsieh (pronounced "Shay"), echoed something written over 70 years ago.

The video stream was courtesy of Interactive Marketing expert, David Armano, who makes a habit of live streaming from the various high profile marketing conferences and other events he attends.  When he announced on Twitter (see my Twitter blog post) that he was about to stream Hsieh’s presentation, my interest was piqued.  According to this recent interview, Zappos is on track to better the $840M in gross sales it did in 2007.  Hsieh previously founded LinkExchange which he sold for $265M to Microsoft in 1998.  I follow him on Twitter.  He’s good.

So I clicked on the link and watched Hsieh as he shared some entertaining stories and interesting ideas.   It was a good presentation.  I made a couple of notes and prepared to turn it off.  But then he said something toward the end that struck a chord with me. 

He said that Zappos, which is known for being fanatical about customer service, does not hold customer service as its first priority.  He and the company are more concerned with its people – hiring great people and fostering an excellent company culture.  Hsieh believes that if you hire great people who share your corporate philosophy of great service, then great service will take care of itself.

This sounded to me like more of a partnership than a typical employer to employee relationship.  And it reminded me of something I had read in the seminal work of author Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich.  In this, perhaps the best selling success book of all time, Hill shares his 13 principles for success in the form of a philosophy of personal achievement. 

 thinkbig The book, originally published in 1937 and abridged by Hill himself in 1960, was inspired by Hill’s association with American billionaire Andrew Carnegie, and Hill’s interviewing of over 500 of the most affluent men and women of his time.  The chapter on the "sixth step to riches" is entitled Organized Planning, and Hill has a section within called The New Way of Marketing Services-"Jobs" are now "Partnerships".  Here is the excerpt:

Men and women who market their services to best advantage in the future must recognize the stupendous change that has taken place in connection in the relationship between employer and employee. In the future, the "Golden Rule," and not the "Rule of Gold" will be the dominating factor in the marketing of merchandise as well as personal services. The future relationship between employers and their employees will be more in the nature of a partnership consisting of:

a. The employer
b. The employee
c. The public they serve

This new way of marketing services is called new for many reasons.  First, both the employer and the employee of the future will be considered as fellow-employees whose business it will be to SERVE THE PUBLIC EFFICIENTLY.  In times past, employers and employees have bartered among themselves, driving the best bargains they could with one another, not considering that in the final analysis they were, in reality, BARGAINING AT THE EXPENSE OF THE 3RD PARTY, THE PUBLIC THEY SERVED.

In the future, both employers and employees will recognize that they are NO LONGER PRIVILEGED TO DRIVE BARGAINS AT THE EXPENSE OF THOSE WHOM THEY SERVE. The real employer of the future will be the public. This should be kept uppermost in mind by every person seeking to market their services effectively.

"Courtesy" and "Service" are the watch-words of merchandising today.  They apply to the person who is marketing their services even more directly than to the employer whom he serves, because, in the final analysis, both the employer and his employee are EMPLOYED BY THE PUBLIC THEY SERVE. If they fail to serve well, they pay by the loss of their privilege of serving.

Tony Hsieh’s approach of carefully hiring great people, and placing the employees and the company culture first is an inspiring means to this end.  Everyone is on board and understands that great customer service will be what sets the company apart.  And the customer benefits because the whole organization is made to feel they are playing a critical role, plus they like their job and love their company. 

This is a partnership based on mutual commitment.  Zappos notoriously offers new employees a $1000 bonus to quit after the first week of  its four week new hire training.  About 10% accept the offer.  The rest are committed to the cause.  And the company is committed right back.

According to a recent article in the Las Vegas Sun online, Zappos is a tight-knit company that buys its employees lunch each day and has a dodgeball room in its corporate headquarters.  And when the company reluctantly  laid off 8% of its 1,300-member workforce earlier this month due to the economic downturn, Hsieh said in an email to the employees, that "laid-off employees will be paid through the end of the year, and employees who have been with the company for three or more years will receive additional pay. He also said Zappos will pay for six months of health coverage for all laid-off employees."

"In doing all of this to take care of laid-off employees, we expect that it will actually increase, not decrease, our costs for 2008, but we feel this is the right thing to do for our employees," Hsieh wrote.  "It will put us in the position of having a lot more financial flexibility in being able to respond to potential changes in the economy in 2009."

The book, Think and Grow Rich has many more lessons that apply here.  But this book was originally compiled over a 10-year period beginning just prior to the Great Depression.  No streaming video, no Twitter, no Internet.  Hill just found, through exhaustive research, the common qualities that bound hundreds of highly successful people and organizations.  And he was undaunted by the financial woes of the time.

In our current struggling economy employers and employees alike can benefit from thinking of our jobs as partnerships.  And, like Zappos, we can create a competitive advantage by employing the "Golden Rule," and not the "Rule of Gold" as the dominating factor in the marketing of merchandise and services.

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