Tag Archives: business

How a Strong Mission Helps B2B Companies Capitalize on Employee Advocacy

Employee Advocacy

Employee advocacy isn’t exactly a new idea: when your workers are truly engaged and excited about your company, they act as powerful brand ambassadors outside the office and can create a tremendous impact.

From generating new leads, to forging powerful partnerships, to spreading brand awareness, only good things can come from employees personally buying into your business. Think of it as an organic, low-cost marketing effort that can easily get your employees’ networks buzzing about your company, your offerings, and most importantly, your mission.

But wait… what if you don’t have a mission?

How B2B Companies Can Transcend Business

For B2B companies that don’t appeal to the everyday consumer, inspiring employees to advocate on the brand’s behalf might seem like a pipe dream. Sure, it’s easy for the guys at Google to tell their friends about how great the search engine giant is—but who wants to hear about paper supply over cocktails?

That’s where a mission comes in. Human beings love, dream, hope, laugh, and care; we long to be part of something bigger than ourselves—something that matters. A strong mission can unite your team, instill loyalty, and engender endless advocacy.

Maybe your mission can come straight from your offerings, like an educational resource provider that aims to help all children learn, grow, and achieve through their products. Or perhaps it’s a separate initiative, like a paper supply company that saves the planet by using recycled materials and planting new trees together on the weekends.

No matter what path you choose, when your company adopts a meaningful mission, it’s almost impossible to keep the good word from spreading.

How Technology Is Changing the Game

While employee advocacy and missions are nothing new, thanks to new technologies, their impact has never been greater: with the explosion of social media, it’s exceedingly easy for employees to tap into their networks and amplify your brand’s message.

Most people in your organization are on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (just to name a few) with hundreds of friends, family members, and business partners only a click away. (E.g., the average 25-43 year old on Facebook has 360 friends!)

The possibilities are literally exponential. If even one person shares a branded piece of content on LinkedIn, 100 new connections might see it; if those contacts like or share the content in turn, suddenly thousands are learning about your company, your offerings, and most importantly, your mission.

Inspiring Advocacy

Beyond spreading brand awareness and drumming up new business, putting your mission on center stage engages your employees and dramatically impacts productivity. Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by an astonishing 202%.

An inspiring mission means your company is about more than “just business.” It brings your team together and transforms everyone into a well-connected advocate trumpeting your message and inspiring others.

That’s not just good for business; it’s good for the world.

Author: Paul Wry

Do What You Do Best and Outsource the Rest

On September 14, 2013, I ran a “Savage Race” in Pennsylvania. The distance was only five miles, but the course was loaded with 25 difficult-to-surmount obstacles. I was one of the older participants. I am proud to say that I finished the course, but I was not on my own. I was fortunate to run the race with a group of people who all relied on and trained with one another. As the race neared its conclusion, I came face to face with an eight-foot wall that I––tired, muddy, wet, and cold––could not scale. It took my teammates working together to pull me over that daunting obstacle so that we all could cross the finish line.

The principles of teamwork––working together, pooling resources, recognizing strengths and weaknesses––apply to running both races and businesses. There is a correlative lesson to be gleaned from the words of the late Peter Drucker, a business consultant who famously said, “Do what you do best and outsource the rest.”

As a communication professional, a portion of my career was spent on the agency side, and for the past ten years I’ve worked with a company that specializes in marketing communication solutions. Outsourcing is all about creating the right relationships, ones that involve partnering with others who can use their talents to support your business model and philosophy.

At Vanguard Direct, we’re about creating ideas, solving communication challenges, and meeting our clients’ goals as effectively and efficiently as possible. To do this, we study and specialize in successful communication strategies. The more closely we understand our clients’ customers and master our ability to communicate effectively with them, the greater our success.

Today’s rapidly changing communication landscape forces us at times to become media agnostic. At the same time, to deploy and execute our strategies and to achieve stellar results, we must remain agile. Working with carefully selected and vetted outside teams––ones who have the same buy-in to our approach––is essential.

What’s more, outsourced partners can provide an objective opinion and often add insight to the development of a particular campaign. The core benefit of this symbiotic relationship is gaining access to a talent pool that can develop creative ideas and provide the added energy that’s often needed to execute a specific project.

Creating mutually advantageous, respectful relationships with outsourced partners will always net positive results. The bottom line: In today’s business environment, it’s difficult to imagine how a company can win the race with just its own resources.

Author: Paul Wry

True Life: The Interns!

You read our blog posts, contemplate our words, and wait anxiously for our next post, but do you have any idea who we are? Today we thought it would be a good idea to introduce the people behind the writing. So here are some fast and fun facts about the interns who have the honor of being Vanguardians for the summer.

Lindsey Clark is a rising junior at Denison University and is a double major in economics and English (creative writing).  She works for her school’s literary magazine and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity on the weekends. In the summer, she enjoys baking any kind of dessert (especially lemon bars) and surfing on Long Island. After graduation, Lindsey is interested in pursuing a career in journalism and is open to anything and everything related to writing.

As the production intern, Lindsey has been focused on understanding and helping with all steps of the production process, from starting with an idea to making it a reality. She has assisted on a range of internal projects that have made use of her organizational skills.

Liz Baron is a rising senior at Gettysburg College majoring in organizational management studies. On campus, she serves as a captain of Gettysburg’s field hockey team and is also a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Besides school, sports, and sorority life, Liz enjoys simply relaxing with friends and family and spending time outdoors. After graduating in May 2014, she hopes to pursue a career in marketing.

As the marketing intern, Liz has supported Vanguard Direct’s marketing programs, with an emphasis on its various social media channels. She has worked with the marketing coordinator and director to facilitate day-to-day and long-term projects. She has become familiar with SEO tagging, written multiple blog posts for Utterly Orange, and has learned a lot about current marketing practices.

MinJi Kim is a rising senior at Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi) majoring in general studies and minoring in business administration, international studies, and psychology. On campus, she is a member of the Golden Key Honor Society and volunteers for Global Ambassador After school and work, she enjoys working out and watching any kind of famous movie. After graduation, she is interested in pursuing a career in business administration.

As the digital intern, MinJi has been focused on digital trends through competitive analyses and has been involved in internal digital projects for Vanguard Direct. She has become familiar with apps’ and websites’ content, different platforms, and social media and has learned about various companies’ current digital practices.

We hope our posts will mean a little more now that you know a bit about us, the lovely ladies who have been sharing our Vanguard experience with you.

Author: Lindsey Clark, Liz Baron, and MinJi Kim

Marketing Through Our Economic Fears

The recession has lasted much longer than many of us anticipated. For many, it has had the most far-reaching financial effects since the Great Depression. So it’s no surprise that while many organizations are doing just fine, they continue to stand pat and not make the investments necessary for continued growth.

As a marketing service provider, I have a unique perspective that comes from both marketing our business while providing those same services to our clients. It’s clear to me that most organizations do not put the proper resources and dollars into marketing themselves. In fact, many view marketing as a cost-center area rather than a valuable tool to grow the business.

Companies that are doing well––and there are many––have continued to hoard cash and refrain from reinvestment in capital projects as well as marketing efforts. It’s curious to me that every time business slows in our economy, the first budget cuts made are in the marketing departments. Doesn’t it make sense to increase your marketing efforts when business declines? Don’t we need to focus MORE on developing new business?

The cost of marketing in today’s digital world allows us to build an integrated marketing plan that fits into a broad range of budgets. Marketing through the use of digital tools such as email and social media carries a very low price point, and in some cases, it’s free. In fact, there’s a big shift away from traditional marketing toward interactive methods (see chart). The time resources to develop the messaging and creative are often the majority of the costs involved.

So if it’s this easy, why isn’t everyone doing it? Most organizations that are paralyzed by fear lack a clear strategy of who to market to, how they should be reached, and what message they need to hear. They just don’t see the benefits. Additionally, they lack a clear understanding of how to use the new media now available. After all, the myriad of icons we see from the different social sites is enough to make us crazy. It’s easier to pull in the reigns than to spend valuable time and resources on all of this change.

Here at Vanguard, we struggle with spending valuable dollars on marketing but recognize that it’s a vital link to future business relationships. As a business leader, it’s important for me to look at the “Marketing” line on the financial statements as an opportunity for new business rather than a cost center. Personally, I’m grateful we now have new and cost-effective avenues of communication. So my question to the audience is, what are you doing differently to market your organization?

Author: Robert O’Connell

The Age of the Customer

Are you in need of better positioning within the marketplace?

Serving customers is the key. As complicated as it seems, you simply need to listen to what consumers have to say. It’s a way to survive and gain competitive advantage. According to business researcher Josh Bernoff: “A customer-obsessed company focuses its strategy, its energy, and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of and engagement with customers, and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers.”

For better positioning within the marketplace, you might want to consider the following ideas:

Change the way you do research. Listen to social media and explore customers’ unstated needs.
Change the way you do service. Create a widespread, cross-channel customer experience program.
Change the way you do sales. Pay attention to connecting directly with end consumers.
Change your advertising. Spend it on interactive content, online programs, and mobile apps that build relations and trust among customers.

Basically, listen to the consumer, and you will be at the center of your competitive strategy.

Author: Marina Kaljaj

7 Steps to a Better Business Blog

Blogs are websites that can be updated quickly, easily, and often. They have replaced many static websites, for good reasons.

Blogging has become a must in today’s social media marketing. There are many reasons: blogging brings new ideas to the public, allows freedom of speech, enables different perspectives to be heard, and facilitates communication. The blog is significant because it is a low-cost medium that delivers valuable information on a regular basis. Most important, blogging is a way to get the attention of the online community and communicate with it.

HubSpot’s blog (link below) explains how to take a business blog to the next level:

  • Write Short and Clear Headlines
  • Include Several Headers Per Post
  • Get Rid of Wasteful Words
  • Include a Contextual Image
  • Set Expectations With Headlines
  • Turn Comments Into an Extension of the Post
  • Use Calls to Action to Continue Education

If you don’t have a blog yet, are you convinced you should have one?

Author: Marina Kaljaj