Are You Building A Culture Of Engagement?

Think about the questions facing brand-builders as they seek to move beyond that first flush of success (or at least profitability). How do you maintain leadership in your space? What makes a brand into an icon? How can you build deeper connections with customers, and align your corporate values with those of your tribe?

The creation of a “culture of engagement” for your brand and your company helps you accomplish all of these goals. By putting your business to work to support causes you believe in, you can bring new depth and meaning to your brand identity, unlock the empathy of consumers, and help motivate and inspire your team and talent.  The programs you execute in this direction stretch your employees and activate your networks in new ways, and contribute to a more vital and vibrant extended enterprise.
Is this just a cynical exercise in image manipulation? Far from it. The more good you do, the more good you can do. As advocacy and cause marketing help build your business, they enable you to do even more for the causes you believe in. Talk about a virtuous circle.
So how do you do it? The first step is to build a culture of engagement within your own organisation. In my next post, I’ll talk about how to extend that culture to your customers and create a movement within your tribe.
What’s your cause?
The good (or bad) news is that there’s no shortage of worthy causes in need of support. To find the right one for your organisation, look for the area where you think you can have the greatest impact—a cause that plays to your strengths in terms of your brand, team, and resources. Don’t be afraid to aim high. You may not reach your ultimate goal, but the more aspirational it is, the more inspiring it will be to your team and your tribe.
At BabyCenter, a member of the Johnson and Johnson family of companies, we’ve put our resources and our tribe to work to improve maternal health around the world. Meeting the needs of mothers is what we’re all about, and our workforce, assets, business relationships, and market presences are naturally suited to helping those in need as well as our own customers. What cause makes the most sense for your organisation?
Once you’ve identified your cause, it’s time to walk your talk. What resources can you put to work in concrete, meaningful ways? Maybe it’s finding influencers and innovators in the space who are making a difference and giving them a platform to amplify their voice. Maybe it’s allowing your workers to devote hours in their week to hands-on involvement. Are there products or services you can offer in the field at cost, or entirely pro bono? Are there best practices within your knowledge networks to share, or business connections you can make on behalf of your cause?
Whatever you do, be sure to make it a sustainable model based on sustainable systems—not just a series of ad hoc projects that call for fresh bursts of initiative and resources throughout the year. In other words, treat it as you would any other part of your business: how will you distribute the “product”? What resources will you allocate, and how will you determine the right scale to accomplish your purposes?
Think creatively about the value you can create. The best approach empowers your workers to do good without taking them offline, and incorporates the cause—and the fulfillment it provides—into the context of their daily work. The same is true for your brand: the more naturally your cause is aligned with your business, the better you can serve them both.
Creating a culture of engagement within your organisation can be one of the most powerful and meaningful things you do this year. But it’s only the first step. To do the most good for your cause as well as your business, it’s important to take your cause out to your customer community and enlist your tribe in the effort. That’s the topic for my next post.