Advice for Enhancing the Value of Your Company
My friend and colleague, Graham Edwards recently wrote a post in beBee called, Thoughts
on a business in transition... and invited me to provide insight into the challenges faced by businesses
in transition. I'm a pragmatist and a natural teacher, so it's not enough for me to simply provide insight. Indeed, the pragmatist in me wants to tackle problems and see them resolved, and
the teacher inside me wants to show people how things are done. I hope this post provides you with a foundation to start the process of enhancing the value of your company as you transition to higher ground.
When we look at what we can do to enhance the value of a company (a common reason for transition) we tend to look at increasing sales and decreasing costs, but there is also a thing called goodwill which needs to be considered. Goodwill encompasses the intangible assets of a company that increase its value to prospective buyers and investors. It can include things like the location of your business, but your company’s reputation, employee engagement levels, customer satisfaction and product quality are also part of the goodwill value of your company. Harnessing your communications vehicles to bring up the goodwill value of your company is a smart way to start the process. Here are a few things for you to keep in mind as you think about how to impact this valuable aspect of your business.
Reputation: Much of your goodwill value can be positively influenced by your communications efforts. For example, your public reputation can be enhanced through common public relations tactics. Become known for the good things you do within your community by establishing corporate social responsibility programs. If you have a smaller business, doing something like donating computers to underprivileged kids or supporting social programs that are being run by local charities will help enhance your reputation both in the community and among your employees.
Once you establish where to focus your charitable efforts, you will then be in a position to score some media attention. Accessing the media in order to create awareness of your charitable work means you are also letting the world know that your company has a human side to it. When investors or business buyers look at the public reputation of a company they will check to see how you show up in the news. The more good you do, the better.
Your web presence is another way goodwill gets measured. There are many tools that help you measure your web presence. Alexa is a tool that is widely used by people who are involved in analyzing the internet presence of businesses. What you are doing in social media, as well as the traffic on your website can affect the rating you get when someone researches your business on Alexa.com. If you don’t want to pay to see how your website is ranked worldwide, try SimilarWeb. It can be fun to use these tools to see whether your communications efforts are helping raise your public profile.
Employee engagement: Building your employee engagement initiatives is critically important to all businesses, but if you are looking at trying to create a successful transition or trying to build the goodwill value of your company, then you need to realize that an engaged workforce means you are a desirable employer with access to top talent. It also means the quality of your products and customer service will be greater than if you are surrounded by disengaged employees. Engaged employees also tend to recommend your company to others (which also enhances your public reputation). If you are not making this a top priority, you are making a huge mistake.
People seem to think creating an engaged workforce necessarily means you must pay high end trainers and consultants to come in and change everybody and everything. It doesn’t have to be that way at all, and I would recommend you avoid doing anything that will not be appreciated. The problem of having a disengaged workforce is one that stems from broken leadership. Your company wide communications are instrumental to the process of employee engagement, so it is actually a really practical place to start the process of changing the mindset that has broken the culture in your company.
Use your company newsletters, intranet and all other internal communications vehicles to speak to the values of your company and educate your employees so that they have the opportunity to grow. Be sure to speak to the successes of your employees and make a big deal out of the proud moments when employees did extra work to help a customer or launch a new project. Keep it positive.
I’ve written my share of newsletters for companies with content they provided. Everything was about sales figures and forecasts, expectations and misery. All they really managed to do was keep the culture toxic. How many employees do you figure looked forward to the monthly newsletter? A little levity goes a long way and adding helpful content around leadership, customer service and interpersonal relations, makes your newsletter more of a resource than a reminder of the stress they are under. How your content will be interpreted really depends on how you frame it. If you want to know what your employees would like to read about in their newsletter, then put together a little online survey and get some answers.
Customer satisfaction: This is a factor that is easy to control. The more engaged you are with your customers, the more they like you. Consider your customer base to be part of your company’s community or tribe. Keeping them in the fold means being willing to do more for them than just take and fill orders. The way you communicate with your customers, and the messages you send out, will let them know that that they are appreciated (or not). Also, any opportunities to create events that instill a sense of community among your customer base are worthwhile. Keep in mind that it is important for you to make your customers feel like they are more than a revenue source for you. If you are genuinely interested in your customers and their feelings about your business, then they will respond with plenty of support. beBee.com is a perfect example of a business where the administration supports its members who, in turn support the social network, but you don’t have to have a web based business to achieve this. You just need to have the right mindset and be willing to communicate the right messages through a variety of channels.
Product quality: What does your communications department (or your freelance communications professional) have to do with product quality? It’s all in the messaging! Well, partly, anyway. Having a good quality product is necessary if you want to stay in business, but what people say about your product is important. Address any unfavourable feedback about your product in a way that is professional and shows genuine interest in the well-being of your customers. Remember Lululemon and the sheer yoga pants? How could anyone forget? That’s what happens when you sacrifice quality, don’t have a crisis plan in place and you don’t get advice and media training from a PR professional. In your external communications make sure you accentuate the positive things about your product, speaking to its benefits and unique features. If you goofed, then admit it quickly and do everything you can to rectify the situation. Sometimes you just have to take a loss on a bad decision before things get worse.
Here are some links to previous posts which will give you a little more insight into how to expand your communications and public relations efforts.
Few public relations & communications specialists have as diverse a background as Renée Cormier. Add published author, employee engagement specialist, sales and marketing strategist, entrepreneur and educator to her list of accomplishments. In her career Renée has held leadership roles in sales and marketing, developed and implemented national marketing strategies and was responsible for teams as large as 28 strong. She brings a wide range of experience and talent to her work.
Renée really shines in marketing communications. She is known for developing and implementing comprehensive communications strategies and generating results through flawless implementation. With such strong business acumen, passion for her work and a natural talent for business strategy, Renée is definitely considered an important resource for her clients.
Is your business in transition? Need help with PR and communications initiatives? Contact Renée through her website: www.reneecormier.com