The term “culture eats marketing strategy for breakfast” was coined 20 years ago by management consultant Peter Drucker and is still true today as never before.
If anything, culture has become even more important in recent years. The millennial workforce of today appreciate the corporate culture more than any other generationand it is more likely that work-life balance, company values, and commitment and purpose will be put above salary.
Regardless of which marketing strategy you have implemented, your team is unlikely to be successful if it is not committed and does not believe that their work has real value.
Before you invest your attention and resources in developing your marketing strategy, it makes sense to evaluate your corporate culture. Is it positive and successful? Or is there room for improvement?
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- No matter how good your marketing strategy is, it cannot be successful without a strong and positive culture.
- The corporate culture is organic and consists of various elements, but can be maintained.
- It is never too late to take steps to improve corporate culture.
What is corporate culture?
There is no easy way to describe culture. The culture of an organization is the result of several elements, all of which lead to a general feeling, atmosphere and attitude of the people working there. You can think of culture as a personality that matches the personality of your company.
In her book Strategy basicsThe authors Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes divide the corporate culture into six different elements:
- Stories about events and people within the organization
- Rituals and routines that are considered normal in the organization
- Symbols that represent the organization both internally and externally
- Organizational structure
- Controls to set quality standards
- Power structures
These elements overlap and influence each other and together form the culture of an organization. When an element is out of balance or negative, it can affect the culture of the entire organization.
Creation of a positive corporate culture
When Tamara Mendelsohn joined Eventbrite in her early stages as Vice President of Marketing, she knew she had a lot to do. She understood that responsibility for marketing could either make or break the new organization.
Mendelsohn’s first year at Eventbrite naturally included strategic planning. During those early months, she focused on understanding the brand’s customers and crystallizing the company’s value proposition.
Mendelsohn also understood the importance of brand and culture as the basis for future marketing activities. She was inspired by a TED lecture by Simon Sinek, author of the book Start with why to sit down with her team to tell her “Why?” Question: Why was there Eventbrite? What problems did you want to solve for your customers?
This discussion raised further questions, including: “What kind of company are we?” And “What do we want to stand for?”
Eventbrite chose their corporate mission: to bring the world together through live experiences.
This mission answered her “Why?” and formed the basis of all of their marketing activities from the first years of operation until today.
The culture of Eventbrite is evident in the marketing materials, the brand tone and the voice, but also in all other aspects of the management.
Bill Aulet, lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, talks about how he visited Eventbrite with a group of students and was impressed by the “energy and excitement in the air”, the enthusiastic staff and the commitment to excellent customer service.
This is an example of a company that has deliberately developed its culture by focusing on hiring the right people and advocating a positive attitude that is about fixing problems rather than complaining about them.
How to initiate a cultural change in your organization
Startups have the advantage that they can start from scratch in building their corporate culture, which can change and evolve as the business grows.
But what about larger, more established companies that have identified problems with their current corporate culture?
All hope is not lost. It is always time to turn a negative culture into a positive one, but it will take time and consistent effort to do so.
Start by assessing your current culture. Ask employees inside and outside the company how they would describe it. Ask questions like:
- What stories do people tell about the organization?
- What do new employees expect when they start?
- What words describe the business?
- Who is responsible for the decisions?
The next step is to define your ideal culture – as if you were starting over – similar to Eventbrite during the start-up phase.
Check your current mission statement or scrap it and create a new one that sums up your company’s values. Who do you want to be in an ideal world? What is your “why”?
Think about how your culture would look in your ideal reality. What kind of people would work for you? Who would your customers be? What would an average working day look like?
Finally, you need to figure out how to get from your location to your desired location. This is the most difficult and can take some time, but with the help of an action plan that identifies the main problems, you can achieve this step by step.
Identify your current strengths and weaknesses and how you can build on them or improve them to get closer to the culture you want to achieve. This can include small things like offering free snacks to your employees at work, or it can mean that the entire structure of your company is completely redesigned.
In any case, make sure that everyone knows the change and feels committed to it, from the C-Suite to beginners. To bring about a cultural change is a group work and everyone has to pull their weight.
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