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  • Dr. Ken Thiessen

What if Your Employees Were Your Best Marketing Tool?


Net Promoter System and the NPO

A Case Study

What if your employees were your best marketing tool? A recent client engagement got me thinking about that question. I was contracted to do an assessment of the organizational culture of an NPO precipitated by increased levels of conflict, stress, and tension in the organization. My engagement proved most enlightening - for me and the executive leadership team who contracted my services.

One of the assessment tools I used included (among others) the following questions:

Would you recommend this organization to potential customers/clients seeking the products or services?

Would you recommend this organization to someone like yourself as a good place to work?

Respondents were segmented into three categories based on years of service with the organization. The results were very revealing. The employee group (also the largest group of employees) with the most years of service scored the lowest in their responses to both questions. Their responses were overwhelmingly either “Not at all” or “To a slight extent”.

That raised two further questions in my mind. Why do they stay? Does the executive leadership team have any idea how disillusioned their longest serving employees are? When I presented my report with recommendations to the executive leadership team, their response quickly answered my second question. They were shocked! They had no idea how bad things and the shock value was palpable!

Your Case Study

If I were to pose the same two questions to the employees and volunteers in your NPO, would the results be markedly different? How would you know? What, if anything are you doing to measure the level of satisfaction of your employees and volunteers?

An NPO’s people are in some ways its greatest asset, its greatest resource. Most often they’re connected to the organization because they share a deep and abiding passion for the cause. They’re willing to make significant sacrifices for the cause. They’re people with big hearts, and a desire to do good in the world, leaving a lasting legacy of personal and community transformation in their wake.

Reality

The sad testimonial is that the discovery I made in working with this client is not unique to that particular NPO nor an isolated incident. A similar survey in a host of other NPO”s would provide comparable telling results. The 2013 list of Canada’s 50 Best Employers as voted by employees and published by McLean’s Magazine is comprised exclusively of for profit companies. Not even one NPO made the list! I suspect similar surveys in other countries would yield similar results. I find that both astounding and appalling! This is one case where NPO’s ought to be much more like the “good to great” companies! They ought to be the ones who treat their employees and volunteers in a way that at least gets them on the Top 50 Employers list if not near the top!

Building Your Internal Marketing Team - Some Suggestions

So 2013 is quickly coming to a close. You can’t do anything about the past, but you can takes steps to create a different future. As you look ahead to 2014 which is just around the corner, what if your employees and volunteers were your best marketing tool? What difference would that make in your NPO? How much would that change your life as an executive team leader? It's not outside the realm of possibility!

Here’s a few suggestions to consider.

Conduct an anonymous survey of your employees and volunteers and ask them the same two questions. With tools like SurveyMonkey, it’s not hard to do! The bigger question may be, “Do you have the courage as an executive leadership team to face the “brutal facts”?

Follow that up with a town hall meeting where you provide your employees and volunteers with the results. Show them what they’ve told you as an executive leadership team! Ask them questions like, “What do we do well? What could we do better? What do we do poorly?” Be ready to REALLY listen! Beyond that, be ready to ACT on what they tell you. There’s no point in asking the questions if you’re not prepared to act on what you’ve hear!

If you’re an executive team leader of an NPO, you have a built in marketing team. You don’t have to hire an external marketing firm per se - you just have to creatively capitalize on the team you already have at your disposal. You're already paying them! They already believe in your cause. They’re willing to sacrifice for your cause. What if they felt really appreciated, valued and affirmed and then went out and told everyone they knew how lucky AND happy they were to work for your organization! That’s worth far more than what you’d pay most marketing agencies.

Question: What can you do in 2014 to turn your existing employees and volunteers into a powerhouse marketing machine? In business it’s called the Net Promoter System. Why not integrate it into your NPO and begin your journey up the list of 50 Best Employers in your country or region!


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