Bentley College Marketing- Honors

This blog is for MK 402-H01 and the greater Bentley College population.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"Ryan's Secret": From HR to Brand Building

A consumer’s world is saturated with advertisements, most of which they have the power to tune out. Flipping stations, speeding by billboards on morning commutes and deleting emails are only a few of the reasons why it is so difficult for marketers to leave their mark on an individual. Oliver Blanchard addresses this difficulty in a recent posting to his Brand Builder blog entitled “Randy’s Secret.” Here he unpacks the secrets to success of a small North Carolina triathlon shop, illustrating how exceptional hiring practices can be the key to customer satisfaction and, in turn brand building. Advertising may be effective, but Blanchard believes HR is the best path to brand building.

This posting directly relates to the issues that many marketers are dealing with today: how to reach their customer. Obtaining a voice and creating an image for a company through traditional advertising mediums is becoming increasingly difficult. As recent trends are placing the customer at the center of organizations and requiring much consumer satisfaction, marketing theory has begun to explore how HR can contribute to satisfaction, ultimately promoting the success of organizations.

Blanchard takes this idea one step further, informing marketers that implementing good hiring practices will not stop with consumer satisfaction. Hiring employees with certain characteristics will ultimately shape a culture and an attitude that will encircle a business. This attitude then becomes a point of differentiation for a company, sticking with a consumer and motivating that individual to choose that company over a competitor.

Hiring employees with the “right stuff” is key to the success of this brand building technique. Blanchard says it all with this statement:

“Employees are the heart and soul of [a] business…They’re the living, breathing, walking, smiling articulation of [a] brand.”

The “right stuff” essentially means hiring in accordance with what Blanchard calls “Randy’s Five Hiring Criteria.” These include employees that are:

  1. “Infected” or passionate about what they are representing.
  2. “Volunteers” or individuals who choose to work there.
  3. “Talented” or knowledgeable about their product.
  4. “Nurturers” who treat all customers equally, regardless of spending.
  5. “Positive/Enthusiastic” because attitude is contagious.

These employees take care of the customer, making them feel wanted, needed and at home. This personal connection will go miles further to reaching a consumer than, say, a million dollar spot in Superbowl XL.

The atmosphere that these employees create often transcends the physical store product. Blanchard uses Randy McDougald’s Carolina Triathlon as an example. He writes,

“People don’t just go there to shop, they also go there to hang out, to find people to ride or run with. They go on their lunch break just because they feel at home.”

This personal and emotional connection, created in part by the company’s employees, brands the store and creates a distinct image in the consumers mind.

Finally, Blanchard states that this image becomes a point of differentiation between the business and its competitors. Consumers will choose this triathlon shop, for example, over others because it is more than just a triathlon shop to them. The store has become a place where they are able to make friends and build relationships.

Blanchard’s posting is a unique take on brand building. It brought my knowledge of the importance of HR one step further in showing how it is able to build brand while also satisfying consumers. Additionally, we have talked extensively about disconnect between marketers and customers that was fueled by consumerism and mass production. This post helped to close that gap in my mind, showing a direct way to connect with individuals that are important to a business. Blanchard’s reinforcement of the value of relationships gave me hope that we are still very much in need of human connection.

The author provides one specific example of successful brand building through HR from a very small firm in North Carolina to make his case. Skeptics would criticize that this principle is not universally applicable, as it is much easier to execute in a small firm. Although he had me a believer, it would have been beneficial to include other examples of firms that have succeeded in similar ways, possibly analyzing Starbucks’ techniques, a large corporation recently lauded for its use of HR as a marketing tool, to determine if they lend support to his argument.


Blogger Olivier Blanchard said...

Wow. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 4:30:00 PM  

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