No matter what industry you’re in, company culture and reputation sets you apart—and the importance of customer perception can’t be understated.
Small businesses make up virtually all businesses in the United States. A whopping 99.7% of businesses are small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration. Odds are, your business falls under that 99.7%.
But let’s look beyond that massive number. Think about just your space you take up in your respective industry. Now think of your top handful of challengers. Got ‘em in mind? OK, forget numbers for a moment; forget revenue, and forget market share.
Think about what makes your company stand out. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll quickly realize that it’s the people who keep your business moving day in and day out. It’s the bright minds, passion, and ownership of your team.
It’s your company culture that projects your business, no matter how great your numbers look.
This is a good thing! It allows you to stand out even if you’re in a saturated industry.
But it can also be a not-so-good thing if your company culture and reputation could use some tweaks—especially when your culture directly affects your brand reputation.
Let’s get into it.
Company culture and reputation defines your organization. What do you want the world to know?
Company culture can be a huge selling point for your company when it comes to attracting the right candidates for your roles. You know, the people who will adopt, adapt to, and evolve your culture over time.
And CEOs know this. A recent Vistage survey revealed that, among 1,518 CEOs and business leaders, 65% stated that they “strongly agreed” that company culture is central to development and promoting culture is a priority.
But here’s the thing: only 16% of the same respondents said that they were satisfied with their current company culture.
Here’s how they can improve, and project their killer culture into their space and beyond.
Define your mission and vision
Most employees don’t work for just a paycheck and benefits. Millennials, especially, want to feel that they’re part of something bigger than themselves and that their employers care about more than just increasing profits.
That’s where you come in.
You can’t expect to have a great company culture and reputation if you don’t communicate your vision. Why are you there? What motivates you besides profit? How do you see your company contributing to the greater good—whatever that may be?
Your employees want to know, and your audience wants to know, too.
The importance of customer perception is huge
You know a killer company culture and reputation is a good thing, but let’s put some numbers behind why it’s a good thing for customer perception.
Today, people care more about a company’s values when purchasing products or services than at any other point in recent history. In fact, 63% of customers prefer to buy from businesses that project a purpose reflective of their own values and beliefs. Similarly, 62% want the businesses they support to stand up for the same social, cultural, environmental, and political causes that are most important to them.
A slightly higher percentage told Accenture that they base their purchasing patterns on the “words, values, and actions of company leaders”.
In other words: Whatever your company’s values may be, project them proudly! Find your tribe, and let your words and actions be a defining factor in what sways a potential client to choose you over a competitor.
Think about the importance of customer perception when projecting your purpose and mission
Having a purpose and mission is great. We’d even argue that it’s essential when it comes to carving out your niche. But if you don’t have a solid vision for how you want your mission projected, your business’ mission and values could be interpreted way differently than you’d hoped.
Let’s circle back to the part about job descriptions. For many candidates, it’s the first or second interaction they have with your company. If the branding doesn’t land, they might be turned off and look at the next posting on Glassdoor, Indeed, or one of the other top job boards.
What are you saying to those who may want to work for you?
No matter how thorough your job descriptions are, you must consider how you’re coming across—and how your company culture is being expressed in job descriptions.
Of course, job descriptions must be clear in what the role requires, and which qualifications are necessary or supplemental. But how you describe your company is equally important.
Even if you’re in an industry that may not be known for focusing on culture but you want to be the company that changes that norm, highlight that.
Go all out and make it clear to your potential applicants that your company is not like the rest.
How you do this depends on what you want to project. Is it a culture of transparency? Or is it a culture that’s defined by inclusivity and collaboration? Maybe you want to promote how your company is the only one in your space that offers a killer workplace recognition and rewards program that focuses on physical and mental health.
Whatever makes your business stand out, proudly broadcast those traits! Candidates review dozens and dozens of job postings. Make sure you give them explicit reasons as to why your company offers a better employment opportunity than your competitors.
If you offer an awesome work-life balance, call it out. Do you have an office environment that can’t be beat? Tell ‘em. Do you provide the best benefits in your industry? Be proud of that, and be explicit.
Get your candidates excited about applying. If they’re excited, their cover letters and emails are more likely to stand out among other applicants.
Be proud of your company culture and reputation, and bring in those who will nurture it
Part of what makes company cultures so unique is that one company’s culture is impossible to be replicated by another. That’s why it’s essential that you’re bringing in those who understand your values and mission and want to work to #protectandproject them.
At the same time, though, your employees (like your business) will evolve. Your company culture will inevitably morph in ways impossible to predict, even though you were the architect that designed the cultural foundation.
If you’re hiring the right people for your current culture, trust that they will over time shape (and reshape, and reshape, and reshape) your company culture. And, if they’re sticking around for the long haul, you may not even notice how much has changed.