1 October 2018

Culture is your competitive advantage

Without a strong culture, advertisers can't hope to do good work. But without communicating that culture in the first place, you might as well go back to the drawing board, writes Emma Bannister.


By Emma Bannister


Marketing and advertising companies are in strife. They’re restructuring, offshoring and battling to stay ever present in consumers’ minds in an effort to stay ahead. The result? Battle scars that get left on teams and team members that if not fixed, continue to eat away at your company’s culture, not to mention, your productivity and profits.


More and more organisations are awake to the fact that their performance is driven by an engaged team and culture. As Gallup states on its website: “A strong culture makes employees want to perform better and makes customers want to spread the word about you."


But building a strong culture isn’t easy, and it doesn’t mean having ping-pong tables and bean bags. It does mean making sure that everyone in the company is aligned and eager to work towards the same values and vision, that’s where your communication can help.


What’s your problem?


Often, it’s up to management to motivate teams towards a new vision or higher purpose through a presentation at a town-hall style meeting. This is usually supported through crowded and boring slides full of flashy org charts, mission statements and goals that do anything BUT leave your team feeling energised.


If you look at the majority of presentations, the content is presenter centric. The speaker talks about how good they are, shows off all the data they have, and how much growth the organisation is undergoing.


This kind of approach instantly alienates our audience. They are left thinking, but what about me? Why is that important? How will my world be affected as a result? In a nutshell, why should they care?


Thanks to the digital world we live in, our audiences’ needs and demands are constantly changing, which is what makes communicating and getting cut-through in marketing and advertising so hard!


In general, people want a more personalised approach, a more intelligent approach and that is why it’s crucial to put your audience and their needs first.


Your presentation is your opportunity as a speaker to connect with your audience and create a united front. This only happens when you write, design and deliver a message in your presentation that puts your audience first and includes these three vital things:


Be honest

We need to remember we are connecting with everyone, human to human. So it starts with being honest. What is the situation right now? How are people feeling and what challenges is everyone facing? Don’t hide any bad news. But make sure you move to the solutions and positives, show the future opportunity that everyone can be a part of.


Share common ground

You need to create common ground with your audience, to really address their key concerns and show them that you understand where they are coming from. The best way to do this is by sharing stories that show emotion, that show you understand where they are at and what they are faced with, perhaps because you’ve been in a similar situation before.


Put your audience’s needs first

Do your homework and actually research the people in the room – why are they there? What challenges are they facing? How can you help them?


Resist the temptation to just read from slides and talk profit. Help your audience to feel that you are equally invested in the same outcome, whether that is company success, profitability, or future job security.


Learning to communicate well internally is your key to communicating well externally. After all, your greatest advertising advocates are those people working with you, alongside you, every day, always. They are the key to your culture and your competitive advantage.