The How of Pursuit
So, what do you do?
“When you find your voice, slow down. There’s no rush. Out of six billion people, you’re the only one with your voice, your experiences, your ideas, your wisdom. There’s no competition to be you.” — James Altucher
“So, what do you actually do?”
I get this a lot. My original elevator pitch, “Pursuit is the intersection of marketing, company culture, and technology,” is only part of the picture. And my mission statement, “Helping companies become a place that employees want to work for and people want to buy from,” conveys what we achieve, yet still misses the how.
Over the past year, I’ve been using client work to refine that how. “I” has also turned into “we” as smart and passionate people have joined the Pursuit team. By working with many different clients and spending a huge amount of time testing, collecting data, iterating and testing again, we’ve defined a process that helps organizations understand internal perceptions, define (or redefine) core values and equip and empower employees and customers to be advocates of the business.
We use that process to help clients utilize digital technology to connect employees and customers — aligning internal and external communities to cultivate a dynamic inbound marketing engine for the organization.
It’s an incredible experience to formalize something that you intuitively believe and do. I’ve always seen the connection between company culture, community and technology. But when I finally put it down on paper, I wasn’t ready to share the way in which we make those core components work together for our clients. In many ways, I’ve wanted to keep it to myself for fear of a bigger fish coming along and grabbing the process and using it as their own.
But today, I’m sharing. I’m sharing because transparency is the core value that I’m building this business and team upon. And I’ve realized that not sharing Pursuit’s voice, experiences, ideas and wisdom is playing small. And we’re not here to play small. We’re here to make a lasting impact on the businesses that we work with — to help companies truly become places that people would kill to work for and feel damn good about buying from.
So, what does Pursuit actually do? Our process is ever-evolving, but this is what it looks like today.
All of the pieces of the process build off of one another — one can’t exist without the one before it — if it does, it’s not functioning at full capacity. For example, it’s possible for a community to exist without digging into internal perception and defining core values, but it wouldn’t be sharing the deep-seated value of the organization. You can work to understand customer voice, external perception and even highlight customer success, but if those customers are hearing skewed messages from employees it’s likely they’re not getting the intended experience.
Here’s how the pieces of the process flow and work together.
- Internal Brand Perception — The core of the business
Alignment = Productivity
To create a plan without fully understanding where an organization is at is the equivalent of throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. That’s just not us. We’re focused on using data to drive decision making and the first and most important data set is internal brand perception. If your employees can’t buy into the core values, company mission and value proposition customers and prospects won’t either. Employees, especially those on the front-lines, also understand the wants, needs and perceptions of customers better than anyone sitting the boardroom.
Whether we realize it or not, we’re constantly telling stories. We tell the story of our company and how and why our products and services came to be. The questions we need to answer about these stories are: Do they all work together? Are we telling a unique, cohesive story that moves our company forward? Or, are we playing a game of telephone where the story gets lost by the time it reaches the public? Answering these questions is the mission of the internal brand perception audit.
There’s a Deloitte quote that sums this up perfectly — “The embodiment of B2B branding is people. They are not only at the heart of a business but serve as its eyes, ears, and mouth. They are the driving force behind the interaction with all relevant audiences. They use communication to lead to connectivity, to lead to brand awareness, to lead to brand experience, to lead to brand loyalty.”
At Pursuit, the internal brand perception audit is our starting point or “kick off” with clients. It’s a deep dive into employee perceptions that produces both quantitative and qualitative data sets. The data enables our team to identify patterns and prominent internal messages.
Naturally, the next step is understanding of how much these perceptions and messages pull through externally and where there may be gaps and opportunities.
2. Customer Voice and External Brand Perception — User love works both ways
Internal brand perception is only a half step to understanding where an organization is today. It’s imperative to see how those internal perceptions pull through externally. The next step is to dig deep into customer — and even prospect — perceptions. During this part of the process we talk with customers and prospects to not only understand brand and product experience, but to get to the root of what they want and need. What’s the real problem they need to solve?
Utilizing this feedback not only drives clarity around which internal perceptions and messages are reaching the world, but it also starts a feedback loop for product development, customer experience and marketing. With this feedback loop in place, customers feel more supported and heard, the organization continuously increases relevance and employees start to see the direct impacts of their work.
This is only the start of the feedback loop. Time-to-feedback continues to decrease as the loop is optimized with digital communication channels that are defined in the next phase, “tools and systems for digital operations”. It’s also hugely reflected in tactics that are part of strategic roadmap sprints that I’ll share more about soon.
3. Tools & Systems for Digital Operations — Give Them What They Need
If you hire great people, they’re going to be relentlessly resourceful and talented in an ecosystem competing for talent. (h/t Keith Rabois)You have to give them the best possible tools to do the best possible job. You have to continuously ask yourself, “How do I make people more successful?” And, “What can I give my team to make them more valuable?”
This doesn’t just mean providing internal tools for more systems and better, more modern processes. It means enabling digital communication streams between employees and customers. As I mentioned earlier, when employees can directly interact with the people whose lives they’re impacting they have a clear picture of the purpose of their work.
We’ve implemented CRMs, marketing automation systems, project management systems, content calendars and internal chat systems. We take inspiration from distributed companies because those are the teams that rely on digital tools to run their business. We make sure our clients use best-in-breed platforms so the focus is on providing real value.
4. Community Connection, Content & Engagement — Putting the Process to Work
The is the execution phase where all of the data we’ve collected gets put to use. We create strategic sprint roadmaps, or SSRs based on our findings.
SSRs are a set of activities set to fill gaps and capitalize on opportunities, like taking customer connection to a deeper level and utilizing the tools and platforms we just talked about. While we have a pretty expansive toolbox, to generalize, this is where we execute on organizational design, marketing and community management. A few of the methods and tactics we use include: employee expert networks, content strategy to shorten the buying cycle, customer story development, community engagement strategies, digital tool implementation and internal growth and mentorship programs.
Throughout all of the executional sprints and activities we keep the employee and customer at the center of our process. We enable internal subject matter experts to become the stars of the business. We work with customers to understand what’s working best. We find opportunities to highlight those customers and work to connect employees and customers to create a community that empowers people to act as advocates for the business.
Each SSR has a distinct set of data to be collected and KPIs that influence the next sprint. At the end of every sprint, we conduct a workshop to review metrics and set the next strategic roadmap.
Just as we constantly define and evolve our own internal process at Pursuit, we do the same for our clients: test, collect data, iterate and test again.
So, to answer your question, we’re organizational design nerds, data analysts, community builders, growth marketers and technologists. We do deep dives into internal and external perceptions and needs to guide strategic action. We constantly measure effectiveness so we can execute and iterate quickly to achieve higher employee engagement and productivity. Doing so creates a higher return on marketing investment and better customer experience. This, in turn, affects the bottom line.
Questions? Thoughts on how this can be more clear? Inspired to work with us? Drop me a line at Liz@Pursuitof.com.