Why is Culture Work important to your Marketing Budget?

January 29, 2020




Why is Culture Work important to your Marketing Budget?

Bottom lining morale’s impact on your bottom line. 

Last year the highest-grossing national restaurant brand spent 5 million dollars on marketing while the lowest-grossing national brand spent 88 million dollars. You have heard of both brands, and in fact, I would bet money you have eaten at both.

When you look closely at the possible reasons why there is such a gap in the two companies’ budgets, one big difference between the two companies stands out immediately.  The lower grossing chain has dramatically worse customer reviews. The internet is littered with comments about the rudeness of the service, the inconsistency of the menu, and the multitude of bad experiences. This is a public-facing report card that even an 88-million-dollar marketing budget can’t rescue the brand from.

The question is why? Afterall, doesn’t “good, strong marketing solve this? Isn’t that the point of spending money on marketing?”

The answer is not really, or at least that is an old paradigm. This is where, however, the debate starts for sure!

How much value does a smart, cohesive and creative campaign bring to the table?

The answer: a lot!

The Catch: the power and reach of that campaign is multiplied, or diminished, by the quality of the experience you create.

I hear it from owners and operators all the time…

“We don’t have enough customers.”

“Our last agency couldn’t get us enough people… can you help?”

 These are questions that often give me pause. My following questions in return are typically…

“What kind of experience are you providing your customers?”

“How is that experience shaped and maintained?

“What is the nicest compliment a guest can say about you?”

“What is the worst?”

The hardest thing for some companies to hear is that their marketing agency can only get you a new customer once.

Your team then has to earn them as a loyal repeating customer, and that is where the real value is truly generated. In other words, value is generated in the experience.


This is where Culture Work shifts from “a nice to have” to a sales necessity where it becomes one of the most valuable things you can do with part of your marketing dollars.

And I mean that literally. By using some of your marketing budget to advance your Culture Work, or by being a “Culture First” company, you are creating an experience where your Marketing Campaigns won’t have to work as hard to sell your product or service. Let the experience you offer sell for you.

So, our challenge to our clients is to turn those dollars inward and invest in your Culture Work. Trust me, the 5k you think you want to spend on print ads this year is better invested in the culture of your team and the experience you offer first. Then your campaign work will be set up for success and a return on the investment is virtually assured.

Here are some places to look…


 “Challenge it. Change it. Or Chuck it.”

Old ideas are like ingredients in the back of the fridge. Once upon a time, they were great but ultimately had a short shelf life. Do they pass the smell test? Are they working today? Write down a list of what procedures, policies, and practices you use–or don’t use–and challenge them to see if they are working. Could changing our minds about something help? Should we chuck this old plan and find a new one? Remember, this isn’t a one-man job. Grab the team and talk openly.


Create a “Here, Near, Far Vision”

Man stepping foot on the moon wasn’t the beginning of space exploration, it started with a curiosity for the stars above us. Develop a plan about what you can create in working toward a better, happier, more productive team today. Focus on what you are committed to creating in the near future and where you want to go beyond that. For some teams; this is an exercise in Vision, Mission and Core Values. For others, it’s just three jars on a shelf filled with notes about what we can do today, this week and in the month ahead. Whatever you choose, empower it as a team and put it on loudspeaker.


Seriously, Hire a Coach

People who have a weight loss goal in mind, athletes who are training to run a marathon, or people who need to rehabilitate from an injury don’t go it alone. They work with someone to keep them going, like a coach. Coaching is one of the fastest-growing industries out there. The value of working with a coach is that you have someone dependable who can help you align on a vision, work as a team and maintain your resolve. Additionally, a coach should be an outside voice who is detached from your team’s internal dynamics. Sometimes elevation and experience combined can add value in ways you hadn’t considered. It’s important to find a coach who has an extensive history of training and experience, so you should be sure to ask about their background. Check out the International Coaching Federations website for resources.


Develop grassroots practices

The best ideas are often hidden by the quietest of voices.  Challenge your team to create TOGETHER. Get curious (for real) about what they would change at this very moment about your processes, practices and where they see the team going from there. Ask your team the following: “what are we GREAT at? What are we GOOD at? And where are we getting BETTER every day?” Then generate some ideas together about how to move “the better to good and the good to great.” Generating these ideas together will have a lasting impact that you can measure against your investment.


Use team-building technology

Team Building can lean on technology in many important ways. For a long time; this meant using scheduling tools, forums or even a Learning Management System (LMS.) For some teams, that’s a great place to start. Technology, however, is constantly evolving and there are always new ways of integrating technology into any conversation. Find out where your team is at and meet them there. This could mean using video to socialize internal ideas about ways to improve a process or impact the guest experience. Practice with your team to make technology a tool for better team building.

Once you’ve reshaped the culture that creates your customer experience, THEN what next?

Find a Creative Company or Marketing Agency that believes in the value of getting to know your culture.


Experience-Based Marketing

Effective messaging and creative content about the experience your company offers its customers is best generated from the first page of your story, not the last. Find a marketing company that understands the value of your culture and the impact it has on the customer experience and starts the creative work there. When interviewing a team, ask them about their on-boarding process, which is often called Discovery. Get a sense of whether they are committed to creating content, messaging and strategies that tell the whole story about your brand and is focused on more than just the “product the customer buys.” A returning customer is someone who can share their good experiences with others and come back for more. Your marketing company’s job is to make such stories memorable.

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