Does Culture Really Matter to Your Customers?

The values and practices that guide your business can be a competitive advantage when communicated in the right way. 

September/October 2016

Company culture is your business’ personality, and customers want to do business with people and organizations they like. That culture exists, whether you design it or it happens on its own.

Beth Granger, CEO of Beth Granger Consulting, and partner at Social Sales GPS, explains how she and her partners sat themselves down to figure out common core values when first building their business. “Oftentimes, business owners are afraid of allowing personality to enter the mix,” Granger says. “But in order for businesses to become more ‘people to people,’ they need to move past that notion.”

Today, the first impression any customer or prospect will have of your business is online. Whether you are a solopreneur or a professional service provider, your digital presence should reflect what you want your customers to perceive about your personality. There are a few key practices to keep in mind as you market your company’s culture to customers.

Storytelling to communicate culture.

Creating stories about what makes your business tick as a cohesive organization is an effective way to let your customers and prospects get to know — and like — your company. Granger offers tips on the following three examples of businesses with definitive cultural features:

1. A cleaning company whose primary goal is to “clean green.” With any service provider, cost, quality and reliability are paramount for buyers. But when all things are nearly equal, appealing to customers’ values can be a competitive advantage. An eco-conscious cleaning company can share stories directly from existing customers, detailing how they feel about doing business with a company that thinks about their health and the health of the planet. This can be done through either a testimonials page or a “Why We Use This Company” page on the website, as well as sharing on social media.

2. An accounting firm that promotes work-life balance. In an industry typically known for long, grueling hours, a firm that offers flexible work schedules or organizes kid-friendly events, such as bring-your-child-to-work days, can easily pique the interest of many potential new clients.

Granger says that uploading video clips from these events to the company’s website can attract new business, especially from other parents and family-oriented people. In the videos, employees can emphasize that these perks help them give 100% while at work, and this in turn will shine a positive light on the company and on you.

3. A retail store that is pet-friendly. Because cute animal stories, videos and photos trend on social media constantly, companies that are pet-friendly grow in popularity for this sole reason. Eighty-two percent of employees and 91% of human resources decision-makers recently surveyed by Banfield Pet Hospital agreed that being pet-friendly made people more loyal to the business.

If you are an animal-loving organization, there are a bunch of ways to promote a value like this on the company’s website or social media. Granger suggests a website section entitled “About Our Pets” alongside the company’s usual “About Us” page. They can profile a new pet each week, or create fun social media posts — a photo of a napping dog or cat captioned “Our new intern sleeping on the job” or a photo of the group of pets entitled “Staff meeting.”

Introduce your employees.

Let customers and prospects get to know whom they will be working with at your business. On your website, explain what your employees are responsible for, and share what they do during their time off.

Promoting these on-duty/off-duty pursuits allows customers to relate to your company and your employees in a more personal way. Oftentimes, employees have really interesting backgrounds, aspirations and inspirations that can dovetail with your brand messaging and help draw in new customers. 

Communicating culture is an ongoing process.

Honing your business’ message in a way that will resonate with your target customers is a project that should be revisited at least once per year.

When customers are more likely to do business with companies that share their mindset, assessing your culture internally and externally, aligning your digital presence with your real-world presence, and using your employees to tell your brand’s story can help you increase your bottom line revenue and grow your business.

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Top Takeaway

Let customers get to know you and your staff. Showcasing the work being done behind the scenes can create an air of exclusivity and social inclusion for customers.