We’ve all seen it: the infamous ping pong table and Nerf gun posts companies love to make on Instagram touting their culture with a caption along the lines of, “We’re so cool. We have games and beer!“
As much as you’d probably like it to, posting a picture of your office’s free La Croix doesn’t check off your culture marketing checkbox—if that checkbox even exists on your marketing to-do list.
If you’re guilty of the ping pong table Instagram post (it’s okay, we forgive you!) or haven’t really considered culture as part of your regular content efforts, one thing is for sure: culture marketing can—and should—be a key piece of your marketing strategy.
What is culture marketing?
Culture marketing is a form of content marketing. Where most of your other forms of content marketing are likely focused on education and product, culture marketing seeks to pull the curtain back on what makes your company tick.
It’s brand storytelling at its best, sharing insights about the people who make up your business, your company values and how you live up to them in your day-to-day operations, and how you interact with your customers and community.
Culture marketing can look one of three ways:
- Internal content marketing: Content shared with your team that helps build and maintain your culture.
- External content marketing: Content you share with the world targeting potential new customers and, sometimes, new employees.
- Brand ambassadorship: Content your employees share about the culture and work experience via their personal social media channels.
In many ways, your internal content marketing can be even more important than external content. Without engaging your team and creating values-driven conversations you’re leaving opportunities to shape and refine your culture on the table. Not having a focused culture impacts your brand, which will leak into your other content marketing and be front and center for potential customers.
Why does culture marketing matter?
Whether you’re a retail store or a tech start-up, there’s a competitor out there who can do what you do for a similar price (and if there isn’t, just wait—tech moves fast!). In a saturated market your culture becomes one of your biggest competitive advantages and differentiators.
Too many companies, however, have yet to embrace culture marketing’s possibilities or do it effectively (hence our friend the ping pong table post).
But don’t just take our word for it! Here’s what three Indianapolis business leaders had to say about their culture and how it intersects with their company’s marketing.
Sara Croft, Principal of Marketing, Innovatemap
When Sara started at Innovatemap in August 2019 she was able to bring with her perspective as a previous client, something that proved valuable as she was brought onto help them achieve the next level of growth. Like many early-stage
companies, Innovatemap was razor-focused on their client work and didn’t spend as much effort on using their culture for brand building and client acquisition. Her previous experience with them was a launching point for helping them understand their external brand perception and how it could grow by weaving more about their culture into their marketing efforts.
“If you aren’t careful, the decision to hide your culture can appear as if the doors are shut and locked. Nobody can get in, and they have no idea what’s inside,” she explained. “That can hurt your brand more than you think. By letting people in, all of a sudden your brand goes from being a static logo to a meaningful logo, one they can put context to and understand why they’d want to work with you.”
Michael Burton, CEO of Lev
“Our culture is something more than just a hashtag on social media,” Burton says (though you can check out what employees are up to with a quick search of the #levlife hashtag).
Michael notes that Lev’s culture is shaped by hiring the right people: those who show genuine passion for the work and care about their teammates.
“This authenticity comes through in our work with customers, and ultimately the brand,” he explains. “That brand fuels our marketing strategy, shaping how we talk about our incredible team of experts, the support we provide our customers, and the value we can add to a company’s marketing strategy. Our brand is our culture, and we want the fun, dedication, and creativity of our team to shine through.”
Lindsay Tjepkema, Co-Founder & CEO of Casted
When companies are on the market to buy something, Lindsay is quick to point out that a vendor company culture can be a make or break.
“People don’t buy from businesses, they buy from humans,” she reminds. “There is a human making a decision who will ultimately make a decision based on the human on the other side of that equation. Is that about ping pong tables? No. It’s about authenticity and connection and passion,” she says.
As one of Casted’s co-founders she was purposeful with its culture from the start, making it one of the first conversations she and the co-founders had as they started building the company.
“We don’t actively talk a lot about our culture, but we indirectly talk about it just because it’s such a big part of what we are,” she explains. “The way it really shows up is in our brand, our tone of voice, our visuals, and the way that we speak about what we do. It’s reflective of authenticity and passion and being a part of something that matters and truly changes the way people think about marketing in B2B.”
As a company offering a podcasting solution to other companies, conversations about how to get more human, both internally and externally, are becoming more frequent (especially in a year when we’ve been more disconnected from each other than ever). Podcasts are naturally a great way to achieve that goal.
“There’s something about a podcast that’s so much more connecting. When you can actually hear the voice of the CEO talking to you about how you need to take care of yourself, or the vision for the future or the new product line, you feel much more connected to it, there’s more credibility.”
Not surprisingly, the Casted co-founders use this human-to-human content medium both externally with the official Casted podcast and internally to engage their board of directors, allowing them to hear from Lindsay and her co-founders about what’s happening in the business.
“It’s about connection, it’s about relationships and it’s about human to human, not content to reader, not business to audience,” she says.
Ready to leverage your culture to connect and build relationships? Let’s deep dive into how to get started and look at some examples from our favorite brands.
Whose culture marketing are you loving? We’d love to hear! Share in the comments below or drop us a tweet @greenloopmktg.