Today, my message centers on something I have seen transform organizations in the most profoundly positive way. When introducing new products or brands, I want you to forget the usual assumption of launching to prospects and customers first. Rather, focus all your initial effort on the most important audience: your employees. And don’t just “share” it, celebrate it! Show them that respect and honor before anyone else.
Doing this will arm every single person in your organization with the ability and passion to share their “elevator story” on the what, how, and why of the launch and your brand. How powerful can this be? I’ve witnessed internal launch events where employees were moved to tears of joy and pride. It is hands down one of the most meaningful gifts company leaders can give their teams.
Here are recommendations to accomplish what far few companies do—create an inspiring, meaningful internal launch event:
Take the time. Shutting down an operation is expensive but rushing through a meaningless meeting is even more wasteful. Whether you can conduct a full-day, half-day or 45-minute meeting to inspire employees, make that your only focus. No interruptions. No compromises.
All together now. Celebrate with the entire team (rather than in small groups) if possible. This will ramp up the energy and is also easier for executives who will need to present only once per shift, for example. Your goal is to be highly effective, not efficient.
Consider a virtual or hybrid event. SDI LaFarga COPPERWORKS™ conducted a virtual internal launch for their 100 employees during the height of the pandemic. They shipped a special launch package in advance for everyone to open during the celebration. It included gifts featuring their new logo and branding, including a custom COPPERWORKS-branded beer, hat and water bottle.
Clean up. Use an internal launch as an opportunity to clean up, organize and rebrand your facility. Capacity Trucks repainted their entire facility, erecting signage for each of their assembly stations prior to their event. The difference was amazing and created an inspiring new experience not only for employees but for customers and others visiting the facility.
Tell the world. Celebrate with your employees first, then consider inviting dealers, suppliers, and even local press later to maximize your investment. Also, if possible, invite employees and their families for a lunch or dinner at the facility to share in the excitement.
The message. It’s important to focus on the brand, product, your differentiation and how employees played a role in the discovery process. Share quotes from satisfied dealers and customers that support the message. On the flip side, this isn’t the place for discussing stock prices or profits (unless employees are sharing in them), so don’t go there.
Make it authentic. CR Mining in Australia conducted an internal launch and invited employees to pose for photos standing on one of their giant mining implements. Volkswagen constructed a photo station where employees could stand behind a cardboard cutout of the New Beetle and pose as if they were all inside it. Each company has its own uniqueness. Celebrate it.
Special access. This event is your chance to give employees a sneak peek at the future. If possible, share a product or service that’s in development. Something you haven’t announced to the world. Let them in on the “secret.”
Special guests. You can go a step farther and make the experience even more memorable. Before the event, announce that “special guests” will join the celebration to say a few words to employees. Usually, employees will assume it’s a company executive or local politician. Surprise them with the most meaningful guests imaginable—your loyal customers. Think of the pride when your team sees and hears how great their product or service is directly from customers. No kidding, you will see people crying.
As we have shared many times, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about celebrating your differentiation and the progress being made. It’s about showing you sincerely value your employees. So you don’t have a huge budget or a fancy presentation and you’re not comfortable with what exactly to say? No worries, get out there and show your team you believe in them. They’ll get the message.
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Barry LaBov is founder and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training. He is a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year recipient and author of numerous business books, including the upcoming Power of Differentiation. Since 1981, LABOV has differentiated and launched products and brands around the world.