Immersing your audience, both internal and external, with engaging learning activities, world-class media, and performance-based training will add value to your brand.
“That will be $615 please.” I immediately thought there was no way the ticket lady said $615. For my wife and I, this was our first real Disneyland trip together with our two young kids. We’d been to Disneyland a couple times in the past, but I certainly couldn’t remember what ticket prices were. “Excuse me, how much did you say it was?” Without hesitation she quipped, “Your total is $615.” So there I was, forced to cough up $615 for a 2-day Disneyland experience for my wife, our 4 year old and myself. Luckily, our daughter was under two, and therefore free, otherwise I may have had a pulmonary episode.
Scornfully walking up the gate, I couldn’t get the price tag out of my mind. But then it hit me. Well, not immediately, but about 30 seconds after we entered the park. No wonder I paid so much… Disneyland is one of the most effective examples of connecting customers to the brand through effective immersion. Within minutes, characters from my childhood welcomed me, and I was lured in by candy shops blanketed with nostalgia. There is, literally, something for everyone at Disneyland, young and old. This well crafted plan of Disney’s has propelled them to the top of lists such as Forbes’ World’s Most Admired Companies.
Importance of Brand Connection
While my personal story of Disney is one of creating a customer for life, the parallels to employee development are strikingly similar. Currently working with one of the largest high-end fashion retailers in China, we recently encountered a problem that is, unfortunately, far too common in retail training today. High employee attrition rates are frequently tied to a lack of connection with the brand. We received similar feedback from a senior HR executive in one of the largest fast food companies in the world. In response to how they handle a lack of employee engagement, the executive said, “We found that family, flexibility, and connection to the brand are the most important factors.”
Connect Your Employees to the Brand
But, how do you connect employees to a brand? Recounting my experience with Disney, effective brand immersion is critical to ensuring buy-in and acceptance at the customer level. Conversely, training your employees on critical tasks in order for them to simply do their job isn’t a sufficient practice in today’s customer centric retail world. Employees have to feel as if they are part of an organization that cares about and invests in them, and speaks to them through their products and services. This all has to be done effectively before employees can promote buy-in with your customers. It may sound impossible but it can be accomplished though a very methodical brand immersion strategy.
Brand Immersion in Training
So, what is an effective brand immersion strategy in training? There are dozens of tactics that could be employed, but that goes beyond the prevue of this article. Rather, here are 3 recommendations. First, effective immersion starts with leveraging world-class media to facilitate the conceptualization of the company’s narrative. But, beware of the proverbial lipstick on a pig. Custom motion graphics and illustrations are just the conduit for the messaging. Framing the corporate narrative in the context of how the learner is important, and how he/she can make an impact in their role is far more important than the specific use of technology.
Second, retail training has to be engaging. At the risk of sounding cliché, let me elaborate. Engaging content isn’t about using lots of video or simply about converting your ILT content to a web-based experience. Rather, it’s about employing a truly blended approach to place the learner in situations in which they are able to make simulated, on-the-job decisions, without real world consequences. This can be done at the computer, on a mobile device, in the classroom, or with a mentor. What’s important is that you select the right modality for the simulated delivery, and supplement the rest of the curriculum with blended strategies.
Third, create training content that is performance-based. Employees, particularly in retail, want to know how they are performing relative to their peers. Our retail research indicates that employees are particularly interested in self-assessing their progress. In other words, give the learners tools to create and track their personal goals for improvement. By creating training that is performance driven, you establish benchmarks for success that the learner can work towards once they are on the job.
Connecting your learners to your brand through training is critical in retail. At Allen we have developed best-practices for retailers to immerse their employees in the brand in a way that engages them and delivers the information they need to provide an excellence customer experience. Today’s learners are far more contextual than yesterday’s. And companies that can successfully seize opportunities to connect their audience to their brands through carefully designed immerse strategies will find themselves in a far greater position to improve employee retention, and ultimately, the customer experience.
If you are interested in having a conversation with one of our learning directors about how immersing your audience could help your brand contact us here.