San Francisco is the tech hub of the world.
Google, Facebook, Apple, AirBNB, Uber and LinkedIn all base their operations here.
Wanna-be tech entrepreneurs flock here from all over the world in the hope of meeting the right team and the willing venture capitalists that will transform their disruptive idea into a multi-billion dollar reality.
This is a city where unicorns run wild, the customer is paramount and creating epic company culture to ensure that your tech wizards stick with you is de jour.
The vibe is electric, the air reeks of optimism and endless possibilities.
On a recent trip, I desperately wanted to talk to someone who worked in this incredible bubble of disruption and innovation.
We read and hear so much about these tech companies. I think I’ve listened to just about every episode of NPR ‘How I built this’ featuring all the well-known techpreneurs. I was so curious to go and experience this scene for myself.
So I was thrilled when a friend was able to hook me up with the Director of Corporate Messaging at Salesforce; Joslyn Faust. Salesforce is a poster girl for tech innovation and accelerated growth.
In just twenty years Salesforce has gone from a couple of people working in an apartment to a global tech company who occupy 36 floors of the tallest building in San Francisco; aptly named Salesforce Tower.
I met with Joslyn on the companies meeting area on the 61st floor. With sweeping views of the city and bay, we could see the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance enveloped in a blanket of fog. Amazing.
This floor, I learn, has been purpose-built to inspire visitors and employees alike. With a full café, purposely fit to quench the thirst of any employees and guests attending meetings here, we grabbed a drink and sat down to chat.
My first question; what does the Director of Corporate Messaging do?
It’s Joslyn’s role to ensure that all 36,000 employees at Salesforce are all singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to telling the Salesforce story. That’s everyone from the Janitor to the CEO.
Joslyn explains that a typical failure of many start-ups comes about with rapid scalability. As the company accelerates in growth, it’s easy for the team to become disjointed and disconnected to the original vision of the business.
So to keep the Salesforce team connected to the vision and the values of the organisation, she is responsible for running an internal education program that aims to keep everyone in the know.
This Corporate Messaging certification program provides each employee with the opportunity to undertake a program of online learning and achieve certification. The purpose of the program is to help Salesforce employees feel connected to the core values of the organisation; trust, customer service, innovation and equality and to empower them with bite-sized messages so they can help to spread the word.
Of course the technology and the products behind Salesforce evolve rapidly and as a result, so does the corporate narrative. So to ensure the 36,000 employees remain up-to-date and future-focused, Joslyn and her team spend a good part of each year gathering insight on future trends and directions from internal thought leaders and senior executives as well as industry experts.
They aggregate this information, package it up into neat messaging grabs and launch it at their annual conference; Dreamforce.
I think there is so much that small business can learn from this approach. We all know that word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing. And what better advocates to empower than your team!
In a time where consumers are empowered with an abundance of data, positioning your organisation based on its values helps consumers to connect at an emotional level with your brand. Value alignment builds trust. It demonstrates passion.
Joslyn is quick to enforce though that if you are going to espouse a set of values, you need to be able to walk the talk. The corporate messaging certification program takes Salesforce employees on the accelerated growth journey and helps ensure that every iteration in the growth cycle navigates back to the organisation’s key values.
This program not only keeps employees engaged but empowers them with the skills to keep customers and other key stakeholders connected to the growth and future direction of Salesforce as well. Brilliant!
My meeting with Joslyn has reinforced the importance of ensconcing meaningful values into firstly your business strategy, your business’s culture and then, of course, your marketing.
For small businesses looking to achieve scale or sustainability, consideration of your most powerful brand ambassadors; your staff, is integral. You may not have the number of employees that Salesforce does to spread positive messaging, however, even just 10 employees singing your praises loudly and consistently with the same timely and inspiring message will have a significantly positive effect on the bottom line of your business.