A good internal safety marketing campaign can help your organization build buy-in to the safety program faster and with much less effort.
Why is it that one company within a specific industry can struggle with safety while another excels? The same rules apply to both companies. The difference is in the approach in communications, coaching, training and encouraging the participation of employees in looking out for each other.
We don’t need more rules or more checkboxes. We need more people to buy-in to what we are trying to accomplish with our safety programs. That takes a very different set of skills and approach.
Safety marketing doesn’t involve check-boxes, process, procedure, the law, or enforcement. It involves getting people to see the benefit of making good, informed decisions and in becoming more willing to look out for their fellow workers. It’s less about enforcement and more about engagement. A good internal safety marketing campaign can help your organization build buy-in to the safety program faster and with much less effort.
Brand Choice Matters
What is it that makes a family choose one brand of laundry soap over another? One brand of truck over another? Mac or PC? Starbucks or Tim Hortons? OK, that last reference is decidedly Canadian. And for those Canadians who are brand-loyal to Tim’s, well, good luck getting them to even try another brand.
The same question could be asked of employees. What makes one employee buy-in to safety and another to simply tolerate safety rules? What is the brand of safety in your workplace?
Safety buy-in doesn't happen by accident.
Safety buy-in doesn't happen by accident. It needs to be the goal of your internal marketing strategy. Use internal safety marketing to overcome barriers, objections and resistance to the safety program through a series of purposeful communications.
Connect with each corner of the organization. Establish an overall corporate culture that includes safety throughout every department. Safety is for everyone so everyone should be involved. Safety has to appeal to every single person in the organization in a way that they can comprehend and ultimately buy-in to.
Nike’s Just Do It® marketing statement was the result of years of research and preparation. The white Apple logo with no words took years to perfect. Marketing is a purposeful exercise with most of its work behind the scenes before anyone ever sees the result of all of that work.
What Doesn't Work
Safety First and Be Safe are not safety marketing campaigns. They do not create an easy affinity with the end-user. There is no ownership of those message. They're boring, predictable and generic. Besides, people won’t choose Safety First when they feel that what is being measured is production. Meanwhile, Be Safe is not a complete set of instructions. Gruesome injury photos do not create a warm fondness for safety. They create fear and intimidation; neither of which creates trust and respect.
You can create an internal marketing strategy on your own but will not come up with a winning campaign in a single meeting. It can take weeks and even months to develop a focused message that resonates with your people in a way that they are willing to take ownership of the message. Safety committees could take on a project like this. After all, one of the key tenets of safety committees is the promotion of safety.
Top 3 Safety Marketing Strategies
1. Create a bond of ownership.
People have to feel proud to own the brand they choose before they buy it. The messaging and the words have to connect at a personal level. Use as few words as possible to make an impact. It's easy to remember a few words. Once you connect with pride of ownership of the message, it’s tough to change their minds. Once your people buy-in, it can become unshakable.
2. Look beyond the narrow focus of safety.
In other words, don’t make the campaign just about safety. Create something that front-desk receptionists, IT guys, and salespeople can get behind. You are not just attempting to change safety culture. You’re changing the corporate culture with safety being one of the foundational values. How you do business, and especially safety, can be your competitive advantage. Can you connect your safety campaign with hiring, sales and new business?
3. Be everywhere.
Once you have decided on your message, it must be everywhere and integrated into every corner of the organization. From banners on shop floors to logos on the back of vehicles to crests on coveralls to stickers on hard hats, to paper coffee cups in lunchrooms. Everywhere an employee looks, there should be a reminder of how we do safety around here. The marketing message will begin to seep outside of the walls. It will find its way into the hands of jobseekers, customers, and contractors. They will measure themselves against your message to determine their fit.
As an example, a company with values that include safety, respect, courtesy, integrity, pride, and service might include a simple I AM as their campaign. (I am safety, I am respect, etc.) It’s easy to measure yourself against those values at any moment of the day.
The key is to connect employee pride to the marketing campaign. If you can make people proud to connect, they will engage. Safety ensues.
Kevin Burns, consultant/author, works with smart, caring companies to energize safety culture, build teamwork, and get employee buy-in. Kevin is on a mission to help employees purposefully care about the work they do and to actively look out for the people they do it with.
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