You’re probably assuming I run a dog food company that prides itself on making food that both dogs and humans will love. Sorry to disappoint you. I’m not a canine culinary artist. But I do know a thing or two about developing a recipe for business success.
Eating your own dog food (or “dogfooding”) means building an entire company that practices what it preaches. It means using your own products every single day — learning their ins and outs firsthand — and developing a closer bond with your consumers as a result.
Before my company began eating its own dog food, I noticed that my employees’ grasp on what they were building, marketing and selling wasn’t strong enough. This led to a decrease in productivity. With very little context around the impact they were making, why should they care?
VoiceStorm, our product, could potentially affect every part of a business. Sales teams can use it to distribute relevant content to prospects, execs can use it to position themselves as thought leaders, and marketers can similarly position themselves as experts in their category. Most importantly, all types of employees end up more informed about every aspect of the company when they use our product.
These were all areas we needed to improve upon ourselves, and as a company that specializes in creating products that boost employee engagement levels, it was ironic that my employees weren’t engaged with our mission. But once we all began using our application — which we created for the very purpose of informing employees and empowering them to share relevant news with their followers and connections — we immediately noticed a change in the atmosphere internally. Since then, our team members from top to bottom are more engaged with their work and have a true understanding of the reasons behind our operations.
Being hands-on with your own product puts you in the mind of the customer. Only then can you begin to improve your strategy and direction as a company. It has affected our sellers, marketers and engineers in a profound way, giving them a sense of purpose we didn’t see in the early stages of our growth.
Obviously, not every company can or should eat its own dog food. Employees of healthcare, biotechnology and pharmaceutical brands probably shouldn’t be testing devices and medications on themselves. But if your product falls under the umbrella of “able to be tested,” you and your entire staff should be scarfing down your dog food as rapidly and passionately as possible.
Walk the Walk to Support the Talk
Failing to eat your own dog food will likely come back to haunt you, whether that means uninformed employees (and a resulting lack of success) or bad publicity.
Dogfooding boosted my entire company’s awareness, knowledge and responsiveness — leading everything to fall into place. It didn’t just return internal results; it provided a means to happier employees, more informed consumers and so much more.
- Benefits to marketers: Eating your own dog food allows you to sculpt an accurate marketing message around your product. You can speak to your audience more effectively about who you are, what you do, why you do it and why you’re the best at it.
- Benefits to sales: Dogfooding results in a deeper, more meaningful basis for your sales pitches, leading to higher levels of confidence and more frequent conversions. The benefits and impact of social selling are well-documented, and our team reaps these rewards. We’ve seen significant results in terms of pipeline, opportunities and deals — all from our reps being more socially savvy.
- Benefits to morale: Dogfooding allowed us to boost employee engagement and put an end to apathy. Our company culture is now built around passion. That’s one of the great things about a mobile-first product: Your employees literally have it in their pockets all day long, so it becomes a part of their lives that’s accessible at all times.
- Benefits to product development: In-house testing allowed us to discover bugs and features that needed improvement. It seems like a no-brainer, but this is the most common use of dogfooding. There’s nothing better than engineers kicking the tires of what they’ve built.
Eating your own dog food enables you to become so much more educated on every facet of your product and company. This education leads to confidence, allowing you to open a powerful dialogue with your staff, consumers and the general public about the countless benefits of your product.
This article originates on Forbes