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Win Inside First

Win Inside First

Guest post by Mike Farag, founder at Fervor Marketing Concepts

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When I started Fervor more than seven years ago, it was a simpler time. Mostly me and a few trusted creatives. We were good at helping clients, exposing their real strategic needs from a marketing perspective and then executing that strategy. We developed a pretty cool process called a Brand Impact Assessment™ + Strategy, and the first step in that process is to help clients develop three Ideal Advocate Profiles. It’s the center of our thesis. So of course, we did this for ourselves . . . well, at least we did about 1.5 years into the business. Cobbler’s shoes and all.

At Fervor, everything we do starts with strategy — and central to that strategy is WHO.

That’s where I really missed it. In our three Ideal Client Profiles, we didn’t have one focused on our own people. I was out winning business with the other profiles and business was growing. But no profile meant no real focus, no real intentional programs to engage and grow these internal assets. Sure, we paid them. Sure, we tried to be a cool place to work. But we — ahem, I — missed a huge opportunity.

Let me be brazenly honest: Winning inside your organization is the most important thing you can do. Your employees are your internal advocates and should be some of your loudest fans. If they aren’t empowered and aren’t intentionally encouraged to carry your brand message, you won’t win long term. Even the best marketing can’t save you. Sounds harsh. I should know — that’s part of my story.

Collins says: First Who, then What. But you only know if you have the right people on the bus if you really know who they are. Do your people buy your why, your mission? Does your team not just make you money, but make you better? Do they make each other better? Are you assuming they know what you’re thinking, or are you really communicating to them?

Starting to get it? I didn’t — until I did. It was like turning on a light bulb with a dimmer switch. I had hired an organizational consultant in 2014 (four years into the business) to do an assessment on Fervor, similar to what we do for companies but focused more on operations and finances than sales and marketing. I knew I had blind spots, and I wanted to know exactly what they were. I wanted Fervor to grow, and I knew there were bottlenecks.

Along the way, as I read the surveys, met with the consultant, talked and dreamed about my business and prayed for clarity about how to steward this, it hit me. The best advocate I have isn’t a client. It is our team of creatives. It was inside my own organization.

How had I missed that? I mean, I have worked for some large companies. I’ve managed some really productive, really large teams of people. But I missed it, and it hurt. It hurt because I was disappointed in myself for missing this blind spot for so long. I felt frustrated. I felt like I’d missed opportunities to develop talent and, thereby, grow the business and the clients we serve.

So we changed it.

Armed with a newly created Ideal Advocate Profile for Fervor Creatives, I was ready to try to create engagement tactics for them. We created a Strategic Advisory Team to help lead and speak into what we do at Fervor. We created five Pillars of Focus (I stole from a good friend): Faith, Family, Finances, Friendships and Fitness. And we are striving to enhance each category in some tactical way for our creatives. I started communicating regularly to our team, with a monthly internal email, sharing the wins. We started a monthly happy hour for the team, which includes something family friendly every quarter. We started office day Thursdays to encourage collaboration and strengthen our team. It’s an ongoing process, but we’re well on our way.

People first. It’s not a trite mission statement hanging on the wall. Living this out is tough and often forgotten. Even the best of us get caught up in focusing outside our organization instead of inside — and that’s a miss.

When you win inside, it suddenly gets easier to win outside. With your own people engaged, excited and happy, they’ll tell your organization’s story better. They’ll work with intentionality. They’ll execute on your mission. They’ll connect better than ever with your donors. They’ll begin to take ownership of your organization and see it as something much bigger than just a job. We’ve seen it here at Fervor, and the numbers measure up: our top line and bottom line growth are both well over 150%.

Please don’t miss your biggest opportunity to grow: it’s winning inside. If you do nothing else, do that. I can just about guarantee it will pay huge dividends.

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