Employer branding ~ 15 min

SolidCAD: Turning Brand Hurdles into Success Stories

Find out how challenges in online brand-building can actually become exciting opportunities for organizational growth. It’s all in this interview!

On “Masters of Comms,” host Lamar Williams from Sociabble had the chance to speak with Daniella Delgado, Marketing and Communications Manager at SolidCAD, about the ways that perceived setbacks in building brand identity online can actually prove to be incredible opportunities for advancement and growth. Discover the secrets to turning obstacles into launchpads and hurdles into ladders, all right here! 

MOC: Today I’m accompanied by our guest from SolidCAD, Daniella Delgado. Would you mind taking a minute to introduce yourself to our listeners?  

SOLIDCAD: For sure. My name is Daniella, I am the Marketing and Communications Manager at SolidCAD. I’ve been in the field for now over 12 years, and specifically in this position at SolidCAD for about seven. I basically handle and oversee everything from the marketing communications front. So that’s really the strategy behind our marketing activities, from face-to-face events, digital email, and obviously, as you know, a lot more—basically across Canada, so it is a national role. 

MOC: Wow. It’s very large. And before we get started, would you mind giving us a brief overview of SolidCAD?  

SOLIDCAD: Sure. SolidCAD is one of the largest software reseller companies and professional services companies within Canada. We offer consulting services, training, support, and technology for clients, basically within the architecture, engineering, construction, civil infrastructure, and manufacturing industries. 

So that is a lot we’re handling, but we basically offer software and hardware from some of the largest technical companies. Some of our listeners might be familiar with them—that would be Autodesk, Bluebeam, Lumion, and Chaos Group and Matterport. We do have over 12 partners, but I thought I would just name some of the ones that maybe are familiar to our listeners. 

MOC: Perfect. And now just to jump right in, what we’ve been hearing is that gaining brand awareness is an ongoing challenge for many companies today. And we’re arriving at a point where there’s a significant amount of content that is being produced, but not being absorbed by a corporation’s target audience; that currently, organizations are seeking out ways to transform the way they communicate both internally and externally to capture their audiences. 

What I would say is that employee advocacy is one of those solutions. Did you experience the same situation at SolidCAD, and maybe could you address why you have chosen to leverage EA to grow your brand reputation?  

SOLIDCAD: So we definitely experienced a similar situation at SolidCAD—especially during COVID, we saw some industries halt while others boomed, and being on the tech side of things, SolidCAD was one of those companies that, at an exponential rate, hired and onboarded a lot of staff to support this growth in such a short period of time. What we noticed is that our smaller communications department, which at that time only had three people, found it extremely difficult to help communicate our brand image to all of these new employees that we were onboarding. 

And obviously, there was also ensuring that the employees that had been at the company for a while were also consistent with this. You know, with our brand and how customers viewed us at that time, we had a crazy amount of marketing activities that were happening online. And obviously, there was an influx of communications that were coming from all directions to our customers, right? 

We knew we needed to stand out and invest in ways to help get content or a message across internally, as well as externally.

Not just from us. And we knew we needed to stand out and invest in ways to help get content or a message across internally, as well as externally—it was really dependent on our group of people. And at that time, with only three people, it was nearly impossible to do, especially with growth. 

What we thought is, let’s invest in an EA program because our employees obviously had been in the industry for years. They had connections with our clients. They’ve networked and have shared ideas about industry trends, products, and a lot more, right? And we wanted to tap into those networks and use EA to get there.

MOC: In establishing that EA was the way to tap into your employee networks and stand out with your clients and potential clients, what were some of the challenges that you were experiencing prior to implementing your program?  

SOLIDCAD: Like I mentioned before, I think the biggest challenge was having to keep that consistent brand image across the organization. And although we as the marketing and communications department are responsible for crafting that image and the content that surrounds it, what we noticed was just the amount of activities that were happening online that went beyond the marketing initiatives that my team would see, like the webinars or events. 

It was really hard to basically see what employees were communicating to customers, right? How were they engaging with customers online or through their social networks like LinkedIn? So it became that much harder to really manage that same content; even though we had it look a particular way, and we guided a lot of our employees on what it looks like, we just didn’t have that control that we see with an EA program. 

MOC: So if I understand it correctly, you were worried about the type of content that your employees were already generating about your business, which was outside of your control. In implementing this program, did you decide on inviting specific people to participate in the program, or is employee advocacy open to everyone in the company? 


When we made the decision to basically sign on to an EA program, we wanted to approach it in a very strategic way.

We didn’t just want to sign on everyone, spend the time on resources and training, and then only have a handful of people using it. We really wanted to ensure that our company was logging in regularly, engaging with the platform, but also adopting it really well to our first phase focused on a selected group of people. 

We usually had about five to 10 team members of each of our industry teams. So with a total of 48 people, these groups included sales, our professional services team, as well as executive leadership. We chose these three groups because they either had consistent relationships with our customers or had the knowledge to share additional content through the system. 

We did test it out for about six months and provided analytics, back to the directors, as well as executive leadership; we did host, you know, open feedback sessions to see where we could improve the content that was created and posted, and we really encouraged people to also submit content through the system. 

What we wanted to ensure was that we had a lot of feedback and online use, and we were really opening it up to people to engage with it as much as possible before we opened it up to the 184 employees that we have. 

MOC: And I can imagine that maybe onboarding can sometimes be daunting to that end employee, or even to the executives. 

So what role does education and training play in building brand reputation through employees? And how do you ensure that they’re equipped with the knowledge and resources they need to represent your brand effectively?  

SOLIDCAD: I mean, it plays a crucial role. It’s great for building your brand reputation. 

If your employees don’t have the resources or the knowledge to take that brand to the next level and promote it using this EA program, then you’re kind of only doing half of the work, right? Part of our launch and introduction to using an EA program like Sociabble was to provide ongoing engagement, whether it was hosting regular office hours on the system itself, asking questions, or getting feedback. 

We wanted to just encourage our users to engage with us and the platform as much as possible.

And in that, you know, my team provided tips to users, and had directors of each of the industry teams be the leaders to ensure that they’re also enforcing it. And we just really wanted to equip them with the right usage of that program, and as effectively as possible. 

And we did create an incentive program that would recognize and provide a gift card to members that either shared or created the most content. So we did want to encourage that engagement as well.  

MOC: Can you give us some of the results of what happened when you first started testing this? How did it affect your content and sharing? And how long did the program run?   

SOLIDCAD: We ran it for six months and it was a test group of 48 people across the organization that included the executive management, sales, and technical departments. We looked at two KPIs that measured adoption, specifically one, the registered employees, and then obviously the active users. 

We did look at some other KPIs just to report back to management, specifically one that is built in Sociabble, which is the cost savings when introducing an EA program. Because let’s face it, senior leadership wants to know, we spent this money, did we save anything? And with that being said, we also looked at specifically the percentage of our employees that generated content. 

So that gave us a little bit more information. Not just on adoption, but also the engagement with the platform. That way, we could kind of see, you know, where is there other information that maybe the marketing and communications department isn’t creating, that our employees are making sure is added to the program. 

MOC: It sounds like you’ve established a significant foundation for your EA program to succeed. And as EA has traditionally been a resource for employee scenarios, from what I understand, you’ve also envisioned a similar program for your partners. So first off, can you explain what a partner is to you, and maybe why you would like to make a program for partner advocacy? 

SOLIDCAD: Yes, so the partners for our specific division are actually the vendors we work with. It’s ultimately the copies that we sell, like their software or their hardware, but this includes additional companies that are open in the future to having them resell our technologies. So just for listeners to understand, SolidCAD isn’t just a reseller for these technologies. We are also an innovator. We’ve created our own in-house products that our programming team has developed. And we’re obviously, in the future, looking to partner up with companies, and have these companies use an EA program to share information about our products, and about our services, to kind of get that message across. 

And there’s actually one organization that will be selling our products within Europe. So this is a great way to have an EA program to communicate the brand to a global audience, and not even just within Canada.  

MOC: Perfect. And with the addition of this program compared to that of your employees, how do you ensure that your partners understand and are aligned with your messaging, and how will you help them communicate this message effectively to their external audiences? 

SOLIDCAD: Our goal is to really just ensure that whatever story we’re telling, and that message that we crafted, really aligns with our partners’ goals too. We’ve been pretty strategic and savvy with how we develop our marketing strategy and ensuring that basically all of our initiatives have always been aligned with what our partners are doing, what industry trends are happening—and then just highlighting our customers and where they’re at, and where are their gaps in terms of technology services, support, and so on. 

So our stories really just help provide more detail to the Canadian market specifically, because a lot of the vendors we do work with are in the U.S. And they have difficulty promoting and crafting a message for the Canadian market. So really what we’re hoping to do is create a little bit more of a localized content base within the EA program and have our partners share a lot of that, which they have difficulty sharing right now. 

MOC: Great. So how do you plan to evolve your partner advocacy program in the future to meet their evolving needs, and what steps will you take to ensure their success?  

SOLIDCAD: So I think it is a little too early right now to say where things are going to go in the future, just because we are in the phase one of our launch and we are talking about opening this up to partners as well as, you know, the first half of our company and onward. 

So I would say, we want to really focus on the internal strategy before we start opening and talking about where things are going to go for partners.  

MOC: Well, we definitely have to keep an eye out on how both of your programs evolve. But before we go, could you provide us with your three recommendations to start an advocacy program, in order to help build corporate brand reputation? 

SOLIDCAD: Yes, so I would say first, start with the “why,” like what are your goals with an employee advocacy program? What do you want to achieve by implementing it? Is it just to market events and get more registrations? Is it about promoting the brand and focusing on crafting a uniform message, or is it about just having influencers in your company? 

I think defining why and aligning that with goals and KPIs is your starting point.

Be the champions of getting that message across for whatever it may be. I think defining why and aligning that with goals and KPIs is your starting point. Secondly, come up with a launch plan. I think this is crucial. I always start small and then kind of open it up to the rest of the company. 

Focusing on a test group really allows you to get employee feedback, and make changes accordingly before launching it, to a huge amount of individuals. So starting off small, I think, is the best way to approach it. And obviously, work with people who are already the influencers or are already active on social media, because it does make the process a little bit easier, and you’re getting insight and feedback from people who are already active within the social space.  

And then lastly, just be consistent. The worst is launching a program like this and then nothing new happens in five, six months after launch. And then it just kind of dies down, you know. Ride the momentum—if you notice a drop of people, logging into the system or engaging with it, or even creating content, then create internal programs to get that usage back up and get people on there. Create some sort of gamification portion that really allows employees to feel recognized and celebrated that they are being a pro using the system. 

And obviously, leverage upper management to help push the use of that system, too. And then honestly, just make it fun when you are recognizing people with these internal campaigns. That way, you just have that morale boosted and people really do want to use the system and encourage more content sharing and creation. 

MOC: Daniella, we’ve arrived pretty much at the end of our podcast, but I would like to ask you one final question that I enjoy asking all of our guest experts on “Masters of Comms.” Would you mind sharing with us the title of a book or a film that had a significant impact on you recently and why? 

SOLIDCAD: Yes, so I recently watched the movie “Air,” that tells the story of how Nike got Michael Jordan to sign for them, one of the biggest sneaker deals I think in history—it was an awesome film. It just really showed the power of storytelling and how their marketing department at that time got MJ to sign on. And honestly, the cast was amazing. There’s Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Viola Davis, I mean, just to name a few, but definitely worth the watch. 

MOC: Wow. I will definitely have to take a look at that. At this point, Daniella, I want to thank you for joining us and being a part of “Masters of Comms.” 

SOLIDCAD: Thank you for having me. It was such a pleasure speaking to you today, and talking about introducing an EA program. It was a great talk. 

MOC: Thank you again. This has been “Masters of Comms,” the podcast for transformative communication techniques straight from the pros. Follow us here to get the next episode. See you soon.

Here concludes this episode of “Masters of Comms.” If you’d like to listen to the entire interview, it’s available for download here. And don’t hesitate to join for future episodes of the podcast, where you can get transformative communication techniques, straight from the pros. Thanks for tuning in!

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