Loyalty is Dying – How Can We Get It Back?

Posted on March 9, 2017

Part of my job as CEO & Founder of InternQueen.com is to also oversee our campus marketing agency (IQ Agency). In 2016, we lost a few of our 2015 clients and needed to seek out new business – and that we did! We brought on about 10 new clients in 2016 for our marketing agency and had the opportunity to work with a ton of great brands in the retail, cosmetic, and technology space. All of the campaigns were wonderful, achieved what they were meant to achieve, and were positioned for success (and client renewal) in the begining of 2017. Now, at Intern Queen we try (or tried) to be very loyal to our brands. If we work with one sunglasses brand, we try to put all of our efforts behind that brand, and not simultaneously pitch other sunglasses brands in the space. We try to be loyal.

At the beginning of 2017, we started getting phone calls that our contacts were leaving their perspective companies. At first, it was one or two people from different companies jumping ship to either run their own businesses or work for different companies. Now that we’ve hit the third month of the year, I can tell you that all of our day-to-day contacts for all 10 of our new 2016 clients have left their companies. Now these are DIFFERENT companies – of all different shapes and sizes – and companies located all over the US – not just in one specific industry or area. Everyone left! Once a contact leaves, it’s very difficult to continue to do business with that brand. Sometimes they don’t even fill that position for months at a time – often the newcomers have their own strategies they want to experiment with. And so we are left feeling (stupid) or naïve for being so loyal in the first place. We are left with an urgent need to wrangle new business and create new relationships. If we weren’t so loyal, we wouldn’t be in this situation.

Now, I’m not one to complain – if I need new business – we’ll go find new business. But this experience has made me think twice about loyalty. If brands can’t keep their employees, how will they keep their vendor relationships? How can vendors be loyal to brands, if brands aren’t loyal in return? And if we take this concept of loyalty to their hiring process, how can new employees be loyal to a company if they see their bosses constantly leaving and jumping ship?

Think about it. As a marketing agency, my relationship isn’t with the CEO of the business –  it’s with a marketing executive inside the brand. As a new employee at a company, your relationship also isn’t with the CEO, it’s with your manager. But if your manager is leaving every year, how will you develop a sense of loyalty to your employer?

And so, who is to blame here? Is it the executives for wanting to leave? They seem to be leaving either to continue their education, stay home and have children, go to another company (potentially paying better), or to start their own businesses. Knowing this, what can employers do to create more flexible environments that make people WANT to stay and WANT to grow? How can companies create environments that encourage their executives to start a family, go back to school, get paid properly, and grow within their position? I say – it can be done. Employers need to be flexible, they need to listen, and they need to focus on employee retention. If your employees leave –   so do your brand partners. And a world with no loyalty? That doesn’t seem to help anyone….