If, by definition, marketing is the practice of sharing a brand’s story with consumers, “internal marketing” seems like a pointless endeavor. Why spend valuable time and resources marketing your company to a group of people who know its operations better than anyone else?
While you won’t be sending targeted Facebook ads to your employees, internal marketing is the practice of promoting a company’s objectives, services and greater mission to team members, which builds brand loyalty and helps employees understand the “why” behind their work.
Here’s why you need to do it!
Internal marketing is ultimately about having a unified brand vision, which means it reaches well beyond the marketing department. Consider this your quick start guide to developing an internal marketing strategy that’ll make a big impact at your organization.
As the people with the deepest understanding of the brand’s mission, vision and values, your marketing team is a natural choice for spearheading an internal marketing campaign. Don’t forget to include human resources (HR) and public relations (PR) to support the campaign, though. Both have unfettered access to internal and external audiences and can be extremely helpful in efficiently disseminating information.
Your internal marketing campaign should match current initiatives you’re implementing externally. More than that, it should feel truthful and representative of your employees’ real experiences in the workplace. If you don’t know if the message you’ve crafted is accurate, you need to do some internal research to find out how employees really feel.
For example, if your messaging includes language about offering a great work-life balance, but in reality employees feel their work seeps into their personal lives, you need to adjust your language or address the problem internally.
Surveys are a great place to start. You can also host interviews with a representative sample of employees to dig a little deeper. Either way, make sure your subjects know they can and should answer honestly, even if their feedback is not entirely positive (source: Everyone Social).
Do not launch an internal campaign out of the blue. The campaign should be linked to other large, institutional changes taking place, like new hires in the C-suite or a logo rebrand. This will help current employees digest the new information and understand its roots.
Just like an external campaign, implement your strategy in phases. In fact, you can apply many principles of consumer advertising to your internal marketing campaign (source: Harvard Business Review). Messaging should remain consistent across channels and from all parties. Proper use of your typical brand voice and visuals is a must. There should also be appealing graphics and precise, clear language.
Internal marketing campaigns can and should be distributed in many forms:
- “Fireside chats” or all-team meetings
- Department head memos
The reasons for enacting an internal marketing campaign vary from business to business. For some, employee sentiment is lacking. For others, employee behavior does not match the promises the company makes to its customer base, so the organization needs to realign. Internal marketing can also be used as a preventative tactic to retain top talent. No matter your reason, it provides many benefits in the long-term.
To start, your team are your best spokespeople. These are the folks most likely to tout your company’s products and services to friends and family. They’re the ones giving word-of-mouth recommendations in their neighborhoods, and you truly cannot underestimate the value of this type of marketing. One Nielsen study showed that 84% of people trust recommendations from friends, family and colleagues over other forms of marketing (source: Nielsen).
Beyond word-of-mouth, employees who share company news on social media can help the information reach hundreds or thousands of additional eyes. It pays, then, to have employees who take pride in their work on your payroll. An internal marketing campaign can help you get there.
Generally, this type of campaign can help employees make powerful emotional connections to what they’re selling or producing (source: Harvard Business Review). When employees understand the “why,” they may be motivated to work harder or stay with the company longer. Both are beneficial to your company’s bottom line.
There’s implementing an internal marketing campaign, and then there’s implementing an internal marketing campaign well. Rule #1: don’t sleep on empathy. The way you communicate with your employees needs to be authentic, honest and transparent, especially when the news is not all positive (i.e., budget cuts in order to implement a new green strategy).
Consistency is extremely important. If you aren’t 100% set on your messaging, do not start disseminating it. Too often, employees hear whisperings of new policies from co-workers, then they receive a completely different message from leadership several weeks later. Your communicators must be a united front and share the same message across all channels and departments to maintain employee trust. Holding the occasional full-team marketing meeting that includes representatives from HR, PR, advertising and sales can also help with consistency.
As new employees enter the fold, be sure to implement a level of education on the front end. New team members should be caught up to speed on the internal campaign as soon as possible. Don’t forget to send regular reminders to your veteran staff, too. Repetition is an excellent tactic for memorization (source: What Is).
In the marketing world, there is always more to do. Spending time and effort on internal communications might not seem like a good use of your time, but pour even a few basic resources into an internal campaign and your organization will reap the benefits for years to come.