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Internal Marketing Matters

Before you read this, make a list—go ahead, I’ll wait—of the kinds of people your organization markets its goods or services to. Think about those carefully-crafted buyer personas, all the demographics you work so hard to attract and the needs you strive to satisfy. Who’s included in your target audience?

If your own company’s employees didn’t make that list, it’s time to start rethinking your approach. How can the people behind your organization’s product perform at their best, and hence contribute as much as they can to selling it, if they’re not fully invested in the brand and what it can accomplish? This goes double for employees who talk to your customers every day—how can they sell a message that they don’t believe in?

What is internal marketing?

Internal marketing is based in the idea that every individual an organization employs contributes in some way to its culture, and that culture then filters down into every interaction a potential customer has with the company. Happier, more invested employees make for a more positive, unified, and powerful external representation of the company—which makes for more (and more satisfied) users. Internal marketing means treating the employees who make your product possible as if they’re also consuming it. (Bonus: happier employees mean less turnover, and less money spent on recruitment and training.)

Why bother?

You might assume that the people who work for your organization, who live with it day in and day out and need its sales to stay robust in order to get paid, don’t need convincing as far as the brand’s value is concerned. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for individual departments to become insular, focusing only on the success of a research project or an IT overhaul, and not on how those things fit into the mission of the company as a whole. And in an environment where every team or department appears to operate in a vacuum, individual employees can grow disillusioned and cynical, feeling as if their contributions—or even the whole organization’s goals and brand—are meaningless.

Let’s say you work at a hospital. The quality of experience that a patient has doesn’t just depend on the care they get from the clinical care staff, but on the workers who serve their meals, change their bedding, and process their insurance. If that hospital’s staff takes the time to create a caring and personalized experience, whether it’s through efficiently handling a patient’s financial paperwork or through taking the time to accommodate specialized dietary needs, those patients are far more likely to maintain brand loyalty. But it takes every hospital employee to make that happen, and getting to that point is where internal marketing comes in. 

Skip the trust falls

Internal marketing isn’t about pulling employees from different departments together for bonding exercises, nor does it mean you have to send out an exhaustive weekly newsletter detailing everyone’s accomplishments. Approach the members of your organization as you would a group of consumers; interview them about their work experience, send them surveys, and get them into focus groups to hear what they have to say.

You’re looking to foster a culture of enthusiasm, creativity, and expertise, as well as brand loyalty. Use what you learn from those surveys and interviews to create a culture that helps everyone who contributes to your company feel respected, valued, and empowered, and to build an organizational vision that they can believe in and support. Once you’ve got an idea of what your campaign needs to address, content made just for employees (like an anthem video, which gives them a cause to rally around and focus on) is the first step towards rolling out a successful internal marketing campaign.

Some more tips: invite discussion and constructive criticism of your company’s inner workings, make professional development opportunities widely available, and ensure that everyone understands the direction the organization is headed in. Bring key employees into the discovery process, so they have a tangible role in researching your clients’ marketing strategies, business goals, and operations, so when they work with clients they’ll be implementing strategies they helped to make. Above all, the goal of an internal marketing strategy is to establish an emotional connection and personal relationship with your brand and what it has to offer, just as you would with a potential customer.

Feeling stuck? Not sure how your company’s anthem starts? Our team of experts is here to help with all your internal marketing needs.

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