What the heck is internal marketing?
Category: Blogging, Integrated MarketingMonday November 28th, 2016
As a company grows, so might the distance between those that run it and those that make it run. It’s a very real risk – when you’re small, everyone’s part of the same team, involved in the same decisions.
As you get bigger and recruit more people, teams emerge and they make decisions among themselves. Management structures grow and strategic choices are made. It’s quite easy to forget that these decisions aren’t automatically known or understood by everyone else in the company.
On the flip-side a well-integrated, well-informed workforce is far more likely to buy into the organisation’s values and goals that one that feels remote from the people who decided on those values.
So how do you improve those flows of information? How do you engage a workforce beyond the obvious salaries and incentives?
The answer (clue in the article heading!) is with internal marketing.
Who’s it for?
Okay, small businesses just don’t need it. Huge ones probably already have it. But those that used to be small yet aren’t quite big – all those thousands of SMEs out there – they’re the ones who probably need to have a good hard look at whether they’re communicating enough with their own employees.
You need to bear in mind that silos can quickly build up in a company too, so although top-down communication might be great, the communication between teams can actually be very poor.
How’s it done?
There are plenty of different ways to build solid two-way information bridges between company management and employees. At the most basic level are things that most people do already: group emails; suggestion boxes; team meetings; organised trips to the pub after work etc.
But they’re often not enough to really engage as well as inform.
This article was inspired by some work we’ve just done for a client, creating a magazine-style internal newsletter that features genuine interviews with team leaders and team members from across the organisation. It’s a great way to put a human face on initiatives, get buy-in to important projects and let everyone know that their hard work is appreciated.
Social enterprise platform
The next level, for larger firms, is to embrace social business platforms. A step up from email, but more enclosed than traditional social media, social enterprise software like Yammer or Slack allow for teams, projects and collaborative working techniques to be mixed with informal communication systems, file sharing and video conferencing, all within the confines of a closed community. These setups are fantastic for sharing company values and making sure everyone feels important to the business.
Making an effort
An easy win can be had by taking the simple things to the next level. We’re working with a customer at the minute that has an ambitious growth plan. They understand that this growth will only occur if everyone in the company is on board with the vision, so we’re actually working with them to create a ‘brand’ for the proposal. This means logo, vision statement, enduring collateral and communications to make sure everyone knows what the target is and what part they need to play.
There are always other options too, such as company away days, competitions/initiatives and charity days (where everyone in the company gets a day off each year to put toward charity work).
Internal marketing is about more than team-building clichés, however. If anything it’s about breaking down the walls between different teams.
Encouraging social sharing
This one’s great for maximising your resources, getting everyone on board and ensuring information is shared vertically and horizontally within the business. It also gets your marketing messages out to a broader audience, which can only be a good thing. All that’s needed is for your own social media-savvy staff to be encouraged to share – on their personal social media profiles – posts that are published on your corporate profiles.
It’s great because it gets people involved, and if coupled with a policy that says “it’s okay to use social media in work time so long as you don’t take the p**s,” it’s going to make your team members very happy.
I have to mention this, don’t I? A major reason that people give for not doing enough internal marketing is a lack of time or other resources. There are often good intentions at play but the concept can find itself on the back burner all too frequently.
It can be time-consuming to put together a newsletter, for example, which is why it makes sense to outsource the work to a marketing specialist. And the best bit is that they’ll be on hand to keep pushing you to make sure it gets done on a regular basis!