So you have a great product, rock-solid marketing plan, and an eager target audience – you’re all set, right? Not so fast. Too often, business owners’ thoughts are focused on the external marketing of their offering and give little thought to how the product is understood or perceived internally. Why does this matter? Because your employees are on the front lines speaking every day with your current and future customers and are therefore one of your most important marketing tools.
So what exactly is internal marketing? Internal marketing promotes the firm and its policies to employees as if they are the internal customers of the firm. Cutting-edge firms understand the significance an internal team has as marketers of the firm, and they also understand the importance of a team’s buy-in to the corporate mission, values and offering in order for them to be engaged evangelists when speaking with customers.
So how do you get your employees to “buy-in”? Well, there are many approaches to internal marketing. Some may work best for a corporate culture, while other approaches work best for a small startup. There are some fundamental principles, however, that can be helpful when introducing a new internal marketing strategy. Harvard Business Review1 lays it out nicely with three straightforward principles.
Principle 1 – The Right Moment
People often hate change. It’s a fact. So the moment someone brings up a new internal initiative for better communication and understanding of the company brand – there is going to be resistance. However, HBR notes that if you choose the right moment – where change is already occurring (i.e. via a merger or new CEO) – employees are naturally more receptive. Proceed with caution though, too much change can also be overwhelming. It’s best to proceed with baby steps.
Principle 2 – Consistent Message and Strategy
It’s important to keep your internal and external marketing consistent and in-line with each other. Seems obvious? Not so much. At many companies internal and external messages conflict and end up confusing both the consumer and the employee. The bottom line is, whatever you’re telling your customers you should be telling your employees and vice versa. If done successfully, the two sides will fuel each other and the results can be game changing.
Principle 3 – Create an Emotional Connection
This one is easier said than done, but don’t let that scare you. Just like an external marketing strategy, if executed correctly the new messages and brand will become the core of your company. One great way to do this is through storytelling. Tell the story of your brand and product, inject your own emotion into the story and others will quickly stop to listen. Pay attention to the delivery of the story as well. Are you sending an email or bringing the team together over lunch? Be sure that you are resonating with your employees on a personal level.
These three basic principles are the foundation of a successful internal marketing plan that will help your internal and external initiatives. Need help? Reach out to TribalVision to learn more about our new internal marketing offering.