Market Internally

At TribalVision, we consider any organization as being composed of three elements: a customer tribe, a partner tribe, and an internal tribe. Any business will operate below its optimum if it does not invest in all of these three elements. The truth is, business owners often focus a disproportionate amount of time on keeping customers happy while ignoring their own internal team.

The result of this can be internal friction, which literally slows down your company. On the Employee Engagement Group’s website, you can view a video that demonstrates this concept perfectly. In the front of a boat are two active rowers who are truly working hard to keep the boat moving forward. Behind them are six rowers who are rowing moderately, and behind them are two rowers who are actually rowing against the others, creating an opposing force that can serve as a major impediment to the boat’s speed. The metaphor here, of course, is that the boat is a company and its speed is its growth.

When you market to the members of your internal team, you can prevent this type of impediment from existing. A study by the Human Capital Institute found that most organizations operate at a 30% rate of efficiency due to poor engagement among their staff1. If you consider how much more revenue a business could generate by increasing its employee engagement, the value of internal marketing becomes clear. Here are some empirical results:

  • A Towers Watson study of 50 companies found that organizations with high employee engagement levels experienced a 19% increase in operating income and 28% growth in earnings per share.2
  • A similar study found a spread of over 5% in operating margin and 3% in net profit margin in companies with high employee engagement versus low engagement.3
  • Research by Kenexa found that companies whose workers were engaged generated five times higher shareholder returns over a five-year period.4
  • Increased employee engagement and satisfaction correlate with meaningful business outcomes such as profitability and productivity.5
  • Increasing investment in employee engagement by 10% can increase annual profit by $2,400 per employee.6

In order to motivate your employees and increase their engagement, you must show them why they should be as passionate about your organization as you are. This will spur them to truly embrace and prioritize the customer experience and adopt an owner’s mind-set rather than simply performing their daily responsibilities.

Building your brand from the inside out

What exactly does internal marketing entail? It is your strongest motivational tool, and it goes beyond providing perks to employees or your employees being satisfied. Instead, you and your managers need to inspire your employees to make emotional commitments to the organization.

Remember our discussion of Simon Sinek’s TED Talk? Your staff should know what your company does, how it does it, and, most importantly, why it does it. Only when every employee knows and cares about your company’s message, brand, and leadership principles will your team be fully engaged. It’s mandatory to make your business’ story and selling points apparent to all of your employees in the same way as they’re communicated to your customers and prospects.

Putting internal marketing into practice

There are a wide variety of internal marketing tactics that you can deploy:

  • Send out a monthly internal company email newsletter or develop an intranet for posting company news and happenings. This type of internal communication helps to ensure that all employees are aware of the company’s direction and feel connected to that direction and to each other.
  • Coordinate company events, such as happy hours, internal team-building workshops, and off-site retreats. These events give your team opportunities to bond and provide an excellent forum for you and your managers to communicate your business’ story, goals, selling points, and priorities.
  • Revamp the new-hire orientation process to ensure that extensive learning about the company is an integral part of it.
  • Develop a mentorship program. But a mentor isn’t just a manager who makes sure that employees generate good work output. A mentor is someone who helps an employee with his or her career path, makes sure that the employee has the work-life balance that he or she needs, and makes sure that the employee’s educational aspirations are met.

Both new and existing team members should be encouraged to consider how their daily work fits into the larger picture of the company. Also, make sure to provide employees with opportunities to offer active feedback to the company’s management. Executed properly, internal marketing programs let employees know what a great company they work for and how their daily efforts contribute to the organization as a whole.

Realize that money isn’t the only motivator

In addition to internal marketing, consider refining your motivational strategies to include nonfinancial incentives. A global study by McKinsey & Company found that nonfinancial incentives, such as praise and awards from an immediate manager, attention from leaders, and opportunities to lead projects or task forces, were all more effective motivators than financial incentives, such as stock options or performance-based cash bonuses.7

Nonfinancial incentives may require more time and commitment from senior managers than do financial incentives. However, they are more effective, because they inspire passion tied to the company rather than to money in the bank. This passion results in engaged employees who are committed to your company’s goals and values and motivated to contribute to the company’s success, which in turn results in higher profit margins.

As soon as the right team is in place, fully engaged, and working toward a common goal, your company’s probability of achieving long-term success will dramatically increase.

In-the-trenches takeaway

Sign up your full team for an employee engagement workshop. These workshops can be tailored to your business and presented on-site. Most engagement workshops are geared toward developing and leading engaged teams, but some are more targeted. By teaching your leadership team how to increase employee engagement, you will be well on your way to building an engaged, enthusiastic workforce.

You can also undertake biannual surveys to gauge your company’s employee engagement level. An employee satisfaction index can be calculated by asking your employees to answer, on a scale of 1-10, a set of sample questions, such as the following: How satisfied are you with your current workplace? How well does your current workplace meet your expectations? How close is your current workplace to the ideal? This continuous feedback loop will keep your finger on the pulse of your corporate culture and help you to identify potential problems before they become more serious cancers.

1 Human Capital Institute, Connecting the Dots: Comprehensive Career Development as a Catalyst for Employee Engagement (Washington, D.C.: Human Capital Institute, 2011).

2 Towers Watson, Building a More Engaged Health Care Workforce (Boston: Harvard School of Public Health Center for Continuing Professional Education, 2010),

3 Ibid.

4 Kenexa Research Institute, The Impact of Employee Engagement (Wayne, PA: Kenexa Research Institute, 2009).

5 James Harper and Frank Schmidt, “Business-Unit-Level Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, and Business Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Applied Psychology 87 (2002): 268-279.

6 Joe Lampinen, Career Confidence and Engineering Professionals (Troy, MI: Kelly Engineering Resources, 2015)

7 Martin Dewhurst, Matthew Guthridge, and Elizabeth Mohr, “Motivating People: Getting Beyond Money,” McKinsey Quarterly, November 2009,