Companies tend to relegate marketing to the realm of customers, focusing on how they can influence more people to buy what they are selling. But another market that’s just as important is your own employees – the people who present the brand to customers. Don’t ignore this critical constituency.
Applying some of the principles of consumer advertising to internal marketing and communications can guide your employees to a better understanding of your brand vision. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you are sending the right messages to your team:
Review your communication practices. If it’s done at all, internal communications are often poorly executed. Too often, information is passed out to employees in the form of memos or newsletters, with the intent of telling people what the company is doing, not to get their buy-in on business initiatives. If, for example, you intend to increase sales by 10 percent by the end of the year, you should keep track of where your team is in terms of meeting this goal. Making changes to the frequency and the ways you communicate with employees are the first steps in selling your brand internally.
Do your homework. Market research is a must for any consumer marketing campaign, but companies don’t typically conduct meaningful research when their employees are the audience. You can use many of the same tools for your internal marketing that you use for consumers and clients: focus groups, in-depth interviews and surveys. Analyze your findings to create an overview of your culture that shows how information flows through the organization and how people feel about it. Once you know what’s on their minds, you can tailor your internal campaign to hit the right targets.
Align internal and external communications. Your people need to hear the same messages that you send out to the marketplace. Matching external and internal messages strengthens both sides and helps achieve your company’s goals. Internal communications become stronger because they are based on the same ideas that inform your marketing efforts. Consumer marketing is strengthened because core messages are based on employee behavior and attitudes, as well as on your company’s capabilities.
Make brand messages part of the day-to-day work experience. Once you are confident that you have your internal and external marketing aligned, you can develop or refine materials that ring true to your employees and reinforce what people care about and what makes them want to come to work every day – otherwise they can become cynical about messages from management and easily dismiss them.
Solicit feedback and participation. Your company intranet or internal social media channels can be effective facilitators of communication, especially if your organization is large and geographically diverse or if many people are now working remotely. When you don’t use your own internal channels for candid dialogue, they often seek out external sites to voice their complaints.
It’s very easy to relegate internal communications to the back burner in order to focus on tending to the bottom line, but it can be self-defeating to overlook this important need. If employees don’t care about their company, they will not be genuinely engaged in securing its future. It’s up to you to give them a reason to care.