Internal marketing: why the poor relation is so important

The majority of the time, the focus is on gaining leads, converting enquiries to sales, but there is always a place for internal marketing too.

Internal marketing is marketing aimed at your staff. It can be as simple as a monthly newsletter recognising new starters, promotions, retirements, large order wins, upcoming company social gathering…

It could be a “Town Hall Meeting” once a quarter. Where everyone is collected together and a presentation is given on how the company is doing – the positives and the negatives, how everyone can help.

It could be a kick-off meeting at the start of the financial year where staff are collected together to reinforce the strategic aims and objectives for that year.

What is important is that it takes place and that it is given as much respect as external campaigns are. In some companies internal communications are owned by HR, in others by marketing. The same style guide some be used whether HR or Marketing so that the brand personality is strengthened with every communication.

There can also be internal campaigns. During the 2008 financial crisis and the year that followed, the author ran various internal campaigns to instil confidence and to boost morale. One “Road to Green” made sure that everyone from the receptionist to the MD knew that they could make a positive difference. That every cog in the machine was needed from the smallest to the largest. Another was more aimed at sales, but recognised the deals that were being won. Firstly, to boost sales egos and secondly, to demonstrate that there were still purchasers out there even if the market had dropped by 40%. It gave confidence. It changed the attitude to “I can” from “it’s impossible out there”.

In the better times internal marketing is also important to reinforce the company culture and to build links across disparate geographies. At one company the author used some co-op monies from an IT manufacturer to run a campaign through the quiet summer months. It started with breakfast with everyone (about 50 in the company), then when various targets were hit re gross profit, net profit, revenue, the whole company benefited from lunchtime pizza, or a bowling evening. It didn’t have to be expensive, it just needed to be inclusive.

A further activity was pure fun but with a very serious message. There had been severe floods in a country overseas that was part of the territory. So, armed with some sponges and mega water pistols, people paid to soak the Pricing Manager and others. Together with donations through a just giving site and sales of homemade cakes, bhajis, samosas and so on. The 60 people in EMEA HQ raised just over a £1000 for the flood charities. But whilst we were having fun and building relationships between departments, a message was received from someone in the country concerned, a remote employee, whose parents had lost their home in the floods (this fact wasn’t known when the activity was organised). The employee was really touched and felt part of the wider company family even though geographically he was remote – he felt as though he belonged. The costs to the company? None, apart from some time away from desks to enjoy the drenchings.

The sense of belonging that internal marketing can give is something that fosters loyalty, increases morale and motivation, AND all of those play into a better bottom-line. So, don’t forget to allocate some of your marketing funds to your internal marketing to reduce employee churn and to have a more cohesive, happier team.