Consider all the time, money and energy that go into your company’s marketing strategy and campaigns—all in an effort to create brand recognition, build loyalty and sell more products and services. The customers always come first, except when they don’t.
Before any customer has any kind of experience with your company, there are employees who make that interaction possible and they fill every imaginable role, both client and non-client facing, from the production line and sales or service to administrative roles. These are the people behind every experience—without their buy-in and loyalty, your external marketing can never deliver its full potential.
If that sounds over the top, remember the expectations your marketing creates in customers’ minds. One run-in with an employee who doesn’t live up to those expectations can cheapen a brand or marketing campaign because they’ll “tell two people and they’ll tell two people and so on.” Only now it’s hundreds or thousands thanks to social media.
How do you get employees to hop on your brand bus?
For the most part, you use the same marketing playbook that you do for customers. Since so many small businesses’ internal communications consist of dry, straightforward emails or manuals about benefits or policy, a company that goes the extra step to enhance their internal marketing can see tremendous differences in employee satisfaction and performance—two things critical to a successful business.
Where to start…
Good marketing is great storytelling. Who’s your corporate storyteller? Is it Marge in human resources? Probably not. She’s good at sharing benefit information, but not so good at weaving in an emotional angle, much less including or connecting dots between the company’s story and the who, what, when, where, why and how of your internal marketing communications.
Give Marge some help in the form of your marketing team. Between the two, Marge can provide the meat of the message and marketing can give it heart so that employees will feel a connection to it.
Read internal communications from a marketing perspective.
Let’s pick on press releases, since they are the driest form of marketing and follow a journalism formula. In other words, they state and stick to the facts—no creative graphic design, no copy to compel emotion.
Unless you’re sharing a public-facing press release with your employees, your internal communications should not read like a release. Or, worse, nor should they find out about company news in the media first.
Instead, have your marketing team work with those who usually send out company communications. Together, they can deliver the important message in a way and format that will not only grab attention, but also give your employees a reason to care. In other words, every internal communication is an opportunity to market internally, sharing company culture and support company values. Otherwise, your business runs the risk of creating a gap between what you are selling and promoting to customers versus what they are receiving from your employees.
Your marketing experts are your go-to people for translating a dry message into one that can be internalized. They do it every day. For example, if your company manufactures machine components, one might struggle to create a compelling message about a steel part. However, a marketing expert turns that steel part into a way to keep your customers’ production line moving, and that matters to everyone from those counting on their equipment running to make quotas to those who need the product the equipment produces.
Is it a far leap to expand that story to internal communications about changing hours or health insurance companies? No, it’s not. For example:
“Our clients depend on your strength and good health to help them keep their production lines moving. You’re the backbone of our company and the reason we can deliver on our promises. That’s why we’re proud to announce we’re partnering with a wellness program…”
“We’ve added ABC Wellness to our benefits. Please see their website for more information or Marge in HR.”
Don’t call it employee communications. Call it internal marketing.
Internal marketing, just like external marketing, is about building a consistent company story and aligning your HR, leadership and corporate communications teams with the same narrative. That way, every employee is marketing your brand, regardless of their role. And, when employees are brand advocates, they can turn customers into advocates, too.