Internal marketing – what it is and why it’s important

As a general rule, happy staff internally equals happy customers externally. That’s the purpose of an internal marketing function. You may know it as internal branding or even internal communications, but the practice is largely the same = keeping staff informed and up-to-date with what’s going on in your business to create powerful brand ambassadors that deliver better customer experiences.

Businesses that have dedicated internal marketing teams understand that their first (and arguably most important customer) is their staff. The more informed your staff are about your business – latest products and services, internal appointments and changes and ‘big picture’ strategic directions – the better they can service your customers.

Remember, your staff have the potential to be your greatest brand ambassadors, or your worst. The biggest factor driving which way your staff are going to go is how engaged they feel, which directly relates to the level of transparency you cultivate with your team. This covers everything from the big ticket items such as changes to products and services, new initiatives and customer news through to executive appointments and staff movements.

We’ve all been there standing around in the tea room with colleagues talking about the latest office news aka hearsay, gossip and often, unconfirmed information that is generally one or two degrees away from its original source via the rumour mill. Feeling out of the loop is the worst. When Sue from HR knows more about your customers or your team than you do, it’s understandable to be annoyed. Why weren’t you informed?

And there’s every chance that what you’re hearing is only part true or maybe completely false. But here’s the thing, no matter where the information has come from, when there is no other communication to either confirm or deny these reports, the information is as good as true.

With internal marketing, businesses have the opportunity to create a workplace culture where information is shared openly and regularly with staff. In this environment, businesses create powerful brand ambassadors that attract and retain customers because they are engaged, motivated and feel invested in their work.

Here is just a snapshot of some of the strategies you can use – hint: the more two-way communication channels you can use the better.

  • Team surveys – make this an annual event. Find out what matters to your staff most and create a strategy and channels around it.
  • Internal email newsletters and executive announcements– yes, they’ve been around for ages but as long as you get the frequency right, monthly or even quarterly, these are welcome (and necessary) team communications.
  • Use chat software such as Slack where staff can share news, ask questions and post customer updates at a team or project level.
  • Use short, sharp videos to celebrate successes and highlight new initiatives. You don’t need a big budget for internal videos. Use staff and keep them fun, light-hearted and relevant.
  • Digital signage in tea rooms and communal spaces – this is happening more and more. Put your latest news, inspirational quotes, financials or team member updates in a scrolling display using a content management system that allows for both scheduling and multiple user accounts. Check out US-based consultancy CrownTV that specialises in digital signage and offers a free guide to help you get started.

That’s really just a handful of ideas. Remember the mix of channels and strategies you use will depend on the needs of your business and the size of your team. Here’s a recent blog post from international software company Interact with some great internal case studies from Apple, BMW, Nike, TNT and Disney.

Another thing that’s important to remember with internal marketing is the range of other benefits it brings to your business. With greater staff engagement comes greater job satisfaction, team morale and ultimately, higher rates of employee retention. When staff stick around for longer, your recruitment costs go down, which frees up more of your budget for driving external market activities.

Need further proof of the benefits of an internal marketing strategy? Cuckoo is always up for a strategy session, preferably over coffee and all about where we can add value to your business. Contact us  for more on how we can boost your internal marketing efforts or create them from the ground up.