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Why Internal Marketing Is Important And How To Get Started

Steve Surdez

Here at Illumine8 Marketing & PR we’ve written scores of blogs and thousands of words about the importance of accurate, consistent branding, and the work that’s required to keep your brand top-of-mind among your most important audiences. What we haven’t touched on is something that many companies forget: Making your brand resonate internally so that it sticks to your staff no matter where they are or who they’re engaging.

If your employees are not “bought in”, it’s very likely your outward facing branding efforts are falling short. Internal and external buy in go hand-in-hand. If your organization is suffering from an internal brand identity crisis, it’s time to implement some internal marketing and net promoter score strategies internally to resolve it.

So, What Is Internal Marketing?

Well, it’s pretty simple: Instead of marketing out to your customers, you turn marketing efforts inward toward your staff in an attempt to build or improve brand awareness and loyalty.

In a 2002 Harvard Business Review article--yes, 2002, but it still resonates today--author Colin Mitchell summarizes the importance of “Selling the Brand Inside”: “Why is internal marketing so important? First, because it’s the best way to help employees make a powerful emotional connection to the products and services you sell. Without that connection, employees are likely to undermine the expectations set by your advertising... We’ve found that when people care about and believe in the brand, they’re motivated to work harder and their loyalty to the company increases. Employees are unified and inspired by a common sense of purpose and identity.”

Sounds simple, right? In concept, certainly; in practice, not so much. Essentially, internal marketing works to improve brand awareness and what amounts to an internal Net Promoter Score, or NPS, which we’ve written about frequently in our blog.

What Can We Do To Improve Internal Marketing And NPS?

The first step is becoming aware that there’s an internal branding issue. The second step is assembling a team of brand evangelists from your staff. Creating a core internal marketing/NPS working group is absolutely critical to spreading your brand gospel and keeping efforts coordinated and on track.

Divide important tasks among your internal marketing/branding work group. Set regular check-in meetings--that means both short, frequent huddles and longer, more deep dive check ins. Make it clear that improving internal NPS and brand engagement is not an “option” (i.e. it gets done when they have time), but a priority that should be treated as if it were customer or client work.

Once you have a strong, dedicated working group, you can begin.

Conduct An External And Internal Brand Audit

Using your working group, assess the current state of your branding efforts. Assign segments of your working group to external and internal assessments.

If you have already assessed your external branding via customer surveys, focus groups, customer experience polls and the like, it’s okay to turn your working group inward to assess internal branding strengths and weaknesses. If not, you have to assess the state of external and internal branding.

Why?

Because customer-focused branding and employee centered brand engagement must align. You cannot understand internal NPS and branding without comprehending external efforts.

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The branding audit needs to aggregate strengths and weaknesses, while also identifying misalignment and gaps between the two. Then and only then can you execute a proper internal marketing strategy that will be effective.

  • Customer surveys in various forms are a great way to measure how attached they are to your brand.
  • Gathering data on the customer experience, net promoter scores using a variety of well-thought-out key performance indicators (KPIs) is a great way to audit your branding.
  • Similarly, tracking eNPS (or employee net promoter scores) via staff surveys is a great way to gauge internal brand engagement.

Document And Communicate

A segment of your internal marketing/branding working group needs to focus on documenting your findings. If the data is hoarded and the insights gathered are kept locked up, or worse, they only get shared sporadically and to select staff members, your efforts will not succeed.

Once you have a strategic direction, share it and execute it in a systematic way, as if you were launching a customer-facing marketing campaign (which you really are if you think about it.)

Create materials like handbooks and in-office displays and signage that reinforce internal branding efforts. Make internal branding part of the company culture and weave it into every aspect of daily life in the office.

By living the brand, your staff will be better able to naturally deliver the brand to your audiences. By believing in the brand, your staff members will actually be happier and more productive. What’s more, documenting and communicating your company’s well-organized, aligned, and clear identity will help to not only retain employees but also recruit them.

Measure. Measure. Measure.

It’s important to remember this is not a one time deal. Your brand is a complex, evolving ecosystem that can continue to thrive or deteriorate and diminish.

You must always have the means to gauge customer perceptions of your brand (NPS) and staff engagement with your brand (eNPS). The customer experience and the staff experience have to be carefully monitored at consistent intervals to ensure the brand’s health.

Internal marketing/branding initiatives require long-term commitment and constant vigilance. Without this, you’ll understand where your brand stands only in a very limited window of time.

As Mitchell states in his Harvard Business Review story, “By incorporating the brand vision into these employee touchpoints, companies, over time inculcate the vision into the employee experience to the extent that on-brand behavior becomes instinctive...It is a truth of business that if employees do not care about their company, they will in the end contribute to its demise. And it’s up to you to give them a reason to care.”

At Illumine8 Marketing & PR we’ve worked with scores of companies to improve their external and internal branding processes. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help you inspire stronger brand engagement among all of your stakeholders, clients, and staff alike.

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