When we think of marketing, advertising and branding — creating awareness in the minds of our target audience — come to mind first. There is another important audience that marketing often overlooks: The one inside your own offices.
The good news is, this audience is relatively easy to target and inexpensive to reach. So, why are they not part of your marketing communications plan?
Internal Marketing Versus Employee Engagement
Employee communications are often less formalized and less budgeted than marketing. HR generally sends out the majority of employee communications, with managers and corporate communications departments doing the rest, but rarely are these efforts coordinated and most could use some help from your marketing staff.
Researchers at Gallup found that only 15% of workers are actively engaged in their jobs and that the behaviors of highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.
Formalized or not, employee engagement and the employee experience is a team effort. Who’s the leader? Who’s the coordinator? And why should marketing get involved?
Why Employee Communications Need Marketing
How often do your leadership messages read like a press release? How many HR communications are so overloaded with content and links you can’t bother reading it now, if ever? How many corporate communications messages are worth sharing socially? Are employees finding out about company news and new products in the media first?
If any of these sound familiar, then your company needs a communications organization to coordinate these efforts.
HR, leaders and managers, and corporate comms would all benefit from adopting a marketing mindset. Why? Today’s marketing professionals are focused on using customer research, data and creativity to define the customer experience at multiple touchpoints in order to capture attention and build profitable relationships.
Now substitute “employee” for “customer” in that sentence. This is why internal marketing is important. Marketers simplify complex ideas into compelling emotional arguments. They know how to use words and images to attract attention and build campaigns to lead people through a series of steps.
Internal marketing is an opportunity. It is the heart of a coordinated communications organization. It is about applying the same level of data and creative thinking that you would for any promotional or advertising campaign for an external audience, where you promote an idea consistently and repetitively over time in ways to work down a logical funnel from attention to engagement.
When internal marketing is properly executed, your communications campaigns will improve the employee experience, boost company loyalty and increase employee engagement, which ultimately leads to a better-performing business.
The Power Of Employee Advocacy
Internal marketing can also turn your employees into active brand advocates. As customers increasingly tune to social media to understand why brands and businesses are doing and why, the voice of the employee has value.
According to Hinge Research: “A formal employee advocacy program helps shorten the sales cycle. Nearly 64% of advocates in a formal program credited employee advocacy with attracting and developing new business, and nearly 45% attribute new revenue streams to employee advocacy.”
Internal marketing can use stories to connect your workforce with your corporate vision and values and produce shareable content that harnesses the employees’ own networks and online channels, maximizing your company outreach.
Internal marketing is about building a consistent company story and aligning your HR, leadership and corporate communications teams around the same narrative. When employees buy in, customers buy more.
Building An Internal Marketing Practice
Whether you call it internal marketing, employee marketing or employee communications, businesses looking to the future will build a team focused on communications with employees, with a leader and a coordinated organization designed to knit together the HR, leadership, corporate news and marketing communications into a unified whole.
• Appoint champions and encourage collaboration: Identify a leader and influencer from each department and put them together on an employee communications board. Give this team the objective to establish your employee communications culture and coordinated communications efforts. This collaborate group could meet weekly and set a handful of quarterly objectives.
• Focus on your primary communications channels: You are aiming to engage an audience that is already overloaded with communications and trying to sort and prioritize their way through it. They likely don’t need anything new. They just need meetings and email to work better for them.
• Provide training, tools and budgets: Change and coordination take time. Teaching HR people how and why to write emotional hooks into their content and teaching PR people to write leadership messages in a more authentic human voice takes time. Each member of the employee communications group can learn from the others, contribute, share best practices and improve over time. They will need adequate support to move forward.
• Establish metrics and objectives: What you can’t measure, you can’t manage. This applies to your internal communications as much as external. Start by establishing baseline measurements of communications’ reach and frequency. Then advance into monitoring attention, engagement and participation outcomes for specific target audiences and communications programs.
When employees believe in the brand and are engaged in your company initiatives, they will generally be more motivated and loyal to the organization and more likely to spread your company message.