4 ways to hone and improve your internal marketing and communications
By now, we hope anyone reading this blog understands the importance of effective marketing and communications to your business (if not, give us a call, ASAP!). However, there’s still one key area companies sometimes overlook when it comes to creating a marketing strategy: internal communications. You might not be selling your products and services to your employees, but it’s possible, maybe even likely, that they are selling those products and services to your audience. Shouldn’t they be on the front lines of your marketing efforts?
Here are a few ways to rethink your internal marketing for clearer, more effective and motivating communications.
Create “Brandstanders,” Not Grandstanders
We all know people who love to grandstand. They talk a good game, but ultimately, they’re a lot of shine and very little substance. When your employees talk about your brand, what are they actually saying? To be certain they’re communicating the message you want, you need to create “brandstanders” – folks that will stand by your brand, believe in it wholeheartedly, and work to convey the brand’s values, core beliefs and mission. As an example, Coca Cola offers a “Coca Cola Ambassadors” program for employees, which is essentially a branding boot camp. This program ensures that anyone representing the brand is well-versed in what they stand for and how they operate.
How to implement: Take a look at your employee on-boarding and training procedures. Are they primarily focused on PTO policies and how to operate the break room vending machines? If so, start brainstorming ways to make new employees feel as though they’ve found a home, not just a job.
Listen First, Talk Later
When we talk about communications, we often forget that listening is one of the largest components. We spend tons of time and money on research that tells us what our customers and clients are thinking… but what about our employees? Have you taken the time to ask your employees what they think about your brand, and what they need to be better ambassadors?
How to implement: Schedule some time to hear out your employees. Whether it’s a survey (don’t forget the incentives), or a session of “Ask the CEO,” be sure to prioritize listening to your employees’ perspective. Or better yet, have a 3rd party solicit feedback from your staff! Then you can craft better, more relevant communications.
Keep Your Cool
Playing hard to get may not always work when it comes to romance, but it can be an effective marketing tactic to keep your audience wanting more. Overwhelming your employees with emails, meetings, lunches, retreats and more can have a negative impact, and lead to them becoming burned out on your brand.
How to implement: Craft a communications schedule that is carefully plotted and optimized with the right messages at the right times. Limit internal campaigns, but do be prepared to strike a balance between holding back, and hitting the mark on necessary frequency for retention of your message.
Narrow Your Focus
When the entire company gets spammed with emails day in and day out, the messages become little more than white noise. And in fact, a majority of the time, there are very few messages that need to be communicated to every single person on your staff.
How to implement: Break communications down by audience, and send only to the relevant department. Also, make sure any marketing is coming from the right person. The CEO likely isn’t the person to be communicating changes in HR policy, and similarly, the head of the maintenance department shouldn’t be sending messages about major organizational restructuring.
Be an Open Book
It might feel like playing your cards close to the vest is taking the easy road when it comes to major communications, but keeping big news under wraps can lead to big confusion and even resentment from employees who feel they were intentionally kept in the dark.
How to implement: If big changes are on the way for your business, resist the urge to keep it hush-hush. If you’re planning a merger, expansion or other major shift, work on a strategy that will help team members feel included in the transition. As a bonus, some of your staff might have real, actionable insights on dealing with the changes… while others seize on new opportunities to advance and grow.
At Willow, we create a theme every year to guide our communications and involve our staff. You can see photos from our recent Vision meetings and activations throughout this post. Throughout the year, we revisit that theme with a variety of messages that are consistent and attention-grabbing. If you haven’t had a chance to build an internal marketing strategy, we’re here to help! It can seem overwhelming, especially when so much of your energy is focused on marketing to your external audience. At Willow, we’re prepared to sit down with you as you work out your 2019 vision meetings. We can help you craft a strategy that is easy to implement, effective, and impactful – to your employees, and to your brand. Give us a call or send us a note to find out how we can help!