Friday, October 18, 2013

What Is "Internal Marketing?"

After a recent seminar that I presented, I passed my business cards around to the audience and asked if anyone had questions.  I was surprised when one of the first questions was not about the presentation, but about my card.

"Your cards lists, 'Sales Consulting, Customer Retention, and Employee Engagement" the gentleman asked.  "How does employee engagement fit in with all the sales & marketing stuff?"

"Great question," I responded.  I then challenged the audience to consider the "Identify Your Target Customer?" exercise we had worked on earlier in the presentation, and to substitute the word "customer" with the word "employee."  In many instances, employees are your core customers! 

A great example of this is illustrated in the book "Let My People Go Surfing," written by Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, Inc.  Yvon & the early employees of Patagonia swore to only make products that they would themselves use.  This mandate became a philosophy that shaped every facet of the business.  Patagonia's first principle of mail order is that "selling ourselves and our philosophy is equality important to selling product."  This commitment to authenticity greatly strengthens the Patagonia brand.

Earlier in the presentation, I made the point that branding is more about the public's perception of your company than the message your marketing department wants them to perceive.  A HUGE influencer on how the public perceives your company is what your employees are saying about working there.  Your employees are having hundreds, thousands, millions of conversations every day that affect the image of your company in the community, the industry, and online via social media.  Most importantly, the experience your customers have with your clients is a direct result of the conversations that they have with your employees.  Let that sink in.

What your employees say, and how they say it,
has a significant influence on your business!

If your company is not already addressing the concept of "internal marketing" you need to begin right away.  The process is quite simple, but it takes effort and commitment.  It begins with thinking about your employee much the same way you do about your customer.  Engage them to discover their needs.  Consider both the issues they have as a customer (i.e. their need/desire for your product or service), and as a representative of your customer.  This second part is critical.  Every person in your company, from accounting to janitorial staff, is there to fulfill some need of your customer, right?  Listen to your staff as you would listen to your customer.  Their insight on how best to fulfill your clients needs is invaluable.

Once you have won the support of your employees, communicating your brand message to the general public becomes exponentially easier.  Your brand message gains authenticity and velocity.  Of course, you can think of it from the other hand as well.  If you haven't been able to win the support of your employees (i.e. your most loyal customers), how do you expect to satisfy new clients?  Begin your "internal marketing" campaign TODAY!

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