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Why does all of the marketing effort get spent on external customers?  If you truly have a good marketing team that knows how to deliver a message, why not have them spend some time pushing message into your company instead of just out?  Employee engagement, training, and development are critical to your ability to have a thriving organization.  Here are 3 reasons you should be marketing to your internal customers.

Your Employees Are Someone’s Customer

internal marketingEveryone is someone’s customer.  Customers like to be treated well and feel like they are important.  These statements would not generally be disputed by most people.  If, as business leaders, we tout the fact that our people are our greatest asset, why aren’t we treating those relationships as well as we would a customer.  Effectiveness of a certain type or style of communication does not change simply because there is an employer-employee relationship.

This doesn’t mean that you have to constantly lavish people with extravagant lunches or trips to Vegas.  That is not what I am saying at all.  At the same time, it is important to be realistic about what the relationship means if it is left unattended.  Personally, I try to live by the motto that you may be paying someone to show up, but you cannot buy engagement.  My experience tells me that you just cannot keep people happy over the long term by throwing money at them when they are unhappy.  This may have a temporary effect, but it is one that will definitely wear off.

Treating employees in the spirit of a customer relationship can be as easy as checking in with them on a one to one basis from time to time.  Give feedback on a consistent basis.  Tell people when they are doing a good job as well as counseling them they need a course correction.  Having a relationship that goes beyond the traditional annual review will lead to higher engagement which equals a happier team.  There is a reason that the Gallup Engagement Survey template has the question “My supervisor, or someone at work, cares about me as a person”.

Your Internal Marketing Message Supports Your External Message

Do you communicate your vision to the organization with clarity?  If asked, would your employees be able to tell you where the company is headed and what the plan to get there is?  I used to think that sending a detailed email to the management team meant that the message was received, understood, and relayed to the organization.  WRONG!

If the vision is that important to you, then you have to take responsibility for communicating it into the organization.  That means you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to make sure everyone on the team understands the goal.  The worst thing that can happen to you as a leader, particularly at the senior leadership level, is for someone to say to you “I do not understand why we are doing this”.

Communicate your internal messages with the same vigor and flare that you market to your external customers with.  When your internal customers clearly understand what is going on, your external customers will too.  Usually, it happens much faster too.  Put some time and effort into your internal marketing.  A great place to start is HR and benefits.  The next time you make a change there, ask yourself and your management team, “How are we going to get the word out?  How do we get people to see what it is we are trying to do here?”  Do not just throw a pamphlet at them and hope it works out.  It won’t.  News Flash: Nobody reads the pamphlet.

Training Needs to Stick

Do your team members get really excited when their calendar gets hit with a 4 hour training session?  How much productivity do you lose when you have to pull everyone out of their seats for several hours to administer training.  If it was just the training time that was lost, you could probably deal with it.  Unfortunately, like a major social event, there is a pre-party and an after-party.  These usually happen just outside the training room, or near a coffee pot / water cooler.  At least you can take comfort in the fact that everyone got a lot out of it and they retained everything that was said, right?  No way.  Not in this life, anyway. Maybe it’s time for a different approach.

Are you using video to market to your customers?  How long are those videos?  I’ll bet they are 3 to 5 minutes, no more than 10.  Why so short?  The answer is simple, because people can retain the bite size chunks better.  Why did you upload them as videos?  Again a simple answer, so customers can refer back to them, or rewind & fast-forward on demand to re-watch whatever they missed.  If this works so well for customers, why wouldn’t it work for your team members too?  Are they not people, susceptible to engaging with the same formats as customers, who by the way are also people?

Closing Thoughts

I don’t suggest running out and starting an internal marketing department.  It might make sense, but chances are it is a cost you cannot bear.  What you can do in lieu of this is make sure you are spending adequate time and resources delivering content into the company.  If your marketing tools and tactics are working for your external customers, chances are they can be recycled into something that works for your internal customers too.  Doing so might just improve your engagement, productivity, and ultimately your bottom line.