Marketing is a discipline that is in a constant state of flux. Whether it’s due to new platforms or software arriving that marketing teams need to adopt, or whether it’s a new way of thinking, marketers are always adapting.
Traditional marketing used to mean looking to connect with consumers, turning casual users into loyal brand adopters, or going out and finding new people in need of your company’s product or services. However, in today’s world of decreasing trust between brands and consumers, internal marketing has become just as important as the external marketing we’ve been accustomed to. Consumer trust is at an all-time low, people are tuning out ads, and have become savvy to even the most cleverly veiled company PR messaging. More than eight-in-10 global respondents (83%) say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. Your branded content is inherently more trustworthy when it is shared by an employee to their personal networks.
What is internal marketing?
Internal marketing is a cost-effective and crucial fundamental of empowering employees to be the brand’s biggest cheerleaders. This is also known as employee advocacy. It is putting importance on a “new” market: the people that work within your company. It’s marketing to your colleagues, your peers, and your company leaders. Many companies are currently overlooking this important population, thereby missing out on the opportunity to create even more brand awareness that is critical to the growth and success of your brand.
How will this help grow the brand?
As a marketer, I’ve often been in meetings with other members of the marketing team, members of the sales team, and shareholders or investors. When it has come time for me to speak, I have recapped recent activity and upcoming promotions. The importance of my portion has always been about informing key people of how my department is supporting sales initiatives and contributing to the overarching strategy and goals of the business.
What I had NOT been doing, however, was working to get every member of the company on “my” marketing team. Arming them with the same ideas, excitement and vision that I work to bring to consumers.
Members of a brand’s marketing team work day in and day out to find ways to connect with consumers. Without that connection, your brand will never stand out in people’s minds when they are ready to make a purchasing decision.
However, the team may not have always noticed that not every employee at a company feels that same emotional connection to the job they spend most of their lives at! This doesn’t mean that employees are walking in every day hating their jobs, it may simply be that no one has taken the time to motivate them, inspire them with a sense of purpose or give them enough information to gain their loyalty.
When people love what they do, it shows outwardly. They are happier when speaking to consumers or vendors on the phone or in person, and they are more likely to take it upon themselves to post on their own social media pages promoting the company. Employees have 10 times more followers than their corporate social media accounts. As organic reach on social media decreases, marketers must find additional tactics to reach their target audiences. Employees not only have a larger number of followers, but their posts are seen by a higher percentage of their audience and are inherently more trustworthy in your consumers’ eyes. The more people that see your content, the more likes, comments, clicks, and website visits your brand will get when posted by an employee, rather than simply on the brand’s own social media accounts.
How can a company get employees more involved?
There is a myriad of ways to get employees to care more about the company they work for and become brand advocates. Here are a few suggestions if you’re just getting started:
1. Ensure your internal and external messaging is consistent
I’m sure we can all think of an example from one or more jobs we’ve had where the public is told one thing, while employees know “the real story.” Brands should strive to eliminate this confusing messaging as much as possible. Employees and the public need to hear the same messages and believe the same brand positioning. By gaining buy-in from employees on what information the company is releasing to the public, they are then better able to take the information and put it into their own words when speaking to consumers. This helps build credibility within your organization, employees feel better about what they are doing and who they are working for. That transparency becomes more apparent to your target audience. The more you can work with your internal staff to understand the company goals and unique value propositions, the more passionate they will become, and the more they will want to outwardly spread that passion.
2. Empower your employees
Think of what motivates you personally, as an employee. I’m willing to bet that feeling appreciated is close to the top of the list. Acknowledgment and appreciation may seem like small easy gestures, but they can go a long way when looking to turn employees into brand advocates. Customers feed off your employees – when your staff is happy and fulfilled at work, they then transfer those feelings into everyone they come into contact with. If your staff feels like they are making a difference in building the brand, the more likely they are to want to go above and beyond actually make that difference! When you hire a new team member, trust that they won’t need micromanaging or hand holding to successfully do what you have hired them to do.
3. Get to know your staff
What interests them? What do they like to do outside of work? What are some of their goals and values? What are their concerns? The more you take an active interest in your employees, the more interested in the company they become. Ensure that you are showing your employees how important they truly are (because they are!) to the success of the brand, the more they will want to advocate for the brand that they feel “gets them.” Regularly ask people what they need, or what questions they may have. Not everyone is born with an innate knowledge of the best way to speak on behalf of brands – perhaps they could use additional training that will help them become more confident in speaking with consumers, or perhaps they could benefit from spending more time with you, learning how you begin relationships with potential buyers.
4. Encourage social media sharing
Social media is the fastest way to reach your consumers, we know that. We also know that consumers are becoming more wary of branded messaging on social media. The extent to which your brand messages are amplified when employees are encouraged to post on social media is exponentially increased when your employees are given reasons to share.
Your employees are the face of your company, and many times the first to come to mind when people think of your brand. If you are not spending as much time motivating them and marketing to them as you are to the public, you are missing out on a huge opportunity!
We’d love to hear some of the tactics that have worked for YOU in getting employees to advocate on behalf your brand. Share them with me in the comments, or get in touch with me on Twitter, I’d love to learn from you!