Using Internal Marketing to Increase Brand Power
While companies spend hefty sums marketing to customers, hardly any designate a budget for marketing to their staff. Aside from the occasional recruitment ad, employee communications are nil. This is potentially catastrophic.
You tell customers what makes you great, but does the staff know?
The marketing department's message is critical to the entire company. If you tell your customers what makes you great, but employees don't know (and believe) that message, chances for greatness are diminished. Without adequate communication, the staff is in the dark about the promises made to customers. How, then, can they be expected to deliver on them? Unfortunately, they can't. And when employees don't deliver as promised, trust is broken. Without trust, brand erosion, not brand development occurs.
To have a strong, unbeatable brand, you need employees who understand it and are motivated to live it daily. To develop that workforce, you'll need an employee communication program.
What it takes to launch and deploy a successful employee program to enhance brand delivery:
A clearly articulated brand statement.
Just as you would have a single-minded message for marketing to consumers, you must have a well-defined message for employees. If employees only received and remembered one message from your company, there's no more valuable one than what the brand stands for. We'll assume here that you have a defined, articulated brand. And I don't mean a logo or graphic standards. I mean a specific experience that you want everyone who deals with you to remember. Think of Disney, Ritz Carlton, or Starbucks. They all deliver a tangible, definable experience. What's yours? What will always happen? What will never happen? What's the "aftertaste" you want everyone to have. Tell your staff the answers to those questions and you'll be headed in the right direction.
Internal employee communications every bit as good as outside marketing efforts.
People today are bombarded with boring junk, and your staff is no exception. To communicate effectively with them, forget routine newsletters and easy-to ignore announcements, and think about the same tactics that attract consumers' attention. Harvard Business School recently noted that internal marketing was the best way to help employees make an emotional connection to the services provided. Think of employees as the market and the brand as the message. Then communicate that message in an engaging, motivating, inspiring way. It's not easy, but it's definitely possible.
HR must be on the team.
If every employee is a brand messenger, the type of employee that is hired is critical. Imagine if Disney hired low-energy types. Or if Ritz Carlton hired unfriendly staffers. The experience promised would surely not be delivered. Your company is no different. What type of experience do people expect? What type of people does it take to deliver it? Is HR recruiting and are you hiring those types? HR must be sure the employee orientation includes a brand message that let's people know the kind of company they're joining and how they fit into its overall goals.
Top management must be role-models.
Employees take their cues from the top. Policies and procedures certainly let people know what kind of company they're part of, but nothing sends a stronger message than the actions of management. Immediate superiors have great influence on how employees perceive what's okay and what's not okay. There should be clearly communicated standards about management's role in setting the stage for brand delivery at the employee level.
Before you sell the brand to customers, sell it to employees.
Marketing to potential clients sets the stage for their experience. So it's obvious that before you make that brand promise, you want to have the infrastructure in place to deliver on it. Employee communications are usually an afterthought, if a thought at all, when in fact they should come first.
Employees are key to brand success.
Motivating employees to become brand evangelists should be a goal just as high on the list as motivating people to choose your product or service. And the benefits go beyond maximizing the brand in the marketplace: when employees care about and believe in the brand, they are motivated to work harder and their loyalty to the company increases.
According to the American Management Association, the most urgent branding issue facing senior executives today is how to operationalize the brand throughout an organization. The first step is commitment to a marketing program that brings the message to employees in an inspirational way.