To truly create something successful, organisations need to internally sell their vision, values, and uniqueness – their brand.
Not giving enough weight and value to internal communications is a mistake many organisations make. Often, the internal messages are left up to the HR department who send out an all staff newsletter, the occasional memo and inform staff of large company events such as the Christmas party. They don’t concentrate on selling the brand and vision internally.
This is forgivable; the HR department generally does not consist of marketing experts. When marketing does get involved, it is to tell staff about a new external campaign coming up. I say ‘tell’ intentionally, as rarely does staff experience a new campaign as a consumer would. This is forgivable, but it is also a missed opportunity.
By taking the time to sell the brand and vision internally, there is an opportunity to create an empowered workplace. To create an environment where employees believe in the integrity of your brand.
Not only do employees who identify, respect and believe in their organisation work harder, sell better and refer more business, they feel good about coming to work. They will also stay loyal during hard times, disruption and change.
As a step to begin the internal sell, and then to maintain the consistency of it, the external marketing activities should synchronise seamlessly with the internal campaign. Use language that can speak to both audiences. Tell stories that include your staff.
The best example that comes to mind to explain this concept is a campaign run by Nike about their waffle sole. This campaign centres on Bill Bowerman a member of Nike’s innovation team in the 1950’s. Bowerman famously (according to Nike’s marketing team) used his family’s waffle-iron to invent the cushion rubber inside the shoes. This story and imagery appeal to the external audience; it is an interesting and an entertaining yarn. It also speaks to the internal audience, as it is promoting one of their own.
Further to integrating external and internal marketing, leadership should regularly engage with employees in a deliberate and meaningful way. This means outside of the everyday opportunities, such as the morning meeting and any face-to-face contact management has. These touch points can be in the form of a direct email or an all staff address by a respected senior figure. How often they occur does depend on the size of an organisation, but to keep the ‘special’ feeling, it is important that they are not overused.
For example, a perfect opportunity to sell your brand internally is at your quarterly results presentation. Whether the results are good or bad, a few minutes should be dedicated to the brand vision and values. Ensure that the presentation looks the way it to an external audience; think company banner and wearing a suit (plus tie if you are a man, your ‘good heels’ if you are women). Paying attention to the details and presenting in a formal capacity adds weight to the meaning of the event; your employees are worth dressing up for.
Not only do employees want to hear from leadership, but they also want to engage. They want to have dialogue and know that their thoughts, opinions and work are being seen and appreciated by the people at the top. For this reason (using the results presentation by way of example), give your employees the opportunity to ask questions and propose topics for discussion leading up to the event. This will show that you are aware of the issues and successes of your organisation and also that you value input.
These are just a couple of suggestions to begin the ‘internal sell’. To really be effective, a formalised internal communications plan should be developed.
Five tips for internal selling:
1. Internal and external communications should be synchronised and use common themes and language.
2. Include examples of internal success in your external communications where relevant.
3. Choose the right time to sell. Quarterly results, a rebrand or new senior management. Any big announcement should include a few minutes dedicated to selling the core brand messages.
4. Create an environment of engagement. Give your employees the opportunity to ask questions and contribute. Always respond in a meaningful way.
5. Include your brand messaging in all employee touch-points as you would externally. Present in a way that you would to an external audience.
By Amanda Lacey