Internal Marketing: what’s inside really counts

Over 20 years ago I went back to Business School to study for a Masters in Marketing.  For my dissertation I looked at the key components of internal marketing in charities – lots of research had been done on this in the commercial sector but not in non-profits. Back then a key differentiator of charities’ internal marketing (vs. for-profit companies) was its role to nurture employees behind brand purpose.  As a brand consultant today, I see there’s less of a distinction as purpose becomes a driver for more companies and more broadly for the millennial workforce.

In organisations where I’ve led marketing functions, I’ve always tried make sure that internal communication sits in the marketing team’s remit (working closely with HR so its aligned with engagement strategy).

  1. It helps connect the stories to the commercial strategy and the customer value proposition.
  2. It helps employees join the dots of what they do, with that value proposition.
  3. It encourages the marketing team to stop and tell people inside the company what they’re doing and why – which in turn helps marketing get real and make sure they can answer the ‘so what’.

You need to make it more fun and less formal than your corporate branding campaigns (and HR and Training are great at working with you to do this), but it’s important that your internal marketing connects with the external brand experience.  Successful brands are built inside an organisation – your staff create the ‘feeling’ of the brand for your customers more than any product or campaign.

Thinking about innovative and immersive ways to help your staff understand and engage with your value proposition becomes part of the job of marketing.  Investing in face-to-face events, experiences and feedback sessions is always worth it.

After all, it’s the same for brands as it is for people.  It’s what’s inside that really counts.