The scoop on internal marketing
By Carolyn McMurray, SOCIATE’S Junior Copywriter & Blogstar
“I really want my team to feel disconnected, and I don’t mind if they leave.”
Said no agency ever, but actions speak louder than words. Sure, you hold team meetings. You send out weekly to-dos, proposals, and have a pretty neat onboarding system in place. The only catch? It’s super boring. It’s just a bunch of emails packed together and fired out to the entire team. No individual recognition, no inspiration, just plain, cold words.
The solution? Internal marketing – but what does this elusive term really mean? Why are so many agencies not hitting the mark, and what can you do to supercharge your strategy?
What internal marketing isn’t
You’d be forgiven for thinking that internal marketing was your agency’s own branding. Stuff like promotional newsletters, advertisements, and internal blog posts are a form of marketing, but they’re not internal.
Internal marketing is how you position yourself to your employees. It’s all about promoting your values and vision in a bid to retain your staff and keep people inspired. Think about it. We spend so much time on promotional marketing and client-side marketing because we want to retain business. We want extra revenue. We want more customers. What about the backbone of your agency? What about your team? They’re the cogs that keep the whole engine running, so you should try to implement marketing that speaks to them and your brand ethos.
Why is it important?
“The same marketing tools used to attract customers can also serve to attract and retain the best employees, who can be thought of as internal customers.” – Professor Leonard Berry
Aside from giving you extra brownie points, internal marketing is one of the ways you’ll retain your talent base. It’s a strategy that keeps your team up-to-date with important company news, sharing your vision and values. The cool thing about internal marketing? It gets your entire team fully invested and involved with the company – a surefire way of increasing their loyalty and commitment to your business. After all, if your employees are disconnected, they’re not going to ‘sell’ all that well to clients. It will show in their work and it will bring others down.
Internal marketing works to keep your team connected, making them feel like they’re part of something more than a machine. It’s about reminding them of how great your culture is, why they should be interested in company initiatives, and why they should try to reach agency targets.
In a nutshell, internal marketing:
– Keeps your team enthusiastic and inspired
– Feeds into other areas of your agency (when your team is feeling more connected, inspired, and purposeful, that energy is going to spill over into interactions they have with customers. They’ll also ‘sell’ really well).
– Gets your team to genuinely believe and support company initiatives and targets
– Gives your agency better brand credibility
– Gets everyone on the same page and aligns employees with the same mission and purpose
– Naturally attracts great talent (if your internal marketing strategy is the bomb, you’ll find it easier to reel in new employees).
– Keeps your team, literally (internal marketing seeks to give your employees a sense of purpose and value within your organisation. If they feel that, they’re less likely to go off in search of other jobs).
Serve up a killer internal marketing strategy with these top tips
Whether you operate hybrid or fully remote, there are a few ways you can supercharge your internal marketing strategy to keep employees inspired and aligned to your goals.
1. Use communication channels
Keep your team connected during the workday with channels like Skype, Zoom, and Slack. Don’t just rely on email to get information out – consider using other instant-message platforms (these are particularly useful if you’re sending out time-sensitive work). If you work in-office, make sure you get collaborative or have a few hours allocated for group brainstorming sessions. Things can easily get lost in translation and silos can crop up whenever departments are too separated, so make sure to build in some group work too.
2. Use interactive materials and gamification
When spreading information about your company (what it’s about, what your values/ethos are, what goals you have) try to do it in a more interactive way. Instead of sending out a weekly round-up or info-post via email, switch it up. Consider starting up a cool new company initiative like an internal newsletter or newspaper, and try using gamification elements in the materials that you send around. Gamification = gaming elements, so this could be anything from incorporating gifs and emojis into internal marketing comms to coming up with a fun comms game.
3. Pair onboarding with some sweet company SWAG
If COVID has taught us anything, it’s the importance of a solid onboarding program. It’s easy to walk someone through their new role and responsibilities in person, but online? That’s a whole lot trickier. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to snazz up your onboarding process, whether you work remotely or not. Make sure to give each new employee a buddy or senior to work alongside for the first 90 days of their probation – this way, they can see the culture and energy of the company reflected in a real person. It will also give them a chance to forge new connections and relationships, giving them the chance to ask questions and learn more about the company. If your team does work remotely, consider gifting them with a welcome package and perhaps even a few essentials. This could be anything from headphones to a new laptop. The point is, these gifts aren’t just monetary. They show potential employees that you value and care about them. To really WOW them, try creating your own company SWAG and give it to new employees as part of a welcome to your agency.
SWAG is essentially your brand’s merchandise; the key feature of SWAG is that reflects your company logo and ‘feel.’ A lot of businesses give SWAG products to customers and employees to show them that they’re valued, but it’s also a sly way of bagging yourself a bit of free marketing. When creating a SWAG bundle for new employees, you can include anything from T-shirts, water bottles, and pens to notebooks, just make sure it has your branding clear and visible.
4. Consider employee reward programs
Another easy way to show employees that they’re valued (and that their hard work is being noticed) is through employee rewards programs. This could be anything from an ‘employee of the month award’ to a peer reward system (employees come together and vote for an inspiring team member each month). A simple gift and a handwritten note are also great ways to reward employees and show their gratitude for their services.
5. Encourage social connection
What would a team be without any social connection and integration? It wouldn’t. It would just be a bunch of people without common alignment or purpose. Encourage and foster social connection with regular get-togethers and internal events, even if that means running a few Zoom sessions online. And remember, this is social connection separated from work. You need to have both, but it’s important to create a space where your employees can develop relationships and trust with their team outside of a business conversation.
And if you’re too busy with clients, #teamSOCIATE will take the reigns for you. We’ll work with you to figure out your brand TOV, values, and ethos, getting to the core of what you’re all about. We’ll then work to develop an on-brand and strategic internal marketing strategy that hits all the sweet spots. Happy employees and even happier customers! Hit us up at [email protected] to find out more.