Unlike external marketing that's focused on the rest of the world, internal marketing is geared specifically toward your own employees. Internal marketing promotes a company's mission, vision, goals, and culture through all employee ranks. When done correctly, internal marketing can create meaningful connections between your employees and your brand, improve engagement, and boost morale.
On top of fostering a happier workforce, having an internal marketing strategy is good for your bottom line. Effective internal marketing can increase business efforts and boost the overall success of your organization.
With the right team working for you on the inside, there's no limit to what can be done outside of your organization. Let's go over what internal marketing is, some examples, and how to create a strategy that benefits your business.
What is internal marketing?
Have you ever noticed how workers at some businesses really seem to 'live the brand?' That's because they believe in it. They're quick to share with potential employees why they should consider working at their company, and they help promote a strong company culture by participating in business events and initiatives. They're also eager to tell potential customers why they should go into business with their organization. These positive outcomes are often the result of an effective internal marketing strategy.
With internal marketing, you're effectively selling your brand to your own employees. When your employees fully support your company and stand by its brand, they can promote it to the masses with authentic enthusiasm.
Examples of internal marketing
Whether you're a large company or a small business, you can use internal marketing to promote your brand, encourage camaraderie, and boost employee morale.
Here are some common examples of internal marketing:
- Taking the time to educate your employees on the company's mission, vision, and values
- Sharing your company's long-term goals
- Informing employees about company updates, such as changes to corporate policies or benefits packages, and how these changes align with your mission and values
- Asking for employee feedback whenever possible to show that their opinions matter to company leaders
- Thanking employees for their hard work by offering discounts on services, gift cards, or complimentary tickets to events
- Using different marketing tools and software to encourage communication and collaboration between colleagues
- Delivering internal information through an employee newsletter
- Updating your team on company wins and losses to promote transparency
- Supporting initiatives that foster a healthy work-life balance
- Supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace
Remember that your internal customers should receive the same attention as your external customers. When you effectively sell to your employees, it's easier for them to sell to potential customers with genuine enthusiasm.
The benefits of internal marketing
The right internal marketing efforts improve the employee experience. On top of that, happy, engaged employees tend to be better for your brand. They improve company culture, reduce turnover, and boost productivity. An extensive study from the University of Oxford found that employees are 13% more productive when they're happy at work.
Additionally, internal marketing can help build a strong brand identity. When your own employees become spokespeople for your brand, people take notice, especially potential customers.
Social media plays a significant role in business, and it's an easy way to reach a broad audience. When you give your employees the opportunity to leverage their own social networks, they become your personal brand advocates. A study from the Hinge Research Institute found that a formal employee advocacy program shortens the sale cycle. The findings show that nearly 64% of people in a formal advocacy program credited employee advocacy with generating new business. Additionally, nearly 45% of them attribute new revenue streams to employee advocacy.
Internal marketing can also be used as a recruitment tool. It's much easier for potential hires to envision themselves working for a company that has an established culture and clear goals that they can buy into. All of these benefits culminate in improved customer satisfaction, higher revenue generation, and greater overall success for your business.
Steps for an effective internal marketing plan
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when thinking about where to start with an internal marketing plan. Let’s go over a few simple steps that can help guide you through the process.
1. Choose the best team for the job
The expression, "two heads are better than one," applies in this case. Effective internal marketing efforts shouldn't depend on one person. Having the right team in place is the foundation for any successful internal marketing campaign.
When assembling your internal marketing team, think of your employees who work well with others and have a deep understanding of your brand. Give them room to share their ideas and collaborate. Also, ensure your team is diverse and reflects the company's values. Doing so will help ensure everyone's input is heard, respected, and considered when making decisions.
2. Take a look at your current marketing strategy
Think about what you've already done and where you want to improve. Consider your audience, the platform, and the campaign itself. Is there data that shows what's been successful? Can any previous approaches be adjusted to lead to more effective outcomes? If you don't find something worth running with there, go back to the drawing board and let your creative ideas flow. It could also be helpful to look at another company's internal marketing program for inspiration.
3. Create your marketing materials and encourage employee involvement
Once you nail down your internal marketing goals, create or gather the marketing materials you need to achieve them. Make sure your employees are involved in the process and welcome their input. Knowing their thoughts, including negative feedback, ahead of time could lead to a better launch.
4. Launch the program and make adjustments regularly
Since employees are your target audience, you'll want to check in with them regularly for their honest feedback. Collecting feedback in itself boosts employee engagement. It also gives you the opportunity to make things better. Adjusting your internal marketing strategy will help it evolve so it remains successful.
Including employee benefits in your internal marketing plan
As mentioned above, much of internal marketing is focused on keeping your employees happy so they stick around and encourage others to join in. Offering the right benefits package is a common way to retain and recruit top talent. Research from our 2022 Employee Benefits survey found 82% of employees say that the benefits package an employer offers is an important factor in whether or not applicants accept a job.
If you are in search of more flexibility than traditional benefits can offer, you can provide an individual coverage HRA (ICHRA) or a qualified small employer HRA (QSEHRA) to reimburse employees for their healthcare expenses. You can also offer them stipends for things like gym memberships, cell phone use, or internet access costs. Whichever option you choose, your workers will take notice of what perks are in place to promote a healthy work-life balance and positive workplace culture.
While a strong external marketing effort is essential to any organization's success, don't make it your only focus. Your employees’ voices have value, and they can work in your favor. When employees are familiar with the company's mission and values, they are more likely to represent the brand positively in their interactions with customers.
Starting with your own employees means making sure they believe in your brand before they're tasked with selling it to other people. By investing in your own team first, you invest in the overall success of your business.