Internal Marketing Strategies That Work from the Inside Out

Do you know the value of a “superstar” employee? Per a Harvard Business School study, a worker with “desired values” and “consistent performance” contributes $5,300 in cost savings. Conversely, a toxic employee can cut into or cancel out those savings. Consider the impact of their actions. Almost half say they give less time and effort to the job, while 25 percent admit to taking frustrations out on customers. Their attitudes can also have a snowball effect on co-workers whose work may suffer as a consequence or who may need to spend time repairing the damage. In fact, the study says companies see $12,500 in cost savings when avoiding a toxic hire or letting go of this type of person quickly.

There are some employees who simply will not be a fit, regardless of company efforts. But, in some cases, the environment itself may be toxic. And that makes it important to not only foster a positive company culture, but ensure employees stay in alignment, which offers big benefits beyond cost savings. For example, one study shows employee satisfaction affects customer satisfaction – which impacts financial performance. And, when taking satisfied employees to the next level – making them brand ambassadors – companies see even greater results. It’s these workers who are the most committed and willing to sing the company’s praises to anyone who will listen. And effective internal marketing strategies help make this possible.

The Results of Effective Internal Marketing Strategies

A 2002 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article reflected the times: “Unfortunately, in most companies, internal marketing is done poorly, if at all.” If you were sitting in a cube back then, you can relate. The company’s vision and values were shared in the handbook at onboarding. Communication of changes within the company was typically restricted to those directly impacted. And, interaction with management took place only in conference rooms. Sadly, this level of engagement still rings true for more than half of Americans who are “not engaged” per a Gallup report, while in the U.K., only 11 percent say they are engaged at work. But, for most workers, it’s no longer acceptable. This makes employee engagement the most critical element of effective internal marketing strategies. And, the benefits, as also reported by Gallup, are great:

  • 41 percent reduction in absenteeism
  • 59 percent less turnover
  • 17 percent increase in productivity
  • 10 increase in customer ratings
  • 20 percent increase in sales
  • 21 percent greater profitability

Engagement can take many forms: surveys, meetings, or other initiatives. The trick, as one article shares, is to “see your employees, really see them and get what makes them tick – and then to help them make themselves tick.” In doing so, you may uncover different needs on which to base internal marketing strategies, which deliver their own benefits.

Internal marketing at work

Meeting Employees Needs Through Internal Marketing

One need may be education – helping employees better understand the company or keep them apprised of the latest initiatives. In the process, you help them take away a consistent message to share with others. When you consider the employee’s content will get 8x the engagement of the content shared by the brand, it’s important that message is in alignment. This ensures the transparency and authenticity that your customers demand. Further, in helping employees learn, you promote their development, which transforms their job into a career. It also helps them fill one of three “big buckets of motivators” – career – as identified by HBR.

Another ‘bucket’ is cause – our need for purpose in our jobs. Internal marketing can play a role in helping employees understand how they contribute to the greater good through their work as it relates to the company. Strategies can also surround an outside cause, further assisting employees to fulfill this need. These cause marketing efforts will also appeal to the increasing number of consumers who look to businesses for positive social impact.

The last bucket is a need for community at work. For example, millennials desire “a sense of belonging” and a “culture of connection” in the office. In fact, 70% of them are “happiest when they feel connected to their co-workers.” After all, the average person spends more than 90,000 hours of their life at work, further demonstrating that professional life most certainly is a personal matter. Internal marketing tactics can strengthen bonds and help employees be happier. This is strengthened with face-to-face interaction, which makes in-person events effective not only for community, but to fill all the aforementioned buckets.

A Forbes article reminds us that actions speak louder than words. So, rather than issue a company-wide email with key messages and motivational jargon, be active. Gather employees, whether a segment or all, and deliver those things most important to them. Chairman Emeritus and former CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz explains. “When people can see things, feel things, interact with things, that is when their minds actually begin to shift.”Sky Road Show - Internal marketing event

3 Companies with the Smartest Internal Marketing Strategies

The following companies host immersive events that help fulfill the needs of employees, thus strengthening their value proposition inside and outside of the building.

Starbucks

When Schultz returned to the helm of Starbucks in 2008, his goal was to save the company from the looming financial crisis. He knew his people would be the way out. So, he placed focus on store managers, empowering them and filling their career ‘bucket’. This meant gathering 10,000 managers “for an immersive, intensive multi-day experience around the purpose and values of the company.” It was a costly event but one that turned the company around. Now, more than 10 years later, the company announced a similar experience. No longer in survival mode, the event will provide education with hands-on demos. It will also highlight such causes as mental health and sustainability. And in the process, its managers and partners will build community, filling all the ‘buckets’.

Walmart

The big box retailer goes big for its annual Shareholders Celebration, which honors employees for their performance. Almost 14,000 associates and shareholders, including Sam’s Club employees, from the U.S. and beyond, were in attendance for the week and enjoyed themselves with superstar performances and games and activities. The latter included a petting zoo, a basketball tournament, a virtual reality experience, mini golf, and much more. Yet, they also received education with tours of the nearby Walmart headquarters and demos from product manufacturers, such as L’Oreal makeovers. And, they took part in feedback sessions organized based on their departments. It’s quite an experience – one that any associate strives to win and those in attendance can’t wait to go back and tell about. This also makes it a win for Walmart which seeks to build brand ambassadors along the way.

Sky 

The London-based satellite TV and broadband services provider is no stranger to in-person events for accomplishing consumer-related goals. So, it’s no surprise it would look to interactive experiences to engage its tens of thousands of employees. Its latest endeavor – the Sky Family & Friends Roadshow – served to not only educate those in almost a dozen U.K. locations of incentives for employees and their families. It also offered fun in the process through impersonations of The Secret Life of Pets 2 characters. This was at the encouragement of promo staff and for the chance to win prizes. Yet, the real prize was the tighter bonds within the Sky community.

At Elevate, we’re not only a team, we’re family. We continuously work to strengthen our bonds so that we understand how to best help you strengthen yours.

Author: Kelly Springs-Kelley

Kelly Springs-Kelley is the Marketing Director at Elevate Staffing. When she's not creating content or pondering the future of in-person consumer engagement, Kelly can be found hiking the mountains of Arizona with her 2 kids and 3 dogs.

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