Marketing On The Inside

Most companies spend a lot of time and money trying to market and communicate effectively to external stakeholders. Product marketing professionals strive to get the product-to-market positioning just right. Branding and advertising people strive to make the message relevant and spreadable. And PR people strive to polish and perfect the official company record. Simplicity and clarity are common aspirations throughout.

Yet if it’s so important to market and communicate effectively to the outside, why do companies so often neglect and disrespect the inside? Sure, you’d better be effective with your external stakeholders, but aren’t they dependent on the success of your internal stakeholders? The answer is yes. And highly effective organizations require internal marketing and communications on par with the outside.

The balance is most often out of whack, but it shouldn’t be. Internal marketing is critical for driving simplicity, clarity and effectiveness. it’s essential to myriad internal operations, with four factors that are especially important yet commonly neglected.

1. Purpose and Values. An effectively marketed purpose enables workers to connect their personal contributions and daily actions to something larger and more important than themselves. Simple and well-articulated values rally and crystallize core beliefs that drive emotional connection to an organization’s purpose. Companies that effectively market their purpose and values on the inside have a much better chance of living them out with stakeholders on the outside. In fact, an ability to market purpose and values internally tends to have a direct impact on the quality of external brand experiences. What percent of your company’s workers can recite and pitch its purpose and values? If that number is lower than 100%, you’re not marketing your company’s purpose effectively.

2. Internal Policies And Guidelines. If you don’t market internal policies and guidelines, they can lose their effectiveness.  Consider company handbooks, meetings and email policies, and even social media guidelines. This important category of organizational rules and standards  is typically bastardized by wordy language and awkward legalese. If worker embracement is necessary to survive and thrive, companies must market these assets as seriously as a best-selling product. That means refining policies and guidelines so they are relevant, useful, understandable and desirable to read.

3. Organizational Structure. Organizational structures are often overly complex. If workers are to be effective with one another, they need to easily understand and visualize functional relationships and roles. That requires not only simple organizational structures, but effective marketing of them. That means simple naming and descriptions for divisions, functions, subgroups and even job titles. Jargon and acronyms should be eliminated so workers can spend less time decoding who does what and more time solving important problems with one another. Precise and memorable branding here is highly justified.

4. Products And Services. Effective product and services marketing is equally critical on the inside as the outside. Internal marketing matters if you really want your workers to be fully behind and in synch with external marketing. Perhaps the biggest violators of this are tech companies, whose engineering teams spawn products with cryptic names and acronyms. Those cryptic names would be ok if they were short-lived. But they often stick, creating intellectual friction internally as they work their way to commercialization. Then they often impede on external branding and customer experience, and that’s detrimental. It’s important to drive simplicity and clarity from the earliest stages, not at the final moment before a product is launched externally.

How much effort does your company spend marketing on the inside? And where does your company direct those effort? What are the most effective strategies for internal marketing?

This also was my latest column in MediaPost.

(Photo Credit: The Nite Tripper)

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Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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