Your employees are the people selling your product, so they should be ambassadors for your brand. However, it’s not entirely up to them to uphold your brand values, it’s up to you as the company’s brand manager to ensure that employees are taught, efficiently and effectively, how they should be brand advocates.
It’s important to note that this blog article isn’t about how to make your employees happy, or how to make them stay. Its focus is on how to make sure that your employees are brand ambassadors. That is, people who you can trust to represent your brand values appropriately while at work.
A company whose employees don’t believe in the brand, or whose actions don’t reflect the brand values, especially when communicating with customers or shareholders, can be damaging. On the other hand, employees who truly understand and embrace the brand values of a company can have a positive impact on customers, which can lead to an increase in sales and revenue.
So how do you get your employees to be brand ambassadors?
The first, most important step is to show each employee how they fit into the company, and what they bring to the table. They must know how the company can only achieve true success with them as an employee. Each employee should feel valued and should know exactly what they contribute to the company, in both personal and professional terms.
This can be done through organisational charts (or hierarchical charts, depending on how your company operates) and with company-wide get-togethers where employees throughout the company can discuss what they actually do.
Internal marketing is also about ensuring that your employees know all that they need to know about your products or services, and about why the company exists. If they know your company’s reason for being, they can place themselves into that reasoning with their role, and their personality. After all, you’re not just hiring people for their professional achievements, but for their personalities, and how well they fit into your organisation.
But I digress - internal marketing also includes educating your employees about your company and its products. Employees who know what they are selling, and why they are selling it, can more successfully sell those products in a more ‘believable’ way. For example, while a telesales company can make thousands of calls to potential clients and make some sales, percentage-wise, you’re more likely to have a higher yield of sales if your own employees make those calls, and if they know everything they should know about what they are selling.
So host regular training sessions with your employees - through 1-2-1 workshops, group meetings, online resources, webinars… there are so many ways to do this. It’s also important to note that not everyone learns in the same way, so to more effectively train your employees on your products and company, you should talk to them, or put together a survey, to see how they best process information.
Internal marketing also calls back to the all-important element to consider in external marketing: feedback. Listen to your employees. Make sure that they are heard, and that their comments are, where possible, acted upon. An employee can only be a true brand ambassador if they believe and trust in their company and what they are selling.
Also, don’t underestimate the importance of praise - not just a simple, company-wide ‘we hit targets this month, everyone - good job’ or departmental hugs (this actually happened at a previous workplace. It was as horrific as it sounds), but more individual, personal praise for your employees. If an employee has gone above and beyond, or done some amazing creative work, call it out. Tell other employees what they have done, to inspire them and help them to understand how a brand ambassador behaves. Shower them with (sincere) praise. Praise can sometimes go further than a pay rise - although it’s obviously good sense to make sure that your employees are paid what they should be.
Along the same vein as feedback, another imperative element of internal marketing is communication, just like with external marketing. Keep your employees in the loop with the company goings-on, and let them tell you what’s happening with them. Newsletters are a good way of doing this, and you can also encourage employee engagement.
One of my previous places of work had an ‘employee of the month’ section of the newsletter, based on that employee’s recent achievements in the company, also including some individual information about that employee - innocuous things like their favourite book and last holiday they went on. It’s good for all employees to see each other as not just machines of work, but as real people, just like them. And it’s just as important for the ‘higher-ups’ to see them like that as well.
Another platform that can work well for the communication aspect of internal marketing is Workplace, a Facebook-owned, business-specific social media platform, where employees can post updates, share photos and articles, join groups, pretty much everything that they can do on Facebook, but without the endless distractions of kitten pictures and baby updates.
Ultimately, internal marketing is about connecting, communicating and engaging with employees, and encouraging them to do the same with the business and their fellow employees. When employees feel that they belong, they are happier in their job. Happy employees = happy customers. Happy customers = loyal customers. Loyal customers = more sales.
Does your company have any unique or especially effective internal marketing techniques? Post them in the comments!