Usually when people talk about marketing it’s based around the things a company does facing outwards, like advertising or packaging. Marketing though is much more than just those things that everyone sees so easily, in fact an argument can be made that the best best marketing is rarely seen as such. Marketing, the way Tetravive sees it, is everything you do to enhance the perceived value of your offering. Internal Marketing is everything you do to enhance your company’s worth in the eyes of your employees and it heavily influenced the way your customers come to see your company.
Why you should consider internal marketing
Your company’s most valuable asset is your employees, and they’re often the most expensive too. Think for a moment about the cost to train them, the cost of mistakes they make during training and the cost to pay wages, taxes and benefits. Of course you’re willing accept these costs because a good employee will bring in much more than they cost, giving you a net profit on each employee. Still, limiting the costs of training, by limiting turn over makes sense from a raw financial point of view. You will also grow fond of your employees, many employers see their employee’s families as a kind of extension of their own family. The social benefits of having good employees are a wonderful perk to being an employer that you don’t think about until you’ve experienced it. Having to do lay-offs or terminations takes a hard toll on your heart.
Even when an business owner is involved heavily in the day to day running of the business, the employees are still going to be the main point of contact for your clients. You can train your customer service staff to smile, be helpful, use the right phrases and slogans, and any other customer service skill but if they aren’t enthusiastic about the company it can come off as rote or hollow. When an employee is excited to be at work and is genuinely happy it will come through, even if they occasionally use the wrong customer service techniques. Their excitement will rub off on your customers, they might now be able to explain why they love coming in to you office, but they will return often.
So where do you get started?
Internal marketing starts the same way external marketing does, getting into the heads of the audience. With internal marketing you have a few things going for you that you don’t have anywhere else. You know your employees very well, or at least you know their type. Are the jobs you offer generally taken by younger people or ones that are more mature. Are the positions you are filling require advanced education? They can probably be grouped into clear geographic areas where there may be points of interest that they will have in common. You also have the ability to conduct sneaky interviews to get the answers to the following questions:
- What are your employees looking for in their life?
- What excites them?
- What’s the competition doing? (Because you really don’t want your competitors stealing away your best people)
- How can you increase the value of working for you without simply increasing wages?
What are your employees looking for in their life?
Please read that title again. Notice that the question IS NOT “what are your employees looking for in their job?” Obviously there will be some overlap between what they want out of their career and their life but when the idea is to excite you want to dig deeper than their job. If you’re familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need then this will be easier for you to work out. For those who aren’t familiar with Maslow’s theory, here is a quick version of it.
In order for humans to have a happy life their are certain needs that must be satisfied. The most basic ones are physiological, food, water, rest, and shelter. Without these being satisfied a person can not live, much less be happy. Once those are taken care of people need to feel safe, that all that they have won’t just disappear one day. Next is a sense of belonging, we get this by identifying with a group of friends, family or associates. After that is fulfilled we want esteem, to be considered valued and needed, to feel important. Lastly we reach the point where we want self actualization, in other words we take command of our lives and what we contribute to the world.
At the most basic level a job helps fulfill the first level and a bit of the second. Depending on how you handle the job environment will help your employees to fulfill the other needs that are higher up. You may or may not really care about providing a venue for all their needs, after all you probably started your business in order to make money and reach your own goals. Looking at this from the profit centric ideal, it is still better to provide for than simple wages since people are happier and more productive when more of their needs are met. They won’t be in simple survival mode but may actually be thriving. Which makes them better to be around and better at performing their job function.
An example of internal marketing
I had a client that owned a small grocery store and pharmacy. After two big national grocery chains moved in close to his shop he started to see a decline in business and he got understandably worried. One of the things we implemented was an internal marketing program that included a few new ideas and didn’t cost much at all. One thing we did was to institute what we called the guest of the week program. Each Monday during the shift meeting each employee was given a small gift to give to a customer that week. It may be a candy bar, a voucher for a free ice cream cone, a promotional product of some kind or a new product of some kind. The employees could give it to anyone they wanted, they did not have to report back on who it was given to. I explained to them that the point was to recognize people for doing good things or who needed a pick-me-up. Maybe it would be the woman who needed to make a return and was patient and understanding during the process. Maybe it was the mother with young children who was worn out. Maybe it was one of their regulars and they wanted to simply thank them for being loyal. The point was that the employee got to represent the company and act like an owner for a moment not just a lowly grunt.
We also instituted a fun holiday program, of course the company still recognized the big holidays, like Christmas, Easter, New Years, Halloween and others. They also did Talk Like a Pirate Day, Founders Day (the day the city was founded), National Popcorn day, Hot Sauce day and more. Each holiday had a unique gift given to each employee and the list of holidays changed each year. One of the keys to making gifts and promotional products work here is to keep them unexpected, otherwise it just becomes something they feel entitled to and they loose their impact.
We a few other things for the company but these two were the best received and increased job satisfaction for all employees. Soon customer started coming back to shop at the store, when asked why they came back they said it felt more like home, they felt more appreciated or that they wanted to support a local business that was helping their community.
If you would like to start improving your businesses bottom line and want to explore internal market techniques contact us for a free consultation today.