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The problem with people...5 ways to activate a brand internally

Busily writing the ‘How best can you communicate your brand internally’ chapter for B2B Marketing’s Evidence Report this week, it’s occurred to me that the lines between HR and marketing are blurring in a big way. In my chapter I explore and identify how you can get the best results between brand promise and delivery through internal brand activation, without getting lost in the problem with people.

The problem with people is they are the difference between what a brand promises, and what it actually delivers. What makes this a problem? Well, most of us marketers aren’t seeing our colleagues as a target audience.

I often hear marketing managers say things like ‘they just don’t get it’ and I can’t help but think this is a failing on our part. As marketers, we don’t blame the target market if an external campaign goes wrong; we improve how we’re responding to insight from the group of people we’re targeting. As soon as we start to view our colleagues as a target audience with rational and emotional needs we can begin to communicate with them in the way they will respond to.

5 ways to solve the problem with people

1. The problem with brand

It’s likely that your colleagues think the brand is separate from them. Get over this by identifying key people who have a good route to your target colleagues. Talk to them about the brand, learn more about their function and discuss how promise and delivery can work together. Ask them if you can join their next department meeting for an interactive session on collaboratively meeting the brand promise.

2. The problem with jargon

Marketing jargon is a huge blocker to internal brand engagement. The problem starts when our work gets the unfair ‘fluffy’ label; in turn we tend to get defensive and emotionally charged. We hit back with all our most impressive technical marketing language which is great for showing off, but totally alienates our colleagues. Stop being your own worst enemy by talking clearly, concisely and with purpose.

3. The problem with change

People don’t like it, unless the change is their decision. Involve a wide range of stakeholders right the way from forming your brand identity through to the tactical aspects of how you achieve your marketing objectives. Think about it, if your sales team contribute to the theme for a campaign you’ll later be asking them to promote, it’s a safe bet that they’ll engage when it’s launched.

4. The problem with you

If you hear yourself saying things like ‘they just don’t get it’ then it’s time to change! As B2B marketers we have to be good at selling too. If you don’t sell the brand to your colleagues, they won’t buy into it. Start to see negative feedback on your campaigns as buying signals; your colleagues are seeking reassurance so that they can feel confident when representing the brand. They’re reacting, which is positive, so don’t shy away.

5. The problem with HR

There is a clear difference between our role as marketers and that of HR’s. Your efforts internally are to ensure your external customers and prospects actually get what the brand is promising. It’s very easy to end up clashing with existing employee engagement activity and not consulting with HR can lead to problems. Form a strong relationship with your HR manager and ensure all work is collaborative. Most importantly, remember that while the work you’re doing will contribute to improving overall employee engagement and morale, this isn’t your main focus. Keep clear by setting objectives for change within the business that directly tie with your brand strategy and planned marketing activity.

What do you think is the biggest people problem solver? Tweet me @JadeTambini 

Jade will be discussing this topic further at our upcoming event #TheEvidence. For more info visit: