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Why internal marketing is just as important as external marketing

It wasn't that long ago that some organisations only worried about what they did externally. They spent little time thinking about what went on internally so long as money was being made. Daniel Andrews discusses why internal marketing is just as important.

This apparent lack of interest in the community within had obvious shortcomings in the first place, but in our era of corporate crises, scandals and problematic cultures, the problems with this approach have been more and more clear to see.

The increasing attention paid by organisations to internal marketing reflects this. Businesses large and small now understand the importance of employee engagement and brand advocacy, and the virtues of having a tightly knit workforce that believes in what the company is doing. Nurturing a team in this way has a positive impact not only on productivity but on awareness and accountability, and with the increasing importance of ethical business and admirable internal practices, it's vital that everyone in a company is on the same page.

Internal marketing is really about consistency.

It's about being as strong inside the business as it appears to be from the outside, about embracing transparency, and about creating the kind of infrastructure that keeps your ethical standards high. If you emphasise internal marketing you'll make sure you practice what you preach, and this is an admirable goal for any organisation, as it is for any individual.

But if a brand wants to move forward with its goals in the most effective way possible, introducing a solid internal marketing strategy is a necessity. You have to make sure that your culture evolves with your business, and that means using great content across multiple channels, as well as new methods such as gamification and socialisation, to inform and educate the community within. If you fail to do this then your team may be slow to adapt to change—or fail to adapt entirely. And this is the last thing you want when you're entering a new market, promoting a new product or doing something else that requires everyone to know where they stand.

But internal marketing, when done right, isn't about making decisions at the top and then simply letting those ‘beneath’ you know. It puts the people—the engine and heart of any organisation—at the forefront of what you do. Good internal marketing content instils values and empowers individuals to contribute to the company and its direction by submitting their ideas or criticism. This is what we do at the tree, we look to our entire team to come up with new ideas and put them forward. It is a mistake for any business leader to think that the imagination of the wider team can be ignored.

Over time, a diligent approach to internal marketing generates a kind of dialogue between the internal and the external sides of a business. External communication colours internal communication and vice versa. Ideas flow back and forth, challenging, strengthening and adding to the living tradition of the organisation and how it talks. This has an impact on culture in that it embeds the values of the business deeply within the team. There’s no ‘add-on’ diversity or CSR practices introduced only as an afterthought. You can't just stick your values on the wall: your people have to embody them.

The bigger the organisation, the greater the need for internal marketing.

In smaller businesses, the everyday interaction of the members of the team is an informal kind of internal marketing. It’s easier to keep everyone educated, informed and on the same page. But as it grows its needs change. As Simon Vans-Colina of Monzo told me, everything you and your people do needs to reflect your vision when it comes to scaling or things can easily come apart.

But even with embodied values, a balanced structure and active, engaged team leaders, it's hard in a large organisation to maintain engagement. We've been working with Mazars, a top-ten global accountancy firm with a progressive outlook, to define and refine their internal messaging and marketing, and the reality is that in organisations of that size there are thousands of people to engage in the dialogue. So if a firm, as this one does, strongly believes that a business works from the inside-out, and wants to engage its staff population with its values, vision and targets, it needs a comprehensive internal marketing plan involving video content, event management and rich-media email campaigns, which is what we’re providing. If companies, and especially more traditional companies, want to modernise and continue to meet their objectives long into the future, internal marketing must be a key part of what they do.

In the modern era, consumers demand to know more about the companies that serve them, and workers want to know who they’re working for. And this is a good thing, not only because it keeps brands honest but because in the long run, it means they’re more robust, more innovative and healthier overall.

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