As B2B marketers with full plates and a never-ending buffet of programs that need attention, we often forget to consider that internal marketing can be as important as external marketing. This is even more true with the rise of social media.
Internal marketing is about educating everyone involved about how your company is going to market, who your customers and ideal prospects are, what they care about and why they should care about what your company offers. It's about keeping everyone in the loop.
The day when the only employees who interacted with your customers and prospects were those on the front lines, such as sales reps and customer service agents, is long gone. Even the guy in that invisible cube in the back corner who's never invited to meetings can now influence your markets with a few keystrokes and a click.
I've talked to many companies who've insisted that they aren't using social media, only to do a quick search and locate the public faces of their employees, some labeling themselves with the company's name. Just because the marketing team isn't using social media, doesn't mean your company isn't being "seen" as a participant.
If you think your employees aren't on social media, think again.
But beyond the latest shiny object are a number of reasons why internal marketing needs to make it to the top of your priority list, including:
- Consistency of brand. Getting everyone on the same page with what's said about the brand is critical to your reputation in the marketplace. Social media policies can help with that, but if what customer service says differs from what sales says and that differs from what the executive team says, not to mention your marketing messaging, you've got a problem. By sharing your marketing plans across the organization, you'll not only help everyone to be consistent - even when they personalize their interactions - but you may even learn something that could be critical for improvement.
- Connecting the story. With all the efforts we're expending as marketers to map content to buying stages and discern which information to distribute at the right time based on the persona involved, if your employees had a chance to jump into a conversation, would they know what to offer up?
- Listening to your markets. Considering that anyone who works for you can be participating in some capacity online, what might they hear that your marketing team doesn't? You can't be everywhere. Figure out how to help them listen for you and let you know when they hear something that may point to a pivot you need to make in your messaging. Even more importantly, develop a closed loop process so they know their efforts make a difference. Appreciation counts.
- Serving your customers. Marketing to your customers, as well as those that serve them can pay big dividends. When customers speak, their peers listen. When customers ask for help, they expect immediate results. Cross-messages plant the seeds of doubt. If the company promises something that your service reps can't deliver, customer relationships are in trouble. With the payoff for retention and loyalty so high, ignoring these two groups is a recipe for chaos.
- Building momentum. When every experience is an endorsement that your company works as a well-connected team that's responsive to the needs and priorities of potential and existing customers, momentum for buying revs up. Your company's reputation becomes more credible, the consistent reinforcement of value builds trust and more people want to do business with you. Because you've spent time marketing to your sales team, they know about your prospects, their needs, concerns and the next steps to take that will keep them moving toward purchase. In combination, this means better connection rates, conversations that add value and shorter sales cycles.
If marketers aspire to gain a respected seat at the executive table, making internal marketing a priority can help them get there. After all, in today's business environment, it takes a team to win a customer and grow a company.
What are you doing to unify all of the experiences that it's possible for a prospect or customer to have with your organization?