Internal marketing

Internal marketing

Internal marketing views the employees in your organisation as internal customers. As customers, they have needs that must be fulfilled, just like your external customers, so that they can and will carry out their responsibilities to the highest standard.

The core objectives of internal marketing are attracting, developing, motivating and retaining qualified employees (Berry and Parasuraman, 1992).

Employees within your organisation are:

  • the service;
  • the organisation in the Customer’s eyes;
  • the brand; and
  • the marketers.

Do you see now that it makes sense to look after your employees’ needs, so that their delivery of the above four aspects is optimised? How many unhappy employees do you think provide a high level of service and promote your brand?

There are two additional core principles of internal marketing:

  • Your employees are both the providers and users of internal services. Naturally, there is no choice of provider for them, but nonetheless it is important that delivery of service to your internal customers (employees) receives as much attention as external services receive.
  • Companies that successfully provide high levels of customer service or high quality products achieve this by ensuring their employees all work together to achieve a common goal. To have a common goal there needs to be a clear statement and ownership of the Company’s aims, together with an appreciation by your employees of how their work contributes to those aims, and a recognition that all employees are responsible for ensuring customer satisfaction. This is how every employee in the Company is a ‘part-time’ marketer, not just your marketing team if you have one.

The basics of internal marketing explained:

Internal marketing basics (part 2):

What makes up an internal marketing programme?

The ingredients for a successful internal marketing programme are similar to those that you’d expect to find in an external marketing programme. They include:

  • Information gathering and research – like any marketing programme, you need to understand the attitudes, values and norms of your employees as customers.
  • Segmentation and targeting – this involves grouping your employees that have similar characteristics – for example, their needs, wants, tasks and attitudes. These can be based, for example, on observation, surveys/interviews and appraisals.
  • Effective communication – newsletters and magazines written for your employees as well as intranets are all popular ways for companies to communicate with their employees. They are a great opportunity to build awareness, provide information and reenforce key messages, values and focus. It is crucial not to assume employee wants to hear what you as a manager would want to hear. Non-management employees are in a very different position to managers and have a different frame of reference, different concerns and different interests. Hence the use of the word ‘effective’ for this point – you need to work with employee representatives to deliver a message that is appealing to those who will receive it.
  • Product/service development – just as your business develops services and products for its external customers, the same happens for your employees as internal customers. These must be developed to meet the needs of segments – for example, you may develop policies, services and benefits that help the segment of your employees that are working and have children.
  • Understanding and building relationships – one of the biggest reasons for employees not working together, as well as lack of ability or willingness to deliver a high quality service to your external customers, is lack of teamwork. Through internal marketing you can identify key relationships that exist or need building/strengthening and encourage collaboration between functions, reducing interdepartmental conflict.

Internal marketing ideas

So you get the concept of internal marketing and why it’s so important for your business and for your bottom line: now, what can you actually do to make it happen? Here are some practical ways you can make internal marketing work at your organisation:

Develop your culture and sense of community

The goal is to keep your employees engaged and happy with your brand but this isn’t going to happen by simply handing over their wages at the end of the day. To achieve this, you need to develop a strong company culture that gives your staff a sense of excitement about coming in to work, and gives them the feeling that their efforts are towards a bigger purpose than whatever their job title suggests. CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh drove his company gross sales to over $1 billion in 2008, through relentless focus on the creation of a company culture of happiness. You will find that the more excited your employees are about the company they work for,, the more excited they are about the work they are doing, whatever the role is – and this will be obvious to your customers and your potential customers too. Founder and CEO of BerylHealth Paul Spiegelman says that to achieve an effective company culture, a few key elements are necessary – these include:communications, core values, celebrations, camaraderie, consistency andcommunity.

Hold department competitions

Although you want your staff to work together as a team, a little healthy competition in the right environment can actually spur on teamwork. Competitions or contests work well to break up the routine or monotony of the working day and help to build camaraderie and offer your staff the chance to interact with members of other departments who they might not always speak to. Competitions help to build relationships and create a fun internal marketing vehicle, in addition to providing an opportunity to market the company externally. For example, charitable fundraisers or new-client drives have outcomes in both external and internal marketing. One thing to keep in mind is that if the competition is run between departments, you may find the departments don’t work as well together as they are competing against each other. So wherever possible, create teams that are not single departments.

Internal employee newsletters

Regular employee newsletters offering employees details of your current projects, initiatives and growth reports for the company are a great motivator. They should educate team members on new services, products or customers, giving them the information they need to do their jobs more effectively. Newsletters are also an opportunity to remind your staff of the expectations and goals of your company. Feature sections that highlight for example the work of a particular department, branch or person, can help staff better understand the company and feel more like they are a part of it. Rewards or perks for goals achieved also offer a good motivator – make sure all employees realistically have the same opportunity to achieve these.

Transparent customer service ratings

Exceptional customer service should always be a primary goal and by developing marketing initiatives that focus on delivering customer service you can help achieve the goal of excellence both internally and externally. Ensure feedback is transparent on all levels and offer rewards to those individuals and departments that deliver excellent customer service (externally or internally). Again make sure every team member has the opportunity to achieve rewards. Always make customer service ratings public and easy to view so that your staff can take ownership of them. Individual customer service performance scores are also a high motivating factor – for example, introduce customer service ranks. and include the employee’s rank and any accolades or rewards they have achieved at the bottom of each email sent from them around the company. This is a constant reminder for them to keep these at a high level, and a constant motivation for other staff to match them.

Marketing essays:

More reading and additional help

If you’re interested in the subject of internal marketing and you want to read more, here are some recommended articles and journals that you will find helpful:

  • Ahmed, P.K., Rafiq, M. and Saad, N.M. (2003) ‘Internal marketing and the mediating role of organisational competencies’, European Journal of Marketing,
    vol. 37, no. 9, pp. 1221–41
  • Ballantyne, D. (1997) ‘Internal Networks for Internal marketing’, Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 13, no. 13, pp. 343–66.
  • Foreman, S.K. and Money, A.H. (1995) ‘Internal marketing: concepts, measurement and application’, Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 11, no.
    8, pp. 755–68.
  • George, W.R. (1990) ‘Internal marketing and organisational behaviour: A partnership in developing customer-conscious employees at every level’, Journal
    of Business Research, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 63–70
  • Helman, D. and Payne, A. (1995) ‘Internal marketing: Myth versus reality’, in Payne, A. (ed.), Advances in relationship marketing, London, Kogan Page.
  • Lings, I.N. and Greenley, G.E. (2005) ‘Measuring internal marketing orientation’, Journal of Service Research, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 290–305.
  • Pitt, L.F. and Foreman, S.K. (1999) ‘Internal marketing’s role in organizations: a transaction cost perspective’, Journal of Business Research, vol. 44, no. 1,
    pp. 15–36.
  • Rafiq, M. and Ahmed, P.K. (1993) ‘The scope of internal marketing: defining the boundary between marketing and human resource management’, Journal of
    Marketing Management, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 219–32.
  • Thomson, K. (1990) The employee revolution: The rise of corporate internal marketing, London, Pitman Publishing
  • Varey, R. and Lewis, B. (1999) ‘A broadened conception of internal marketing’, European Journal of Marketing, vol. 33, issue 9/10, pp. 926–44.

Leave a comment