What Is an Internal Marketing Strategy?

Aaron Gilbreath | November 7, 2022

To create engaged, knowledgeable, enthusiastic employees, companies need internal marketing strategies to create a culture for their internal stakeholders.

It’s easy to think of marketing solely as a company’s efforts to drive revenue, but strategic internal messaging to increase employee engagement is an equally important part of any organization’s long-term success. For this you need an internal marketing strategy.

What Is an Internal Marketing Strategy?

An internal marketing strategy is the formal process of promoting a company’s mission, values, brand, and culture, as well as its products and services, to its own employees. Sometimes referred to as employee marketing, internal marketing aims to align employees with the company’s goals and values, and to create engaged, productive employees who are also brand advocates. Employees make up one of the largest groups of stakeholders at many organizations, and in a real sense, companies use internal marketing to sell themselves to those internal stakeholders.

Internal marketing strategies build company culture and employee engagement by:

  • Keeping employees informed about company news and achievements
  • Celebrating employees with feedback, rewards, and public spotlights
  • Providing employment benefits and good work-life balance
  • Providing transparency into company operations and clear, honest internal communication
  • Building open, trusting relationships between executive leadership and employees

What Is the Goal of an Internal Marketing Strategy?

The goal of internal marketing strategies is to increase employee engagement and brand advocacy internally. Where external marketing directs its message to customers and helps provide an exceptional customer experience, internal marketing directs its message at employees to provide an exceptional employee experience.

The benefits of internal marketing are:

  • Greater employee engagement
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Active company culture
  • Empowered staff
  • Improved talent recruitment and staff retention
  • Improved public reputation and customer service

Internal Marketing Builds Relationships

External marketing builds relationships between a brand and its customers, trying to motivate them to take action. Internal marketing strengthens the relationship between the business and the people who run it.

A successful internal marketing plan creates more enthusiastic, brand-aware employees who feel valued and who value the organization in return. Internal marketing benefits both employees and the company itself. When employees are engaged, businesses thrive, because more satisfied employees provide better customer experiences. When employees become disengaged, companies and profits suffer.

Internal Marketing Improves Morale and Reputation

Employees can lose enthusiasm for their work if they do not understand the importance of the organization and their place in it. When employees don’t feel like they are a part of something valuable, or they don’t feel appreciated by their employer, they can become disengaged. Internal marketing is important because disengaged employees harm productivity, which affects revenue. On a larger scale, disengaged employees can also provide inferior customer service and lower company morale. Businesses want satisfied employees who are productive and who advocate for the company, speaking highly of it to other employees, to customers, and to potential employees. Engaged employees contribute to a thriving company culture that improves a company’s reputation, and that is good for both business and brand identity.

An internal marketing campaign is also important because it can strengthen companies’ hiring and recruitment efforts. Increased employee engagement reduces turnover. When a company is a desirable place to work, it will help maintain their best workers. When a company has a reputation as a desirable place to work, it will help attract more applicants. Failing to execute an internal marketing strategy can make it harder to find new employees and to retain talent, which further impacts revenue.

To achieve these important goals, companies need to create an internal marketing strategy that creates allies at each level of an organization.

How to Create an Internal Marketing Strategy

Organizations create an internal marketing strategy the same way organizations create any marketing campaign: by understanding your target audience and measuring the campaign’s impact.

  1. Understand Executive Leadership as an Audience

    To bring the executive leadership onboard with the internal marketing strategy’s goals, try to understand leaders’ vision and concerns: What messages do they think are important to communicate to the company? What tone would they like to set? You can also identify each executive’s professional philosophy and their larger goals for the company’s future.

  2. Understand Employees as an Audience

    What are employees’ unique concerns, needs, and challenges? Ask employees, either through surveys or direct conversations. Listen closely and utilize what you find out. Employees are your primary audience, so address their complaints and help give them what they need to succeed.

  3. Outline the Company’s Values

    Beyond financial objectives, what does you company stand for? What qualities does it admire in employees, and what traits does it want to exhibit as an organization: Teamwork and integrity, for example? Technological innovation and social responsibility, or legendarily good customer service? Once you articulate company values, your strategy can build and help them take root.

  4. Internal Alignment

    The CMO must work with other C-Suite leadership to win the confidence and support of their colleagues to create a top-down culture that the can send employees a strong image of cohesion and confidence and that can foster a larger collaborative environment.

  5. Consistent Messaging

    Examine your external marketing messages to gauge what works well and what needs improvement. Align the messages in your internal and external marketing to create a cohesive brand identity that both employees and customers can grasp and communicate to others.

  6. Measure and Reassess

    As you do with external marketing campaigns, measure your internal marketing campaign’s outcomes. Establish metrics and KPIs for implementation. At regular intervals, assess its impact in order to modify and improve it. As your company’s goals and challenges change, your internal efforts will, too. What will not change is the need to keep employees engaged. Internal marketing campaigns must always remain a priority.

Marketing is tasked with creating and executing the campaigns that attract new customers, drive revenue, and build brand awareness. Creating an internal marketing campaign requires that marketing and HR teams work with the company’s executive leadership to develop a vision where everyone understands they have an important part to play in pursuing the organization’s mission embodying its principles.

Examples of Internal Marketing Tactics

Examples of internal marketing tactics and channels that reach your target audience include:

  • Company website and an internal culture hub
  • Internal communications, including companywide messages and town hall meetings
  • Social media profiles
  • Employee spotlights and internal reward programs such as Kudos
  • Job listings and internal promotion opportunities
  • Employee benefits, company perks, and good work-life balance
  • Ongoing learning and development opportunities
  • Employee performance reviews and regular feedback opportunities
  • Regular company updates and achievements

To put your internal marketing into action, look at examples of internal marketing tactics and strategies from companies like yours or brands that you admire. Have you had a particularly good customer experience lately or know certain stores whose employees always seem upbeat and passionate? Do research about their company culture and borrow effective tactics from their internal marketing strategy. No need to invent the wheel. Emulate what works. Then examine your own operation with this in mind: You may have already implemented a strategy or shared internal marketing materials without formally intending to. You may just need to expand and amplify it.

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