Put your marketing hat on to improve performance by taking a look at internal communications
Communicating a message well is as important as the message itself. Your staff are some of the more important targets for your brand message, and a great company culture can provide you with a major strategic advantage. So whether you are sending important policy updates, campaigning for engagement in training programmes or ensuring your goals, values and practices are understood and embraced by your staff, how you communicate it is essential.
Unfortunately, internal marketing is often done poorly or not at all and while some believe it’s important to keep staff informed, few really see the need to convince employees of the brand’s power and worth. Often internal communications (or comms) are left to HR professionals who don’t have the marketing skills to communicate successfully. It may be that you need to sell employees on that new training course they need, or the benefits and improvements of the product they’ll be speaking with customers about. To do this effectively you need a plan, you need to be flexible and you need to use the tools you have available to you.
Here are the top tips from the marketing experts for delivering your message.
Plan your campaign
If you can answer some important questions, you’ll be well on your way to producing an internal comms plan.
- What do you want to achieve for your team/s and your company?
- What are you doing now and in what way is it effective/ineffective?
- What tools will you need?
- How soon do you want to achieve your goals?
- Do you need the help of your design or marketing department?
- Do you need to create a schedule to define when and how to send your messages?
Mismatched internal and external communications can threaten an employees’ perception of the company’s integrity. Make sure your internal messages are aligned with your public advertising efforts and you can create an emotional connection that informs the way your staff approach their jobs.
Define your message
Knowing what you want to say is important to define from the beginning, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a clear idea of what your message should be, how it should change over time and who the audience is. Write down your message and goals from the beginning and revisit it to make sure you’re on track throughout your campaign.
Remember to inform, inspire, entertain and motivate.
- Inform your team of training, job announcements, sales and marketing metrics or industry news
- Inspire by displaying goals, accomplishments, recognise and praise success or display motivational content
- Entertain with social networking, team photos, jokes and fun images
- Motivate with specific calls-to-action
When crafting your messages, don’t forget the big picture: circulate your company’s goals, mission and culture. Include these values in emails, digital displays or on office whiteboards to remind your team they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Keep your materials free of jargon and focus the message on the benefits to your employees.
It is widely understood that people process visual information much more easily than just words. Visuals can convey a great deal of information that can have a lasting impression and stick with people far longer than text.
Remember, the campaign and the communication materials must reflect and reinforce what people care about and what makes them come to work in the morning.
Use imagery to back up and bolster your message, keep it in line with your brand and use images that inspire.
Use communication tools
There are some great tools that make internal comms simple and painless. With busy employees these tools can mean the difference between participation and friction.
- Implement business social networking software like Slack, Yammer or try out Facebook’s new Workplace released recently.
- Use cloud technology like Office 365 or Google Drive to share and collaborate where possible.
- Avoid email overload by sending your messages on multiple channels, this could be through in office digital signage, intranet, training or web content.
- Make sure your messages are targeted and timely by using tracking and analytics tools (more on this next).
Timing and segmentation – show me the data!
It’s becoming easier to gather data on user interactions with content, emails, websites and social channels. With the right software we can determine what is and is not effective for particular groups of people and send very targeted messages, on the right channels and at the right time.
Some messages require special attention when it comes to timing, for example practical reminders about compliance training can be scheduled and sent only to relevant employees.
Data isn’t just about reporting but can influence and direct your campaign making it more effective. You can segment your employees by their contact data, campaign interactions, activity on your website, interests/social data, department and much more. Use these segments to send targeted campaigns, and trigger follow up emails based on actions, interests, or behaviours.
All this works towards making staff engagement more positive. As we mentioned earlier, this is also a great tool for avoiding email overload - so don’t bother Mike in Sales with a message about the new accounting software. Instead, segment your messaging lists to target the people who need to hear it.
Define the key performance indicators for your campaign from the beginning. Then you can make sure you’re easily tracking the data that is going to make a real difference to your messaging.
Make it easy to get feedback
Providing a platform for staff to send feedback and share ideas can be a great way to engage them in the company culture and could be the beginning of a big idea for your company. You could use a company forum, social networking software or a whiteboard in the office.
By applying many of the principles of consumer advertising to internal communications we can foster an understanding and passion for the brand vision. When employees are properly enabled to support the brand’s vision, customers are much more likely to have positive customer service experiences and to receive a service that matches your advertising promises.
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