Only a real idiot would fail to nurture and care for his employees. After all, your employees ARE your business. Their personal traits are your assets, their values are your values and their passions the seeds of your future products. They have the ideas that, in an environment where a business is only as good as its NEXT big idea, are the difference between success and failure. Its also down to them that these ideas get turned into products and services and delivered to market and the level of efficiency with which they do that is also in their gift. That’s why my Brand Discovery programme focusses on engaging the organisations’ workforce. They, not the directors are after all, going to bring the brand to life.
Internal marketing will deliver by far the fastest performance improvement for pretty well any business. For one thing its massively neglected. Many businesses don’t even have a budget for it and we are all familliar with the law of diminishing return, so its easy to see why a little attention given to such a neglected subject will quickly deliver disproportionate results. When I am faced with a business that’s strapped for cash, but needs to turn around, my first call will be to the internal marketing toolbox. Its rare for my marketing strategies not to include HR initiatives. I usually have HR people on my project teams and I’ve frequently delivered results without increasing marketing investment by switching marketing funds from external communications to internal initiatives.
My fascination with this subject explained my glee when I came across Dr David Kelly’s account of “Designing Curious Employees“. Just about every paragraph on this piece contains a priceless insight that most businesses I encounter could do well to contemplate.
Although he may not express it in these terms, David Kelly recognises that getting your employees behind your brand is the key to success. Brands fail because they don’t live up to expectations and that’s down to employees, but for employees to do their stuff requires that they are comitted to playing their part in delivering your brand promise and in my experience few employees even know what that is, let alone have a sense of ownership. Most businesses issue instructions to their employees rather than explain and involve them in decision and as Dr Kelley says, that’s the worst thing you can do. Why should they feel anything for a concept or even a business that they haven’t been allowed to participate in the development of?
Keeping them in the loop is but a facet of internal marketing. If you want your employees to truly own your strategy (and belive me you do) they have to have played a part in its formulation. There are all kinds of tools that you can engage to ensure this is happening, but most of all you need to engage your ears. Once they know you are listening, in my experience emplyees will respond with all manner of ideas and suggestions that could set your business on the road to success. I once created an entire business unit from an idea that came from a junior secretary and businesses that harness their people power are doing the same every day. So, take heed of what David Kelly says. Internal marketing is a powerful tool that in the right hands can transform a business.
April 13, 2011