YOU ARE THE TARGET MARKET
I’m sure you, like me, have at some point in a debate with an agency or consultancy heard the exasperated retort – ‘but you’re not the target market!’
That may be true when talking about consumer marketing, but when it comes to employee marketing - as a member of staff working in the organisation - you are the target market.
If you are intrigued, amused, shocked, inspired or even just educated by a well-crafted message or campaign – why do you suppose your colleagues will not be? And if you are none of those things – why suppose anyone else will be?
At Actuate, we believe that your employees are smart human beings – regardless of their age, tenure, qualifications or titles. So it is always jarring when I hear a senior manager or exec reacting to a carefully considered bold proposal with something like – “I think it’s great, but I’m not sure our frontline will get it.”
What is it that makes these otherwise wise and intelligent leaders believe that their people get a frontal lobotomy when they get to work, and then amazingly receive a reverse lobotomy after hours when they are suddenly able to understand, appreciate and interact with sophisticated marketing messages from the likes of Nike, or Coca-Cola, or [insert global marketing brand]?
This misperception of the internal market is a negative bias that is as bad for the businesses bottom line as it is detrimental to the communications that are being dumbed down.
I believe an antidote to this bias is to raise your estimation of your employees, to see them as functioning members of a media savvy society, as capable consumers of sophisticated messages in every other sphere of their life – so why not at work?
In fact – even more so at work – because an internal audience has a much more finely tuned bullshit detector when it comes to their appraisal of internal marketing than they do to their perception of external marketing.
At work, your people live your brand in the back offices, they deal with your customer compliments and complaints at the front line, they walk your corporate corridors, they perceive the problems, they own the opportunities and they are educated by experience.
This inbuilt cynicism means that we have to work much harder to connect with your employees than you do with your customers, and one way of doing that is by aiming higher, not lower.
Because – to get back to where we started – this target market is like you! You too are a sophisticated consumer of the communications that you are commissioning from your agency. Just as you are put off by boring, bland or compromised campaigns devoid of personality, lacking in attitude, cluttered with cliches, strangled with jargon or soaked in corporate speak – so too are your people.
Conversely - if your agency offers you a piece of colourful comms or inspirational internal marketing that strikes a chord, hits a nerve, or creates a reaction in you – possibly because of some quirky angle, boldly stated fact, baldfaced truth, edgy humour, or even refreshing irreverence - then its safe to say that it will do the same for your fellow staff. Or at least it’s worth the risk.
It’s time to uplift the way we communicate with our internal audiences.
Are you brave enough?