EMPLOYEE MARKETING – WHY BOTHER?
Sure, it’s not very PC to ask, but it’s what a lot of people think about. So let’s address it head-on.
Firstly, let’s make a distinction between employee marketing and internal communications.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a big difference. Whereas internal communications is vital when it comes to sharing information, employee marketing is all about packaging information to change behaviour.
To put it another way, for internal communications, knowledge is power, but for employee marketing, the real power is action.
But why care about any form of employee engagement at all? For many it’s a ‘soft’ subject that is little more than a box to be
ticked, but for the more strategically smart, employee engagement is a commercial imperative that can make or break a positive consumer experience.
The way I see it – marketing and advertising help drive potential consumers towards your brand, and internal communications let your employees know that there is a new offering on the market, but - it is employee marketing that inspires your people to convert those tentative trialists into awestruck ambassadors.
When you look at this way it is staggering that some companies will spend tens of millions on above and through-the-line campaigns, but skimp on the employee marketing campaign that can make all the difference.
In fact, when it comes to bang for buck, a better provocation could be – ‘advertising why bother?’
Look at your own situation and consider how often you only become aware of a consumer campaign from your own organisation when you come across that product or service in the marketplace. Or then again, how often have you been driven to a store because of an advertised promotion, only to get a blank stare from the sales staff on the floor?
‘Promotion? What promotion?’
In the same way that some companies will over-invest in the sexy sizzle of above-the-line advertising, they will often also underestimate the solid strategic value of a coordinated internal communication and employee marketing campaign as a vital part of the overall marketing mix.
It is like saying, “now that our potential customers knows how great our offering is, it will surely sell itself.”
I am not saying that above-the-line advertising is a waste of money, (plenty of other people have said that already) but I do believe that there is an agency imbalance that needs to be redressed. At Actuate for instance, many of the large corporates we work with engage a plethora of internally-focused agencies, but most would never dream of doing so when it comes to their above-the-line campaigns. In fact they spend serious time, and take extreme care in selecting a single advertising agency that can provide strategic insights and creative direction across all their segments, products and services.
Quite right, I say, a dedicated advertising agency can be a superb partner to a serious marketer, but I also believe that the same scrutiny should be applied to the selection of a single strategically creative employee marketing agency. Such a business approach to the issue of employee engagement would add massive value – not least through the ‘economies of intellect’ that could be gained from making the most of a dedicated specialist agency partner.
And that – for me – is ‘why bother’.