Internal Marketing is Powerful Business Growth Strategy

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Companies looking for a sure way to grow their businesses should engage an internal marketing program.

This lack of an internal branding initiative can undercut otherwise successful hiring strategies and can thwart business growth initiatives

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Looking for a sure way to grow your business? Make sure that your customers have a positive experience at every touch point with your company.

That may sound easier said than done, but an internal marketing strategy can make it happen, according to Bill Lowell, founder and president of Business Development Directives, a national research-driven marketing firm based in Milwaukee.

There's good reason to engage such a strategy, Lowell said, pointing to an in-depth study his firm did on the breadth and impact of internal marketing. The study revealed solid evidence that companies with strong internal marketing programs experience on-average higher growth rates and better profitability than companies where employees are not on board with the company brand.

According to Lowell, "Internal marketing simply means preparing your employees to handle every interaction a customer might have with your company. It is also the process of building 'relationship capital' through effective communication with employees. Relationship capital is created when everyone is focused on providing a positive brand image and delivering that brand promise to each and every customer."

Lowell said HR departments can play a key role in ensuring that employees understand and convey the corporate brand promise, and that the internal messaging is in sync with external marketing efforts.

"HR professionals can play a critical role in helping their organizations grow through internal marketing," he said. "At the same time, an internal marketing program can raise the credibility and profile of an HR department."

Lowell cites numerous studies that back up his findings of the importance of internal marketing, including a Harvard University study indicating that 70 percent of customer brand perception is determined by experiences with the organization's employees. Another study found that companies with highly engaged employees have a 112 percent three-year return to shareholders versus a 76 percent return for companies with low employee commitment.

Internal marketing not only makes customers more satisfied, it can make employees happier and, thus, more productive and less likely to leave the company, Lowell adds.

"People are really what make any company unique," he said. "Competitors can replicate product or service offerings, but what they can't replicate are the people who comprise an organization's personality and culture. That is where the real competitive advantage lies, and that is why employees need to be brought on board with a well executed, internal branding program."

Such a program, fully described in a Business Development Directives internal marketing paper, covers all the touch points that customers and prospects have with a business. Touch points include recruiting efforts, advertising, public relations, staff attitude, the appearance of your lobby/reception area and your building, how someone answers the phone, e-mail correspondence, the sales team, employee orientation programs, company vehicles, customer service representatives and invoices.

Business Development Directives created a list of 103 tactics companies can take to engage an internal marketing program.

"Make sure your employees know what your organization stands for and promises, so they can deliver that promise to the customer," Lowell said. "Through comprehensive strategic planning and strong communication, all employees should be aware of the measurable results they are expected to produce as individuals and how their successes contribute to the overall goals of their respective departments and the organization as a whole."

The Business Development Directives research, which involved more than 200 human resources executives across the nation, found that the majority (66%) have neither an internal brand nor internal marketing initiative.

"This lack of an internal branding initiative can undercut otherwise successful hiring strategies and can thwart business growth initiatives," Lowell said. "Take the time to start an initiative inside your company; it will pay huge rewards."

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William Lowell CMC
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