Wise companies realize that they have both internal and external customers. We all know who the external customers are; they’re the people who buy our products and/or services. We know how to focus our marketing efforts on this group (or at least, we should.) However, many people are less clear about the concept of internal customers and internal marketing.
What are internal customers?
Internal customers are the people you deal with inside your own company. For example the computer-laden customer support desk is a customer of their company’s IT department, whose employees keep the customer support desk’s equipment and software updated and online. Most departments are internal customers of the accounting department, whose employees process payments and produce financial reports.
Why internal marketing is important
It may seem like a waste of time and effort to create different marketing messages for both your internal customers and your external ones. However, when you think about it, employees have a slightly different point of view than your external customers. For one thing, they should already be sold on the value of your product and/or service. In addition, they have a much more knowledgeable perspective of the company and the industry. Technical terms and concepts won’t confuse them. According to Roland Smart, internal marketing messages, done well, are more intense and deep than external ones. That’s because employees already understand the dynamics and basics of your company and your product line.
Internal marketing with social media
Social media is a natural tool for internal marketing. It’s easy to get everyone involved and equally easy to post the latest news, inter-company job openings and company goals. Unlike email memos, social media allows your employees to interact with you and with each other. Below are just a few ways to use social marketing effectively for your internal marketing:
- Reinforce your mission statement and brand message. How many different answers would you get if you asked all of your employees to tell you the company mission statement and brand message? Ideally, only one. Talking about both often on social media helps all of your employees understand and be consistent about the company’s goals and objectives.
- Get ideas. Marketing is a two-way street and your employees likely have lots of ideas…if you ask. Social media makes it easy to share information from senior management to the rest of the company, but also from the employees to management and among employees.
- Share ideas. Even better than getting ideas is sharing them, especially if your company is spread out among many buildings or many cities. That great way of connecting with customers in Des Moines can help the sales force in Ithaca or San Diego, too. Social media makes two-way communication easy.
- Problem solving. Social media can help employees from multiple areas and locations help with problem solving. Something that occurred in one office may help the staff at other. Again, social media sites provide an easy and accessible forum for such communication.
Inter-company memos and emails are becoming as outdated as your fax machine. If you’re not using social media for your internal marketing, it’s time to start interacting with your employees via Facebook, Twitter and other, similar sites. The ideas and enthusiasm you unleash might just surprise you.