Internal Marketing: What Is It & 18+ Examples You Can Use

Learn why internal marketing is an important tool for modern marketing, comms, and talent acquisition departments - and how you can start using this powerful technique right away.

It used to be that companies could use old-school marketing tactics aimed directly at their target customers. 

Corporate social media accounts, advertising, white papers, conferences. You get the idea.

And for the most part, that was good enough.

But times have changed. 

It’s no longer enough for a company to talk about itself. In 2017, for the first time in nearly two decades, people’s trust declined in every kind of institution - including business.

Instead, people are turning to people they know or can relate to:

It’s clear: to truly reach their customers, companies need their employees’ buy-in and vocal support.

But how can companies get that support?

Enter: Internal Marketing.

What Is Internal Marketing?

Internal marketing is the promotion of a company’s vision, mission, and culture to its employees with the objective of gaining their support.

The companies that are the best at internal marketing treat employees as internal customers who need to be convinced of the company mission.

They don’t take their employees’ support of the company as a given, and instead make a deliberate effort to earn it.

Why? 

Because these top companies know how powerful it is when their (often large) employee base buys-in to what the company is doing, then spreads the word outside of the company via interactions with customers, friends, family, and social media.

These businesses understand that their corporate voice isn’t enough, and that customers develop opinions about the company well before using their product or service. 

Unsurprisingly, the benefits of internal marketing are numerous:

  • Increased employee satisfaction and engagement
  • Greater brand reach
  • More trusted marketing
  • Better customer service
  • Improved recruiting and employer brand

Internal Marketing Examples

As with traditional marketing, you can execute internal marketing through a variety of tactics.

Internal marketing has one goal in mind: to earn your employees’ enthusiastic support. The idea being that that support will in turn be communicated externally by the employees themselves.

So how you get to that objective is really only limited by your creativity.

However, there are a few tried-and-true tactics that show up often in successful internal marketing.

Consistent Communication of Company’s Mission, Vision, & Values

Why This Matters: This is your company’s north star. It’s not enough to have your mission and values tucked away in a shared drive or plastered on the walls. You have to refer to them often, and have leadership that truly believes in them and adheres to them. Because employees care. In fact, 73% of employees who believe they work for a "purpose-driven" company are engaged, versus only 23% of those who don't.

How to Execute It: You probably already have a mission, vision, and values. The key is to identify opportunities to communicate and revisit them regularly as part of your internal marketing. Think weekly meetings, quarterly reviews, employee performance reviews, and so on.

A Strong 1-2 Year Plan

Why This Matters: Employees want to know what they’re building towards. While the mission and vision are great for big picture, long term thinking, they don’t spell out the details of the near term. Having a clear, positive plan for the next 12-24 months will help employees feel secure and optimistic. They’ll be on the same page with company leadership and know exactly what their day-to-day activities are leading up to in the near term.

How to Execute It: Work with leadership to document your 1-2 year plan. Then communicate it regularly with everyone in the company - a critical step given 71% of employees are unable to identify their company’s strategy. Each department and employee should understand exactly how they contribute to the success of the plan.

Notice a trend? We’re going from higher to lower level. Of course, you don’t need to execute all of these. But the more you can execute, the stronger your internal marketing will be.

Seeking & Acting on Employee Feedback

Why This Matters: The first two examples have been more “top-down” in nature. That’s why employee feedback is a critical element - it sends the message to employees that their voice is heard, too. Not all feedback can (or should) be implemented, of course. But all feedback should be acknowledged.

How to Execute It: Start getting feedback on your employee experience. You can use something simple and free like Google Forms, or more robust and purpose-built for employee feedback like TINYpulse. Heck, we’ve even seen teams use Trello boards to be fully transparent about their feedback and its implementation status. Whatever you choose, it’s important that you’re genuinely interested in the feedback, and are willing to make changes based on that feedback.

Clear, Centralized Internal Communication

Why This Matters: You’ve likely noticed by now that communication is a central theme when it comes to internal marketing. After all, communication is critical to any great relationship; the relationship between employer and employees is no exception. The key with internal marketing is to ensure your messages don’t get lost among email, chat, social media, and so on.

How to Execute It: Limit use of traditional communication channels for internal marketing. Tools like email and chat are designed for productivity. They’re not suited for delivering more thoughtful, “bigger picture” communications meant to boost morale, gain strategic buy-in, and gather feedback. Instead, focus your messaging on a dedicated, centralized communications hub like Swaybase.

A Social Media-Friendly Environment

Why This Matters: 8 in 10 workers report using social media in the workplace. And 98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use; 50% are already posting about their company online. It’s a given that employees are active on social media and they’re talking about you. Make sure it’s done the right way and supports the business.

How to Execute It: Start by creating a social media policy that embraces the modern realities of social media in the workplace. Clarify expectations of employee behavior online - and then make it easy for them to share pre-approved content with their personal networks through a more formal employee advocacy program.

Better Learning & Development

Why This Matters: Simply put, today’s talent cares about training. 94% percent of employees would stay with a company longer if that company invested in learning, and 40% of employees who receive poor training leave their positions in the first year with the company.

How to Execute It: Training (or Learning & Development, if you prefer a more holistic term) is a big topic. Start small. Begin by identifying the gaps in your employees’ skills. The best way to do this? Ask your employees.

Provide the Benefits Employees Want

Why This Matters: While salary is often top of mind, employees also care about benefits. So much so, that the right benefits can convince employees to choose a lower paying job over a higher paying one. Parents in particular value flexible hours and work-life balance more than salary.

Employees value some benefits more than others. A lot more. (Image Source: HBR)

How to Execute It: Ask your employees what they’d like. Then work with leadership and HR to make at least one positive change in the benefits offered at your company. Keep in mind: it doesn’t have to cost top dollar. As the chart shows, after health insurance, employees value relatively low-cost benefits, including flexible hours, more paid vacation time, and work-from-home options.

Make sure you can follow through. Start with a list of benefits that, if employees choose them, you’d be able to implement.

Eat Your Own (Product/Service) Dogfood

Why This Matters: Unappetizing image aside - it’s long been a mantra to “eat your own dogfood,” meaning use your own product or service. Why? Because doing so turns your employees into customers, which in turn helps your employees better understand your external customers. It also brings your employees closer to the very thing you’re creating and selling, enabling them to be better ambassadors for the company.

How to Execute It: Work with leadership to make your product or service available to employees. In some cases, full and unfettered access may be impossible or unfeasible. For instance, Airbnb can’t give away unlimited free stays to employees. But they could give away a handful of free stays a year. Find what’s right for you.

Additional Examples of Internal Marketing

Some additional examples include:

  • More frequent promotion cycles
  • Celebrating new business deals and major milestones
  • Monthly employee spotlights
  • Company-wide brainstorming for new products/services
  • Creating and sharing the company’s “origin story”
  • Process improvement workshops between departments
  • Reorganized / improved office layout
  • Free company swag/gear
  • Performance-based incentives
  • Interdepartmental rotational programs

Remember, you can be as creative as you like with your internal marketing.

The objective is always the same: to win your employees’ support.

So don’t feel restricted! 

It’s completely up to you to determine the best means for achieving that objective.

Implementing Your Internal Marketing The Right Way

You’ve identified the need for internal marketing and communicated the benefits of it to company leadership. 

You’ve brainstormed various examples and tactics you’re willing to consider.

How do you proceed from here?

Step 1: Identify Key Stakeholders

Everyone in the company will be impacted by your internal marketing. And for each department, that may look a little different. So identify a lead “point of contact” within each department who can weigh in on the ideal way to roll out your internal marketing for their department.

Step 2: Lay a Foundation for Communication

As we’ve seen, communication is a common thread throughout most of your internal marketing efforts. Establish a centralized internal communication method that is separate from the noisy, overcrowded traditional channels like email and chat. 

Step 3: Prioritize Your Tactics

With a direct line of communication to your employees, you can begin to roll out your first tactic. Start small and focus on something from your list that is relatively easy for your organization to implement.

Step 4: Make it Foolproof for Employees to Spread the Word

Internal marketing done right leads to employees who will want to advocate for you outside your four walls. We mentioned it earlier, but you need to make it easy for your employees to communicate their positive take on the company with the people in their personal networks. If you’ve picked the right communications tool, then it already has a social media component built in that you and your employees can use.

Step 5: Measure the External Impact

This may be counterintuitive, but keep in mind that a main reason for doing internal marketing in the first place is for the external benefits it drives:

  • Increased employee satisfaction and engagement
  • Greater brand reach
  • More trusted marketing
  • Better customer service
  • Improved recruiting and employer brand

Most of those benefits are external.

Therefore, it makes sense to track external performance indicators, such as:

  • Marketing metrics (social media reach and engagement)
  • Hiring metrics (time to hire, offer accept rate)
  • Customer satisfaction (Net Promoter Score, customer turnover)

Wrap Up

We may sound like a broken record, but ultimately your internal marketing will come down to how well you communicate with your employees.

After all, not only do you want your message to be heard.

You want employees to internalize it. And then to spread the word with the rest of the world.

Keep in the Loop

Implore user action with this attractive form.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
This site uses cookies. By clicking Accept or accessing any feature within this site, you consent to our cookies.
Accept