Silence Isnt Golden

Though the focus of this column has been on marketing to the outside world, today we shall look inward. No, I’m not talking about finding ourselves; I’m talking about marketing internally to your company’s most important asset: its people.

It’s clichi but true: A fired-up, motivated, and informed workforce will take a company further and faster than one that isn’t. Unfortunately, we are so busy starting things up, we sometimes don’t spend enough time communicating with the troops that make it all happen. Here are a few tips for starting up an internal marketing communications program.

Share Your Mission and Objectives

The first step is to ensure that everyone in the company knows and understands the company’s mission and its short- and long-term objectives. Now, this may be easier than it sounds because it assumes you have identified and defined all of the above. If you haven’t, then get your executive team together and do so — this is crucial to being a successful business!

Once you’ve got them set, present them to the team. Using a clean, crisp PowerPoint presentation at a breakfast or lunch meeting can be effective. Don’t use a lot of jargon and Dilbert-speak. Talk to the team in clear, precise language that says exactly what you mean and in a way that people can then go out and communicate those objectives to others (clients, partners, friends, etc.).

Supply Quarterly Updates

A quarterly meeting about how the company is tracking is a great way to keep the troops up to speed on how they are meeting goals. It also helps reward great performance and focus on key operational issues that need attention. These meetings should be well prepared with agendas published in advance. Add some fun by creating an exercise for all to participate in at the beginning or end of the meeting, tying it to the overall objective.

For example, one company I was with launched a new brand and ad campaign. We put the logo and image into puzzle form and made about 15 copies of it. Everyone who came to the meeting got one piece. The goal was to make a complete puzzle by finding others with matching pieces. The first group that put together a full puzzle received gift certificates.

At another meeting, the objective was to understand each department’s annual goals and objectives. We provided groups with toy musical instruments (kazoos, ukuleles, harmonicas, etc.). Each group had 45 minutes to put together a five-minute musical presentation on its department. The exercise definitely got everyone to pay attention and increased understanding of each department’s role in the company.

Provide Opportunities for Feedback

Communication is a two-way process, so make sure you provide many opportunities for feedback. Certainly, allowing Q&A at meetings is one way to go, but people are sometimes too shy to ask what they want in front of the larger group. Suggestion boxes are OK, but they, too, lack the personal touch.

One technique that has worked well for me is the brown-bag lunch. Here, the executives literally have lunch with selected employees or departments to talk more intimately about the company. The walls come down and hierarchical distinctions fade, so it’s possible to have a real exchange of ideas in this format. Every exec I’ve ever worked with loves this format not just for getting his or her message out but for better understanding the troops.

Distribute Good News and Collateral

Make sure news releases, good press, customer comments, and outstanding work get circulated among the team. It keeps people fired up and builds a spirit of momentum within the organization. And although those sales brochures are expensive, post them in break rooms or circulate samples to departments so they can see how the company is communicating its message externally.

These are enough tips to get you started. With common sense, some creativity, and a little bit of effort, you can develop an internal marketing program that helps motivate, retain, and educate your team on an ongoing basis.

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