How to Make Internal Communications Sticky
09.14.2011 / Posted in Articles, Communications
So you’re reviewing your internal marketing strategy results and seeing, well, nothing. Lackluster would be an overstatement. You’ve got silence. No one reads or heeds anything. In fact, you wonder if they even see what you’re putting out. (Note: If you don’t have an internal marketing strategy, you should. Here are clear signs you need to pay more attention to internal marketing.)
What do we mean by internal marketing? Internal marketing is marketing to your employees (and other internal audiences—in some cases, vendors and contractors should be included). Internal marketing efforts ensure that the staff understands the company and its initiatives and gets the information it needs for success. An internal marketing strategy encompasses the messaging and tactics you use to achieve your goals and delineates how you’ll measure results.
If you don’t have an internal marketing strategy, lack of results should be expected. But let’s say that you have a strategy, and you’re still not getting results. There are a number of reasons for the trouble, and one big issue may be that your tactics aren’t sticky enough.
People read and review information that’s sticky because they want to, not just because they have to. And they not only read it once—they keep going back to reread it and see what’s new. Think Facebook. People actively check Facebook and digest the information it provides. Facebook is sticky.
Of course, your internal marketing efforts are probably not the next Facebook. (Although some companies are, indeed, creating internal social networks. And that’s an entirely different article.) However, internal marketing tactics that are clear, fun, and interactive—things that Facebook does well—make all the difference to getting results.
Here are eight tips and ideas to get you brainstorming:
- Rope in management. Communicate with staff directly and through the management team. People need to know what to expect, why it’s important, and what they’re supposed to do with or about it. Don’t assume people know. Don’t launch an internal marketing communication without some background. Because, yeah, people won’t pay attention: “It’s just another random initiative from corporate that doesn’t really matter.” Also, equally importantly, supervisors need to understand the importance of the internal marketing initiative and should consider whether staff pay it attention when doing reviews and evaluations.
- Keep it simple. Don’t have so many communications vehicles that people are overwhelmed, turned off, and burned out. Where do you want people to go for information? The newsletter? The e-mail? The bulletin board? Give people too many places to look, and they’ll stop looking. Information overload is a serious problem—and it’s getting worse in today’s hyperconnected world of e-mail, Internet, and smart phones.
- Short and sweet wins. If you have a lot to say, don’t put it all in one message. Communicate more often. (Just remember tip two and don’t use eighteen different media to do so.) People respond to weekly newsletters that are brief and to the point better than they do to quarterly newsletters that span thousands of words.
- Let them know when to check for updates. Or don’t. Either way, make it intentional and part of the plan. If people know when to expect something—especially if it’s something they enjoy—they’ll actively seek it. However, keeping people in suspense could be a fun game as well, encouraging them to keep checking back. (The latter plan works well with ideas five and six below.)
- Make it a contest. The first person who sends in something related to the messaging wins a prize. For example, you could say that the first reader who finds three things in a communication wins. Ensure that the items they seek pull them through the full communication and encourage them to digest some of the information. Over tip six below, this type of contest is best done as an organization- or division-wide contest—and the prizes should be bigger accordingly.
- Give rewards. Have supervisors or management give quizzes to their departments or direct reports based on the information in the communication, and all people who win the quizzes should get a reward. Prizes should be smaller than the ones for tip five, but still valued. One FrogDog client found that gas cards were a huge motivator. Another found that staff loved gift cards for family activities, like the movies. Another client gave winners free-dress or jeans days.
- Bring the interactivity. Give staff a way to respond. Encourage them to submit comments, feedback, and even full articles. And reward submissions and comments, whether through prizes, praise, or both. And ensure their supervisors know about their participation.
- Don’t forget the value of vanity. Include photos and names—and the contributions from tip seven (with bylines). People love stuff by and about themselves and the people they know.
A friendly reminder: Your internal marketing activities should be as true to your brand promise as your external marketing activities. Employees won’t feel like they need to keep the brand promise across the enterprise if you don’t. (For more about brand promises and how to keep them in your marketing, read our branding series.)
Good luck! And if you need help creating that internal marketing strategy, why, you know who to call.