The Internal Marketing is Dead!
“Advertising spends tens of thousands of dollars to show a movie star wearing cologne that it actually wants to sell to women in love who have no money and romantic secretaries worldwide. It tries to lead them in the name of an inaccessible dream of wealth. Advertising does not sell products or ideas, but a fake and hypnotic model of happiness.”
— Oliviero Toscani — Advertising is a Smiling Carrion.
With this text I start this article and you will know why.
No, Internal Marketing is not dead (yet). But the way it is currently done needs to be reviewed. First, it is important to make a basic distinction, because many people confuse the terms. Internal communication and Internal Marketing are not the same. There are numerous definitions from several authors, which confuse us even more. But I developed a simple way to differentiate one from another. Imagine a magazine or a newspaper. The ads, which aim to sell an idea, service or product, are equivalent to Internal Marketing. Now news, being of purely informative nature, is Internal Communication. Thus, Internal Marketing is within Internal Communication.
Therefore, Internal Marketing aims to sell an idea (strategic, motivational and supporting management) to the employees that the company wants to convey to them, such as a campaign to reduce the use of paper, for example, or even a work safety campaign. The problem is that in most cases, the company is one in theory and another in practice.
People are becoming immune to persuasive messages and no longer believe in advertising that says a car will make people more beautiful, confident and manly. This is where the conclusions of Oliviero Toscani come into place, already back in 1995! They look for an authentic and useful interaction with brands, changing the question from “How can you help me impress others?” to “How can you help me make my life better, easier or more meaningful?” The same example can be used for messages and actions proposed by Internal Marketing: there is no point in saying “you are our most valuable asset” and in practice treating employees as a necessary evil. Once we started talking about the interaction of brands and significant companies, we raised the thought of Communication for Design.
We live in the era of experience. Just like Marketing is adapting, Internal Marketing needs to adapt also. According to Kotler in his excellent Marketing 3.0, the marketing professional needs to identify the needs and desires of consumers to be able to guide their minds, hearts and spirits. In other words, people are searching for companies that give meaning to their lives, providing an authentic and unique experience. This is the context where Employee Experience (EX) enters.
Employee Experience consists of numerous touchpoints (points of contact) that employees have with their employer. Believe it or not, the number of interactions that an employee has with a company can be in the hundreds, including with internal systems, other employees, managers, work environment, equipment, recruitment and selection, integration, murals, newsletters, intranet and countless others.
Each touchpoint with the employee is a moment of truth where you can impact the employee’s engagement positively or negatively. Each point of contact offers the opportunity to be loved or hated.
Companies are striving to improve employee engagement, however, they rarely develop a more comprehensive view of the Employee Experience, working on each one of the points of contact. Employee Experience is often confused with Employer Branding, which are different things.
It’s time to take Employee Experience more seriously and think about how to improve and optimize hundreds of points of contact between the employee and the company. This can range from an improvement on the User Experience (UX) of the company’s internal systems and intranet — complex systems are difficult and annoy employees — to reviewing recruitment and selection (R&S) procedures — since hiring the wrong person due to lack of profile alignment costs the company more than you think. These are just two examples. Now imagine understanding, observing, defining, idealizing, prototyping and testing hundreds of internal processes of a company focusing on people.
Why is this important? Because it is a critical component for cost management and to lead to an improvement in business results. Who bears this responsibility? The company’s Presidency, HR and Marketing. How to do this? Through the mindset of Design Thinking, but that’s another story.
Remember the experience principle:
“People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget what you made them feel.“
— Maya Angelou.