Once upon a time I was a waitress. I learned a lot of valuable business lessons — how to manage customer expectations, balancing responsibilities and customer demands, and how to stay cool in tough situations. I was fortunate because my restaurant wanted to make sure employees would have loved to dine there as much as customers. I’ve also seen Kitchen Nightmares and know not everyone is the same. Some companies just don’t understand how to market to employees.
Some don’t even think marketing to employees is important.
But marketing to employees isn’t just about seeing them as potential customers. It’s about seeing them as extensions of the brand. Employees can be evangelists, sharing what’s compelling about your company or organization. Or they can be brand bashers, dragging your reputation through the mud online (Domino’s anyone?).
Employees are the ones who bring your brand to life, integrating values and messages into their own daily activities. Their emails should reflect your company’s tone of voice. Their ideas should be aligned with your vision for the future.
Your employees are also the gut-check: if you have a brand that doesn’t fly with your employees, why would it fly with customers?
Marketing to employees includes talking to employees who have been with the company for years, someone onboarding on her first day, as well as candidates you hope to recruit. You are creating a holistic employer brand.
If you’ve forgotten to market to your employees, no worries, there are things you can do to make them part of your marketing strategy:
- For any new campaigns you’re launching in market, host an Apple-style event internally to get everyone excited
- Provide sneak peeks of new products or offerings to employees
- Create in-demand brand swag that your employees would love to sport
- Celebrate when the company wins awards or has great press coverage
- Tie a professional development opportunity with a “bonus” experience — for example, Kelly Clarkson is performing at SHRM
- Make employees part of the brand development process
This scratches the surface, but as you can see, marketing to your employees can be a natural way you develop a strong identity within the organization. As you evolve, your employees will also evolve with you because you’ve made them part of the process.