Engagement Marketing

Internal Marketing – New Definition

Internal marketing is a critical management concept that is difficult to explain, let alone define. Throughout my work in the field, I’ve defined internal marketing simply as “the application of marketing inside an organization to instill customer-focused values.”

But now there’s a new, more comprehensive definition – thanks to the Fall 2005 graduate class in internal marketing, part of Northwestern University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.

“Internal Marketing is the ongoing process whereby an organization aligns, motivates and empowers employees at all functions and levels to consistently deliver a positive customer experience that helps achieve business objectives.”

What I love about this expanded definition is that it captures aspects of both internal marketing and internal branding. The new definition is a result of an Internal Marketing Best Practice Study funded by the Forum for People Performance Management & Measurement.

I’ll have more on this study in my next post.


Best Wishes in the New Year

Dear readers & fellow bloggers,

With the New Year approaching, this quote from comedian Joey Adams is timely:

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.

Best wishes for a happy & healthy New Year!


Engagement Marketing

When Employee Engagement is a Joke

For some time now, I’ve enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek philosophy of E. L. Kersten, author of The Art of Demotivation and provider of anti-motivational posters & products on his site: Here are a few choice quotes:

  • Apathy: If we don’t take care of the customer, maybe they’ll stop bugging us.”
  • “Get to Work: You aren’t being paid to believe in the power of  your dreams.”
  • “Worth: Just because you’re necessary doesn’t mean you’re important.”

(Enjoy checking out the complete list of demotivational quotes.)

But I’ve also had mixed feelings.  We all need to lighten up (like Sergeant Hulka, I have a “hell of a sense of humor”), yet I wonder if displaying these cynical, anti-Successories-type items might send the wrong message or be misinterpreted.

The sad truth is Kersten’s Despair, Inc. business wouldn’t be successful if it didn’t resonate with people.  There are too many organizations out there whose only effort to engage employees is to display motivational posters and/or initiate token recognition programs. Kersten’s satire is an effective way to deal with these shallow efforts.

And for those of us who are passionate about employee engagement, it’s also an opportunity to poke fun at ourselves … while reminding us of the importance of our work.

Engagement Marketing

Goodbye, Peter Drucker – You’ll be Missed

I had to comment on the recent passing of Peter F. Drucker, aka the “father of modern management.”  I’ve followed his teachings throughout my career, especially as my work in services marketing evolved to focus on internal marketing and nonprofit marketing.

Drucker was truly a visionary who advocated:

  • Employee value … “People are a resource and not just a cost.”
  • Customers as the focal point of business … “To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business.”
  • Marketing as “the distinguishing … unique function of business” (see Customers above), and
  • the Importance of the Social Sector … “The nonprofit exists to bring about change in individuals and in society.”

Here’s my favorite quote from Peter Drucker, and it comes to mind every time I finish up an internal marketing session:

“If a client leaves this room feeling he has learned a lot he hadn’t known before, he is either a stupid client or I’ve done a poor job as a consultant.  He should leave saying, ‘I know all this — why haven’t I done anything about it?'”*

Thank you, Peter, for your incredible legacy.  You’ll be greatly missed.

*Note: No offense meant to those who attend my internal marketing programs; I truly value their interest & willingness to learn more about it.  Most feel internal marketing is intuitive and already buy-into the concept (hence my experience of “preaching to the choir”) … the challenge is getting more organizations to put it into practice.

Marketing Training & Development

CPR for Marketing? Part 2

My last post rekindled the issue of marketing’s value based on an extremely limited sample of two marketing colleagues.

But I do have a bigger anecdotal sample to draw from, and it’s based on the hundreds of business professionals who attend the American Marketing Association’s Marketing Boot Camp that I teach around the country.  The attendees come from different size organizations in a variety of industries.  Most are fairly new to marketing & a few are seasoned veterans who come for a back-to-basics refresher.

The moment of truth

Early in the program we review a comprehensive definition of marketing … then we “get real” as I ask attendees to candidly describe the marketing function in their organizations.

On the downside, I’ve heard responses such as “We’re the ones who get blamed when sales doesn’t make their quota” to “We’re the ones they come to when they need an ad or brochure” and “What’s marketing?”

Not all doom & gloom

I’ve also heard from attendees (the fortunate ones) who tell me their marketing is both a strategic player and respected function.  It all depends on on the situation within the organization and how executive management views marketing.

What to do if you’re not among the fortunate?  Stay tuned for my next post …

Customer service Engagement Marketing

Corporate Culture Thought for the Day

Don’t you just love all those car ads promoting consumer pricing based on employee discounts?  (“You pay what our employees pay!”)

Treating customers like employees … an interesting concept.

Ponder this (if you dare)

Let’s take it beyond sales promotion for a moment.  Here’s an interesting question for you to consider: What would be the impact on your customers if they really were treated like employees of your organization?

The answer depends on your organization.  If you and your colleagues can respond positively, you’re among the fortunate.

If your answer is anything less than positive, my heart goes out to you (and your fellow employees and your customers).  In this case, if you’re able to explore other options, here’s my advice (with apologies to Lee Iacocca): If you can find a better deal with another employer, take it!

Customer service Engagement Marketing

Employee Satisfaction: Happiness Pays

“Dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.”  It’s one of my favorite quotes from nonprofit leader Frances Hesselbein, and it’s an important reminder for all organizations.

To all those reading this blog: how many people do you know who are truly happy in their workplace?  Most of my friends in this situation are the ones who are self-employed; i.e., spared the BS of inane office politics and the incompetents in charge.  (As I’ve explained to friends & family over the years, the reason I’m happily self-employed is because I work for someone I respect.)

Why should management care about how its people feel?  The benefits of a positive workplace go beyond the warm & fuzzy directly to the bottom line.  According to the Customer Loyalty Research Center, which specializes in measuring both employee and customer satisfaction & loyalty, employees who have better relationships with their companies are more likely to:

  • Stay with the company, reducing turnover costs.  (You want sticker shock? Ask Human Resources what this really costs.)
  • Recommend the company to other potential employees, reducing search expense (which also makes HR folks happy)
  • Be more productive on the job
  • Provide higher service levels, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction & loyalty (which should make everyone happy).

What does the Customer Loyalty Research Center use to measure employee satisfaction & loyalty? They look at variables that contribute to overall job satisfaction including:

  • Relationships with managers and co-workers
  • Customer-focus
  • Organizational improvement
  • Rewards & recognition
  • Communication.

How do you tell if your organization needs to get serious about employee satisfaction?  Here’s the magic question — just ask employees “Would you refer a friend to work here?”  It’s a loaded question, but one that will give you tremendous insight into your organization.

Customer service Engagement Marketing

Pop Quiz: Customers 101

Over the years I’ve developed internal marketing as an approach that recognizes the value of employees in serving customers. (Remember my mantra: take care of the employees & they’ll care of the customers.) 

You can use marketing to communicate with, educate, and motivate employees as effectively as you use it to communicate with, educate, and motivate customers. Especially when it’s based on respect — giving employees the tools they need to serve customers and each other (i.e., employees as “internal” customers).

I’m talking about the basics here … letting staff know as much as possible about your customers.  Basic stuff like:

  • who your customers are (e.g., general customer profiles & product usage)
  • what’s important to them in dealing with you
  • how they feel about your organization (from customer satisfaction surveys, complaint tracking)
  • what competitive options they have, etc.

Does any of this info get shared with employees, or is it kept for senior management’s eyes only? Excluding proprietary & confidential data, the more employees know about their customers, the better they can serve them.

Try giving your staff a quiz sometime about your customers (you can use some of the questions listed above). And if the very thought of doing this scares you, it means you have your homework cut out for you. Communicate with & educate your employees about your customers. The results will benefit everyone involved.

Engagement Marketing

Art Imitating Life

Check out AirTran Airways ad: “Fired” created by Cramer-Krasselt advertising about an employee who gets a phone call from his boss telling him he’s fired. The boss is living it up at a conference when he makes the call. Then you see the fired-employee getting on an AirTran flight to the conference. Just as the boss is making his speech about how important employees are and how profits are up (yadda … yadda … ), the employee rushes across the stage to tackle the guy. (Right on!)

Unfortunately, too many organizations claim employees as their number one asset, but it’s only lip service.

According to Dilbert creator Scott Adams in The Dilbert Principle, guess what line holds the #1 spot on the list of “Great Lies of Management?” It’s none other than “Our employees are our most valuable asset.”

Human capital … don’t you just love that term? Living, breathing “assets” or pure overhead? … What’s more important than what an organization calls its people is how it treats them. The truly smart, successful organizations are those who value both their customers AND their employees, and they demonstrate their commitment to both groups in their culture and operations. It’s what internal marketing is all about.


Engagement Marketing Musings

Warm & Fuzzy Marketing? Get Real!

Since this is my first post on the new Quality Service Marketing blog, I wanted to tell you about my concept of internal marketing.  It can best be summed up by this quote from hotelier J. W. Marriott: “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your customers.”

It’s a philosophy and corporate culture espoused by Marriott and many others (whom I’ll be citing over time in this blog). And it’s based on the premise that the way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel.

What’s amazing to me is the reaction I get from some executives when I talk about internal marketing. You can see their eyes glaze over as they say to themselves, “Here it comes, the old ‘warm & fuzzy’ stuff.”

On the contrary, it’s not ‘warm & fuzzy’ but crystal clear in that customer relations mirrors employee relations. Here’s the bottom line: if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers!

Unfortunately, too many organizations claim employees as their number one asset, but don’t walk the talk. In this day and age where employees are expected to create a positive experience for customers and deliver on the brand promise, managers can no longer afford to pay lip service to employees. Employees can tell the difference and so can customers!

I’ll have more to share in future posts …