Internal Marketing: When Marketing and Human Resources Collide

Integrating internal marketing into HR management? It is no longer a novelty, but a proven technique, and here it is!

Work environment
Company Culture

Stephan Poirier

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Are you worse shod than shoemaker’s wife?  Are you one of those organizations that offer excellent customer service and excellent products, but can’t seem to do the same for your employees?

You need a little dose of internal marketing, so to speak. It is important to know that it is not only up to your sales force to use marketing strategies; the same approach can be very useful in HR management. You need to be very careful though: when marketing and human resources join forces, you get results!

What is internal marketing?

Traditionally speaking, marketing is a set of methods used to enhance communication with the customer by offering them a product that meets their needs and wants.

To do so, specialists usually turn to marketing mix, which is a strategy that turns to the four P’s of marketing: Product (goods or services offered), Price (output and release), Place (distribution network), Promotion (method of communication and advertising). However, what does that have to do with HR management? In reality, internal marketing is largely inspired by marketing itself. If traditional marketing consists of establishing a constant dialogue with the customer to better pinpoint specific characteristics and to better adjust the production of a product to match the customer’s needs; in human resources internal marketing, the customer is replaced by your employee.

Do you notice a good transfer of skills? Most organizations have a very competent marketing department – now you need to learn from it and incorporate, when possible, a few of the best techniques in human resources management. It is a very efficient approach: it will engage your employees and will make them your organization’s best promoters.

How can you integrate internal marketing into HR management?

This strategy, which may seem unfathomable, is more accessible than you may think. In fact, the main techniques of internal marketing, and more importantly, its benefits for your organization, will be addressed in three different parts!

1. Client-based approach

With your current employees

In this case, the employee represents the client, and all the noble aspects that being a client entails. Hence, internal marketing translates into a real willingness to adapt working conditions to the employees’ needs, to offer them a “product” that corresponds to their needs and to their expectations. It is a way to ensure “customer loyalty”, or in other words, to engage employees and to increase your retention rate.

In this respect, one of the basic principles of marketing states that it costs less for a company to retain a client who wishes to leave than to go through the process of gaining a new one. Is that not a familiar practice in human resources?

Although it can be more complicated, it is nonetheless more optimal to modify the organizational structure to keep good employees than it is to constantly recruit and train new ones.

With potential candidates

That being said, an organization will have to recruit at some point. Once again, the employer can benefit from internal marketing. The development and job offers that correspond to the needs (and wants!) of the workforce inevitably place that organization as an employer of choice. It is a strategy that not many organizations can do without, especially when the industry is characterized by a shortage of qualified personnel.

This way of seeing the labour market, through internal marketing, also allows you to develop recruiting techniques adapted to target candidates. In other words, if you take the time to study target “clients” (the ideal employee), and you develop a strategy to recruit them by offering a product (a job) that corresponds to their needs, you will optimize your chances of welcoming the best candidates in your ranks!

2. The quality of internal service

It is also possible to adopt the internal marketing strategy to work organization. That does not necessarily mean that you need to revise all your organizations’ operations; you only need to change the way you perceive it. Instead of training your teams and different departments to work in isolation, make them communicating vessels who will respect each other.

In this regard, have you even notice that some employees are often very polite with external clients, but they show a serious lack of respect with their internal suppliers (the other departments in the organization)?

Consider establishing a respectful and trustful working environment among the different teams by implementing an internal client ideology. Hence, each department must consider the team they depend on as an internal client, and must treat them with the same thoroughness and respect as they would treat an external client. So, that means they need to provide timelines, as well as time and cost estimates, while also monitoring the quality of offered products and of customer service.

3. An integral part of commercial strategy

By integrating your employees into the very core of a promotion strategy, you are showing them that they are a part of the organization’s commercial strategy, and that they are important factors in achieving organizational objectives and success.

Your employees are your best advocates, so provide them with only positive things to say! Make sure your employees appreciate your products, that they talk about them and consume them (when possible). Employees are important clients, so don’t neglect them. In this respect, foresee corporate rebate programs, special offers, and even samples which will all contribute to increasing your personnel’s sense of belonging, all while allowing them to benefit from the fruit of their labour.

A virtuous cycle, not a vicious one!

For some, the internal marketing approach may seem like a vicious cycle, an illogical reversal of the workplace. It is quite the opposite! Remember that is a virtuous cycle – a set of procedures that improve a situation. No company can say no to that!

In reality, internal marketing is a skillful way to apply your business strategy in-house. Make sure to establish a constant dialogue with your employees in order to better understand them and to offer them working conditions that meet their needs. You have been warned: when marketing and HR management join forces, you get results!

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