Driving content marketing success with an inside-out strategy

Amber Whiteman

15 January 2018

When you think of content marketing, understandably your first thought may go to marketing to your customers. Yet, many businesses are also seeing the benefits of fostering better communications (and collaboration) among their own employees.

So, why is internal marketing so important?

Potentially it could be one of the most essential types of marketing.

Many of today's forward-thinking executives realize customers’ attitudes towards a company are based on the entire experience and that their employees are managing every moment along a customer’s journey. There's a strong belief that the inner strengths of their people can bring the brand to life and make a lasting impact.

Here are a few areas of consideration when developing a content marketing strategy with the employee in mind:

Build on-brand behavior that becomes instinctive

Happy, informed employees work more effectively and act as the steward of the company’s brand, voice, and messaging. Unfortunately, in most companies, internal marketing isn’t always a focus.

The goal of internal marketing is very similar to an external campaign: to create an emotional connection that engages and retains the target audience. Applying the principles of consumer and business marketing to your internal communications can be one of the most effective ways to build loyal advocates and brand ambassadors, inside-out.

Disney is an obvious example of their focus on the Disney Difference, where it spends a lot of effort communicating its benefits to existing and prospective employees. Organizations that weave brand messaging into employees’ everyday experiences—including employee recognition and reviews, referral programs, sales playbooks, and new employee orientations—can begin to see the effects in customer and employee satisfaction.

A Gallup 2017 report stated that employees who are highly engaged consistently also help their organization improve customer relationships and obtain impressive organic growth with a 10% increase in customer metrics and a 20% increase in sales.

Actively encourage experimentation

Many companies are uncovering groundbreaking innovations and new business models by launching intrapreneurship programs, entrepreneurship within an established company, and facilitating hackathons that go beyond coding. 

These brainstorming and development sessions reveal new ideas, solicit employee creativity, and encourage a healthy competition internally which performs as an incubator inside the company.  Through this collaborative brainpower process, organizations like Google, Virgin America, and BMW  give their employees a platform and resources to generate innovative ideas.

Companies can then select the top ideas that range from customer experience improvements to product enhancements that can be modeled to test among real consumers to analyze the results before implementation. 

Build a culture of content

Curating and building content is no small feat. Successful content begins with the people and processes that make up your business: your culture.

To help gain internal support of your content marketing program, create a culture built around content creation. This goes beyond the walls of the marketing department. Organizations need to involve all departments early on, including sales, customer service, and product teams.

Look for ways to break down communication barriers and create a platform where people share ideas, opinions, and experiences which could be used externally for marketing and other customer-facing activities. Find employee stories and put them in the spotlight. Identify subject matter experts and publish a thought leadership article or blog from them. Interview a product team member to share something that helps educate your customer rather than sells.

Customers are more likely to support companies that are known for their caring reputations and are interested in building long-term relationships with them and their employees.

One way to facilitate this is through forums or a robust social collaboration solution, where employees can share, problem solve, and improve engagement with each other. There are a variety of options such as Yammer, Microsoft Teams, Salesforce Chatter, or LinkedIn Groups.

Then listen, listen, listen. You’re bound to discover remarkable amounts of notable content that reflects your company culture. 

Extend your social reach

As business leaders understand, the impact of social media on a company’s reputation can be significant. Many companies have a community manager or social media team, but there are benefits to empowering your employees to share your posts across their own social networks.

In today’s market, there is a rising lack of trust in all organizations, and employees are increasingly becoming an influence to brand credibility and trust. A strong culture translates through social channels and raises brand perception.

But how do employers encourage their employees to share company news and information? Here are four recommendations:

  1. Make it easy. To drive employee adoption and content amplification, companies need to provide readily accessible tools (tip: mobile apps can help) and content to enable sharing. Once you put a system in place and gently encourage employees to share your company’s social media updates, you will significantly expand your social media presence.
  2. Increase awareness. Communicate updates about key company announcements and news to keep them informed.
  3. Value their time. To save employees time and to reduce risk, provide approved messages with simple guidelines that enable them to post on their social networks easily.
  4. Keep it real. As employees promote your company, values, and culture on their own social media accounts, make sure they are encouraged to be authentic and use their unique voices and share what is most relevant to them. Genuine posts are more important than using sales and marketing jargon.

Incorporate the voices, expertise, and knowledge of your company’s greatest assets—your employees—and the benefits can reach far beyond just the output. Actively align the interests of all stakeholders within the context of the customer and you’ll achieve stronger customer experience and business results simultaneously.

If this topic piques your interest and you're looking to incorporate an inside-out content strategy, make sure to get in touch.