Internal marketing is one of the modern aspects of management, the most applicable in the work with personnel and in quality management. Tightening competition and increasing the number of professionals in modern companies form higher requirements for employee loyalty to the company and incentive and pay systems. Strategic internal marketing may help to solve these tasks.
What Is Internal Marketing?
The theory of internal marketing lies in the fact that the relationship between the company and employees are built on the same basis that the company's relationship with customers. The management "offers" a special product, this is the post with its specific rights and duties. The employee "buys" this product, "paying" for it with his labor. Accordingly, customer orientation as the basis of the traditional understanding of marketing is complemented by the orientation towards the "internal consumer" - the employee.
The advantage of internal marketing is to ensure high-quality standards at all stages of value creation, and not only at the stage of an output of the final product. Thanks to it, employees' motivation for work increases, which means that it can be viewed as a tool for managing the quality of products and services.
The most developed practical aspect of internal marketing is the company's internal marketing research, whose purpose is to find out the "satisfaction" of the company's employees with the "goods and services" of individual departments and the company as a whole. Especially companies that employ a large number of professional employees need such marketing, as the latter may have a low level of loyalty for the following reasons:
- non-hierarchy of knowledge, which leads to the fact that professionals do not consider themselves simply subordinates;
- professionals realize that they do not need a company, but the company needs them;
- often professionals are more attached to their knowledge and work than to the company in which they work.
Strategic Internal Marketing
Internal marketing efforts include the use of the marketing approach with respect to employees; it is the alignment, stimulation, coordination, and integration of personnel for effective application of corporate and functional strategies, with the aim of satisfying the consumer through the process of interaction with motivated and client-oriented personnel.
Internal positioning, like in classical marketing, begins with the allocation of target audiences. And it's not consumers anymore, but employees of the company and its partners. For example, the most typical set of target audiences within a company is:
- various functional units
- all staff
- shareholders (owners).
One of the main internal marketing factors is the loyalty of employees. For this reason, there is a need to consider in more detail the tools associated with increasing the loyalty of employees to the company. It is important to emphasize that internal marketing is precisely a system of activities aimed at building loyalty, commitment. That is, individual events will create a certain prerequisite, but problems will not be solved sine an internal marketing program requires a strong commitment from all the personnel.
Each employee is at a certain stage of loyalty to his organization. And at each stage, it is important to use suitable tools for internal marketing. There are four main stages of loyalty.
- The adaptation phase can last up to six months. At this time, the employee is concerned only with himself: how quickly he will master the work (especially if the activity is unfamiliar), how the collective will perceive him, whether he will be able to live up to expectations and so on. At the same time, he looks around, deciding whether he will work here or not, whether his level of payment, relationship satisfy him, whether he likes the activities that the company is engaged in, its services, its image. At this stage, there is no loyalty.
- The stage of initial (false) loyalty. The employee begins to be introduced into the system, to get acquainted and to accept the corporate culture. He calls himself a part of the company, although he can not feel it yet. At this stage, it is necessary to actively influence the employee's motivation, to familiarize him with the corporate culture. Pieces of training on the formation of corporate culture will be effective here. It is advisable to actively include a person in the organization and conduct of corporate events (holidays, presentations, conferences), start training the necessary skills (sales, negotiations, business communication).
- Stage of belonging to the company. Here there is a process of so-called "purchase". He feels himself part of the team, actively works, develops strategies, makes independent decisions, becomes an active advocate of corporate values, both in the eyes of employees and in the eyes of customers. He shows leadership qualities, can lead others. Such an employee can be recruited already as a mentor.
- The stage of the truth of loyalty, commitment. It is possible to say about such an employee that this person is the soul of the company. Usually, people who have reached the fourth stage already play key roles in the company. A person at this stage cannot separate himself from the organization and feels himself an indispensable part of it. He is actively developing his company. This level of loyalty can be achieved if the company is constantly developing and it has opportunities for growth of employees.
Tips, Advice, and Warnings
In fact, internal marketing is not as simple as it might seem at first glance. Its implementation is associated with significant time and material costs. The disadvantages of this approach are that all attention is focused on the staff of the firm and its satisfaction, the final consumer and the impact of internal marketing activities on his attitude to the company and the level of its satisfaction are not considered. Therefore, the results of internal marketing are difficult to relate to the financial performance of the company. Estimates can not give an idea of whether the resources invested in internal marketing have paid off in the long run.