Villing & Company

Marketing to Your Employees: Say What?

Tons of companies give company-branded gifts to their employees, like a jacket or shirt with the company’s name and logo. Or, if you’re Apple, you give each employee his or her own iPhone. (Now you’re talking!)

But how many companies actually market to their employees? How many companies talk about their brand to their employees and not just to their customers? How often do employees know or truly understand what the company’s brand is or know the organization’s core values?

Many organizations believe that employees know these things intuitively. And some companies probably believe that the external customer is the most important because that’s what generates direct revenue, right?

The problem with this approach is that a company’s employees are often the direct link to the external customer, the front line in the battle to project its brand. That’s why it’s always impressive to find an organization that understands that internal marketing is just as important as external marketing. Sometimes more so. Two companies who really get this are clients of ours.

The GMI Group is a manufacturer and distributor of an extensive variety of packaging products with several divisions and six plants throughout the United States.

GMI does not have a large external marketing budget. But management believes strongly in one of the most fundamental tenets of marketing – employees are the face of the company on many levels. Chris Stoler, president and CEO of GMI, uses the power of internal marketing to motivate his team to the highest levels of customer service possible. He leverages that marketing to make sure that each and every employee is working daily to live up to the company’s customer promise – to project the GMI brand.

Every quarter, Stoler focuses on one aspect of GMI’s customer promise, reinforcing its core values. And he markets this to the company’s employees in many different ways – some traditional like a company newsletter and, yes, those infamous tchotchkes, but also in ways in which many companies would not consider spending marketing dollars or time, like videos. The employees themselves are part of these programs in that they actually participate in the videos – and this participation isn’t limited to just the employees in one plant, but in all of the company’s plants throughout the country. As part of GMI’s internal marketing campaign, Stoler travels to each plant quarterly, personally talking to the employees and discussing why, as members of the GMI team, their role is critical to the company successfully living up to the promise they make to their customer’s every single day.

Another great example of believing the employee is key to an organization’s success is reflected in an initiative our client McDonald’s refers to as “employment image.” This is an important area of focus in our public relations’ efforts on their behalf. While this program certainly includes communicating externally about the many benefits of working at McDonald’s, we are also challenged to help the Owners/ Operators of these restaurants inform and engage their crew so they understand and properly represent the strong McDonald’s brand. This has involved such tools as crew newsletters and videos, as well as some unique crew kits introducing new products – all in the belief that if the crew understands the products they are making and selling, the better they can be in servicing the customer.

It’s always interesting that when you ask a prospective client to discuss their various audiences, they immediately mention external customers and other obvious constituents like shareholders and the media, but they rarely mention their internal customers – the employees.

Internal marketing takes commitment, openness and, yes, a financial investment. But as the clients mentioned above will tell you, what better way to invest your marketing dollars than on the face of your brand?

Filed Under: branding

Villing & Company

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