By: R. Lynn Burkholder
Marketing an experience requires more than external marketing, such as advertising and promotion. It also relies on internal marketing, which involves marketing to the company’s internal customers: its employees.
The goal of internal marketing is to have all employees working as a team to provide exceptional service to the customer. Unlike product marketing, in which a small percentage of employees interact with the customer, in a service business, many employees encounter the customer. As a result, the marketing department relies heavily on everyone in the organization being engaged in marketing. Internal marketing is so integral to the service product that it must precede traditional marketing efforts. In other words, a business would not begin to promote a product until it is confident that the product will satisfy its customers.
When planned and executed properly, internal marketing positively impacts the moment of truth when the employee and customer interact. In a service business, this moment can make or break the customer’s experience. Internal marketing is a process with three primary components: establishment of a service culture within the organization, development of a marketing approach to human resources, and communicating marketing information to employees.
Establishing a Service Culture
In a service culture, the customer is at the top of the organizational pyramid or structure and the company executives are at the bottom. This illustrates to all employees that the organization has adopted a service culture, or a system of values and beliefs, whereby delivering quality service to the customer is first and foremost.
Developing a Marketing Approach to Human Resources
Internal marketing also requires that human resources engage the principles of marketing to attract and retain employees. This requires an understanding of the employees’ needs and desires, similar to how external marketing approaches the customer. Employment opportunities should be advertised or communicated with the desired employee in mind. Once the right employees are hired, marketing principles are also employed to retain them. This means keeping employees engaged by continuous training and development, teamwork, and rewarding exemplary customer service.
Communicating Marketing Information to Employees
Finally, a service culture arms its employees with information related to marketing promotions, events, and campaigns. Such organizations understand that the best way to communicate with the customer is through employees who encounter customers as part of their jobs. This is often accomplished through daily briefings, which typically include information on special guests, new offerings, current marketing promotions, and any issues that may impact the customer that day, such as construction or maintenance work.
The service profession is unique in that employees are an integral part of the product. Successful service organizations recognize that employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction are interrelated and manage their organizations accordingly.
R. Lynn Burkholder is president of RLB Marketing LLC, a business development firm specializing in strategic planning for the hospitality, entertainment, travel, and professional services industries.