Internal branding is critical to brand building success. If your employees don’t believe in your brand promise, why should anyone else? Internal branding leads to online and offline brand advocacy that too few companies are leveraging.
Taking that concept a step further, internal branding and vocal brand advocacy from employees will be minimally successful at best if your employees don’t actually use your brand. How can they truly talk about your brand, advocate your brand, develop appropriate new products, and sell your product if they’ve never or rarely used it?
Before you say, “I can’t afford to give my product to every employee,” the key here is getting your employees to use your product so they can better advocate the brand based on personal experience. Not every company can afford to give its products to employees for free. In fact, it’s more likely that very few companies can afford to give their products to employees for free.
Consumer products companies get around this obstacle by providing company stores in their larger office locations and intranet stores where employees can purchase brand items at a discount. A small discount won’t do much to motivate people to purchase your brand over competitors’ brands, but if the store is in the building they work in, the convenience of buying your brand is often enough to turn employees into customers.
Be creative with how you enable employees to use your branded products. If they’re like most consumers, once they try your products (and assuming they like your products after trial), they are likely to become ongoing customers. However, they won’t all like your products or want to advocate your brand.
This is why internal market research is so important. A completely anonymous survey that asks employees to explain why they buy the brand (or why not) and what could be improved to motivate them to buy the brand is an effective tool to identify problems with your products and your brand promise. Again, if your employees don’t believe in your brand promise, why should anyone else?
Your employees are your most untapped marketing opportunity. Employees who believe your brand promise give you free publicity by advocating the brand. They’re also more committed to your brand and company success and are better able to make sell, and support your products and brand strategic objectives. Are you leveraging this powerful marketing asset?
Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more.
She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.