Dr Brian Monger
What is Intenal Marketing?
An increasing number of firms have recognised the need for internal marketing processes. Today, internal marketing is considered a prerequisite for successful external marketing performance
Internal marketing is a management strategy. The focus is on how to develop customer-conscious employees. Goods and services as well as specific external marketing campaigns have to be marketed to employees before they are marketed externally. Every firm, or any organisation, has an internal market of employees, which must first be taken care of. Unless this is done properly the success of the firm’s operation on its ultimate, external markets will be jeopardised.
Effective marketing requires people who understand the idea. And an understanding of the business is expected of people in the organisation and why this is expected of them is not achieved without effort.
A current example of the need for internal marketing relates to the idea of service guarantees. Assuring potential customers that a service will work or otherwise corrective actions will be taken is becoming a means of attracting customers. In theory this concept is good. However, in practice it ‘ will backfire unless internal marketing is properly taken care of. If there is no understanding and mental readiness among employees for fulfilling in a proper manner what a service guarantee promises to customers, this per se excellent means of competition will become a means of disaster instead.
Internal marketing operates as a holistic management process to integrate multiple functions of the firm in two ways.
First, it ensures that the employees at all levels in the firm, including management, understand and experience the business and its various activities and campaigns in the context of an environment that supports customer consciousness.
Second, it ensures that all employees be prepared and motivated to act in a service oriented manner.
The premise of internal marketing is that the internal exchange between the organisation and its employee groups must be operating effectively before the firm can be successful in achieving its goals regarding its external markets.
Relationship marketing and Interactive marketing
The concepts of relationship marketing and interactive marketing were first developed to describe marketing programs directed toward the existing customers of an organisation. Now this has been extended to note that (internal) staff are also part of the (external) relationship
The role of the employees is vital.
Moreover, the marketing specialists of the marketing department are not the only human resource in marketing; often they are not even the most important resource. During customer contacts these marketing specialists are often outnumbered by a variety of employees whose main duties are production, deliveries, technical service, claims handling, and other tasks traditionally considered non-marketing. The skills, customer orientation, and service mindedness of these persons are critical to the customers’ perception of the firm and to future patronage behaviour.
The internal marketing concept
The internal marketing concept states that the internal market of employees is best motivated for service-mindedness and customer-oriented performance by an active, marketing like approach, where a variety of activities are used internally in an active, marketing like and coordinated way.
The need for internal marketing is certainly not new. Certain aspects of internal marketing programs and activities have been used in many firms for a long time. What is new with the internal marketing concept is the introduction of a unifying concept for more effectively managing a variety of inter-functional and frequently well-established activities as part of an overall program aiming at a common objective. The importance of internal marketing is the fact that it allows management to approach all of these activities in a much more systematic and strategic manner.
Two types of management processes
Internal marketing means focusing on two types of management processes, attitude management and communications management.
First of all, the attitudes of employees and the motivation for customer consciousness and service mindedness have to be managed. This can be called the attitude management aspect of internal marketing. This is often the predominant part of internal marketing for an organisation that strives to develop a competitive edge by pursuing a service strategy.
Second, managers, contact persons, and support persons need information to be able to perform their tasks as leaders and managers and as service providers to internal and external customers.
They need information about job routines, goods and service features, promises given to customers by, for example, advertising campaigns and salespersons, and so forth. They also need to communicate about their needs and requirements, their views on how to improve performance, and their findings of what customers want. This is a communication management aspect of internal marketing.
Both attitude management and communication management are needed if good results are to be expected. Too often only the communication management aspect is recognised, and maybe only as a one-way information task. In such cases, internal marketing typically takes the form of campaigns and activities. Internal brochures and booklets are distributed to the personnel, and personnel meetings are held where written and oral information is given to the participants and very little communication occurs. Also, managers and supervisors typically take limited interest in their subordinates and do not recognise their need for feedback information, two-way communication, and encouragement. The employees receive an abundance of information but very little mental encouragement.
Edvardsson, Edvinsson, and Nystrom (1988) introduced the concept of mental management, which is here changed to attitude management.
This, of course, means that much of the information has no major impact on the receivers while the necessary change of attitudes and enhancement of a motivation for good service and customer consciousness is lacking, and the employees are, therefore, not receptive to the information.
If the need for and the nature of the attitude management aspect of internal marketing is recognised and taken into account, internal marketing typically takes the form of an ongoing process instead of a campaign or series of campaigns, and the role of managers and supervisors, on every level, is much more active. Also, much better results are achieved.
Internal marketing is like a marriage. Once you start it, you live with it every day, it never ends.
Overall Objectives of Internal Marketing
The overall objective of internal marketing is twofold:
1. To ensure that the employees are motivated for customer-oriented and service-minded performance and thus successfully fulfil their duties as part-time marketers” in their interactive marketing tasks; and
2. To attract and retain good employees.
The main objective is, of course, to manage the personnel and implement internal action programs so that the employees feel motivated for “part time marketing” behaviour.
The second objective follows from the first one. The better its internal marketing works, the more attractive the firm is considered as an employer. These overall objectives can be developed into more specific goals depending on the situation at hand. Of course, in any specific situation such generally formulated goals have to be specified to meet the requirements of that situation.
Three Levels of Internal Marketing
In principle, three different types of situations can be identified where internal marketing is called for:
1. When creating a service culture in the firm and a service orientation among the personnel;
2. When maintaining a service orientation among the personnel; and
3. When introducing new goods and services as well as marketing campaigns and activities to the employees.
Developing a Service Culture
A service culture exists when a service orientation and an interest in customers are the most important norms in the organisation.
Today, a true service culture is lacking in most firms. In such cases internal marketing is often seen as a means of achieving such a culture. However, internal marketing alone is not sufficient.
It is important to realise that internal marketing programs in a vacuum cannot establish a service culture. Internal marketing can, however, be a powerful means of developing a service culture in connection with other activities. In general, internal marketing goals in this situation are:
1. To enable employees-managers, supervisors, and others-to understand and accept the business mission, strategies, and tactics as well as the goods and services and marketing campaigns of the firm;
2. To develop a service-oriented management and leadership style among managers and supervisors; and
3. To teach all employees service-oriented communications and interaction skills.
It is essential to achieve the first goal, because one cannot expect the employees to understand why services and service orientation and customer consciousness are important and why they have responsibilities as “part time marketers” unless they are aware of what the firm wants to achieve. The second and third goals are important, because service-oriented management methods and skills are fundamental requirements in a service culture.
Maintaining a Service Culture
The second situation where internal marketing can be useful is when one wishes to maintain a service culture. Once such a culture has been created it has to be maintained in an active manner.
Otherwise the attitudes of the personnel and the norms in the firm will easily revert back to a culture where technical efficiency is the main guiding principle. The internal marketing goals for helping to maintain a service culture include:
1. To ensure that the management methods are encouraging and enhance the service-mindedness and customer orientation of the employees;
2. To ensure that the employees get continuous information and feedback; and
3. To market new goods and services as well as marketing campaigns and marketing activities to the employees before they are launched externally.
The most important internal marketing issue here is the management support of every single manager and supervisor. The management style and methods are of extreme importance at this point. Employees seem to be more satisfied with their jobs when supervisors concentrate on solving problems for customers rather than strictly emphasising existing rules and regulations. There are, of course, other factors involved as well.
Because management does not have the ability to directly control service delivery and the Moments of Truth, it has to develop and maintain indirect control. Such indirect control can be established by creating the atmospherics, that is, climate and ethics that make employees feel service is the predominant norm guiding their thinking and behaviour. In this never-ending process, every single manager and supervisor is involved. If they are able to encourage their subordinates, if they can open up communication channels-both formal and informal-and if they make sure that feedback information reaches their subordinates, an established service culture can be expected to continue.
Internal marketing initially emerged as a systematic way of handling problems when firms planned and launched new goods or services or marketing campaigns without properly preparing their employees. Especially contact persons could not perform well as part-time marketers when they did not know what was going on, did not fully accept new goods and services or marketing activities, or learned about new services and advertising campaigns from newspaper ads or TV commercials or from their customers.
These introductions, however, form an internal marketing task in their own right. At the same time, they enhance the maintenance of an established service culture or support the establishment of such a culture. The internal marketing goals for helping with these introductions of new goods, services, and campaigns include:
1 . To make employees aware of and accept new goods and services being developed and offered to the market;
2. To make employees aware of and ensure their acceptance of new marketing campaigns and activities, which are mostly mass marketing; and
3. To make employees aware and accepting of new ways in which various tasks influencing relationship and interactive marketing performance of the firm are to be executed.
Dr Brian Monger is Executive Director of MAANZ International and an internationally known consultant with over 45 years of experience assisting both large and small companies with their projects. He is a specialist in negotiation and behaviour He is also a highly effective and experienced trainer and educator
He is very well known and highly regarded as a Linked In groups manager
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