I know, I know....2009 stunk. Sales were lagging. Customer loyalty flagged and you're tired. You cut expenses down to the bone last year but you're hoping that 2010 will be different. So you are actually thinking marketing.
Great first step.

But my guess is, you're going to aim your marketing spend in the wrong direction. Don't point your initial tactics at prospects or customers. Your first target is closer to home.
Do you want to talk to an audience that has a vested interest in your company and is motivated to see that you're successful?
Look no further than your own employees.
It is one of the most powerful and most overlooked marketing truths out there. Employees that feel appreciated will do the same for your clients. Think of it this way. For every dollar you spend on an employee, you get double your money. You make that employee feel special and appreciated and you fire them up to take even better care of your customers.
Marketing to your employees is a blend of gratitude and creating an insider's mentality. Let them be part of the dream...and thank them for sharing it with you.
Here are some ideas to get you going:

  • Let them in on the secrets: Share the vision. Share the numbers. Paint a picture of where you want to take the company and how they can help you get the team there.

  • Let it be about them: The CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK asks his employees for 101 life goals. When someone exceeds his expectations and he wants to reward them, he looks for ways to help them get closer to one of those life goals.

  • Don't forget their families: When one of your team has been putting in a lot of extra hours and effort, or been on the road for a while, why not send a thank you note or gift to their family?

  • Let them be your customers: The best way they can advocate for your products/services is to use them. If you're an accountant–do their taxes for free. If you sell phones, be sure they always have the latest and greatest.

  • Make them your walking, talking billboards: T-shirts, ball caps, letterman jackets, cool messenger bags – whatever it takes. Make them awesome and plentiful so they'll want to wear them out and often.

  • Keep the conversation going: This isn't a one-time marketing tactic. This needs to be part of your culture. Just like external marketing...it takes time, consistency and a commitment.
    Are you thinking it's crazy to spend your marketing efforts on an internal audience? When you hear stories about Apple, Starbucks or Zappos–aren't you really hearing stories about their employees who went out of their way to create a remarkable customer experience?
    Do you really think that was just a lucky accident?

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    image of Drew McLellan

    Drew McLellan is the CEO of Agency Management Institute, a company serving 250+ agencies to help the owners build profitable agencies that evolve and scale.

    LinkedIn: Drew McLellan

    Twitter: @DrewMcLellan