Good advertising is not the same as good marketing.
Advertising is one piece of a marketing strategy. Effective marketing converts a customer into a loyalist. Establishing a connection and delivering an experience are the necessary elements for the customer-to-loyalist conversion to occur. This is internal marketing.
Internal Marketing: Creating an Experience
Internal marketing is in the details. It’s the essence of a business. As the French would say, it is the ‘Je ne sais quoi.’ These details showcase the intangible of caring without having to say, “We care.”
Creating an experience is as important as the end product or service and is what matters when recruiting loyalists to unknowingly join your company’s marketing team by telling the world through sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google Reviews about their love (or disdain) of your enterprise.
Examining customer touch points is where the development of internal marketing begins. The goal is to deliver a five-star experience for each customer interaction. Using a restaurant as an example, note the numerous points of contact before a meal is ever served.
- Website: The digital first impression should be organized and professional.
- Phone: Formal phone manners make an impression before an arrival.
- Parking: Poorly marked parking areas or difficulty finding a space is arduous.
- External Cleanliness: Landscaping, cleanliness of sidewalks make an impression.
- Internal Cleanliness: Cleanliness of bathrooms, lobby and dining room say a lot.
- Greeting by Host/Hostess: A warm greeting can set the right tone.
- Time: Being seated, receiving the menu, ordering food and drink and receiving the food are details that greatly impact an experience.
- Interactions: Attitude of the server plays the largest role during the experience.
If asked to be a secret shopper, what merits a five-star review? If the food is impeccable, but all touch points mediocre, five stars is unlikely. What motivates an individual to make the effort to post via social media? The answer is simple, sell an experience versus a product or service. In the list above, the individual details don’t appear to hold great importance, but the combination of each affects the experience. The fine points do matter.
Similar to a Broadway production, business operators must pay close attention to the minutiae. Before the curtain ascends, hours of preparation is focused on how the audience will judge the show. Beyond the playhouse being clean, the lighting must be correct, audio fine-tuned, actors well-rehearsed and support staff from the ushers to the concession attendants, well-trained. When the curtain rises, the show will not stop until the last note is sung and final bow is made. Thereafter, the process is repeated meticulously. The success of the show will be heavily influenced by the critics in the audience who publish reviews of praise or disappointment. So it is with organizations. When the doors open each day, we are judged not just by our product or service, but also on how we make customers feel.
Each customer possessing a smartphone has the capability to reach hundreds or thousands of people within minutes. Leveraging customers to be advocates will yield a higher return on investment than any form of advertising.
5 Steps to Improve Internal Marketing
- Assess all customer points of contact utilizing the five senses: touch, taste, hearing, visual and smell. Evaluate each impression on five stars.
- Evaluate employees and their ability to deliver amazing service.
- Inquire how your customers feel about the experience using surveys, or just ask!
- Be adaptable to make necessary changes to achieve five-star outcomes.
- Consistently deliver a great experience each day.
Generating traffic via advertising is one segment of a marketing blueprint. Retaining and converting customers into devotees is more comprehensive. An unyielding attention to the fine points activates word-of-mouth marketing and separates a business from its competition.
Word-of-mouth is more influential than any form of advertising and cannot be purchased from an ad agency. It is created internally at a nominal price and can be achieved by any business owner interested in creating an experience while simultaneously selling a product or service.