Here is an unpopular opinion: companies can exist without culture. Andrus Purde, Founder of Outfunnel and an experienced marketer, says: “Of course it’s possible to build a business with a “we don’t care about culture” attitude. But don’t forget that eventually, you’ll have to pay the price for it”. The price for neglecting a company’s culture is, usually: higher turnover rates and stress levels, lower motivation and more frequent burnouts.
However, building a strong company culture requires serious effort. Andrus carries on: “I suppose, it’s better to have a ‘no culture’ attitude rather than to put a single ping-pong table, craft a PowerPoint presentation about a mission and say ‘this is our culture now’. In reality, company culture is something intangible and something that takes a lot of work”.
When asking, if marketing tools can help build a better culture, the intuitive answer seems to be: why not? “Taking a simplistic look at any marketing activity, it’s basically defining what you stand for and conveying it to the right audience”, — Andrus explains.
In other words, marketing practices can be leveraged within a team. By defining what you stand for, you automatically define your values, which are crucial for having a strong culture. As for conveying those to the right people, marketing channels, like emails or posters, can be a big help in internal communication. “Moreover, — Andrus adds, — marketing teams will help you make those emails and posters look good, and that’s also important”.
Step 1. Define the strategy
Go back to the days when you were thinking about your external marketing strategy. Now you’ll have to do the same for your internal team. Only this time it will be easier. “External and internal marketing communication should always be aligned, — says Andrus, — It’s important to use the same style, language, even the same tone of voice”.
Indeed, if you juggle jokes and memes in external channels, but start your internal emails with dry and formal “good morning, dear colleagues”, that’s obviously quite confusing.
A good example of combining external and internal marketing mechanics can be found in an IBM e-business campaign. In 1997, IBM emphasized the fact that the Internet is the future, and the company itself is the future leader of e-business. They bought a spot in the Wall Street Journal to place ads, targeting external clients. Simultaneously, they launched an identical internal communication campaign in their offices. As a result, employees became more aware of the company’s strategy and autonomously increased their efforts to e-business activities.
One might say that aligning external and internal marketing strategies helps creating a feeling of integrity within a company. It will, through that, increase the probability that team members become brand ambassadors at some point.
Step 2. Know what you’re saying and why
Both external and internal marketing have similar goals. “To a large extent, the external marketing goal is to help a business reach its objectives. Then, the internal marketing goal is to make sure that teams know about these objectives”, — explains Andrus.
It doesn’t mean that you should limit your internal communication to reminding people about the number of leads they need to generate this month. Internal marketing should go hand in hand with the company’s culture. Doing it right, means that you’re weaving the company’s values into all internal communication.
For instance, Nike is steadily moving in the direction of becoming internal storytellers. Instead of providing their teams with data and numbers, they spice up emails with inspiring stories. Like the one where Bill Bowerman, Nike’s co-founder, placed a rubber in a waffle iron and invented a prototype for a new shoe sole. These types of stories unobtrusively promote the company’s values, including innovation, creativity, and their trademark “just do it” attitude.
Step 3. Communicate as much as you can (but not too much)
It may be tempting to set up an internal channel in Slack, to occasionally post an inspiring quote there and then call it a day. But marketing-wise, building an internal brand requires much more than that. You should strike a balance between burying your team under tons of marketing materials and leaving them unaware that you have a brand at all.
“Some companies rely on their Intranet too much, — says Andrus, — Although it’s a good tool, it doesn’t solve the issue of internal communication because some people just mute the chats and don’t bother to check them. Smart companies complement an Intranet with other offline and online resources, like 1:1 meetings or newsletters”.
Presuming that you’d like to join the “smart” bunch of companies, make sure to engage in regular, vivid, face-to-face meetings. Here, at Beetroot, we work with distributed teams and it’s sometimes hard to meet in person as often as one should, but we realize the importance of bringing people together for offline chats. One of our tools is the regular team brunch. It helps us keep teams sync’d and updated on what is going on within the company. Plus, it aligns with our cultural values, which include nurturing family vibes and remaining a closely-knit team. And it’s delicious, that’s also important.
Including marketing activities into internal company’s life contributes to building a stronger culture. If you succeed, then at some point your team will absorb the company vision and subconsciously include it in their daily work.