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Why your most important audience is internal in a rebrand

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Earnest on why focusing on prioritizing audiences will help elevate brand campaigns

In B2B marketing, we love a bit of net new logo acquisition. ABM, funnels, metrics, CTAs and CPAs. Nothing wrong with all that. But there’s often a valuable target audience that B2B marketers completely lose sight of.

In fact, there’s one scenario when this audience is also the most important one. As the title of the post points out, when you do a rebrand – before you launch externally – make sure to spend resources internally.

And it’s important to do it properly.

Internal comms is often neglected and sometimes woeful for that matter. There’s the odd email, and maybe if you’re ‘lucky’ a chief exec announcement. And engaging the internal audience has undoubtedly been made harder due to WFH.

The stats are pretty shocking – employees confessing to feeling out of touch with what’s going on, often disengaged and unmotivated, and there are also clearly-researched links with how this affects company performance. Research shows that 74% of employees think they are missing out on company news, while 72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of the company’s strategy, which hinders the output performance. Meanwhile, only 23% of executives say that their companies are excellent at aligning employees’ goals with corporate purposes. An Ark Group survey among chief execs found ‘effective internal communication’ as the critical factor in delivering good employee engagement by almost 95% of those surveyed (unsurprisingly). But worryingly, only 22% thought it was being delivered.

But don’t worry. If you spend the time strengthening your brand internally, the stats become pretty compelling.

A strong brand reduces cost per hire by 50% and typically delivers 50% more qualified applicants. And to top that, organizations with effective change and communication programs are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers.

So, making internal comms effective means focusing as hard as you would for an external campaign.

  1. Make a plan just as you would for an external campaign: objectives, audience, messaging, tactics, KPIs, timeline – the full works

  2. Audience profiling: are there any identifiable segments, for example a big development team not part of the mainstream organization, or a customer service team who get the most stress from customer complaints? Bear in mind frontline staff will be the face and the experience of the new brand

  3. Senior stakeholder involvement: this is a great opportunity to engage with execs and get them to be more visible internally, and part of delivering the brand story they’ve been a part of

  4. Regular cadence: not just a one-off ‘launch.’ You won’t embed your new brand story or change behaviors overnight. The internal comms task is about long-term sustained activity and change management. So think about what you’re going to on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis

The opportunity for B2B marketers

Too often, no one owns the internal comms function. It sometimes sits loosely in HR, it is sometimes an add-on for marketing.

My belief is that internal comms is a great opportunity for B2B marketers to drive the internal agenda and also forge a closer working relationship with HR. By working with internal HR stakeholders to align to people, objectives and culture, marketing can lead on strategy, messaging and tactics.

And let’s be super clear – internal comms will deliver great ‘external’ outcomes.

Because if you can get your new positioning and brand story embedded with every employee, you’ve just exponentially increased your marketing firepower – with no extra budget needed.

Let’s take a very realistic scenario. Imagine you’re a B2B brand with 1,000 employees. Let’s reasonably assume that 20% of these employees are in some way customer facing and active on LinkedIn (and not just looking for jobs), and then let’s say each employee has an average LinkedIn following of 250 people. If you create a great new brand video, and share it internally and across social channels, then your bought-in employees would share it with 50,000 people. That’s a pretty decent audience reach for zero media spend.

So it’s time to do our branding campaigns and launches justice – by starting with the audience you need most to make this a success.

Chris Wilson, managing partner at Earnest.

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