Internal Marketing Myth

Frustration Board Game

Frustration Board Game

I am raising the profile of something that was buried in a comment on another post because it’s topical again…  at least for me…

And also because I am looking to be challenged.  Come on, stretch my thinking…

Chris May asked:

Anyway, I was curious about this:

“Since arriving at my current institution I’ve noticed a queue of people coming to me for internal ‘marketing’ advice. They of course mean, and need, nothing of the sort – but it takes a while to persuade them of that.”

Do they all mean (and need) the same kind of thing? If so, what is it? And what causes them to come (mistakenly) to you looking for it?

I replied:

Of course not everybody means exactly the same thing, but the pattern is broadly that:

individuals or teams who provide a service to the rest of, or other members of, the organisation, want help in getting more take-up of their service individuals or teams with a bad reputation want to be thought better of within the institution

They are not mistaken in coming to talk to me – because a lot of the time I can help them achieve their objectives through advising them on how to communicate in a targetted and effective way.

But they are mistaken in thinking that having an internal logo or creating 10,000 posters to spread all over campus is going to be the solution to their problems.

When people arrive requesting support with “marketing” I know two things: firstly, they haven’t thought through precisely what they want to achieve, and secondly, they have not thought about who to target their communications at or what the best way to reach these people is.

And I’m not pretending that the processes that I go through with them are clever, but they do make them stop and think, and what we come up with is more likely to achieve their ends than a mass broadcast or advert-style communication.

Rather, they usually make them stop an think….

But there will always be some people who think that the way to get people to attend their idiosyncratic training course for researchers in particle physics is to send all-staff emails out every week for four weeks with their seminar logo attached!

Bearing in mind the strength of my feelings on the topic I am rather proud of the restraint shown in today’s carefully crafted email:

Sorry, I don’t know of anyone of specialises in the marketing of INSERT INTERNAL FUNCTION – I’m not really aware of it as a discipline, but, as my background is in internal communications in various organisations, I have worked with internally facing functions such as HR and IT.  In my experience such functions often have a hard time getting their messages across to internal audiences – but it is vitally important to work through what you want to achieve and then work out the best way to do it.  Otherwise it can be wasted money and effort (not to mention the air-traffic control point that I mentioned last time we emailed about this).

Can I suggest that we take a step back and get together to work through what you want to achieve?

In fact, it might be an idea to run a couple of hours of workshop – perhaps with all of HRD?  I have a number of tools that we could work through including this: http://www.smartchart.org/

What do you think?

SmartChart, by the way, is a work of genius – and thanks to Laura Dewis for pointing it out.

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