Why Internal Communication is Key to External Marketing: Q&A with Nancy Mauer of Sonder Haven Consulting
Marketing and communication are much like that old saying: “You can lead a horse to water…” We can share the story, market the product and promote via social media, but when the time comes for the new customer or partner to actually utilize the product, service or connection, will they?
Your internal team is truly the water and life-force behind your company’s marketing. They are your front line, the face of your brand, and the ‘who’ behind your ‘why.’ So, it’s really important to have them excited about what they do, what you do, and the customers who are coming through your doors.
We sat down with Nancy Maurer of Sonder Haven Consulting to talk about the importance of having employees engaged with, and excited about, sharing your mission.
You focus much of your business and coaching on leadership and effective communication. How do you see those two things working together with an organization’s marketing plan?
NM: They need to be very closely in synch for the plan to reach peak success. An initiative that’s created with solely the external environment, i.e., customers, in mind is at a disadvantage before it even launches. Who’s going to fulfill commitments when the organization captures attention through the plan? What is the experience going to be like for the customer? Will it live up to the expectation that was created through solid marketing? Those are all questions that need to be asked early on, matched with the needs of the external environment, and then communicated back to organizational team members before launching an initiative. Marketing, for better or worse, is an extension of an organization’s culture, no matter how fancy it gets dressed up.
How important is it for a company to have a strategic plan, vision and mission statement?
NM: All three often get a bad rap for taking countless hours to create only to sit on a shelf and never get used. I get that; I really do. Yet, when done well, they are vital to an organization’s success. So many organizations try to throw everything possible into the mission and vision statements, thinking that will reach everyone and answer every possible question about the organization. But that can backfire. People, including employees, don’t have the brain energy to try to wade through it to see how they fit. That’s why short, succinct statements are the ones that resonate the most. Take Starbucks, for example – “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” It’s only 17 words, yet as a customer or employee, one gets a sense of what Starbucks is about. As for strategic plans, if the past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that they need to be grounded in mission, adaptable, and flexible – a road map that can go off-roading, if necessary.
What are two things that businesses or brands should be doing right now to gauge whether or not their teams are embracing their mission?
NM: They should ask two questions:
- Do team members know and understand the mission?
- Can they see how they and their role(s) contribute to it every day?
If the answer is “no” to either of those questions, there’s work to be done on either refining the mission statement, if it exists, or having important conversations with team members. If team members don’t understand how their day-to-day fits into the success of the company, their engagement levels will naturally be lower and affect the customers’ experience.
What can an organization do to help their employees WANT to engage with them on social media?
NM: Create a sense of pride, belonging, and ownership in the organization. People like to show off things that are important to them on social media – to say “I’m a part of that.” In turn, that leads others to wonder, “how can I be a part of that, also?” It’s why referral marketing tends to be preferred, and more successful, over cold calling. Every employee is a member of your marketing team, whether they reside in that department or in IT.
If you could share one thing with a business owner about how marketing and team-building work together, what would that be?
The two are like the engines of a jumbo jet. A jet can still fly with one engine. However, it will be a much longer and bumpier ride.