Content marketing, the holy grail of the digital age, isn't just a tool to market your company's products and services. It is also a great way to strengthen your brand from the inside, retain employees, and improve sales.
There is a reason large corporations and organizations have in-house magazines, and believe it or not, the reason is not to let you know next week's cafeteria menu or changes to your employee benefits. The real aim of the age-old idea of internal communication is to make everyone better at their job.
At the start of the digital age, many companies abandoned these so-called "in-house organs" in favor of primitive, unwieldy, and ultimately boring intranets. Intranets never lived up to the promise of better communication and largely became bulletin boards. At my old employer, the most viewed page (over 10000 times a month) was indeed the cafeteria menu, while discussion forums were empty and blogs remained unread. By now, communication tools like Slack or Teamwork have made these Intranets completely obsolete.
Reviving those organs
It is time to revive the in-house organs and activate content marketing inside the organization. Whether in print or in digital form, every good company should have a magazine, newsletter or blog that is at the very heart of the organization. Good old-fashioned print gives people a break from staring at screens, whereas digital allows for better interaction. The right choice depends also on your company ideology and readiness to embrace new technologies. VR/AR is definitely in the cards.
Personally, I prefer getting everyone engaged on social platforms like LinkedIn, e.g. in closed groups, and combining that with print. Moving away from Facebook also gives our employees more privacy as they tend to share a lot of personal content on Facebook which has no place in the workplace. Anyway, the medium is not the key. It's what you do with it.
Benefits of in-house content marketing
In-house content marketing has enormous benefits. Here are some of the most obviously, but the list is not exhaustive by any means:
- In-house content marketing builds cohesion, allowing stakeholders to learn about the past, present and future of the organization, its successes and struggles, and how it compares to similar outfits. It serves as the organization's anchor in the word.
- By including feedback forms and comment sections, you get a grip on what is going on in the organization and can nip problems in the bud.
- Inspiring stories about employees, events, awards, success etc. encourage people and improve moral, creating goodwill.
- Career stories can focus people and allows them to reflect on their place in the organization. This helps to put the right people in the right roles.
- Conversations about products and development in the in-house magazine will save sales people lots of time. You will need fewer meetings, fewer training seminars, and save on travel cost.
- By making the in-house content available to the outside world and creating a more transparent organization, you are creating trust with customers. Potential employees can see what awaits them, which greatly reduces the time HR has to spend on finding candidates. New recruits spend less time in training.
- You are creating value across the organization by building an audience that is informed and engaged.
- Ideas inside the organization are spread much faster, thus potential false directions in R&D or management can be detected much sooner. Honestly, you'd be surprised how many valuable opinions your other employees have about product development. After all, they are users and consumers too.
Doing it right involves working with a consultant and/or hiring someone with journalism experience. The larger the organization, the more experienced this "head of in-house content" should be.
What you want to achieve with content marketing
The aim of the internal content marketing, just like with the external sort, should be to create valuable and engaging content. If you are, say, an engineering company, you probably lack the talent to manage good content, as engineers will get stuck in nerd talk and everybody else's opinion is dismissed. Across the organization, the content should be evenly spread and address the needs of all departments. Most of all, it should add value to everyone: management, employees, shareholders, clients, and partners.
Companies need to tear down the barrier between internal communication platforms and outgoing marketing content. The more engaged everyone becomes in the content, the more content and marketing ideas will spring from this openness and creativity.
By bringing content marketing inside the organization you are making everyone a better marketer and salesperson.