Recently I was guiding the marketing and business development team from a small firm in creating their strategic marketing plan. Things went really well through the early phases and then we came to the matter of marketing objectives. There was a lively discussion on Ansoff’s Growth Matrix, McKay’s three basic marketing objectives (enlarging the overall market, increasing market share and improving profitability) and so on. To this point our focus was entirely on the external customer; and then I raised the matter of the internal marketing (IM). The silence was deafening. What is it? Is it relevant to a firm in the services sector with about 100 staff? Who in the organisation will own that function? The CEO, Marketing Manager, or the HR Manager?
Marketing and the marketing philosophy came into prominence in the 1960s, yet it was not until the 1980s that it became widely accepted, practiced and seen by most organisations as indispensable (Ahmed and Rafiq, 2002). By then the concept of IM was already around. Ahmed and Rafiq go on to define IM as, “A planned effort using a marketing-like approach directed at motivating employees, for implementing and integrating organisational strategies towards customer orientation.” They list five elements of IM as follows:
- Employee motivation and satisfaction.
- Customer orientation and customer satisfaction.
- Internal-function co-ordination and integration.
- Marketing-like approach to the above.
- Implementation of specific corporate or functional strategies.
In the instant case, whereas they had a powerful brand footprint, employee motivation was low and the firm was performing way below potential. They agreed that IM must be implemented to achieve the customer intimacy that we had been discussing; but it was clearly beyond the scope of the marketing manager.
It didn’t take long for them to agree that IM in this small firm had to be the direct responsibility of the CEO. But the potential improvement in financial performance if the directors, management, and entire staff really embraced the IM concept was another matter. Estimates ranged from 20% to 50% increase in net income. How about your firm? What would happen if they really embraced internal marketing?