Internal Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses



Most people think of marketing as an external exercise for a business to attract new customers, and while external marketing and advertising are key to building a business, internal marketing should not be undervalued. What exactly does “internal marketing” mean? Internal marketing strategies are engaged to keep current customers and build new clientele through that existing client base. These strategies include steps to engage your staff and customers at the time of their interaction with your business.

Make Employees Your Number One Customers

Creating loyalty with staff is critical for successful internal marketing. Thinking of your employees as your first and most important customers will guarantee a “buy-in” that will be reflected in excellent customer service. If employees are truly behind your business’s mission, they will be more successful in selling that mission to the clientele.  Providing discounts for employees and encouraging them to patronize your business will create a sense of ownership with the staff. Also, allowing your employees the freedom to participate in decision making meetings and listening to their suggestions will reinforce that sense of ownership. A successful internal marketing staff is truly a team with a shared goal of company success. Rewards for meeting sales goals, successfully completing projects, and receiving customer compliments will encourage staff to perform at higher levels.

Engender a Sense of Ownership for Customers

There is nothing so attractive to a customer than to feel like she is your sole focus when she engages with your company. Training staff to engage fully with clients, remembering their names, likes, dislikes, etc. will work toward that end. A business owner and staff’s goal should be for each customer to have what they feel is a unique experience when interacting with your business. Creating a “feel good” experience each time a client shops your business will create return visits and encourage word of mouth marketing. People love to feel that they are a part of something exclusive. To be a cherished client in your business will keep clients coming back with a personal sense of inclusion.

Create Special Experiences

One way to accomplish a sense of inclusion for customers is to create experiences, or events, within your business in which the customers can participate. Be creative in planning such events and make them interactive with activities and contests. Consider tying events to either your favorite local charities or non-profits or those chosen by your staff or customers. These events become a triple win as your business, customers, and community non-profit organizations will benefit.

Unique Reward Systems

Another way to create a sense of ownership for customers is to offer them a rewards program that includes carrying a card in their wallet. This ensures that they see your logo whenever they open their wallet and keeps your business top of mind. Having a rewards card to which your business adds additional value based on a percentage of a pre-paid amount will also create loyalty. Customers are encouraged to pre-pay for goods and services if they know they are getting a bit of extra value added. Encourage regular customers to purchase gift cards for themselves and offer to add extra value based on percentage of the card’s value. For example, for $50 card purchase, offer to add $5, or for a $100 card purchase, offer to add $10. Base the added amounts on your available profit margins and consider those added expenditures as marketing expenses. Selling prepaid cards to customers eases cash flow and guarantees that customers will return to collect on the prepayment. Customers tend to return more often and spend money more quickly using a pre-paid card.

Take Visual Branding to the Next Level

Make your logo and company colors evident throughout your business on signage, entryway rugs, labels, etc. Any opportunity available for your company logo to be displayed within your business reinforces your brand in customers’ minds. This is the reasoning behind businesses spending millions of dollars each year on logoed items such as pens, magnets, notepads, etc. Keep your company logo in front of clients and potential clients as often as possible.

Offer Referral Incentives

Internal marketing becomes most important when courting existing customers to remain loyal to your business. Happy clients are more likely to share their positive experiences with their friends and family. Offer creative incentive programs to encourage current customers to refer others first by creating that “feel good,” inclusive experience followed by a rewarding incentive to bring in friends and family. Your current customers are a gold mine for new clients! Feel confident to make the ask!


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