Many companies dedicate significant effort and monetary resources to building their brands and capturing new clients. And of course this makes lots of sense. After all, clients are the lifeblood of most businesses.
But even though going after new clients makes a great deal of sense, oftentimes this means a lack of focus on what is happening internally – how knowledge is shared, how internal communication takes place.
According to this McKinsey article, “Companies will go on developing ways to reach consumers through social technologies and gathering insights for product development, marketing, and customer service. Yet the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds that twice as much potential value lies in using social tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises.”
In summary, sometimes it’s a bit like the plumber who has leaky pipes in their own home – many companies have excellent client acquisition and retention strategies but do not place the same focus on internal “consumers”.
There is also a perception that internal communication can sometimes be difficult, with reluctance from employees to participate, and low intranet participation rates. According to Codesigned, a team of designers, developers and problem-solvers based out of Atlanta, there are a number of potential reasons why this could be the case, including the very good point that if management does not use the intranet (i.e. no management “buy-in”), then it is unlikely that other employees will either.
Another reason why internal branding is so important is that it can help to cultivate a team of employee ambassadors – employees who are so engaged with and enthusiastic about what’s going on internally that they spontaneously promote the brand and company externally. According to this Forbes article from Ekaterina Walter, “With employees being the most trusted sources for customers, it’s vital that your company’s employees are encouraged to participate in your brand. With an organizational culture designed to attract and reward brand advocates, you’ll soon see what an asset engaged employees can be.”
Why Some Companies Struggle with Internal Branding
Many companies are less proactive when it comes to building their internal brands. In all the flurry of activity, sometimes the company´s objectives and culture can get lost in the wash. Many companies are just ¨too busy” to dedicate time to effectively communicate goals, achievements and philosophies and employees replicate this behavior. A lack of effective time management from both sides only adds to the problem.
Of course, a number of companies have sought to address this issue with the appointment of internal communications gurus, weekly culture meetings, and so on, with varying degrees of success.
But is there a more effective way? Well, possibly, and if not as a replacement, then as a supplement to an overall internal branding strategy.
And that supplement is audio clips.
What exactly are Audio Clips?
Think interviews with company team members, from the CEO to the intern, discussing their views on the company and how they fit into the overall culture. Think competitions and newsletters and job postings all rolled into one. A simple audio file that any member of the organization can listen to in the car while driving to a meeting, or on their smartphone during a morning run. Bite sized chunks of audio, or audio ¨clips¨ can really get the message home.
These audio clips might also take the form of a podcast. The only real difference being that a podcast tends to be an ongoing series, a bit like a daily or weekly radio show. Podcasts can be very effective at building a brand in the medium term while audio clips are stand-alone pieces – examples could include an interview with the company’s marketing manager or tips for brand ambassadors from an internal or external expert.
There is also just something about audio. About the intimacy of it, one feels part of it. The host becomes a friend, the interviewees become more real and easy to relate to and a new sense of perspective is gained. There is no need to sit down and read, no need to be in front of a screen. And thus the message is propagated, interaction is increased and further down the line there are benefits in terms of a more unified culture, greater sales and better financial results. Audio helps to make a real connection with the audience.
It is also a relatively low cost solution, especially when compared to the creation of video or the printing of a company magazine.
So why aren´t more companies taking advantage of this?
One reason would appear to be technological. Or rather the fear of the technological. Setting up an audio recording (microphones, recording software etc.) sounds difficult. And then there is the hosting and sharing of said audio. It´s all too much. So, as soon as a barrier is encountered this effective medium gets shoved down to the bottom of the heap, text is back in. Text is simple, text can easily be uploaded to a website, and so on. But audio is very effective at creating connections and should not be ignored just because of a tech barrier – a barrier that can easily be overcome with the help of an expert.
Of course, it´s not just the tech aspects of setting up an internal podcast or audio clips, there are also the reservations that come from interviewing team members, appearing on a recording for all to hear.
But for many people, appearing on a show or an audio clip is a fantastic experience. It makes them feel more confident about themselves and almost always has a positive effect on both those appearing on the audio, and the company itself.
As for the interviewer – or host – there may be someone inside the organization who has a talent for interviewing, maybe someone who has worked on radio or TV and wants to put their skills to good use. Again, an added bonus for both themselves and the company. If this person isn´t available within an organization, and even if they are but to get the ball rolling, it is worth considering a professional host or interviewer.
Often, it´s someone from outside the organization who can bring out the best in an interviewee, get them to open up and share their experiences in just the right way. There is also plenty of help available for the tech side of things – companies don´t have to do everything themselves. In fact, much of their time might be more effectively spent on their ¨core business activities¨, focusing on what they are really good at and continuing with those tasks that increase revenue.
So, if your company or organization is looking for an internal branding boost, maybe it´s time to consider audio clips or an audio podcast as part of a balanced content marketing strategy.
About the Author
Paul Urwin is a Co-Founder of BigBoxContent.com, a startup dedicated to creating outstanding written, audio, and video content to help clients increase their brand awareness and boost sales.