An internal promotional plan is an important marketing tool when it comes to launching a new PLM initiative. Whether you’re replacing your PDM system, implementing a new process or releasing a new feature, an internal PLM marketing strategy can help you build awareness and thrive.
However, in most PLM programs, internal marketing is done poorly, if at all. Usually, the intent of internal releases and product launches is to let employees know what shiny new features are available in a system, or what improved process has just been published.
If their initiatives are so important, why do PLM teams spend so little time marketing them?
In this post, we’ll dive into how internal marketing can boost your PLM initiatives and the exact steps you need to take to create an internal PLM marketing campaign.
What is internal marketing, and why does it matter?
Internal marketing is largely about things people do in organizations that contribute to their success. Sometimes the term “internal marketing” refers to employer branding: the organization’s strategy to attract, develop and retain excellent employees.
Here, when we talk about internal marketing, we’re referring to the set of internal activities that support the success of a business strategy or program.
Internal marketing is much more than just sending a company-wide email or broadcasting a product demo. Rather, it’s all about intentionally engaging your employees. It’s about treating them as “internal customers” who need to be convinced of the products, processes or strategy’s power.
How can internal marketing help PLM programs succeed?
Have you ever received a release note full of new features and terms you can barely understand? Every now and then, do you get an email from your IT team that lets you know that they’ve updated this or that software to a new version, but doesn’t really explain what the update means for you?
I’ve seen these things happen—and that’s because most PLM initiatives lack a well-thought-out marketing plan.
To make matters worse, when they’re done, most organizations think about internal marketing too late, when they’re about to release the results of the project to the organization.
In the rush, they take a haphazard and siloed approach and end up just pushing out disjointed and uncoordinated information to their users.
New systems and processes frequently meet with resistance from employees who need to learn new things and cope with change. Adapting to new ways of working is not easy, and employees usually feel disengaged – or worse, hostile toward the company.
Internal marketing facilitates organizational change and the realization of its intended business results. When done well, it can spell the difference between resistance and success.
Think before you engage: what do you have to say?
Processes and systems are relatively easy to change, but if you want to bring people in your organization on board, you need to craft a strong vision—and learn to sell it. When people understand the “why” and feel inspired by a sense of purpose, they’re motivated to give it a try and make it work.
Think about where you want to go, and why. Work on your pitch, always with your customer in mind. Drop the corporate-speak and choose a “down-to-earth” message. Management-speak doesn’t work nowadays. We just stop listening. Instead, adopt an informal and approachable tone and inject personality into your message.
And don’t get too technical, either—we may get excited by talking about APIs, virtualized cloud services or graph data models, but the people impacted by PLM technologies usually care less about the technical part and simply want to know how the tools or processes will help them in their daily work.
Picture how your PLM program can help your organization achieve a competitive advantage, then craft a story to create engagement and support your internal marketing campaign. A good story is crucial to hammering the message home.
A strong “why” will help to close the deal with your people. It’s also a weapon you can use to get resources allocated to your projects, to develop and grow.
How to develop an internal PLM marketing campaign
If you’re thinking of launching an internal marketing campaign, for example for your PLM initiative, it’s important to have a strategy in place. Your master plan should include a set of clearly defined goals, finite start and end dates, and a team to do the work.
A good marketing strategy spells out all the tools, actions and channels you’ll use to achieve your goals. It’s your plan of action that describes what you’ll have to offer, who’ll want to buy it and the tactics you’ll use to achieve your goals.
Now, let’s dig deeper into how to create an internal marketing campaign!
1. Define your goal
Start with the end in mind: What do you want your campaign to achieve? Is it to increase quality and reduce complaints with your new release process? Or maybe you want your after-sales team to sell more by providing them access to installed base information?
The key to successful marketing is knowing precisely what you’re trying to achieve. Whatever your objective, you want to be as specific as possible. Knowing your goals before you begin planning helps you to develop your strategy.
2. Target and segment your audience
The best marketing campaigns put the audience first.
If you want to craft a successful marketing campaign, you need to clearly define your target audience. Sometimes you might need to tailor the message to audience segments. What might be appropriate for management might not be for drafters or after-sales personnel.
Keep in mind that your audience doesn’t care about you—they want to know what’s in it for them. So, ask yourself the following:
- What do you offer that gives your business a competitive advantage?
- How does your initiative deliver value to your organization, and specifically to your audience?
That includes talking about benefits, not features—and making sure you supply your audience with all the information they need to take action.
3. Identify your ideal marketing mix
It’s time to decide which content types suit your campaign best.
Your content type could be anything from blog posts, webinars, town-hall meetings, infographics and more. In most cases, you’ll want to combine several content types to make your campaign more engaging.
If you’re having trouble identifying an ideal marketing mix for your upcoming initiative or need some fresh ideas to include in your plan, here are some ideas to get you inspired:
- Videos: It’s no secret that people love watching videos. After all, videos are easy to consume, drive engagement and convey information better than text.
- Images, graphics and print media:Beautiful visuals are a great way to create awareness and connect with your audience.
- Written content:While video and interactive content are a trending topic, written content still plays a big role in marketing strategies. After all, the written word allows you to communicate detailed information at a pace determined by the reader.
- eLearning:You might also consider eLearning to support your initiative. With eLearning, learners consume educational content on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Educational content can be a series of video tutorials, searchable training materials, screencasts, software simulations, or games.
eLearning is perfect for explaining complex concepts. It empowers learners to click around and touch the screen, which builds an engaging, intimate experience. Dragging content from one place to the next or making choices that affect what comes next helps us absorb information and keeps us hooked on the topic.
- In-person meetings: In-person meetings make your communication plan stand out in this digital age. Personal communication is one thing technology can’t yet replace. Regular in-person communication creates the right motivation and culture—and the results pay for themselves.
4. Choose your communication channels
Once you’re clear on your content type, devise a plan for delivering it to your organization.
How will you get your content out there? Which channels will you use to promote your campaign? Email, internal social media, or maybe a post to the intranet?
Let’s review the most common channels:
- Email: Still one of the most frequently used channels. Use email to invite people to your events, webinars and training sessions, to send your newsletter, and to share relevant content. Prepare an email series to share your content and get people excited about your initiative’s launch!
- Internal social media: Internal social networks give employees a sense of online community and help forge connections between departments and functions. Create an online community of individuals who genuinely believe in your vision and are interested in your initiatives and products. Schedule your internal social media posts wisely. Make sure you start a conversation with your peers: ask for their opinions and feedback through pools and open questions, respond to comments and add calls to action for your posts.
- Intranet: An intranet is a versatile medium, and unlike email or social media, content published on the intranet is there to stay—your users can read it at their own convenience and come back to it when needed. That’s why intranet works well for content such as training materials, video tutorials, case studies or white papers.
- Live forums and meetings: Organizing a live forum and bringing your team out there is great to showcase your new PLM processes and systems. Use live forums to update your organization about new tools, share brochures and invitations to upcoming events. You might also want to consider supporting major releases and big programs with live forums to demo your products, talk to your users, answer questions and gather feedback.
- Wall messaging, screens and banners: If a picture is worth a thousand words, a banner wall must be worth millions! These channels are inexpensive and easy to set up, perfect for reminding your people about your new processes, upcoming events like webinars or training, or getting them to join your ideation workshops or benchmarking events.
Deciding how to deliver your message to the organization can be tricky. Whichever channels you choose, remember that distribution should never be an afterthought—you should combine your content types and distribution channels wisely to get the best results out of your campaign.
5. Prepare your content
Now that you’ve framed your campaign strategy, it’s time to sit down with your team and focus on the content.
Online tools like Lucidchart or Mindmeister allow you to collaborate and brainstorm online in a visual format and are great to plan your content.
Keep in mind that the promotional campaign design and execution always work better when planned together. Remember who you’re talking to, and structure your content to tell your story with the “why” always in mind. Humans are wired for stories and absorb information better when there’s a context around it.
Also keep in mind that what starts within, spreads throughout. Including the “people aspect” in your internal communications efforts brings the message to life—so involve your users when creating your content! Consider an ‘interview-style’ post rather than a formal release note. And don’t forget to include real-life examples and testimonials to make your content more compelling and engaging!
6. Create a timeline and action plan
An action plan provides a detailed outline of the tasks required to bring your internal marketing campaign to life.
It’s time to pull your sleeves up and start writing down what exactly you’re going to do and when. Think about how you will schedule and publish your content. Choose action steps that are concrete and measurable and identify who is responsible for each action.
Prepare a marketing timeline to visualize the chronology of your action plan over time. You can use traditional Gantt charts or online tools like Asana or Trello. A timeline provides a clear schedule to follow and helps you stay on track!
Ready to Get Started?
It takes time, organization, and creativity to make internal marketing a part of your organization’s culture—to do it, you don’t need to follow every strategy listed here. The above is just an overview to get you thinking about marketing when you plan your PLM initiatives!
I’ve prepared a blueprint to help you remember everything and get started with your internal marketing! Grab the blueprint here. And let us know how your next campaign goes!
Begin practicing as soon as possible, even if you don’t have any new initiatives in the pipeline. Organize a “refresher training” program and revisit your current internal marketing methods and concepts. Remember, it’s all about starting a conversation with your audience!