Internal Marketing: The 3 people you must sell to in your own office


Pancake MarketingI was talking to a channel marketing manager at a Fortune 500 tech company last week, when something she said really stuck out to me. She was working on a major lead nurturing campaign, and about half her time spent on this project was spent on selling the project internally.

Think about that for a second. In her case, marketing internally was just as important (if not more so) than her external marketing.

How proficient are you at internal marketing? I find that even many seasoned marketers struggle with this. So while we often teach about the powerful value propositions that can give you impressive lifts when expressed to your potential customers, let’s look at the value propositions you need for the three types of people you deal with in the hallways of your office every day.

A value proposition isn’t a simple statement that you say. It should be an underlying idea that radiates from and is communicated by everything you do. In the case of your marketing, that may be your landing page, your email, your PPC ad. In the case of internal marketing, it’s your presentations, your internal emails, heck, even your Skype conversations.

Your Higher-Ups: Here’s how I’m making you money

The people in the org chart above you likely don’t care about the same things you do, they care about making money or some other, grander KPI. So whatever you’re presenting to a business leader, from a lead generation pilot to a request to attend B2B Summit, keep this value in mind.

In fact, I’m reminded of that upcoming Summit as I think back to our last Summit. Matt Bailey, Founder & President, SiteLogic, railed against what he called “caveman analytics” when he spoke at Optimization Summit. “Reports on page views, time spent, page rankings and similar metrics are red herrings,”  he said. Instead, marketers should focus on the amount of revenue, or “value,” generated.

“Value tells you how much money you made per visit and overall,” Bailey said. “Then you make decisions based on value rather than based on numbers.”

So if you’ve won a lot of friends on your company’s Facebook Page, well, good for you. You’re a popular guy. But when you talk to the CEO, just focus on how much money that Facebook Page is adding to the bottom line.

Your Compatriots: You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

People who are parallel to you in the org chart can be especially crucial to the success of your marketing strategy. If content marketing is an important element of your strategy, you need to engage the subject matter experts. Sometimes you need serious buy-in from product development or manufacturing to ensure you’re delivering true value on your marketing proposition.

The most common mistake I see in peer relationships is people taking a hard-headed approach and trying to ram things through. With your peers, you want to engage a little soft power. “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” -Lao-Tzu

The best way to slowly wear down opposition is by showing your peers what’s in it for them. Remember, they’re busy. They’ve got plenty of their own work to do without helping out with your marketing. So perhaps they’d be enticed by becoming industry rock stars if they wrote on the blog. Or perhaps they’d just like some fresh-cooked pancakes.

That was the approach Senior Editorial Analyst, Austin McCraw, took. He’s writing a MarketingExperiments book about value proposition, and wanted to present the readers with five strong value propositions from different industries to give the readers good examples in the book.

Well, our Research Analysts are plenty busy. So he needed a powerful value proposition to push them along. The deal was, if they create five powerful value propositions, Austin and the rest of the content team would cook pancakes for all of the researchers.

The effort took months. (If you’ve ever been in our content meetings with the research team, and I’m guessing you haven’t, much debate goes into each idea. You simply can’t make a claim without backing it up. So this took awhile…) But in the end, the researchers came up with five powerful value propositions.

And Austin, also known as “The Flapjack King,” delivered on his value proposition with chocolate chip and regular pancakes for everyone.

Your Direct Reports: Your hard work is noticed and valued

Since I’ve become a manager, I find I work harder for the people that report to me, than the people I report to. And rightly so. My success entirely hinges on their success.

That’s why they must see that the hard work they put in is truly valued and that your company is worth working for. Think about it. To go to work, your employees leave their families, their homes, their dogs. They invest their time in your company. And they likely spend more time in the average week with you than with the people they’ve made holy, “till death do we part” type vows.

And, sure, they do it for a paycheck. But, keep in mind, they show up for a paycheck. They don’t outperform simply for a paycheck.

I heard a story this weekend about a man that ran a large, successful ad agency that used to like firing people just to keep everyone in line. He once fired a copywriter just because the guy smiled too much…just as a warning for everyone else.

And you might think of that as the old-school way to manage – command and control. But here’s a quote from a man that is even more old school than that: “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” – Dale Carnegie

After all, this is marketing, folks. You should make it fun for your team. Yes, we have deadlines we have to hit, and there’s no margin for error there. Yes, you need a proactive team who goes out and finds opportunities, and there’s no room for slackers there. But make sure you make room for fun.

And you should have fun no matter what you’re selling. I’m sure it’s very exciting to be a marketing manager for a record company or an email marketer for a baseball team. But I once met a guy at a party who sold catheters and he was more passionate about catheters than Bronx natives are about “Jeeetuh.”

Because in the end it should go beyond the paycheck. While marketing is nowhere near as difficult as what our brave servicemen and women face every day, I think we can learn a thing or two from Joseph Galloway in “We Were Soldiers:”

“They went to war because their country ordered them to, but in the end they fought not for country or their flag, they fought for each other.”

Related Resources:

Optimization Researched: Latest findings about effective LPO operational practices based on data from 2,673 marketers

The Business Case for Testing: How one marketer convinced her business leaders to start testing and drove a 201% gain in the process

Value proposition showdown: Your company vs. your product or service

Landing Page Optimization Workshop with Dr. Flint McGlaughlin in New York

Photo credit: Nathan Thompson
Pancake credits: Paul Cheney, Austin McCraw

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  1. Kathy says

    Fantastic article and right on.

    I do presentation coaching & am getting ready to teach a class on presentations as part of a Leadership curriculum. One of things I always include is knowing who the audience is and why the presentation is different for each group. I will definitely be referencing your article.
    It brings in all 3 groups and what is important to them.


  2. Julie says

    Great article and so true.

    Sell-in before sell-out is essential. Employees of all levels are the best brand champions. Any external marketing initiative needs internal support to ensure success!

  3. Hunter B says

    Catheters and Jeeetuh, Carnegie and caveman analytics … all in one post?! Excellent stuff, Daniel. Everything you wrote about shows through in the growth and success of the content team, and I’m thrilled to see how things have evolved — and that Dr. McCraw has launched his flapjacks spinoff! Keep up the great work and content!

    1. Daniel Burstein says

      Thanks Hunter. Much appreciated.

      I’ll try to work in the Phillies pitching staff in a future rambling post for you.

  4. Austin McCraw says

    @Hunter B

    It was a long time in coming, but I would say a very successful inaugural Flapjack meeting. As I keep discovering over and over, pancakes have an intrinsic Value Proposition that is relevant across all corporate divides. 😉


  5. Dustin E says

    Chocolate chip pancakes! I am SO jealous!

  6. Charlie Lawrence says


    I agree that “internal” marketing is an often overlooked requirement of a marketer. I hosted a roundtable last fall at the CMO Summit on this topic…you can find my comments on my Blog…

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