Sell to survive

Internal marketing communications can help a multi-discipline engineering consultant, say Michael Brown and Philip Norris.

Marketing communications is traditionally thought of as an organisation’s efforts to promote the services or products it offers to external clients and customers. But in a multi-discipline engineering consultancy, it is equally important for individual departments to effectively market themselves to one another.

The goals of internal marketing are similar to those of external marketing — to increase visibility and awareness of the services or product available and increase sales or orders.

There are four key stages that a department goes through to implement internal marketing strategies. First, there is the initial identification of a need to market to internal groups or individuals. Second, the department must decide which individuals or groups are to be targeted. Third, there is the discussion and development of specific strategies to effectively target the groups identified. Finally, there must be a way in which the success or failure of the marketing is measured and a way in which continuous improvement can be implemented to ensure the effectiveness of the work undertaken.

Within a multi-discipline consultancy, the company is often split into separate and definite business units and departments. The individual disciplines are usually independent, can be different cost centres and, in some cases, work for clients that are particular to certain departments.

Cross-selling services is therefore an important feature of business development. This cannot take place if staff in separate departments are unaware of the services that the company as a whole can offer, or lack knowledge on the individual skills available.

This lack of awareness can often be the first issue to address. The first stage, therefore, is to recognise the need for a strategy to raise awareness of the department’s activities, use a common client base, contribute to the diversification into different market sectors and show integrated multi-discipline working.

Without a positive attitude to internal marketing and business development some parts of the business could remain isolated, unable to grow organically and remain stereotyped in their activities.

Once a need for internal marketing is established, it is important to establish a strategy for marketing. The following are examples of strategies that can be adopted to raise awareness:

Internal seminars to all staff outlining the skills within the department, the type of work undertaken and the department’s clients.

Improved integration, including the placement of key staff within the office of the other major departments, close to the other department’s key staff.

An increased involvement in other offices business development activities and key client meetings and corporate hospitality events.

Monthly business development seminars. Integral to any marketing effort is the need to measure the effectiveness of the strategy and internal marketing is no different. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be identified at the outset and typical examples are as follows:

Greater involvement in pan-discipline activities arranged through business development managers.

Introduction to new and existing clients as an essential part of the ‘normal’ multi-discipline team.

New sales or orders from new clients in different market sectors.

The development of bespoke marketing and promotional material.

The benefits of internal marketing are in ensuring the individual department’s success, as well as improving the company’s overall success. By sharing knowledge, expertise, and skills across departments and establishing a process by which departments can be educated in the areas of work and skills of others, the opportunity for cross-selling services is increased.

Maintaining and increasing the work carried out for existing clients is an effective way for a business to ensure a constant supply of work. By encouraging staff and educating them to understand the roles and skills of their peers and to be proactive in picking up on a client’s wider needs, broader joined-up services can be promoted.

Michael Brown and Philip Norris are from White Young Green Management Services