Internal Comms: The Article
Are your internal comms really achieving everything they could be?
You might not be surprised to hear that boosting your team communications could make a huge difference to your staff engagement levels – but what about your sales, or staff retention rates, or even customer loyalty? Internal communications are for your internal team, but since they are your brand ambassadors, the way you talk to your staff directly influences the way they talk to your customers. We’ll get on to some of the specific reasons to boost your comms in a minute, but first, let’s talk about the how. As you see above, visuals talk to our brains far more effectively than words – look up the picture superiority effect if you need more convincing. We need visual stimulus to initially absorb information, and more importantly, to then effectively convert it to long-term memory. How can that be applied in internal comms? You’ll have to read on to find out!
Let’s talk about sales training. It’s a very important stage in the induction of new sales staff, and considering the high churn rates in some sales teams, it can be a very costly exercise. How many times have you put staff through a training day, run through the call scripts, gone over your brand messaging, reinforced the company elevator pitch, to find that 90 days later the majority can’t recite anything back to you?
We say 90 days for a reason – 84% of training is lost after just 90 days, and frankly, 16% of a sales pitch is not overly convincing! Not all hope is lost – in a study observing memory tests (remember that picture superiority effect we mentioned?), people remembered 65% of visuals, compared to 10-20% of written / auditory information after 3 days. Providing staff with visual aids, such as training videos, or infographics, not only helps them recall information but also provides a resource that can be re-studied, as and when is needed, without having to lose valuable time all round to another training session.
Induction & Brand Ambassadors – every staff member on your team is, or at least should be, acting as a brand ambassador for your company, no matter which department they work in.
Whether they’re on the front line of sales, or in finance, or IT support, they should be able to sell your company in the proverbial elevator. Yet studies have found that only 42% of employees actually know their company’s vision, mission and values. The quickest way to fix this? Up your induction game – the results will pay off for you. Research has found 100% improved retention rate, and 60% reduction in the time-to-productivity rate for companies who were best at induction. It will also help your staff feel equally valued and engaged with the company’s goals, rather than just their own. So how do you get good at induction? A good start is to have solid brand guidelines. This is a comprehensive document that lays out everything about your brand (messaging, positioning statements, personas, visual branding etc.) in, you guessed it, a visual format.
Product training – the core internal comms for anybody selling a product or a service.
Your customers need your staff to know the products they’re selling inside out – in fact, staff members with strong brand expertise sell 87% more. Imagine your sales associate is giving a software demo, but they don’t know how the features work, or can’t answer a question from a prospective buyer – you could be losing sales. Unfortunately, product manuals are not always the most engaging of reads – have you read your car manual cover to cover? Visual resources – such as infographic product fact sheets, or video software demos for your staff, could be helping your staff get their heads around your fabulous products, which in turn could be boosting your sales.
And finally, Team Communications. One of the biggest bugbears we hear about is a lack of cross-departmental communication in companies. The sales team don’t talk to marketing when they could be sharing resources, and the project managers have different targets to the finance team, and frankly, no one ends up winning. Sound familiar?
In today’s digital world, you really can’t rely on staff taking on board information via emails or intranets – particularly intranets, one study found 31% of staff members never even open their intranet (sorry to break it to you!). But there are some fantastic tools out there (we personally love slack, as an instant way to communicate) – why not go further to enhance staff participation? After all, 88% of millennials want to work in a fun and social environment. Have you considered digital signage for example? We’re not talking the old flatscreen with a looping powerpoint, but rather live screens, displaying an internal microsite, using gamification (such as leaderboards), or live chat streams, or weather updates, sports scores or social media feeds – it all helps keep staff off their smartphones and engaged in company related discussion.
Let’s take a look at some of the specific visual aids that you could be using, along with some suggestions as to how they might work for you!
Infographics – Despite seeing a peak in infographics on social media a few years back, they remain one of the most popular, and most shared visual formats online (talking of which, if you like this one, feel free to share it around!). But how can you use infographics for boosting internal comms? We’ve already mentioned product training, using concise product fact sheets to help bring the key sales points to life. What about creating infographics to explain your personas, for staff induction – bringing messaging immediately to mind when facing a client touchpoint.
Video – We love video here at Salamandra, and believe it is one of the most versatile formats out there for communicating. In fact, you could use video (or animation) for any of the internal comms areas outlined above. Whether it’s a talking head, amplified with motion graphics, or an animated explainer video to introduce your company ethos to new staff members, it can be one of the quickest ways to explain what you’re trying to say – and ensure it sticks. Watch this video to find out about different explainer styles, and see what might work for you.
Presentations – Okay, we admit it, the 32% of people have fallen asleep stat just made us laugh, but we’ve all been in that ‘death by powerpoint’ situation. However, presentations are in no way, always a bad thing! They can be incredibly engaging, informative and educational, without a bullet point in sight. Presentations can be designed to look entirely on brand, be fully animated and can be created as templates for future reuse. If you have a brand animation, you can even have isolated elements (such as icons or characters) within your powerpoint templates.
Brand Guidelines – for those who don’t know, put very simply, brand guidelines are documents that outline a brand. This can be as brief as the logo, type and colour scheme, or a vast brand bible, outlining vision, ethos, personas, messaging, visual branding, and even social planning. It is a vital piece of collateral to ensure all of your staff are singing from the same proverbial hymn sheet – making sure that you do hit that consistent brand experience that your customers expect.
Digital Signage – We talked a little about this above, and digital signage is more of a platform than a deliverable, but it is a platform that allows you to transform your internal comms for the modern digital age. This platform works perfectly when paired with microsites, presentations, gamification, social content, video and so much more, meaning you can distribute your internal comms content in the most effective way possible.
So, did we convince you of the many benefits to improving your internal communications?
We love talking on the subject, so if you’d like a free consultation, just get in touch and quote ‘INTCOMMS17’, and we’ll be happy to help create a bespoke solution for you.
Sources: 1.Mind Tools, 2. Hyerle, 3. Qvidian, 4. Salesforce, 5. ChangingMinds, 6. TINYpulse, 7. Aberdeen Groups, 8./9. Wranx, 10. Englug, 11. PGi, 12. HubSpot, 13. CircleStudio, 14. GraduateDegrees, 15. Hubspot, 16. McKinsey & Company.