The Gatehouse Blog

Treat your IC tools as internal products for sale

Have you ever considered what happens when you start treating your internal communication tools like your internal products and employees like customers? Maja Biernacka reflects on how internal communication practitioners can change their audiences’ attitudes towards IC solutions.

Would you buy products that are not able to solve your problems, are difficult to use, or unattractive? Or would you buy products & possibilities that you don’t know or that have a bad reputation? Reflect on this idea and see a change in your audiences’ attitude towards IC solutions.

How much do you care about the internal communication tools you’re responsible for? I believe a lot. But to get better results, let’s try to change your perspective: Internal communication tools are products that help reach your focus areas and make their work more effective. It’s worth paying more attention to both products and customers, in the ways which all good sellers do.

Products should solve problems

Do IC tools help your employees communicate, collaborate and cooperate with one another? Or, on the contrary, do these tools make it difficult to find necessary information which is incomplete or invalid?

If you want your clients to use your products, your IC tools have to provide useful materials that help employees in their everyday work. It’s essential to have access to well-designed and quick to find pieces of information, available in various formats, and easy to use functionalities which make your employees’ work faster, easier and more effective, and give them a feeling of being successful, collaborative and supported by the solution.

If your products do not solve your clients’ problems, they will not use them. You should create bespoke internal communication tools in a way which serves your users and make their everyday work better.

“If you want your clients to use your products, your IC tools have to provide useful materials that help employees in their everyday work.”

Products must work

Would you buy a product that you heard had failed? How do you react when you read negative comments about products you’re considering buying? You probably have doubts or even decide to withdraw your purchase. The same goes for your IC tools.

For example, an intranet should be fast, user-driven and improve collaboration and communication in a workplace. The reality is often far from this because of mistakes made when creating such an intranet. Do not expect your employees to be satisfied with using tools that

are designed against the rules or have too many, minor errors – these make everyone feel disappointed.

Improve the implemented tools constantly, solve breakdowns and ask your customers what they wish to have organised in a better way and then implement these modifications.

“Do not expect your employees to be satisfied with using tools that are designed against the rules or have too many, minor errors– these make everyone feel disappointed.”

Products should be attractive

Would you buy a product that is ugly? If it is very useful, I may consider it but we’re all more willing to buy attractive items, with well-chosen colours and interesting designs.

Our IC tools should look like this: from an interesting layout for a newsletter, a video with attractive images & animations, to eye-catching graphics on the intranet. Many people buy with their eyes! Creating attractive tools is essential to success and tips on what to change can be found in benchmark or among the solutions used in the external media & communications.

It’s also good to ask employees for their definition of ‘attractive’ – what the audience wants to see, how it looks & feels.

Customers should know how products work

We’re all more willing to use and, at the same time, less afraid of products if we know & understand what to do with the; how they could solve our problems. This is why you should educate your employees about the many possibilities of your IC tools.

Focus on showing how they work, what advantages they have and clarify any doubts about their application. Moreover, it will help you decrease barriers between users and these tools. Educating about goals, advantages, functionalities and tricks & tips should also be an important

element of IC action planning, not as a simple action to be checked-off the list.

Products should be promoted

Almost everything needs to be advertised. Although we are surrounded by commercials and ‘noise’, it still works if you do it well. We rarely use advertising ideals in internal communications, so the tolerance for such actions should be higher than in external communications.

Your IC tools need it as well and even if you dislike such actions outside, you should consider such options to check their power internally. During campaigns employees may find advantages, ways of using tools and how they can help them in their work – enable them to share these and help advertise your product.

Products ought to be monitored

To find out what your clients buy, you should monitor their behaviour. Check statistics of the use (the sales) of particular products, talk to your clients, give them space to share their doubts and discuss your products.

These comments are invaluable for sellers. They highlight the things that work and the ones that don’t and should be changed or improved. Monitoring the extent to which your products are used, you will identify the elements & functionalities which are popular and the ones that should be withdrawn from the market to save time, money and energy invested in maintenance.

Constant evaluation is the key to selling more and increase the number of satisfied customers.

As IC professionals, we all sell our work and we need to adopt a customer-focused approach. Treating your IC tools like your internal products to sell may change your attitude towards them, and improve your employees’ experience.


Biography: Maja Biernacka

Lives in Poland and is an independent IC consultant. Among her clients there are VW, Lidl and British American Tobacco. She also

supports Gatehouse in their international projects in Poland. Maja shares her knowledge and experience on her popular Polish blog, Komunikacja wewnętrzna od kuchni (English: Behind the IC scenes).

Working in communications since 2002, before starting her own business, Maja successfully managed a team of consultants in a PR agency, worked for a corporation and two key Polish TV studios.

Find her on Twitter: @maja_biernacka
Blog: http://beedi