Internalize Success – the Key Role of Internal Marketing

Learn from the experience of a slow learner - me. Early in my career as a creative professional with a fragile ego, I didn’t want the rank-and-file people of a client’s company critiquing my ideas. “What do they know,” I thought. They’re not in the creative department… they’re only (fill in the blank – salespeople, bean counters, management, etc.). These people all played an integral role on the client’s team, but I did not grasp what a vital part each one of them played in the success or failure of any creative or strategic marketing initiative.

What a mistake I made. What an opportunity missed. What an idiot I was.

By ignoring the most important people on the mission, I had doomed a new campaign to an unnecessarily bumpy launch at best, and to a fiery failure at worst. Let’s back up and examine why people who never actually work on marketing and advertising campaigns are so critical to their success or failure. And more importantly, how to get them on your side.

We worked with a longtime bank client on many programs. Though we created and designed many initiatives we thought would help drive the business, we were frustrated by the lack of results. Fortunately for us, there was an internal shift in the marketing department at the bank, which meant a new marketing point of contact. 

The new marketing coordinator arranged for our agency team to meet with the mortgage lending team prior to working on a new initiative. With the mortgage lenders’ input and engagement, voilá - the new campaign was a smashing success.

Here’s how internal marketing can work for you:

Get’em in the boat. By including people in on the mission before specific target markets and the public in general have access to it, you are making them part of the team. They appreciate being on the inside. Let’s face it - it’s a lot harder to punch holes in the boat if you’re in it, too. Provide them with the intel and the reasons for what you’re doing, and they will supply the momentum you need to get through any rough waters.  Make them a part of it. All aboard!

Be practical. How can the people who interact with the audience perform how you need them to if they don’t know what they’re supposed to do? How can they answer questions if you don’t give them the answers ahead of time? Don’t put them on the spot… put them in the best position to succeed with the information and tools they need.

Give them some love. Don’t flatter falsely – tell the truth. Let the others know you need them. The strong, silent type falls on deaf ears. Spread the good word. Everyone wants to be appreciated. Explain what you’re doing and why each one of them is critical to the success of this important initiative for their company… in other words, for them. 

Get over yourself. If you believe in your ideas, don’t hesitate to share them with others, whether they understand strategic marketing or not. This is your chance to share an idea in good faith. And if you don’t believe in something enough to share it with enthusiasm, you better go back to the iMac and come up with something you do believe in. You gotta believe to achieve.


Jack co-founded Henke & Associates, Inc. in 1987 with his father Bill Henke, in Cedarburg, WI. Henke is a longtime Second Wind member.

He delivers senior-level strategic and top-level creative direction for clients in many different industries. A strong conceptional thinker, Jack is experienced in every phase of the strategic and creative process. This entails everything from branding, leading the strategic marketing planning process, concept, writing, development, preproduction, talent-casting, audio, and video producing, directing and editing through final copy for video, broadcast, print, social and digital media.

Jack has earned national awards for writing, producing, and directing radio commercials.

In addition, Jack is a published author, content creator for clients and is a longtime local columnist in the News Graphic, where he has established himself as a leading local humorist with a keen eye for his insights and perspectives about what makes Cedarburg such a unique place.  He also hosts “The Jack Henke Show” podcast.