Sunday, January 08, 2006

Light Their Fire - Drake, Gulman & Roberts

Subtitled "Using Internal Marketing to Ignite Employee Performance and WOW Your Customers" the three authors have also set up a website by the same name at

The book is excellent and a very informative and engaging read. It took me awhile to get through it because I would find with each section my mind would wander over what we are doing (or not doing) in our own company. I would zone out on a particular topic and then realize I had stopped reading to ponder. The book is very practical and written for those of us who know that internal marketing is critical to the success of our company, but who are not marketing professionals. It's written in plain language for regular people.

It starts out with basic information about internal brands, analyzing the situation, setting goals & objectives, knowing your audiences and targeting your message. The book builds to greater detail and offers examples of timelines, vehicles of communication, and even has an appendix with samples of things like surveys and even a speech. It has great examples and anecdotes of what companies have successfully accomplished in their internal marketing campaigns, including Hampton Inn, Holiday Inns and Southwest Airlines.

It was interesting how much time they gave to employee training and orientation programs as part of internal marketing; the importance of the Human Resources Department in these efforts; and how Department to Department (D2D) cooperation is critical to successfully implementing an internal marketing and branding campaign. They also spent time in outlining how employee recognition and rewards drives these efforts over the long term. I liked the fact that they gave great examples of what other companies have done. They would be easy for any company to emulate.

Lots of quotable quotes in here - post-it flags are everywhere! Toward the end of the book I came across a good summary of one of the book's theses: "Internal marketing is a marriage with your employees. It's a way of building honest relationships that will carry you through good times and rocky ones. Just like in marriage, you can't afford to wait until the whole arrangement crumbles to pay attention to the partnership. You have to take preventative steps." It echoes what I've read recently about the new breed of Generation Y employees: employment has gotten to be more like a marriage where each party expects to have their needs met. It's no longer a one sided relationship where the employer wields the power because they control the paycheck. More jobs than employees means that employees have more choices.

On my refrigerator is a calendar with our number one competitor's logo on it. It was left in my door by one of their real estate agents for the second year in a row. Last year, I just took the pages out and put them in the plastic frame with my company's logo on it - one that was given to me by my own real estate agent in 2004. This year I put the competitor's calendar up there to remind me every single morning when I reach for the milk, that battles are won and lost based on what can seem like mere details. After 11 years with my company, knowing thousands of agents, hundreds of them on a first name basis, despite considering some of them personal friends - at the end of the day it was a competitor who provided me with my 2006 calendar. It makes me wonder what is on the refrigerator of our 2,000 employees - and why as a company we don't make certain that it's our own company logo that employees see every day in their own homes. That is just one tiny example of thinking in terms of internal marketing, branding and communicating with a company's most important asset - its people.

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