In this article, we provide strategies for achieving sustained engagement by internally promoting your Innovation Program, using emails, video, and your own marketing tools.
You've implemented IdeaPlace. Congratulations! Now you’re on your way to building an environment where employees have a voice and can directly help improve your business by sharing their insights and experiences. To kick things off the right way you should run a Challenge. Your topics might include “How can we better serve our customers?”; "How do we cut costs"; “What should our goals for the year be?”; or “How do we improve our current product offering?”
Now the challenge is how do you motivate your employees to not only contribute an idea, but remain actively involved in the conversation by voting, adding their own unique perspectives, and even drawing in new participants to contribute to the conversation. One of the primary ways to drive this level of engagement is by internally promoting your Innovation Program. Internal marketing is your “call to action,” an opportunity to set the context of the program: What is this thing and what are we trying to achieve?
The Power of Internal Marketing
Visualize a new Challenge you are going to roll out that asks, “What are the most wasteful things we do as a company?” Now imagine presenting the question at an all-hands meeting and including a supporting video where the CEO announces this new Challenge, talks about why this Challenge is critical to the business, why your ideas can help shape the culture, and how the Challenge is in line with corporate and strategic goals for the coming year. Presented in this context, your Challenge injects the added energy of your own enthusiasm as well as the excitement of working collaboratively towards a shared objective. Internal marketing is a powerful tool that can be used to inspire employees and motivate them to become innovators.
Here are some of the most powerful ways you can use internal marketing to sustain engagement:
Introduce IdeaPlace to Your Community
An in-person introduction to IdeaPlace from the CEO signals buy-in from the highest levels of management and indicates that innovation is part of your overall corporate strategy. Depending on your company culture, you might reach out to all employees at once or to specific teams individually.
In many organizations, a town hall meeting, attended by every employee, is a key event for communicating your corporate strategy. This is is the perfect venue to present your innovation goals to your entire community and explain how IdeaPlace is part of realizing that vision.
In other company cultures, approaching individual groups might be more effective. Reach out to individual teams to talk about how your innovation program is especially relevant to them. They’ll appreciate the personal attention and make a meaningful connection between their team strategy and the company strategy overall. Start with the teams who have been most vocal about ideas they’ve had, and get their feedback about Challenges you’d like to run.
Record a video of your CEO to use in an email as an introduction to IdeaPlace. Every employee, current and future, will know why this is important to the company.
If working with individual teams, give each one the opportunity to design and manage their own IdeaPlace Challenge.
Announce IdeaPlace in a Company Newsletter or on Your Intranet
If your employees are already tuned in to your company newsletter or intranet, an announcement in one of these is a great way to publicize your innovation efforts. Include a link to IdeaPlace as an easy way to immediately get employees engaged.
Continue to take advantage of these communication channels to announce upcoming IdeaPlace Challenges, showcase the most engaged participants, or highlight Ideas that were successfully implemented.
Brand Your Innovation Program
Giving your Innovation Program a name and a theme makes it easier for you to talk about the program and to rally participants. This extra investment in internal marketing also demonstrates your organization’s commitment to making your Innovation Program successful.
Choose a theme which embodies the creative spirit and the culture of your organization, or challenge your marketing team to develop one. Then use this theme to customize your IdeaPlace and spread the word with posters, announcements, and even branded prizes. For example, one of our customers named their innovation program the “Idea Greenhouse.” To encourage participation, each employee who signed up for IdeaPlace was given a plant with the slogan, “Watch Your Idea Grow,” printed on it. This created a unique experience around joining IdeaPlace and served as a lasting reminder for each participant to stay involved in the program. It also sparked curiosity among employees who were not yet participants. They saw the plant on a colleague’s desk, read the call to action, and immediately wanted to know more.
Don’t have a name for your Innovation Program? “Help Us Name Our IdeaPlace” makes a great first IdeaPlace Challenge! It gives participants the opportunity to shape your Innovation Program from the start, and is an easy entry point into using IdeaPlace.
IdeaPlace Email Notifications
IdeaPlace Email Notifications are the primary means of broadcasting information to your IdeaPlace users. They represent an internal marketing tool built directly into IdeaPlace that can be used to introduce initiatives, kick off Challenges, motivate participation, and celebrate wins. You can include images, video, and other media in your Email Notifications for added impact.
When launching IdeaPlace Challenges, write an email which describes how the goals of this Challenge fit with your overall innovation strategy and how IdeaPlace will be used to help achieve those goals. Also use this as an opportunity to communicate to your team how they fit into this larger initiative. Consider adding video to better personalize the message and inspire your team.
You’re walking around with a powerful promotional tool: capture a direct, personal statement with your phone and add it to the email.
(See Sample Emails below.)
When a Challenge comes to an end, use a personal announcement and Sponsor email to celebrate wins and showcase the most impactful Ideas. Record a video of the individual who submitted the winning Idea to your Challenge for use in a communication. Recognizing participants and celebrating wins will help motivate employee engagement.
Challenge launch and close communications are best sent from a high level manager or challenge sponsor. Use the automated IdeaPlace notifications for more targeted emails like idea submission confirmations or idea graduation notices.
Welcome to IdeaPlace!
If you are reading this, you are the harbinger of good... no... GREAT... ideas! Ideas can be as simple as a single thought, but when shared amongst a global community of your peers can transform into solutions to problems that can directly impact our projects around the globe. The only problems is, where can you go to share these ideas? Where can you go to grow and nurture ideas into solutions? Until today there were too many forums for that: Yammer, email, water cooler chat, IM/Lync. These are all very EXclusive means for communication. They don't engage a broader audience who may be able to help turn a single sentence into a reality. They are not INclusive….
Enter IdeaPlace…. IdeaPlace is a new application that will allow us to source ideas from around the globe and, with the support of our peers, turn those ideas into applications. The process is dead-simple. First you enter a “New Idea.” Next you can socialize it (send links to your ideas in Yammer, IM, email, etc.) so that others can “vote” on your idea. Others can comment on your idea in a threaded conversational manner to help flesh it out even further. Then we can take the most popular and active ideas and make them a reality.
It’s really that simple….
What are you waiting for???
I’ve now met with over 400 of you in small meetings to discuss our strategy and state of affairs. They have been robust and interesting conversations about our growth initiatives and legacy businesses, our culture, and our future. We will be announcing more dates for these meetings soon and hope you will participate.
In those conversations and others, several of you asked how to share your ideas with me and with the other leaders in our company. Starting this week we will all be able to use the IdeaPlace platform, described in detail below, to propose both big ideas and small improvements.
For big ideas, there will be a new IdeaPlace Challenge called Growth Initiatives. Here we are looking for ideas that have the potential to attract a large user or customer base. Please ask yourselves: What markets are we well positioned to enter? What paid product should be developed next?
A small team will review and respond to all submissions. Promising ideas will be allocated resources as stakeholder if we pursue your idea. I know that schemes for new ideas have been tried before—this time we want to make it real and inclusive. In the meantime, please log in and explore the IdeaPlace platform.