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Marketing Internally to Effect Change, with Empathy

June 25, 2021



Marketing Internally to Effect Change, with Empathy

Marketing Internally to Effect Change, with Empathy

This episode is about using sophisticated traditional marketing techniques to transform employees’ apathy and ambivalence into engagement and enable change initiatives to succeed. Neil Bedwell is a Founding Partner of LOCAL where he applies his extensive expertise in consumer marketing to internal corporate audiences to effect lasting change. The key is understanding how culture impacts new initiatives from ideation through development and execution. Neil explains what marketing techniques are core to LOCAL’s effective ‘Change Marketing™’.


[02:49] How Neil fell into marketing.

[04:49] Realizing the effect of corporate culture on ideas as they are developed.

[7:10] In big organizations, it is a challenge not to weaken ideas as they become more complex, trying to solve additional asks.

[10:06] Neil shifts to marketing to employees, founding LOCAL with two partners.

[11:00] What is ‘marketing’ and what is ‘Change Marketing’™?

[12:08] Why knowledge about your employees is a central sources of competitive advantage.

[13:30] Understanding the dire effect of unengaged employees on your business.

[14:33] Insights—Why Neil believes listening to employees is the difference between success and failure.

[15:23] Narrative—Change is a journey with employees as the heroes of the story.

[16:40] Helping people understand every step of transformative change by taking them along the storytelling journey.

[17:26] Craft—creating the quality of messaging to the win attention of employees.

[19:29] The significance of employees’ participation in change initiatives.

[20:17] What stories can fill the void if companies don’t communicate to their employees.

[21:32] How culture allows new initiatives to survive or die.

[21:57] Culture is created by your people, not you as a leader.

[22:42] How to influence employees by listening and crafting an intentional story.

[23:40] How to craft a story that is going to resonate with each employee.

[25:52] The meaningful role of a company’s ‘Believers’.

[26:46] Who influences the ‘Swayables’ in the middle?

[27:21] How to shift the norms within a company.

[30:30] The level of empathy in your company’s culture has determined resilience to disruption.

[32:36] Talented people are moving to cultures that have natural empathy built in.

[33:33] What it takes to foster, strengthen, and maintain a culture.

[34:10] Being in one place together used to be a key part of cultural ‘glue’.

[35:25] How cultural ‘cyclones’ can be developed away from the corporate hub and help solve the problem of cultural dilution.

[37:54] The powerful ‘Infinity Loop’: two connected halves—the customer and employee experiences.

[39:49] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: The Assumption Problem – Marketers don’t assume anything. Start with employees’ apathy and ambivalence. You have to earn their caring and their belief.


“I’m a big believer that people shouldn’t have one career, that you should have as many different careers as you can.”

“Culture is what allows things to survive or die.”

“It doesn’t matter how helpful your idea is, if you don’t actually think about how it travels through culture, you’re likely going to lose that battle.”

“Marketing is ‘the orientation of everything you do around your audience.’”

“Around 2/3 of adults in the US are disengaged at work. They are unhappy, miserable, with the thing they spend half their waking life doing.”

“If you're not listening to your employees and understanding how they think and feel, you are in danger of not understanding the impact of that disengagement.”

“Disengagement hampers innovation, productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, customer service, the quality of your products, etc. Anything that you attribute to growth can be linked back to employee engagement.”

“Two thirds of those [change] initiatives require significant employee behavior change in order to succeed.”

“Smart talented folks are voting with their feet…they are seeking out those culture that have natural empathy built in.”

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