The marketing director worked hard on the new campaign and convinced the CFO to budget extra dollars for the launch. It was an exciting promotion with an impossible-to-ignore offer that was certain to boost sales to new highs. Only one problem: nobody told the sales team about it.

So an hour after the email blast went out, the sales team learned about the promotion when an eager customer called and said they were ready to sign up. The rep who took the call stammered a moment or two and played along as though he knew what the customer was referencing. The smile in his voice did a great job of hiding his soaring blood pressure as he told the customer he’d call them back with details within the hour.

When companies think about marketing, advertising, sales, or publicity efforts, they naturally focus their energy on the target audience of those efforts. All too often, they’re so focused on that target they forget success in any of those efforts also requires the involvement and enthusiasm of people within the organization.

In fact, when companies speak of communication, they’re nearly always referring to external audiences, forgetting the critical importance of reaching out internally, too. Take the example I described. The sales team was going to be responsible for handling the responses the promotion generated, so at the very least, they should have been educated on its mechanics and goals. But if the marketing director had taken the time to develop an effective internal communications effort, she could have ensured they’d become eager participants instead of skeptical and feeling left out.

In the face of revenue goals and the like, it’s easy to forget that marketing and sales efforts may be directed at entities but are responded to by people. And when those people respond, their interest is fielded not by the departments, but by the people working in those departments. When marketers lose sight of the humanity behind promotions and programs, their effectiveness declines.

If there’s a positive that emerged from the pandemic, it’s a recognition of the importance of individuals. As companies shifted to remote work environments, we gained a new appreciation for the connections we have with others and the value each of us provides. One hopes it’s a lasting effect.

The problem isn’t limited to the marketing department. We’ve all seen what happens when companies develop silos and fail to communicate effectively with the folks in the other silos. Important initiatives stumble or get delayed because somebody forgot to involve IT or production in the early conversations. Had the sales team been there from the beginning, they may have been able to point to aspects of the promotion that could be improved. Now it’s too late.

External audiences are important, yes, but most companies devote so much attention to connecting with them that they only leave scraps for their employees. The real tragedy about that is that employees can be those companies’ most effective and enthusiastic advocates.

Calling your staff a team doesn’t make it happen. Communications is a key piece of it, and the better we get to know each other, the more readily we’ll work with one another. We know Hector in IT who was just promoted seems to be a smart guy and we’ve seen him wearing Purdue gear, but what else do we really know about him? Would we treat him differently if we knew he and Julie have three young kids, he plays the drums, loves to fish, is restoring a wooden boat in his garage, and has a black lab named Edgar?

The more we know, the stronger our connections become. And when we share what we know about employees with external audiences, those customers and other stakeholders feel closer to our company. When we simply tell the world Hector has been promoted, he’s just a cog in our machine, but when we also provide insight into who Hector is, the outside world sees the humanity in our team.

The simple truth is that communications build connections externally, internally, and between the two, so the more intentional your communications efforts, the stronger the connections. So even when you’re planning a targeted marketing or promotional effort at a segment of your customers or your prospects, take a holistic approach. Including your most important audience is a way to ensure you’ll improve your connections with all of your audiences.

Deborah Daily is co-owner of Buckaroo Marketing | New Media, a Fishers-based advertising agency established in 1999. She can be reached at dldaily@gobuckaroo.com.