An Exploratory Study of the Application of Internal Marketing in Professional Service Organizations

Lanchi Snell, Lesley White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The proposition that organizations depend on employees to deliver quality services to compete and grow has been widely recognized in the services marketing literature (Gronroos, 1990; Boshoff & Tait, 1996; Zeithaml, Berry, & Parasuraman, 1996). Internal marketing (IM) refers to the way in which an organization motivates and educates its employees to behave in a customer-conscious or market-oriented manner through the application of marketing-like processes. IM is believed to contribute towards achieving organizational goals (Gilmore, 2003). The aim of the research was to conduct an exploratory investigation into the application of IM within the professional services industry. The research was conducted using multiple cases with seven organisations representing management consulting, accounting, law, and financial services. Nineteen in-depth interviews were conducted with eight internal users (client-facing personnel) and 11 enabling (marketing and human resources) practitioners. The findings indicate that IM is practised, albeit with varying degrees of sophistication, in order to execute wide ranging projects related to marketing and human resources (HR). This exploratory study provides some empirical evidence that suggests management needs to provide some overall guidelines on how the organisation perceives IM, why it is important to achieving the firm's goals, and who should be involved in implementing it. Possible directions of future research could include longitudinal studies that examine IM's application across different industries, exploration of particular variables that impact IM's application, and examination of client perspectives. This study contributes to the understanding of what IM is and how and why it is practiced within professional services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-211
Number of pages17
JournalServices Marketing Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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