5 things HR can learn from Marketing

Best marketing practices are often shared, however without making the bridge to HR in more profound ways. Hence, I’m sharing some thoughts out of our own experience at mad about you.

In simple terms, marketing primarily takes care of reaching people outside of the company, to sell its services & products day by day. In order to keep your business up, you need your clients, customers, consumers. HR focuses primarily on reaching people inside of your organization, to sell them your company day by day. In order to keep your company up, you need your leaders, managers, employees.

So, what could HR learn from marketing? Here are a handful of insights, looking forward to your comments and additions!

1. Learn to sell your company

HR isn’t strong in selling their company to its employees: it’s not the core skill of the department at most businesses. HR can and should learn how to sell the company, much like marketing knows how to sell the brand. And what sells your company? It’s mainly your company culture. Strong marketing brands have a strong position and listen to their clients, customers, consumers. Hence strong employer brands must be equally thoughtfully crafted, with purpose, identity and values. They have to continuously listen to their leaders, managers and employees.

2. Foster communities inside your company

Marketing is strong in creating communities, or at least think of their customer groups as communities, taking ultimate pride of people who have the brand’s logo tattooed on their body. HR can learn from marketing to build communities inside. Not only the fun ones; the party committees, the after-work gangs, those who do volunteering work and do good for society. There is a very interesting road ahead in looking at building communities inside your company. Communities can be the true glue across departments; sharing knowledge, enabling collaboration, stimulating team loyalty. Maybe one day you’ll have employees with your logo on their body as well. Yes, they do exist.

3. Build bold beliefs 

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” The same goes for employees. The background of the HR domain is very different than that of marketing. However, in the past years a whole new dynamic has been and is still developing around HR. Much like marketing has been walking the purposeful or meaningful branding path, employees need to know why they should step into the boat and where they are rowing and growing to. Customers buy meaningful brands; employees choose purposeful companies. Embed your company culture in everything you do, to bring unity & clarity. 

4. Don’t get stuck in marketing speak

Big Data, Employee Experience, Employee Journey’s… in the past years marketing concepts have been making their way into the HR domain. By over conceptualizing self-evident processes, you risk however missing the point of what is truly needed. Gathering data and designing journey’s mean nothing as long as you do not fully bring them to life; we’ve seen to many shiny initiatives getting stuck in slide decks, checking the buzzword boxes without touching employee’s lives. The model nor the buzzword ever solves the problem.

5. You have to walk before you can run

The marketing domain is driven by fast paced innovation and rushed by sales targets. Despite all the action and in regard of this post, I dare say customers are rather occasionally in touch with a brand, e.g. when they see an ad, need a service or are shopping in the aisles. Employees however are in touch with your company every single day. People are sensitive to what is communicated to them; but this applies more to employees than to customers.

Take your time to thoughtfully communicate about your company’s strategy, identity and culture. Make room to have people talk about initiatives, nurture each other with pride, and celebrate successes together. Do not only make noise about what you intend to do, but truly deliver on the promises you make to your employees. Walk your talk, it will make the run fun.

Which leads me to my final quote for HR and Marketing:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Don’t only learn from each other, work with each other.

Let me know, what’s your favorite takeaway here? And what else do you think HR can learn from marketing?

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