Why understanding HR is crucial for successful marketing – and vice versa
Head of Brand Strategy and Insight, Katie Vickery explores the interdependencies between Marketing and HR departments within a business: why they need each other and how to implement this within a business successfully.
When supporting clients on business and brand solutions, we naturally get under the skin of the business and what makes it tick. So often, we start to get an understanding of not only the marketing activity, but also the role of HR in delivering a brand successfully to employees – both current and prospective. A more traditional marketing approach may not consider HR to be part of the remit of brand, but the reality is that it absolutely is becoming increasingly important, particularly given the current recruitment challenges that so many businesses are facing.
Marketing and HR are not mutually exclusive, but rather they share many dependencies. Only when they’re working in synergy can they both be truly successful. So how are they linked and what does this mean for brand?
Many people think of marketing as communicating to the customer audience, which isn’t untrue. Marketing to customers is one of the areas of focus for most marketing efforts, but the internal audience – i.e. the employees of a company – are just as crucial, if not more crucial, to the success of a brand. Take a company who is dependent on its frontline staff delivering its brand, such as an energy company whose staff are dealing with customers day in, day out. Very little of the brand interaction from this type of company to its customers is done through traditional marketing communications like leaflets and TV advertising. The company is incredibly dependent on the employees to deliver the brand and so it’s crucial that everyone understands and believes in it.
An organisation can only exist because of its people – no matter what industry or sector the business operates in – and so the brand is communicated through the employees. It’s important for marketeers to understand that a brand starts from within the business – this is why it’s so important to define ‘why’ we exist first and foremost, rather than ‘what’ we do, which comes after.
How can HR and Marketing work best together?
1. Build an Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
Your value proposition is your offer to customers and why they choose you. Your employer (external) brand is focused on how the brand is perceived by current employees and the market. The trouble is, this shouldn’t be used to communicate with your internal audience. Rather, an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) should be developed, which is your offer to employees and why they should believe in the business, stay and join.
2. Listen to your audience
Just as you would interview, question and research your external audience, the same should be done with the internal audience. Don’t take for granted that you know how your staff are feeling, and make sure you understand why they get out of bed in the morning to come to work.
3. Develop a strategy
Don’t just rip off your external marketing strategy and use it for your internal audience. A strategy that enables you to engage with your internal audience is crucial to developing an engaged workforce and one that will go above and beyond for the business. If you simply push out your external marketing messages to your internal audience, it won’t feel authentic and you may experience cynicism from them.
4. Continue to monitor and learn
Just as you would with any marketing or HR initiatives, it’s important to constantly monitor the response to your internal communications. Not only this, but Marketing and HR departments need to work together to engage with the internal audience. This partnership shouldn’t simply be about churning out recruitment ads: it should be built around the Employee Value Proposition.
“When people work towards a common goal, they are driven, passionate and purposeful. Success soon follows.”
Richard Branson, Virgin