Better Together: Why Marketing and Human Resources Need to Work In Concert
Effective collaboration across siloed departments is a goal as ubiquitous as it is elusive. Engineering and Marketing. Marketing and sales. Product Development and Customer Service. Yet many companies don’t even consider the potential for common ground between Marketing and Human Resources. Perhaps this lacuna arises because Marketing focuses on external audiences versus the internal focus of HR. But for a business to have a well-defined and strong brand delivered across all touchpoints, all departments—especially Marketing and HR—need to work together toward a Shared Purpose to align their brand with the organizational culture.
Transforming Brand Promises Made into Brand Promises Kept
In the most basic terms, when consumers choose to purchase a product or service, they are making a bet that a brand will deliver on what it promises. Brands need to have an external focus to enlist outside audiences that Marketing departments craft, guide and maintain. External focus alone, however, misses an essential aspect of brand stewardship. Every interaction a customer has with a business reflects the brand, and there is no more foundational interaction with a brand than through employees. A beautiful logo, a clever tagline and impactful marketing, advertising and social media campaigns all infused with the most compelling brand message will ultimately prove to be the elements of a Potemkin village unless employees understand, believe and deliver the brand.
Whether they are developing or producing a product, delivering it or executing post-purchase activities, employees make or break the brand promise. Brand development shouldn’t be conceived in a vacuum apart from the department charged with stewardship of the culture for the people who deliver the brand each and every day.
You Can’t Find the Right Employee “Fit” in a Vacuum from the Brand
The relationship between Human Resources and Marketing begins with attracting talent that’s the right fit. No business can pursue success without the right people in place to execute the strategy and vision. Unfortunately for most employers, the “right person” doesn’t always show up unbidden. Even more challenging, the right person is often in high demand by competitors. The recent 21st Annual CEO Survey from PwC, stated that 73 percent of respondents are concerned about the availability of talent. The key is to think of enlisting employees as a whole-company effort rather than consigned to recruiting.
Products or services aren’t the only things that need promotion. People want to work for organizations that have a strong reputation, as well as a solidified, commonly understood and embraced mission and vision. According to Glassdoor, 70 percent of candidates look at online reviews, social media conversations and LinkedIn profiles of staff before applying for a job (and one wonders what the 30 percent who don’t are using to select their employers). That’s why it’s so important to align HR strategy and brand strategy. For example, to build a brand around innovation, the brightest minds need to be deployed into a strong, fully-funded, perpetually supported research and development department.
If a business requires staying abreast of the latest trends and pop culture, it needs to be staffed with au courant younger employees. To attract this type of workforce, a business requires a culture with “Millennial-friendly” benefits like workplace flexibility and professional development—mandating input, actions and meaningful collaboration across Marketing and HR.
Market, Message and Engage Employees Like You Mean It
A great example of outstanding recruiting material comes from SodaStream. In a recent recruitment video, the Israeli sparkling water company creates a message that’s a delightful blend of the company’s purpose and values as well as how these are meaningful to both consumers and potential employees. Additionally, they wrap it up in an engaging and fun presentation with the production values of a Super Bowl commercial. That they also create, and sometimes with such sass that their spot featuring Scarlett Johansson was banned from the big game in 2014.
But recruitment and hiring is just the start. Once you’ve managed to fill the ranks with exemplary employees, the collaboration between HR and Marketing kicks into high gear. It’s the same as a marketing campaign successfully converting a prospect into a customer. Customers need a consistent brand experience to reinforce their understanding of the benefits of doing business with the company. In the same way, employees need to be immersed in a culture that reflects the brand, so they understand what it is, why it matters and how to deliver it to their colleagues and audiences outside the company. The same thought and creativity companies invest in strategic and creative marketing messages directed to customers should be invested in employees as well.
Whether it’s a safety presentation or the introduction of a rewards and recognition program, every initiative for employees should be imbued with and reflect the organization’s brand. The benefits of doing this are two-fold. First, consistent execution will ingrain the brand promise within the employee’s mind, giving employees an understanding of the company’s raison d’etre. Second, more thoughtful and creative presentations increase employee engagement, help foster emotional connections and help make the program and the business more successful. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, fellow employees are three times as likely to trust each other than CEOs, spokesmen or Marketing department alone. Like it or not, employee engagement (or lack thereof) directly impacts trusts and brand perception for both employees and consumers.
You Can’t Expect Customer Brand Engagement without Employee Brand Engagement
The UK retailer Seasalt has recognized the importance of blending HR with Marketing. The company has created a tight-knit environment conducive to constant communication between HR and Marketing on issues from recruitment to internal communications. Having a distinct, shared vision has helped maintain cohesion across each brand touchpoint. Helen Rowe, the head of brand and PR at Seasalt, stresses the importance of this interdepartmental relationship noting, “While it’s vital how the customer perceives our brand, it’s just as vital how the people who are already working for us, and want to work for us, perceive us as well.”
In order to ensure this consistency persists, the Marketing and HR departments jointly developed a handbook for new hires that illuminates the history of Seasalt and what drives the brand and the retailer’s “people values.” When hiring for the Marketing department, colleagues in HR actively participate in the interview process to identify candidates who will be strong brand advocates for Seasalt. With this level of interconnectedness between departments, Seasalt has created a seamless brand experience between customers and employees.
A Reason to Buy. A Reason to Believe
When the people who define and cultivate the brand come together with the minds that know employees best, new opportunities emerge. A brand culture strategy driven by the creativity of Marketing and informed by the insights of HR impacts the business more profoundly than either could accomplish in isolation. When HR and Marketing combine their respective perspectives and talents, they give customers a reason to buy and employees a reason to believe.
Learn more about Shared Purpose.