The Intersection of #HR and Marketing – Ask HR Bartender

by Sharlyn Lauby on December 30, 2012

This reader question is focused on the future of human resources:

Can you please tell me something about the combination of HR and Marketing? Many professionals are saying that the time has reached when HR and Marketing should be combined. If the company wants to achieve their goals, they have to work together. What do you think?

IMHO, marketing and human resources go together. When you think about the 4 P’s of marketing – price, place, promotion and product – it aligns with HR as compensation/benefits, work environment, career opportunities, and corporate culture. The common element, of course, is people.

HR, human resources, marketing, synergy, intersection, employees, people, simutis

I’ve written a few articles on the subject of marketing and human resources. You can check them out:

If Your Marketing Director Ran HR 

It’s About Marketing 

Internal Talent Marketing 

I also know several human resources pros who’ve had both HR and Marketing responsibilities. It’s a real testament to their business savvy and talents.

So I’m not opposed to the synergy of human resources and marketing. It does mean companies have to strategically plan their efforts. It also means that marketing pros will have to learn some of the technical aspects of HR and vice versa. Some of this synergy could be lost if the organization is too large and spreads resources too thin. Because a combined effort of human resources and marketing doesn’t necessarily mean a reduction in workforce or expense.

HR and Marketing, like all the other functions in a company, should be working together to achieve the company’s goals.

What do you think – are there some synergies to be realized between marketing and human resources?

Image courtesy of Nancy Newell [Simutis]

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Rochelle December 30, 2012 at 10:43 am

I would say that HR is already a form of marketing and the company success is dependent on the effective communication of many areas covered under the umbrella of HR. For example: Recruiting is Marketing 101 to candidates and the communications with your employees is internal marketing (i.e. carefully crafting the new benefit announcements to make the changes sound more palatable). Even the employee newsletter, which traditionally originates in HR for small companies is a marketing piece. In every company I’ve ever worked for I have been asked to write policy, procedure, and training content. All of these are internal marketing with a little legalese and disclaimers thrown in for good measure. When I implemented an LMS (learning management system), I immediately got our marketing team involved to ensure that the company message was communicated properly, that it was aligned with the company goals, that the actual design fit into our design scheme, and that the schedule had a communication plan.

Stéphane Olivier December 30, 2012 at 11:02 am

I think that HR and Marketing (and Corporate Communications) are going to interact more in the future.

There are at least two structural reasons for that.

One is the war for talent: companies that used to compete for clients are now going to fight for recruits. This means that an increasing percentage of their media budget will be used for recruitment campaigns. HR thus needs more marketing.

The other reason is social media: marketers are now considering that a company’s employee is a medium him/herself. They want employees to spread the good word about their products via Facebook, Twitter, or personal blogs. For this strategy to be effective, you need a strong company culture and happy employees. Marketing thus needs more HR…

Sharlyn Lauby December 30, 2012 at 11:51 am

Thanks for the comments. I think you both raise an interesting point about corporate communications being a common ground between HR and marketing.

Mary Wright December 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Or a reduction in focus on the legal aspects of HR. Add legal to the last sentence. Great article, Sharon. I’ve been asking myself about this combo since my first Tweet. It seemed the vast majority of HR folk I found on Twitter were recruiters, and the lawyers who Tweet HR ignore (for the most part) recruiting and tech. Times are changing.

hande arcan December 31, 2012 at 4:06 am

I also believe that, HR, Marketing and Communications would be used to ensure better employee satisfaction. Interdisciplinary approaches frequently contribute to good outcomes!

Happy New Year!

Hande Arcan

Tony Bennett December 31, 2012 at 1:20 pm

As one of those who has held senior roles in both Marketing and Human Resources, I am very conscious of both the similarities and differences between the two areas.

They are about influencing and motivating two of the most important audiences in most companies – customers and employees (on occasions shareholders and potential investors can be pretty important as well!!).

Some skills are common to both but there are very different dynamics between the two which would make it very challenging for most companies to effectively merge them in the same function.

They are also both so important that it is questionable whether the structure of the company would be balanced if they were combined.

The nature of the company’s activity is central to determining the extent that Marketing and HR (and “Operations”) need to co-operate closely. A services company, for instance, where a high percentage of employees have direct contact with customers requires particularly close alignment.

The key to successful alignment of marketing and HR is clarity in both strategy and values – and effective communication of both throughout the organisation. Values are particularly important and effective if developed to capture the heart of the organisation. They become the long term inspiration and short term guidance to marketeers and employees alike.

Sharlyn Lauby January 1, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I believe companies are starting to realize the role employees play in marketing the company. In part, due to the impact of social media.

Thanks everyone for keeping this great conversation going!

Andy Phillips January 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

HR in my view is an enabler for the marketing function – without people acting in a way that promotes the brand then much marketing is hot air and HR becomes mere nannying of performance. Does customer Xs experience with an employee match the brand values? How we ensure that happens is essentially HR. I wonder though whether HRDs would be happy reporting to the marketing Director?
Andy Phillips recently posted..How To Better Calculate Your Hourly Pay

Sharlyn Lauby January 6, 2013 at 10:14 am

Thanks for the comment. You raise an interesting question about HR reporting to Marketing. The reverse also applies. How many marketing directors would be happy with responsibility for human resources?

meher February 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm

i’m marketing pro with responsibility of employer branding, but i must confess for me to be successful, my HR peers need to co-operate and contribute in executing my plans . I need to understand HR strategies and tactics as much as they need to understand marketking.

i agree with Stéphane Olivier, with war of talent getting more intense, HR can’t do without marketing help and vice versa. The employees being very important brand ambassadors and with advent of social media a channel that employees use very frequently to share their opinions, marketeers have realised it would be stupidity not leverage them as buzz machine to spread positive news in market for this they have to work with HR.

Recruiters are the new sales people, they need to concentrate on selling the company and job to candidates and for this they need marketing’s to help them as they help sales folks.

Hence employer Branding professional can be the new breed of marketeers with HR sensitivities. My specialisation in marketing as well as HR has real helped me function and perform in role.

Sharlyn Lauby February 18, 2013 at 9:06 am

Thanks for the comment. I can totally see a new kind of hybrid position that bridges both human resources and marketing. It will not only take the “marketer with HR sensitivities” but the HR pro with a great deal of business savvy.

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