There. I said it. The parallels between marketing and human resources are endless.
As HR pros, we could really gain some creative inspiration from the principles of marketing. In fact, we’ve talked about learning from marketing before. You can click here, here and here to check those posts out. For instance, we can apply one of the most fundamental marketing models to our role in human resources. It’s called the 4P’s.
The 4P’s of marketing represent product, price, promotion, and place. They can also be used to describe the concepts as they relate to human resources. Here’s my take on how the 4P’s aligns with HR.
PRODUCT represents the organization. In marketing, it’s what the company is trying to sell. In human resources, the thing you’re selling is the company itself. It’s your employment brand and the jobs that you’re trying to fill. They must be well-designed for candidates to find them appealing.
PRICE is about the value proposition. To me, it’s both what the company is offering in terms of total rewards and HR measurements. From a marketing standpoint, I think of price as the cost to bring the product to market and the price that the consumer will pay. HR has to be aware of the cost to acquire and retain talent.
PROMOTION is how people learn about your organization. In the marketing world, it’s advertising. In the HR world, it’s career portals, social media presence, Glassdoor reviews and Great Place to Work awards (just to name a few). I think promotion can also mean opportunity. Are there opportunities for employees to grow and learn within the company? Can employees spread the word?
PLACE signifies where people get to work. Are your offices sleek and modern or dingy and old? Can employees work from home? Does your office space have an element of fun? Maybe even simple things like do you offer free coffee and snacks?
I like to think of the 4P’s like a table. You need all of these things to be successful. If you have a great place but little on price, the table might be wobbly. Same if you offer an outstanding price, but no one knows about your product.
At this year’s SilkRoad Connections Conference, I got my hands on a great article by Lisa Rowan, vice president of HR, talent and learning research at IDC. They are a global provider of market intelligence and advisory services, reaching an audience of more than 280 million. Lisa’s article talked about a 5th P – People.
I can definitely see people as part of the equation – both from a marketing perspective as well as HR. Organizations create products for people to engage with. I believe they want to offer compensation packages that allow them to attract and retain the best people (i.e. price). Companies want to promote their organization to the world. And finally, they want a location that employees are proud to call their place of employment.
Classic theories like the 4P’s can teach us a lot – if we let them. That’s why I keep a Principles of Marketing book on my bookshelf. It also allows me to appreciate when new ideas – like the 5th P – arrive on the scene. The HR and marketing connection isn’t going away anytime soon. Might want to grab a used textbook.
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Images courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby0