A Love-Hate Relationship? When Marketing and HR Meet: Part 2

When a company first dips its toes into the waters of employment branding, it’s not unusual for HR and Marketing to butt heads. Human Resources is usually the one initiating the effort and Marketing wants to know why HR is messing around in the branding sandbox. On the other hand, HR claims that Marketing has never paid it enough attention and wonders why Marketing is suddenly so interested.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, our advice is for HR to bring Marketing in as an equal partner right from the start. If that sounds like a recipe for conflict, you might be surprised. It turns out the main reason Marketing and HR do not typically get along is because they rarely work together—not the other way around. And employment branding is the perfect excuse to change that.

By its very definition, employment branding is the intersection of marketing strategies and tools with HR objectives and outcomes. You simply can’t reach your full potential without bringing both parties into the discussion. But once you get them together, two things happen. First, each function brings knowledge and skills to the table that complement what the other one can do—yielding better outcomes than either will achieve alone. Second, both HR and Marketing end up learning a lot from each other along the way.

In my previous blog, we talked about the things that Marketing people can learn from HR professionals. This time, let’s shift our focus to the things that HR people can learn from Marketing professionals.

What HR Can Learn from Marketing

  1. Why we did what we did.

    Your employment branding message does not exist in a vacuum; it is part of your company’s overall message. Done right, the employment brand will support, complement or reinforce the messages that already exist out in the market. And the experts on what’s already out there are in Marketing. From message strategy to media tactics to why they chose not to do something, Marketing professionals can help you understand the context in which you’re working. They probably have resources that can help you, too. And I’ll bet they can save you from learning a few things the hard way. There’s an old saying: “Don’t take down a fence until you know why it was put up.” Marketing can tell you why.

  2. How to tell a story.

    At its heart, branding is about storytelling. It starts with knowing whom you are talking to and understanding what message you want to get across. Marketing can help you define and articulate these. Something to keep in mind: We all want to be understood, so it’s normal to start out with a hundred things you want to say. But “when you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.” Work with Marketing to isolate the most important message and then lead with that. Also, remember that this is a two-way conversation. It will likely have many parts. As you go along, your audience will tell you what they really want to know.

  3. Most clients get the work they deserve.

    This familiar phrase is common in the advertising business. It may sound a little smug, but the point is that there are things you can do to be a great client—and get great work. Does your Marketing team work with an ad agency or other outside partners? Ask them for advice on how to work smarter with your employment branding partner. They can help you understand what the vendor needs to do their best. Or when to take the lead and when to stand back and let the vendor work. You might even consider asking one of your Marketing leads to be a part of vendor meetings until the relationship is up to speed.

  4. Nothing is more powerful than a satisfied customer.

    You have probably heard that it’s cheaper to keep a good customer than find a new one. And we’ve all heard that the best advertising is word of mouth. Both are good reasons to pay attention to your current employees. Most of your tactics for attracting and recruiting new talent can also help “re-recruit” the employees you already have. And the more engaged your people are, the more they can help you tell your story. Encourage them to spend time on social media. You might even want to invest in training them. When serious candidates and curious job-seekers interact with your superstars, they’ll see what great looks like at your company. And who doesn’t want to be part of something great?

  5. Deep down, we’d all rather make decisions with our hearts.

    Think about the biggest purchase decisions you’ve ever made. Something like a car or house. You probably worked very hard to make the smartest choice possible—asking questions, comparing prices and weighing the most important factors. But in the end, I’ll bet you chose your car or house because you simply fell in love with it. Careers are like that, too. Candidates want to make a smart choice, and the facts you give them about salary, benefits, career path and market position can get you on the short list. But in the end, nobody wants to choose a job just because it makes the most sense on paper. We all want to find the place where we walk in the door and immediately fit in. When we do, all those facts simply reaffirm what we’ve already decided. So tell your authentic story. Show them why you love where you work—and let them see why they will love it too.

Nothing is more effective—or more fulfilling—than great teamwork. And the skills and talents of Marketing and HR professionals together just happen to be a great fit. It’s difficult to succeed at employment branding without both functions coming to the table, so why not get together in the first place? We promise you’re going to love what happens when you do.