What’s the difference between marketing and HR? Well, less than you might think. Marketing teams market a brand to consumers; HR and people teams market a brand to potential and existing employees.
In a competitive job market, offering a steady position for a good salary is no longer sufficient. HR teams need to work so much harder not only to attract talent but to retain it too. That’s why it’s crucial that HR leaders adopt the same principles that their marketing colleagues do.
These principles are called the ‘marketing mix’ or the ’7 Ps’ of marketing – and they’re principles that HR and people teams can apply and use, too.
Your employer brand, or ‘People marketing’, is how you position your brand to potential candidates and your existing workforce. Too many companies channel all their energy into marketing to the customer, but it is equally, if not more, important to market themselves to existing and potential staff to attract the highest calibre of staff to drive the business. Here’s how the 7 Ps of marketing should be applied to HR.
The product in HR is the employee experience. This covers the recruitment process, onboarding, performance and development – the whole employee journey.
When you design workforce experiences (whether its job roles, training programs, policies, performance reviews or career progressions), you are designing your ‘product’, which will be unique to your company. You need to market that product to your customers – employees new and old. If they like what you are offering, they will ‘buy into’ it and you’ll be able to attract and retain the best.
Price is what you pay for your employees (so their salaries, benefits, perks), but it’s also what they are giving in exchange for this – time, talent, ideas, and good work. It’s a trade and in some circumstances, you might pay a lower price but throw in more benefits or vice versa. It really depends on what works for you and the employee, but it is important that you are having that conversation and making sure you are providing a package that works for both of you.
When you are paying for a product or service, you expect value and when you get it, it is important that you acknowledge and reward your employees. This will go a long way to enhance brand loyalty amongst your people.
This is how you promote your product (the employee experience) to your target audience (existing and potential recruits). How does your audience want to be communicated to? If they are a younger demographic, then social media and apps may be the best way to reach them.
In the same way that marketing teams will stay on top of product reviews in places like app stores, have a look at online review sites like Glassdoor.com: what are people saying about your brand, and how can you engage with them?
Notify your employees of any new policies, benefits, work practices and let them feedback to you too. Listen to them, take into account good ideas, implement and promote them.
As well as the method of communication, think about your tone of voice. Think about who you are communicating with, what you are communicating, and how your tone reflects your values. Above all, you must be genuine, credible, distinctive and attractive for existing and potential workers to listen and ‘buy into’ your employer brand.
People no longer work in one place. They are on the go. Some are full time, some part time, some permanent and some contractors. Technological developments have resulted in people expecting services to come to them, rather than having to seek them out themselves. This presents a new set of challenges for HR teams and employers.
You can’t expect workers to come to you. You have to reach out to them. This means that you need to ensure that your services are reaching them at any time and in any place. This could be through a company HR app where they can also communicate with you.
However, just because the world has gone digital, the same principles of old apply – HR and people teams need to be accessible, open and willing to listen whether it be through an app, the telephone or talking face-to-face.
Your people are your HR and people team, and senior leaders at the company. As well as being skilled HR practitioners, your HR professionals need to be personable, easy to talk to, problem solvers and knowledgeable – not only of company policies but industry developments, as well as what HR teams in other companies are doing.
A Chief People Officer should know their staff well can be extremely effective at People Marketing. If not, you risk not attracting and even losing skilled workers.
HR and its people teams should now focus on its people and building great workforce experiences.
Equally, HR is no longer the sole responsibility of a people team; it's down to business leaders to play their role also. They need to be engaged and staff need to feel they truly value their people.
This refers to the means of providing services to and obtaining feedback from employees. The most employee-friendly HR policy or program would not serve its purpose if delivered ineffectively. Good technology is vital for successful adoption and engagement by your workforce.
This is how you demonstrate your employee experiences. It's not good enough to simply pay lip service to how you value your employees and your workplace culture – staff and potential candidates need to see the proof of this, too.
Can they see clear career progression within your organization, and evidence of employees being promoted internally? Are your staff advocates of your company on social media and sites like Glassdoor? Are there ways that your employee experiences manifests itself in small takeaways that show your company cares? It's all very well to talk the talk, but you need to walk the walk, too.
Just as customer case studies and reviews speak volumes in marketing, the power of advocates is not to be underestimated.
The bottom line is that employees with legitimate dissatisfaction are no different from disgruntled customers, who can adversely influence the image of an organization. Employees who feel engaged, valued, and motivated will become your brand’s most prolific ambassadors.