For many years now, people have been talking about the similarities between marketing and HR. Both the functions complement each other in several ways.
Few years back, Mabbly, a digital marketing agency, had explained that a partnership between the two functions, HR and marketing, can work wonders for the organisation. Through its logical infographics, it asserted that the brand and culture of an organisation serve as mirror images. This means, if the culture of an organisation is positive and happy, the marketing personnel will be able to promote and sell the brand better. On the other hand, the prospective employees or candidates of a company perceive a company better if its products are positioned well in the market.
It’s not just about working together for these two functions. The time has come for them to learn from each other as well and also try to adopt each other’s principles.
In business, there is a saying that the ‘customer is king’. Businesses try their best to acquire and retain customers, indulge in price wars, go digital, personalise offerings and offer value-added services. All because they need to keep their customers happy.
Interestingly, if we replace the word ‘customer’ with ‘talent’, we get what every HR professional is expected to do in the current talent market. That is, draw the best talent, throw in the most attractive offers, engage candidates through different channels, offer personalised benefits and retain more than hiring.
“Marketers work on design principles to create a great customer experience. The HR personnel also work on the same lines. Crafting a positive employee experience is something which is very important in today’s time”
Everybody is aware of Kotler’s principles of marketing, popularly known as the 4 Ps of marketing.
Now let’s talk about how we can apply these 4 Ps of marketing to HR.
Product – For the marketers, their product is the commodity they are selling, and creating into a brand. But for HR, the product is the culture of the organisation. It is up to the HR personnel to sell the culture of the organisation to the best of talent available in the market.
Price – For HR, the price can be the sacrifices made and the effort put in by the employees in trying to serve the company; equating these with the packages offered to the employees; and then comparing the same with the ROI the organisation gets out of the employees.
Place – Certainly the location and appearance of an office or place of work matters a lot, especially to the new-age employees. For businesses, the topmost priority is always to make the workplace such that it attracts clients and brings in more business. For HR, the swankiness of the workplace translates into creating an infrastructure where the employees are comfortable and relaxed.
Promotion – Promotions are essential for a marketing person. After all, their targets are met only through aggressive branding and promotion. Now, promotion has become significant for HR as well. It is very important to promote the culture of an organisation, by creating an employer brand for the company.
“Marketers work on design principles to create a great customer experience. The HR personnel also work on the same lines. Crafting a positive employee experience is something which is very important in today’s time,” says Rahul Ghatak, former CHRO, Cello.
“Companies do not talk about their culture because they themselves do not know what it is. How can you talk about something when you are not even aware of its existence?”
He adds, “I think it is very important to incorporate these marketing principles into HR as they will help in hiring better talent and retaining the best employees.”
We are definitely seeing a change at the HR level in most of the big groups, where these principles are being applied.
Other marketing tools are also being applied by some companies, such as segmentation of the target audience (TA). Philips India used this technique to segment its employees into different age groups, generations and genders, to implement its flexible benefits plan.
“I think there has been a clear shift in the past eight years. Some organisations are using these marketing techniques and principles for various functions within HR,” observes Ghatak.
One of the 4 Ps stands for ‘promotion’. However, many organisations still fail to promote their culture and employer brand through various media channels.
Today, we only see big global groups, such as Unilever or Aditya Birla, promoting their culture. If we talk about the new generation of businesses, only a handful of names such as Swiggy, Zomato and Amazon are widely popular amongst the youth for their work culture.
“Companies do not talk about their culture because they themselves do not know what it is. How can you talk about something when you are not even aware of its existence?,” mentions Mangesh Bhide, head HR- technology and FTTx business, Reliance Jio Infocomm.
“Sometimes, it is also about the articulation of the CHRO to the CEO. These things come for a price. You need to take your CEO into confidence and explain the benefits the organisation will see as a result of such promotions and campaigns,” adds Ghatak.
Clearly, marketing principles can serve equally well in HR too. It is high time organisations adopted the 4 Ps from marketing into HR.