Since today is a travel day for me, I am offering up a guest post I’m truly excited about! Felix Wetzel, the Group Marketing Director for Jobsite and author of the ‘People, Brands, & Random Thoughts‘ blog, is a friend and someone who shares compelling and creative business ideas. For Felix, it’s all about people, brands, sports & politics. His motto is “fortune favors the bold!”
Please be sure to leave Felix a comment at the end and tell him what you think of his concept of peopling. Thanks friends.
I believe, and have believed for many years now, that HR and Marketing will move closer and closer, eventually overlap and consequently merge. There’s no question about it; it’s a logical outcome, triggered by the behavioural changes that have been magnified and accelerated by social media and mobile and my core belief about business and life: it’s all about people.
I base it on a very simple formula:
people = brand
This common denominator is underpinned by the following:
people = employees = customers = competitors = suppliers = citizens
So HR and Marketing are perfect companions, that share similar goals, approach life in a similar manner and most importantly have skills and talents that complement each other. Let’s now leave the abstract behind and get more concrete:
People are the brand
If you share this belief with me than you’ll also agree with the following statement: The strongest brand ambassadors are your employees. Subsequently, fostering the right culture within the company, influencing employees to participate every day voluntarily within it and communicating the culture externally in a personable but still branded manner, choosing new employees that fit and enhance the culture are areas where Marketing and HR, if working hand in hand, can make a massive difference and can enrich the growth of the brand but also the individuals within it. This becomes even more important as every interaction, every engagement, every mention defines the brand and defines the perception of the brand. That needs an exciting vision, a clear framework and at the same time shared experiences.
Internal and external communication are intrinsically linked
However we portray the brand externally has an impact internally. Jobsite’s CEO Keith Potts always reminds us: “When you choose a name for a brand, just pretend you call a client. How does it make you feel?”
When we created our TV commercial, I always had in mind that I wanted our sales people to be proud about the ad and the brand, to talk about it, to walk into meetings with their head held high, without the chance of being ridiculed. Besides this being an important filter, it also highlights how internal and external communication are linked, how internal and external perception influence each other and how we as a business therefore need to ensure that we have consistency across all communication. It’s another area for HR and Marketing to benefit from each other’s skills.
Mervyn Dinnen wrote a very insightful blog ‘Is your recruitment partner damaging your bottom line?’ In this post Mervyn refers to potential employees being potential consumers and if treated badly at the recruitment process it damages their perception of the brand. I wholeheartedly agree. People are multi-dimensional and every interaction shapes the impact of a brand. That’s why I advocate replacing the terms ‘employee’ and ‘consumer’ with the term ‘citizen’. They all influence and define the ecosphere of the brand. The brand is alive, has a stable core but is adaptable and subsequently far more resistant. So, if this is the case, the brand values need to be experienced also through the recruitment process and need to be aligned with the overall brand communication. The recruitment experience is as important as the customer service experience. Everything communicates.
Is it an employee or employer brand? Who cares? The whole discussion about it is misguided. An employee/employer/employment brand is a myth. Ultimately there’s one core brand and the employer brand is just one facet of it, other facets are the product brand, the consumer brand, the supplier brand, etc – so, instead of reinventing the brand, HR & Marketing need to work together to communicate and execute the brand internally (employee brand) and externally (employer brand) within the employment market. Use the skills across the business to build the best solution, that’s the way to create a world class experience.
At Jobsite, our brand essence is: ‘We help you plan your worklife, so your whole life works better’ – this, combined with our brand values, are at the heart of all our interactions be it internally and externally.
I know of several companies where HR & Marketing (and the entire business work hand in hand). I know even more companies where this doesn’t happen. Maybe one day, the merger will happen, and instead of HR and Marketing it’s called Peopling.
Ah Felix, great post. I particularly like the point about employer brand. I’ve never really understood why anyone would work on internal and external brand as if they were different entities. The brand, is the brand – it’s how you express it that might have variations depending on context.
Whatever happens, clients’ perceptions are directly influenced by employees’ perceptions. The brand is in their hands…
I Like it and of course right on. HR have to be marketeers to create their visibility and brand. Well put and we are our brand!
Jamie Pappas of EMC has just written about something similar in her post e2.0 Conference post:
“Finally, I need to see a coming together of the internal E 2.0 worlds and the external social media worlds.”
Indeed, there needs to be more synergy between HR and Marketing activities because it makes perfect business sense; yet, I’m not sure that it’s the case today – or is it?
A great post Felix.. with some very very important points. I’m pretty fortunate that at my organization, HR and Marketing work closely together.. and I never take that for granted.
Your topic initially caught my attention because I’m a marketing graduate, and my identical twin brother is a human resources graduate. Strange!
But you are right when you say that people are your brand. Service Marketing talks about this a lot but it is true for more than just your front line employees. Everybody contributes to the workplace culture.
A simple example would be a restaurant. The server is the front line employee and to the customer, they are the brand. However the kitchen staff, while not as visible, play an important role in workplace culture. If they’re grumpy then there will be a servers vs kitchen mentality, something that occurs quite often in restaurants. But if the kitchen staff are team players, then that will help to create a culture of excellence.
I think many of the silos have to work together. It’s not just HR and Marketing that go hand in hand, but also Marketing and Finance, or Marketing and Operations Management.
The idea of silos is that we are supposed to let the experts do their own job, but what often happens as organizations grow is that the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing and then you get conflict.
Thank you for sharing this, Trish.
Felix, you are truly on to something big here. After several years as a marketing exec, I had a simple transaction with a drive-thru teller who cross-sold her bank’s services to me more effectively than all the marketing stuff that institution had hurled at me over the years.
My epiphany that day, that “true customer engagement is driven by brand-conscious employees who are themselves engaged,” prompted me to quit my job, start an agency, write a book about it and here I am today, evangelizing exactly what you have so eloquently put into words. Dan Day
Trish, thanks for inviting me to write a guest blog. I’m honoured to have a post published here.
Thanks everybody for your comments. People are just at the heart of everything and that makes is so much more fun. Business now is about experience instead of product or service and only we, the people, can give this experience.
Brands will become more alive and whole as an outcome, resulting in a happier workforce and therefore happier customers.
& if you know of a company that has already a peopling department, please let me know.
Hey again Felix – just so you know, my website has changed because I rebranded and moved to wordpress. Its now http://arturnbull.wordpress.com.
Anyways, the reason I wanted to respond again, is because I spoke with my brother (who’s in HR) about this article, and he mentioned about a move by some HR specialists to rebrand as “Talent Management” because of people who view HR as solely hiring and recruiting. What are your thoughts on this?
Andrew, the internal and the external perception are linked, so just to re-brand for an external audience is not enough. The question is: How is Talent Management different? What is a talent manager? How does Talent Management fit into the overall brand?
Hi Felix, great post- and well done to HR Ringleader for featuring it. At New Brand Tribalism we’ve been talking about this quite a fair bit- infact at our launch in Nov 2009 Tim Pointer HR director at Diesel shared his view that HR and Marketing would one day merge. You can check it out on the videos here at http://www.newbrandtribalism.com/2010/02/28/an-exploration-of-the-diesel-brand-by-tim-pointer/
I also personally wondered about this way back last year too on brand republics messageboards.
We often talk about the “sweet spot” of holistic brand engagement as being the ideal conditions for brand tribalism to flourish.
Brands are made up of people, are created for people, they are about people and yet often we find brands, forgetting about their humanity and often you get people working within corporations forgetting that they are people whilst they are at “work”-human machines anyone?
These days the term consumer does not just refer to the consumption of products and services (in the classic marketing sense), but also includes the consumption of education, health care, experience, jobs, news and information. The artificial divides put up between customers, employees, investors and media generators are disappearing with the advent of greater social mobility, social networking and the internet. At different times of the day, the same person could occupy any one or all of these states, making nonsense of 20th Century impulses to maintain and guard these divisions, which many sections of our society now simply refuse to recognise.
A positive approach to embracing the brand “sweet spot” has the potential to shape how companies interact with all their stakeholders (employees, customers, partners, investors); to shape how they organise themselves to plan and execute strategy; indeed to shape entirely new business models for generating sustainable, competitive advantage and innovation.
If anyone’s interested we’d love to chat further to you-www.newbrandtribalism.com to find us
I am unconvinced there is any more of direct link between HR and marketing than (for example) HR and finance, communications, knowledge management or risk management.
These other functions also rely on people to develop skills and work in ways sympathetic to their “ethos”. This doesn’t mean they are doing the same thing as HR practitioners.
It’s clear that, for many service businesses, people are the “living embodiment” of the brand, creating the brand “live” for customers. Here the link between brand and employee development is certainly crucial and direct.
Organisations need to recruit for skills and experience and the fit with an organisational culture furthering business objectives – but I remain to be convinced that, in all circumstances, “the brand” is the most important ingredient.
HR is a highly diverse area, covering many disciplines and HR practitioners must work closely with other professions and specialists to develop skills and foster behaviours needed to create customer and shareholder value.
I’m a big fan of Mad Men and it’s good to work with “creatives” but I don’t see the need, just yet, for a merger of the functions.