Why marketing and HR go together like PB&J

Here are 5 reasons why marketing and HR go together like PB&J.

There are certain pairings that just seem custom-made for each other. Macaroni and cheese, fish and chips, cookies and cream and of course, peanut butter and jelly. There’s just something about these pairings – a sense of culinary synergy where the presence of each individual ingredient enhances the taste of the other. Or, as philosopher Aristotle would say, makes the sum of the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The same principle applies in business. Some roles just seem to complement each other – like marketing and HR.

As Dwayne Weiser, a former HR Process Consultant notes: “Marketing and human resources are two departments in organizations with common points of interaction. The success of each organization depends on how these departments work together for a common purpose. Efficient marketing starts with investing in your employee experience. If you develop a team that’s passionate about the firm’s purpose, values, and mission, you can come up with an influential group of marketers and create a more holistic and consistent brand experience.”

This move towards branding and HR integration is driven primarily by two trends. The first trend can be summarized by what HR veteran Rajeev Bhardwa describes as the transformation of HR “from an administrative overhead to the fountainhead of innovative solutions to cultivate and nurture talent”. The second trend involves changes in the world of branding where brand professionals are taking a more holistic, experiential approach to branding rather than relying solely on advertising – a move that requires modern marketers to look inwards towards employees to support their branding initiatives as much as they look outwards to engage customers.

As a result, marketing and HR often end up collaborating on projects that were previously “owned” by only one of these two important groups of professionals. Here are five reasons why marketing and HR go together like PB&J

  1. Marketing and HR are both responsible for brand positioning

Modern HR professionals are joining their marketing peers in the brand positioning arena –­­­­­ admittedly in a slightly different way. While marketing professionals use brand positioning tools to influence the perceptions of consumers and influence them to buy their organizations’ products and services, HR professionals focus their efforts on positioning their organizations as great places to work. 

However, there are times when marketing and HR work collaboratively on positioning their brands. Research carried out by i4cp, an organization focused on “next practices in human capital” found that “A partnership between HR and marketing is 6x more likely to be in place in high-performance organizations, which are also more likely to constantly market (internally and externally) themselves as great places to work”. Clearly brand positioning responsibilities, once considered to be the exclusive domain of professional marketers, is now a shared responsibility between marketing and HR.

  1. Marketing and HR are both responsible for engagement

Modern HR professionals use many of the same engagement tools that their marketing peers have used for decades, but they have repurposed these tools for a slightly different outcome. While marketers use their skillsets to engage customers, modern HR professionals use their skills to engage employees and to inspire them to become brand ambassadors who are excited about helping their organizations to achieve their branding and business goals. In order for organizations to win the battle for talent, HR professionals need to engage employees as effectively as their marketing peers engage customers. 

  1. Marketing and HR are both responsible for brand storytelling

The world’s most successful marketers tell (and re-tell) compelling brand stories that help them to become more known, liked and trusted by customers. But, modern companies recognize that as much as they need to tell compelling stories that help customers feel connected to their brands, they also need to use strong storytelling principles to help drive employee performance, demonstrate empathy towards their team members and build a sense of belonging throughout their organizations.

And that’s where HR comes in! In many companies, HR professionals are taking the lead in identifying inspiring stories of outstanding employee performance and remarkable customer experience from across the organization and packaging those stories for internal consumption. They are also taking the lead in using these stories to help employees feel recognized and appreciated by their organizations, and to keep them updated about major developments in their organizations. By sharing resources and by having marketers and HR professionals work together to identify, package and distribute inspiring stories for consumption by both internal and external audiences, companies are finding that they can greatly improve the effectiveness of their storytelling efforts.

  1. Both marketing and HR are responsible for brand loyalty

You’ve probably heard the saying that it is less expensive to keep an existing customer happy than it is to acquire new customers. This saying speaks directly to the importance of customer brand loyalty – the tendency for customers to keep on buying from you again and again, even if your competitors offer similar products and services. Customer brand loyalty is the holy grail that all businesses aspire to develop and hold on to – and both marketing and HR are responsible, to some degree, for helping their organizations to achieve this all-important goal. 

Some may even argue that HR professionals bear more responsibility for brand loyalty than marketing professionals do. Sure, marketing may bring customers through your doors, but even the most clever marketing, advertising or social media campaign can be completely derailed by disengaged employees delivering service. If you want to have consistently high levels of customer brand loyalty, you must first have consistently high levels of employee brand loyalty. And who better to develop and lead employee brand loyalty than your HR team ­– the individuals most likely to be responsible for your company culture, employee engagement and employee experience. 

When your marketing and HR teams are seated at the same table and can support each other in their respective quests to improve both your organization’s employee brand loyalty and customer brand loyalty, everybody wins!

  1. Marketing and HR professionals can better “sell” their ideas if they work more closely together 

David Ogilvy, considered to be the father of modern advertising once said, “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.” 

Marketers are certainly no strangers to having to sell what they create! Most marketing departments and agencies frequently have to “pitch” their ideas to a group of decision-makers before their final campaigns ever see the light of day. While Ogilvy’s advice about selling what you create is most often applied to the marketing industry, his sage words could easily be applied to the creative, original thinkers in the world of HR. 

When HR and marketing work together to sell their ideas as a single, cohesive strategy for both internal and external implementation rather than as separate, individual ideas, both groups of professionals have a better chance of having their projects approved by their organization’s decision-makers.

Modern companies understand that brands are built from the inside, not the outside. And, if brands are built from the inside, your HR team needs a seat at your marketing table so they can support your marketing team from the inside out. If you want to build a stronger brand and a stronger business, consider combining marketing and HR in the same way that culinary enthusiasts combine peanut butter and jelly. You just might be pleasantly surprised with the powerful organizational synergies that come about when your marketing and HR teams work more closely together.

By Ron Johnson

Author | Speaker | Storyteller (Co-founder, Blueprint Creative)
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