Human Resources and Marketing are two sides of the same coin
The two functions might look very different but they they have a lot in common
This is something I strongly believe in. Before I tell you WHY, I will first tell you HOW I arrived at this conclusion.
I had been studying various aspects of marketing as part of my job. While doing that I started trying to understand consumer behaviour by studying things like culture and psychology. At the same time I had been trying to figure out how to get better at hiring people and build teams. That quest led me to Lazslo Bock’s amazing book about how he managed the people function at Google. Reading that book was the light bulb moment for me. I started to see the similarities between the two functions and it led to the germination of this belief that marketing and HR are essentially two sides of the same coin.
I am so convinced about this now that I read things about HR to learn about marketing and vice versa. And trust me it works. So much so that I took up a one year course to learn more about Human Resources during the pandemic.
I started understanding marketing starting from the funnels and data and then got to the consumer behaviour part. I started understanding HR from the people part first and then got to data and funnels. There was beautiful symmetry between the two disciplines. Like two trains starting from opposite directions and running on parallel tracks.
This is not to say that there is NO difference between the two functions and a marketer can easily do an HR persons job really well. We are just saying that there are lots of similarities if you look closely. These are those similarities. The terminologies differ between the two functions but deep down these things are the same. I keep explaining this to everyone. Was about time I wrote it down.
Customer Acquisition vs Employee Recruitment
One of the key jobs for both functions is getting people to commit to their brand. Marketers acquire customers and HR people recruit employees.
Both of them work with an ROI which is their cost of acquisition.
They have multiple channels of acquisition which work differently. Marketers have paid, direct, organic and social channels. Recruiters also use consultants, job boards, social media and referral channels. They are both trying to manage their ROI and hiring/acquisition targets by optimising these channels.
Attribution is an important issue for both and they fight tooth and nail for it.
Conversion Funnels and Hiring Funnels
They both have a funnel which are very similar. The HR people have applications which are like customer visits to the website. Then there are interviews and offers and acceptances and joinings and people drop off at each stage. Similarly, the visitors bounce off, some browse, some add to cart and a few place an order. HR people celebrate accepted offers and live in fear during the notice period hoping that the candidate will join.The marketers are happy when someone orders but are worried about cancellations and returns.
They are constantly trying to improve efficiency at each step of the funnel. Two key parts of this strategy are communication and understanding of human behaviour.
Employee Value Proposition and Brand Value Proposition
The success of the communication depends on the value proposition. The HR people figure out their proposition based on compensation, growth, learning, culture etc. The marketing people base their proposition on price, experience, value, features etc.
Both of them have to make sure their propositions are unique and differentiated from competition.
Then they go out and make sure these propositions are effectively communicated to their target audiences through multiple mediums.
Customer Behaviour and Employee Psychology
In both cases, the success of the brand proposition depends on understanding the human side. What are the motivations and needs of customers and employees. Their aspirations and emotions . To understand these the HR and marketing teams conduct studies and surveys.
This will also be based on the segments they are targeting.
Customer Segments and Target Employees
The marketing team will define their target segments based on the demographic and psychographic groups which will find their proposition interesting. They will find the proxies to target them.
The HR people will do the same. They will figure out their target colleges and companies based on the employee value proposition. The traits of prospective employees which fit their culture. Then they will get down to targeting.
Employee Satisfaction and Customer Satisfaction
The experience matters a lot and as a result measurement of this experience is an important organisational prerogative. These metrics are as important as any other metric in the company.
There are public versions of these scores also and they can have a big impact on the company’s fortunes. A bad GlassDoor employee rating is just as damaging as poor Google reviews of the company’s products or services.
Companies go to extreme lengths to manage these scores.
Social Media and Community Building
Social media plays a big role in influencing the perception of the company. Both for prospective consumers and employees. Companies are cognisant of this and do a lot of work to mange their reputations. The platforms are different. But what marketers do on Instagram and Hr people do on LinkedIn is more or less the same.
They try and build communities of loyal fans who help in evangelising the brand and attract new hires and consumers.
Customer Dormancy and Employee Attrition
Given it’s so difficult and expensive to recruit/ acquire, retention is another crucial measure for both teams. Whether it’s VC’s or the Board or an internal review, this metric is bound to come up.
You can create a powerful value proposition and communicate it really well. This will attract a lot of employees to join and customers to buy. But the real moment of truth is the experience. If companies fail in delivering their promise, then all their branding and marketing efforts go to waste. These metrics measure that performance. Long term a company which does poorly on these metrics will find it hard to survive.
There you go. These are the similarities that I see between marketing and HR. This is why I feel they are two sides of the same coin.