Nothing Short of a Necessity
The Value of Marketing in Human Resources
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Applying ideas from marketing to HR might not seem like a natural fit. But in reality it is not merely possible, at this point it is becoming nothing short of a necessity.
The direct effect
Exposed to a constant barrage of marketing, the way that we think as human beings is being shaped by the tools and approaches of that field. Marketing is setting our expectations, and it is setting them high. We want more, better, faster, and we want it now. Marketing has made itself about shaping those desires.
But the way marketing does this is not just to sell us a specific product. It is to make us yearn for more in every area of our lives. To believe that our own lived experience should be richer and better. The vaguer and more indirect marketing becomes, the more its pervasive influence touches every corner of our lives.
The thinking this encourages doesn’t just affect us as consumers. It affects us as workers and employees. We have been trained to be more demanding, to expect more from the world. And this includes expecting more from our employers.
The comparative effect
There is a less direct but equally compelling case relating to the different forces exerted on different parts of a business.
Marketing lies at the outward face of a business. It is constantly shaped by, and reacting to, outside demands. Unprotected from the slings and arrows of demanding consumers and canny competitors, marketing departments have been pressed to constantly improve or be left in the dust. And so the tools and thinking available to marketers have been sharpened again and again on the whetstone of competition, creating a finely honed weapon for the modern business to wield.
HR departments, on the other hand, have little contact with their peers in competitor organizations or with the business’s external customers, those with the option to just ignore its products. True, demands are placed on them by managers and employees, but these lack the urgency of an impending bottom line, or of competitors closing in to steal away their business.
Though there have been new developments in HR, such as more sophisticated feedback systems and a growing emphasis on employee engagement, the pace of development has been nowhere near as sharp.
A machine is only as efficient as its slowest gear, and as other departments become more effective, HR becomes the rusty cog holding the rest back.
Sharpening the bluntest tool
Marketers have long faced pressure to justify themselves by cutting costs, driving growth and demonstrating results (Perrey, Spillecke and Umblijs, 2013). But since the financial crash that pressure has been growing on all departments. No-one is protected from the need to constantly improve.
What better way to address this than by looking for lessons from marketing that can be applied to HR? By taking something from the strongest, fastest changing field in modern business, we can look to shove the slowest forward, and so improve the whole machine.
Ideas in any industry can be given a shot in the arm by looking at other fields, finding out what’s remarkable there and applying it in another area. Innovation comes not from ripping fresh ideas out of thin air, but from applying existing ones in new and exciting ways.
That’s what this book is built on, along with the future of HR.