Effective marketing could save HR
If HR doesn’t want to be taken over by the marketing function, it had better learn to apply the principles of marketing to what it does (‘Marketing departments encroach on HR territory’,Personnel Today, 9 December 2008).
If we perceive employment as a commodity, then strategic marketing gives us techniques for defining the product (designing jobs and careers) and pricing the product (defining our reward strategy), as well as promoting the product (recruitment and retention).
Unfortunately, most HR people see ‘marketing’ as synonymous with promoting and selling and, therefore, believe that it only applies to recruitment. Some think they have adopted strategic marketing if they have opted for employer branding, which at best restricts their vision to employer reputation and recruitment, and often descends into the trivia of what colour the logo should be.
Employment is a complex product, and marketing it successfully requires a strategic marketing toolkit of research, competitor analysis, product development, customer retention strategies – the whole works.
As we are in an economic downturn, many HR people will think they need marketing ideas less. Changes in supply and demand occur in markets, but that does not mean the market has disappeared. It means that HR needs to change its priorities and strategies.