Startups have a an opportunity to bake in this connection from the beginning but more mature companies can also weave in these connections. Here are five ways marketing and human resources can work in sync to support growth:
1. Start before you hire.
Marketeers know how to target customers and communicate a unique value proposition to them. Use these same techniques to segment potential employees and communicate your value proposition as an employer.
Marriott, for example, uses marketing techniques to define an "employee value proposition" for prospective employees and then develops content for prospective employees who can understand the employee experience before they decide to work there. Netflix publishes its culture online to prospective employees,
2. Help employees live the brand.
A brand is a promise to deliver benefits valued by your customers. When you translate those values into employee behavior you tap into important levers to build the value of your brand. In one study I conducted with over 100 companies, I discovered that employee interactions with customers were every bit as important as marketing communications in shaping and reinforcing perceptions of the company's brand.
2. Make customers part of new employee onboarding.
There is no more powerful way to focus employees on the importance of your customers than by asking them to serve customers during the onboarding process. Look at Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell.
Serving customers is formally built into the onboarding process. The company builds empathy and motivates employees to make their customer's life better. Their KFC brand makes clear to new hires that they are in the people, not the chicken business.
3. Share your passion with your employees.
What are the issues that your company cares about? One of the great ways you can have positive impact on both consumers and employees is by connecting what you really care about with your team.
Personally, I feel passion for raising economically disadvantaged groups to a better life. We're too small to have the impact of something like the Gates foundation, but several years ago, I launched a coaching grant for CEOs of non-profit organizations that are making a sustainable difference in disadvantaged groups.
Our coaches around the world provide coaching that enables these leaders to increase their own impact and that of their organizations. This is both inspiring and motivating to my coaches and staff and it creates positive change in the world.
5. Involve your team on social media.
Social media is certainly making it easier and less expensive to promote our products and services to targeted groups. But you can get even more value from social media when you involve your employees in building communities and telling the company's story on their social media accounts.
Microsoft, for example, sees social engagement as central to the customer experience. The company empowers and encourages employees to use social media channels to amplify content and ultimately to engage with customers -- likening an ignored tweet to an unanswered service center call.
You don't need a big budget to combine the power of good marketing and people practices to help grow your business. You can get started by speaking with your management team about these ideas and identifying one practice to pilot. As you learn to combine the disciplines and tools from human resources and marketing, you'll start to see a magnified effect.