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Welcome the newest member of your marketing team – the HR director

HR have always had a bit of a hard time. The common perception is one of a department that is process driven. Non-strategic.  The cogs behind the scenes.

Marketing are the crazy, creative people – making stuff happen. HR are the box tickers – hiring and firing.

But there is a change afoot. HR are increasingly sticking it’s head above the parapet and creeping close to stepping on marketing’s toes.

And quite rightly so.

No matter how tired the phrase, the truth remains that people buy from people. In fact, despite b2b buyers being 70% of the way through the sales cycle before even speaking to you, 54% of the sales decision comes down to the sales rep they meet.

But there’s a problem. Marketing has targets to hit – and in the large part these targets are about bringing in leads for sales to follow up. Not about how many people within the organisation are engaged with the brand. Or even know what activity is planned and is going on.

So when it comes to planning any brand activity or campaign budgets, time and focus is going to be on the external audience. Not the internal.

However, there is one statistic sitting in a study by Towers Watson that would suggest this is the wrong approach.

The fact is companies with the most effective employee communications have seen 58% higher shareholder returns over the last year.

And when you think about it like that, it may well be HR that are delivering the real marketing ROI within a business.

Maybe it’s the reason why in some FTSE 100 companies like Travis Perkins the communications team report into the HR director. Or why one of the largest high street retailer has the same individual in charge of HR and Marketing.

So what can we do?

There has been a seemingly endless dialogue about the importance of bridging the marketing and sales divide, and that point is still a salient one, but marketing departments must do more to come closer to HR – making the brand and campaigns an integral part of everyone in the business.

As Jade Tambini says ‘everyone is the brand – we just need people to realise that internally’

Create a team of brand champions – Marketing can’t be in all places at one time and the reality is that the brand translates in different ways within different departments. Choose enthusiastic individuals within each department to communicate and promote the brand to their colleagues and feedback to marketing on what they need.

Spend time living throughout the business: Today departments within businesses often remain largely siloed – unaware of the issues each other face and what working for the organisation means to them. Work with HR to organise time for marketing to live within each of the different functions and also set up ‘job swaps’ – helping everyone understand the brand across the board.

Use technology to your advantage – and get HR on side in making it possible: The sad reality is that nearly half of businesses in the UK still ban social media at work – an internal regulation often coming from the HR department. However staff across the business will be using social channels to communicate and learn. Use these to your advantage – and reach your internal audience through their social channels to communicate – not only will it get more cut through, it will feel far more human.

Now is the time to embrace the HR team and use them to reach your internal audience in the most effective way. They should be the first point of call for any brand communications and campaigns.

After all, people are the difference between what a brand promises and what it delivers.