Marketing Meets Culture

A Fresh Mindset for 2020

By Melanie Dowhaniuk, EVP Marketing and Business Development

Marketing and Culture Mindset

With a New Year around the corner, it’s a good time to do some big picture thinking. Take a step back from the daily operational commitments and look at the entire environment of your organization. What patterns have emerged that tell you what’s really going on? What do you want to do differently in the New Year?

  • Are the goals that you set for your company aligned with your culture, or have things strayed?
  • Are leaders at all layers working as one toward their goals as well as the Enterprise Goals – or focused on their own individual objectives?
  • Are employees engaged in their work for reasons other than a pay cheque?
  • Do employees have a chance to provide feedback on a regular basis? Do they feel they have a voice?
  • Are you retaining key talent?

 Your answers to the above questions directly relate to the strength of your overall organizational culture and your level of employee engagement are getting a lot of attention these days. Culture was once considered kind of soft and fuzzy—something that sounded nice in theory, the unmeasurable nice to have and employee engagement was tossed about as a strong buzzword. All that has changed. The top trends in HR (and business in general) continue to place cultivating the right culture and engagement at the top of the list in order to remain competitive in today’s workplace when talent is scarce and employees are demanding more out of their day-to-day.

 The answer as to “how” to cultivate culture and engagement may be closer than you think. HR just needs to get marketing on side and see how creative we can all be in 2020.

Marketing and HR blending to build engagement and brand

I’m in a fabulous position right now to make such “blending” happen. Conversations are starting to take place around employee engagement, brand, and culture, and it fills me with optimism.

Marketing and HR are ideally suited to work together to reinforce an organization’s brand through employees and build employee engagement. Engagement is all about how employees feel about their workplace and their jobs, and it is a direct result of a workplace culture. The stronger the culture, the better employees understand what is expected of them and what they're working toward. When employees reflect the values of your company, they are more likely to become effective brand ambassadors for your business (these days, mostly likely on social media).

Engagement is also how successful companies find (and keep) their best talent. This is one of the reasons I joined ACHIEVEBLUE: I can see, for example, the importance of training and ongoing development in making this happen.

Culture is a shared accountability

Marketing can be an extremely effective vehicle for introducing and reinforcing culture and engagement. It’s because those of us who work in marketing understand the significance and the complexity of what’s involved when trying to reach the right audience with the right message for the right action – it is what marketing does best! When marketing and HR work together, an organization can more effectively define their audience/employees/stakeholders, the objective (what is the action), the message (content) and the how (program or campaign delivery).

Marketing can’t make engagement or culture happen...that’s the job of the company itself. Leaders need to acknowledge—and communicate to others in the company—that everyone owns culture—not just marketing, or HR, or any individual unit. It cascades down from the C-Suite and does not stop at senior leaders, management or supervisors. When this is the case, employees across the organization all understand why the work they do matters, and what their part means to the overall strategic direction of the organization.

The end result? Every employee from the mail room to the C-suite represents the company brand—which translates into better results for the company as a whole.

 Is culture getting in the way of a truly great organization?

As we close out the year, consider a fresh mindset about what’s going on in your company in terms of your key stakeholders – your employees—and the culture you are building. Is change management, marketing, engaged employees, market competition etc. your challenge? Or is culture getting in the way of success in the coming year?

I’ve been fortunate to learn from one of the best in the industry! To quote our President, Mona Mitchell,

“Culture is the often-overlooked foundation of an organization. It determines how the group retains talent, how it develops and releases new products and whether it meets targets. It affects how happy and satisfied employees are at work.

Your people are the force behind the execution of your strategy, and if they’re not thinking and behaving in ways that advance your goals, you’ve got a culture problem.”

Leaders have to be facilitative and lead from the “Head and the Heart”

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Connect with Melanie at

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