Written by Technically Media CEO Chris Wink, Technical.ly’s Culture Builder newsletter offers tips for building powerful teams and vibrant workplaces. Below is the latest edition we have published. Sign up to get the next one.
If you assume that marketing helps your sales efforts and you say that hiring is one of your greatest needs, why don’t you take employer brand marketing as seriously as your sales marketing?
That’s what Stephane Frank said. He is the director of talent branding at Comcast NBC Universalwhich, as one of the largest companies in the country, brings tremendous lessons about investments that bring real results.
“There is a natural tendency for us as humans to turn to stories. We all appreciate and understand the stories,” Frank said. “Everything important should be conceived as a story.”
What is employer brand marketing?
First, clarify the jargon. What is employer brand marketing? It is a strategy to influence a company’s reputation as a workplace to encourage hiring. The goal is to ensure that more qualified people are aware of a company’s reputation as an employer of choice. Or as I think of it: employer brand marketing is an effort to make sure the right people want to work with you before they even know they can work with you.
Any sales effort can be understood with a basic buying journey: first comes knowledge of the product or service, then comes research, then conversion. Most people who know what you offer won’t buy it, so content marketing has matured to educate, engage, and qualify potential customers.
Recruitment strategies follow a similar process with employer brand marketing, but it has lagged as a cost center rather than a revenue generator. Specialists like Frank say it’s a necessary part of maintaining a great team or developing a new one. It’s become more common over the past decade, even though many long-term strategies have been cut short by the pandemic chaos. On the contrary, the recent unrest has increased its need.
Why use employer brand marketing?
The US economy has 1.8 job openings for every job seeker. In 2021, 69% of companies said they were “struggling” to hire, and more than half said earlier this year they had even worse. What’s true more broadly is even worse in high-demand tech and tech-adjacent hiring.
An insider at a mid-sized, publicly traded software company told me that they spent up to 11 months hiring a product manager – an important but relatively middle-of-the-road role. “We took 10 months to hire an SDR and, frankly, we settled in,” he said of the sales development rep role that has become a ubiquitous part of revenue teams.
“Employer brand marketing is [telling prospective candidates] how we enrich you and your life as a professional,” Frank said. “It’s something you do now to help you in the future.”
Just as content marketing doesn’t sell tomorrow, employer brand marketing today doesn’t translate to hires tomorrow. A key part of content marketing is what’s called “lead qualification,” or telling potential customers what and how you’re solving their problems to ensure only those who can succeed sign up. Create content pieces that answer key questions, objections, or use cases for those prospects to seek out. All of this follows to learn how employer brand marketing strategies grow – and why the total investment in employer brand marketing has increased annually by 10% or more in recent years.
“You make the candidate’s journey easier anyway,” Frank said.
How to do well
Company management should develop a simple story that reflects their real investments. This story can focus on “innovation” in an old industry, or prioritize diversity or a distinguishing feature – like building a multi-generational workforce.
Effective employer brand marketing campaigns are part of an overall recruiting strategy, but their key metric is not to directly increase applications or hires. Instead, companies use employer brand marketing to increase brand awareness and reputation, which internal research tends to lead to better retention of existing employees, higher quality of candidates by giving them a better understanding of business and a decrease in hiring costs over time. Frank’s key metric is the “Net Candidate Score,” a recruiting-style adaptation of the “Net Promoter Score,” not the number of candidates his content generates.
“Investment takes time to pay off,” Frank said.
Note these key findings from The LinkedIn Talent Search Team:
- 61% of companies hire and work with online professional communities;
- 72% of recruiters say a company’s employer brand has a “significant impact” on hiring;
- 78% of professionals research a company’s reputation before applying;
- 84% would make a lateral career change to a company with a better reputation;
- 88% of millennials and younger say company culture is “important” to their career choices.
“Good candidates do their research on companies before applying,” Frank said. “Employer brand marketing is a concerted effort to show what your company is about and what it’s really like to work there.”
If you’re just starting out, start with your company’s employee value proposition: why do your current employees want to work there? As Mandy Polinghead of human operations at a start-up data-partnerships crossestold us last year, “When you’re proud of where you work, employer branding is easy.”
Half of the candidates surveyed would not accept a better paying job if it was a company with a bad reputation. If your business has a bad reputation, you better get to work.
And as Frank said, at a time of declining confidenceprofessionals want to know what existing employees are saying before they even apply.
“Employer brand marketing is front and center,” Frank said. “One thing we know for sure is that the stories are as old as time.”
PS This week, Technical.ly published a special report on international hiring and IT outsourcing. In the first part, we described the origins and current trends; in part two, we looked at where companies are currently hiring; in part three, we covered what business leaders need to keep in mind to hire overseas ethically, and in part four, we looked at what international hiring means for ecosystems local technologies.