On some days your Mr Whippy ice cream van doesn’t sell much ice cream. Why? Well you first need to understand the kind of people who’re likely to perform well at ice cream eating (have you met my children?). You need to understand the kind of ice cream they like, and deliver it in the right place, at the right time, at an acceptable price. You need to draw attention (perhaps a 10 foot ice cone and a memorable jingle). You also need to make sure your ice cream tastes as good as it looks, as you might find people looking for alternatives to their Whippy cone and flake. Finally you need to understand the macro factors driving supply and demand in the market. Some times and places are more positive than others. For ice cream it’s relatively simple. It’s called sunshine.
Employer brand marketing shares a lot in common with ice cream. To maximize your likelihood of developing and implementing a successful strategy it pays to understand the key factors driving the market, and act accordingly.
The answer to this question comes in two parts: technical competencies for critical roles (engineers, relationship managers etc.) and culture fit. Many organizations have started taking a more scientific approach to these ‘success profiles’, and in combination with workforce planning are putting some numbers behind their general assumptions. When it comes to your overall employer brand strategy it’s important to recognize that some talent groups will be more important than others in terms of positioning and promoting your brand. Lots of people buy ice cream cones, but if they don’t win over the kids then it’s going to be a long hard summer. From an employer brand perspective, the same can be true for engineers or salespeople.
This also requires a two-pronged approach – general target group preferences and micro target particularities. For example, if you’re mainly targeting business students it’s possible to identify their general employment preferences, and this can be taken into consideration when defining your overall EVP. Then at a more tactical level you use more specific target group data to drive your local communication and engagement activities. Ice cream vans primarily position themselves as ice cream providers, but that doesn’t stop the more enterprising vans selling burgers to Dads when they park besides local football matches.
This can be divided into geography and media. You should try and establish where your target talent are located and in what numbers. From a big picture perspective there are more qualified scientists available for hire in Asia than in Western Europe, and this may determine where you focus your hiring efforts (and also potentially where you choose to locate your organization). On a more local level this may involve identifying the right cities to target for young professional talent and the right schools and Universities for student talent. The same kind of market data should be established for media. Where can you best reach your target talent? What kind of websites are they visiting? Which social media are they using? And when are the right people likely to be most numerous and most susceptible to your pitch? Ice cream vans identify the right places and the right times to generate a queue of ice cream loving customers. It’s no different when it comes to talent.
Once you’ve established what your target talent are looking for, and where you’re most likely to find them, it’s important to determine who your main competitors are, what they are offering, how they’re communicating, and if possible, how well they are known and regarded. Given the importance of brand differentiation in catching people’s attention and establishing clear reasons for people to choose your brand over others, this kind of market data is enormously valuable. When it comes to employer brands, like ice cream, you need to avoid completely vanilla solutions!
Very few companies have all of this data sources to hand, but it is increasingly recognized that finding the right data and generating the right insights helps significantly in developing the right strategy. What I will be covering in the next few posts are the metrics you need to track the progress and ultimate success of your strategy and implementation.
If you’d like to deepen your knowledge of employer brand management take a look at the up and coming ‘World Class Employer Branding’ course brought to you by employerbrandingacademy.com. You can also check out my latest book – ‘Employer Brand Management – Practical Lessons from the World’s Leading Employers’.