What is an employer branding strategy and when do you need one? [Podcast #116]

Blog header #116 What is an employer branding strategy and when do you need one_ - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

Employer Branding strategy is key to efficient use of resources and achieving intended return on investment when our employer branding budgets are more than 20.000 €/$.

What this means that your organization doesn’t need to be huge for it to benefit from a sound employer branding strategy.

Employer Branding strategies help us gain better control over the time we have available for employer brand marketing. And not just that, but working strategically in employer branding is literally the only road to employer branding success and business-relevant results.

In this week’s episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast, we discuss employer branding from this strategic point of view.

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What is an employer branding strategy?

Let’s remind us what an employer branding strategy is.

It is of the primary talent marketing strategies, but not the only talent marketing strategy.

Talent marketing means marketing targeted specifically for an organisation’s talent audiences. These are most often external audiences, but more and more attention in employer branding is also directed to internal audiences, aka. employees and managers.

Employer Branding strategy is a long-term plan to achieve preset awareness, affinity and conversion goals and objectives for employer branding.

Employer Branding strategy is a long-term plan to achieve preset awareness, affinity and conversion goals and objectives for employer branding.

Susanna Rantanen

Goals and objectives are key to working strategically.

If you don’t know what you are trying to achieve, as in what your goals are, it is going to be tough to know what you need to communicate and market to achieve a desired employer brand image.

Goals remind you of the outcome your efforts need to deliver. Objectives are the milestones that set your course and keep moving you towards the end goals.

How to get started with employer branding goals?

I always ask my clients and students what their employer brand -related goals and objectives are. And most often, they don’t really know. So we need to take a step back, and maybe you do too.

My follow-up question is a bit different.

Think of what it feels like when you have achieved your dream employer brand scenario.

  • What challenges would no longer be there?
  • Can you pinpoint what has changed?
  • Is something different to what is now?
  • How do you feel different?

Goals are much easier to tackle when you close your eyes and take your mind into this ideal scenario, and then reverse engineer to set objectives as the milestones to get to that ideal scenario.

Why and when do you need an employer branding strategy?

We implement business strategies because we want to lead change effectively and efficiently. Employer branding strategy is no different.

Over the recent years, those changes have been very noticeable and life-changing in most organisations. But they don’t need to be so drastic.

We don’t need a strategy if all is good as it is, and we have no desire to change it.

We need an employer brand strategy when we continuously fail to attract and retain the talents our business needs for success, and our abilities to reach our strategic business goals are in danger unless we get and retain the competencies we need.

The benefits of strategic employer branding are clear:

  • Get more out of available resources.
  • Achieve competitive advantage in the talent marketplace.

And these are the minimum standard, the base line.

Employer Branding is not just about hiring. There is much more value available from strategic employer branding.

A strong employer brand influences sales and increases your business’ value.

Is there a difference between a strategy and a plan?

Yes there is.

A strategy is like an architect’s house plan, including what the house should look like and how to make it safe and solid.

A plan is a detailed plan of actions and activities required to be taken and done for that vision to come about.

Sometimes business people like to mix the strategy and the plan together.

I don’t recommend that – not in employer branding nor with business strategies, because it will turn your strategy into a hefty document.

And we all know what happens to heavy documents of hundreds of pages. When it’s finally ready, you’re never going to look at it again. 

It is simply easier and more convenient to work with your master plan – that is, your strategy – and your action plans when they are separate documents.

TMS banners Become strategic in talent marketing and building a modern employer brand

Can you have a plan without the strategy?

Listen, you can have anything you want. But is it smart?

Have you ever tried making a plan without a strategy?

I bet you’ve tried to create employer branding content without a plan and a strategy, haven’t you?

It gets hard pretty quickly when you need to create new content several times a week, doesn’t it?

Think of baking.

Someone asks you to write them a recipe.

You ask, for what?

They say, something good.

You say, well can you be more specific?

Strategy is more specific.

Why the most common type of employer branding strategy fails every time?

Final question:

Can’t we just do what feels right and seems exciting at any given time?

Of course, you can do this too.

This is, in fact, the most common employer branding strategy.

It’s called the Random Acts of Employer Brand Marketing.

And it fails every time.

Why does it fail?

Here are the simple reasons why it fails every time:

  • Most often, the people who ideate and create the posts do not belong to the actual talent target audience. What if what you think feels right and is exciting isn’t that to your target audience? Fail.
  • What feels right and excites you may also not be the right representation of the business whose employer brand this is supposed to be. Fail.
  • Without a plan and a strategy, it is impossible to know what success needs to look like and when you have achieved success. How are you going to prove your boss your efforts are delivering more value than what you spent on creating it?

You definitely need an employer branding strategy when you are allocated a budget of more than 20000 euros/US dollars/ British sterling.

An employer brand strategy will be valuable when your management calls you to solve specific talent-related struggles that have become a regular pain for the business.

You should never use your employer branding budget on a campaign. Never.

Campaign is a one-time marketing activity that can cost a lot of money, can eat all of your budget but delivers next to none employer brand value.

You should do campaigns for recruiting, but that is a completely different ball game.

If you don’t know why go to episode 114.

How is employer brand value measured?

Your employer brand value is measured in:

  • growing awareness
  • increasing brand recognition
  • delivered brand value
  • string employer brand affinity
  • business worthy conversions

There is no application-word here.

If the plan is to use the money for getting applications, that is recruitment marketing. Not employer branding.

In that case, a campaign is definitely what you need. 

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