Marketing and communications are essentially the key tactics you use when you work with recruiting and employer branding.
What is marketing? What is communications?
And what exactly does marketing communications mean?
And what does this have to do with employer branding?
The role of HR has taken a huge leap from the former admin intensive role into a sales and marketing intensive role.
This new marketing & communication’s orienteered role is very exciting. Who thought an HR professional would stand a chance to get a job in marketing or communications?
But to get us there, we all need to learn what marketing and communications actually are. Right now, we use nano much of this opportunity.
What are marketing and communications?
Marketing includes activities which help an organization to promote and sell it’s products and services. Under the “marketing” heading we can therefore find also market research, sales and advertising. Marketing is a commercial activity in which we expect to gain something in return.
In HR and talent marketing, recruiting can be seen like sales. Instead of a product or a service, we sell the promise of a career and the value of an actual job.
A Finnish tech company Vincit offers Leadership as a Service for their current and future employees. I find this a great example of how HR is transitioning towards a more business-like function.
Communication in business refers to sharing information both inside the organization as well as outside of an organization. The purpose of business communication is to improve the operations of an organization.
In HR, communication is a more familiar technique. We use it on a daily basis when informing our internal and external audiences and interest groups of what we consider as important information.
Internally, for example performance reviews and development discussions are all about informing how a person meets expectations and discussing what we can and should expect from each other.
When we post a job post on our own website to inform the site visitor of a hiring needs, we communicate.
When we write in the job post what the job is about, what we are looking for and how we want them to act on it, we communicate to the reader.
But when we start promoting the job post to other media and channels, we are doing marketing. I bet you have also used the opportunity to promote your job posts? When we pay to expand the potential audience for the job post, we advertise. Advertising falls under marketing.
Marketing and sales overlap each other. That’s why sales is considered as marketing as well.
When marketing and sales work together, the role of marketing is to help generate interest for the sales. Personal sales is very expensive time spent. Just like direct searching and head hunting.
It is only smart to use marketing to help generate recognizable interest and direct the sales work to where there is more potential for the sales.
There is also a term called marketing mix.
Marketing mix refers to a whole mix of activities, that are called the 4 P’s (product, place, price and promotion).
These 4 P’s, the marketing mix are used to help businesses to promote and sell their products and services to the right people at the right times and places.
We are very familiar with this “right people in the right places” -phrase in HR and recruiting!
Therefore, looking into what marketing mix is and whether there is something for us to learn about or apply to our work might be worth our while!
How could the 4 P’s translate into talent marketing?
Product can translate both to a job as well as a career in an organization. Personally I am more of an advocate of careers than just jobs. I see a vacancy more of a tactic to invite great talent in an organization. But, this applies to only when we actually are able to discuss career opportunities in a longer run. When we know we are only looking for temporary needs without any long term prospects, the product applies to the temporary job.
Place in the marketing mix refers to the place where the product or service is being sold. In our context, place applies to the channels and media we use fin recruitment marketing as well as for employer branding.
Here we have the most opportunities today due to digitalization and social media. Our hands are not tied to job boards and print advertising any longer. Or onsite and offsite events, such as recruitment fairs.
Price refers to the value that a company places on their product or service. Companies can have very different pricing strategies, and price can also be used to enhance the assumed value and image of a product or service.
In our context, the price could be translated as the salary and benefits we offer for the employee. This way we understand how an attractive and appealing employer brand can actually enhance and upgrade the sense of value the same job in another company can possess. It is not at all unheard of that when a company has a really strong pull factor in their brand image, they are able to negotiate better terms for the business.
The same goes the other way as well. If your organization has a poor reputation, it can be a huge turn off for potential employees. And when a workplace is seen neutral: nor pushing away or pulling towards, you might have to be willing to offer better compensation and benefits to compensate the lack of status value a brand delivers.
There are many employers in the world whose employer and company brand possess such a value add to the employees that they are likely to be seen as very attractive candidates by other employers when the enter the job market again.
Promotion refers to all the marketing activities an organization has undertaken to make their product or service known in the market place. This include the whole mix from various types of sales activities to advertising, PR, inbound marketing, word of mouth, direct marketing, contests and giveaways as well as offering incentives and commissions for sales made.
It is easy to see how this can be translated into talent marketing:
- Various types of sales activities are related to various types of recruiting activities such as calling applicants in through the promotion of job posts, head hunting and direct search, social recruiting, inbound recruiting, offering your employees recruitment bonuses for leads delivered as well as asking for your social media networks to share your hiring related posts forward to their networks.
- Advertising is the same in talent marketing: paying for space on media be it print media, billboards, online job boards, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media offering sponsored content and advertising opportunities.
- PR, as in public relations, translates into talent marketing when we ask our employees to speak for us about us. When we write career stories or make videos where our employees talk about what we do and how they feel about working for us, we use PR as a tactic. The modern employer branding -method I developed uses a lot of PR.
What is the difference between branding and marketing?
Branding is about what you represent and how you succeed to translate that feeling from your core to your audiences. When we talk about branding – also employer branding – we talk about digging that value, that uniqueness and what makes us special and different from others out from the core. A birth of a brand requires that emotional sensation forming between what the brand represents and it’s audience.
This emotional sense can also be negative, pushing you away. I always say, that unless an image is able to arouse emotions in the recipient, it is just an image, a product of an imagination of someone.
So, when you work in branding, you are in fact digging out the special ingredients from the core of the object and using marketing and communications to create emotional feelings about the object in the hearts and minds of the audiences. A brand is an outcome of this work resulting in parts of your over all audience coming back to you over and over again because they believe in the value the object of the brand represents to them.
Recruitment marketing is promotions, not employer branding. But, you could use recruitment marketing as a platform to push out the value to the audiences. Yet, we use recruiting mostly just as a sales channel and that is not branding.
The accompanying podcast-episode
In this episode #14 of Building a Modern Employer Brand, we look inside the employer branding box and see what exactly is in it.
Episode-length: 14:57 min
- Why the term “employer branding” needs a bit of a revamp
- Separating communication activities from marketing activities
- Understanding the difference between branding and marketing
- The new role of HR marketing (within business marketing)
About Building a Modern Employer Brand -podcast
Building a Modern Employer Brand-podcast is a weekly podcast bringing you a modern breath of air into HR marketing and employer branding.
This podcast is dedicated to all modern growth companies and modern employer branding practitioners who want to really influence their talent audiences and add measurable value to growing and scaling modern businesses with HR marketing and employer branding.