#162 HR marketing vs marketing career in the spotlight

Blog header #162 HR marketing vs marketing career in the spotlight - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

HR marketing vs marketing career maybe a topic you are pondering about.

Over the recent years, I’ve spoken to many business marketing people who have become fascinated about employer branding or HR/talent marketing.

I love it when seasoned professionals become affectionate about HR marketing!

After years in the highly competitive consumer marketing world, using your skills and experiences in human-to-human marketing can suddenly make a lot of sense as a natural career development step.

That’s why I wanted to dedicate an episode to all of you curious about HR marketing vs. marketing as a career path. Whether you are transitioning from business marketing, working in other areas of HR or are still a marketing student and haven’t yet decided on the direction for your career.

Today, we’re exploring this exciting topic: HR marketing career versus traditional marketing. 

This episode is packed with insights and guidance for your career journey – whether you are a seasoned marketing professional looking to transition to talent marketing, or already working in some areas of HR marketing.

With this, I wish you welcome back to another episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast!

If you are new to this podcast, my name is Susanna Rantanen. I am a TOP employer branding, marketing and communications expert and influencer in Europe, and I own one of the top employer branding agencies in Europe.

This podcast is for those who want to learn how to use branding, marketing and communications for business success – as an employer or as a seasoned professional in the area of HR, talent acquisition, career coaching or employer branding.

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What is HR marketing vs marketing?

HR Marketing or Talent Marketing refers to the strategic approach of applying communication and marketing principles and techniques to human resources with current, future and past employees as the target audience for all messages and communication. 

The core objective of HR/Talent Marketing is to attract, engage, and retain talented individuals by promoting the company as an ideal employer. 

This approach blends traditional, digital and social media marketing strategies and tactics with a deep understanding of HR processes, employee and candidate experiences and expectations.

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I like to divide talent marketing into more specific categories or tasks because each requires different skill sets and can offer you an area of development and focus. 

You can also combine these elements to build your dream HR marketing role or use this information to plan your ideal HR marketing career by focusing on developing your skills and knowledge in each or any of these areas.

#1 Employer Branding

Building and maintaining a strong employer brand that adds competitive value for the business in its talent markets.

Employer branding starts with clarifying a distinctive employer image and achieving desired employer brand perceptions through systematic communication of the company’s values, culture, and unique selling propositions as an employer.

I also refer to employer branding as a communications process and a marathon requiring commitment to delivering long-term goals.

#2 Recruitment Marketing

Planning, copywriting, and creatively enhancing targeted marketing campaigns to attract potential candidates for specific roles in the company.

Recruitment marketing campaigns always have a start date and an end date, and they are fast and short-term in delivering applicants to the recruitment funnel.

Recruitment marketing uses various channels, from recruitment-specific to general marketing channels. The recruitment-specific media are, for example, free and commercial job boards, job sites and various job fairs.

Other examples of the more common digital recruitment marketing platforms are LinkedIn, Glassdoor and, of course, company websites.

If employer branding is a marathon, recruitment marketing is a sprint. I also like to compare recruitment marketing to sales and employer branding to general brand marketing.

#3 Employee Engagement and Retention 

Employee Engagement and Retention is an example of a typical HR responsibility that can be hugely supported with talent marketing and communication.

This means using and applying communication and marketing to help grow awareness about those internal elements in your organisation that are there to increase job satisfaction and loyalty among existing employees. Further more, this also includes communicating and promoting feedback mechanisms and results and employee development programs.

#4 Internal communications

This is an area of HR marketing and communications where we traditionally inform the organisation internally about important company news and updates.

But we can argue whether the traditional type of internal communication is effective, and has it ever been?

If you have been working in HR long enough to witness two to three rounds of employee satisfaction surveys, you probably have witnessed the ever-existing challenge of good internal communication.

In the more modern world of work with hybrid workplaces, facilitating effective communication and dialogue within the organisation must take over the traditional: “I’m simply storing all this information on the Intranet and expect everyone to find it and read it.”

Part of effective and modern internal communication is to ensure consistent messaging, specific platforms for various types of information and communication and an alignment with the company’s goals and values.

#5 Talent Market Research and Analysis 

Regular talent market research and analysis is an important area of modern HR/talent marketing that we have not typically been very good at in HR. Despite having access to multitudes of data, the common HR sin is to avoid taking advantage of it.

For those who do not know my career history, I built a wonderful HR career for nearly a decade before starting my own recruitment software and talent acquisition business.

That’s why I have pretty good insight about our strengths and weaknesses as HR people, but also about the demands of the job.

However, the ever-growing demand for talent requires researching the needs and preferences of current and potential employees, knowing who our competition is, and how we position ourselves compared to them.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to regularly analyse industry trends to stay competitive in the job market!

Working with data and research is an important part of any marketer’s job, but it also requires specific skills and competencies and may not be everyones cup of tea.

I love working with data. I can say that this role goes well with the other important areas of data analysis. Here, I’m referring to all HR marketing data analysis.

Blue banner to promote this free eBook called Talent Marketing roles for those who consider HR marketing vs marketing career

 #6 Data-Driven Decision Making 

Data-driven decision-making is typically the responsibility of the employer brand manager or the recruitment marketing manager. However, they may not have the time, skills, or mindset to work with data.

Therefore, having someone in the organisation to provide them with regular market and marketing data makes a huge difference in delivering results and succeeding in HR marketing.

Here, we are talking about HR analytics and data to inform and measure HR marketing strategies and measure the effectiveness of HR marketing, from employer branding to recruitment marketing, and adjusting plans accordingly.

#7 Talent Community and Online Reputation Management

Managing the company’s online presence and its reputation as an employer is an essential responsibility in a world where most of the HR marketing takes place online.

Managing the platforms, moderating comments and engaging with audiences on social media and other platforms like Slack and Glassdoor, are important areas of growing employer brand awareness and building a great reputation

#8 Employer Brand Content Management

As much of the HR marketing these days takes place online, in digital and social platforms, it requires a lot of content.

I call this responsibility employer brand content management because all recruitment marketing content and messages must match the brand and desired employer brand perceptions.

This role is quite central in talent marketing because the demand for content is massive. It requires excellent level of coordination and management to adhere to the employer brand and match the desired employer brand perceptions with each content.

Not to mention keeping taps on channelling employee experiences, company culture and unique and distinctive selling points. Published content must also be easily found for resharing and repurposing purposes.

#9 Talent Communication and PR

Talent communication is a fundamental area of all HR/Talent marketing. There is nothing more critical in creating impact and influencing your target audiences than mastering communication.

Knowing how to choose the right words to win attention, persuade and influence action is an essential skill for those working in talent communication.

In fact, everyone working in HR marketing needs a talent communication master by their side!

No amount of marketing and promotion will deliver the best results if the message fails.

Another area to consider in HR/Talent communication is PR.

I don’t think we quite realise the potential Talent PR offers! An example of Talent PR are the advocacy programs, and employee ambassador programs many organisations now run. These create a wonderful platform for building mutual relationships between your organisation and talent publics. 

But there is another area that could be used more, and this is offering interesting people and workplace story angles to industry media for broader exposure.

Orange banner to promote this free eBook called Talent Marketing roles for those who consider HR marketing vs marketing career

HR marketing vs marketing: the scope

Comparing to the scope of traditional marketing jobs, HR marketing is quite different in sense that we combine communication and marketing together as our “stakeholders and customers” are the same.

Our budgets and available resources are much smaller than of those marketers who work with consumer brands. But then, there are a lot of similarities, too.

Traditional marketing explained

Traditional Marketing refers to the classic methods of marketing used to reach and engage consumers and business-to-business buyers through offline and online channels.

It focuses on promoting products or services to a broad audience, utilising various tactics to increase brand awareness, drive sales, and foster customer loyalty. 

#1 Advertising

Consumer advertising tends to focus on broader media channels, such as television, radio, print (newspapers, magazines), and billboards. It is extremely rare in HR marketing to have budgets to advertise on TV, radio, or billboards.

Digital marketing hit consumer marketing way before business-to-business marketing or HR marketing. Consumer marketers have much longer and broader experience working with digital platforms than those of us working in HR marketing.

That’s why prominent consumer brand marketers can be extremely skilled in creating or buying ad campaigns designed for multiple formats to reach broad audiences across various digital platforms.

This is allowed by budgets that are tens, if not hundreds, of times more than the budgets we are used to in HR marketing and branding. And this is the reason why traditional marketing, especially working with highly promoted consumer brands, can be very compelling. As a marketer, you get a lot more diversity and versatility in your work.

On the other hand, you are less likely to design and create anything, just coordinate projects with various agencies, while in HR marketing, you get to (read: have to) use your creative flair more often.

#2 Direct Mail

Direct mail in marketing means sending physical marketing materials directly to potential customers. This includes brochures, catalogues, flyers, emails and promotional letters.

Especially direct email marketing is very profitable when done right. But it is also easy to fail with it as lot of marketers have access to it.

I am designing an inbound recruitment marketing funnel with recruitment lead generation for one of my clients. I am thrilled to have convinced them to include this form of marketing in their HR marketing strategy! Not many employers seem to dare to try modern means and methods, even if they have the budget.

#3 Telemarketing

We all know telemarketing from being at the receiving end.

Telemarketing means reaching out to potential customers through telephone calls. This method is used for direct selling, customer surveys, or providing information about products and services.

The closest to this is direct sourcing for those who work in sourcing or head hunting.

While telemarketing is not considered marketing for most, every contact you make with a prospective customer or candidate is very much marketing, creating a perception – good or bad – about your product or vacancy and the company behind it.

#4 Public Relations

We already touched upon PR, but let’s summarise it here. PR stands for public relations, which is about managing the public image of the brand or company. Public relations includes press releases, public events, and media relations at the very basic level.

I wish more companies took the advantage of strategic public relations for employer branding!

I think there is space there, in the traditional business media, to offer good people and workplace stories. There is less competition these days on those media as we are all making our own content!

Talent PR can also be about stakeholder management, events, coordinating and managing employee advocacy programs, offering your experts as key note speakers to events, and sponsoring relevant industry events.

#5 Sales and retail promotions

With shops and the retail front, marketers take advantage of in-store promotions, discount offers, sales events, point-of-sale displays and merchandising.

I cannot really think how to turn this form of traditional marketing into HR marketing – unless you are an employer in the retail industry!

Actually, I’m thinking about something now.. we do have a client in the retail industry and this could be an interesting opportunity to include in their employer branding strategy!

#6 Trade Shows and Events

Attending trade shows and events regularly is a widely used in business to business (B2B) marketing.

This includes:

  1. Participating in industry trade shows, exhibitions, and business events.
  2. Networking and proposing direct interaction with potential clients and partners.

We always remind our clients who actively participate in trade shows and events to include employer branding in the marketing mix at trade shows or events.

What a remarkable platform an event makes for connecting and discussing potential career plans and opportunities! Your potential experienced talent target audience is physically present at trade shows and business events, and actually have time for conversations and exchanging contact details!

#7 Branding

Branding on the “traditional” side of marketing refers often times to developing a brand identity through logos, slogans, and brand messaging. But also, ensuring brand consistency across all marketing materials and channels.

Employer brand is the other end of the company’s brand spectrum, but branding can also refer to branding your experts as thought leaders or branding your products.

In the case of branding your products or branding through your consumer products, your employer brand is unlikely to be on the same spectrum as your consumer brand.

Key to successful branding is knowing your target audience extremely well.  

The difference between branding a business or a product to branding a workplace is actually bigger than many realise.

Employer branding requires total honesty and transparency in basing the brand on the real employee and candidate experiences, on your core strengths as a workplace and what value-add you as the employer can offer to their employees.

When you brand a product, it’s all make-believe, and much of that applies also to branding businesses, especially those that are larger and not entrepreneur-led.

#8 Market Research

Market research is integral to marketing studies and includes conducting surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews to gather consumer insights and analyze market trends and consumer behaviour.

All the same skills and rules of market research apply also to HR marketing. Could be a great career move to change the domain and use your experiences and skills on the people domain!

#9 Print and Broadcast Media

Print and broadcast media refer to the more traditional media: offline media. Working here as a marketer can mean creating content for newspapers, magazines, television, and radio, or selling advertising space for advertisers.

HR marketers could very well advertise and sponsor content in these offline media, except in HR marketing, you are unlikely to have enough budget to do any of these!

#10 Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising refers to all spaces outside you can see adverts on, such as billboards, banners, and transit advertising on buses, taxis, and subways. At the Helsinki city centre, here in Finland, we have a huge display screen used occasionally also for HR marketing purposes.

This kind of visible advertising in public spaces can be very impactful but rarely available for HR marketing.

#11 Merchandise – promotional products

Distributing branded merchandise such as pens, bags, and clothing items has found its way also to employer branding a long time ago.

Merch is used for brand recall and customer loyalty in consumer and B2B marketing.

A lot of employers have merch to share with employees and job seekers. I love it better, though, when the merch ties in with the culture, values, and desired employer brand perceptions instead of being just random or the most typical choices with the company logo as the design.

Traditional marketing is often broader and more wide-reaching

Traditional marketing is more wide-reaching because the target audience tends to be much broader, and budgets allow for more wide-reaching strategies.

What is common with HR marketing vs marketing is that both operate in two spectrums or angles: branding for long-term awareness and affinity and promotions to support sales. In HR marketing, these are called employer branding and recruitment marketing.

Obviously, traditional marketing has been a fundamental aspect of business strategies for many decades. 

Despite the rise of digital marketing, traditional methods remain integral to many companies’ overall marketing strategies, especially for targeting demographics less inclined to digital media.

The same applies to employers targeting talents less inclined to use digital media or only use specific digital media.

That’s all for this week!

Thanks for tuning in this week! Moi moi!

Did you find this episode interesting?

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