#173 Kickstart your employer brand strategy for the new calendar year – A guide for professionals

Blog header #173 Kickstart your employer brand strategy for the new calendar year - A guide for professionals  - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

Are you ready to kickstart your employer brand strategy for this new calendar year?

As the new year unfolds, it’s pivotal for employer branding professionals to navigate their organisations successfully through the new year of employer branding.

The first quarter is not just about setting goals; it’s about laying the strategic foundations that will define your employer brand throughout the year, if you haven’t yet. 

It’s about making sure you know the expected goals for this year because that will help you organise your available resources in the most optimal way.

It is also about looking back to the previous year if you were taking employer branding actions last year – to evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. And to ensure resources are not spent this year on actions and activities that did not return the expected value for the organisation the year before.

You want to optimise your new year of employer branding to ensure that your employer brand strategy grows in impact, as will your strategic employer branding skills.

Susanna Rantanen

This episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast is designed to help you, the dedicated employer branding professional, get organised and ready for a successful year in employer branding.

If you are new to this podcast, welcome here, my friend!

My name is Susanna Rantanen, and I’m here to guide you in making the most of your employer branding and recruitment marketing career to experience professional joy, achievement, and success.

This podcast is exactly what you want to integrate into your weekly routine if you work in employer branding or talent acquisition or if persuading talents with communication and marketing interests you in whatever you do!

As one of the world’s top employer branding experts and influencers, I’m your guide and mentor in modern employer branding with practical, logical and science-based tips to help you convince and convert your relevant talents. I talk about strategies, tactics, data, analytics, content creation, copywriting secrets, and my professional pride and joy: The Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️, for which I have a book coming out later this year.

Stick with me, and you’ll learn how to win sustainable attention in a world where attention is no longer a default. Because attention is your currency, you can exchange it for anything.

Let’s get on with this week’s episode, my friend!

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Planning for A New Year of Execution of Your Employer Brand Strategy

If you were employer branding last year, begin by reflecting on the past year’s employer branding journey. Always start a new season with a clear picture of what worked and didn’t the previous season.

This is important for making sure you have a plan to overcome any struggles experienced last year but also that you keep doing what worked last year. There is no reason to fix what already works, especially in a long-term activity like employer branding. 

Another important element of evaluating the previous year is celebrating your achievements and learning from the challenges. What made you uneasy with employer branding last year? 

Another important element of evaluating the previous year is celebrating your achievements and learning from the challenges. What made you uneasy with employer branding last year? 

Susanna Rantanen

Is there a way to invest some of your time and budget into, for example, improving your skills so that you don’t have to experience the same challenges this year?

Envision what employer branding success should look like for this calendar year

Next, envision what success looks like for your employer brand over this calendar year.

Ensure that these goals align also with your organisation’s business goals for this calendar year. After all, getting sufficient resources for employer branding requires employer branding to support the business and management in reaching their goals. 

Without sufficient resources, I’m pretty sure you won’t get to feel the joy of witnessing the progress of how employer branding impacts talent attraction or talent retention-related goals. You’ll also miss out on the authentic feedback from the management when they realise there is actually something worthwhile in employer branding, not just for HR but for them making decisions about the business.

Crafting a Strategic Plan (if you don’t have one yet)

What you need is a strategic plan.

There is no need to be scared of the word ‘strategy’. Strategy is literally an outline of focus areas and key decisions made together with key stakeholders so that you know exactly what you are meant to do during your new season of employer branding.

The wonderful thing about an employer brand strategy is that when it’s done well, it serves your purpose throughout multiple seasons, guiding you to make seasonal employer branding plans based on it.

The wonderful thing about an employer brand strategy is that when it’s done well, it serves your purpose throughout multiple seasons, guiding you to make seasonal employer branding plans based on it.

Susanna Rantanen

This season, you will set your focus on such and such, and next season, the focus is on this and that. All coming from the strategy but split into more manageable chunks, if you like, giving you a plan for getting from A to B this season, then from B to C the following season and finally from C to D the year after that. 

This is how management works as well, and when you can show them a plan that is recognisable to them, matching with how their minds work, it is easier for them to see why you need the budget and what the funding will be used for. When your plan for the new season is updated, you go to the person who decides on the investments to get a budget for your plan.

Employer Brand Budget Allocation and Resource Planning

Now, that you have a budget for this year at your disposal, it’s crucial you prioritise initiatives that will deliver the most impact. 

This means allocating resources financially and regarding your team’s time and expertise.

Invest in tools and platforms that elevate your employer branding efforts, make your work more efficient and help you get more done with the same time investment or save up some of the time you need elsewhere this season.

Invest in tools and platforms that elevate your employer branding efforts, make your work more efficient and help you get more done with the same time investment or save up some of the time you need elsewhere this season.

Susanna Rantanen

Some examples of platforms to invest in are tools such as social media analytics. I recommend Metricool, a social media marketing app, to schedule and share your content at the best times for your target audience. We have used Buffer for this for a decade, and it is straightforward and cost-effective.

The key here, however, is to be effective with budgeting early on. This ensures you have the means to execute your plan for this season without constraints. I advise you to schedule time for next November to start building your case for budgeting early enough for next year.

Employer Brand Marketing Plans for Talent Acquisition and Retention 

Does it look like your employer branding activities should support your organisation more internally or externally this year?

The new year often signals a flurry of hiring activity.

But suppose your organisation is going through a change accelerated by growth, change in the business strategy, merger and acquisition, layoffs or iterating your company culture.

In that case, your employer branding strategy and focus must be on talent retention. Based on your available resources, you must decide who needs your employer branding support more: talent acquisition or your people and their nearest managers.

But suppose your organisation is going through a change accelerated by growth, change in the business strategy, merger and acquisition, layoffs or iterating your company culture. In that case, your employer branding strategy must focus on talent retention.

Susanna Rantanen

If the answer is talent acquisition, consider what your budget allows you to do and what your key concerns are in the talent market. Does your organisation lack general employer brand awareness and recognition, or are your weaknesses only in specific talent segments requiring more employer brand awareness this season?

However, make sure your employer branding does not turn into recruitment campaigns because then you are spending your budget on activities that are not generating the expected long-term value, and you will have difficulties proving your case for the management for next year’s budget. 

Revamp copy & recruitment marketing process 12-week coaching program for Instant Employer Brand Accelerator™️ program with Susanna Rantanen

Regardless of your focus this season, active communication on social media reaches your target audiences internally and externally. Did you know that often, your people learn more about what’s going on in your organisation from social media than from internal communication channels? 

If this is the case in your organisation, leverage channels your people are active on and let them know so that they follow your content marketing on social media.

The difference between employer branding your organisation and attracting job seekers towards a specific role and business division in your organisation can feel like a thin line in the sand, but it’s not.

Any content you create to aid the recruitment process for a specific role during this campaign should be time-sensitive and relevant to the current situation.

Get a budget for this from the hiring managers or business units. Don’t spend your employer branding budget on marketing needs that only service limited people and limited needs.

Unless it’s this Instant Employer Brand Accelerator Method™️ or something similar designed to help your business beyond one role and one time only.

Then, your employer branding content. It must be evergreen in nature and serve its purpose at least for the next few years. This is the best use of your employer branding budget. 

Are You Auditing Your Employer Brand and Talent Market Positioning?

For some odd reason, employer branding people ignore the talent market and competition when it comes to making employer branding plans.

Auditing the state of your employer brand and your position as an employer in your industry, your talent niche or your local talent market is pretty darn important. Avoid working with your eyes blindfolded at all costs.

Auditing the state of your employer brand and your position as an employer in your industry, your talent niche or your local talent market is pretty darn important. Avoid working with your eyes blindfolded at all costs.

Susanna Rantanen

You can reserve time aside annually to conduct a thorough employer brand audit to understand your brand’s current market position and that of your key competitors for the same talent.

Be careful not to confuse the competition for your company’s products and services as your key competitors for the same talent. There may be overlaps, but until you study and confirm it, do not assume it. 

Auditing your talent market for your employer brand strategy involves gathering insights into how employees and potential candidates perceive your brand internally and externally. 

The easiest way is to ask your employees in different professional groups to make a list of the Top 5 most interesting employers to watch right now.

Then identify your key competitors in the order of importance based on how many “votes” your people gave them.

After that, evaluate how they present themselves online:

  • Their career site – assessing the visual and written key messages can tell you a lot – make notes so as not to forget!
  • Recruitment pages and key recruitment messages
  • Social media presence, activity, number of followers and reach. 

Identifying gaps and opportunities in your brand perception allows you to craft more targeted, effective messaging and positioning for your employer brand.

In those countries, where you can access the Universum’s annual The Most Preferred Employees lists and studies, I can strongly recommend from my heart. Their insight is top-notch, especially if you subscribe to it.

Employer Branding Content Strategy and Storytelling

Let me tell you, content is the lifeblood of employer branding. A good employer brand content strategy gives you what you need to remind your audiences about your existence consistently. 

A well-thought-out content strategy like what our Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ provides you is a truly valuable tool worth investing in.

Not only does it give you a plan for the entire year based on focus areas, but it also helps ensure your content and posts stay within your plan and keep repeating those strategic employer brand key messages incremental in building an employer brand that sets you apart from your competition. 

A solid employer brand content plan is literally the only way that you can help avoid making the probable mistakes in employer brand marketing.

The most common mistakes are:

  • Long time gaps between posts because you don’t have a content plan.
  • Posting random content that makes no sense to your target audience.
  • Sharing content that fails to connect your target audience with your organisation.
  • Not talking about why they should consider you as a preferred place to work.

Without a solid plan, I don’t see how you will succeed in employer branding. I’ve gone without a content plan for some time and failed totally. And I do this for living! 

Everyone needs a plan to stick with a systematic employer branding routine that creates an employer brand.

Without a strategic employer brand marketing plan, you may post a lot, but you won’t have a consistent message and are unlikely to post often enough for it to matter to your business in the big picture.

Without a strategic employer brand marketing plan, you may post a lot, but you won’t have a consistent message and are unlikely to post often enough for it to matter to your business in the big picture.

Susanna Rantanen

Plan a content calendar that highlights your company culture and values and showcases real employee stories and experiences. This approach humanises your brand and makes it more relatable to potential candidates.

I want to drop this out as a reminder, The Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ is designed to provide this for you.

Contact me, when you are ready to discuss if this employer branding strategy method fits your needs and budget.

What about AI in employer branding? 

I spoke about AI very recently in episode 167 about Social Media Marketing Trends for employer branding.

AI in employer branding and content creation is an interesting topic and option.

I use AI a lot, but primarily for content ideation and drafting because it has this particular flavour that can be recognised and impacts trust. I recently came across a study – which I talked about in that recent AI episode 167 – that proved my feelings.

The audience does not trust AI-generated content.

Therefore, my advice at this time is to make the most of it in ideation and research but be vary of not publishing AI-generated content – at least not without editing it first.

Otherwise, your employer brand sounds like artificial intelligence and the same as your competition also using AI in ways that do not follow the employer branding basics: authenticity and trust-building.

I’ve heard, though, that new technologies are emerging, for example, for providing virtual reality workplace tours, which I find fascinating and a great possibility for employer branding.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives in employer branding strategy

DEI should be more than just a buzzword in your employer branding strategy and content.

The start of the year is an ideal time to set ambitious DEI objectives, plan meaningful initiatives, and communicate your company’s commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace.

A strong focus on DEI enriches your organisational culture and appeals to a broader range of job seekers.

I recently spoke about inclusiveness in employer branding at ‘She is Tech’ event. Watch my session on my YouTube channel.

Not long ago, I also had my former client turned friend as a guest on this podcast. Heidi Pech was the first full-time DEI Manager appointed in Finland.

As a white, middle-class female, she gives insight and an inspirational example of learning and working with DEI from this angle. It can be challenging to relate to DEI if you are not representing any other minority than a woman in business.

And even for us in the Nordic countries, we are more fortunate in this area than most of the world, except New Zealand. I strongly recommend listening to that. It’s a long episode, so go for a walk to listen to it. 

Okay, my beloved listener.

As we have now stepped into a new season, the landscape of employer branding continues to offer us both challenges and opportunities.

By focusing on these key areas, you can ensure that your employer branding plans for this season continue or become more robust, responsive, and resonant with the values of today’s workforce.

Remember, the work you do now lays the groundwork for a year of success, growth, and innovation in attracting and retaining the best talent for your organisation. 

**

Can I ask you a favour?

As you know, I’m writing a book on the Magnetic Employer Branding Method, which is what this entire podcast is based on. My book is planned to be out after summer.

I have this hugely ambitious goal, that I’m almost humiliated to share with you. After all, it’s based on a rather egotistical need and quite in contrast to my mostly humble nature.

I want to make the New York Best Selling Books list.

I asked my friend Suzy, who has made the list several times what’s the secret. And she told me the following:

  1. The book has got to have great content. I promise you it will. 
  2. You have to have tons of followers beforehand.
    • This is where I need your help. As someone from the end of the earth, Finland, with only about 5,5 million inhabitants in the entire country, my current following is equal to the size of the country and the niche for my work.
    • I need more international followers who are into employer branding, as that is what I post and share about. So, do me a favour and follow me on any or all of the following platforms:
    • And share this podcast with your peers and networks. This will help me to grow more awareness on social media. I would be so grateful to you.
  3. Third, what Suzy told me was that some unexpected lucky break like Oprah endorses the book. Well, Oprah, are you there listening to my podcast? I doubt she is, but one never knows!

Thank you for your help! It is greatly appreciated!

Tune in again next week for another inspiring episode on Building A Modern Employer Brand.

Moi moi!

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