#182 I’m Writing a Game-Changing Book about Employer Branding – Behind the Scenes

Blog header #182 Behind the Scenes - I'm writing a Game-Changing Book about Employer Branding  - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

This week’s Building the Modern Employer Brand podcast episode will be slightly different from what you and I are used to. I will take you behind the scenes of writing a book about employer branding, answer a couple of questions about my book-writing journey, reveal my backstory as an aspiring book author, and share with you in more detail what this book is about.

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My backstory to writing a book about employer branding

I was inspired to write a book (in general) long ago. If you’ve been following me long, you know how much I love writing. I think in writing.

Every time I have to explain something more complex, what I first do is write down my thoughts before I speak them out. I guess I need to sort and organise my thoughts in writing.

That, to me, is literally thinking through writing.

Writing is something that I’ve always been drawn to.

I’ve always been good at writing and wanted to write a book for a long time.

I’ve had so many book ideas, but I found out that when I work as an entrepreneur who creates a lot of content in writing and has to think a lot with my creative brain, I never really seemed to find the time actually to sit down and write that book.

About 16 years ago, when I was pretty close to starting my maternity leave before our child was born, I was approached by a publisher, a big publisher in Finland, who suggested I write a book on HR, modern HR, during my maternity leave.

At the time, I was known as the moderniser of HR in Finland. I promised to think about it. Here in Finland, maternity leave is usually one year. So, if your baby sleeps well, then you have plenty of time to write a book or do whatever you want.

But I ended up using my maternity leave aside from caring for the new baby, planning and starting my first business.

So I didn’t write a book then.

What kicked on my desire to make time for writing a book about employer branding

One of the reasons I decided to finally write my first book—and this is definitely just the first—stems from my deep-rooted passion for helping businesses build a magnetic, irresistible employer brand.

I’ve always wanted to work with an employer branding angle closely connected to the business’s needs. So, to me, employer branding has never been an HR project, but more than that. More of a branding project for the organisation supporting the business with the business needs.

(I know I contradict myself here talking about branding as a project. I don’t consider employer branding as a project at all, as you know. It’s just a comparison phrase in this case.)

I have always been interested in figuring out how to use employer branding as a format that convinces, converts and retains ideal talents for the business.

I have always been interested in figuring out how to use employer branding as a format that convinces, converts, and retains ideal talents for the business.

Susanna Rantanen

For the nearly first ten years of my career, I worked as an in-house HR and was responsible for talent attraction and retention in international, fast-growing organisations.

That gave me an excellent perspective on the importance of employer branding. Because I was working in HR, I was part of that group of people who really felt the pain of talent acquisition, attraction and retention struggles.

I understood early on that the response to proper employer branding is not a fancy campaign created by an advertising agency but something that needs to be built on the actual roots of the organisational culture and especially the leadership culture, the real values and the employee experiences in the organisation.

I spent a lot of time developing and maintaining a truly attractive workplace culture during my years in HR, which gave me a deep understanding of this “product” behind the employer brand.

Learning the transformative power of employer branding from fellow entrepreneurs and CEOs

For over ten years now, I have focused on the marketing and communication side of HR.

My first business (Heebo) was a tech startup. During those years, I often hung out with other tech entrepreneurs. That is why we worked almost exclusively with fast-growing tech companies for the first years of Employer Branding Agency Emine’s existence.

I had so many contacts, obviously in Finland’s tech industry. During those years of being a startup founder and a consultant for other startup founders in my other business, Emine, I was regularly solving talent-related challenges connected to acquisition or retention.

Many of my peer tech entrepreneurs and founders regularly called me with their problems and challenges in talent acquisition and retention in their startups.

I learned about the key pains in growth organisations: innovating, developing, and changing a lot, transitioning organisations and cultures as they grow from startups to bigger and bigger organisations, getting investors, and expanding internationally.

Through my experiences as a tech founder and those of other founders, I witnessed the transformative power of a strong employer brand in strengthening, shaping and stimulating the organisational culture and supporting the business growth.

During my years in HR, I learned a thing or two about how to engage employees to advocate for the organisation through their experiences. How to use content and communication targeted at talents inside and outside the organisation that support the constant organisational and business changes and drives the business success.

Because that was what was so much on the agenda of the tech entrepreneurs and founders and leaders. I witnessed how much value those founders, entrepreneurs, and CEOs gave to someone who saw employer branding as a strategic tool to help deliver business goals and objectives.

I also wanted to help people who were working in HR at the time because the employer branding domain did not exist at the time at all. I was literally the first person to start scaling the employer branding community and domain in Finland. So there were no employer branding professionals yet.

For me, it was important to help those people in those tech startups learn the skills and understand how to empower the CEOs and the top management with a business-driven employer branding initiative.

And how to get to that position that I’ve had the pleasure of holding as the trusted advisor to founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and top executives when it comes to retaining and acquiring new talent.

I personally feel it is so empowering and fulfilling to be trusted as the go-to person for entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs, and top executives in this domain.

I’ve also wanted to help my employees, our agency’s client people, as well as my coaching students, learn those skills, get the tools, and gain that self-confidence, the right kind of attitude and the knowledge that they need so that they can win the trust of those vital stakeholders and gain that respect that you guys need and deserve.

My book about employer branding is about the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️

Writing this book about employer branding and sharing this amazingly effective method, which I’ve designed and developed over the years since 2015, has been my legacy and my life’s work in the global employer branding domain.

And that is what this book will be about: the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️.

I want to run you through my mind map for what this book about employer branding is about.

In this book, I will introduce you (in more detail) to this systematic marketing approach for building your Magnetic Employer Brand. This method and framework have five key principles, which I will discuss in the book.

My mind map for this book about employer branding starts with:

  • Who is this method for?
  • When is this a suitable, empowering, and effective method for an organisation?
  • What problems does this method solve?

I’m also going to talk about the why. If you’ve been following me long enough, you have probably read or heard me talk about why traditional employer branding fails. I’ve talked about it a lot.

That is why I started to call my way the modern way of building an employer brand. So, I talk about the traditional versus the modern way, based a lot on what has happened in the operating environment in the world, with all the global changes over the past 15 years.

In this book about employer branding, I also discuss what a campaign and branding are because those are two very different things. I talk about the potential lost if you’re not actually employer branding. Furthermore, I discuss the benefits of employer branding.

Next, I introduce the communications framework you know as the Candidate Journey of the Information Era™️. When used for internal employer branding, you replace the candidate word with the employee word.

I talk about the four important phases of this candidate or employee journey: winning sustainable attention, building employer brand awareness, growing employee brand affinity, and those value conversions I talked about last week on this podcast.

In fact, I discussed all these phases in the previous two episodes of this podcast, in which I compared employee branding to dating. So, really good stuff.

The five key principles and why talent is always the hero

Next, I discuss in more detail the five key principles of the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️.

#1 Talent is the Hero

The first one is that talent is always the hero.

That was my discovery and innovation a long time ago. I started to study storytelling around 2015. Learning and getting into that storytelling world inspired me to build this method. So, that was what I first learned in storytelling: who the story’s hero is.

At the time, I purchased quite expensive courses, some provided by Donald Miller, who wrote this fantastic book on storytelling, The Story Brand. He talks about the customer being the hero. So, I learned from him why the customer is the hero and applied that idea in the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ , where talent is the hero.

#2 Employer positions as the trusted work-to-life mentor and the guide providing a plan for better life

The second principle is that the employer positions themselves as the trusted work-to-life mentor and the guide that provides a plan for a better life. This is also very much at the core of the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️. This role reversal is key in winning sustainable attention and truly unique to my employer branding method.

#3 Employer branding is an ongoing communications process, not a campaign

The third key principle is that Employer Branding is not a campaign, but it’s an ongoing communications process of the key story themes unique and very tailored to each organisation applying this method.

#4 The ongoing communications process keeps inviting relevant talents on the Candidate Journey of the Information Era™️ with your organisation

And then the fourth key principle is that employer branding communication; this ongoing communications process keeps inviting those relevant talents on this journey with your organisation to keep them engaged and grow that awareness and affinity until they are ready to convert value for your business.

If you have purchased the Magnetic Employer Branding strategy process from my agency over the past year, you are familiar with the content pillars. These content pillars are a new addition to this method. The fourth key principle refers to content pillar one in this method.

#5 This systematic employer brand communications process returns specific strategic value to your business – consistently, not occasionally or once as you possibly do with campaigns

The fifth principle is that this systematic communications process consistently moves those target audiences on their candidate journeys with your organisation towards those expected strategic conversion points, the value conversions that are detailed in your Magnetic Employer Branding strategy.

As a reminder, I gave some details on strategic value conversions in the last week’s episode 181.

The whole purpose of this Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ is to make sure that your organisation’s investment in employer branding is actually delivering lots of the intended employer brand value, specifically chosen and decided to match what your business needs from a talent retention and talent acquisition or one or the other. And, this is what I want to share with you in this book about employer branding.

Employer branding is useless unless your work becomes an investment that returns value to the organisation.

If you’re doing employer brand marketing without any specific business-worthy value conversions set as your goals and objectives, you won’t know what success looks like and employer branding is likely to end up just a cost, not an investment. And we all know that your boss is unlikely to want to increase costs.

Employer branding must be an investment and this method provides you a plan to turn employer branding into a long-term investment.

The communications process: Business storytelling to match talent minds with your mission

Next, this book about employer branding takes you to how you do this.

I explore the systematic communications process, which we refer to as “Business Storytelling to Match Talent Minds with Your Company Mission”.

I discuss the means, the skills and the content marketing process. But also where the content comes from: your strategic company culture and employee experiences.

I talk about the content pillars, key story themes, marketing goals, and KPIs for employer branding, using this method. And then, I talk about the outcomes, which I always call what success looks like.

What success looks like refers to goals, objectives and especially the return on investment.

It can be anything from cost savings to generated customer value, from attraction to retention, from accepting and engaging with business transformation to successful stakeholder management, and to competitive advantage for the entire business because you now have such an attractive employee brand that it helps you overall as a business.

So, this is what this method is about and what I discuss in this book about employer branding.

Why I feel so strongly about employer branding as a business case

As I said, I’ve always been deeply interested in business operations.

I think I was always the unconventional HR person because I was so interested in what the business needed from HR and how I could use my knowledge, skills, and deep understanding of people and their behaviour, of what an employee or a job seeker is looking for; how can I use all that knowledge to help the business with very specific needs, goals, and KPIs?

As an internal HR, I always worked very closely with the CEO or the operations manager responsible for the business results because I wanted to have this one-on-one connection and an open door policy for understanding what are their visions, what are their pain points, what are their struggles with the business when it comes to employees and job seekers and talent acquisition and leadership.

That has always been very important to me.

That was how I always saw my role as an HR manager. That’s why my work with employer brand strategies always starts with studying the business goals, objectives, and strategic emphasis for the coming years.

So, the way I’m building and supporting others to build employer brands, is obviously based on that kind of angle of HR. This always made sense to me to use this knowledge that I learned in my in-house roles and later as an external consultant to position myself as this advisor to the CEO, and the top management.

For them to have somebody in HR who’s able to use the business information to strengthen the organisation’s abilities to execute customer promises and deliver those business goals.

So, for me, everything that I’ve ever done in HR or now as a consultant working with lots of HR people stems from what the business needs from the people, from the employees, and how I can use my skills and knowledge to get those people to deliver it, always with this win-to-win approach.

This has been my competitive advantage throughout my career and a sign of a successful business. That it’s not just the employer taking everything from the employees, but employees are getting something very valuable in return.

That’s part of the ideology behind the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️: how can we, as employers, support our employees in building a better life as a result of becoming and staying part of our organisation?

Susanna Rantanen

That’s part of the ideology behind the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️: how can we, as employers, support our employees in building a better life as a result of becoming and staying part of our organisation?

Gap in the market for practical, systematic guidance for employer branding

Over the past decade or more, I noticed this gap in knowledge and available resources for businesses and professionals seeking practical guidance, how-to and actionable strategies in talent marketing. Not just for employee branding but also for recruitment marketing.

Employer branding has unfortunately been mistaken for recruitment campaigns all this time.

I’ve done my fair share of educational work with our clients, through my content and keynotes, speeches, my podcast, coaching programs and training, and not to forget, as an employer teaching my employees modern employer branding.

I’ve made it one of my key messages to distinguish the differences between employee branding and recruitment campaigns.

While recruitment campaigns and recruitment marketing are incredibly important, the actual potential and the whole purpose of building an employer brand will be lost in translation if you see it only as an extension of recruitment campaigns.

When you really want to get the real value of building an employer brand, you need to see employer branding as a different type of activity than the recruitment campaign.

During my time as a podcaster, researching for this book and learning, especially as a podcaster for my international audience and guests, I’ve learned that we are most advanced in employer branding thinking here in the Nordic countries. I have been told Canada is becoming increasingly mature in their employer branding thinking. And I’ve been excited to see that some Eastern European countries are also advancing in this domain.

But most of the world, and apparently in the USA, most organisations consider employer branding to be recruitment campaigns. So, I think that we still have a lot of potential to win from employer branding.

I’m hoping that this book will be a really good guide for you guys working in employer branding to actually get the value from employer branding and transition from recruitment campaigns into actual employer branding.

The core knowledge and the communications framework can also be applied to recruitment marketing and communications

When I launched the first version of the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️in 2015, it wasn’t even called Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ yet. I had already developed a solid employee branding angle to talent acquisition in Finland. I had a similar systematic approach to recruitment marketing that accelerated the organisation’s employee brand awareness recruitment process by recruitment process. I launched this system in 2011 at my tech startup (Heebo) in our customer cases.

Within this recruitment marketing approach, I introduced the Magnetic Job Post™️ and a content and social media based recruitment marketing strategy, which we offer today in our Instant Employer Brand Accelerator™️ program.

So, I’ve tested and developed the framework behind the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ and the core knowledge since 2011 in several hundreds of customer cases – first in connection with talent acquisition because actual employer branding didn’t have any market until many years later.

What I share in this book about employer branding, are proprietary copy and content formulas for employer branding that I’ve designed, developed, tested, iterated and fine-tuned for a very long time. You won’t find them anywhere else. So, I can guarantee they work when you apply this method as instructed in this book about employer branding or in the Instant Employer Brand Accelerator™️ in connection with your recruitment process.

We have many clients who have won awards and accolades as employers of choice as a result of following these methods. I think there is enough proof of concept to write this book and share this knowledge with you guys as well.

And, you know, there aren’t many systematic approaches or formulas for employer branding and employee brand marketing available. This realisation sparked my desire to fill this void with an employee branding system that has been proven and tested for a long time in real cases and needs.

I’m incredibly passionate about sharing the Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ with the wider audience. And I want to mention that this unique method has been recognised as a game changer in the employer branding domain.

As mentioned, this method is “Business Storytelling to Match Talent Minds with Company Missions.”

So, I’m bringing in the company culture, employee experiences, and purpose-driven side of branding, leading an organisation, and building a business. And connecting those sources of stories with this method based on science: the science of story, the science of persuasion, and the science of human behaviour.

This method is “Business Storytelling to Match Talent Minds with Company Missions.” So, I’m bringing in the company culture, employee experiences, and purpose-driven side of branding, leading an organisation, and building a business. And connecting those sources of stories with this method based on science: the science of story, the science of persuasion, and the science of human behaviour.

Susanna Rantanen

This method is backed by hundreds of years of scientific evidence, and especially with the story, the science of story is a couple of thousands of years old scientifically proven formula. By writing this book about employer branding, I aim to demystify the complexities and mistaken beliefs of employer branding.

I also want to empower professionals at all levels to harness the full potential of their organisation’s brand potential to attract and retain talents that their business’s success requires.

Ultimately, I think that what drove me to embark on this writing journey is the belief that every organisation, regardless of the size or the industry, deserves to have access to knowledge and tools that are needed to build a magnetic employer brand that sets them apart as an employer of choice.

So I’m incredibly excited to share my insights, my long experience and this proven strategy with my readers, my audience, and you guys in this book about employer branding, modern employer branding. I hope my book will serve as a guiding light for Northern Star for you or anyone seeking to elevate their employer branding efforts to new heights.

Alrighty, I’m going to leave you and love you with this kind of authentic look into my journey as a writing a book about employer branding.

When is this book about employer branding available?

And about the launch time, because that has been asked about. When is this book available, and in which format?

This book about employer branding will be published this coming autumn (2024). And we plan to publish it on paper, in digital format and in audio format. So to serve all those types, all those content taste buds of yours.

And, because I am getting close to my deadline of transferring this draft to an editor, I will need to put this podcast on a little hiatus for a little while, which means there will be an episode next week and maybe the week after.

Before I take a podcasting break to finish this book, I want to invite Nora, my colleague and my employee, who just won the Magnet Award for the Best Employer Branding Professional in Finland on the agency side.

I want you to hear her story, how she found employer branding, how she found me and us, and what has been her professional journey from someone who found employer branding to becoming awarded as the best employer branding professional in Finland. So that’s exciting! I’m looking forward to sharing that episode with you next week.

And then I’d also like to get Maiju on this podcast. Maiju is our client, working for Airbus Defense and Space Finland, with whom Nora and I work on a daily basis. Well, on a weekly basis, almost on a daily basis. And they just won the Creating an Employer Brand Award, which is a strategy award. Their employer branding is based on this Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️. So I thought that Maiju, Nora and I could also share with you her experiences as our client and obviously on this method.

But that’s all for this week, my dear friend.

I’m so excited if you are looking forward to this book about employer branding, and hopefully, you’ll be in my book audience this autumn.

Alrighty. Bye bye. Moi moi.

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