Marketing strategy doesn’t just lay out processes to create new customers and retain existing ones. Directly or indirectly, it can position the organization in the minds of current and future employees.
I asked corporate culture consultant Josh Levine, cofounder of CULTURE LABx, to lend his perspective to the ways that marketing strategy can impact employee recruitment and retention.
Paul Talbot: How is marketing strategy changing and why?
Josh Levine: The most important shift that leading companies are making is away from ‘what you’ll get’ and toward ‘the journey you’ll join.’ Sure, salary is important, and perks are nice, but people get excited about a big problem they get to help solve.
To get attention in a noisy marketplace, leaders need to define and communicate a compelling purpose – why they are in business beyond making money.
Talbot: When you look at a marketing strategy, what do you like to see?
Levine: A highly differentiated employer value proposition. Without that, it doesn’t matter how clever your social media campaign is.
Every potential candidate wants to know why they should join your company over another. If it comes down to merely salary and benefits, you’ve already lost – even if they accept the offer, they are unlikely to stay longer than the nationwide average of 18-24 months.
Talbot: Marketing strategy, brand strategy, media strategy, campaign strategy…we have all these strategies that can easily exist independent of one another, or at least lack desirable synergies. How should the organization pull them together and manage them effectively?
Levine: Communication strategies like these are only as good as the story they are built to tell. The problem is that most organizations don’t take the time or have the internal alignment to start at the beginning.
Each team is given a task ‘get clicks,’ ‘break through the noise,’ or ‘drive ROI.’ But what message are we trying to tell? Sure, we want to make sure everyone knows we are a great place to work, but what is unique about us? Which leads me right back to purpose.
Talbot: Just about every marketing strategy attempts to shed light on the target customer. Where does this task fall short, and how can it be improved to more helpfully illuminate the target?
Levine: We just finished a project with a client challenging exactly this question.
It’s surprising, but most traditional target customer profiles still boil down to who they are today. HR leaders and recruiters need to think about the person over time. Where are they in their career arc, how do they see themselves growing, and what will they need to get there?
Talbot: Any other insights you’d like to share?
Levine: Businesses are beginning to accept that to survive, they need to recruit ‘unconventional’ talent from anywhere they can; it’s the new reality of a market with record low unemployment and skyrocketing costs of salaries of people living in the urban core.
We are going to see extreme distributed work forces, and leaders need to be ready to market to these untapped pools of talent. And don’t forget your current employees – after all, it’s much cheaper to keep an employee then find a new one.