This week, we’re looking at Trump (and Hillary) and revealing what they can teach us about “employer branding”. The answer is quite a bit, but first, time for Employer Branding 101…
What is an employer brand?
It’s the perception that the marketplace, employees, stakeholders and candidates have of you as an employer. It’s the currency you have with the very best talent and ability you command to attract (and keep) them.
Employer branding is important because it helps define you as a certain type of employer or as offering a particular environment and set of values. It also helps you fill a potentially damaging void. As with any brand you need to be in full control of it; shaping perceptions and managing how you come across to the market, after all your current employer brand may be some way from the reality.
Plus, a solid brand brings the right candidates to you, saving you time, money and downtime.
Lessons on employer branding from Trump and Clinton
Right now, possibly the world’s biggest piece of employer branding is going on, the US Presidential Election. Trump and Clinton are running aggressive marketing campaigns to convince US voters that a country under them is the place to be.
The candidates (and their teams) spend every day telling voters why their America is more attractive, hoping to draw in those key demographics that secure victory. No different really to how a business should run an employer brand – in order to secure the best candidates, you get across relevant benefits and values to help you stay ahead of the competition.
Scarier than Halloween
Now, depending on what side of the fence you stand, I know the idea of applying Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton logic to your employer brand may be more terrifying than crawling through an air duct on the Nostromo, but they are getting a few things right about building a brand with a target audience. So, let’s take a look at 5 things the US Presidential campaign has taught us about employer branding:
1. Know what you stand for
This is important because the best candidates increasingly do and they’ll want to work within a business that doesn’t compromise their principles. Trump may have got a whole lot wrong but he has always had a distinct brand – no nonsense, tell it as it is straight-forwardness. This is the brand that got him a lot of support and a 50% chance of being the President of the United States.
For businesses, if you want to be the best, you need the best people and you need to give yourself an identity as an employer that they can identify and relate to. Think about the people you need and what they stand for, their lifestyles, passions and views, then ensure your employer brand fits. It’s easier to develop a strong, all-encompassing employer brand if you have an iron-clad set of values.
2. Appeal to your target audience
The whole point of employer branding is to attract personnel that will increase your profitability and performance against the competition. Hillary’s ‘Mirrors’ videos were aimed squarely at the highly prized women’s vote. And Trump with his ‘70% reduction in business regulations’ campaign, targeting the powerful corporate sector.
As an employer, you too must consider what will appeal to the people you’re after and be sure to shout about why you deliver it. Is it free gym membership? Flexible working hours? Free childcare? Open-plan work areas? The marketplace is full of competition and you’re up against not just direct competitors but those in different industries offering great benefits. Which brings us onto threat mitigation..
3. Out-campaign your competitors
Cruz who? There was a Bush in the running? Trump wiped the floor with his competition, forcing them both to throw in the towel in a period of 24 hours on 3rd/4th May 2016. And he did it because his brand appealed more to his target voters and he knew what they wanted to hear. You just need to do the same for candidates.
While we don’t want to put the competition out of business (after all, they keep you on your toes) you need to out-compete them for new employees, not just for customers. In fact, treating potential candidates like you would potential customers is a good mind-space to be in when developing your employer brand.
The same principles apply, research your target-market and give them a product (role) they want. Make sure it’s better than the competition’s in every way and ensure they never get buyer’s remorse by matching the reality of day-to-day work with the dream you sold.
4. Preach to the converted
One thing both Trump and Hillary have done well is engage their existing supporters, keeping them happy, motivated and spreading the word. This applies in recruitment too. When you give people reasons to believe that the decisions they’ve made and the principles they keep are the right ones, they’ll feel happy and more likely to stay. Equally as important, they’ll talk to others about your winning work environment.
A fundamental part of your employer brand should be ensuring your staff are cared for, happy and motivated. You don’t want to make existing employees feel like you’re one of those credit card companies that’s all about ‘new customers only’.
Make sure your benefits and perks are for all employees, after all they’re your best sales force. Think of the circles they mix in, the social media they’re on, the events they go to; your brightest and best can help bring more top talent through word of mouth. Plus, they know they’re the best and for these people, a competing offer is always on the table. It’s about retention and mitigating the risk of the investment you’ve made.
5. Get in the experts
Trump and Hillary have full time jobs, trying to be President. So, they hire Pollsters, media strategists, marketing execs, campaign managers, project managers and in Trump’s case, even a ‘Director of African American Outreach’, Miss Omarosa Manigault. Who interestingly served under the Clinton administration for a couple of years.
The point is, building a presidential brand needs the input of experts who know how to appeal to target markets and bring them on board. And, as in Miss Manigault’s case, it’s about your business having access to specialists that have been there and done it.
Similarly, when you’re building an employer brand, it’s important to have a team that understand you, the market and the wants and needs of candidates. When you have this support in your corner, your employer brand permeates all media, bringing in – and retaining – the very best people.
Now go build your employer brand
So, there it is, the US Presidential Election has all the ingredients of a powerful employer brand. We’ve linked to a few examples of solid employer branding below, thanks for reading and chip in using the comments below.
Oh, and remember, your competitors are sure as hell crafting their employer brand as you read this, if not already putting it out there, so get the right support and build yours ASAP
Darren Timmins – Animate Search