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Employer branding: done with dime-a-dozen campaigns

Photo Archiv Schweitzer: lachende Frau am Schreibtisch

The flood of smiling faces

Admit it: when you close your eyes and hear the words, “employer branding”, a very specific image forms in your mind that you can’t shake. Because everyone is familiar with it – the flood of smiling faces, the armada of thumbs-ups, the clone army of testimonials to believably assure all of us: man, that is a cool company and an even better employer.

“Those poor souls”, is what we’re thinking. If only those companies had laid their personnel issues in the hands of experts, then their employer branding campaign wouldn’t look like a copy of a copy. The crux of the matter: the majority of these campaigns were really thought up by so-called specialists.

No one is lured in with clichés and platitudes

To develop these campaigns, dozens of managers, employees and the likes are asked their opinions and oftentimes stuffed into workshops. The result is great career opportunities, flexible working hours, a friendly working environment, inspiring learning opportunities, flat hierarchies, and so on and so forth. That’s great, but we’ve heard it all before. Besides, none of these phrases have a personal touch for applicants or create an emotional connection to the potential employer. 

The misery begins with the fact that many people are “simmering in their own soup”. Whether they are managers or night porters, the same market research applies: no one breaks the mould of common thought patterns when it comes to HR. This is why it’s difficult to recognise the characteristics and emotional connecting factors this way. Plus, companies lack an external perspective as to which USPs are most important for outside parties. On the other hand, the prevailing atmosphere in the company can often be discovered with a few in-depth interviews across all hierarchies.

Many times people also forget who they are actually doing all of this for. Instead of interviewing a hundred employees, it would be better to talk to a hundred possible candidates – to empathise with them, see what drives them, and learn what they stand for.

Another important point is authenticity. “Real” employees are often used to ensure it. But in the process, they have to be making authentic statements about the company. Because that’s the only way the company can truly become attractive for the individual applicants.

Achieve more with personas

So what should be done to make sure that the large-scale employer branding campaign doesn’t end as a run-of-the-mill effort? In addition to the usual personnel development measures, development of a persona is a proven and efficient method that helps companies better understand the needs of their target group(s). Personas represent the characteristics and desires of an individual group of people and create the foundation for the concept of future campaigns, etc. The way to correctly work out a persona is explained step by step below:

Step 1: define the status quo

First of all, this method defines the status quo. This includes finding out how the company’s inner workings tick and what the unique selling points are. This creates a solid foundation for an additional positioning strategy.

This is the time to delve deep. Look for the chemical element that binds everything together: to do this, you have to define the skills that matter to your company and skills that potential employees must have. Find out the emotional points of connection with applicants that already exist and success factors that are important to you. Another very important point: be clear about what your own brand story is.

Step 2: look at the future

Once the first step is done, you have to clarify where the journey should lead. It is important to know what type of applicants you are primarily searching for and what the focus of corporate development should be (for example: mastering digitalisation). Because campaigns often focus far too much on a wide, average range of applicants. Focus on people that you really need. Experience that you have already collected with applicants and newcomers and their feedback plays an important role here.

Step 3: develop individual personas

Now all applicants are divided into sub-groups with similar prerequisites and need situations. It’s clear: depending on their education, career status and life situation, they have different needs and set very different priorities. The personas are subsequently formulated in detail by comparing internal and general information. Sociodemographic and psychodemographic information, and even information about media consumption enters the equation here.

Step 4: position your company

When you have the personas clearly in front of you and can better identify commonalities they share with your company, it is time to start the fine-tuning process. Brand vision and strong employer branding ideas can now be developed based on these valuable insights. This is the basis of all campaigns you can use to position yourself in the market and effectively reach out to applicants. The objective has to be getting to the heart of an emotional win-win situation for both sides.

Step 5: rollout strategy

Well-formulated personas lead you quickly through any touchpoint jungles this world has to offer. Once you can visualise your “target person” you can very quickly derive effective measures.

You will quickly find that this method produces more specific and transparent touchpoint strategies than classic approaches.

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