Branding, marketing and communications have become important assets for HR Industry professionals.
Employer branding is one of the biggest trends in HR marketing, or talent marketing, right now. Recruitment marketing is essential for growth organizations, while HR Industry professionals need great communication skills daily.
How are your branding, marketing and communication skills?
Even though all HR professionals probably need these skills almost daily, have you considered investing time and using your training budget to develop your skills in any or all of these areas?
What do you need to know about branding, communications and marketing for HR?
There are certain ground rules all HR professionals must know about marketing and marketing specifically for talent audiences such as current and future employees.
These are the five ground rules I need you to know:
- Understanding your target audience’s needs, expectations and behaviour.
- Great communication comes before marketing.
- You need to own your HR marketing key messages, the bread and butter of your employer image, reputation and employer brand.
- Owning your employer brand and HR marketing doesn’t mean you have to do the work personally. You must be in charge of the what, when and how.
- Branding, marketing and communications are different strategies and different activities. You should know the differences and which strategy or tactic is key to success in your case.
Ground rule #1: Understanding your target audiences for HR marketing
HR target audiences have very different needs and expectations than your company’s customers.
Why I pinpoint this is that most HR professionals tend to lean on their marketing and communications colleagues when it comes to marketing needs for HR.
While your marketing colleagues can certainly help you set campaigns, they are unlikely to be the experts of your target audiences.
You must know enough about marketing to segment and profile your target audiences because your marketing campaigns are likely to fail if they are not targeted to specific audience needs and expectations.
Use your internal employee survey data, available free talent market data, studies and research on how the work-life changes and the future of work, and consider paying to get quality data on your external audiences, competition and marketplace.
And ask your job candidates to get regular views and updates on what’s hot and what’s not for your target audience!
Ground rule #2: Success in talent marketing requires great communication
The difference between marketing and communication is this:
- Marketing is about promoting, sharing and advertising the message.
- Communication is about crafting a message that interests, compel attention and inspires change.
If your message is confusing, no amount of marketing is not going to get you the optimal results. It will cost you the same to market an ineffective and effective message, though.
So you want to make sure you know what great communication is.
Ground rule #3: Your marketing department doesn’t know what your key messages need to be.
Your HR marketing key messages create promises for your audience. They are the bread and butter for your employer image, reputation and brand.
Whatever you promise through your key messages, you must also deliver through candidate and employee experiences.
That’s why HR must be in charge of the key messages because you know what you can deliver through your company culture, values and leadership.
Don’t let your marketing or communications decide those key messages.
Ground rule #4: Being in charge of employer branding and other talent marketing doesn’t mean you can’t outsource the nitty-gritty
While you can ask and enjoy the help and support of professionals in the technicalities of employer branding, marketing and communications, you need to own your:
- talent marketing goals and objectives
- expected results
- target audiences
- key messages
- the media where you can reach your target audiences.
Outsourcing the ownership of your company’s talent brand and marketing to the marketing or communications department is a big mistake unless they are the experts of your target audience and have the required resources to manage the employer image of your organization internally and externally.
This is probably not the case.
However, if I were you, I would want to develop my skills in communications because that is what you need in all of your work.
You can leave the spreading of the message to marketers if you don’t fancy learning that, but never outsource the message and the conversation to anyone.
Ground rule #5: Employer branding, marketing and communications serve different purposes in your toolbox
You have three primary strategic HR marketing options, and those are:
- Recruitment marketing & communications strategy
- Employer awareness strategy
- Employer branding strategy
As the HR, it would be good if you know your options, how each can help you with your HR goals and needs, and how to know which strategy is the best for your given situation.
Listen to my podcast episode #11 on how to choose the right type of HR marketing strategy for your business:
Why your marketing colleagues aren’t automatically experts in marketing for HR
When we are uncertain of something, we like to lean on those who are more experienced and knowledgeable in that something.
You must know that even though your marketing or communications colleagues are experts in what they are responsible for, they are not automatically the experts in what you are responsible for.
They have their hands full of their own marketing tasks and responsibilities. Unless there is someone specifically dedicated to full-time talent marketing, your marketing or communications department doesn’t know what your key messages should be.
Your marcoms colleagues aren’t automatically experts in marketing for HR
Because these are uncommon territories for many HR professionals, we like to lean on our colleagues too much and mistakenly believe they are the experts in HR marketing. Most often, they are not. And can make terrible mistakes with your HR marketing.
Think about recruitment, for example.
Even though the technicalities of talent acquisition are the same, success in the job requires understanding the marketplace, competition, specific target audience behaviour and knowing how to assess and recognize whether a candidate has the required skills and level.