Employer Branding isn’t a 5 year Payback

When most people think about brand advertising, they think of Pepsi spending money on billboards or super bowl commercials in hopes that the next time you walk into a convenience store you buy their product over Coke’s. They spend billions each year fighting for global mindshare, and over long periods of time, they see the ROI of their efforts.

While this sort of mindshare branding does have a long payback, the vast majority of employer branding tactics have a much faster ROI payback – in fact, most are immediate!

More patient approaches
Just like with Pepsi, some forms of employer branding have a longer payback. Getting into the local “best places to work” list can take some time, and winning these awards many times means that you’re going to get candidates in 6-24 months who remembered you from that list.

Buying pizza for the computer science club at your local university, or taking a bunch of MBAs out for a beer also has a slightly longer payback. And, of course, creating content that is specifically designed for the audience of job seekers who aren’t going to activate in the next 6 months (“Best classes to take in your masters program to become a technical marketer”) won’t have an immediate payback either. There’s nothing wrong with a slower payback if you plan on hiring in 6-24 months and can be patient. But, not everyone can be patient.

The analog for more immediate paybacks
Imagine if it was really hard to buy a Pepsi at your local store. You had to fill out some convoluted, non mobile optimized form for example. Imagine if the Pepsi collateral was really ugly, or if their display case was full of stock photos from 3 years ago. These sorts of things would effect their brand, right? And, if they updated the buying process, or those pictures, they’d see an immediate impact on their sales. You wouldn’t skirt around that display, you’d be drawn to it.

Immediate Employer Branding ROI
What about the immediate paybacks for employer branding? Well, just like Pepsi doesn’t have someone fill out a non mobile optimized form to buy a soda, you shouldn’t have someone do that to apply for a job. Upgrade to a modern ATS and upgrade your candidate’s experience here. This is something that will immediately impact everyone who applies to your company.

Candidates who see your job postings, or get inmails from your recruiters, are going to Google your company. Having the right content here is oh so important to attracting the right talent. Imagine if you Googled “Why drink Pepsi” and there were negatively biased reviews from people who prefer Coke…that would be pretty bad for Pepsi. Lesson: you need to control your SEO with the right content.

Your owned media is another hugely impactful place to make sure the right content exists. In depth content that details the questions that candidates care about is huge. Don’t leave it at “we’re innovative” – you need to dig into the specific stories and pieces of information that engineers, sales people, etc care about– and then make sure this content is mobile optimized with an easy UX. This content will convert that curious person into a candidate – boom, immediate ROI.

The most important part – and yes this has a longer payback
The most important part of a strong employer brand is having a great place to work where people are fulfilled and all those millennial boxes are checked (learning skills, have a higher purpose, etc).

If you have this, then even if you’re a horrible marketer, these stories will spread through word of mouth. And, if you don’t have this, all the marketing in the world won’t solve your talent acquisition/retention problems.

Of course, it’s not a coincidence that companies like Google, McKinsey, etc have 7 figure employer branding budgets…..even great places to work need a megaphone.

Phil Strazzulla

Founder at NextWave Hire
Phil is a founder of NextWave Hire.Previously, he was a VC at Bessemer, and has a MBA from Harvard, and studied finance at NYU.

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