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An Employer Value Proposition Isn’t What You Say, It’s What You Do

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Written by Chris Walsh, Head of Marketing

This will date me, but 17 years ago as a young marketing professional, I attended a marketing conference hosted by Yahoo!. Many of marketing’s leading voices were at the conference discussing the latest “thing” in the industry—integrated marketing campaigns. But one presenter said something that struck a chord with me. “Marketing is not what you say; it’s what you do.” If I recall correctly, the speaker was the late Dr. Don E. Schultz, a marketing professor at Northwestern University and a prolific author of many popular and successful marketing books.

At the time of the conference, I was working for an advertising agency as a Communications Planner on the Audi automobile account and Dr. Schultz’s words stuck with me because of their simplicity and honesty. They helped me realize advertising campaigns shouldn’t be constrained to words, images, delivered via traditional media channels. Truly integrated and effective campaigns extend beyond what a brand says and impact what it does.

Shultz’s words caused me to re-think our approach to launching the 2005 Audi A3, a new and unique “luxury hatchback.” Launching the A3 was challenging.  At the time, a “luxury hatchback” was an oxymoron because “luxury” and “hatchbacks” were not synonymous in consumers’ minds. So, instead of launching the car via a traditional campaign using TV, magazine, newspaper, and online ads saying there was a great new car coming, we got creative. Our re-imagined launch plan got the brand and its new care out in the world doing things that demonstrated just how special it was.

The campaign included brand participation at unique, high profile in-person events like Coachella, cutting-edge social and influencer media that broadened the brand’s voice and extended its reach, used online videos with Easter eggs buried inside to surprise, delight, and generate buzz and engaged consumers through immersive experiences and contests that taught them about the car’s features and encouraged them to share what they had learned about Audi. We didn’t just tell people about the car and the brand–we got the brand actively doing things that showed people this was a different kind of car.  And the things we did gave people a reason to pay attention.

The campaign was known as “The Audi Art of the Heist,” and it became the most awarded advertising effort of 2005. But most important—it was effective. The Audi A3 smashed all sales expectations becoming the first-ever successful launch of a “luxury hatchback” in the US. The campaign was successful because it helped the brand stand out from the competition not by saying, but by doing.

The same is true for marketing your employer value proposition (EVP). It’s not what you say it is; it’s what you do that makes your EVP come to life and stand apart from the competition so you can attract the best talent in the market. If you want your EVP to truly be a source of competitive advantage in the war for talent, you need to do more than talk about it.  You must make sure to do things that bring the EVP to life through actions.

At Personify, we built our team and process to help you deliver on your EVP through the entire recruiting and onboarding process. First, if you don’t have an EVP, we can help you execute a brand audit to identify and define it. A clearly articulated EVP summarizes the key reasons employees should work for your firm and lives at the intersection of your Employee, Employer, and Cultural truths. It helps attract people who are predisposed to what you do and how you do it and helps filter out those who don’t (or won’t) buy-in. You need to know what makes your company different and better as an employer than the competition.

An EVP cannot be just a handful of words that show up on a career site. An EVP needs to be part of the experience an organization delivers for candidates and employees alike. You must offer a compensation and benefits plan that aligns with your EVP. You should create content for your career site that shows how you bring the EVP to life for employees through your culture, employee events, functions, and committees.

 

Include employee testimonials on your career sites and in talent community newsletters. Recognize and celebrate employee milestones and successes on company social media outposts.

     

Track and improve your eNPS and strive to be a “Best Places to Work” in your area.

Feature the EVP prominently in job descriptions and on employer brand pages on job boards. Create a recruitment experience that shifts the internal team’s mindset from “should we choose you” to “if we are lucky to have you select us.” Re-invent the game-day interview experience in ways that make candidates feel special and leave a lasting positive impression. Don’t wait for them to send you a “thank you” note; proactively send candidates a handwritten note thanking them for the interview.

Then, once you’ve made a hiring decision, make the transition period fun for the new hire in ways that come from your EVP. It can be a big mind shift, but when you make it, your whole approach to recruiting changes.  You start doing things differently–things that help your brand stand out from the competition, spark a desire among candidates to work for you, and build loyalty among current employees.

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