A colleague of mine Peter Sukonek, CEO of Big Gravity, a local branding firm recently wrote two articles on his blog about recession marketing. He refers to experts like Steve Abdalla and John Quelch about recession marketing. It is an excellent post and I recommend that you read it. Today I would like to expand on Peter’s article about recession marketing and how it applies to employment branding. Peter quotes John Quelch, a professor at Harvard Business School,
“It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good times”
The same applies with respect to employment branding. While I clearly differentiate employment branding and branding as two different models, it has all the same principles, so how does this apply to employment branding and recruiting? Typically those cut backs on advertising are also felt on recruiting, example (hiring freeze, no employment ads). This may not be the best road for a company during these slowdowns. You can seize market share during this slowdown by capitalizing on recruiting top tier candidates to increase profit by increased productivity. If you are looking to re-brand your image as “The Best Place to Work”, now is the time. The image of security and sustainability during economic slowdowns can be a powerful tool to get the best people to work for you.
Peter also quotes Steve Abdalla, VR Business Brokers, Honolulu, Key thought: Recessions are exceptional opportunities to improve strategic position.
Do not to hold back right now. You have a unique opportunity and a small window to improve your strategic position through employment branding. Be the place to work, the top choice for job seekers, and capture market share. The strongest employer value proposition (EVP’s) you can make right now is to validate your actions by offering more when everyone else is offering less. This identity not only attracts job seekers but consumers as well. A lot of companies figure they can cure the headache by cutting off the head, it just does not work. You are going to need the best people to make it through this. We have seen lay off after lay off with larger brands and although they will survive any long term damage to their reputation or profit, smaller companies may not be as fortunate. A strategic workforce plan can be implemented with the right marketing plan during a downturn that will allow for growth and opportunity with the best people, but companies that get tunnel vision and focus on short term solutions will never reach their long term goals.
Re-branding with employment branding during a recession does not have to be costly, but it does have to be done in such a way that will separate you from everyone else. Create visual interpretation and identity, and validate it now before your competition does. This recession might be the opportunity you need to establish position, but only for the willing. Yesterday is gone, so planning for the future does not mean you have to walk on egg shells, be bold, compelling, make your mark, and come out of this not only as a survivor but as a pioneer, they will join you!