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Employer branding: How B2Bs Compete in the Battle for Talent

The employer relationship with employees has changed forever. This employer-employee dynamic can be made more meaningful by a thoughtful approach to treating our people like our very best customers. Creating a distinct employer brand is a central way to ensure that talent audiences understand what an organization uniquely offers them as an employer, and why that matters.

Enter the pandemic.

Employer brands consist of a strategy brought to life through messaging, compelling expression, and thoughtful activation. But the most important story that the talent world was listening to was exactly how employers treated their people during what was the shortest recession in history caused by the pandemic shut down. While many businesses stood by their people through the uncertainty, others went through rounds of layoffs, furloughs, and other cost-cutting measures that impacted their people’s livelihood and morale. The talent world was watching and observed. How an organization treated its people became its true employer brand. 

Meanwhile, every single business was forced to undergo some level of digital transformation, requiring and placing a greater demand on digitally skilled talent. Many businesses took this opportunity to reinvent parts of their offering or make wholesale changes to their business that had been long in the waiting. Not only was this talent already in demand, but there was an exponential need for these types of skill sets. Today, location and opportunity have been decoupled. Burnout runs rampant and 78% of employees are being actively recruited or entertaining new offers. Geographic boundaries and meanings have eroded as specialized and tech-enabled talent can work anywhere for the highest bidder. 

Why this matters for B2B

B2B organizations categorically do not have the same level of brand awareness as B2C brands. Not only does this affect customer communications, but if we extrapolate that out to the level of awareness they have with potential talent, it is a far greater and more exaggerated difference. Without a positive halo effect from the corporate brand to boost the employer brand, it makes the job of attracting people that much harder. Not only are B2Bs competing for talent in an incredibly competitive market, but they are also starting from a significant disadvantage.

But is it really a disadvantage?

Just prior to the pandemic, job openings were hovering at a 50-year high and unemployment at a 50-year low. The reality is that many of the big-name B2C brands were among the worst offenders in the pandemic. Just one of many examples, Disney enjoyed a meteoric rise in the adoption of their new streaming platform Disney+, they laid off 32,000 of their employees in the same year. B2Bs who have been under the radar can be compelling option to talent that would have never considered them before. Whether you reduced staff or weathered the storm, the time to create an intentional employer brand is now.

Level playing field for remote recruiting

Didn’t have a great campus presence? Don’t have your logo on the side of a building. That’s cool. Those assets don’t really matter as much in a hybrid-first world. You may not be the big four in your industry, but the thing that matters most now is getting your strategy and message right — and then skillfully activating that across digital channels. Many B2Bs are doubling down on their digital recruiting and reaping the rewards.

Purpose matters, inside and out

We’ve all heard about purpose being important in traditional marketing. But this is now a huge driver for talent. Many have adopted a cynical view of employers, and if they are going to dedicate their time and talents, they want to know that these employers stand for something that matters. Yes, it’s a paycheck. But it needs to be one they feel good receiving. Purpose doesn’t have to be a sanctimonious thing, nor does it have to be complicated. It just has to matter to your employees. A good employer brand should root out this primary value to talent and build upon it.

The fight for exceptional talent is no longer on the horizon. It is here, now, raging all around us. The great news? Marketing leaders are uniquely gifted to lead their organizations into viable, thriving, and successful futures. Because this brand—we argue your most important brand—begins from the inside and works its way out. In B2B more than any other type of organization, your people are your primary brand channel. Get it right by building an employer brand that matters. Find whats uniquely special and ignite a transformation in how you engage with your people and candidates. 

For more resources on employer branding, contact our B2B experts here.

In Our Company