Friday, May 26, 2006

Recruiting: From Boom to Bust?

Manufacturers, professional service firms and other B2B companies have a wide variety of marketing concerns, but one issue keeps coming up in our conversations: recruiting and retaining skilled workers.

You’ve probably heard a thing or two about this *little* group called the Baby Boomers. They’ll be retiring soon—taking their skills and going home. People refer to this reality as the “graying of the labor force.” Based on their large numbers, replacing the Baby Boomers in your company won’t be easy. People are warning of impending worker shortages. Meanwhile, studies show that many companies, especially manufacturers, may not be doing enough to prepare for the change.

So what’s this have to do with marketing? You might think of branding as being directed primarily at clients and customers. But employees and employee prospects are a critical audience that must not be overlooked—because your company is only as good as its people.

As far as the relationship between branding and recruitment goes, simple logic is at play. Strong candidates seek strong companies. A clear, consistent brand promotes the perception of strength and leadership not just with customers, not just with the public, but also with top recruits. The more they think of your company as stable and strong, the more they’re reassured about their financial future working for your company. Furthermore, a well-focused brand that captures a niche can attract the attention of the highly specialized talent you need to continue your success.

Here’s a microcosmic case in point. A funny thing happened on the way to a direct marketing project we developed recently for a professional services firm. The original goal was to corral new business prospects by highlighting some seasoned talent the firm had hired. Well, we did get results in the new business realm. But on top of that, the project had an unforeseen benefit: it caught the eye of some talented candidates—the recruitment and retention of whom is a critical element of the firm’s growth strategy.

If your company has a similar growth strategy, or even if you’re just worried about replacing the Boomers, you’d be wise to consider the role marketing your firm can play in attracting the talented workers you’ll need. When marketing reinforces a clear, compelling story about your company and its brand, prospective employees can’t help but take notice.

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