You probably know that making an investment in marketing is about reaching your target audience and growing your revenue. But there’s a key group of that target market that many business leaders don’t think of when they’re considering their marketing plan: potential hires.
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot from CEOs who are concerned about their marketing—not for the purpose of landing more customers, but as a way of attracting employees. This focus seems to be most prevalent in the manufacturing, transportation and other industrial sectors, which are traditionally areas where companies have been successful without using marketing or developing a specific brand image. Lately, however, they’ve been paying a lot more attention to marketing for its role in helping them attract the next generation of engineers, salespeople and business leaders.
Why? Well, think of this scenario: you’re a 20- or 30-something job hunter with great skills and experience. You see that XYZ Co. is hiring, so the first thing you do is look for them online. But if that company—successful and progressive though it may be—hasn’t been focusing on marketing, it will likely have a dated website, won’t show up easily in Google searches and simply won’t give a professional impression. You don’t want to work for a company that’s not “with the times.” So you move on to the next job ad, and XYZ loses the chance to add a skilled employee to its team.
Here are a couple of businesses I’ve heard from lately that are facing a talent crunch because of this situation:
1. A company with $30 million in revenue is a leader in producing solutions for high-tech manufacturers around the world. It has been successful for more than 40 years, but its workforce is aging. The CEO is worried that the average age of his engineers is over 50 and he’s having a hard time attracting new blood.
For this company, marketing isn’t relevant for generating sales; this firm sells to only about 30 companies in a very consolidated industry around the world. This owner knows that marketing isn’t going to provide a material ROI for him. He therefore hasn’t updated the company’s website for eight years—and it shows. He needs marketing and branding to help attract those 20- and 30-something engineers.
2. A 100-year-old manufacturing firm has a strong business, but also a looming problem: the average age of its workforce is nearing 60. Yes, 60. This CEO knows he has to deal with it, but he’s not sure how. However, he’s coming to the realization that marketing will be part of the solution.
The recession gave most companies a reprieve from the war for talent for a few years. But it’s heating up again, particularly for the in-demand skills that are vital to the manufacturing and industrial sectors.
These companies, and many others, can use marketing to woo new talent. And the good news? A strong image will improve both their employee pools and their customer pools—building capability, longevity and, ultimately, the bottom line.
Want to make your company a better marketer, but not sure where to get started? Here’s some help:
Lisa Shepherd is author of Market Smart: How to Gain Customers and Increase Profits with B2B Marketing and president of The Mezzanine Group, a business-to-business strategy and marketing company based in Toronto. She was the youngest female CEO of a PROFIT 200 company in 2007 and 2008 and is a frequent public speaker on B2B marketing strategy and execution.
More columns by Lisa Shepherd