We hear the term “employer branding” a lot these days. But what, exactly, is employer branding? While consumer branding is designed to attract customers through reputation and recognition for products, employer branding uses similar practices to attract your future employees.
Large companies spend a lot of money on their recruiting brand. They create and share content about their cultures. Through multiple channels like social media, video, blogs and third-party sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed Company Pages, which combine employer reviews and ratings with company storytelling, they highlight information about their perks and incentives.
But the truth is, you don’t need a huge budget for a dedicated employer brand specialist. Any company, regardless of size, has access to the techniques these professionals use. How? Because there is no monopoly on telling compelling stories, educating potential talent or building positive relationships.
The key for SMBs is to focus on those unique talents and strengths that only you can deliver.
- The direct impact of individuals on the business
Some people don’t want to work for a big firm. The ability to have a direct impact on a company is often one of the most attractive things about working for an SMB.
Consider these influential brands that started out small but ended up making a huge impression—Apple (three guys in a garage), Starbucks (three former University of San Francisco students) and Virgin (built on a high school dropout’s small mail-order record company).
Smaller firms allow you to set the tone for the workday. You are able to work closely together with others and work more efficiently. You can develop a culture that feels real and authentic, a sure advantage in a world where people are tired of being constantly bombarded by slick marketing campaigns.
Build your brand by featuring photos of actual employees on your company’s website and social media pages. Encourage reviews from team members on company pages. Authentic content will allow your unique voice to shine through and attract people who will embrace your culture.
2. Employees can try new things
Working for an SMB provides employees with the opportunity to wear many different hats. Because roles don’t tend to be so specialized, workers often have opportunities to learn new skills.
Employees hired to keep the books often find themselves presented with the opportunity to do customer service, or sales, or social media work, or another interesting job.
This kind of environment is very attractive to people who are looking to gain experience in several career areas. So share these kinds of stories when growing your employer brand. Provide examples of employee growth and development on your company website and social media pages. Have employees discuss their different work opportunities and the things they learned on your company blog. Use videos and pictures to help get the story out there.
3. The freedom put your personal stamp on a business
SMBs don’t have the deep pockets of larger firms, but when it comes to company perks, they have the advantage when it comes to getting really local, personal or even downright quirky.
The Austin, Texas–based firm Amy’s Ice Cream is a great example of a company taking a really unique approach to the application process. At Amy’s, candidates are given white paper bags to take home. They are allowed to do whatever they want with the bag, but when turned back in, the bag is expected to represent some aspect of who the candidate is. Points (and jobs) are awarded for creativity.
You can also develop your business into a dynamic place, reflecting your values and beliefs. You could shut down for one day out of the year to go kayaking. You might allow employees bring their dogs into the office. You could promote a culture of biking to work and encourage an active lifestyle. You might ever allow employees to work from home for a period of time.
There are many inexpensive ways to develop your culture. You just need to find what works for you.
4. Develop your personal ties to the community
For many people today, a job is more than just a paycheck. It’s important to them to know that their work has a larger social purpose.
This doesn’t have to mean giving back by supporting major overseas development projects. SMBs can give back to the communities where they are based.
There are lots of local opportunities to grow the philanthropic side of your employer brand. You might sponsor a local Little League team, or taking part in a volunteer park clean-up. You could even give employees VTO—“volunteer time off”—to dedicate to the causes they are passionate about.
The key is to be sure your efforts resonate with the values and philosophies of your neighbors and the community you serve. Larger companies have difficulty developing that undefinable sense of personal warmth that your SMB can provide.
Everybody benefits when you give back to the community, and candidates will see that you are a company that cares.
When building the employer brand of a small business, it’s always important to stay true to who you are. Be authentic.
A slick or insincere effort is likely to turn off prospective candidates. A great way to begin an employer branding endeavor is to talk with current employees. Find out what they enjoy about working for you, and what their concerns are.
Use this input as the groundwork to building your employer brand. And as the brand grows, continue to solicit input from your employees.
Now that you know how to build your employer brand, it won’t be long before you begin attracting the kind of employees who will improve your company!