What does marketing have to do with attracting and retaining talent?

by Julie Poulos


Workforce challenges are trending for many companies and amongst many industries. We see it with our manufacturing clients and we feel it in hiring — especially in technology. What I missed was the connection between workforce development and marketing; that is, until I was asked to speak on the topic not once, not twice, not three, but four times within six months.

While speaking on a panel at the HR Management Association, I had an aha moment that I should have realized much sooner. We develop Buyer Personas during the strategy phase of our marketing plan to better understand the needs and mindset of the clients we’re trying to attract and retain. Well, we really also need to develop an Employee Persona outlining who we want to attract, including key points about their perception of us and noting their must-haves when seeking employment. In that moment I thought, “Julie, you are a genius!” I Googled it to be sure I was indeed a genius and shockingly enough, I was not — someone else had already discovered Employee Personas.

The ingenious point of personas (whether I invented them or not) is to guide us in strategic planning so we can target our marketing messages, provide relevant content, and communicate in the sphere of influence and channels they are in.

Each time I presented on this topic I was nervous because the lines between marketing to attract clients and marketing to attract talent are so blurred. I wasn’t sure if the content I was providing to HR Managers should be the same as what I delivered to owners, VP’s and directors of marketing. But, with each presentation, I became a bit more targeted, and at my most recent presentation, I really appeared to hit a nerve with the audience with such a resonating example.

I shared the following key marketing tactics to help companies attract and retain talent:

  1. It starts with culture — from the inside out
  2. Have a great brand story and tell it concisely and consistently
  3. Design your brand image (logo) to represent visually how cool you are
  4. Leverage web real estate for a “why you should work here” page, commonly called “Careers”
  5. Share content that positions your company as an industry expert, ethical and forward thinking
  6. Leverage social platforms to reach clients and talent

It Starts with Culture


Our friends at KCIC invested time and effort to learn about organizational health from various resources. One of the most beneficial came from The Advantage which focuses on building a cohesive leadership team, clarity and over-communicating. They’ve also instituted:

  • Evaluations oriented around Core Values
  • Bonus program based on company success
  • Developed a Social Committee

Have a Great Brand Story

One of the major pain points that drew KCIC to us was the inconsistent way that each team member described “who we are” and “what we do.” They’d even say, “We are like ‘competition name’ but …” 


Collaboratively we developed their brand story which was launched to their entire team, and a few years later we updated it, as they had evolved. We narrowed the sixteen services offerings into stories that solved problems. The effort was so thoughtful that it deserved a home. We now have a brand book that serves two-fold, as an onboarding tool for new employees and as a brochure like no other for prospective clients.

Design Your Brand Image


We begin each engagement with a Strategy Phase that begins with internal staff interviews. One of our most memorable was with a recent grad that reflected that she wasn’t even sure if she was going to take the interview because the logo and website did not reflect the type of job she was interested in interviewing for.

Upon completing the Strategy Phase, our designers were inspired to create this logo that represents the energy and motion associated with delivering effective strategies.

Leverage Web Real Estate

Design a user experience for the candidate. Make it easy to find available positions and apply. Showcase the team so they can envision they are a part of it!


Share Content

“Content is King” is as true for attracting employees as it is for attracting clients. KCIC produces content that clearly displays their expertise. That alone attracts employees — people want to work for the best. Combine that with highlighting staff passions, such as for running or community events, and you’ve got a double whammy.  KCIC hits a grand slam by disclosing their playbook for both staff and clients. Who wouldn’t want to work here! Recruiting_Blog_image12

Leverage Social Platforms

A wise man once said, “Write once, repurpose many”… or maybe it was a woman, actually that is my catchphrase and my team teases me about it constantly. That said, the blog is the hub for the content, and the social platforms are the spokes!

Twitter is certainly the digital “newspaper” for information.Recruiting_Blog_image13

Leverage LinkedIn for what it is intended for: one of the first online recruitment tools! Recruiting_Blog_image14

Here's the Bottom Line

Marketing takes an integrated approach, as there is no silver bullet for reaching prospective clients. The same elements that attract clients can attract talent. This is an employee’s market. Make sure your brand is putting its best foot forward, and make sure your organizational health is as cool as your image, from the inside out. Remember, your brand story tells it all!

If you need a brand image consultant, connect with me. I’ll be sure to set you up with a business makeover that will hook you up with the employees you’ll need to fulfill all the business you’ll be attracting – BAM! Just call Julie.