How embracing the full potential of an Employer Value Proposition can make your university more competitive.
No, I’m not suggesting there’s a whole farm of cloned sheep out there. But I am saying that universities, when it comes to promoting themselves as employers, are doing and saying the same old things, following each other’s lead and yet, expecting different results.
Universities are brands. They exist to provide better futures for their students or to further explore important research. But that said, they are predominantly student-facing. And why wouldn’t they be – students are the customers, right?
Huge budgets are spent on marketing collateral, websites, social media, open days, prospectuses and let’s not forget the Clearing campaigns. Marketing departments in universities are a busy bunch who are focused on securing the next year’s intake of students and bringing those fees in.
Meanwhile, there’s a part of the brand that is often seen as a hindrance, or worse, forgotten about – the employer part.
Notice I’ve refrained from using the Employer Brand monocle?
Yes, I know it’s a big thing but it can confuse and scare our friends in marketing departments – is this a separate brand? Are you creating a sub-brand? The alarms bells ring and the shutters come down.
Let’s be straight – there’s only one brand. But that brand isn’t exclusive to students. Universities have to ensure they have aligned that brand to the employment market as well as for purposes of engagement. An EVP exists to identify and promote the reasons why people should join, stay and flourish in your university. It’s as simple as that.
And that means aligning the strengths of your offer to both candidates and employees. Join and stay, remember?
After all, these are the people you are marketing to students. The very people who can unleash a world of talent, or have been instrumental in providing a suitable quality environment and support system to enable your graduates to fulfill their career choices.
Employees, they’re your superstars. Which is why universities have to be better at attracting, selecting, recruiting and retaining them. Hardly a hindrance now, is it?
It’s a big deal.
And not just from a quality point of view but, according to many employer brand consultancies, there are plenty of benefits to enjoy too: higher engagement, higher advocacy, greater savings while reducing third party costs, an impact on improved profitability and a greater hold on new starters, providing greater ROI – whatever you consider your particular ROI might be.
But without working together and embracing the concept of an EVP, not to mention what it can do for your brand (not to it), only then can you produce something outstanding, different and competitive. After all, that’s what marketing is, isn’t it? To be the better choice?
To produce a great EVP, you have to discover the truths that underpin your proposition. The good and the bad - you need to know what to solve just as much as what to sell.
Be open. Be ambitious. And be excited about the prospect. This is about you, after all.
And if you’re thinking phrases such as ‘Make a difference’ or ‘So many opportunities’ are going to cut it, think again.
In particular, ‘Make a difference’ is the job description for your sector, it’s not exclusive to your organisation. I’m afraid you have to look deeper and express yourselves better. Create a brand experience that whets the appetite of your desired candidates and reinstates a sense of purpose and belonging to your employees.
This truly is your chance to shine and celebrate all that is different about you, your organisation and the employment experience you provide. And by doing so, leaving the herd once and for all.
If you would welcome a discussion about your own employer brand, contact Peter.Rice@penna.com