Purple Recruit: Applying Seth Godin’s Branding Ideas To HR

Brand marketing is a field that contains many innovators and sharp thinkers. Nowhere is this more visible than in the work of Seth Godin, author of books such as Linchpin and Purple Cow, has turned old mass marketing practices upside down, showing a more personal, more human and vastly more effective way of marketing.

But his insights, like so many from marketing, can also be applied in other areas. Godin’s ideas give us some great material to apply in HR.

The Employment Brand

Godin has talked about all sorts of fascinating aspects of the human brand — how we can turn ourselves into brands, making ourselves invaluable to employers through the unique combination of qualities we provide.

But this is true of employers as well as employees, and can be a way to draw in the best workers.

This is partly a matter of vision. Godin has shown that, in the modern world, it’s not enough to just provide the same thing everyone else does. You have to be the purple cow of his book title, the example that stands out from the crowd. When considering the vision for your HR department, and particularly for recruitment, you should be thinking about what that vision is, what makes you special to employees.

But some of it is also about specific tactics. Godin’s emphasis is on marketing as a matter of building up relationships rather than just scattering the news about yourself over a wide area. This is the key to how the best modern marketers engage with their audience, and it should also be used by recruiters. Narrow in on the parts of the recruitment pool most likely to be a good fit for you and then build up relationships with them. Reach out rather than waiting for them to come to you. Listen for what they want from an employer rather than telling them why they should want you.

Brand Benefits

This might sound like a lot of effort — any change to our familiar patterns does. But it’s really just a matter of re-focusing your existing efforts, and the rewards can easily outweigh the costs.

In going through the process of recruitment, a little extra effort building in-depth relationships with the best recruitment pools can increase the reliability of your recruitment process and reduce the cost per hire. After all, good recruitment is not about getting dozens of candidates through your recruitment process; it’s about getting the right one. If you already have a relationship with the talent pool, then you won’t need to cast your net as wide for interviewees, and you may even be able to hunt out the person whom you want.

This also increases the reliability of your hiring process and reduces the time to bring someone on board by removing the cumbersome mechanisms of mass advertising and mass interviewing.

But it has consequences beyond this, for the whole time that an employee is with you. If they know and understand your brand in advance, if they are not just accepting of it but passionate about it from an established relationship, then they will be more engaged with their work. This will lead to them working harder. It will improve morale and so increase retention, once again saving costs to you from recruitment.

Learning from others can be a humbling experience, as it involves acknowledging the limits of our own knowledge. But there is no shame in accepting that we know less than a best-selling leader in his field like Seth Godin, and in applying his lessons to our own field.

About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm and Tack3, a mid-market and not-for-profit focused consultancy. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity.

photo credit: If you’re different, you stand out 6 via photopin (license)