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The Art of Audience Segmentation

Jim Sykes

To review the original article click here 10th Jul 2017

While PR and marketing departments have long practiced the art of audience segmentation to best ensure messages reach target audiences and to mitigate against wastage in communications strategies, it is only until very recently that HR and recruitment leaders have realised the value of such an approach.

I recently wrote about the rise of the Candidate Value Proposition (CVP), specifically the benefits of differentiating between diverse target candidates. Following on that, how can we as HR professionals best target these different groups?

For some time, HR directors have focused on promoting broad Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) designed to differentiate and promote their organisation to support talent attraction, engagement and retention. EVPs are then used as the foundation for employer branding – the core messages and differentiators that recruiters take to market to attract and entice top talent. 

However, in my experience, the similarities between the recruitment brands of leading (and competing) businesses in any particular sector are dangerously alike. If you look at Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences, Retail Banking or even the recruitment sector itself, the carefully crafted straplines designed to attract the brightest and the best are no doubt compelling.

The issue is they provide very little differentiation. If you’re looking for a career in Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences, for example, there’s nothing substantial within the recruitment brands leading you to choose one employer above another.

This is something which must be addressed, particularly when you consider the recent and profound shift in focus from identifying talent to engagement. Technology has levelled the playing field when it comes to sourcing. Moving forward, to win the war for talent, HR teams must succeed in drawing this talent in.

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Success lies in authentic storytelling, and this must be tailored to different audiences. But where do you start? 

For those just beginning to develop individual CVPs, the logical step is to create defined communications for differing job roles and geographies. After all, a sales person based in the Middle East is likely to have very different drivers to a management accountant in Switzerland.

Begin with a research project which identifies what stories existing employees are already telling. Once you determine what individual employees are proud of, what they’d like to change and, crucially, what makes them stay, you can then identify trends across data sets and use these stories to engage with candidates.

These distinct CVP messages should, of course, be aligned with, and delivered alongside, overall brand messaging. However by distilling personalised communications, HR teams stand the best chance of engaging in a way which resonates with target candidates.

What’s more, audience segmentation and CVP communications can not only be applied to specific roles and areas, but also used as a means to engage more appropriately with a whole host of different groups.  Best practice engagement means tailoring the message and the means of delivering that message. 

If an organisation is targeting sales professionals, then a CVP that emphasises the desirability of an organisation’s products or services could be a key differentiator.  If an organisation is targeting an increase in gender diversity by hiring more women, then a CVP focused on flexible working may be a better differentiator. 

In delivering those messages, rich media - such as video - may be effective with millennials, but not to the same extent for older generations. However, it is only by gaining the insight of existing employees, and analysing the resulting data, that HR can be sure that the CVPs are accurate (i.e. clearly a focus on flexible working when it doesn’t exist in an organisation would be highly misleading) and can learn which methods stand the best chance of success  – this isn’t a guessing game.   

The rise of automation in the recruitment process means that an element of personalisation has been lost in recent years, however the same technology which was once a barrier to bespoke engagement now has the potential to facilitate it. In everyday life we tailor the way we communicate with different individuals innately. It’s a logical step to take the same approach with mass communications in the business world – and now we have the technology to make it a reality.  

For more expert insights into the Employer and Candidate Branding, check out our webinar!

Our Do Candidates Perceive your Brand as being Truly Unique webinar with Jim Sykes and Liz Weeks, our Global Head of Employer Branding, explores how to effectively manage your Brand and Employer Value Proposition to attract, engage and retain top talent in your business.

Go to Alexander Mann Solutions LIVE Go to Alexander Mann Solutions LIVE

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