Marketing Owns Employer Brand


Who should own the employer brand? HR? Talent Acquisition?

or maybe, oh I don't know... MARKETING!?!?


Brandon Linn oversees employer brand marketing and social media while reporting to Marketing. It's a refreshing look at the past, present, and future of the EB profession, with a sobering perspective on how to sell marketing on recruiting, and vice versa.


Enjoy this exclusive brought to you by the mad A.I. parsing and matching skills of Sovren.


PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:

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Brandon (1s):

How much money they are saving, could be saving, you know, by way of making smart marketing decisions. Like that's the way to win attention, time, budget, and buy it. And an interest is basically connect things to bottom line.


INTRO (17s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Joel (38s):

Oh yeah. It's another manic Monday on the podcast. This is Joel Cheeseman. You are listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm joined as always by my cohost, Chad Sowash and today we are privileged to bring on Brandon Linn VP, Employer Brand & Marketing and Social Media at Freedom Mortgage. Because when you think mortgage company, you think hot social media, Brandon, welcome to the show.


Brandon (1m 7s):

Hey, good morning. Happy Monday.


Joel (1m 9s):

So what did I miss? Give us the Twitter bio on you.


Brandon (1m 13s):

Yeah, absolutely. So I, like you said, run both Employer Brand and Recruitment Marketing as well as Social Media. And I'm happy to do so at Freedom Mortgage, which is the nation's sixth largest lender.


Joel (1m 29s):

Listen to you. You must be in marketing with all this number.


Brandon (1m 33s):

I prepped, I'm doing my job. I'm a brand ambassador 24/7 always be selling,


Joel (1m 39s):

Always be marketing, Brandon.


Brandon (1m 41s):

Always be marketing.


Chad (1m 42s):

And marketing means you should be closing cause I need some fucking leads. Overall though you are in Employer Brand, although you don't report to talent acquisition, you report to marketing. Tell us a little bit about that. Just not about today, but also you've been in Employer Brand for a while. How has this been different from the past, better, worse, different talk to us?


Brandon (2m 6s):

Yeah, so I think at some ways this is an interesting experience in almost being able to see the other side of the spectrum, where I was focused solely in the earliest days of my career on straight recruiting, like hand to hand combat recruiting all the way back to literally hiring the janitorial staff for a hospital and healthcare network. I mean like ground up, understanding all of the nuances of interviewing, filling butts and seats, and then slowly but surely I became a system admin for an ATS, which I won't name, but that was a horrendous experience, but a necessary one. And I was able to overlay the technology and understand both through interviewing and the human side and the technology side, where there was a massive disconnect in any kind of humanization storytelling, streamlining, education, filtering people in or out based on any real or authentic content, forget social media.


Brandon (3m 2s):

So at that point, you know, being a creative guy, I just started to really think about this massive hole between HR and marketing. What is HR marketing or marketing of HR, this talent brand employer brand stuff that is still sort of being adopted slowly but surely, but not really understood.


Chad (3m 21s):

Well, you saw marketing, this was a blind spot for them. Am I wrong? I mean, for the most part, marketing, they don't even pay attention to all of the shit that happens in recruiting,` talent acquisition, the systems. I mean that, that segment just seems like an entire blind spot overall. Was that your experience as well?


Brandon (3m 41s):

Yeah, I think philosophically, they completely get it, but literally it's not part of their remit nor their goals. Right. So they're basically saying the functions of marketing and the funnel and the psychology of bringing somebody in and it makes complete sense, but it's literally not in their goals. So all of the activities that I'm doing on the surface completely made sense to them, but understanding the ROI and candidate journey versus a customer journey, you know, it took some time to educate folks on what the return on investment is. And now that they see it, it's literally like, oh my God, we've got a lot of work to do, which is why, you know, I was brought on.


Brandon (4m 23s):

They knew that.


Chad (4m 24s):

Uh, huh.


Brandon (4m 24s):

But it's also very apparent to folks that when you start to peel the onion layers back, that a lot of organizations are still missing this, have maybe somebody that I'll just, you know, knock my own nickname. I was using a minute ago, the creative HR person. Oh yeah, I can do it. I'll do it. Right. You know, or they're the person that's just stuck around and has the institutional knowledge, they just get thrown, you know? Oh yeah, yeah. Can you like make this pretty? And you know, somehow maybe figure out Google analytics along the way. Right. And it's the side, side, side project for people.


Joel (4m 57s):

It felt like the pandemic wrought havoc on the employment brand profession, as in, they were the first to go, is that your perception? And is coming out of COVID reshape how marketing feels about employer brand. And do we hire people that have marketing backgrounds going forward? I mean, what does employment brand look like going into a post pandemic reality?


Brandon (5m 24s):

That's an awesome question. So I think from my perspective, I was very fortunate in that our industry, the mortgage industry was inversely.


Joel (5m 34s):

Load up.


Brandon (5m 36s):

Affected by the slump in the economy. So interest rates came down our business to the best it ever did in 30 years. Right. So we were on, you know, people say the cliché of hyper-growth and make a growth and hiring like crazy. We were literally, I mean, I'm talking, I got there late 2019 4K to 5k employees, by the end of 2020, we were at 10,000 employees. That's how much hiring we did.


Chad (6m 4s):

Hello? Was that an opportunity for you to help them understand how this was impacting their brand? Was that really kind of like the impetus or were you trying to work on this beforehand?


Brandon (6m 15s):

So I was trying to work on it beforehand, but it's essentially like a rental car agreement in the airline, you know? Right. You're on like the Toyota aisle and you get there late your flights delay and everything's sold out and they're like, well, you know, the only thing left is this Mustang that goes really, really fast. And so we've upgraded you basically. And what I mean by that is we were doing tremendous work and then the pandemic hit and then the market sunk and then the rates flipped on, you know, to our advantage to be able to save folks money and refinance them. And they were basically like everything you're doing, do it like six times as much and as fast then, then the data sets, all the denominators were bigger.


Brandon (6m 55s):

Right. So I could see, you know, just in general, the excitement around, if I said there were a thousand views this week, versus what we saw, you know, 5,000 views, it just, everything was bigger and more exciting and still is. So it was just a really interesting time. I mean, to put it lightly, right. But for us, we were rolling this thing out and then we were also rolling it out and it's the best year in the company's history. And you were asking me earlier about, you know, what, the first part of the question that what is the deal with marketing folks and employer brand, and where's everything going from here? Well, I'm bringing this back to data and I hate to use the cliché, but marketing folks not only use a lot of data, but to be able to tie that data to both short-term and long-term wins for the business and show how much money they are saving, could be saving, by way of making smart marketing decisions.


Brandon (7m 51s):

Like that's the way to win attention, time, budget, and buy in and interest is basically connect things to bottom line. So in the earliest days of employer branding, you would go all the way, top of funnel all the way bottom funnel, which is traditionally what recruiters only have time for, which is, you know, we have this site and it's doing all these cool things that in a vacuum we think are pretty and beautiful and hyper sanitized and it equals this many hires. And you're like, okay, that could have been a thousand external forces and factors, but here God, you can look at heat maps and funnels and who's clicking on what, and who's staying on what and how many people are getting through the different points and you know, where they're dropping off and why they're dropping off.


Brandon (8m 35s):

So it's like a huge switch into experimenting.


Joel (8m 40s):

Marketing likes to sell stuff. So the numbers are there, but okay, we have this many more views of jobs. Does that translate into actual mortgages? How does that connection? I get the numbers work, but how does it translate into sales for marketing and you guys in particular?


Brandon (8m 55s):

So now you're talking to them, the bigger picture is, do we need, you know, more people or certain skills or certain technologies. And so that's where, yeah, when you bring this all together, you get to the point where you're looking does more equal, better, and I'll start all the way at just the candidate journey. Before we even talk about who we're hiring to produce and to sell, you know, we're looking at things like more applicants, and this is again, become a little bit of a cliché, but more applicants certainly doesn't equal better. It's a waste of time. So you're thinking now about, and this will tie back to the pandemic. You're actually trying to filter people in and out and buy out, I mean, you're using a little bit, if not very much more authentic, raw verbiage pictures, because you know, now post pandemic life, we can't get to studios.


Brandon (9m 47s):

We can't get, you know, full Hollywood documentaries. And it's a great thing. We're just showing Zoom recordings, right. And selfie videos. And that's what people want to see. You know, no makeup.


Chad (9m 58s):

Are authentic.