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The C-Suite is Listening

Strike while the iron is hot!

Lisa Zone, managing director at Dix & Eaton joins us to talk about how recruiting, hiring, engagement, and talent management is at the center of every board room conversation. But who is equipped and positioned to formulate the story and business case in building a strong employer brand?

Another great show complete with Cult Employer Brand master Julie Calli.

Seriously, you wanted the ear of your CEO and board. Now what are you going to do with the opportunity?


Lisa (0s):

I can't remember in my 20 plus years at the firm any other time when the C-suite was as focused on this as an issue. So, you know, it's just a great time to bring up those issues and put some strategy behind them with some compelling rationale. And that's where, you know, your marketing partner could be a strong ally for you to help you put together that case.

INTRO (27s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman 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.

Chad (54s):

Welcome back to the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm Chad Sowash.

Julie (59s):

And I'm Julie Kelly.

Chad (1m 1s):

And today we will be talking about how marketing can help us attract the right candidates. We'll be right back.

Julie (1m 11s):

I felt like I should have done the oh yeah in Joel's absence.

Chad (1m 17s):

That's what I was gonna say. Can you just, can you tell who's missing? Yeah, we're missing a Cheeseman. So apparently he has it written into his podcasting contract that he needs a certain amount of naps. So he's actually napping right now.

Julie (1m 29s):

Wake up Joel!

Chad (1m 32s):

Seriously. Seriously. He's he's down in Texas with family, but today we're lucky enough to have a mystery guest. Who's waiting in the wings over there. Julie,

Julie (1m 42s):

I'm happy to introduce it. We have Lisa's Zone managing director from Dix & Eaton joining us today.

Lisa (1m 49s):

Hello. How are you both?

Julie (1m 51s):

Hello Lisa. So happy to have you today.

Lisa (1m 53s):

Great to be here.

Julie (1m 56s):

Lisa, I'd love for you to share a little bit of your background with the audience today. So obviously I'm Lisa Zone. I am a marketing and PR professional by background. I've been at D&E for a little over 20 years and when I'm not talking marketing and PR I'm listening to true crime podcasts and trying to find the best pizza in town. So that's how I spend my free time when I'm not at work. True crimes against the talent pipeline?

Chad (2m 32s):

Nice. So what's the best slice in Cleveland today?

Lisa (2m 38s):

I love an Edison's slice in Treemont, Ohio, which I used to get a lot more of when I was younger and would go out late at nights. But now I'm in bed by 10. So don't hit that place up as often anymore, but there are honestly, there's tons of great, great slices here.

Chad (2m 56s):

Yeah. This podcast is not about pizza. I know everybody loves pizza, so that should be a good at least for the first part of the podcast. But Lisa, you penned an article entitled three ways. Your marketing team can help you win the war for talent. So who was the intended audience for this? Was that marketing professionals, PR professionals? Who'd you write this for?

Lisa (3m 17s):

So it's interesting. Our by background, most of our clients and prospects are marketing PR professionals, but increasingly the more conversations we're having with clients and prospects, even when we're having conversations with people like that, we're hearing that their biggest challenges at their company are around recruitment and retention. So what we tried to do was think about how do we take what we already know how to do from a marketing communications PR perspective in reaching customers and other stakeholders.

Lisa (3m 57s):

And how do you translate that into how to reach prospective employees and, or build affinity among your existing employee base?

Chad (4m 8s):

Got ya.

Julie (4m 9s):

Do you find that they're trying to incorporate that with their consumer side, or are they looking at this as a separate initiative?

Lisa (4m 19s):

I think many companies are sort of, not quite sure where this lives, because historically this has been a function that lives in HR, but the more companies are having these conversations and, you know, certainly they're being elevated to a higher level because they are, in some instances at a crisis level, within some organizations or industries, the CEO, is paying more attention to this as an issue overall. So what has historically lived within the HR function? You know, I would purport if a company gets their marketing brains behind how to support the HR team, they're going to have a competitive advantage against the other companies they're competing for talent against.

Chad (5m 11s):

I personally don't think marketing professionals are ready for this line of thinking. Talent acquisition teams have pushed candidates and possible customers through horrible application processes and hiring experiences for decades. So why should marketing care now other than the CEO told them to care?

Lisa (5m 32s):


Chad (5m 32s):

You're talking about an entirely different skillset. One that's not really predicated on lead gen or selling widgets. It's more focused on process and the processes and the technologies that we have in place today for HR, talent, acquisition, talent management, et cetera, et cetera. Marketing has no clue what's going on under the sheets. So why, why should marketing even get involved?

Lisa (5m 57s):

Well, I think the fact that companies are facing these challenges in recruitment and, you know, even retention is a testament to the fact that this is a critical business function within an organization if the organization wants to be successful. So while the marketing function probably doesn't understand the ins and outs necessarily of the talent acquisition process, what they can bring to the table is an understanding of messaging of branding, of building out a customer journey map, and really using some of the techniques and tools that they've used for customers.

Lisa (6m 45s):

And just applying them in a different way. The challenge I think is that most companies are not structured this way. So it's going to take a visionary CMO or a visionary chief HR officer to go to the other and say, Hey, I think we could be a really good team If we figure out how to leverage each other's strengths versus pitting one group against the other, because that's, that's not gonna get you very far.

Chad (7m 17s):

No, I totally get that. I think from an HR and talent acquisition standpoint, they've been to the redheaded stepchild that's been outside of the C-suite for the most part. Whether you have a CHR or not usually recruiting and talent acquisition, they just don't get the time. And that is turned into a marketing blind spot and let me give you a great example when it takes half an hour to apply for a job on most of these fortune 500 company websites. I can buy a car online faster. That is a horrible experience for a brand number one. Number two, all of the rest of it. When we're talking about mission and vision and purpose and all those wonderful fluffy things that does generally drive more people who care, to apply, if you're driving them into that horrible experience.

Chad (8m 9s):

I mean, are we fixing the wrong thing here?

Lisa (8m 12s):

You know, I would argue that if you're driving customers into a terrible web experience, then you're also doing the wrong thing. So again, it's really thinking about the user experience in whatever platform you're talking about. And when you say user, are you talking about a customer or can you slightly switch how you think about it? And when you say customer, you really mean a potential candidate.

Julie (8m 37s):

And they could be both, right?

Lisa (8m 39s):

Yeah. But if you, you know, many companies, one of the first things we do when we're talking to clients is we go to the careers section of their website and yikes, you know, a lot of times it's just a laundry list of postings that you can't really tell what's what, and it's not, there's no story telling happening there.

Julie (9m 0s):

There's nothing that gets you connected to the brand or who this company is. You would never do that with a customer. So thinking about how do you extend what you do from a marketing perspective and just slightly adjust it so that your marketing, but to a potential employee, you know, we argue is the best way to think about recruitment marketing. Yeah. I love what Lisa is saying there. I have gone to websites and I've looked at this beautiful brand with this great website, well thought out well-planned and then you click on careers and it's like, you went to another universe and they do look completely different from each other.

Julie (9m 46s):

And you can tell that there's no connection between marketing HR, because they've been designed completely separate from each other. Yeah. And sometimes that user interphase may actually pop you out to a different website. You don't really know it, but you might be going somewhere else, but is that experience the same if you're looking on the main part of the website and then the careers section of the website? If it's not, then that's a really important place to start. And I love what you were saying about the storytelling that you see an absence of the story in the brand. Many companies come to you to support with their branding initiatives.

Julie (10m 26s):

And, you know, I saw in your article, 75% of hiring managers say it's easier to attract a candidate who recognizes the brand. So you're not a household name brand that makes it really hard, even harder.

Lisa (10m 40s):

I mean, there's the sexy brands that everybody wants to work at. And then there's behind them. There's tons and tons and tons of B2B businesses or manufacturing companies that people really don't know who those companies are or what they do or what they stand for. So, you know, it's easy to get excited about, you know, the sexy job posting from, you know, the brand that everybody knows and loves, but it's a lot harder to build affinity around a company that makes widgets. So, but many times those companies are great companies to work for, but they just, haven't been intentional about telling that story.

Chad (11m 27s):

When it comes to storytelling a there's one major reason that somebody's going to engage with your brand if they're looking for a job and that's a job description. They're not going to go directly to your website unless you're, you know, a big brand possibly in town, small town with a few small brands, it's the job description. You go to the job sites, you do a search and then boom, there it is. What we've seen throughout the years is a very piss poor time spent on job descriptions has been incredibly low. You can tell it's more of a technical document than it is storytelling or something that's actually created to draw somebody in.

Chad (12m 9s):

Have you seen a big change in companies looking at job descriptions or is it mainly just websites and making them have better UI UX?

Lisa (12m 19s):

So it's a great question. Have we seen a great change? Not necessarily. Should we see a great change? 100%? You know, if you think about companies that have strong consumer facing, whether it's a B2B or a B2C company, strong brands, they almost always are going to have a really buttoned up brand guideline, brand story that that really guides their voice and how they talk about the company when they're talking to customers or investors for public companies. But there isn't that equivalent many times on the employee or internal side.

Lisa (13m 2s):

So I would argue if your company has brand guidelines, there should be a section in there about how you talk about the company in recruiting in even in employee communications materials. And you know, if you do a newsletter or if you do town halls, all of those stories should be laddering up to the same overall brand story, just slightly adjusted through the lens of the audience you're talking to. So customers care about something different than an investor would care about, then a employee would care about, then a candidate would care about.

Lisa (13m 43s):

So really figuring out what are the things that those audiences care about and crystallizing those messages ahead of time. So that when you're building those job descriptions, they're built around some brand guidelines and brand storytelling. That's going to make your listing more compelling and it's gonna make you stand out from other jobs that, that the candidate you might want is looking at.

Chad (14m 8s):

Julie, you've been in this industry for a couple of years now.

Julie (14m 12s):

Just a few, let's not date, maybe a question for you because I mean, Lisa hit it spot on, but the problem is this is a decade old plus problem and we have not seen movement thus far. What do you think is going to move the needle with regard to, it seems incredibly basic job descriptions, but it is probably the foundation of how we attract the right candidates. How do we move the needle here? All right. Oh yeah. I had to lean away from my microphone not to make an audible sigh. When Lisa said, you know, there should be brand guidelines and there should be community, you know, comms, you know, direction given to your career and employee side.

Julie (15m 2s):

That's an entire communication group that should be considered when you're establishing brand guidelines, because that is part of your brand at your employer brand. What you say to the people that you hope to hire, what you say to the people who work at your company now, and what you say to the people who used to work at your company. Anyone in the world who has a potential to become a candidate. So I'll tell you how many times we've gone to build a career site for someone I've been working with, or we've tried to do some work. And we said, well, do you have any, you know, employer brand guidelines? No, the answer is always, no, I could say maybe, maybe one in a hundred would come to me with some kind of information around what kind of font they use, what colors they use.

Chad (15m 45s):

Because they didn't ask marketing. They didn't ask, they didn't want to go to marketing because if marketing knew that they were doing, that's a signal, right? It's like, wait a minute. Somebody is asking for brand guidelines. What the hell are they doing over there?

Julie (15m 58s):

Right? What are they doing? Yeah. So that sends a signal, right? I need those for a reason. And that's usually when marketing would poke their head out and say, well, what are you creating? What is going on over there? Right? There would always want to be an approval to whatever was created from that. And then they'd be like too much red, too much blue, too loud, not the voice we want to use, but that it had given me that direction in the first place, we would have been able to save time and money and nail it better for the brand. But that's where the miscommunication is. Is it just a job description? No, it's not. It is a story of opportunity. And you need to differentiate yourself in that story.

Lisa (16m 38s):

I didn't mean to trigger anything for you when I said that, you know, I think, I think it's easy. It's easy for me. D&E is an agency. So companies are hiring us to help them. I counsel them. So it's easier for us sometimes to see where there are disconnects from one group to another. And, you know, we view our job as brokering the relationship or connecting HR and communications in a meaningful way. We actually have had the pleasure of actually doing that on many client assignments. And I can tell you anytime we are able to bring both a marketing mind and an HR mind together in a conversation or on a project, the outcome is always better than if something's operating in a sideline.

Julie (17m 33s):

Yeah, I agree that the two need to work together. The challenge is who's responsible for what, and every company is struggling with this. Some have a better grasp of it than others, but it is challenging because it is a crossover point where talent acquisition is responsible for the budget and the outcome of acquiring talent. But marketing has to help facilitate that in the areas of where its strength is in its competencies.

Chad (18m 2s):

But wait a minute. So why does talent acquisition have to foot the bill for something that is definitely a marketing exercise? This is a telling this story. This is about a brand. This is either impacting the brand in a negative or positive way, right? Is that not marketing's job?

Lisa (18m 24s):

Well, I think it depends on whether your organization is centralized or decentralized in terms of how it manages budgets. You know, we have clients who have lots of lines of business and the marketing budget lives within each line of business versus at the corporate level. So to me, particularly in a decentralized organization, it does make sense for that budget to live within talent acquisition, because they're just another quote unquote business line. If you think about it that way, where it gets a little more complicated as it is when you have a centralized function and how much it's layout and to your earlier point, Julie ownership, you know, everybody's already got more than they need on the plate, both marketing and HR.

Lisa (19m 12s):

So now we're asking people to sign up for something more, but it's something that the CEO cares about right now. I think you'd be hard pressed to find any organization where the CEO isn't aware of hiring and recruitment challenges. And if that can get solved by a strong partnership between marketing and HR, imagine how powerful that would be. Imagine what kind of visibility that gives you to the CEO. It's just, it could be really powerful. It just is something that organizations are not structured this way historically, where you've got someone on the HR side, who's coming at it from a marketing perspective.

Chad (19m 57s):

Yeah.Julie, I know you felt it and I'm sure Lisa has too, but the pandemic has changed so many things. And I think this is one of them, and this might be the time for us in talent acquisition to definitely pull together a business case with our friends over in marketing to make these things happen. Because one of the things that we don't see as much as marketing or sales is a budget, even though we are the engine of the entire organization.

Julie (20m 25s):

Yeah. I also know that the big area that companies are going to face the challenge is branding makes sense to a lot of companies to spend on. When they think of marketing, when they think of talent, attraction and employer branding, they think that their brand is just transferable into the employer brand. And that's not the case. What you offer your employees is different than what you offer your consumers, and you need to have that story. So the employer brand piece is hard when you do branding. Like when you do out of home media and you take out a billboard and use, you know, wrap a bus and you run some podcast, sponsorships that you're hiring, you can't show the direct ROI of that.

Julie (21m 9s):

And now when you sit down with your budget and they say, well, what was my cost per candidate? It's very difficult to show that for all the cost of branding, but branding is an investment that needs to happen to tell the story. Otherwise you have no message that you should be spending any advertising on.

Lisa (21m 27s):

Well, and that's a place Julie, where you could lean on a marketer to help you think through what we call KPIs, you know, and what are those things that you can measure. So are you driving someone to a dedicated landing page that does allow you to check how much traffic you're driving? Or can you just look at organic search results for your website during the time that your campaign is running and see a spike in traffic? Those are all ways that you can quantify some of the things that you're doing in a way that a marketer would. And that allows you to have some of those tangible metrics that the C-suite frankly cares about.

Chad (22m 9s):

Well, I say what we do is we actually elevate past that because we are more powerful than that on the talent side. If you take a look at the, let's say for instance, an engineering position that's been open for six months, what's that actually costing the organization for that position to be open? If that individual can't code, if they can't build product, if they can't provide services, there's a cost associated to that either positively or negatively. Instead of thinking about, you know, the amount of people that actually hit our website, that's great, but what are we actually doing to impact the bottom line? If we start having those conversations? I think, you know, we can really turn this bus around much faster, moving past this to try to look for solutions.

Chad (22m 54s):

What do we need to do as an industry from the talent side of the house to ensure that we engage more with marketing and we have these relationships as opposed to trying to stay at arm's length and not ask for branding guidelines?

Lisa (23m 8s):

Well, I would, I would say the first step is to start building relationships with marketing. You know, so maybe it's an informal lunch or, you know, a networking outing, where you're just commiserating together about what the challenges, and you can sort of think about how to work toward an end goal together. The challenge from my perspective, again, working with a lot of companies is there's no built-in mechanism right now within how organizations are structured or most companies are not structured in that way.

Lisa (23m 48s):

So it is going to take a little bit of, you know, rolling up the sleeves and forging a relationship with the right person in marketing to figure out how can marketing support those needs. I would say there is no better time to do it than right now though. There's press every single day about the great resignation and recruitment challenges. So no, this is the right time to start having those conversations and elevating them up the chain, building the right relationships with the marketing function. And, you know, maybe the marketing function makes a hire that is specifically focused on supporting HR or HR makes a hire that is specifically focused on marketing.

Lisa (24m 37s):

You know, those are ways to think about building those connections for the greater good of the organization. This has to be the test to cross boundaries between marketing and HR. They're not separate. So if your organization isn't structured in a way to force those interactions, you know, you sort of have to step up and try to make that happen.

Julie (25m 1s):

A big area I know that a lot of HR teams struggle is to get support from the organization for their needs for branding, for employer branding. Do you have any tips for how someone might be able to say to their leadership, why employer branding is important and worthy of being invested in?

Lisa (25m 24s):

Are you talking from the HR perspective or from the marketing perspective?

Julie (25m 29s):

From the HR? You know, marketing understands the importance of branding and is strong at communicating why that's necessary. But I think a lot of HR teams often struggle to make that case of why they need employer brand investment. That's an area where they, you know, well I need to invest in my branding. Any tips on how they might be able to speak to the value of employer brand?

Lisa (25m 52s):

I think it probably goes back to some of what we were talking about earlier, which is putting some metrics against what are you really trying to achieve and if you're showing huge turnover. So we've worked with, we're working with a client right now, and over the past year, they've hired 20,000 people for 11,000 jobs. So that means they're churning and burning a lot, which means they're not recruiting the right people out of the gate, or when they get people in the door, they're not the right fit for the positions for them.

Chad (26m 28s):

Shitty bosses. You forgot about that one.

Lisa (26m 32s):

Maybe they're shitty bosses. So, you know, if you can't figure out, you know, if you need to find some metrics that are compelling, that make you say, wow, or make you raise your eyebrows. And my guess is almost every organization could do that right now in terms of finding talent to fill open positions and something Chad you were talking about earlier is, you know, having an open job for a long time, there are a lot of other disruptions that happen as a result of having a position open for a long time. The team that's already there begins to feel stressed, you know? So when there's a hole or worse, the wrong fit in a position that, that weighs on the team too.

Lisa (27m 18s):

So it's, you know, thinking about what are some of the metrics that you can use to make your story compelling to the C-suite. And again, just the timing right now, there's I can't remember in my 20 plus years at the firm any other time when the C-suite was as focused on this as an issue. So, you know, it's just a great time to bring up those, those issues and put some strategy to behind them with some compelling rationale. And that's where, you know, your marketing partner could be a strong ally for you to help you put together that case.

Chad (27m 58s):

I love it. Julie, I've got to say marketing is finally talking about HR and talent acquisition in a good way. The C-suite is engaged and this is the time. Lisa, thanks so much for joining us again. Lisa Aone, managing director at Dix & Eaton. Lisa, if listeners want to find out more about you, maybe connect with you on LinkedIn or more about Dix & Eaton, where would you send them?

Julie (28m 26s):

Certainly you can find me on LinkedIn. You can find me on most social networks @LZone Z O N E. And you can find D&E online at

Chad (28m 46s):

Excellent. Julie, that's another one in the books. How you feeling?

Julie (28m 51s):

Wonderful. I just love this conversation. And so glad to hear that recruitment marketing is in the C-suite talking about it.

Chad (29m 1s):

Amen Sister. We out.

OUTRO (29m 1s):

Thank you for listening to, what's it called? The podcast with Chad, the Cheese. Brilliant. They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Just a lot of Shout Outs of people, you don't even know and yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese, not one cheddar, blue, nacho, pepper jack, Swiss. So many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Any hoo be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, that way you won't miss an episode. And while you're at it, visit just don't expect to find any recipes for grilled cheese. Is so weird. We out.

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