In just a few days, one of the most epic sporting events of the year will unite the country in rivalry over the nation’s top 68 NCAA Basketball teams. In terms of viewers, revenue and brand exposure, March Madness ranks right up there with the Super Bowl, the World Cup and the Olympics. Millions of people who don’t follow college basketball’s regular season are quickly transformed into “hoopaholics” come the middle of March.
I think that, when examined through the right lens, HR can come away with important lessons from #TheBigDance—lessons that underscore how important an understanding of the emotions and triggers that define the candidate journey across all channels is to talent acquisition’s ability to drive more qualified applications while delivering better candidate experiences and generating the talent pipeline needed to win big.
With that context in mind, here are five lessons to help get you excited to get in the game!
#1: Control the ball.
Every successful basketball coach knows that you don’t have a chance of winning if you can’t control the ball. For recruitment marketers, controlling the ball means making sure that you have clear and consistent messaging in place that communicates what it’s like to work at your organization—messaging that reflects your employer value proposition while connecting with target candidates. Effective execution requires a cross-channel strategy to reach talent where they are, optimizing everything for search and making your content shareable.
Most importantly, bring the employee experience to life through storytelling applied across dynamic and personalized career sites, landing pages and videos. The key is to always remember that the decision process takes place over multiple devices and touchpoints at any given time throughout a candidate’s entire talent journey. So, get the word out and control not just the ball but the game.
#2. Play to your strengths.
Like many marketers, your company produces a considerable amount of recruitment marketing materials. Shine like a star player in this regard by ensuring that your recruitment communications leverage SEO practices for greater impact and are easily shared across devices and social media, as well as emailed by recruiting teams. Make sure the materials are relevant, current and in use by considering how to repurpose the content that keeps the conversation going. For example, turn your top recruiting video into a series of blog posts or a day-in-the-life infographic. You get the point: press, press and press.
#3. Know your competitors.
Who is in the Elite Eight with you? What about the Final Four? When trying to win the best talent you need to know everything you can about the competition. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do they recruit talent to their organization and where might gaps exist that you can take advantage of?
Create a scouting report of your top competitors’ recruitment marketing strategies: how often they blog, what types of content they create, the topics they discuss, which social platforms they use, etc. Who can go right, left or shoot the 3-pointer? Study your scouting report regularly and create a game plan to make sure you are optimizing all of your efforts and your opportunities. After all, it’s essential to find the intersection between what your employer brand can offer and what is most likely to connect with and engage talent.
#4. Play with fire in your belly and love in your heart.
March Madness players and fans “leave it all on the floor.” They give everything they’ve got whether they’re seeded #1 or #16. The collective emotional investment among players builds community, and the psychology behind this love of the game is that people want to identify with something larger than themselves and feel a sense of belonging.
The lesson? Appeal to your audiences’ emotions to create connections. Whether you’re crafting job descriptions or designing landing pages, your team’s aim should be to evoke emotion via your messaging. That’s why storytelling works, and why it’s a powerful way to engage talent. Think through the emotional experiences that could be associated with your brand. What gets your current employees excited about working at your organization? What would inspire candidates to join your Talent CRM? The content you create drives this aspect of your recruitment marketing, so be emotive!
#5. Don’t forget the technology you need to get it done.
Sports and technology aren’t usually thought of as dance partners, yet there's an elegant ballet between the two that's been going on for years behind the scenes. Nowhere is this more prevalent than March Madness where instant replays provide an up-close look at the action while scores can be tracked in real time online.
Modern recruiting teams need to reflect today’s consumer-minded world, one in which technology plays a big role. For example, many talent acquisition teams are implementing Talent CRMs as their means to finding, nurturing and engaging candidates quickly and continuously through automation. Others are integrating intelligent search into their career websites to deliver personalized jobs and content tailored to each individual’s interests and background. These approaches facilitate more meaningful connections to provide a strategic and competitive advantage in our dynamic digital recruiting environment.
Yes, March Madness fans root for teams to win and lose. It’s the nature of the tournament. However, there’s always goodwill, as what viewers ultimately want is a front row seat to success. March Madness offers compelling storytelling, interactivity, intrigue and excitement—elements that organizations can use to attract, convert and hire talent. But, just telling an emotive story isn’t enough. This story needs to be dynamic and powered by best-in-class candidate experiences that give you the ability to precisely reach and engage more candidates with a single platform that supports operational excellence.
It's the comprehensive game plan that will help you win #TheBigDance. Good luck! You’ve got this!