Creating Brand Evangelists During the Hiring Process

Agencies Should Learn From MBAs

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Carol Watson Carol Watson
One of the most powerful tools in multicultural marketing is experiential marketing. Consumers who are used to being ignored are more likely to think favorably about a brand as a result of an experiential event that brings the brand to life. There are many major marketers that have benefited from the brand loyalty and consumer evangelism that comes as a result of inviting multicultural consumers to do business and the sales increases that are a result of enthusiastic word of mouth.

Incorporating such marketing tactics and consumer brand building when you are courting top multicultural talent offers not only a deeper and longer lasting consumer relationship but also contributes significantly to the brand loyalty and subsequent brand ambassador status. As we jump into the season for career fairs, conferences and diversity hiring opportunities, stepping up and seizing the opportunity creates wins for marketers, agencies and media companies.

The Black MBA conference held last week is probably one of the most renowned places to see best practice strategies for courting and recruiting talent from financial, IT and HR to marketing and sales positions. There are few basic career-fair tables at this event that is in its 29th year and attracts over 10,000 of the best of the best in business. Two ad agencies were exhibiting at the conference, Digitas and Global Hue. The Hispanic MBA conference also offers opportunities for attracting talent and is scheduled for early October.

Companies participating take branding and relationship building to a level regularly seen only in large brand building consumer marketing and promotional events and sponsorships. The black MBA conference has become so popular that it has begun to attract graduate students who are not black. Nearly every top marketer and advertiser is represented in full force from the domestic and foreign automotive companies and the major packaged goods marketers to the largest retailers, financial, insurance, travel and entertainment industry companies. These companies proudly recite and celebrate their success in attracting and diversifying the executive workforce and continue to build and deepen their commitment to the event as an important and effective recruiting tool.

How can ad agencies get in on the fun?
Agencies often recite their recruiting challenges in comparison to the major marketers that are able to invest and attract top talent. There is a widely held belief that advertising agencies are not able to attract more diverse talent due to the low starting salaries. In addition, an MBA is not a requirement for entry into the ad industry. There are many talented advertising professionals who do hold an MBA and are passionate about being in advertising. I met a Wharton grad that started on the client side and moved to the agency side (Digitas and Deutsch) without a cut in salary for a few years before moving back over to the brand side to position himself as a creative brand manager. Agencies have also echoed the belief that the low awareness of the agency names vs. the consumer marketer's household names put them at a competitive disadvantage when recruiting.

There are opportunities for agencies to compete for talent through strategic marketing and brand building in partnership with their clients. Showcasing the amazing agency work on P&G, Coke or Delta brands, for example, can make the agency more attractive to recruits and also build a stronger partnership relationship with agency clients. There were quite a few comments from students at the Black MBA conference who were inspired to choose Delta as a preferred employer partly due to the innovative new ad campaign and strategy. Wouldn't it have been great to have the agency SS K participate in partnership and extend the relationship and synergy with brand awareness of the agency and advertising career options to inspire great talent to participate in the creative process?

Target gains more than great talent
Companies such as Coors, P&G, Target, Diageo, Walt Disney and Ford received the most buzz from attendees at the Black MBA Conference for their strategic brand positioning and experiential marketing efforts including events, seminars, scholarships, product giveaways and community outreach. Experiencing Target's integrated event participation up close and personal deepened the attendee's perception of the brand position, particularly for the young adults (some actually decided to reconsider Minneapolis as a relocation option). The experience that was created reinforced and mimicked the experiential marketing events held at consumer events that Target is well known for. Attendees all left as more-than-potential diversity hires. They went home as consumer evangelists for the brands.
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