Like the eternal question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” marketers are asking, “Which comes first, the customer value proposition or the employee value proposition?” 

By Aaron Sorensen

By customer value proposition (CVP), we mean a persuasive statement that captures the reasons why someone should buy a particular product or service. The employee value proposition (EVP) constitutes the most compelling reasons an employee would choose to join an organization and choose to stay.

Best-in-class CVPs and EVPs are distinctive and create the “magnetism” to attract the type of people you want associated with your organization. Both are a critical link to the business strategy and key drivers of long-term profitable growth.

GE provides a great example of CVP and EVP alignment. In September 2015, GE launched its “What’s the Matter with Owen?” campaign on late night TV. Andy Goldberg, global creative director at GE, explained to Ad Age: “The goal is to set up the promise of GE being a digital industrial company, bringing this idea of big iron and big data together under one roof.”

The campaign positions GE in competition with the likes of Google, Facebook, and others for millennial tech talent. That’s important, because as explained in GE’s 2016 annual report, they are investing heavily in “disruptive innovation.” Each spot includes the taglines: “GE. The digital company. That’s also an industrial company.”

That alignment between CVP and EVP is critical because GE needs high-demand talent to execute its business strategy.

In addition to alignment, another important characteristic of great CVPs and EVPs is a deep understanding of their audiences. In some instances, potential employees are also potential customers. But for many B2B companies, their audiences are different (millennials building tech solutions purchased by Baby Boomer COOs and plant managers, for example).

The last thing you want to do is create uncomfortable cognitive dissonance in the minds of either customers or potential employees. So how do marketing and HR make sure that the company’s CVP and EVP are ultimately serving the strategy? Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Reputation roundtable — At least once a year, get the leaders of marketing and recruiting, and any creative resources, in the same room to discuss creative strategy and tactical implementation.
  2. Message assessment — Are there any inconsistencies in your messaging?
  3. Channel alignment — Compare notes on the use of channels, particularly social media, and identify areas of overlap.
  4. Audience analysis — What are the personas of your respective audiences? How can value propositions be tailored to appeal to customers and future employees without losing the essence of the brand?
  5. CVP/EVP messaging playbook — An internal guide that illustrates how messaging is altered between customers and employees so that relevant differences are made without compromising the important connection between the two audiences.

Marketing and Human Resources/Talent Acquisition are key players at the strategy table and coordination amongst the groups is a must in driving alignment between the CVP and EVP.  The reality is that your organization already has a CVP and EVP whether or not you have gone through the effort of documenting it.  This is your reputation and employment brand.

However, the likelihood that the CVP is aligned to and enables the strategy and brand is low if you haven’t taken a close look at it in awhile. Further, an EVP usually has a “shelf life” of 5 years, sometimes less, if your talent portfolio is changing.  Progressive companies look at the EVP before it becomes stale and ensure it is consistent with the CVP.  Many organizations take advantage of a brand refresh to develop or refine the CVP and ensure the EVP is aligned.

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