As the battle for b2b tech talent intensifies, Alona Stein, partner and VP at Convoy PR Network member ReBlonde, explains why global marketing and HR departments in hi-tech companies can learn a lot from their Israeli counterparts.
With the highest per capita number of start-ups anywhere in the world, Israel was dubbed the ‘start-up nation’ by foreign policy specialist Dan Senor and journalist Saul Singer in their 2009 book Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle. Since then, the country has further cemented its reputation as a b2b tech powerhouse, with 80% of Israeli hi-tech companies and start-ups now developing b2b products.
As well as creating a record number of homegrown start-ups, Israel has also become a magnet for established tech brands. World-leading multinationals – including Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Intel, and Google – operate R&D centres in the country.
For many years now, competition for tech talent in this small nation of just 9.2 million has been extremely fierce. And it shows no sign of abating. In fact, as of the end of 2020, there were a record 13,000 unfilled positions in the Israeli hi-tech sector.
It’s no surprise then, that tech brands are turning to creative tactics to attract employees. Let’s examine some of these – and explore what Israeli companies can teach the rest of the world about employer branding.
Blurred lines – where b2b and b2c converge
Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic – which forced b2b brands to tear up their traditional marketing rule book – we’re seeing increasing convergence between b2b and b2c marketing styles. It’s now generally accepted that b2b marketing can be both informal and dynamic, and b2b marketers should seek to elicit an emotional response from their audience, rather than simply appealing to their rational brain.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Israeli employer branding campaigns. In Israel, it’s common for b2b employers to target potential new hires on channels typically associated with b2c brands, including billboards, TV adverts and Facebook advertising.
What’s more, large b2b tech employers are increasingly harnessing the power of celebrities and influencers to showcase their values and attract talent. For instance, Microsoft R&D Israel used renowned Israeli actor and LGBTQ+ activist, Ilan Peled, to promote their R&D centre’s 30th birthday. Peled starred in a tongue-in-cheek comedy sketch that also featured the centre’s general manager, Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk.
For now, these tactics are unheard of in many other parts of the world. But, given the increasing global focus on employer branding, we can expect to see them growing in popularity.
Lead with values – but authenticity is crucial
Given that 86% of millennials would consider taking a pay cut to work for a company that shared their values, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a rise in values-based employer branding campaigns. However, due to the sheer number of tech employers using similar messaging, Israeli audiences have developed a healthy sense of cynicism towards these.
For your values-based employer branding campaign to resonate with audiences, it must be creative, eye-catching, but above all – authentic. Whether an employer is showcasing their family-friendly ethos, commitment to employee empowerment, or environmental targets, they must embody the values they present. If not, they risk being ignored, or worse, publicly called out. Many Israeli brands have learned this lesson the hard way. Don’t repeat their mistake!
A great example of a values-led campaign is this one by homegrown Israeli unicorn Papaya Global. To emphasise its family-first ethos, the company invited employees’ parents to visit their offices, and filmed them trying to explain what exactly their children did for a living – with many amusing responses.
The power of PR
The best employer branding campaigns focus on telling stories based on data or real-world examples, rather than simply listing benefits. This is where a clued-in PR partner can help. PRs are well-versed in crafting engaging stories that influence audiences and drive conversations. They also know which channels and outlets will help your message reach the right audience. Both factors are equally important for an employer branding campaign to cut through the noise.
Looking forward, we can expect to see more tech brands focusing on employer branding – not just in Israel, but worldwide. As the ‘Great Resignation’ continues, and more companies join the battle for tech talent, global marketing and HR departments can certainly learn a lot from their Israeli counterparts.
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