Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Let It Be

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By Rob Kessler

Time to find the right recruiting solutions

Six years seems like a generation ago. Time flies when you deal with a pandemic. In 2015, the number of applicants per job opening was about 59. In 2019, that number fell to only 30. Obviously a strong economy and falling unemployment numbers made seeking out new talent difficult for recruiters across most industries.

Enter our favorite year … 2020. Everything changed and a reset button was hit on recruitment as we now head towards the end of the pandemic (hopefully). With current unemployment (January 2021) at 6.3%, there are millions of full-time workers looking for new opportunities. And those numbers don’t include those who held off leaving their company for fear of finding something new.

What does this mean to talent acquisition professionals? A huge jump in applicants per job opening.

So to help explain what TA teams can do to assist the new hiring realities, we’ll go to a Beatles theme (the music lover in me) to “Get Back” and help you navigate the “Long and Winding Road.”


With budgets cut, in-person interviews still in question and resources strained, recruiters will need to find ways to sift through those resumes efficiently and effectively – all while maintaining a strong candidate experience and employer brand.

You say you want a (tech) revolution

One area that HR leaders should look into (assuming they haven’t already) is a digital transformation, utilizing data solutions and tech to simplify a number of administrative tasks across the hiring process. Recruiters should be focused on the relationship side of the TA equation while things like AI can handle the mundane parts of it.

With the continued evolution and revolution of smart applicant systems, TA teams can utilize the solutions and tools in place to automate job candidate matching, candidate screening and job description keywords. Most advanced tools also offload repetitive tasks, such as sending automated candidate responses and scheduling interviews. And with virtual interviewing not going away anytime soon, you’ll find most with video conference capabilities as well.

All you need is love (and balance)

Just like last year, 2021 will bring a host of challenges to talent acquisition. And just like in the past, recruiters will need to do all they can to enhance the candidate experience to attract top talent and strengthen their employer brand. That balance won’t be an easy one. Candidates continue to place a positive employer brand, reputation and culture high on their radar as they consider new opportunities. But with the right tools at their side, TA professionals can support their companies’ growth initiatives with strong hiring practices and processes, while reinforcing their reputations as a great place to work.

Or at the very least, avoid a “Helter Skelter” of work coming your way (I had to throw one more in).

Learn more about how Magnetize can help you attract and retain great talent.

Why Anyone Hearts Anything

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by Rebecca Kappel, Strategy Director

Falling in love. For your sake, I hope you’ve done it … at least once.

The obsession, the singular focus on that one person, that “I have to have them” feeling. It’s like nothing else. It drives your decisions (good ones and bad ones) and dominates your motivations.

This one universal human experience is so strong it’s been the prominent theme in an undefinable majority of art, music and theater we’ve produced since, well, ever. I don’t need to find some stats — you know it’s true.

But leave it to science to ruin the romance. According to some smart folks at Harvard, love is simply chemicals in the brain, and since the brain controls the body, there you go – through three scientifically proven phases of love: lust, attraction and attachment.

Love and marketing. Like love and marriage but … different. A product or service might not be as life-altering as human love, but it sure can change futures and fortunes (think: Apple). Brand love can begin as innocently as any other: passing a window display in a busy city, pausing on a post on Instagram or being introduced by a friend.

And, conveniently, the phases are incredibly similar. When consumers or audiences are after a product, an experience or a lifestyle, they process the same emotions:


So much dopamine here! You have to have it, can’t live without it. It’s the vacation, the car, the shoes that will finally make you happy.

But how do you make someone fall in love with your brand? It’s easy if it’s a Porsche or a pair of Manolos, but what if it’s pipeline maintenance?

According to Ben Kunz at American Marketing Association, and drawn from the psychology of Daniel Berlyne, the following five elements generate desire.

1. Novelty: Make your brand like no other brand around it.

2. Unexpectedness: Connect surprising elements to your narrative; don’t be boring.

3. Complexity: Let’s call this intelligence: be smarter than your audience.

4. Ambiguity: Leave something to the imagination. Give them a reason to click the button, turn the page or pick up the phone.

5. Creation of puzzlement: Make them wonder how they could ever survive without your product or service.


Now that they want you, make them trust you and play into the need for reward behavior. Let them know that not only can your product or service take care of their needs, they deserve it. The luxury item, the excellent customer service, the top-notch legal work … they shouldn’t settle for less.

Ah, oxytocin.


And this is, of course, a brand’s best friend. Or favorite lover. This means we reach for Coke over Pepsi, Kleenex over tissue (is there even another tissue brand?), Apple over Samsung, Southwest over United and even H&R Block over TurboTax. Because eventually, even in the best love stories, you end up talking about stuff like taxes and whether or not you slept well.

If love is in the brain, the good news for marketers is that brand is in the brain too. Understand your audience, talk directly to them, build their trust and don’t ever be boring.

Because, after all, “Love is a game that two can play and both can win.” – Eva Gabor

We’re All Just Personas

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by Rebecca Kappel, Strategy Director

Developing user personas is an effective way to understand your audience and provides a framework for your brand message.

“Knowing our customer and communicating with them in their language, in the places they go in an appropriate way … everything else is tactics.” — Peter Bell, Product Marketing Senior Director, Marketo

I’m a Virgo INTJ.

By all accounts, I am:
“picky and critical” (check)
“industrious, methodical and efficient” (check)
“strategically capable” (check)
“imaginative yet decisive” (check)
“comfortable out of the spotlight” (yep)
“bent on deconstructing and rebuilding every idea and system they come in contact with” (hell yeah)
“self-confident and mysterious” (hmmm)
Spot on.

So are we all that easy to peg? Individual characteristics can be run through testing and given classification. But how do we determine group motivations and ideals?

According to a study by The Edelman Group, 51% of the 11,000 consumers surveyed think that brands that they have chosen to engage with (ie, follow on social media) don’t understand their needs.

Developing user personas is an effective way to understand your audience and provides a framework for your brand message. At Magnetize, we love to dig in and learn what motivates people. When developing customer profiles, we look to discover three big things: Drivers, Obstacles and Mindset. To accomplish this, we take into account existing data and develop mechanisms to gather new insights. These fall into two categories: Qualitative and Quantitative.

Qualitative persona assessments are more than gut feelings and intuition. They can be simple or complex, but they must be based on actual assessments. Qualitative data can be gathered through customer surveys, interviews, focus groups, and exit surveys.

At Magnetize, we have conducted all of the above to learn what makes consumers tick, and then use those insights to create messaging that speaks to just the right folks. We have learned that IT professionals value collaboration over process; that potential talent recruits don’t mind wearing a suit and tie if the environment is collaborative; and that healthy thirty-somethings will buy life insurance if they are offered great rates.

Quantitative assessments need data, period.

Using your existing analytics platform, we can pull metrics on frequency, repetition, transactions and revenue per user. Tracking the customer journey through pixel placing and ad retargeting can determine how people best interact with your brand, and shed light on which tactics and channels yield the best results.

If you don’t have a history of well-tracked analytics, don’t fret. It’s never too late to start gathering data. We make sure to set objectives, goals and KPIs, and then measure against those markers during campaign implementation. Working in three month tracking periods, our digital strategists assess and adjust based on that continual knowledge gain.

And we never rest. A surprising barrier to effective data analysis is, strangely, success. Campaign successful? Great? Why? Let’s make sure we know and do more of it.

Most Importantly, Know Thyself
Understanding your organization’s ability to manage data is critical. You will need the resources to both gather and monitor analytics in house or the budget to engage with an agency to watch that activity. Knowing and accepting this at the beginning of a campaign effort will allow the team to scale their efforts accordingly.

At Magnetize, we work both alongside and in front of our clients, providing increased or decreased support as their needs and capabilities change. Our agency persona: Focused on mutual success, invested in your business outcomes, collaborative always.

Find out your personality type:

Using annual enrollment to strengthen your brand

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By Rob Kessler, Partner/Operations Director

Each year around this time, there are a few things people dread … weather getting colder, days getting shorter, the Lions out of playoff contention (that’s a personal one) and having to figure out health care plans.

Large and small organizations alike spend countless hours analyzing costs and options each year to give employees something of value so they can take care of themselves and their families. But so often, organizations just send out a packet of information with a deadline and not much else. Good luck!

Healthcare plans are one of many reasons an employee decides to join or stay with a company. They want to know that they are cared for, and in turn, can care for their families, especially during times like these. So when communicating benefit enrollment, your messaging should lead with just that … we care. That is a big part of your employer brand, the care and thought you put into taking care of your employees.

Many employer brand strategies start with an employee value proposition that usually includes some sort of care and reward. Yet when talking about career opportunities at an organization, this equates to some print at the end of a job posting that says you offer a ‘competitive benefit package.’ Not much else.

Shouldn’t you lead with how you care and support your employees, such as a benefit package to ensure the health and wellbeing of them and their families?

Again, lead with the why (I talked a bit about that in another blog post, which led off with a Mister Rogers quote, so worth reading for that alone). Why do you have a competitive benefits package? Lead with that reason and purpose, and the employees begin to feel that you do care for their needs, and they aren’t just a number (cue the Bob Seger song).

We have many opportunities to reinforce our employer brand messaging across the employee lifecycle, and one of those comes to us each year at this time. Use annual enrollment as a way to strengthen your culture and build on your reputation as a great employer.

Now don’t forget to turn those clocks back on Nov. 1. The days are getting shorter!

Three Basic Principles of Property Branding

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By Rebecca Kappel, Strategy Director

Creating a Community

Creating a property brand is creating a community. For the end user, it will be more than a product or service — it will be what they experience each time they enter and leave their home. For the business owner next door, it will be more than a passing thought — it will be their neighbor. 

Our award-winning property branding agency team starts each project thinking about three basic principles. Every time. To build on these, we spend time at the beginning of the project experiencing the neighborhood, interviewing project stakeholders and working hand-in-hand with architecture, real estate and construction marketing partners. 

1. Origination

Or we can call this location, location, location. Understand the neighborhood, the community, the development plan, any zoning restrictions and any discussions that went into approving the development. Know the why. 

Did it take two years to go through planning and zoning? Are there historic tax credits or architectural restrictions in place? Know your history and why this particular property was developed in that particular location. 

Properties may need a brand story that supports development approval before the brand is fully built out. A solid messaging strategy can be instrumental in the success of a project. 

2. Segmentation

The identity and corresponding materials should first and foremost relate to the target market and support a robust real estate marketing and sales team and the lead generation funnel. But there’s more to a property brand than signing leases. 

You’ll want to make friends next door. So consider how it fits with or departs from the current neighborhood vibe and adjust messaging when reaching out to the surrounding community to promote events and partnerships. If it is a mixed use property, you’ll want to speak to potential business tenants differently than residents. 

Develop personas for each audience and work to understand their motivations in order to build a sense of trust. Be prepared to alter your message and goals for each of these personas. 

3. Differentiation 

Housing choices abound for both renters and owners. Why live here? What’s truly different? You may find out that the brand needs to stand out visually. You may find out that the messaging needs to carry the weight. Either way, be distinct and be authentic. Make an emotional connection.

Carry that differentiation past the sign on the door or the social media asset. Look for opportunities to collaborate with architects and interior designers to align wayfinding signage and common space experiences.

Take a look at our recent success in property development branding as well as other architecture/ engineering/construction brand and marketing work.

Five Qualities of Higher Level Higher Ed Communications

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By Rebecca Kappel, Strategy Director

Making it work in a changing communications landscape.

I am a marketer, but I am also an end-user. My professional inbox is flooded daily with B2B communications. My personal inbox is overloaded with B2C communications, and for the last year or so, it’s been inundated by higher ed marketing.

As a parent of a 2020 high school senior, I have witnessed the shift from pre-covid communications, eager to build a relationship with me as a parent and my daughter as a potential student, to pandemic messaging assuring families that the institutions that have operated for so long in the same manner are actively addressing my concerns for safety, continuity and the quality experience I want for my child. 

The best communications in my inbox have a few things in common:

Subject lines and headlines are crafted to clearly and quickly communicate what’s in store for me in the content below. If you are communicating critical information, such as deadlines and process changes, be direct. Keep in mind the sea of emails that the audience is wading through, and make requests actionable. 

Plans and strategies have been laid out, but the potential for shift is acknowledged and understanding requested as they navigate future changes. This allows for information transfer earlier in the process and management of student and family expectations. Sharing details about the decision-making process fosters understanding and empathy.

In-person events such as orientations and campus visits were replaced with dynamic virtual meetings and tours. Migrating something experiential to something virtual is no small task. By connecting with admissions counselors virtually early on, potential students can still build personal relationships. Layering on perspectives from current students maintains the feel of “inside information” that is the best part of the student led campus tour. (ie, which dining hall has the best pizza, the quiet place in the library to study, etc etc) 

Opportunities were offered to crowdsource information. Relying more on social media channels and closed groups to crowdsource information from other parents keeps procedural calls and inquiries down, especially in housing, supplements institutional messages and creates community. 

Brand aligned: 
Voice and visuals are consistent cross-channel. Strong and recognizable visuals and a consistent tone make it all come together. Having a relatable and consistent “personality” is critical to students and families feeling like they know you. 

The 2020-21 academic year promises to be an evolving and continuous communications challenge. While communications and marketing professionals are not on the front lines, what we bring to the table can ease tensions and calm fears. A well-informed constituency becomes a loyal base and will advocate for your brand.

Why ‘why’ is the most important question

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By Rob Kessler, Partner/Operations Director

“It’s good to be curious about many things.” – Fred Rogers

Anyone who has kids or has been around kids knows the inevitable question … why? Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet? Why can’t Purdue make it to the Final Four (maybe that’s just asked at my house)? 

Kids are naturally curious. They want to know why things are the way they are … sometimes ad nauseam. Then somewhere along the way, that magic of curiosity begins to fade. They believe asking those types of questions is a sign of weakness and lack of understanding.

We all need to understand that asking ‘why’ will always be the most important question when it comes to your brand and messaging. But sometimes organizations forget this and focus on the what.

Tell your story, answer the “why”

When building your brand narrative, focus on storytelling that engages and shares your purpose. Why are you in the business that you are? This is especially true in internal communications. Employees want to belong to companies that have a strong purpose, and they want to understand how they can guide and be a part of that bigger picture.

At Magnetize we always focus on the ‘why.’ It’s a key pillar to our culture … to be naturally curious so we can learn and build strategies, messaging and creative that best share a client’s purpose. Even if it’s a simple campaign, knowing why there is a need for the initiative, product or service goes a long way in building a narrative that connects and engages with both internal and external target audiences.

So find your inner child and go back to asking “why.” 

Why? So you ensure you stay purpose-driven and continue to strengthen your messaging. 

Creating Successful Social Media Videos

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By Rebecca Kappel, Strategy Director

Attention span… 3… 2… 1… Gone.

Imagine you’re in a pitch meeting and you have just a brief few seconds to sell your idea. Sounds dramatic, right? But when it comes to advertisements and videos on social media, it’s reality.

Since the development of platforms like Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram story, we’ve become reliant on the ability to “skip.” Whether it’s commercials or your paid ads, you have less time to capture your audience.

Be Urgent

Why is urgency so important in digital advertising? For one, our attention span is now shorter than that of goldfish. A recent study from Microsoft revealed that humans lose concentration after approximately eight seconds, 4 seconds less than recorded five years prior. With that said, hopefully I still have your attention with this blog post… 

The good news is that viewers retain 95 percent of a message when it’s viewed via video, compared to 10 percent when it’s read it in text (Insivia). On social platforms, hook viewers with relevance in the first few frames of video. Whether it’s design, imagery or content, your first three seconds will ultimately determine the success of your video. It’s once you’ve captured your viewers that you can then explain how your product or service works.

Be Platform-Specific

During the pandemic social media usage is at an all-time high. But it’s still important to be platform-specific when developing videos. But regardless of platform, always think mobile-first. According to eMarketer, 75 percent of video views happen on mobile devices. In fact, mobile video consumption rises by 100 percent every year (Insivia).

Also be sure to enable sound-off viewing. Think about it: When you’re at your desk, in public, or even around family members, you likely don’t turn your sound up for everyone to hear. Whether with captions, text overlay, or other creative design, incorporating text can take your social videos to the next level. That doesn’t mean to ignore the audio quality… That tends to be a weak spot for amateur videos. 

Be Creative

Lastly, and most importantly, be creative and professional. Those three to five seconds come and go very quickly. In a world where everyone is scrolling, it’s your design, creativity, and individuality that will bring that scrolling to a pause. You want to represent your brand well. More than 65 percent of people use YouTube to help solve a problem, so what problem does your organization solve? Tell your story and then consider a call to action. 

Be Ready

The audience for videos is constantly growing, with no signs of slowing. By 2022, Cisco predicts that online videos will make up more than 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 2017. If you take the right steps in creating your videos, you will see positive ROI and engagement with your target audiences.

Check out some of our recent video work on our Vimeo page.

Living Your Employer Brand Values

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By Rob Kessler, Partner/Operations

Employer brand during crisis: What you do now matters

Here we are, halfway through 2020.It’s halftime.We’ll skip the marching band and focus on regrouping, so we can finish this crazy year strong. One area that you should look closely at is your employer brand. Everything you say and do when it comes to your employees affects your brand. This is especially true during a crisis.

For those new to this, an employer brand is simply the perception and experience people have of working for your organization. Think of it as what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

It’s hard enough to have a strong, consistent culture during “normal” times. So how do you keep it during challenging times when we are working more remotely?

Employees are going to look to leadership to provide confidence and a path forward – one that they can contribute to. It’s what is referred to as the “rally effect.” Gallup analytics found four universal needs that followers have of leaders:

  • Trust
  • Compassion
  • Stability
  • Hope

These are magnified during times of crisis, and your employees will look to their employer to provide signals that things will be okay.

What this means is that your organization should pivot the way you communicate with your employees as you work to stay connected and keep them engaged. Even if it includes bad news, communications need to be done in a way that is consistent, connects to a larger plan of action, is transparent and builds trust with your people. Be purpose-driven in your narrative and ensure you continue to answer not just the question ‘what’ but also ‘why.’ (Coincidentally the topic of my next blog post.)

When we finally get through this crisis (and we will get through this), a question you should ask yourself is, “how did we treat our employees?” Trust me. It’s a question your employees and candidates will be asking.

How you answer that question says a lot about you as an employer and the values you don’t just put on paper, but live each and every day. Your employees want to know that you care about their wellbeing. This is the time to show it through consistent and strong messaging.

If done right, you can reinforce your organization’s values and strengthen its reputation as a great place to work.

For more tips and suggestions around employee and internal COVID communications, please visit our resources page.

Build Your Brand Affinity

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By Paul Boston, Partner/Creative Director

Community Banks and Credit Unions Prove What Matters Most

Now is the time to leverage your strengths.

Bankers are expected to offer security, value, access, accountability, smiles and responsiveness all year long — in the background. When you think about it, they enjoy the same level of appreciation my water heater enjoys. It works flawlessly and continuously, out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Sure, I’m pretty happy with it, until there’s an issue. But is that issue enough to get me to buy a new one? Probably not. It’s just not worth the hassle. For many consumers and small businesses, staying with a bank is the path of least resistance. In fact, a recent study[1] showed that 24% of respondents would rather do their taxes and 13% would rather have a colonoscopy than change their primary bank.

The competitive pressure on community banks and credit unions is especially high. Large banks have branches and ATMs in just about every market, and with the wholesale acceptance of digital banking, they’re virtually everywhere. Over the past few years, community banks have invested in digital platforms and services to compete. But with all of this offsite banking, is the other community bank value proposition of “community focus and personal service” still relevant? If you’re a community bank or credit union you’ve known for years the answer is “yes.” The challenge has been convincing consumers that these things still matter.

The great news is that point was just made in a big way.

You Are the PPP Heroes
As America looked on, many of the big banks took care of big customers first and left small businesses hanging during the COVID-19 crisis. Thousands of small business owners and their employees waited an excruciating 2 to 3 weeks (that’s 10 years in pandemic time) to find out that their SBA Payroll Protection Plan application that took hours and hours to pull together, was rejected. Or worse yet, didn’t even get submitted by their bank.

While all of this happened, community bankers were working day and night to make sure their valuable business customers’ applications were processed.

But as quickly as I just typed that last sentence, millions of consumers all over the country were being served advertising from the banking industry giants. Sophisticated, well-crafted brand messages seeking to rekindle lost brand affinity and rebuild trust. They have the analytics, the marketing teams, the agencies and the media budgets to stay in front of existing and potential customers. Your customers.

Are you ready to compete with that? I say YES. Because as intimidating as all of that might sound, you’ve already done the hard part: You know how to nurture meaningful banking relationships.

Even though you’re not the only community bank that excels on relationships, you still have a story to tell. Your organization. Your people. Your community. And they all coalesce to create the essence of your brand. How exactly does that story look, sound and feel? Where is it? When is it? Now’s the time to work that out.

Embrace the Challenging Times
Community banks and credit unions have already proven they know how to help customers and members when they need it most. Consumers have short memories, so now is the time to leverage your hero status in the community. Refocus your message. Align your channels with your audiences. Do these things and position your brand for growth.

Click here to check out our agency’s expertise in this area and find more useful guidance.