Relocation is a tough sell to almost any professional–even if you’re offering them a high-paying job at a prestigious brand.
If your location isn’t exactly a dazzling hotspot destination, attracting the best out-of-town marketing talent becomes even harder.
No matter how much you love about your city, it’s difficult to overcome the reputation it might have elsewhere. But if you want to bring in the best marketing expertise available (and you should if you value the future of your business), this is an obstacle you’ll have to overcome.
The reality is; sometimes the best person for the job just isn’t within easy commuting distance of your office. This is especially true for demanding marketing executive positions that require a very specific skillset. Opening your talent search to relocatable candidates dramatically increases your potential talent pool and allows you to pull from concentrated hotspots of specialized talent scattered across the country.
In order to draw those highly qualified candidates from their distant homes to your business, you have some extra work to do. You’ll have to do some extra research (and maybe get some help from marketing recruitment companies) to show off your what makes your city great to top marketers you want to hire. But the investment of effort will pay off massively over time if you’re successful.
How to Sell a City That Has a Weak Brand
Here’s an incredibly common scenario we encounter all the time:
Your business is in a great spot in your market. You’ve seen growth in recent years and see potential for more in the near future.
You offer competitive compensation, treat your employees well, and are confident your company is poised to be a great place for career growth. You have wisely realized it’s time to reinforce your marketing team with some really great leadership talent and move your business to the next level.
Just one problem: The expertise you need is nowhere to be found nearby–and you can’t convince anyone to move to your location.
It’s relatively easy to invite people to certain famous cities. No one needs an explanation of New York City’s famously active lifestyles and innumerable attractions. Miami’s sun-soaked beaches and famous nightlife speak for themselves. San Francisco’s great year-round weather and leading tech industries draw an endless stream of talent from around the world. Not everyone will want to move to these locations–but at least you won’t have a huge burden of extolling the place’s virtues.
Not all cities have such a powerful, mostly positive brand. Perhaps yours gets an unsavory depiction in media. Or it’s in a climate zone favored by polar bears for 11 months of the year. Or maybe it’s small and inconspicuous enough that no one from out of town could even point to it on a map. Some places just aren’t natural magnets to ambitious, cutting edge talent.
If you happen to live and work in one of these locations, this likely won’t bother you on a personal level. You could no doubt list plenty of redeeming qualities about the place you call home.
In fact, your location’s relatively low profile might even have been a factor in your business success. There are common benefits to being based in such a place:
- Affordable costs of living for you and your employees
- Low costs of doing business
- Geographic proximity to suppliers, distributors, and customers
Unfortunately, your ideal location can also be a liability when it comes to courting high-performing marketing talent–especially professionals with skill sets that are already in very high demand.
Pulling Up Roots
Even for the most tempting offers, most people are already reluctant to uproot themselves and move to a brand new place. Change on that scale is hard and intimidating, especially for people who have invested themselves in a community or begun raising a family in a place they’re very comfortable in.
In our experience as national executive recruiters for marketing, better compensation on its own typically won’t be enough to motivate top performers to relocate. They don’t just want to slide up the pay-scale a bit; they want to move closer to their dream lifestyles. And if they don’t believe your location offers what they want, you should expect them to look elsewhere.
It’s extremely difficult to get people to look past your home’s weak reputation. You know that’s not a fair assessment, but unfortunately fairness doesn’t play a big part here.
So if you hope to grow your business and stay competitive, you’ll have to find a way to overcome those preconceived notions in order to draw the right A-level marketing talent to your executive team.
How to Market Your Home to Marketers
Sometimes there’s just no amount of realistic compensation you can offer to attract the caliber of talent you want. Some roles can potentially be executed virtually/remotely. But that’s not a good solution for key leadership positions. You need those people on-site, managing with a hands-on approach.
So how can you convince an experienced analytics veteran from LA or NYC to join you in your medium-sized Midwestern town? What can you tell someone from snowcapped Boulder or sunny San Diego that will have them packing their bags for your steamy Southern city?
Know Your Subjects
In this situation, you’re essentially trying to sell your job, business, and location to a prospective candidate. And as with any tricky sale, it’s absolutely critical that you understand your audience and what motivates them. If you find a candidate you really want, you should do as much research as possible to discover their interests.
In particular, you need to understand what life stage they’re in. Consider:
- Are they single?
- Do they have kids?
- How old are the candidates (and how old do they act)?
- Where do they want to be in five years professionally, socially, and financially?
- What are their passions, their hobbies, their fears?
Engaging with your target audience armed with this knowledge will empower you to begin promoting your location from the very beginning. You’ll be able to frame all your discussions in a way that ties your city to the things that motivate your candidates. By persistently associate your location with their desired lifestyle, you drastically improve your odds of getting the new hire you want.
Be Passionate–and Show It!
Maybe you’re largely indifferent to your location —it’s just a place that you happen to live and work. That’s OK.
But if you do love it, that can make a huge difference to others. When you can express it in an appropriate way, passion and excitement about a location can make even the most hardened skeptics reconsider.
Be an Ambassador
Want top talent to come to your less-than-famous home? You’d better be ready to share all the things that make it great (also also have a realistic understanding of why an outsider might have a negative perspective of it). In particular, be familiar with:
- The Real Estate and Housing Situation: Regardless who their life stage or hobbies, everyone needs a place to live. Whether it’s a single bedroom highrise condo in the heart of downtown or a three-story suburban home, this is a key factor in any moving decision. Be familiar with where the real estate market is hottest, where the best deals can be found, where property taxes are most reasonable, etc.
- Schools: Schools are often the number one consideration among candidates that have children or could have them in the near future. If your area has an all-around great education system, you’re in luck. If not, you’ll have to do extra legwork to find out which schools do have a reputation of good performance or research the best private schools in the area.
- Local Attractions and Trends: Keep a finger on the pulse of your city and be ready to address positive and negative trends with your candidates. Rising crime rates? Falling property values? Are certain cultural scenes seeing a lot of action? Any industries or neighborhoods getting revitalized? Are you showing up in the national news for good or bad reasons? Staying on top of regional trends will allow you to get in front of any awkward questions and frame discussions in a more favorable light.
A Reliable Source of Help
Odds are good you read all that and got overwhelmed at the work your business has to do if it wants to attract top talent.
It is a lot, but unfortunately it’s something you, your hiring managers and your HR team will all have to contribute towards if you want to put your marketing in the best possible hands and grow the organization.
If you feel that you’re not equipped with the information, salesmanship, or experience needed to promote your location to outside talent, there are other resources you can turn to for help.
Your local government and business organizations might have resources you can leverage to help your cause. For instance, many cities’ Chambers of Commerce offer detailed information about the region’s economic development that explains to businesses and individuals alike why the area is an attractive destination to relocate.
A more effective solution is often to enlist the help of marketing recruitment companies with experience attracting high-performing talent from locations around the world and bringing them to cities of all shapes and sizes. A good marketing recruiter knows how to connect with top candidates and “sell” almost any location.