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How branding protects against commoditization

job board commoditizationCommoditization – it’s a big word. What does the dictionary tell us? “When a product becomes indistinguishable from others like it and consumers buy on price alone, it becomes a commodity. ” (emphasis added)

One of the top concerns expressed in the recent job board industry survey was the commoditization of job postings – and by default, the job boards that provide those job postings. In short, if job postings are just job postings, then the lowest price will prevail. That isn’t good for job boards.

Now, what’s wrong with this picture? I can think of several things: a) a job posting on a focused, vibrant, busy site is a far cry from a job posting on a ‘zombie’ board; b) job postings really aren’t the same – the content and presentation (and usefulness to the job seeker) vary widely from site to site.

But try telling that to a budget-starved HR or recruiting pro. If they’re dealing with you solely on the price, you are already in trouble.

How can you prevent the commoditization of your job board and its products? Branding (and I mean that in the best sense of the word).

People think and buy in terms of brands. There is a reason that almost every job seeker knows about Monster and CareerBuilder – these organizations have spent years talking about their brand. Branding works for the non-Monster boards too; if you’re in the advertising and media world, you probably know about TalentZoo and MediaBistro. Both have been effective at defining and communicating their brands to their target audiences.

Sure, branding takes some money – you have to reach your audience repeatedly, over time, and sometimes you’ll want to spend on emails, sponsorships, and advertising. But the real work in branding happens up front: defining what your value proposition is; boiling that down to 10 words and a compelling image; and thinking about how your brand will permeate every aspect of your business.

The payoff? Your job board will not be a commodity.  Your job board will be a valued brand that commands a premium price for its services. And that’s where you want to be!

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