Money and salaries. It is a notoriously uncomfortable subject for many people.
Price points are nothing new for marketers, we are regularly assessing, setting and monitoring these in the markets in which we work. But, how many of us think about price points when setting or reviewing a marketing salary?
You assess the value of the role, the skill set requirements and compare against the market conditions. As a candidate or employee however, you look at your marketing salary in terms of your own worth, and set your own salary anchors. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to find a compromise between the two when you are recruiting.
Marketing salary anchors
What does a salary really mean to someone? There is the obvious point that we all require money to live, and the amount will to a certain degree dictate the style in which we do. However, psychologically it is so much more.
A salary is a means of measuring value, and we all want to earn what we feel we are worth. Whether we do or not has a direct impact on our satisfaction levels*. So, when considering a new job, the salary on offer must correlate to our own salary anchors, and the decision for a candidate goes beyond “can I afford it?”
The initial anchor for a role is usually the marketing salary band. This is what the candidate will see on applying for the job. They will anchor on a price point in that band, usually from the mid to top. Any salary that is offered therefore, will be assessed relative to that anchor. Those who set an anchor at the top of the salary band will be less likely to accept a salary offered in the mid-range.
Their initial anchor is what they deem the job to be “worth”. If a marketing candidate deems they are capable of doing the job, this is what they also consider themselves to be worth. Research has shown that once that initial anchor is set, even if different ones are introduced at a later stage, you are unlikely to deviate*.
From an employer’s perspective however, the candidate may not tick every box in terms of their requirements and will have to invest in that candidate before they fulfil the person specification in its entirety. They may feel therefore that the top salary range is not appropriate and we can end up at an impasse.
Salary as a secondary consideration
We frequently see marketing strategies positioning companies as “social companions” (particularly within the B2C arena) as marketing teams recognise the advantages of engaging with customers in a social relationship.
These strategies have also tipped into the employer/employee relationship and we see employers who require candidates to want to work for their business and engage in a social relationship rather than a market one*.
In this instance, the marketing salary becomes a secondary concern for employers. Consequently, it is possible to lose sight of its importance to employees and by extension, candidates. However, we attach far more significance to our salary than simply the pounds and pence. It is less about the actual digits and what this allows us to tangibly afford, but rather becomes a reflection of our own value, and our value relative to others*.
Under these circumstances, you can and should expect candidates to negotiate whether formally or informally as part of the offer process. You may find you need to explain why you are offering a certain level to ensure that the candidate understands your thought processes and feels that they are valued for the skill set they bring to the table. It is equally important to highlight that you are willing to invest in their development moving forward, so that their view is of a business who values and invests in its employees.
* Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational, (Harper Collins, 2008)