How to Build an Employer Brand on a Shoestring Budget

Udi Ledergor
Published in
7 min readMay 26, 2019


By Gabrielle Hughes and Udi Ledergor,

This blog post was written in light of a talk I gave to Aleph Portfolio Marketing and HR communities on the topic of Employer Branding

[Thank you, Gabby, for being my co-conspirator on this topic!]

An employer brand is defined as a company’s reputation as a place to work and its employee value proposition.

Big firms spend millions of dollars on their employer brands. They hire dedicated teams of HR professionals to create and share content about their cultures. That being said, employer branding might be an HR challenge, but it is usually best solved with marketing tools.

At Gong, we’ve been tasked with doubling our company’s size over the next year. Like most startups, we’re not in a position to allocate millions to employer branding. Here’s what we did to quickly ramp up our hiring, convert more candidates into employees, and increase employee referrals:

Step 1: Identify your Company Needs

With the goal of increasing our team by 100%, we first had to take a step back and look at whom we wanted to hire.

Obviously, we would not have the success we’ve experienced so far without the initial team that has been here to achieve it. From this group, we were able to identify eight traits that make for an ideal “Gongster.”

We labeled these as our “Operating Principles,” which have since become our guiding light throughout the interview process, considerations for promotions, etc. These Operating Principals have also been the backbone of the employer branding campaigns we have created.

We’ll explain how in a minute…

Step 2: Give Ownership to Marketing

We found that marketers with a passion for people are the ideal team members to run an employer branding program.

Marketers are programmed to drive awareness and consideration of a product, ultimately leading to a purchase and a happy customer experience.

We used the same approach with talent candidates — but just reworded a few things:

When deciding who on your team can carry out employer branding responsibilities, look for one or two individuals who are passionate about fostering a wonderful company culture.

In our case, we dedicated 30% of our Content Marketing Manager’s time to executing everything associated with employer branding..

Step 3: Knock Out the Low-Hanging Fruit

The initial tasks your marketing team should knock out are the least expensive and the least time-consuming to tackle. In fact, you’ll often find that these are the ones that generate the highest ROI.

First and foremost, you need to have a killer Careers page. Along with your job listings, it should highlight all of the reasons why your company is a great place to work. It’s also smart to include social proof from both internal (i.e., employee testimonials) and external (i.e., awards and press) sources.

Udi Ledergor @Aleph

We also established our presence on Glassdoor. Here, we had dozens of team members share their positive experiences working at Gong, uploaded a variety of pictures of the team, and made sure we illustrated company perks and benefits.

Similarly, we created a Life at Gong LinkedIn page, which is the ultimate destination for job seekers. Along with the basic company information, we link to the individual LinkedIn profiles of our leadership team and showcase some of the original content our team has created using LinkedIn Articles.

For the younger millennial candidates, we even launched a fun and quirky Instagram page.

Step 4: Focus on Your Narrative

As mentioned in Step 1, our Operating Principles have been the foundation of all of our creative campaigns. This keeps our employer branding consistent, while reinforcing the same message with each new initiative.

Some examples?

Our most important operating principle is Create Raving Fans, in the form of customers AND our very own team. During our Go-to-Market Kickoff, we recognized seven outstanding Gongsters who demonstrated off-the-charts personal and team achievements, and whom we featured on billboards as “Employees of the Year.” We then launched a campaign with 21 billboards on the streets of San Francisco for 30–60 days (some of them are still up today!).

This created huge employee pride and deep gratitude for the company’s appreciation of them. It also sent a strong message to would-be candidates about the type of culture we foster and how we treat our employees. A double win by any standard.

Another way we’ve focused on our Operating Principles is with a video dedicated solely to them. We assembled a team of eight Gongsters to highlight each principle and use it as a reason they “hate” working here. This unexpected approach to showcasing our operating principles created a ton of engagement. Since launching this video, there hasn’t been a single candidate who failed to mention the video and how much they enjoyed it during their interview process with us.

Step 5: Don’t be Afraid to Spend a *Little* Money

Even if you want to run a billboard-sized campaign (yes, they were expensive), you can shuffle your priorities around to make it happen.

Think about it this way: instead of paying $25K to an external recruiter for bringing in a single $100K-paid employee, use that money for a few eye-catching billboards that’ll be up for a few weeks and help you attract a dozen good candidates. Doesn’t sound so expensive now, does it?

Once you’ve hit ~100 employees, it’s smart to get Great Place to Work®-Certified™.

For a small fee, you can apply for certification, which will automatically qualify you for every “Best Place to Work” list you want to be on (like Forbes, Fortune, and others).

If you have a small budget to host a meetup at your office (you basically need space and some refreshments), do it. We recently hosted a sales development happy hour and saw a huge turnout by offering refreshments and a panel discussion with our own team members.

If you’re still worried about costs, get other companies to co-sponsor the meetup to widen both your budget and promotional efforts.

Step 6: Don’t Stop Once You’ve Booked the Interview

The employer branding experience doesn’t stop once you have a candidate interested. Thanks to our incredible recruiting team, we’re able to go above and beyond the regular interview experience.

With every calendar invitation for a phone screen that we send out, we include a $10 Starbucks gift card so that the candidate can have “coffee on us” before or after the meeting.

During on-site visits, our Recruiting Coordinator gives candidates a tour of the office, offers coffee, tea, or flavored water from our Bevi machine, and escorts the candidates to the interview room. Once the interview is over, they are gifted a swag bag, full of an assortment of Gong-branded goodies. Candidates LOVE this.

We also took our referral program to the next level. Along with the traditional cash bonus (which we offer internally), we’re now providing both internal and external referrers dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants once they get someone hired.

Once you’ve established an employer brand, what’s next?

As with any marketing campaign, you have to test out what works and what doesn’t. And true to our “Want More” operating principle, we want even stronger employer branding here at Gong.

We plan on continuing to build these out with a dedicated Talent Marketing hire who has a dedicated budget for campaigns. These will include more videos, recruiting meetups, and maybe even another billboard or two.

To paraphrase Jeff Bezos, “Reputation is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Employer brand works the same way. People write more about negative experiences than positive ones. You’ll never have full control over your public image, but if you want to have some control over it, it’s worth making an investment to fully showcase all the great things about working for your company in a way that future candidates can easily find and interact with.

Aleph portfolio Marketing and HR communities meetup

Disclaimer: is not an Aleph portfolio company.



Udi Ledergor
Writer for

Five-time VP Marketing; Author of #1 Amazon Best Seller; food, wine, and whisky connoisseur