“Humor can’t be prescribed”
At Hannover Messe, Rainer Grill shows how Ziehl-Abegg, a classic mechanical engineering company, can present itself as an attractive employer to an audience of millions. The way to do this is using TikTok as a recruiting tool for finding skilled workers.
Ziehl-Abegg has tackled the problem of the shortage of skilled workers in a way that is unusual for B2B companies: with TikTok Branding. Since June 2020, a three-person TikTok team has been producing the short video clips. As of March 2022, the team has gained over 90,000 followers on the platform. In the beginning, Rebecca Amlung, Sophie Grill and Rainer Grill shot the TikTok videos after work. But now TikTok has become the company’s marketing highlight. Ziehl-Abegg’s employer branding is even being discussed as “best practice” at universities in Germany and abroad.
“How do we get people to notice us and get people to want to work for us? We have an employee market. The employee chooses where he wants to work. We try to roll out the red carpet for him,” Grill tells the audience.
In its videos, Ziehl-Abegg does not do any obvious product placement. He says the video team is concerned with showing that employees feel good thanks to a good working atmosphere at the Baden-Württemberg-based company.
This strengthens the employer brand and significantly increases the number of hits on Ziehl-Abegg’s homepage. Users of Ziehl-Abegg’s TikTok site can also be redirected directly to the internal career exchange via a link tree. Likewise, they can get to the registration for the international eSports events organized by Ziehl-Abegg. Another attempt at modern corporate branding.
The other advantage of this type of branding is that no additional costs are incurred. The TikTok platform is also free for companies and thanks to the app’s algorithm, a huge reach can be achieved. Ziehl-Abegg has also not hired any actors or other actors for this. Grill sees this as another important reason for its success: Authenticity.
“You need an insane amount of trust for the team. You have to accept that humor can’t be prescribed.”
While other companies hire influencers or celebrities, Ziehl-Abegg’s TikToks feature only its own employees. These are up to ten different characters of different ages and from different areas of the company. Accordingly, a broader target group is to be addressed. Equally important, he says, is the freedom of creative design of the videos, which last between ten and fifty seconds.
Grill: “The team must know the DNA of the company, must have great freedom and must not make clumsy advertising. And you have to accept, if you’re anywhere in the business department, that humor can’t be prescribed.”
Above all, he said, it is especially important to respond directly and quickly to trends in order to stay relevant on the app, which is used billions of times. And this, he said, can only be done with the complete freedom of the internal TikTok team. This was also given complete freedom by CEO Peter Fenkl. “That’s the message we take with us, to other companies as well: If you do something, give it to people who really know how to do it and feel like doing it. Don’t regulate them too much, just let them run on a long leash, and it will work.” In Ziehl-Abegg’s case, working means gaining recognition from customers and reaching out to potential employees.
Rainer Grill emphasizes how effective TikTok marketing is: “We are perceived as a dynamic company simply because we are already on TikTok. We are perceived as a company with a good employer brand, with a good working atmosphere, and we are seen by young people.” In addition, Rainer Grill is surprised that they are not only reaching teenagers, who are known as the main users of the app, but also people in their 20s and 30s. And it is precisely this target group of professionals that they want to address.
900,000 views in under a week on Ziehl-Abegg’s Telephone Challenge video.
Ziehl-Abegg (Künzelsau, Germany) is one of the leading global companies in the field of ventilation, control and drive technology. In the 1950s, Ziehl-Abegg established the basis for modern fan drives: external rotor motors which even today are still seen as state-of-the-art worldwide. Another area of business is electric motors which provide the power, for example, for elevators, medical applications (computer tomography equipment) or deep-sea underwater vehicles. The theme of electro-mobility for motor vehicles was established as part of the Ziehl-Abegg Automotive Team in 2012.
The high-tech company has an impressive innovative capability. Ziehl-Abegg employs 2,600 personnel in its production plants in southern Germany. The company has a global workforce of 4,700 spread between 16 production plants, 29 companies and 112 sales locations. The products, approx. 30,000 in all, are sold in more than 100 countries. Turnover totals 716 million euros, with exports accounting for three quarters of the figure, (all numbers refer to the year 2021).
Emil Ziehl founded the company in Berlin in 1910 as a manufacturer of electric motors. After World War II the company’s headquarters were relocated to southern Germany. Ziehl-Abegg SE is not a listed company but instead is family-owned.
For more information go to www.ziehl-abegg.com
Visit Ziehl-Abegg on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@ziehl_abegg