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A few years ago, I was asked to present at the SME APSCO forum on marketing and branding. I was bloody terrified at the thought of presenting to a room full of recruitment leaders, but these opportunities don't come around every day, so I thought I'd give it a go.
I've helped launch and grow plenty of recruitment brands, so I thought this was a good place to start for a topic. Looking back over the last ten years I cringed at the thought of all the cock ups I made, but the few successes had clear common threads. A few hours later I had my deck ready... So here's that playbook of how to grow great recruitment brands.
Step 1 - Clarity
Define exactly what your brand stands for and commit to that 100%. Choose your niche and talent pool then forget the rest. Understand why you're going on this journey and why it means something to you, and don't stray off this path.
Consider your strengths and be honest about your weaknesses. As Ford famously said, "You can't build up a reputation on what you are going to do." So forget the boring mission that you aspire to be the best global recruitment business in <insert vertical>. We all do mate. What makes you special NOW.
If you're struggling at any point on defining your brand clarity, consider what you don't want to be and work back from there.
It may seem strange to use Geoffrey Zakarian, an American TV chef, to hammer this point home but he absolutely nails it with his quote. "Determine who you are, what your brand is, and what you're not. The rest of it is just a lot of noise."
Step 2 - Consistency
Once you have that brand clarity, you take it to market every day, come rain or shine.
The brand and core messaging should never stray off course and the minute it becomes too confused or diluted, you're back to square one. I like to use the analogy that your brand is a clothes rack, and everything you hang on it needs to connect with that core brand. How you answer the phone, the blogs you write, the people you hire, your BD proposals, the candidate experience, it all needs to hang on that consistent brand you're trying to build.
In my experience, this is the most challenging phase. It is the grunt work and I'm yet to find a silver bullet. If you build a hundred different brand touchpoints pushing out quality on-brand messaging every day, a few people might start to notice you. This momentum is difficult to build, but it becomes easier when your team and customers believe in your brand and help drive it.
Step 3 - Do one thing better than anybody else
The biggest mistake I see when brands go to market is playing with all the toys in the shiny marketing toybox. You end up spreading yourself too thin and doing many things poorly. Instead, do one thing better than any of your competitors and become famous for it.
We are in a time where one type of knock-out content can be repackaged, atomized and reimagined across multiple channels. It might take a few goes of trying different tactics but when you find the sweet spot double down on it.
It's important to remember to put your customer's challenges at the centre, then start to help in innovative and engaging ways. In my experience, community-driven projects work the best like super niche events or meet-ups, a topical webinar series or insight reports created from community surveys. That being said, never underestimate the strength of a good old fashioned newsletter or a kick-ass personal brand. It's just whatever your audience engages with.
Only 3 steps, easy peasy! I admit this is super simplified but I follow this playbook time after time. It helps to keep leadership teams and stakeholders focussed on growing recruitment brands that actually make a difference instead of fading into the background. I would love to hear if you have any thoughts - I'm always looking to evolve this.