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10 Marketing Mistakes Recruitment Business Owners Make

October 26th, 2022

The Recruitment Marketing and Sales Podcast

Let’s talk about marketing mistakes recruitment companies make, especially micro and smaller SMEs in the sector.

I’ve got 10 of them today.

These are the mistakes that come up repeatedly with people when we first have a discussion about improving their marketing.

From not having an action plan to ‘trying’ to copy a corporate they know.

The good news is they are easy to change.

Marketing and The Size of Your Business 

One of the things about marketing is that it depends on your organisation’s size and what you do.
We deal with micro-businesses, those under ten employees, and smaller SMEs.  

It’s a very different marketing process compared to being with the likes of Hays, Michael Page, and Adecco. These huge corporate organisations have a full marketing department and marketing team. We’re not talking about how marketing works there; we’re talking about how you, as a small business, can stand out in an incredibly competitive market.  

Remember, marketing is about creating demand. It’s about getting out in front of people so people know who you are, how you can help them, and how you can solve their problems, and then they can start to work with you. 

It’s about how you create that consistent demand for yourself and your recruitment brand. Let’s start with some of the most obvious mistakes that people make.  

1. Your Goals Don’t Align With Your Marketing Strategy 

Number one is not aligning your goals with your marketing strategies. You could even say the other way around, not deciding on the marketing strategies that will deliver your goals. Because often, we’ll have a conversation with someone they have a huge goal that they haven’t necessarily thought about how they might resource it. 

Therefore, they’ve got all these different ideas: “Oh, we could do this, and then we could do this, and then we could do that.”  

Then they don’t do anything.  

Here is an example; Let’s say that you want to start a new desk in a sub-vertical of a particular sector you are working in.  

You see the opportunity that is there. 

You know that there’s an opportunity there for you. Therefore, you need to think about the following questions. 

  • What’s my marketing plan?  
  • How am I going to communicate my value to the market?  
  • What’s my value proposition here?  
  • How am I going to get client leads and relevant roles to place? 
  • Then how will I find and attract the candidates? 

This is the planning piece that people forget about. They decide what their goal is but don’t factor in the detail of how to craft their message for the right candidates and clients and get their message out into the market. 

For example. 

  • What cold outreach are you going to do?  
  • What warm follow-up?  
  • Have you got a database?  

We encourage you to consider all these things because it’s fundamental to have goals and actions that will deliver them for you.  

When you look at the marketing checklist, one thing we discuss is to have a specific goal. Think about the marketing strategies I will probably need to consider when it comes to delivering the goal I have now.  

Look on the Superfast Recruitment blog if you want an idea of marketing strategies you can use that deliver results in the recruitment sector. 

2. Not Doing Research Before They Press Go 

Mistake number two is not doing research and analysis before you press go. This is the foundational work around messaging and avatar. 

Very few people like doing it. We’re just going through our foundational work. Again, we do it yearly, and we normally do it around this time as we prepare for our Superfast Circle event. We continually ask ourselves what challenges our particular clients are having now or will have next year. 

It is the same for every business owner because you need to consider defining your avatar. Many people we work with tend to be established and experienced in their sector and historically have not marketed themselves. 

The challenge is they are now pigeonholed as a recruiter that can only deliver certain types of roles, which isn’t true. 

Consequently, they aren’t getting the bigger roles they want. 

That is where doing your research and defining, this is the market we want to work with, this is what we’re going to do,” is so important.  

Because so often see companies throw up job ads and blog posts and send random emails. This is known as spray and pray marketing. 

In other words, they do not think enough about the clients and candidates they want to attract.  


3. No Focus on Brand Building 

Now number three is too little focus on building your brand. Branding has become more critical in the last few years because, during Covid, the power of a brand accelerated exponentially. 

People talk about where the internet was pre-COVID and where it is now; it’s grown five or six years before what was expected.  

This impacts your brand because, as a population, we spend more time online and, consequently, are even more discerning about whom we want to work with. 

Let me give you an example of how human beings work. You go on holiday, and you want a ‘nice’ meal, and you’re walking past a restaurant, and you look at the menu, the lighting, whatever it might be, and you think, “Oh, I’m not too sure about that place. It looks a bit worn out and dirty, not my place.”  

You may smile at that, but that’s exactly what we do, and we do that online now for everything. 

When looking at people online, we go, “Oh, their website looks a bit dated,” or “Oh, their social media doesn’t look very clear. That colour doesn’t quite match.”  

All of these things didn’t matter many years ago. We were fascinated by the internet, and candidates wanted a job, and that was it. 

Whereas now, people are looking at you and your brand. They make that unconscious connection that your brand indicates what type of service they will get from you.  

Brand building is vital. I think particularly if you are an organisation that wants higher fees and better clients. 

You need to elevate your brand in a written and visual format and in the content you share. 

Sometimes you go on a website, there’s been no new blog content, or it’s repurposed blog content from somewhere else, and it’s not formatted very well.  

It’s all about you and the team rather than solving a problem for your candidate and client. 

We talked a little bit about that in number two about your research. Think about your brand and the messages you communicate, and is that either attracting or repelling the candidates and clients you now want? 

4. Ad Hoc or No Planning 

The fourth mistake is that people don’t plan at a detailed level, if at all. 

What I mean by this is that people aren’t thinking about their short, medium, and their long-term goals. Now, marketing can work fast when you leverage your low-hanging fruit. 

These quick wins are often from people who are ready to buy now. We talked about the buying cycle a few weeks ago. It’s important to have a short, medium, and long-term marketing strategy that you are using that will deliver for you time and time again.   

Something that I notice is that many recruitment companies are doing incredibly well. Yes, there are candidate short markets, but they’re doing well, taking their foot off the gas regarding marketing. 

A poor move for your future growth. 

Let me explain using a sales analogy here, as I suspect many people reading or listening to this post have worked in sales at some point. 

Pausing marketing is just like not filling your pipeline. From a sales perspective, we all know what happens when we’ve had a really good month.  

We say, Oh, I’ll take it a little bit easier after last month, and then six weeks down the road, we wonder why we haven’t booked any sales calls. 

When it comes to marketing, it’s the same. If you are not consistently marketing, people will forget about you. It’s a bit like that empty pipeline that we all hate having. That’s the same when it comes to marketing. 

Even though you are in yippy, dippy do-good times at the moment, remember that potentially we’re entering a mini-recession; The Bank of England likes to call that which always sounds better. People will be reconsidering their suppliers and reviewing their careers, so now is a time to market to those people.  

That leads me to number five, which is consistent implementation. 

5. Lack of Consistent Implementation 

I love working with recruitment companies because they are action-takers. Unfortunately, they get bored very quickly, and their consistency of implementation stops. 

Someone will get excited, you’ll see a flood of posts on social media, and then literally, you won’t see anything. The process hasn’t been systematized, and they are short of content or don’t know what to post. 

This is an Achilles’ heel for people. Consistency is vital if you want to influence long-term because people are looking for that long-term play. Consistency is one of the keys to influencing and, ultimately, conversion. 

There’s no excuse these days, as there are many tools and companies to help you. Tools like MeetEdgar, Paiger, and Canva and programmes like Superfast Circle provide the content resources you need. 

These things can help you build your brand and implement your marketing. 

6. Copying the Corporates 

Now, number six is a mistake, copying the corporates. You could think that would surely be a good idea, Denise. Yes and no. The challenge is that someone will watch something on TV and think, “Oh, Indeed is advertising or Mark and Spencer are doing this, or booking.com are doing whatever.” 

The challenge here is that that organisation has a huge marketing budget and team, which you don’t. You can’t afford to spend six figures on an influencer strategy or testing a new campaign. Marketing for micro businesses is different. You want guaranteed strategies that have demonstrated they work.  

It would help if you had direct outreach alongside all the digital channels and the automation you want to use. Yes, of course, it’s fantastic because automation and tools of that type are accessible. They’re not outrageously expensive anymore for smaller companies to use. However, you will need direct outreach because you haven’t got the brand presence of Hays; you haven’t got the brand presence of Michael Paige. 

You are ACME recruitment in Rochdale, and you need to do things slightly differently. It would help if you had different strategies that the corporates don’t have to use and don’t have to implement because they don’t need to because they’re a household name, but you aren’t. That’s why you need to consider all the different elements in your marketing mix, which we’ll get onto in a second. 

7. Outsourcing and Abdicating 

Now, the next thing I want to discuss is outsourcing and abdication. Some companies give everything to a marketing company and expect them to mind-read what they do. 

Trust me; this is a disaster waiting to happen. 

I’ve had to go back to them and tease everything out of them because you have all the absolute knowledge about you and your brand. Because of how the market is moving, it’s important to build that internal capability, which I’ll come onto. Outsourcing absolutely everything, people think it’s an easy win, and in fact, it isn’t. 

Yes, there are some things that you might want to outsource if you’ve got a technical person that can do multiple campaigns for you, or you’ve got someone that’s doing your paid advertising or something like that.  

However, the strategy has to come from you. You need to learn and understand how marketing can work for your organization because just abdicating everything, my friend, I have seen some absolute disasters. 

I’ve seen it put people off marketing completely. It’s because they didn’t take responsibility and accountability for their brand and actually learn enough to give people direction. 

They could have saved themselves a lot of money.  

A please from me; don’t outsource absolutely everything without knowing and understanding what you are doing. Build that internal capability. 

8. Not Enough Fishing Lines 

Now the next thing I want to talk about is multiple fishing lines. People do not use enough ideas and strategies. Specifically, something I notice is people forget about the fact that you need to have candidate marketing and you need to have client marketing. For those of you building a team, you need to have a talent marketing pipeline because we’ve all experienced what’s been going on in the last two years; there’s been a more intense candidate shortage. 

Some of that is fuelled by the fact that many people have just said, ‘Oh, well, I do client marketing. Don’t do any candidate marketing because all the candidates come to me, and now, they’re not.’ 

 People are wondering why, “Oh, I don’t seem to have any connections with candidates, and now the job boards are charging me so much; what can I do?  

This uncomfortably is where ignoring parts of the process in your business around attraction has created huge problems for you. 

This is where you need to start considering what candidate attraction and marketing strategies I have or need. 

Because candidates just aren’t sitting there waiting for your call anymore. You have to go out there and influence them about why it’s you and your brand they want to be working with, not Hays, Adecco, and not all the big boys.  

No offence to any Hays listeners here. Some of the clients we work with are ex-Hays and ex-Michael Page, but what I’m saying here to make people aware is your marketing needs to encompass everything you are doing in the business, not just when you need it.  

It needs to be long-term. 

Plan out multiple marketing strategies to build your authority and brand presence so that you are attracting the candidates and clients you now want to work with. 

Here is the metaphor I use, and it relates to fishing. 

If you are a fisherman and you would want to catch more or different fish, you have to use different lines and bait; and more of them. 

It’s the same when it comes to lead generation and business. 

If you only stick to one or two strategies, you are curtailing your opportunities. In our Superfast circle, we give our members multiple strategies and the collateral that goes with them. If you want to know more, book a call with one of us here. 

9. Not Building Internal Capability 

This mistake I have touched on before connects with a couple of other things I’ve discussed: not building internal capability. 

Many micro-businesspeople think I can’t afford to get a marketer or I want to outsource everything. 

Both are incorrect ideas that will not serve your longer-term growth. 

Something for you to consider. 

We have several clients that work with us; they’ve got four or five consultants and a full-time marketer, and they are smashing it. One client we spoke to last week has had his best month ever in business. 

They are doing so well because they’ve got a marketeer working for them that can help their implementation and build that internal capability. Now what’s interesting is all of those business owners started with us and brought marketing support. 

They saw the value of marketing and what it could deliver for them. 

Some of these people are part-time and full-time, and what people seem to forget is that there’s all this thought that I need to get another consultant, another consultant, another consultant. I understand you need more salespeople, but you also need brand awareness if you want to give your BD team a sporting chance to make sales 

Learning marketing and building that internal capability will make a massive difference for you in the future because you will be astounded at the difference that will make for you. 

It’s a mistake to think that marketing costs the business. Marketing is an investment for the company, and people around marketing are most definitely that.  


10. Not Getting Support From A Marketing Mentor 

Now the final thing I want to talk to you about is not going out and getting advice about marketing from someone that might have a few ideas on how you could support yourself.  

Yes, this is an outrageous plug for us, but it is something that we see a lot. This is because people start marketing without knowing what they’re doing.  

When our clients work with us, they are honest and admit; they don’t know what they don’t know! 

They want some clarity; they want some direction, so they move in the right direction. We give them that they know that if they’re heading off, they’re action takers, they’re going in the right direction, and they are clear on what they should be doing. They know they’re going to get results. I think it’s a thing to remember that marketing is a discipline.  

You imagine you’ve got your sales consultants; I’m sure many of you have sought outside advice. 

You might have even hired a trainer and brought that trainer into the organisation to teach your recruiters how to recruit, sell, influence, and resource.  

All of these things are similar in marketing.  

Creating your marketing capability in your company is something you can get advice on; you can get a marketing mentor. We do that with our people; we are their virtual marketing directors. 

It is something that a lot of people don’t think about. They see something on the TV or another recruitment company doing something in a different sector, and they think it will work for them without getting some advice.  

Many of you here know about Superfast circle, but a pre-step to that is going and downloading all our reports and watching our on-demand training, which you will find on our downloads page here. 

A second thing you can do is go and join our Facebook group. 

We have a Facebook group called Recruitment Marketing Mastery 

We’re sharing content in there all the time. We’re sharing resources. You can ask any question at all, and we will come in and answer it.  

That could be your first stage of getting advice about what you can do.  

We’ve had clients that have come to us who had a website designed. They’ve come back and said, I wish I’d spoken to you earlier because I probably would have saved myself a few grand here because I had things done that I didn’t need to do and I should have had other things done that I did need to do and now I haven’t. 

There are so many things that you can get help and support with and coaching around when it comes to marketing. 

Get some help and advice on marketing your company because the market is changing, and we are experts who can help you. 

What Next? 

Think about what you are doing, think about what you want to implement, and then you can take action.  

We work with recruitment and search firms worldwide and would love to help you. 

Book a call in our diary here if you want to talk with us. Or email us here. 



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