Sales alone will not drive recruitment agency growth: Only 1 in 25 recruiters actively marketing their agency ‘brand’
UK recruitment businesses are depending on the ability of their consultants to win new business and drive growth in the short term rather than building their brand for long-term gain, according to a recent poll conducted by recruitment industry specialists Clearly PR & Marketing Communications.
In a straw poll of 220 delegates who attended the ‘5 Killer Ways to Build Your Recruitment Agency Brand Using PR’ seminar at last week’s Recruitment Agency Expo at Olympia in London, just 10 respondents (4% or 1 in 25) stated that PR and marketing currently forms part of their agency’s promotional strategy.
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, managing director at Clearly PR & Marketing Communications, presented the seminar. He said: “Since 2012, over 17,000 new recruitment businesses have registered with Companies and over the last 12 months alone, the number of new players entering the market averaged at 380 every month.
“Yet despite recruiters facing unprecedented competition from both new and existing agencies, only an estimated1 in 25 are taking their agency branding seriously.
“With 26,901 recruitment businesses registered with Companies House this equates to just 1,076 or 4% of the entire market.”
In January, Clearly PR & Marketing Communications obtained figures from Companies House under a Freedom of Information request to determine the size of the recruitment agency market in the UK.
The figures also showed that the number of newly registered recruitment businesses rose by 13.7% in 2016 year-on-year, making last year the fastest growing for over a decade.
“Unless recruitment businesses are doing PR, they will be overtaken and left behind by their competition. That’s not us trying to promote what we do, it’s basic business sense and it will happen.
“No organisation in any sector can possibly withstand 380 new players entering the market without it impacting on their bottom line.
“While it would be foolhardy to suggest that all-380 of these new entrants will be direct competitors, we can guarantee that at least one – probably more – will be.
“So for every month that goes by without an agency implanting a PR strategy of some sort, a new competitor will have entered their space. Over a year that becomes a minimum of 12 new entities that are slowly gaining more market share and chipping away at the profits and margins of those agencies who remain inactive from a PR perspective.”
Employer hiring decisions are increasing being influenced by the people they see, hear and read about. Being a ‘name’ or an established agency are no longer key factors when deciding what recruitment agency to partner with.
Rather, employers are looking for recruiters who understand the recruitment challenges they face and can position themselves as the best people to provide the solutions to these problems.
During the presentation at the Recruitment Agency Expo, Paul highlighted the case of a search firm who despite having been established and a well-known name in their sector for over 30 years was losing ground to a number of new competitors entering their space.
“The relative low cost of starting a new recruitment business combined with positive hiring intentions and a strong economy are seeing many would-be recruitment entrepreneurs starting their own agency,” said Paul MacKenzie-Cummins.
“What makes them a potent threat is that they know they don’t have a ‘name’ to back them up, so they pull out all the stops to build and promote their new ‘brand’ through social media, blogging, local networking events and featuring in key publications.
“In other words, they position themselves as front-of-mind for the businesses they want to work with most. The age of self-aggrandising has well and truly been consigned to the history books.
“Recruiters need to switch the focus away from what they perceive themselves as being great at doing and turn towards their prospects – always seeking to address the what’s-in-it-for-me factor if that employer opts to partner with their agency.”
In practice, that means having an appealing brand that is communicated through a strong social media presence, enhanced client and candidate engagement (not just selling), and having an active presence in the media where their target audience ‘hangs out.’”