Creating an effective plan for your marketing efforts will build an intelligent foundation helping you make the right decisions (How to + Free Templates)Whether you love it, hate it or simply don’t understand it, marketing is now imperative for a successful recruitment agency. Marketing helps businesses to cut through the noise, and right now, there is a lot of noise.
With almost 24,000 recruitment agencies in the UK, it’s important for agencies to employ whatever means necessary to stand out from the competition, and marketing, among other methods, provides a fantastic vehicle to do exactly that.
Marketing isn’t just setting up a Twitter account and tweeting out your job postings whenever you remember. That is a sure-fire way to get lost in the noise. Marketing is a big beast, with hundreds of different strategies, methods, ideas and tools, which can be a little bewildering to the uninitiated.
That’s why we’re covering a whole month on the topic of marketing for recruitment agencies, to cover the essentials and give you a guide to implement an effective marketing strategy for your business.
Today we’re looking at the planning process of marketing, how to build a solid foundation in which you can create intelligent strategies. We’ll then share our quarterly plan technique to help us see our ambitious projects through and beyond. All complete with a couple free templatesand a lot of good, honest simple advice that we use everyday!
It all Starts with a Plan
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin
As Benjamin puts so eloquently, preparation is paramount. It all begins with effective planning from aims to objectives, target audience and your USP, getting this right will help you make the right kind of decisions when it comes to crafting marketing strategies.
Start with Defining your Aims
Your plan begins with the most foundational aspect, the sum of all your efforts, defining the aims of your marketing efforts. Simplicity is key. Think about what you want to achieve from marketing and its activities.
An example could be: “I want marketing to position our company as an industry thought-leader, while bringing in a steady stream of leads to our sales team, with high levels of traffic to our website” – That’s ours by the way…
Some other ideas and examples you could use are:
- Bring in more candidates
- Promote job roles
- Build your industry reputation
- Position you as a thought leader
- Bring in more clients
- Increase traffic to your website
Start off with an overall goal, which will be the accumulative efforts of your marketing. But, as you delve deeper into the specific parts of your plan you should set more specific goals (objectives) along the way. We will revisit this later on in the plan.
One of the most important parts of your marketing plan in a bit of market research. Know your competitors and keep an eye on what they’re doing. Although this could be seen as being reactive, keeping up with your industry is important, and doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive too.
At the same time as keeping your eyes on the competitors, you should also look to other industries for inspiration. As an example, the hospitality industry are generally brilliant at customer experience. Notice what they do well, take that and make it relevant to your business and industry.
Many business just play catch-up with their competitors, but the smart ones look outside of their market to see what they’re doing. This can create some innovative and creative results.
Keeping an open mind and observing companies inside and outside of your industry is the best way to stay on top of your marketing activities. This will give you ideas and inspiration for your own campaigns, which will give you somewhere to start, helping you develop your own creative ideas while driving your marketing strategy and business forward.
Build Customer/Client Personas
The next step in your plan is to construct customer/client personas, sometimes known as a customer avatar, which give you a clear picture of your target audience. A persona profile or customer avatar is a fictional person who represents your company’s ideal customer or client.
This step is designed to help you build a picture of exactly what your customers, clients, buyers and candidates are like. You may need to build more than one, so that you have an example for each type of client/customer.
We’ve also included a template download at the bottom of this section to help you get started.
Some of the characteristics you may want to think about when building your customer/client personas are: – Male/Female – Age – Likes – Dislikes – Hobbies – Geographical location – Motivations – Frustrations – Brands they may associate with – Work/job – Family – Personality type – Introvert/extrovert – Analytical/creative – Passive/Active
The more detail you can set in your customer/client persona profile the better as it will guide your decisions throughout your marketing plan.
To help you create your persona profile the best place to start is with your existing customers and clients as these are the people who you want to base your profile on. Doing a survey with some carefully thought questions can be a great way to get you started on finding out more about them.
There are many tools that you can use to help you to build your persona. YouGov uses their general population survey data to produce YouGov Profiles. This is where you can search for a product, brand or object and based on their results, it will display a profile. This can be really useful to give you an insight that you may not have thought of.
The main benefits of putting together a persona profile is that you will find out where your audience hangs out online, so you know the best place to concentrate your marketing efforts. You’ll also be able to make informed decisions on your efforts and projects, tailoring it to their specific needs, desires wants (or anything) so it will achieve a greater impact and resonate better with your audience.
To make the whole process just that little bit easier and quicker we’ve got a template for you to download for free. Download here.
Good branding will make your company instantly recognisable within your industry and hopefully outside it too. It will generally consist of the right colour scheme and logo to start with, but can also look a lot deeper than this too. At the beginning of a new company, it is usually one of the first things that is decided, so unless you are at the stage of just launching your business, you’ll already have a brand for your company.
As we are starting out on producing a marketing strategy or revamping your old one, the best thing to do is to audit where your branding is currently. Does it say what you want it to about your business? Is it aligned across all marketing and business channels?
Identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
As part of your marketing plan you should identify your unique selling proposition. This is what you have to offer your clients and customers that is unique and different to your competitors. Why should you clients/customers come to you and not your competitors? Think outside the box with it too, really think about what value you bring to their lives and businesses.
This kind of quality thinking will also give you the chance to create some interesting tactics, strategies and projects with your marketing.
Now you have got your preparatory work done it is time to get your marketing strategy moving. Start your plan off quarterly, which will give you enough time to get into a routine but you’re not wasting time planning too far into the future. The plan should be regularly analysed and as you learn from this analysis of how your marketing strategy is going, your plan will evolve.
The preparation that you put in to start with comes in handy here. Use the information you have obtained from your market research and persona profiles to guide where to advertise and focus your efforts. From this you should have gained a fairly good insight into where your target audience are hanging out online.
Getting started with your quarterly plan
When it comes to marketing you can sometimes truly get buried by the amount you want/can do, especially if you’re juggling it with other business activities. Having a quarterly plan to adhere to is paramount to our success, as it allows us to get down our ideas and make sure out projects reach completion.
We’ll keep it simple and stick to our quarterly plan, which we’ll provide a download for. The quarterly plan is made up of 3 parts: The Project, Aims & Measurable’s and Milestones.
But, before we get into what those 3 parts are exactly, it’s important to remember that your quarterly plan should be a platform in which you achieve your marketing projects, where you can sink your teeth into your weighty ideas. Your quarterly plan needs to be aligned with all the market research, buyer personas, USP and branding you’ve done before-hand.
Each entry into your quarterly plan will be an individual project. What we like to do is create a simple descriptive for our project (no codenames)
Example: Marketing in Recruitment Blog Article Month.
It’s recommended that you write a short description of what you’re trying to achieve with this project. Keep it simple, so others (and yourself) can see what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Example: To produce 4 articles, to release each week of the month. The articles will be covering marketing in recruitment, aiming to help our target demographic understand and implement marketing into their recruitment businesses. Short, simple and to the point.
Measurables for Success
Think of this one statement- “What does success look like for this project”. Knowing how to truly measure what a successful, completed project looks like will help you not only report to your team/superiors but will give you the ability to create a benchmark for future projects.
Some of the measurables you can use are things such as, the number of leads it produces over a given time or number of views it’s generated through tracking links. The measurable needs to be tangible to the overall success of your business.
Arguably the most important part of our plan. We like to break our hefty project down into bite-sized chunks complete with their own little deadlines. The goals of these mini-deadlines is to help create a flow that leads the eventual completion of said project.
Some points to remember when setting your objectives.
- Make sure they’re simple and straightforward; no fluff.
- Make your deadlines and time between them achievable, you need to know you and your team’s capacity.
- The deadlines need to be concrete and achieved on that date; don’t start moving them about or missing them otherwise you’ll struggle.
Return to your project with a W3
Every single project we complete we’ll return to within 2 weeks to conduct a W3 analysis to see whether it was success or not. If you’re not aware a W3 is a feedback technique for events, projects.
W1 = What went well. W2 = What went wrong. W3 = What would you do differently.
By this time we have all our measurable data, and perhaps a benchmark from previous projects, which will help us make an informed decision about the relative success of a project. Filling this in really helps you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your attempt, helping you make more informed decisions when it comes to doing more projects in the future.
Want to get started with a Quarterly plan for your projects? Download our plan template with an example of a project we recently completed. Download here.
This is just a snapshot that works for us when it comes to our marketing efforts (and it’s worked pretty well for us so far) but there are many different tactics and schools of thoughts when it comes to effective planning and management. It’s important to find your own groove and never hurts to fit schools of thought that you may be comfortable with into these existing plans.
Planning, in marketing, truly is an essential step to creating something which not only stands the test of time, but also creates a well thought out and executed attempt at capturing the attention of your audience.
Stay tuned for more articles from our Marketing in Recruitment Month, where we’re going to be really diving into the individuals elements of great marketing, helping you come up with some interesting ideas and really get your marketing under control.