Practical Ideas to Build Your Brand
By Paul Quinn, Founder and Director
of Quinntessential Marketing Consulting Pty Ltd
article first appeared in Recruitment Extra Magazine, March 2007.
to branding success is to stand for something relevant, valuable and unique
to your target market. The trouble is, in a cluttered marketplace with over 3,000
competing recruitment agencies, the task of standing out from the crowd can be
a daunting prospect. The first piece of good news for those willing to invest
the time and resources required to achieve brand prominence is that the end prize
is worth the effort. A strong brand can be linked to higher sales, better margins,
more loyal customers, and more satisfied staff. The second piece of good news
(if you needed any more encouragement) is that theres a very good chance
that many of your competitors have overlooked the fundamentals of building a strong
brand. How many truly dominant brands, for example, can you name in your area
So what is effective branding?
In its simplest form, effective branding is all about
telling your customers who you are, what you do, and how you do it differently
in the most clear and compelling way possible. It is also about building the trust
of your clients and candidates. People like knowing what to expect from a product
or service. Establishing a consistent brand presence fosters trust which inturn
creates customer loyalty.
So, given that effective
branding can deliver many important benefits why arent more companies successfully
building strong brands? One reason could be that we live in an increasingly cluttered
market place. The number of marketing messages we receive each day is estimated
by researchers to be 3,000 to 5,000, and that the number of channels used to communicate
those messages has also exploded. How many recruiters, for example, had even heard
of the Internet 10 years ago? How many recruiters would survive today without
it? With this explosion in new communication channels to target clients and candidates
a raft of new brand building possibilities has opened up. The question for many
recruiters is What works? and Where do I start?
|Get The Basics Right First
Many brands are really just brand names because
they either have lost their distinctive characteristics or are not perceived to
- Duane E. Knapp, The Brand
Brand building doesn't have
to be about big budgets and splashy advertising campaigns. In many cases the typical
recruitment consultancy in Australia could benefit from a two pronged approach:
branding basics in place first, and then
5-10 simple, proven (and often low cost) marketing activities in a planned consistent
way throughout the year.
So what are
the branding basics?
Without exception, every
recruitment consultancy needs to know (and clearly promote) the answers to the
|What is our point of difference?
the branding basics in place first, and then
is our brand positioning?
||Implement 5-10 simple, proven
(and often low cost) marketing activities in a planned consistent way throughout
our capability to deliver on our promise?
deliver one thing and delivering something different is one of the fastest ways
to destroy brand equity. You need to convince prospects you have the staff, processes,
and means to consistently deliver what you've promised.
value do we deliver?
||If your product or service isn't
creating real value for your clients, you won't be in business for long. Note
that value doesn't mean 'selling at a cheap price'. Value means delivering something
of real perceived worth to your clients - often something that clients are prepared
to pay a premium for.
Once the answers
to the above questions have been agreed, execution of a number of mandatory marketing
activities should follow, including:
- Logo design,
cards and letterhead,
- Corporate signage,
- Capabilities document
- Competitive pricing structure and terms of business.
- Website creation,
- Well designed job advert templates,
- Service delivery guarantees,
I could go on, but 95% of you already have these 'basics' in place. (And by the
way, if you're in the other 5% then please call me quick - we need urgent dialogue).
|Seven Low Cost High Impact Ideas
To Build Your Brand
While by no means
exhaustive, the following list of ideas are a great starting point for those agencies
that already have 'the branding basics' in place.
Anticipated, relevant, and regular
contact with both current clients and prospects really works. And best of all,
it doesn't have to cost the earth. For example, a professionally produced bi-monthly
newsletter can be developed for under $10,000 per year. Research shows its 10
times easier to make a sale with an existing client than a new prospect. So if
you're one of those agencies with hundreds of 'dormant' clients on your database,
why not start communicating with them?
relevant content that is both interesting to your prospects and reinforces your
area of expertise. As your customers' awareness of your brand and what it can
do for them increases, so too should your sales.
So by now we all have websites.
End of story. Tick the 'Have working website' box and move on to the next marketing
Not so quickly.
you answer 'NO' to any of the following questions, then chances are you've still
got some work to do:
- Is your website's
creative design consistent with your offline image and does it portray your brand
in the best possible light?
- Does your content scream
'boring brochureware' or does it educate your site visitors regarding what you
do and compel them to act in ways that generate you business?
all of the pages on your site lead visitors to a final 'sign up' page? The page
where you attempt to get permission to communicate with them, send them a product
demonstration, get their contact details, book an appointment, sell your consulting
- Does your site offer a compelling reason
to stay and explore? And to return again in two week's time?
your site make it simple for visitors to find the information they've come for
(eg. jobs, salary information, hiring trends, etc), and engage your services (eg.
apply for a job, view a list of 'Star candidates', submit an inquiry about your
consulting services, etc)?
Word of Mouth
Here's some interesting
statistics to support investment in word of mouth and referral programs to help
build your brand:
- Research by Northeastern
University in the USA shows that 15% of every conversation includes something
about a product or service.
- 61% of those
conversations have an impact on the likelihood to buy a brand (Source: TalkTrack,
Keller Fay Group, 2006).
- A 12% increase
in 'customer advocacy' results in a 100% increase in company growth rates. (Source:
Word of Mouth Marketing Organisation, 2006).
what can be done to help ignite positive word of mouth amongst your clients? Simple
- ask them to help you. Every client visit you attend, every satisfaction survey
you send, every client function you hold, every form you ask customers to complete,
every article you write is an opportunity to ask for referrals. When done well,
it needn't be a pushy or uncomfortable exercise. Ask any company that has successfully
integrated 'word of mouth' initiatives into their everyday business practices
and they'll tell you it's an indispensable and extremely cost-effective lead generation
4) Search Engine Optimisation
down this magazine right now (go on - just for a minute!). Log onto Google.com.au.
Select the "pages from Australia" option, and
||Type: Your company name.
If your company doesn't appear in the first 3-4 listings
on page one of search results that's bad news. You have what I call the 'billboard
in a basement' syndrome - you have a presence, but unfortunately no body knows
||Type: Your category (eg. 'IT recruitment' or 'Healthcare executive recruitment').
If you're not appearing on the first page of search results then it's unlikely
that your website receives a high number of visitors and unlikely that your website
investment is being maximised.
by your results? Then its time to speak to a search engine optimisation specialist
(and a note of caution - this is usually NOT your web developer). With as much
as 85% of all Internet sessions starting at a major search engine, it's wise to
ensure that your website is on the radar.
It is not unusual for companies
to have a wealth of useful statistics, valuable information, interview tips, 'How
to' guides, salary surveys, and other interesting content locked safely away on
password-protected company hard drives, where no one can see it. Untouched, unused
and essentially wasted. I have an idea - why not let it be free? Why not do something
radical and post it to your website, e-mail it to your clients, or include it
in your next newsletter. Let your prospects benefit from it. Let search engines
index it and drive new traffic to your website. Let website visitors share it
and discuss it. Let the information reinforce your expertise, and become a valuable
source of competitive advantage.
|6) Search engine
If I was to ask you for $1 today,
and in return offer to pay you $50 in return (paid back to you in regular instalments
throughout the year) would you lend me the money? If you have a pulse, I'm sure
your answer would be 'yes!' Well that return on investment folks is well within
grasp for any of you willing to embrace the phenomenon that is 'search engine
advertising'. So irrespective of why you're not doing it now, you need to ensure
you don't wait a day longer to give it a try.
advertising to gain brand exposure in a certain niche market, to promote hard
to fill roles or to launch a new product or service, search engine advertising
has it's place in any modern marketing plan. For as little as 40 cents per click
on your ad, you can send prospects that are actively looking for your product
or service direct to a web 'information and inquiry' page of your design. There
are few better, more cost effective forms of marketing.
The Power of Publicity
A recent study concluded
that 76% of people don't believe that companies tell the truth in advertisements.
So if you want to get your brand name out there, and agree that paid brand advertising
isn't always held in high regard (not to mention can be expensive), then what
are people more likely to believe? Answer: research-based news items. Find an
angle that no one else is talking about and that complements your area of expertise,
run a survey on the topic, and release the most interesting elements of the results
to relevant press that cover your area of expertise.
heard of Morgan and Banks? How about Talent2? One was a prominent recruitment
brand, and one has quickly become one. What is one of the key branding strategies
they both have in common? A relentless commitment to researching HR trends, releasing
the results to the media, and positioning their people as experts in their respective
Doing Nothing Is Not An Option
you put your head in the sand and decide it's all too hard, then understand that
your target audience will talk and determine their own meaning for your brand
(and be warned - you may not like what they come up with). Dire Straits had it
right when they sang: "Sitting on the fence, is a dangerous course: You could
get a bullet from the peace keeping force." The ideas mentioned above are
neither difficult nor expensive to implement. And when done well, they have the
potential to generate significant brand awareness. Most importantly, they have
the potential to deliver a significant boost to your bottom line.
Written by Paul Quinn, founder and director of specialist recruitment marketing
consultancy - Quinntessential. Paul helps recruitment organisations of all sizes
with their marketing, branding and research efforts, and can be contacted on +61
2 9232 0172.
1. J. Walker Smith. President of consulting firm Yankelovich
2. Indy Associates,
Word of Mouth Marketing Association, http://womma.org
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