When I think about recruitment businesses in my local area, and across the country for that matter two things are apparent; there’s a lot of them, and there seems to be two main schools of thought when it comes to the way that they position themselves. There’s the ones who keep things simple, promote their services to all sectors and talk about having experience across the board or there’s the more targeted agencies, taking a ‘client-centric’ approach and focusing on certain sectors.
Given that it’s such a saturated market, specialising to some degree may not be a bad thing. The potential issue with doing that however is obvious – you’re limiting yourselves significantly when it comes to the number of businesses you are going to appeal to. Despite that, there’s a strong argument that actually it’s the way to gain competitive advantage in today’s recruitment industry. But what are the reasons behind this?
Marketing is always better when there’s a clear focus, which being client-centric and immersing yourself in their world will allow you to do. Messages can be tailored to the exact purpose/sector, highlighting your knowledge of that industry and how you can help clients address their key pains and activity will be consistent so there’s no risk of confusion. If trying to appeal to multiple sectors then you’ll either be always posting generic messages without as much impact, or conflicting messages that make it unclear exactly who it is that you are targeting and potentially limit your appeal.
Increased appeal to those sectors
Okay, so you’ve alienated yourselves from however many sectors but, to those that you’re targeting, your appeal is going to be much stronger giving you a huge competitive advantage. When given the choice who wouldn’t prefer to work with an expert in their field? The key when it comes to achieving this is using the right promotional messages and really highlighting your experience, not just the fact that that it’s them you’re targeting – experience will be what attracts people.
Clear focus for your consultants
By giving your consultants a clear focus, they can learn about that industry and all of the intricacies and position themselves as thought-leaders, both through their activity online and when having conversations with candidates and clients. It will also help them with placing candidates, as they’ll know the roles and businesses so well that the right people will more instantly spring to mind. It’s important to encourage your consultants to do this if you are going to take this approach, educating them as to the benefits of making this effort and allowing them time or incentivising them in some way to get to know their industries, and to be doing ongoing research on a regular basis.
Enhanced quality of relationships and more repeat business
If being client-centric allows you to take a more focused, qualitative approach to the business that you’re doing then your relationships with your clients will only improve. This should not only help your consultants when placing candidates but also positively impact whether you get repeat business, your ability to become official suppliers for organisations and your referenceability which can be important when promoting your experience in a sector. Having testimonials, case studies and references is a great way to back up any claims you make about your expertise, and clients you have a good working relationship with are far more likely to oblige.
The above doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful if you don’t take this approach, however it’s arguably easier in today’s market if done well and the benefits far outweigh the potential drawbacks. As I said at the start it isn’t a case of just targeting one vertical, it’s a case of focusing on a certain sector or closely connected sectors and the verticals within those and then giving your consultants a more particular focus within that. It also isn’t a case of just picking verticals out of thin air; to work you need to have the background knowledge both personally and within your team, so start with evaluating your skillsets first if you’re going down this route. It’s all about striking the balance, tailoring your approach, empowering your consultants, being client-centric and doing what you do well in order to make money and be successful as a business.