Getting out of the ‘Recruitment Bubble’ – Ben Dalzell, Head of Marketing

I have a confession. I hate going to recruitment specific events. I suppose that’s a little odd as Head of Marketing for a Life Sciences Recruitment Company, so let me explain…

In my experience there is always someone trying to sell to you and pretending to understand the full scope of marketing. I know some great Marketers in the recruitment industry but they just don’t seem to be at these events. So, when I recently attended Marketing Week Live 2019 at London Kensington Olympia it was refreshing. 

Getting out of the recruitment bubble is so important in getting inspiration and exposure to ideas that aren’t industry specific. For me, it’s about challenging the way our business works and evaluating the way I think. 

Here are my key thoughts from the event and how they can apply to the recruitment industry.

The highlight of my day was a talk I attended by Thomas Barta, an industry expert in ‘marketing leadership’, who shared the following quote, “Great Marketing leaders, are great change leaders”. His whole presentation was incredibly relatable, however this quote in particular stood out to me. I pride myself on my ability to drive creative innovation within our business, admittedly, I don’t always get it right, but the majority of my career success has come down to trying something different and making a change. It reassured me that as a department and as a business we are on the right track; we are continually challenging ourselves to make changes and that is what drives our brand forward. 

Marketing in the recruitment industry is, more often than not, seen as non-essential. I might be bias, but I think that approach is flawed. At Meet our brand is a key part of the business strategy, and luckily for me I work with a CEO who is enthusiastic about evolving the brand, as well as a board who are very engaged in marketing strategy. It still astonishes me to see recruitment businesses (or any business for that matter) without an online presence or an effective brand strategy in place. 

Perhaps this absence is because there is a lack of understanding of the marketing mechanics in many recruitment businesses. I think there is a huge misconception that the marketing team are just there to make things look pretty, even in our business. Actually, an enormous amount of time is invested in studying analytics and making key decisions that affect whether we receive “that” application or “that” client calls in. After listening to Barta talk, I realised that’s not just a problem in recruitment it’s how almost all sales teams perceive marketing.

What was Barta’s answer to this industry wide problem? Mobilise your colleagues. Get everyone engaged. It’s your responsibility as a Marketing leader to better educate the team you work with.

All of the sales leaders in our business are great people, with brilliant personal stories that make each one of them inspirational. It drives me crazy that they don’t utilise their personal brand more! I think that’s because they don’t see the immediate benefit (this might be a bit stereotypical but sales people want to see instant results), but creating a personal brand is not something that happens overnight. 

This links to a key business objective (in any organisation, not just Meet): to hire brilliant people. Our ethos is that people are the key to business success, whatever the size of the organisation the people who work there are its biggest asset. So why not use our biggest asset to attract new talent? The great leaders we have here at Meet (and they’re not just great leaders but also great people too) are an excellent selling point. I want to work with each of the leaders to engage them in our marketing and create individual personal brand strategies. Fundamentally, I want to mobilise my colleagues.

However, a key part of getting internal engagement in our marketing activities is also understanding the needs and objectives of the sales team. During Barta’s talk he had us write down our 5 key projects for the quarter and then our CEO’s 5 key projects. Then he asked, where do they overlap? How can marketing help achieve the CEO’s goals? It was a really interesting approach that I’d never heard before. This message doesn’t just apply to working with a CEO, my interpretation of what Barta was saying, was get as much face time in different areas of the business as possible, so that you fully understand a sales leaders approach and their business objectives. From there, you can advise the team on how to achieve these goals from a marketing perspective. 

So, I hope I’ve not rambled on and if you’ve just skipped to the end I’ll summarise my key take-aways: get as much FaceTime across your business as possible; don’t underestimate the importance of internal engagement; remember personal branding is key; and finally, educate everyone in your business on the importance of marketing. I’m sure other Marketers in the recruitment industry go through similar trials and tribulations - I hope my insights have been useful to you.


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