home Branding/Marketing/PR, Content Marketing Grow your agency…by writing, not selling

Grow your agency…by writing, not selling

by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, Editor and Managing Director at Clearly PR & Marketing Communications

During the recession the recruitment sector was hit hard. We all know that, and we all know that fewer jobs meant lower billings and intense competition between recruiters to fill the few and far between assignments that did come up.

An interesting development emerged from this: the realisation that to be of true value to candidates and clients, recruiters and job boards needed to remain relevant. They needed to give job seekers in particular a reason to continue engaging with them. Cue content marketing.

I wrote for a number of boards during this time and by the start of 2009 there was a noticeable change in the type of content I was being asked to produce for the likes of Monster, CareerBuilder, MSN, TotalJobs and TheLadders in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, India and throughout the Continent.

The focus had moved away from the short-term approach to job seeking towards encouraging candidates to take a longer term view of their careers. In practice this mean’t providing them with a wider range of valuable content such as industry information, job search strategy, hiring trends, workplace issues, salary information, thought leadership and an entire library of How-to articles.

And it worked.

For Monster, we produced over 500 articles, 38 ebooks and a bevvy of white papers over a five-year period across 23 countries. Our content won the Best Employment Advice on the Internet (NORAs) award three times, and was a Finalist twice in the face of some pretty stiff competition – The Guardian and Personnel Today to name but two. We simply understood the audience and reacted by producing the right content for them.

By 2010, one of the top three UK job boards we were working with reported that 40% of all their monthly visitors were not only looking for a new job, they were seeking career advice to help them in their current roles.

Focus on the WIIFM

The point is this: If you are serious about attracting customers to your website, you need to offer something of value to them. You need to address that critical sales mantra, What’s in it for me by visiting your site? And the main port of call for visitors will be your blog page.

This is the one area of the site where real engagement can be achieved and true value added. Managing a blog page for a recruitment agency is not just something that bigger brands with well-staffed marketing departments do. It’s something that you do, you and your teams.

Chloe Whitelock from PIE Recruitment brilliantly explains this in the latest issue of Recruiter imPRint. She shares an insight into how she manages PIE’s agency blog to great effect, and the incredible ROI they derive from it (you can read her piece here).*

The challenge, of course, is knowing what to write about and what sort of content will pluck the interest of those clients and candidates you want to be doing business with. But there are some cheats to help you out!

What style of content works best?

We use an online platform called BuzzSumo. This allows you to enter keywords into the search bar and the results show the social media posts with the highest number that contain your chosen keyword. This means you can identify what stories are of most interest to your audience. There are a number of others which you can see here.

Once you have an idea of what is trending in your sector, you need to be mindful of the different styles of content writing too.

Your audience, just like you, likes to see a mix of material; not even the FT sticks to just one subject area – they offer a blend of articles from finance news and opinion, to jobs, careers and culture.

There are four key styles of content that drive customers to your website, keeps them engaged, and boosts your profile as an agency they want to do business with:

  1. It provides useful information:

This style of blog communicates the news. There is little or no opinion, just the facts. For instance, it could be a blog that shares the news that Nigel Farage was the first UK politician to meet with President-Elect Donald Trump.

  1. It offers analysis:

This post looks at what the news means to your audience. Staying with the same example, this style of blog could look how Trump’s punitive tariffs and other restrictions on foreign trade could impact on those businesses dependent on trade with the US, and the implications for jobs here in the UK as a consequence.

  1. It is helpful:

This is ‘information marketing’ at its best – it provides answers to a question, need or concern of your audience. It is the How-to format which borders on the role of consulting (even customer service). For example, you could produce a blog on how recruitment firms and employers can better prepare themselves for the changes that lie ahead; thereby positioning you as understanding the challenges your audience faces and crucially, being able to provide a solution.

  1. It is timely and relevant:

To be truly helpful your blog posts need to appeal to the right people at the right time. There is a certain recruitment news website that I won’t name (but I bet you know who I mean) who publish stories more than a week after they have come out – a week after all their competitors have released the same news! Don’t be that website, it will do your brand more harm than good.

Get the balance right

To maximise the user experience you need to think about the journey that your customers (clients and candidates) take when they visit your site.

Consider what they are really looking for. They may not necessarily be there to complete an immediate transaction, they may just be looking for information that will solve a problem, educate, inform or simply entertain them.

Getting the balance right between not providing your customers with enough information and overloading them with too much, is a tricky proposition. An even bigger challenge can be finding time to produce this content in the first place, which is obviously where we help.

But the key message is a simple one: Content is what makes your potential customers become just that – customers. If they are able to gain access to curated content that is relevant to them, their experience of interacting and engaging with your agency will be all the greater.

If you need help creating content for your website, call us. We’re a team of award-winning writers who ‘get’ recruitment better than most. After all, with over 1,500 recruitment-related articles under our belts and experience of working with over 70 recruitment businesses, we should know what will work for your agency.

*PIE is not a client of ours. We’re great believers in sharing best practice and will happily promote real life case studies of recruitment businesses generating great results through PR – even if they have used a competitor of ours.

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