2017 is set to be an extremely strong year for the recruitment industry. According to Bullhorn’s 2017 UK Recruitment Trends Report, 75% of firms expect there to be more demand for recruitment and 86% expect revenue growth. For growing agencies looking to capitalise on this buoyant market, sector diversification can be an obvious move, especially as a looming Brexit may limit international expansion.
Successfully expanding into a new sector can create a model that can be replicated again and again as your consultancy grows. However, with no previous track record or case studies in that sector, it can be a challenge for recruiters to compete with established agencies and create brand equity in that field.
Here are our top tips for promoting your agency in a new sector:
Consider bringing in talent
One of the most obvious ways to win business in a new sector is to hire in a consultant with previous experience in that field. A good consultant will have already put in the work to establish themselves as a sector expert with their clients, and you can capitalise on their personal brand. However, with 71% of agencies citing talent shortages as their top challenge for 2017, attracting the right person could be a difficult and expensive undertaking.
If you plan to use consultants already in place, you’ll need to make sure at least one member of staff has responsibility for championing your company in the new sector and becoming an expert in that field.
Decide on your approach to branding
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when expanding in to a new sector is whether to use your current brand or create a new one for that market. Most recruitment agencies these days promote themselves as sector specialists and adding a new desk outside of your niche could weaken that image. However, setting up an entirely new brand means you have to start completely from scratch, with none of the reputation your existing brand has built up.
The best solution to this problem, at least for the initial launch, may be to set up a subtly different sub-brand for your new desk, anchored on the profile and prestige of your original brand, but clearly differentiated as a new offering.
Get your collateral in place
Once you’ve made a decision about which brand to use, it’s important to make sure that is reflected throughout your collateral, ideally before you launch in your new sector. You’ll need to either update your existing website and social media channels or set up new ones, as well as ordering new brochures, business cards, etc. The trick is for your new desk to look established, even though you’re brand new.
Once your brand is set up online, you’ll need to create some SEO friendly copy about careers and recruitment in your new sector to help bring in search traffic, as well as thought leadership articles to share online and establish your consultants as experts. Have a look at what your competition are talking about – there’s no harm in copying topics as long as you either do it better or add something new.
Start with a bang
To really generate an immediate impact in your new sector, you’d launch the desk with a substantial new piece of content, such as a survey or report on market trends. This can be shared on your website and social media channels to direct traffic and generate leads and may also grab you some PR in relevant sector press.
However, in order to be widely read and shared, your content does need to be valuable, interesting and unique. When your consultants and in-house marketing team are busy setting up a new desk, it can be difficult for them to spare the time to research and create something in-depth like this, so it’s worth looking at using an external agency for support in this period.
Don’t forget to allocate some budget for job advertising on relevant niche job boards – not only will this help you build a candidate base, but it’s also where clients are most likely to look when searching for specialist recruiters in their field.
When moving in to a new sector, it can be tempting to dip your toe in at first and see how it goes. While this can minimise the risk involved, it also won’t tell you how successful you could have been if you had spent time beforehand to set up marketing support for your launch.