Recruitment Marketing Agencies partnering as Trusted Advisors

By Claire Herriott and Cathy Hyde

White Label spoke at the FIRM London Conference on 1st November about how FIRM members could be utilising recruitment marketing agencies more and we tackled some of the barriers that we know members come up against when discussing the idea internally.

Having supported The FIRM with their social media marketing for the last six months, we’ve attended several FIRM Days and seen the great ideas that members are sharing. But we have also heard consistently that with their priority being immediate hiring targets, it can be a struggle to find the bandwidth to implement anything new.

We discussed how the role of a recruitment marketing agency has changed:

25 years ago, when we started out in the sector, recruitment advertising agencies were writing and designing adverts for newspapers and magazines. As a media buyer, negotiating the first top right, quarter page colour advert in the Sunday Times jobs section was always a highlight. Although running out to grab a copy on your weekend with baited-breath that it had reproduced correctly wasn’t as much fun! Effectiveness was judged on achieving preferential media rates, the number of applications generated, and winning awards for creative work.

This all started to change in 2000 with the boom of the internet, the growth of LinkedIn, the advent of in-house recruitment and the shift from print to digital.

In 2008/9, the credit crunch saw a decline in recruitment advertising agencies. The migration to ‘cheaper’ online media impacted their resources and media buying teams shrunk or disappeared from some agencies completely. Clients had developed some ability to start doing it themselves, at the same time as agencies bandwidths were stretched, and they all extended their creative expertise into employer brand, EVP and web development.
Fast forward to 2018 – it’s an ever-increasing complex, digital landscape. Media is now more than the spray and pray posting to online job boards, the traditional processes of planning and buying media have grown increasingly complex and harder to manage as a result. As decisions have to be made about social media marketing, search engine marketing, behavioural targeting, pay per performance options and when non-digital platforms could still be used, expertise in this area helps define success.
These days Recruitment Marketing agencies have a very wide breadth of expertise and services. They support clients with everything from market mapping, competitor bench-marketing and employee engagement to employer brands and candidate experience. We cross-referenced this to the FIRM’s annual research which showed that the majority of these were either a top priority for members over the next 12 months or things that members wanted to do but weren’t able to. This is where that additional, external support could bring so much benefit.
However, we also know that for a whole host of reasons, employers and in-house teams can be reluctant to engage with marketing agencies having spent so long doing it themselves or if the core 0bjective is to remain a self-sufficient team.

These are some of the barriers that we and our counterparts at other agencies often hear:
“Recruitment Marketing Agencies cost a fortune.”
“We direct source so why do we need a recruitment marketing agency.”
“We’ve used them before, but they always end up disengaging….”
“We can get a better deal going direct.”
“They have their own interests at heart and we’re not the priority.”
“I know they can add value, but I don’t know how to get the budget or Internal buy-in.”
“They always try to sell us extra stuff.”
During our session at the conference we talked about the different ways some of these can be tackled such as using agencies for one-off projects or only certain elements of support rather than introducing them as ‘full service’…all or nothing. We talked about how often supporting the upskilling and growth of client’s expertise internally is often what’s needed, and how we are one of a number of agencies that do this. And how in today’s world, a multi-agency approach is often the best solution for some many employers.

At White Label, we couldn’t be happier than when we’re referred to by our clients as their ‘trusted advisors’ – which we have heard on a number of occasions. The reason? We’ve built our business on our core value of being Collectively Successful – we’re not here to make ourselves famous but to meet our clients’ objectives and make them look good. If we all get a bit famous along the way, then that’s an added bonus. Of course, we charge for our services, but we also know that every penny must secure a return on investment. We track, analyse, measure and report on everything. And we believe in good old-fashioned client service. As one of our clients recently told us, “you add value with your wider market knowledge, you work at the relationship and make it enjoyable.”

If you’ve been thinking that a little extra help could go a long way to meeting your objectives. If you’re not sure where to start, then contact us on 01992 536272 or take a look at to find out more. If we’re able to help you then we’d love to, but equally if we’re not we’ll let you know and be more than happy to connect you to the right people.