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Why would you co-brand recruitment advertising?

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Why would you co-brand recruitment advertising?

The norm in recruitment is for recruiters to advertise positions given to them by their clients but anonymously without the company being named. This represents the overwhelming majority of recruitment marketing. Most commonly when companies advertise using their own branding, they advertise directly.

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That’s how much of the sector works but there are significant advantages to a co-branded route.  However, this article is not aimed widely but narrowly.  I’m not going to discuss the merits of co-branded recruitment advertising in general.  I’m going to focus on the IP sector specifically.

Those of us working in IP know a few truths.  It’s a pretty small sector and highly networked.  No matter how well an advertisement is crafted, certainly when you’re looking for anything other than entry level positions you will have very few applicants and people in the sector have long memories so a good campaign can have a disproportionately positive impact.

Historically, a campaign style recruitment project has often been associated with retained search.  Certainly, in my early days in finance recruitment, it would involve an advert in the FT and some headhunting.  Less a campaign more an advert funded by the client plus a third of the recruitment fee upfront. And because people still read newspapers when I started recruitment in the late 1930s, that often worked.  You would either receive direct applications to the advertisement or candidates might respond more positively to a headhunt call because you had something published to point to.

Recruitment has changed significantly over the last twenty years and I think we need to be a little more sophisticated.  Campaigns can be tied to search but really don’t have to be.  Actually, recruitment campaigns don’t necessarily need to be concerned with a specific job at all. There is plenty of benefits that can be built by messaging a client as a firm of choice – why people should aspire to work there.  There is an assumption in the IP profession, particularly with private practice and especially amongst attorneys moving firms for the first time, that every firm will be the same, every job the same, so what’s the point of moving?  That is most certainly not the case but there are significant advantages to be gained by communicating the differences a firm has to offer.  And if these campaigns are not tied to a specific piece of recruitment they can have broader scope and goals, and they can define the framework for when there is a vacancy.  Doing the work ahead of a need and not doing the work alongside a need which is much more difficult.

This is not about high volumes of traffic, if you want a vastly popular YouTube channel you likely need to regular feature cats.  Driving engagement in the IP sector does not mean millions of views, millions of followers or being swamped with applicants.  In the profession, it means giving yourself a better chance than your competitors of reaching that one candidate who is tentatively looking for a position and who might resonate with the messages you disseminate.  And possibly reaching them months or even years before they’re looking for a job and months or years before you want to recruit them

But why not do this yourself? You have a fantastic marketing department and a strong brand image, wouldn’t this be more cost effective and applicants will engage with your brand?  Sometimes yes.  But then sometimes, and more than you might think, not.  Why? I think the psychology around this is interesting.  Recruiters exist.  Even when they are advertising anonymously for a client quite often it is relatively straightforward to determine who they’re recruiting for.  And yet, many people prefer to use us than directly apply.  Sometimes this is because they want a recruiter to represent them to multiple organisations so going through them is more convenient than making numerous applications.  More often than not, however, and particularly for candidates contemplating but not absolute about moving firms, a recruiter can be a gateway to a job without having to fully commit to an application.  There is value in having a sounding board in the process, someone you can express your concerns to without having fear of consequence.  I think the same is true of a co-branded approach to advertising.  It increases the potential upsides.  You do still achieve the benefit of repositing your own brand but then you have the added bonus that the recruiter will engage on your behalf with potential candidates who are not ready to apply for positions as yet.  Then our network is highly likely to be different by working in partnership with a recruiter you maximise the reach of the project – your own network and ours.  Then finally and most importantly, we as recruiters speak to candidates every day and in Fellows and Associates’ case conduct a tremendous amount of research into current attorney thinking (our survey of the sector is now live to complete).  This additional knowledge will mean that what we decide to focus on in a campaign is driven by data and feedback which means we can choose a strategy that positions your firm to appeal to what candidates actually want.

What am I getting to here? Well, we know what we’re doing, we think bigger than just filling jobs and we now have the capability to put all of this together in a professional marketing campaign.  We’re launching our Social Media division, let us help you not only fill your jobs but also market your firm as the employer everyone wants to work for.

Pete Fellows

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