How to Set a Marketing Budget for Your Recruitment Agency
You might call us biased, but we think marketing should be on the top of the list when slicing up the pie each financial year. Far more than the team who “make things pretty”, strategic marketing professionals can help increase a recruitment agency’s brand awareness, drive customers to your services, and ultimately increase your bottom line.
To help you out, we’ve put together this list of things to consider when setting a marketing budget for your recruitment agency so you see a solid return on your investments.
How Much to Spend
Answering this question without a clear recruitment marketing strategy is basically equivalent to sticking your finger in the air. Some rules of thumb have been proposed in the past – for example, dedicating 5-10% of your gross revenue to marketing activities. But the more important thing to think about is where your business is in its growth strategy and what you actually want to achieve from your spending.
For example, if you’re a start-up agency with plenty of in-house expertise but absolutely zero market awareness or client/candidate base, you’re probably going to need to go hard on pushing brand awareness. So in this case, it could be worth allocating up to 20% of your projected revenue to marketing. But if you’ve been operating for many years and are well-established in the market, you might just be focussing on client retention and promoting a particular new service. Here you might set aside five to ten percent.
Another point to consider is whether job board advertisements form part of your current marketing budget. This can quickly take up much of your spending, and while directly linked to talent attraction goals, it shouldn’t be the only strategy used to drive job seekers to your business.
Either way, a recruitment marketing strategy should start with a set of clear, measurable objectives. This not only helps you solidify the purpose of your marketing activity but also provides a checkpoint you can refer to throughout the campaign. Although you will need to take into consideration that not everything ‘marketing’ can be measured and directly attributed to ROI, some examples of marketing objectives include:
How to Allocate Spend
Any experienced marketer will tell you that the downfall of a marketing strategy is starting with channels or tactics first. This can be seen as the “fun part”, but it’s actually the least important.
The number one priority is properly identifying and understanding your target audience including current clients, prospective clients and candidates. That means knowing who they are, where they are, what media they consume and how much they know about your business. It’s important to look past basic socio-demographic details like age, gender and where they live. After all, the following profile – male, British, in his 70s, wealthy, likes dogs, has two children – applies to both Elton John and Ozzy Ozbourne.
Instead, try writing up several customer personas that profile who your different customers are. As part of that process, you will be able to pinpoint how they get their information about what’s happening in the world – is it through online news sites, are they active on LinkedIn, are they likely to be on TikTok?
This media consumption data will then inform how you reach them with your marketing activities which can either be owned, earned or paid. Owned is through channels that belong to you such as your company’s website and social media accounts while paid refers to purchasing advertising space. Finally, earned is more PR-related so things like unpaid press coverage and endorsements.
Be aware though that your messaging strategy is just as important as your media. You might be able to get your message in front of your dream client or candidate, but you won’t necessarily have any impact on them – whether that’s to simply get them to notice you, drive them to your website or get them to pick up the phone.
How to Ensure ROI for Your Marketing Budget
Return on investment is every finance director’s ultimate goal, and well-planned recruitment marketing activities should be able to deliver. By constantly measuring your activities against your objectives, you will be able to see if the plan is working. For example, as part of our Cost Per Click (CPC) campaigns you can see in real-time how many impressions or conversions you’re getting. Or through email marketing, you can tell how many people are opening your EDM and following your call to action. Web Analytic tools will help you track your web traffic, while social media platforms can measure engagement through likes and comments.
If you’re not on track to achieve your KPIs, you can tweak your creative assets or change direction with your channel mix. The benefit of digital marketing is it’s relatively adaptable compared with offline channels like TV or print advertising. Digital lends itself well to creating multiple versions of an ad that can go out into the market at once. If you see that one is out-performing the other, it’s easy to switch focus and invest more in that asset.
It is worth saying that not all marketing activity is this easy to measure. If you are looking to enhance your brand’s reputation or stake in the market, you might need to rely on qualitative measures such as client/candidate testimonials or informal feedback. While not necessarily quantifiable, all customer observations can help paint a picture that tells you whether your marketing activity is working.
Who is Running the Budget
Another cost to consider when setting a marketing budget is the human resource required to deliver it. This is often forgotten as a marketing cost, but there are different models to consider ranging from having an in-house marketing team to hiring a consultant to outsource the entire strategy delivery. Any in-house headcount can be a substantial cost that should be factored into the marketing budget and reviewed regularly as part of the overall marketing delivery. There are advantages to each different model and it’s important to find the right one for you based on the size of your team, your budget and your business goals. For many recruitment businesses, however, hiring a whole team of marketing specialists is not a realistic or effective option.
Working with a specialist recruitment marketing agency like ours can help you achieve economies of scale, and tap into a broad range of specialist skills from strategy through web development and design – without having them on your payroll.
Here at Prominence, we know recruitment markets across Australia, New Zealand and the UK inside and out, and can offer insights from our wealth of experience – from strategy and messaging development to deciding whether LinkedIn, Facebook or Tik Tok is the right platform for your goals and audience. If you’d like more advice on how to set a recruitment marketing budget or want to find out about our outsourced marketing packages for recruitment agencies, get in touch with us for a free chat.