How to use direct marketing techniques

All commercial organisations have an interest in maximising market awareness. With the development of the internet and search engines, it has never been easier to find a particular firm.Recruitment is a sector that has widely used web traffic and search engine optimisation as a way of building awareness and attracting new business and candidates. Historically, the sector has built brand awareness and captured candidates through advertising in prime locations. Using the web alongside such advertising is offering considerable tactical benefits.However, there are also some weaknesses. Both are essentially passive: they require the candidate to go to a website, or to subscribe to a publication and then view an advert.

Direct marketing

More proactive is the use of telephone research, a marketing tool on which the recruitment industry places considerable emphasis. It is a powerful tool for information gathering, profiling and as a first-level filter process. On the downside, though, it is expensive, resource intensive and it may not be the most efficient or cost effective way of maintaining a dialogue with a diverse candidate pool.

Could make fuller use

The recruitment industry is fully aware of the key role of data, but it does not typically make full use of external data sources or direct marketing techniques, neither to build brand awareness nor to attract new candidates.Data can be sourced by job title, sector, size of organisation, postcode, sales or other criteria. Some organisations do already use data sources, utilising them as ‘fodder’ for their research team. However, comparatively few would embark on an integrated direct marketing campaign to build sustained awareness and as a means of attracting potential candidates.The age of conventional post may shortly come again. E-mail is arguably becoming a marketing problem: spam filters trap good e-mail as well as bad; in-boxes drown in dubious content mailings; traffic levels are very high. Spam filters can also knock good design out of e-mails which makes brand building a problem. Print, however, offers much more creative scope in terms of size, colour, imagery and content.E-mail has a role to play, but it is probably at its best if used as a relationship builder.

Cost effective brand building

Conventional mail and e-mail can be remarkably cost effective mechanisms. For example, a data list of 1,000 IT decision makers, within organisations of, for example, more than £2m turnover, could be sourced commercially at a mailing-only cost of a few hundred pounds.Having sourced the data, great care needs to be taken with the mailing. The design of the mailing should stand out, and help to convey key messages and brand values. Skimping on design is a false economy, because good design will dramatically lifts the impact of a campaign. With good design and good data it would be reasonable to assume that 80% of recipients would at least view a communication — a much higher market penetration then with internet or advertising.

There is no doubt that a thoughtful, creative and integrated approach to direct marketing can offer significant benefits to recruitment firms.

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