When the Covid-19 crisis hit, the entire business world had to do a complete U-turn on their marketing strategy. Our industry was one of the first affected, with thousands of people in the recruitment industry made redundant or put on furlough – along with our candidates too.
It’s been a tough few weeks trying to figure out how to do marketing in such a changed (and constantly changing) recruitment environment, but we’ve all learned some interesting lessons along the way. Here’s what they are…
1. ‘Business as usual’ doesn’t work
Absolutely everyone has been affected in some way by Covid-19, so marketing to your audience like it’s business as usual during a crisis like this doesn’t work – and it won’t be appreciated either.
In the recruitment sector, we can’t hide from the fact that many jobs are at risk and some industries are experiencing hiring freezes. Your marketing needs to address the new challenges your audience is facing and try to help them in any way you can.
But this situation won’t last forever, so whilst you can’t ignore what’s going on, you can try to help your audience visualise the future and help them prepare for what comes next.
2. Your marketing plan needs to be flexible
Most marketers live by the mantra of, ‘If you’re not prepared, prepare to fail’. But right now, you don’t know what to prepare for!
Your audience’s needs and challenges will be changing faster than your marketing strategy will be able to keep up with, so you need to leave some space in your plan to react quickly to what’s happening.
Here at Firefish, we normally plan all our marketing at the start of the month for the following month (so at the start of May we were planning for June), and before Covid-19 this worked really well.
But now, our strategy has had to become very reactive. We try to prepare ahead of time as much as we can, but what we’ve been learning is that if we prepare too far in advance, plans get abandoned as so much is changing every day that ideas become outdated quickly.
Right now, your marketing needs to be relevant, otherwise there is no point in publishing it. So leave gaps in your marketing schedule so you have time and space to adapt and react to what’s going on and put out content that’s relevant in that moment.
It’s a great time to get engagement online – stay relevant and you’ll be able to take advantage of this.
3. You need to choose your words carefully
You need to carefully consider what you write as words can make or break your brand in a time like this. A post, email or blog that you find acceptable might seem totally inappropriate to someone else.
For example, posting "Are you looking for your dream job?" won't work right now as it could really upset someone who's just lost their dream job as a result of Covid-19, even though a post like this would have worked well at the start of this year.
So before you put something online, run it past a colleague first, they might spot something you’ve overlooked and could save you from a marketing disaster.
And if your gut is telling you that a piece of content isn’t quite right at the moment, change it or bin it. It’s better to post nothing than something inappropriate.
4. It’s not the time for a hard sell
If you go out to your network shouting about how great your recruitment brand is and all the successes you’re experiencing when the world is battling with a global economic crisis, it’ll go down like a lead balloon.
Instead, focus on keeping your brand visible and providing value to your audience, so you’ll be remembered when we come out the other side of all this.
A great example of a brand doing this well is Joe Wicks (the Body Coach) who is giving free online PE classes every weekday morning for children stuck at home during lockdown. Offering this free service is a great way to gain his fitness brand positive exposure and it’s guaranteed to pay off long term.
Now is the time to get creative – is there anything you could be offering your marketing audience right now to get on their radar? Maybe you’re able to offer candidates help with their CV or interview coaching free of charge. Whatever your brand decides to do, it’ll help keep you visible to right people who'll remember your brand positively when we come out the other side of this crisis.