Is It As Simple As Marketing In The Digital Space?


By Rick Maré, Founder & CEO, JXT    Connect with Rick on LinkedIn >>>

When you think of digital marketing, what image pops up in your mind? Do you see hip young digerati sitting in coffee shops tapping away on social media sites – you know the ones with the cool hats? Do you think of sweatshirt-clad thirty something CEOs who seem too cool for school – kind of like Facebook’s founder? Do you think of people connecting on mobile devices from anywhere in the world and talking to each other via Skype or facetime?   Do you think of the burgeoning number of technology start-ups who are ushering in digital disruption?

What if I were to tell you that none of these images are right? Would you believe me? What if I said that all of the notions of hip, cool, young, social, connected, mobile and even the term digital itself have almost nothing to do with digital marketing?

I think I’m right about this. Digital marketing is, after all, marketing. To understand digital marketing, we first have to understand marketing. More importantly, we have to understand what recruitment organisations need marketing to do for them. Once you get this true north locked down on your compass, then digital marketing becomes much clearer, much easier and much more successful. Let me show you what I’m talking about.



Key Take-Away

Digital marketing is essentially just marketing using digital tools. It’s that simple.




Most business-to-business companies want their marketing function to do a few key things for them. They want marketing to:

  • Build a brand identity that is visually distinct and that communicates a clear value proposition – the reason someone should do business with them.
  • Create the right strategy by targeting outbound messages to the greatest number of potential customers.
  • Differentiate their business and brand in the minds of their market – the people who are most likely to buy.
  • Build a brand presence in their market so that when prospects need the kinds of products and services they offer, those prospects think of their company first.
  • Generate leads for the sales function to have fruitful conversations.
  • Build product and service messages that are compelling to prospective buyers.
  • Spend the marketing budget wisely to ensure the company realises the greatest return for the dollar.

While there are other expectations of the marketing function, this list is pretty representative of what B2B companies want.

But this list is complicated, in the recruitment space, by another critical factor. While most B2B companies only need to target one audience to achieve their business goals, recruiters have to target two audiences: clients and candidates. This means that many marketing functions are simultaneously marketing to two groups with very different goals and motivations.

Let’s examine the motivations of clients. Corporations hire recruiters because recruiters are better, faster and more effective at finding and vetting talent. But there has always been downward pressure on recruiter’s fees. Clients try to get these services for as little money as possible. This means that recruiters always have to defend their value. This is an important part of what marketing should do for you.

Candidates, on the other hand, have very different motivations. They want access to the best paying jobs with the most career satisfaction at a company with great culture, perks and people. To attract great candidates, recruiters have to make certain promises about how many of these companies they can place in front of candidates for their consideration.

This is a tall order for any marketing function to fulfill. But it is made even more difficult by limited budgets, time and human resources.



In the past, a recruitment company’s size determined how sophisticated and successful their marketing function would be. Recruitment companies are often of three sizes:

  • Start-ups or near solo operators with minimal staff. We call these small recruiters.
  • Larger firms with multiple recruiters and offices that might be in several countries or regions. We call these medium-sized recruiters.
  • Global corporations with hundreds of recruiters and offices in most major countries. We call these large recruiters.

The small recruiter operation has to do everything. At the end of a busy day talking to clients and candidates, there is little energy or time for marketing their business. So their marketing plan usually consists of building tight relationships with a handful of clients in a given market niche. But unless the company founders have a great network, it is challenging to place candidates quickly. The founders typically have a limited number of relationships with candidates who were actively looking.

The medium-size company’s marketing function is more sophisticated. Usually these firms hire a director of marketing who bears responsibility for many of the goals I outlined above. But, at the end of the day, they are also limited in what they can accomplish.

Global recruiting firms have the most resources. They often have a broadly distributed marketing function that is comprised of teams from different regions or countries. They have large budgets and access to the latest technologies.

But you’ll notice something here that is important. No matter what size the company might be, no matter what resources are available to them, no matter how many marketing people they have on staff – the goal remains the same.

Recruitment firms need their marketing function to attract clients and candidates. That’s it. That’s what marketing has to do. So the question becomes, how can digital marketing accomplish this goal better, faster, cheaper and more effectively than traditional analog marketing tactics.



I want to explode a myth here. Many leaders of recruitment firms who are over a certain age believe that they have to hire much younger people to achieve digital marketing success. The mature executive often doesn’t really understand what this digital talk is all about, but they know they need it. More importantly, they know they cannot get left behind.

This feeling has led to more misfires and wasted time and money than I can possibly describe. We have watched recruitment firms of all sizes – small, medium and large – hire hip digerati people who bring in all sorts of technologies. But after a certain point, the mature executive asks this question. For all of the money we’ve spent on digital marketing, what is our return?

That, my friends, is an excellent question.



The first thing you should expect is a digital marketing plan that you understand and that matches up against your business goals. So many recruitment firms make the mistake of hiring a persona – an idea of what they thing digital marketing looks like – rather than deploying a strategy.

So let’s be clear about what digital marketing should do. Here is what I think. Digital marketing should help you:

  • Attract the right new high-value clients.
  • Differentiate your brand from competitors.
  • Attract the best qualified candidates.
  • Make the candidate application process fast, easy, flexible and secure.
  • Increase your revenues and profits by empowering a small team to do the work that large teams used to do.

This is what digital marketing should do for your recruitment organisation. If it doesn’t accomplish these goals, it doesn’t matter that the hats are cool.

Digital marketing is essentially just marketing using digital tools. That’s it. It’s that simple. The goals that most recruitment firms have for digital haven’t really changed all that much since the age of digital came about. But the tools, the technologies, the tactics – those have changed tremendously.


Next steps

If you want to increase the effectiveness of your digital marketing, I have a great free resource for you. I’ve developed an action guide called 6 Steps To Becoming A Digital Marketing Ninja.

If you don’t get digital marketing, this should be a starting point on your journey. Across these six videos and downloadable tools, I explain what digital marketing is, how recruiters are using it today to realise competitive advantage and how you can do the same.


About the author

Rick Maré is the founder and CEO of JXT, the number one provider of cloud-based digital marketing solutions for recruiters and corporate recruiters. Rick has coached thousands of recruiters, empowering them to take their businesses and careers to the next level. Connect with Rick on LinkedIn.

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