By David Mandar
Every week agency owners describe to me their challenges in meeting their goals. It would probably surprise you to hear that among the vast number of agencies in North America, their goals and challenges, no matter what size or description, are relatively the same. One of the most asked questions and common challenge is:
“How can our company differentiate itself from our competition?”
Now, many would list tons of marketing and branding techniques that would help make a bigger splash on social media, get more eyeballs on your job postings and even increase your in-bound client calls. All positive outcomes. But in the long run, everyone will be doing this. So, ultimately what business owners are really asking for is a way to be “better” than the competition. To stand out.
During my corporate years, I used get marketing calls from agencies trying to win my business. They would all say things like, we are the best, largest, fastest, etc. The fact that they described themselves the same way made it cliché. Fluff. No meaning, no power, and certainly no sale.
As a hiring manager, all I wanted was an agency that specialized in an industry, a trade or a technology related to my hiring needs. Why? Because to me, an agency with a specialization set an expectation about the level of service and quality of candidates they would provide me.
Here are the differences I experienced —as a client— when working with niche agencies;
- They reduced any confusion and increased the quality of each candidate sourced. Their ability to gather requirements and easily understand my company’s needs created job requirements that truly captured the skills and experience needed for the position I needed to fill.
- They increased the possibility of attracting top talent and reduced declined offers. Their knowledge of the industry helped establish a competitive compensation range.
- My project planning and team workload management was more accurate. Their knowledge of the industry helped set expectations on start dates and other variables.
- They helped keep my company competitive. Their knowledge of the industry provided strategic information on trends and competitors.
- They increased the success rate on hires. Their experience in the market provided a large talent pool of industry focused resources. They could get referrals on tough-to-find resources. The speed of turnaround was excellent. Sometimes the same day.
- They gave me access to some great passive candidates. Their relationships with industry experts were strong as consultants viewed them as experts and preferred working with them. They always knew who was available or interested in discussing a career change.
There are more benefits and even a few negative points, like they aren’t a “one stop shop”, but the pros for me always outweighed the cons. As a hiring authority, I am willing to pay more for the right service.
If you are looking to up your game and differentiate yourself from the pack, focus on your strengths and market your services in a specific niche. Otherwise be prepared to fight over “table scraps” with the other generalists in your region.