Sevenhr Case Study
Project: Defining the heart of a new recruitment brand
With recruitment consultancy apparently labouring somewhere beneath double glazing sales and estate agency in the popularity stakes, launching a new business in the sector was the ideal opportunity to create a brand that would break every rule.
In 2002 a group of recruitment professionals who shared a frustration with the current practices, and consequent poor reputation, of recruitment consultants approached marketing strategists Propaganda to help them create a new service that would break the mould in their sector.
The founder members of the business had faith in their own professional integrity, and understood that they could deliver a better way to satisfy corporate clients in the FMCG and retail world. However, in a highly competitive and often ruthless sector, getting the chance to prove this would be a challenge.
They initially turned to Propaganda for a launch communication strategy that would get them noticed. Propaganda recognised this as an ideal opportunity to help the client create a business that truly understood and was built around its core brand values. The agency took the client through a process of research, insight development and brand planning to identify a unique brand proposition that would become the blueprint for the structure and philosophy of the business.
The Planning Process
In-depth research among the target market looked into experiences and perceptions of the recruitment profession and painted a profile of the “perfect” recruitment consultant.
Wiping all assumptions off the board and looking only at the market feedback gave the planning team the opportunity to conceive a totally fresh approach to recruitment.
“Most recruitment businesses are off-shoots of others, and business practices and patterns are largely replicated – albeit with minor differences – from one consultancy to the next. This process threw the rule book out of the window and allowed us to create a service around the needs and wants of the customer, from scratch,” explains sevenhr Managing Consultant Antony Smith.
The most dazzling truth to emerge from the research was that clients are simply looking for an understanding of their business and its needs, commitment to finding the right candidate for the job and, importantly, honesty.
“It may seem obvious, ” adds Antony, “but the recruitment industry has become so sales-driven that it has lost sight of the true needs of the client. The research showed us that we needed to go back to chapter one and re-introduce our target audience to recruitment, as it ought to be, that is, service-driven.
The Brand Proposition
The brand proposition centres around seven key insights developed by Propaganda from the research. These fuelled the operating principles of the new business and inspired the name “sevenhr”.
These operating principles – or “pledges” – fly in the face of the sector norm. Essentially, the sevenhr brand was formulated in direct response to the client research – you could say clients designed it.
For example, the simple, yet bold, principle to “Tell the Truth” means that all candidate profiles include a well-researched overview of the candidate’s weaknesses. This goes against the grain of the typical consultant, who is motivated to sell the candidate, but it satisfies a real client need. Another pledge to “Deliver to Promise” links the consultant’s remuneration to the client review process, not purely to making a placement. So the entire proposition is geared to delivering value for money and added value to the client.
“The brand planning process showed us how important it was to clearly define our core values from the outset, and to build our business around them. Without this fundamental strategic work, no amount of communication tactics would have equipped us to launch a business with real, sustainable differentiation in our marketplace,” says Antony.
sevenhr launched in October 2002. The business is already 75 per cent ahead of forecast. Significantly, almost every client to date has placed repeat business, and some clients have returned up to five times.
Client feedback testifies to the value of sevenhr’s open and honest approach, highlighting possible problems and outlining contingency plans.
The brand proposition has become the lifeblood of the business. New recruits are “de-trained” and then retrained the sevenhr way and this has been recognised by candidates and clients, who appreciate the difference in the way the business researches, interviews and supports everyone involved, throughout the process.
Antony Smith concludes: “When effective brand planning is involved, the measurement of success is not necessarily linked to tactical delivery. The living embodiment of core values in a brand’s behaviour is the most powerful tactic a business can employ, and the consultancy process we went through with our agency gave us the direction we needed to launch a unique and successful business.”