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November 23, 2020

Differentiate Your Brand: Second Proven Marketing Strategy for Staffing Firms

Staffing is a saturated and hyper-competitive market. Standing out from the crowd is less a bonus than it is a means for survival. But you need to stand out in the right way – the person at a diner screaming at the server gets people’s attention, but for all the wrong reasons.

It’s time for part two of our four-part series on marketing strategies your staffing firm can no longer afford to ignore. After first looking at the elements that make up a comprehensive web strategy, here we’re going to take a look at the keys to differentiating your brand (a topic we’ve also covered in this ebook.) While standing out from your competitors is an art, it can be achieved through some surprisingly simple strategies. 

Having consulted a panel of industry experts, today we’ll walk you through a range of differentiation advice, including a suite of implementable tactics that will help in your quest to stand out from the rest.


Go beyond product and service offerings

“Differentiation goes beyond saying what your products and services are,” advises Shawn Gaines, CMO at Able. “I pay attention to the social impact [the brand] has, the mission statement, the message they're sending, their leadership team. I ask myself what’s the character of the company I’m dealing with?

TOMS is one brand that has gone far beyond product. They have been built from the ground to tell a sustainable story, and have an incredibly loyal following because of it. Ask yourself: products and services aside, what do you want your company to be known for?


Relationship building doesn’t make you different

“90-100% of staffing firms I talk to say ‘we differentiate based on relationships’” notes Gaines. “But if everyone is using the same thing to differentiate, no one is really differentiating at all.”

The key is to dig deeper. To find something more tangible, more specific, more valuable than ‘relationships’. The deeper and more personal you can go, the better your differentiator will be. 

The simple act of asking ‘why?’ can be really helpful in this excavation effort. Our differentiator is relationships. Why? Because we want to create better connections between candidate and employer. Why? Because we care about their happiness and success. Eventually you find a real, unique, and still accessible mission that you can use as a point of difference.


Curate an online reputation

Any marketer will tell you that word of mouth is marketing in its most effective form. What’s more, 84% of people trust the online reviews of strangers as much as the personal recommendations of friends. Review platforms like Google, Facebook, and Glassdoor are therefore super valuable in building and curating your online reputation.

You can supercharge the review process through automated email. Ask everyone to provide reviews - the more the better. Remember too that it’s important to show yourself to be trustworthy and genuine. 

“If you have 70 reviews and they’re all five star, that can start to look suspicious,” says Vikki Mogg, Client Support Analyst at Herefish. “It's okay to have reviews that aren't great, so long as you're responding to them and rectifying the relationship.”


Differentiate your brand


Develop trust

There’s no cheat code to gain trust. It is only earned when you consistently show yourself to be worthy of it. As such, you must:

  • Be unfailingly honest and authentic.
  • Be prepared to put you and your company’s personality and culture on display. 
  • Form partnerships with clients and candidates - avoid a transactional approach.
  • Deliver on promises, including your mission statement.

Color outside the lines

To fit in or to stand out? Many staffing firms are tempted to play it safe with their branding, lest they fail to resonate with potential candidates and customers. But there’s far more to be gained than there is to be lost in standing out from the crowd.

Uniformity doesn’t actively attract people. Sure, a vibrant brand might turn a slice of your audience away, but it will actively attract a far greater number, and it’ll be the type of person and organization you would prefer to work with.

Avoid playing it safe with your logo, brand colors, imagery, and content. Make yourself memorable by choosing exciting over boring, edgy over safe, unique over uniform, and bright over dull.


Have a cohesive brand message

Differentiator identified and brand sculpted, you now need to bring these assets together and drive the point home. Ensure that:

  • Your website perfectly encapsulates your brand and makes your differentiator obvious
  • Your content revolves around the theme of your differentiation (TOMS’ content, for example, revolves around sustainability and social awareness)
  • Your social media interactions use your differentiator as a talking point
  • Every asset and action is branded in a way that makes it unmistakably yours

Don’t sell

“Selling is already viewed as a dirty word, and going forward it’ll be viewed as an even dirtier word,” says Ryan Kovach, an experienced staffing CMO. “Instead you need to create your own content ecosystem that solves problems, answers questions, and guides people through your story. When they're ready, they’ll want to engage with you.”

This ecosystem should create a cohesive narrative. It should make your brand feel omnipresent; whenever a potential client or candidate has a staffing related question, you should have content that answers it. The days of cold calling and outbound sales are numbered – at a time when people often screen calls from their best friends, you need a different strategy. Content allows you to subtly build both trust and your digital footprint.


Create an emotional connection

“I'm in the Florida/Georgia market, and initially I had a hard time selling” says Robert Mann, Automation and Workflow Consultant at Able. “I started creating a lot of video content, just getting my face out there, and I had success doing that. I guess people had a level of trust – they knew who I was.”

We humans are social creatures – we like putting faces to names. It’s surprising how often a choice of staffing firm comes down to nothing more than ‘gut feel’, and that gut feel is inevitably judged on how approachable a company seems. Putting pictures of your team on your website, creating video content for your social profiles, sending out personalized emails (even if they’re somewhat automated); these things help to create that all important emotional connection that can be the difference between a yes and a no.



Standing out is easy - just pick a street corner and start yelling. Standing out in a way that grows your staffing business is far harder, but the above steps will help you in your quest for real and lasting differentiation; the type that delivers value to you, your clients, and your candidates in equal measure.

Eager to learn more? Join us for part three of this four-part series next week, where we’ll be taking a look at how to budget for marketing success. You can also check out part one where we discuss how important it is to take the internet seriously

See you then!