Helen Lacey of Red Berry Recruitment talks marketing over coffee

Helen Lacey is the Managing Director of Red Berry Recruitment Limited. Established in 2007, RBR are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year!

Splitting her time between three offices (Bridgwater, Shepton Mallet and Yeovil), attending numerous events (often as key speaker) and building her business, Helen is a difficult lady to pin down, so I was delighted when I managed to grab an hour of her time to have coffee and talk about the marketing lessons she has learnt since setting up.

Tell us the story behind the brand, why Red Berry?

Before I established Red Berry Recruitment I turned down a franchise opportunity and decided to set up on my own. So, I needed a name and started picking up random, inanimate objects, looking for inspiration. Then one day I was out walking with my then boyfriend and I spotted a bunch of red berries on a bush. It was one of those lightbulb moments and I said Red Berry Recruitment, RBR, it just sounded so right.

I love the colour red, so I knew I had the brand colour right but immediately I could visualise the font I’d use and the look of the brand. A moment later I had the strapline, ‘make your life fruitful’, it might be cheesy but that’s what we want to do, make everyone’s life fruitful and prosperous.

It’s a strange process and anyone who’s had to name their company will probably understand but when you get it right you just know!

When starting out, what was your most valuable marketing tool?

Me! We hear about people buying from people they like, I think it’s being called H2H, human to human now, but ultimately people will buy into you or they won’t. Even if they need your particular service, if they don’t like you they will most likely go somewhere else.

I met with companies that had never used an agency before and ones that had existing relationships with other agencies and I had to convince them to use me. I had to be a chameleon, so I made sure my approach was honest and hoped people would like me!

On reflection, what has been the most powerful marketing avenues/tools you’ve used?

We have done a huge amount of marketing over the last decade and that has led to a very high level of brand awareness. The biggest response from clients and candidates, when we ask how they heard of us, is that they just have. They know who we are, which is great, but it makes it very difficult for us to measure which channel worked the best and where we need to spend our money.

A very successful campaign, which we could measure much more accurately, and which has produced the best return on investment, was a video business card. We had a limited number of them made up and distributed them to specific target list over a set timeframe. We invested a significant amount of money in the campaign but the return to date has been threefold.

Do you find advertising a useful tool?

We used to, but things have changed over the last few years. When I first set up I had to advertise a lot, whether it was for jobs or about the company, but the cost was very high and not sustainable, plus less and less people are reading the papers for jobs. PR is my preferred way of getting into publications but it’s not an easy process as there is no guarantee the articles will be picked up.

We do still advertise on the national websites and occasionally in the local press, depending on the story we have to promote.

How important is networking as part of your strategy?

Very, very, very! As I mentioned before, the company grew because I put myself out there. I attended countless networking events and got to meet a wealth of people. Without networking, we wouldn’t have the brand profile we have today.

I still attend lots of events and even organise them now. They may seem like a lot of fun, and they often are, but they can be hard work too. Fortunately, I’m not shy and like to meet people! I also encourage my consultants to attend events. It’s vital for meeting people and building relationships, which is key for any business.

How do you ensure you’re reaching the right audience?

That is a tricky one because our audience is so wide. Breaking it down, we have two specific audiences, the client and the candidate, and both equally important. We use social media as a key platform for engaging with both audiences. Facebook and Twitter are fantastic for uploading job placements and people know where to go to look for them. LinkedIn is geared more towards senior roles and useful information, so we are a little more targeted there.

We have used radio adverts and billboards to raise our profile across Somerset and we know it’s worked because we’ve heard people sing our jingle as they walk past the office!

For new clients it can be anything, an event we’ve met them at or a targeted candidate mailer. As I said earlier, people will buy from you if they like you so I make sure I am at lots of events, meeting the right people. You can’t just do something once and hope people remember you, few people are going to buy from you instantaneously, you must keep at it and constantly drip feed with different methods so people remember who you are.

I have a degree in psychology, with business marketing on the side, so I am intrigued by how people respond to marketing. I’m equally a victim of advertising and marketing! I love to think as to why I bought this cream or that particular brand of something, it’s fascinating as to peoples behaviour.

What steps do you take to maintain your brand reputation?

We do a variety of things to maintain our reputation. Online, it’s all about being proactive. We’ll post adverts, blogs and videos regularly, then we’ll monitor all feedback. Anything negative, which is inevitable these days, is dealt with quickly and professionally.

Alongside our social media, we send out a regular newsletter email, which includes topical news, hints and tips, etc. but it’s a fine balance between promoting the brand and not bothering people! I think we’ve got it about right.

My consultants represent the business and know that when they meet new and existing clients they need to be smartly dressed, always have business cards and reflect the positive ethos of Red Berry Recruitment. They are my first ambassadors!

Red Berry Recruitment has won countless awards over the years, do you include the awards in your marketing plan?

Absolutely! We promote the awards we’ve won and have been shortlisted for on our email footers, on our website and then we’ll make sure we do extra PR for the wins. The awards organisers will also have their own PR people, so if we win or are short-listed they are great at helping to promote us too.

Winning is great, it’s shows everyone that we are the best in our field of expertise and recognised for it. We’re knowledgeable and a force to be reckoned with. It’s something we take great pride in and it’s a lovely way to say thank you to my team for all their support – who doesn’t want to win and be the best?!

Want to know more about Red Berry Recruitment? Check our their website www.redberryrecruitment.co.uk