Building a brand: Two things that have helped Greg Savage create an incredible online following

Bianca Compagnoni
22 Jan
Reading time: 6 minutes
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300,000 LinkedIn followers.

58,000 Twitter followers.

110,000 Youtube views.

1 million blog views a year.

If anyone knows how to maximise recruitment marketing as a tool to promote their recruiter brand, it’s Greg Savage. His impressive online following boils down to one reason: “People found me believable because I have a track record of actual success in the industry (and some healthy failures to learn from), I was passionate and because I really did believe in what we were doing – people were following on the journey.”

With 40 years in the recruitment industry, Greg’s lessons on how to use marketing and relationship-building to grow your brand and your agency are explained below.

The magic of content marketing

It was 2010.

Greg was entering the world of social media and sharing brand awareness via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

“The majority of people weren’t on LinkedIn, Twitter was only starting, Facebook existed, but it was still emerging. Instagram didn’t even exist, and the concept of content marketing wasn’t understood,” he explained.

But more importantly, the idea of people using social media to grow their brand was “totally alien and we were amongst the first to do that,” he added. Once Greg started using social media to promote brands (in this case it was his agency Firebrand), he then created his blog The Savage Truth.

“We even used video in the early days, and it was highly successful in building a brand. People thought Firebrand were huge, when in fact it was only about 80 people,” he said.

Once Greg sold the business in 2013, he decided to become an advisor in the industry. “I suddenly said, well, I still have the social footprint, so I slightly pivoted and my audience now is not just customers of Firebrand, but are recruiters and owners of recruitment companies.”

Following this, all his content was then directed at exactly that, which “created a phenomenon,” he said. Greg contributes his success with speaking opportunities and appearances not because he can present well, but because of recruitment marketing.

This book is selling all over the world. Why? I’m currently an unemployed ex-recruiter. Every year thousands of people come to my talks, and that is not because I’m clever, it’s because of the content marketing for the last 10 years,” he explained. Being a highly sought-after voice in the recruitment space can be relentless with frequent LinkedIn messages, requests, and connections. Ultimately, his brand marketing strategy was designed to grow his business. “It’s now evolved into something bigger than that,” Greg said.

His theory is that if someone engages with your content, “you have to reply.”

By building a brand, Greg has had thousands of speaking opportunities. No exaggeration, he said. With that, he’s had plenty of stories to share on interesting and quirky talks with dogs and babies in the audience to over-enthusiastic audience members with a sign to match. From speaking in Harrods to Shanghai he has seen many parts of the world by simply doing what he loves.

Relationships are key

When reflecting on one’s own career in the recruitment space, what traits should you possess to be successful? Greg spoke on the best recruiter he’s ever known. Despite being near the end of his career, Greg would still advise this recruiter (Graham Whelan) to never stop changing.

Far from advising recruiters to refrain from digital, he said that “we need to know what should be automated, what should be communicated with digital and what should be human.” He believes a great recruiter “will truly be an absolute genius at using the best technology, while at the same time, harnessing their human influencing skills. It’s that blend where it needs to be.” Building relationships and having empathy is another key point that Greg mentioned. In fact, he believes that recruiters need to have empathy built into their DNA.

“Empathy is not a word that’s been used in association with recruiters very much before, but it’s all about talent shortages, candidate shortages and skill shortages, which won’t get any better regardless of the economy because these are skills that are typically newly created jobs,” he explained.

“Recruiters have to build relationships with people and shift their mindset from reactive to proactive,” he added.

Not only that, but recruiters need to have a long-term plan. This involves reaching out and making connections with candidates before they even start looking for a new job.

According to Greg, the definition of a candidate for recruiters is somebody looking for a job now, which is wrong. “Recruiters don’t start looking for candidates when they get a job. They need to start engaging with candidates long before those candidates are looking for jobs,” he advised. By building up long-term rapport and relationships with people it increases your chance and success of having candidates when a job does pop up.

In hindsight, recruiters shouldn’t underestimate when a candidate will change their job. “Because they’re going to be looking,” Greg said. “Everyone changes jobs. You changed jobs before and you will in the future. You may not be looking for a job now, you may not for a year, but a good recruiter is taking a long-term view and is engaging with people,” he added.

Automation and setting up candidates in your pipeline is also significantly important. For example, a wine company sent automated emails to Greg about his short supply of wine. The company didn’t sit around and ask one another if he was out of wine; it was all automated and predicted through data.

That example “is better-automated marketing than 99% of what recruiters do,” Greg said, as they predicted his needs through analytics.

“If I was going to be a recruiter on the desk with technology I would invest a lot in building up a group of people who are in the pipeline, that I’m not going to place this month or even next month, so to speak.”

When people say to Greg that they need candidates now, his response is “yes you need them now, but you also need to realise that next year is going to come, and when it does, you’re going to need candidates then. So, build for the future,” he advises.

Getting out of the comfort zone

When Greg reflects back on his recruitment journey he would use one word to describe it: exhilarating. By pushing himself out of his comfort zone, Greg was able to start several businesses, open offices around the globe, hire hundreds of people and expand overseas. “There was always something keeping me on my edge, and for most of my recruitment career, I’ve had butterflies in my stomach,” he shared. “So it’s always been a bit of a roller coaster as any life journey is.”

The rewards it provided Greg resonated the most with the sense of friendships, achievements, self-esteem, creating moments that you can be proud of and helping other people become successful. “In that sense, I would say it has been exhilarating and rewarding, and I feel very fortunate,” he said.

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