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January 26, 2009

HIGHER NUMBERS:How KPMG went experiential to attract more talent

Graduate recruitment events are proving increasingly popular as companies seek top talent to boost the performance of their teams. Faced with growing competition in this field, KPMG signed up live marketing agency Amplify to get its message across more clearly and so attract more students.

More and more companies are realising the importance of looking after their people and making them feel valued, through internal communications, training, teambuilding and reward and recognition programmes. This is reflected in the rise in the number of internal events being held by companies across the board, particularly the larger corporations.

This has been spurred on by a realisation that a well-equipped, skilled workforce will directly increase company performance – and it’s cheaper and less time consuming to train and motivate than recruit.

With competition at unprecedented levels across the business spectrum, it’s also vital to attract the best people to your organisation. Not only will this strengthen your team, it will also prevent competitors from employing the cream of the crop.

Counting the beans
Nowhere is the fight for skills more acute than in the accountancy profession. With firms in this field all tending to offer similar services, proving the credentials of their team really helps create a key point of difference in the marketplace. Graduates will also get the impression that there is little to choose between accountancy firms, meaning businesses in this area need to try particularly hard to attract the best possible candidates.

With this aim in mind, for years, accountancy firms have held special graduate recruitment events. However, with so many taking place, KMPG has felt the need to get more creative in how it promotes and presents them to generate the highest attendance levels possible.

Recently, this involved using live marketing techniques developed by agency Amplify, which has also been responsible for creating a theme for the recruitment events to attract more graduates.

European twist
So what has this involved and how successful has the strategy proved to be?

“We were engaged by KPMG to develop the overriding proposition for its graduate recruitment campaign 2007-2008, including the supporting creative look, feel and tone,” explains Amplify Partner Nick Wright.

The main aim for the KPMG campaign, as Wright points out, was to “get the right number of the right people to attend the KPMG Live experiences and consider a career with the firm”.

Amplify reviewed all of KPMG’s on-campus activity and identified a key focus area – its European offering. From this came the main theme: ‘We don’t offer our graduates the world… just Europe’.

“This was a self-deprecating way of showing students that KPMG has real European opportunities for its graduates,” says Wright, “and takes a different angle to some of the firm’s competitors, which use tactics close to bribery to entice students – an approach that more and more students are seeing as cynical.”

This proposition was further communicated through the headline ‘Want to play in Europe’, and included variations to engage with an international audience.

Your career awaits…: KPMG gets face-to-face with students

Experiential approach
With the basic proposition in place, Amplify turned to the design side, recognising the need to overcome the poster overkill that most graduate recruiters face on campus. Consequently a number of on-campus experiences were carried out, including:

European breakfast
– This involved promotional teams on branded grocery bikes giving away free pretzels in branded paper bags as a way of generating awareness, with a team on hand to discuss the recruitment events with students on a one-to-one basis.

Luggage tags – Giant luggage tags were placed in key locations around the campus to raise awareness of the live events and reinforce the European travel theme. Smaller versions were also attached to students’ bikes.

Boarding pass flyers – Flyers in the style of airline boarding passes were placed in students’ pigeonholes and handed out on campus.

Magnets – Business-card size magnets were placed on bikes, fridges and other metal objects around the campus. Deemed as high value, they were removed by the students, thereby ensuring longer-term exposure.

Man in a suitcase – As a stunt, Amplify also placed a man in a suitcase on campus to attract as much attention as possible and boost awareness of the recruitment events, once again supporting the travel theme. This was achieved through a contortionist climbing inside a suitcase and poking his legs out of the bottom so that he could walk around the campus inside the case.

A bigger talent pool
“This campaign was massively successful for KPMG,” explains Wright, “raising the attendance at the firm’s live recruitment events by 177% over the previous year.”

For Wright, the success of the campaign lay in the fact that it took on a constant and relevant identity that communicated one clear message to students, something that is paramount in the cluttered world of graduate recruitment. By focusing on the overall identity and the pre-promotion aspect, Amplify ensured that, from start to finish, it was clear what KPMG was trying to say and to whom.

“Great events can be created by a number of different people in a number of different ways,” sums up Wright, “but unless a clear proposition is developed and communicated throughout, the messages get lost very quickly.”

The result is that KPMG now has a greater pool of talent to draw from, which could prove vital to the future success of the business, as well as helping it through the current difficult trading conditions.

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