Amelia Cranfield, founder of Auckland-based recruitment agency Campfire, talks about how Covid-19 has caused a dip then peak in business and what an extended lockdown period will do long term for hiring intentions.
What does your business do?
Campfire is a specialist recruitment agency specifically for digital marketing, digital media and e-commerce jobs. We help clients plan their different digital jobs, placing them and looking after candidates once they have been placed in their jobs. Some of the recent placements that we have made have been head of digital marketing and creative roles at a skincare brand and an associate head of digital media role at a well-known media agency.
We began in November 2017 after I got home from London where I had another digital recruitment business over there. I owned that agency for about three and a half years before deciding to return home, but I've been in recruitment for over 13 years.
What was the motivation into starting it?
When I came back home to New Zealand I realised that there wasn't anyone focused on recruitment for digital marketing and media over here so I talked to a few senior folk in our industry and said 'Look this is what I've done before, do you think there is a call for this here?' They said not only was there a call but they have so much trouble accessing the right digital talent. Digital is an area, globally, that is very talent-short, even in the major markets; even more so now following Covid-19 where suddenly businesses are aware of how important it is to have a strong digital presence.
What businesses have you recruited staff for?
We recruit for all different types of agencies; media agencies, marketing agencies, PR agencies, social media agencies, marketing automation agencies, but we're also noticing a big spike in jobs from brands - retail brands, B2B (business-to-business) brands, companies doing work in the D2C (direct-to-consumer) space. We also do a lot of work with the publisher space and technology platforms.
How big is the team?
At the moment it is myself plus two, however, we are growing quickly, and we're hoping to get at least another couple of people onboard by the end of the year.
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In my old business in London, we went from a standing start of just me and my business partner to 12 employees after three years - that's exactly what we're hoping to do here in New Zealand.
Is it risky to expand so quickly in the Covid-19 environment?
This is not my first time recruiting in what we can think of as a global recession. When I was in London, doing digital recruitment over there, I went through the Global Financial Crisis and what happened was as marketing budgets contract, or remain the same with more pressure on those budgets, we saw a lot of those budgets swing towards digital because there is so much more accountability in digital. A head of marketing can go and say to the board 'Look, if we spend this much on digital marketing, we are going to drive leads that are going to equate to this much money in sales' - we found that those digital budgets tended to hold up pretty strongly.
We earlier had this six-week lockdown where brands were sitting in their home-based offices thinking 'I really wish we had gone ahead and built that e-commerce website' or 'I wish there was a way we could connect to our customers online now' and that's why a digital transformation has gone from the nice-to-have basket into the must-have basket among large businesses and SMEs. My feeling is that the demand for this digital talent is going to continue to grow. Unlike a lot of businesses, lockdown wasn't horrific for us.
Do you expect the same to happen again with lockdown 2.0?
I think so. The more we see the impact of lockdown, the more we see this trend of online sales boosting companies' revenue as they look to online channels to keep trending during lockdown; which means they need the people in place to facilitate that, which is where we step in. Lockdown isn't good for New Zealand business overall, but online business does boom during lockdown.
How has Covid-19 affected your business?
Before the first lockdown there was a lot of fear in the market, and in the two days that led into the official announcement that we had 48 hours; in that 48 hours we saw most of our jobs go on hold as our clients scrambled to understand what was going on. Then, within two weeks of lockdown a lot of those jobs became live again because our clients experienced their e-commerce stores going bananas.
What are your long-term plans?
We want to really establish our presence in New Zealand to grow the team to develop teams in each of our specialist niche areas, and then to grow into Australia and Singapore. We hope to be in Singapore within the next five years and Australia within in the next two to three years. I feel like there's a lot of opportunity out there for us.
What advice do you give to people who want to start their own business?
Have a very good understanding of the market that you are going into. Enter the market with knowledge and expertise so that you have something to offer straightaway.