By David Searns

Marketing 2013: Back to the Future

"My name is David. And I have a cold calling problem."

They say the first step in solving a problem is to admit that you have a problem. And when it comes to marketing (and sales), the staffing industry has a problem.

We're addicted to the telephone.
Come on, admit it. How often have you worked the numbers? From placements back to send outs to job orders to appointments, and so on. Until you figure out just how many more spins of the dial you need to make to achieve your goals. How often have you searched (in vain) for ideas to get your sales team to make more calls?

In staffing, marketing has always been about making more calls.
Yet, intuitively, you know that "making more calls" is not the best recipe for success. The process is grossly inefficient, yielding a positive response less than five percent of the time. Few sales reps are effective cold callers. And worst of all, your clients HATE the calls--you are actually antagonizing the people with whom you want to build relationships!

So what's the alternative?
Content marketing. Content marketing is a proven model for branding, lead generation, and relationship nurturing. It's about integrating great information into your sales and marketing methods. It's about using education to stimulate demand, build trust, elevate conversations and make selling staffing more consultative.

Content marketing is not a new fad. It's actually the way people have sold for centuries--by teaching people how, when and why to use their services. Content marketing works because it gets people more engaged in the sales process. It doesn't replace traditional sales efforts, it simply makes them more effective. And content marketing allows you to leverage the latest social media tools to get maximum results from your investment in sales and marketing.

Content Marketing 101

The formula for content marketing is really simple.

Step 1: Create some great content. Your content could come in the form of a video, webinar, eBook, whitepaper or even something as simple as a blog post on local compensation trends or the secrets to sourcing top talent. The key to great content is to ensure you really address the needs, interests, challenges, and/or goals of the people you'd like to reach.
Step 2: Add the content to your website. Content marketing is about getting people to engage with your ideas, and the easiest place to do this is on your website. Once you get people to your site, you can then encourage them to contact you about your services.

Ideally, you'll want to create a landing page where you ask people to provide their contact information in exchange for access to your content. Be sure to keep your landing pages clean and simple. Focus on one offer: "Get our content." Keep response forms as short as possible: name, company, email and phone number (and maybe skip the phone). For an example, see our Marketing Best Practices Guide landing page
Step 3: Promote your content. For content marketing to work, you have to get people to engage with your information. Take advantage of every form of promotion you can. Here are a few ideas:
  • Email - invite people to watch or download your content.
  • Social messaging - send direct messages to your network on LinkedIn or Twitter.
  • Social sharing - start discussions in LinkedIn groups about your content or offer a link to your content in discussions that others have started. Promote your content on Twitter. And share it on your company Facebook page.
  • SEO - optimize your content for search engines.
  • PPC advertising - try Google Adwords, LinkedIn PPC or Facebook sponsored stories. You can make your ads target people by very specific criteria like industry, location and job title.
  • Get others to share your stuff - include social sharing icons with your content so people can share your ideas with their network. Ask your clients and your employees to share the content with their networks.
  • Pick up the phone - have your sales team use the content as the basis for sales calls. Invite people to visit your website to take advantage of the great ideas you have to offer.
  • Direct mail - send a teaser, executive summary or sample of your content to targeted decision makers, and encourage them to visit your website for more.
  • Email signatures - add a pitch for your content with a link to the relevant pages on your website.
  • Business cards - turn your cards into direct marketing by including an offer for your content and a link to your website.
  • Feature the content on your website - use graphic banners on your home page and other pages throughout your site to promote the content.
Step 4: Repeat. Content marketing is not a one-time event. While you can get started with a single piece of content and a great marketing effort (we've been using our Marketing Best Practices Guide to generate sales leads for more than five years!), content marketing works best when you have a plan to regularly create and share ideas. So whether you are writing regular blog posts, producing monthly webinars, developing a series of how-to videos, or producing whitepapers, repetition is the key to long-term success.

Everything Old is New Again

At Haley Marketing, we've been doing content marketing for 16 years. In the beginning, we mailed monthly letters with educational articles, then we evolved to email. Today, we blog, produce webinars, share multiple types of email communications, and spend time every single day sharing ideas on social media.

None of what we are doing is new. It's what truly exceptional sales people have always done - share ideas, educate, consult and solve problems. And best of all, it works. We've watched staffing firms use content marketing to double call-to-appointment ratios. To reach decision makers who "NEVER" talk to staffing sales reps. And we've seen our clients generate $100K plus placements without making an outbound call.

If you want to know more about how to make content marketing work in your firm, give us a call. Or better yet, check out the amazing content in the Idea Lab on our website: