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Tired of hearing the term "unprecedented times" yet? Understandable after hearing it for two-thirds of 2020. If you're like many in the staffing industry, you're ready to put 2020 behind you and set some goals for 2021. But you'll need a marketing roadmap to help you reach your destination. Here are some of the challenges staffing firms will face in 2021 and how they can use marketing effectively to take them on.

RECRUITING: Increasing applies and putting people back to work

The staffing industry has been through recessions before, but generally, job orders become scarce in a recession. There is typically such an abundance of candidates that recruiters don't have time to talk to people. That's not what happened this time. There was massive unemployment, which rebounded quickly in some sectors. Still, most staffing companies continue to struggle to get people to show up for interviews and go to work.

Even companies with plenty of business are having a tough time filling their open roles. Employees were faced with trying to work while managing child care and education when many daycare centers and schools were closed. They worried about contracting the coronavirus or that employers would be careless about health precautions.

As workers take tentative steps toward re-entering the job market, here's how you can make them turn to your staffing firm first.

Upgrade Your Hiring Process

Make it easy for candidates to find your jobs and see what makes your opportunity different from their current job or one with your competitor. Your job title, description, and job posting should entice them to your opening. Because of COVID, much of the recruiting, interviewing and onboarding process moved online. There was a steep learning curve for everyone. It's up to staffing firms to make it easy to apply for your job.

Build Trust With Social Media

Social media is about employer branding, not just a direct response to job ads. Of course, it can drive that immediate response, but social media offers much more. Showcase your brand - what it's like to work for you, be a part of your team, and work with your recruiters and staff. Share testimonials and case studies. When somebody is looking for their next job, they are likelier to come to you instead of your local competitor if they feel like they know you.

Target Workers From Struggling Industries

Many people in the hospitality industry are still out of work. They have transferrable skills that could be used in many kinds of jobs. Some have customer service or management skills that are welcome anywhere. Those with cleaning experience can pivot to sanitizing work sites to keep employees healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Staffing firms can reach out to these individuals and help place them in available jobs to continue to have a paycheck.

Build Stronger Relationships

Relationships with recruiters are essential, especially in specific industries like travel healthcare. Travel nursing is one of the biggest healthcare sectors right now, and travel nurses rely heavily on their relationship with their recruiters. Encourage your recruiters to develop their brand.

Showcase Specific Expertise

The IT sector has remained strong throughout the pandemic, but it's a tough industry to crack. Show candidates the projects they can work on, the impact they can make, and the companies they can work with. Your firm can offer them experts who can help them manage their careers so they can focus on work.

STAFFING SALES: Opening doors and getting more job orders

Selling staffing has probably never been more challenging than it was in 2020. It's a relationship-driven industry; salespeople like to talk to customers face to face. They are accustomed to cold visits, dropping something off, and starting a conversation in person. Now that's been eliminated, and staffing firms must rely on choosing and implementing the right technology.

Right now, a lot of sales reps are using email and voicemail, but without a strategy and without leveraging the full extent of what's available to them. There's much more they can do to stand out from the competition and engage clients and prospects, such as Zoom video, video emails, automated marketing and other tools they may not even be aware of. Here are a few ideas to make your staffing firm more successful in 2021.

Overcome Objections More Effectively

Because of the unpredictability of the current market, salespeople may hear objections they haven't encountered before, and they may not know how to answer them confidently. Companies are afraid to spend money. Budgets are tight; they've reduced hiring. Some see an increase in business but don't want to commit to new hires and risk falling further and further behind. Staffing salespeople need to be prepared to have a more strategic conversation about cost management and control and converting fixed cost to variable. Strategic materials, messaging, talking points, presentations, etc., to help them with that can be part of your marketing roadmap.

Be Persistent - For Longer Than You Think

Salespeople often tend to give up too soon. A few years ago, it took maybe seven or eight contacts to get an appointment. In 2020 and moving into 2021, it might take 20 to 30 touches before you're able to have a serious conversation with a prospect. You can automate some of those touches to keep you in front of them, so they'll think of you when they have an issue.

Become a Valued Employer Resource

Customize your approach to show you know something about their business, industry, and what keeps them up at night. The content you share should give you a solid conversation starter when you call to follow up. Attempting to open a conversation with a question about staffing needs is usually met with a lot of resistance. Instead, call to talk about the problems, interests, or aspirations of the specific type of person you're marketing to.

Every time you reach out to someone, you're interrupting their day. You must be creative to make that interruption worth it from their perspective. Can you share some market data? Can you give them a tip related to hiring or staffing? Can you provide information that addresses a problem that has nothing to do with staffing? The right technology can help make 2021 a successful year.

MARKETING TECHNOLOGY: Transform your staffing business

Many technology leaders say that 2020 has advanced digital transformation ten years faster than most people expected. From a marketing perspective, we're seeing clients integrate a lot of tech into their marketing and service process. Here's a look at some of the technology that can give you the biggest bang for your marketing buck.

Website Updates

Staffing websites get vast amounts of traffic, but thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of visitors leave without taking action. Look at Google Analytics to see where people come into your website and where they leave. Are they coming into the homepage? From the blog? Are they going directly into a job post? Do they leave immediately, navigate to other pages, or take action? Figure out where you are losing people. How can you entice people to take the next step - provide an email address, opt-in for a job alert, or accept a cookie?

Conversion Funnel

You don't want visitors to exit until after they've filled out a job application, completed a contact form, or press the button to call your office. If you reduce the number of candidates who leave the site without taking action, you can fill more job orders without spending a dime more on job advertising.

Review your website to see where it can use work:

  • Make sure your website is healthy, fast, and secure.
  • Check that there are no broken links and each static page is optimized.
  • Be sure the site works seamlessly on mobile.
  • Work on pages that have high bounce or exit rates.
  • Adjust calls to action and content on the page.
  • Fix any problems you find because Google prioritizes user experience.

Effective SEO

Get visible, capture attention, and drive traffic. Look at Google analytics and data to see where you show up in search results, then strategically work toward improving rank and securing more of that traffic. Examine conversion path, conversion flow, and where you're losing leads out of the bottom of the funnel.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic can help you get more applications while spending less. For example, if you have 100 jobs to fill, you don't want two or three of them spending 60% of your budget. Programmatic can increase your ROI. For example, an industrial company in Northeast Ohio lowered their job spend budget by about 16%, and their applications went up by over 60%. Their Indeed spend decreased by almost $500 a month, but with better results because of programmatic technology.


Chatbots add efficiencies for both prospects and potential candidates. They can ask questions and get an immediate response either from guided AI or a live operator during certain hours. Chatbots can be used to capture leads, direct someone to sales or support to help with their problem or question.

One of our clients said their number one source of new business is employers clicking their chatbot to say, "I need to hire." Within 60 seconds, a recruiter jumps over the bot and turns it into live chat. Their conversion rate on those inquiries is near perfect.

Career Portal

Make sure your job site or a career portal has the right schema markup and is getting indexed by Google for jobs. It's incredible the number of applications Google for jobs can generate. That's what makes it so essential to ensure that job boards are optimized and using the right tech.


In this remote world, which is likely to continue well into 2021, video will be more prevalent. A quick personal video could nurture your relationship with clients and is a low-cost or even no-cost answer to gaining more touchpoints. Going virtual has made video more efficient. People are always on Zoom now. Everyone's grown much more comfortable with video. It makes that barrier to entry much lower.

BEST OF 2021: Tips from the Haley Marketing team

Take a Strategic Approach

When creating a roadmap or a game plan for your marketing, start with your goals. What are the best strategies for accomplishing those goals? Then decide what tactics to choose and budget appropriately. Most staffing companies grossly underspend other industries in marketing in percentage of revenue. They'll hire more salespeople before putting more marketing in place to support current salespeople. They'll hire more recruiters before putting a better game plan in place for job advertising. You'll get more bang for your marketing buck by being more strategic and using your budget wisely.

Prioritize Reputation Management

With many companies being remote now, online validation is even more essential. Build your online reviews on Google, Facebook, Indeed, other places, and put them to work for you. When the pandemic started, there was concern that people would leave negative reviews because they were laid off. That impact ended up being minimal. But it's vital to manage your presence in the market and have a proactive strategy for managing that reputation online.

Get Buy-In and Engagement Across the Entire Company

Your internal team needs to be effectively trained. Bring them up to speed on strategy, tactics, and tools, how to use them effectively, and model it for them. Get them on board as far as the number of touches and tracking their contacts. Encourage them to share content so that it gains a broader reach.

Be Ready to Take on New Challenges

It's hard to predict what 2021 will look like, so it's essential to be flexible. You may have to reallocate your job advertising budget or shift your content to keep up with changes as they arise. Last year the industry had to pivot on March 13th, faster than it ever had before. Having flexibility in your marketing the right way will lead to better results.

Talk to an expert!

You can't go wrong by starting a conversation with somebody in the marketing space. Lean on experts in the marketing world and ask for advice, suggestions, and innovative solutions. Read relevant content to keep up with the latest from staffing and recruiting thought leaders.

If you would like more ideas on creating your marketing roadmap for 2021, contact Haley Marketing today.

Contact us at 1.888.696.2900 or visit haleymarketing.com

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Let our team help guide your marketing strategy this year.