What I Learned at Staffing World 08

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Being that for the safety of my co-workers I am generally kept in my creative cage, I look forward to opportunities like ASA’s Staffing World to reconnect with our clients and enjoy the fresh air. And the air was quite nice in San Diego!

As Haley’s Creative Director, I begin each conversation on the show floor with a disclaimer that I am not a salesperson and apologize up-front with any frankness in my language. So beware, even in this blog post, I may use more colorful terminology or metaphors to explain my positions and viewpoints. This being stated, I move on to things I may or may have not learned from this years’ visit.

Preparation is Key!
While five and a half years of designing staffing campaigns and websites have given me a decent knowledge base to draw on, recent economic shifts have greatly changed the face of our industry. So for the last few weeks, I’ve been studying. During my last minute in-flight cramming, I came across an excellent article in Staffing Success written by Eric Gregg titled, “Commodity or Valued Service Provider? You Have More Control Than You Realize.” If you haven’t read it, get a copy. It offers excellent insight on the major issues facing staffing executives in today’s economy.

And while all my preparation was certainly helpful, not losing all my notes after the flight would have made things better for me now!

From WHO? to WOW!
According to the Gregg article, a recent survey of over 500 HR professionals found that the average HR manager can only name two staffing companies beyond their current vendors. If that’s true, staffing companies have great opportunity to change the way they present themselves.

At the conference, I asked a lot of people, “What does your company do that is unique?” And unfortunately, I heard the same responses over and over again. Companies that are going to thrive in the coming months need to carve out a niche of their own. Examine your own business, and see what’s unique about they way your company does business. I believe if you can develop “one word” to own when describing your firm, it will help you become more focused in your sales efforts and remain strong and viable throughout the economic rollercoaster. Once again, this comes from the mind of the person who has to make you LOOK like you own that word. Not a small task I remind you!

Good marketing WORKS!
A very exciting aspect of ASA’s Staffing World for us creative types are the VOICE Awards. We get to see the industry’s best marketing–and have our client’s work be recognized for both its creative merit and effectiveness. I was thrilled to see that not only did our clients win four VOICE awards this year (two direct mail, one corporate identity and one website), but the website we designed for QPS Companies won the “Best of Show” award.

That’s three years out of the past four that Haley Marketing clients have won best of show!

One other marketing success story I witnessed happened during the Knowledge Network roundtable discussions. During this event, people gather at various tables to discuss different “hot button” topics. At the beginning of the session I attended, everyone exchanged business cards, and I was very proud to watch as one of our current client’s cards was singled out and commented on for about 10 minutes. The client was extremely happy with the extra recognition.

Image is everything.
This was a unique Staffing World for me. As you may know, we just redid our own company identity, and as Creative Director I was a little apprehensive to see how people would react.

Well, the reaction was amazing! Pride doesn’t begin to touch on the feelings and respect I have for our team. I knew how much effort they put in to create our new image, and it was thrilling to see people ooh and ahh over the change. So a personal shout out to the team. BRAVO!

And for anyone reading this…a distinctive brand makes an impact! I just had the opportunity to witness this firsthand!

Clean Hands
One of the things I treasure most during my short release from my cage is the opportunity to reconnect with our clients. Nothing beats face-to-face for developing and maintaining good relationships, and with the challenges our clients are facing, it was great to be able to sit side by side with our clients and brainstorm solutions. And it’s always nice to hear positive results and stories, so I can share them with our team back at the cave.

On a personal note, I found it vital to keep a little bottle of hand sanitizer ready with so many handshaking events. Sorry if anyone got ill afterwards from my little cold.

Gellin?
I am not pushing any product endorsements here, but I would always like to stress the importance of VERY comfortable shoes at events like Staffing World. So, overall, I’d like to think that Staffing World 08 in San Diego went off fairly well. Connecting with existing clients, developing new prospects, and having an opportunity to spread my creative wings for a few days helped re-energize me for the upcoming holiday seasons and our end of year rush. I am looking forward to my cage and just hope someone remembers to change the water from time to time.

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