Customer Think recently added a new article to their website focused on what makes a “smart” marketer. There were two elements on that list that I found particularly important for staffing firms:

1. Market segmentation. How much do you really know about your best clients? What characteristics do they share? What makes them different than your mid-tier clients? And perhaps most importantly, how do you treat them differently?

All too often, time isn’t being spent on the “best” clients or prospects (the low-hanging fruit), it’s being spent on lower margin or problem accounts that suck away time–and profits. Smart marketers (and smart business people in general) segment their lists–spending their most valuable time and resources on top-tier prospects that have the most potential. From a pure cost perspective, your sales reps should spend all of their face-to-face time with your most profitable clients, then use lower cost marketing (postcards and direct mail, e-mail, and telemarketing) to stay in touch with everyone else. After all your best clients deserve that time and are willing to pay for it.

The key to good market segmentation though is to constantly analyze and adjust your segments. It’s not a one time activity–segmentation should occur continuously.

2. Testing, testing, testing. There is no magic pill or secret formula to creating great marketing messages. There are certainly best practices you should follow, but in order to be truly effective, you need to test every marketing message and medium.

Where are incoming calls coming from? Are your current marketing activities (yellow page advertising, email marketing, online ads, direct mail, etc.) providing results? Does one message or medium outperform others?

Build testing and data collection into part of your daily process. Have your receptionist get in the habit of asking everyone who calls how they heard of your business. Use Google Analytics or some other tracking software to gauge how people find your website. Analyze web traffic to see if there is a big spike that occurs around specific marketing events (for example, when our clients send email newsletters, traffic typically increases 200-300%).

Once you have this information, use it to adjust your message and your marketing accordingly. This information can be invaluable and can help to make sure you’re getting a good ROI on your marketing budget. I even have one client that scaled back on their yellow page advertising by 70% after realizing that the majority of their non-paying clients came from yellow page inquiries.

So in summary: segment your list, test different messages, test different mediums–and repeat! You’ll find that your marketing dollars no longer become an expense, but rather an investment that pays off exponentially.

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