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Presidential marketing – lessons for staffing firms?

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After months of endless commercials, speaking events and media appearances, voters are headed to the polls and politicians are headed off the campaign trail.

So why is a marketer happy to see all this marketing end?

Because political “marketing” has become about everything that gives marketing a bad name. Great marketing is supposed to be about positioning, conveying value, getting people interested in your message, and motivating consumers to take action.

Political marketing should be about these same things, but it has become more about slogans, creating sound bites, and positioning your opponent as some sort of evil monster. It’s about spin and deception, and that’s no way to market.

Imagine if every staffing firm marketed the way politicians do. Rather then selling your strengths in recruiting and evaluating talent, you’d promote all the ways your competitors are unethical, provide lousy talent and fail to deliver quality results.

But political marketing is not all bad. Here are five lessons you can learn from the 2012 campaign trail.

5 Marketing Lessons for Staffing Firms

  • Lesson 1: Have a strong message that resonates with your base. Political candidates know that they can’t appeal to everyone, so they choose messages that will motivate the people they want to reach. Staffing firms need to do the same, and determine what types of employers they want to serve–and then cater their message (and services) to that specific audience.
  • Lesson 2: Fear works. While you should never bash the competition like they do in politics, you can, and should, use fear to get people’s attention. In your marketing, talk about the kinds of problems employers face or the cost of not changing their approach to staffing. You’re not trying to scare people into working with you, but you’re using fear to motivate people to take action and agree to a meeting.
  • Lesson 3: Repetition matters. Love ’em or hate ’em, all those political ads have an effect. The biggest mistakes staffing firms make in marketing is that they are not persistent enough. There’s an adage in advertising that people have to see your message 21 times before they begin to take note, so in your marketing, plan to repeat your message over and over again.
  • Lesson 4: Use multiple media. One of the few things I like about political marketing is how well they use different communication channels – TV, print, radio, public speaking, PR, email and social media. As a staffing firm, you might not have a multimillion dollar budget like politicians do, but you will get the best results when your campaigns mix multiple forms of marketing (mail, email, speaking, PR and social media) along with your direct sales activities.
  • Lesson 5: Style counts as much as substance. I hate to write this last bullet. I’ve always been more of a substance guy–I really value great ideas and intelligent approaches to business. But I recognize that appearance matters. For staffing companies, this means that you need to pay attention not just to the appearance of your sales team, but also to your website, sales collateral and every other client touch point. It you want to send a strong message to employers, you have to look great wherever they might find you.

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