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I’ve been developing marketing strategies for staffing firms for more than 20 years. Over the years, the tools have changed (a lot), but the challenges have pretty much remained the same. We need job orders. We need candidates. The competition charges less. It’s getting harder to get to decision makers. You know the drill.

But today, I had a real “a-ha” moment. I was working on Haley Marketing’s strategy for 2015, and I found a gap in our past plans. Gap may not be the correct word. More of a chasm. Actually, more like the Grand Canyon.

And it’s one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve seen in a LONG time. Better yet, it’s really easy to fix!

grandcanyon

Marketing 101:
How to Create a Marketing Strategy

While every company is different, the process of creating a marketing strategy typically goes something like this:

  • Determine the company goals
  • Define the target audiences
  • Develop a positioning strategy, consisting of:
    – Positioning message
    – Value proposition
    – Core story
    – Key marketing messages
  • Develop lead generation strategies, which may include:
    – Integrated direct marketing
    – Content and inbound marketing
    – Search engine marketing
    – Event marketing
    – Influencer marketing
  • Develop lead nurturing strategies, which may include:
    – Email newsletters and other content marketing
    – Sales calls and drop offs

Then once the high level strategy is done, we’ll brainstorm specific tactics, develop budgets, and create an implementation plan.

But today, I found a gap in our process.

I was working with Matt Faso, our Director of Marketing, and we were evaluating our own content and direct marketing.  To help illustrate our approach, I drew a picture of the sales funnel on a whiteboard.  It looked something like this:

funnel

And that’s when it hit me.

Our marketing has always been pretty good (we’ve been in business for 18 years, and we’ve never had to make a cold call). In fact, we generate more than 500 inbound leads per year.  Our marketing strategy has always centered around giving away our expertise. Just check out our website – you’ll find 72 “how-to” articles, more than 20 hours of recorded webinars, six eBooks, five whitepapers, years of archived newsletters and hundreds of blog posts.  And it’s all available for free.

In addition, we do monthly Lunch with Haley webinars, our Idea Club email newsletter, and our Ask Haley Q&A emails. We have lots of landing pages for lead conversion, we’re active in the American Staffing Association and many of the state associations, and we have pretty decent direct marketing and search engine marketing programs.

So where’s the problem?

Take a look at that diagram again. You’ll see that we are very good at the top of the sales funnel. We generate tons of traffic to our content. But look more closely at the middle of the funnel. There’s the gap—a Grand Canyon of marketing opportunity! And that’s where you may be able to strengthen your own marketing.

Gap 1: From Content to Inquiry

gap1

Great content should be a cornerstone of most staffing firm’s marketing efforts. It can differentiate your services. It makes it easier to get appointments. And it helps you to sell higher margin solutions.

But there’s a big difference between a content consumer and an active prospect. That’s one gap we have been neglecting.  And in your marketing, you must close this gap.

So how can you convert more of the people reading your blogs and watching your videos into engaged prospects?  Here are four ideas:

  1. More (and better) calls to action.

    – Add product and service oriented calls to action (buttons, links and forms) to blog posts and content landing pages.

    – Add a call to action image and link to the end of YouTube videos.
    – Install flyouts or pop-ups to direct people to take the appropriate next steps.
    – Redesign “thank you” pages (where people download your content) to include information about your services.

  2. Live chat.
    – Add live chat to the content pages on your website.
  3. Marketing automation.
    – When online forms are completed, automatically initiate follow up campaigns.
    – Notify your sales team at the right time (when prospects have shown enough interest).
  4. Real 1:1 follow-up.
    – Send truly personal follow up emails after an opt-in or download request.
    – Research each prospect and tie your message to information about their firm.
    – Offer additional resources (free content) as well as information about your services.

Gap 2: From Inquiry to Client

gap2

The second gap in our marketing was in helping our sales team to close the sale. Sure, we provide them with a good CRM system, sales collateral, and other tools to help them sell.

But we aren’t doing enough. The right marketing support can proactively address objections, tackle pricing issues, strengthen your differentiation, and make it easier to stay top-of-mind.

So how can you improve sales conversions:

  1. Better sales emails.
    – Script initial emails to introduce your services as concisely and clearly as possible.
    – Script follow ups to better address likely objections.
    – Send more targeted follow up emails based on specific product interests and business challenges.
  2. Improve collateral materials.
    – Redesign brochures to educate people about why your service offers better value.
    – Create cost justifications that quantify the higher ROI that your services deliver.
    – Develop case studies that show the problems you solve for specific types of clients.
  3. Sales training.
    – Create call scripts are sample questions to ask on initial calls.
    – Role play initial calls.
    – Eliminate the “keeping in touch” calls and replace them with calls to discuss specific questions or timely issues.
  4. Marketing automation.
    – Ensure thorough follow-up with every prospect.
    – Address common concerns, share relevant sales and educational content, remind sales team to call.
  5. More educational content.
    – Evaluate the kinds of information people need to make a purchase decision, and then find ways to provide educational resources to them–even if they never buy from you.

To close the gap, widen the funnel.

A lot of people believe sales is mostly a numbers game. Typically, I’m not a fan of this philosophy. Managers use it like a club to drive sales reps to “make more calls.”

But think about your numbers in a different way. Don’t focus on “more activity,” instead find ways to get “more efficiency!” It’s not about making more calls; it’s about increasing conversions.  Implement strategies to convert more of your content consumers to active prospects. And then convert more of your active prospects to paying clients. By increasing the percentage of conversion at each stage of your sales funnel, you get more ROI from your marketing investment, more productivity from your sales reps, and more profit on your bottom line.

That’s the best way to work the numbers–and maximize your marketing strategy!

 

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