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Referral Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing vs. Direct Marketing – Which is the key to growth?

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First, lets define what these three marketing strategies are.  I’ll go with Wikipedia here:

Referral marketing  is a method of promoting services to new customers through referrals, usually by word of mouth.  Such referrals often happen spontaneously.  As with most businesses, the best leads a staffing firm can generate come from referrals.  They convert 30% better than leads generated from all other marketing channels.

Inbound marketing, which has become virtually synonymous with content marketing, refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in.  As more buyers search for solutions to t
heir business needs online first and foremost, getting found where they are searching for your expertise can establish you as an expert among an audience that has never heard of you prior to your search.

Direct marketing (direct mail, telemarketing, etc.) is all about targeting the buyers with whom you want to work with, and using outbound efforts to reach them.

I’ve already mentioned that referral leads convert a whopping 30% higher than all other leads.  So, end of story, referral marketing is where all of your focus should be – right?  Well, that depends on your goals for growth!  It’s often that the first call I get from a staffing firm starts with “we’ve gotten this far on 100% referrals, but now we want to grow.”  The reason for the call is simple: the firm wants to grow, and referrals are not going to get them all the way to where they want to go.  That doesn’t mean they will ever stop asking for them or incentivizing them!  But now they need to do more to grow more.  (If you can meet your all of your objectives with referrals, you can stop reading here, and congratulations!)

Inbound marketing is what you’ve been hearing about for years now.  It’s pretty awesome.  If you build it, they will come.  This time last year, Haley Marketing ran a “90 blog posts in 90 days contest” internally, and you can read about the excellent results we had here.  The sky seems to be the limit for how effective this type of content marketing can be.  So that’s the answer to growth beyond referral marketing and word-of-mouth, right?  Well, yes for some, but not all!

Haley Marketing specializes in marketing exclusively for staffing and recruiting firms.  That’s the only market we’ve served for 20 years now.  This niche focus allows us to be found by a target audience.  If a staffing firm has a similar niche or geographical focus (e.g. surgical techs and sterile techs in California), we can absolutely help them meet their SEO and lead generation goals with content marketing.  But another firm that has grown through word of mouth may place travel nurses nationally, or serve some other group that would be nearly impossible to increase relevant organic search traffic to through a typical content and social marketing strategy.

So direct marketing still most certainly has it’s place!  And ironically, as technology continues to evolve, your mailbox is likely the least-crowded information receptacle you have today.  While most people can barely return emails to the people they know, they get fewer than 10 physical pieces of mail a day.  Once you identify the list of who you want to work with, strategic direct marketing can be the most effective way to get first appointments and grow business, because you have the best chance of getting someone’s attention – the first thing any successful marketing strategy must accomplish.  Stay tuned for a Lunch With Haley this fall that will show how Haley Marketing’s clients have enjoyed success with this “old-school” marketing approach.

Your goals and your audience determine what combination of these marketing strategies will be most effective at growing your business.  As with most things in life, there is a time and a place for each!

Content Marketing = More Placements! FIND OUT HOW

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