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Your Playbook for Staffing Success (part 6): Selling, Marketing and Branding in a Recession

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Haley Marketing has weathered two recessions (2001 and 2009) – and helped hundreds of staffing and recruiting firms do the same.

In “Tips from the Haley Marketing Archive,” we revisit lessons from our own recession playbook – providing tips to help you drive sales, stay competitive and rebound faster.

Below, I share summaries of three articles we published earlier that are extremely relevant right now:

Lessons from “Recession 2008: Five things to do RIGHT NOW”

Resist the temptation to “slash and burn” right now. Here’s what you firm can – and frankly, should – be doing instead:

  1. Help your clients plan ahead.​ The downturn may affect your clients as much or more than it does you:
    1. Discuss the impact it’s having on their business.
    2. Brainstorm ideas for converting more fixed labor expenses to variable to minimize risk.
    3. Recommend churning talent to top grade staff.
  2. Get a jump on the competition. Use multiple channels of communication to:
    1. Be more visible
    2. Strengthen your positioning
    3. Stay top-of-mind.
  3. Demonstrate the ROI of your services. Target prospects with case studies that prove the economic impact of staffing and direct hire services.
  4. Educate your clients. Use webinars, eBooks, blog posts, sell sheets and more to teach prospects and clients new ways your services can be of value…in all market conditions.
  5. Don’t wait to get started.​ When a downturn hits, marketing more aggressively helps you boost awareness and stay top-of-mind. It signals to the market that your business is doing well. And people want to work with companies that are successful!

When competitors pull in spending, they signal that they’re in trouble. Don’t fall victim to this trap.

Fact: Aggressive advertisers obtained 4.5x the market share gain ​of competitors who cut back on marketing during a recession!

Source: Center for Research and Development

Lessons from “How to Sell When Someone Says ‘We’re not hiring'”

Bad news about the economy scares employers. They pull back on investments in technology, marketing, and of course talent.

“We’re not hiring” is a phrase you’re going to hear a lot of in the coming months (and maybe longer).

So what can you do?

If you want to survive, you have to think smarter.

Step 1: Stop being reactive.

Ask better questions:

  • How is this impacting your workforce?
  • You may not need temps right now, but what do you need?

Step 2: Go back to sales 101.

Do more homework to understand their pain right now. The more you know, the better solutions you can offer.​

Step 3: Drive out cost.

“Cost savings” can take many forms. Show how your services reduce labor expenses, improve productivity, lower total employment costs (e.g., benefits, HR administration), improve flexibility and reduce risks.​

Step 4: Capitalize on opportunities.

Help your clients find them in their businesses, then explain how you can provide the talent to allow them to capitalize on these ideas with minimal financial risk.​

Step 5: Strategic recruiting.  

Create future business by helping your clients plan hiring needs and proactively source and nurture a talent bench for those hires.

Lessons from “Branding in a Recession”

In uncertain economic times, marketing may seem like easiest thing to cut. However, smart executives understand that during a recession, marketing (including branding) is a non-negotiable budget item. Here’s why:

  • Lose visibility, and you WILL lose market share.​
  • Companies that market fall less and grow faster.​
  • Marketing gives your sales team a reason to call.

Fact: Companies that advertise aggressively during past recessions had sales 256% higher than those that did not continue to advertise.

Source: Wharton School

Why does branding matter?​

During a downturn, a clearly defined brand helps:

  • Strengthen your positioning.​
  • Build awareness, differentiation…and brand preference.​
  • Clarify (to clients, candidates and internal staff) what you’re known for.​

3 types of brands to consider building right now:​

  • Personal brands​: individual identities of your recruiters, sales people and leaders.
  • Product or service brands​: aligning your offerings with something your audience needs or wants.
  • Market brands: defining your brand based on the niche you serve.

Need expert advice for selling, marketing and branding in this economy?

Check out these free resources:

If there’s anything more we can do to help, we’re just a click or call away.

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