What marketing should staffing firms be using to drive sales and qualified applications during these strange times?

I recently sat down with Haley Marketing’s Founder and CEO, David Searns, to discuss this very topic, because it’s one that’s been dominating our client conversations over the past several months.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation, which you can watch here:

Mandy:

Hi, my name is Mandy Wittschen. I’m a marketing strategist with Haley Marketing Group. And today, I have the pleasure of speaking with our founder and CEO, David Searns. Hi David.

David:

Hey Mandy, how are you doing?

Mandy:

Good. Thank you for joining us today. Today’s topic for our viewers is going to be, “What marketing should staffing firms be using to drive sales and qualified applications during these strange times?” And they are definitely strange times. But before we jump in, if you could, David, just give me your 30 second elevator pitch and tell me a little bit about yourself and Haley Marketing Group.

David:

Sure. 30 seconds. All right, so I’m old. I know. I actually saw on LinkedIn that today is the 24th anniversary of when I announced that we started Haley Marketing. That was August, 1996, so happy 24th birthday to us and to you, since you were here with us when we started Haley Marketing.

Mandy:

That’s right.

David:

And as for me, a lot of people know I grew up in the staffing business. Mom and Dad ran a staffing company. Haley Marketing was an offshoot of their business way back in 1996. Mom and Dad are happily retired and now all we’re doing is marketing for the staffing industry.

Mandy:

Right, and the business has been growing by leaps and bounds and now we provide a full complement of solutions, and solutions that are going to be very critical over the next few months and have been critical over the last few months, which kind of leads me to my first question.

How has staffing industry marketing changed over the last six months?

David:

Well, the obvious is we went from 3.5% unemployment to, at its peak, 16.6% and now I think it’s around 11%. In February, everybody was focused on recruiting, recruiting, recruiting. Then that flipped upside down, although for some of our clients, it’s still a mix. Now they have a challenge getting job orders and a challenge of getting candidates.

David:

From a marketing standpoint, the staffing companies have really had to look at most probably is boosting efficiency: How do I get more out of my salespeople? You might remember a couple months ago, Mike Jacoutot from Butler Street’s guest webinar. And he said salespeople right now have to do double the work for half the results. That’s where marketing fills in the gap by helping sales people leverage their time. How do we get more conversions on a website? How do we get found on search engines and social media so more employers and job seekers are coming to the staffing company?

David:

And that’s what we’re doing now is just optimizing what’s out there to increase visibility, increase reach, and state a more compelling case because a lot of employers are thinking, “I can hire on my own. There’s all these people available,” or, “I don’t need people right now.” There’s still a lot of reasons they need people and more than ever, they need a staffing company to help them find the right people.

David:

From a recruiting standpoint, I’ve told a lot of people is, “Imagine that recruiting back in February was like finding a needle in a haystack. Now there’s 10 needles but there’s a thousand haystacks.” And that’s the challenge a lot of our clients and their clients are having with the recruiting is there’s a big market of people and staffing companies’ value isn’t lessened because more people are in the marketplace. It’s actually increased.

Mandy:

Well, you’ve given me a really nice overview of what’s going on on both the sales side of the equation, as well as the recruiting side of the equation. I’m going to drill down for a second here. Let’s talk specifically about sales. In your opinion and your experience…

What works best for generating staffing leads and orders?

David:

Going back to something I just said, firms really have to do two related things. They have to be more visible. They have to be more visible in the online world. That’s search engine optimization, that’s more paid advertising. There are a lot of companies that may not have used staffing in the past that are looking, or companies that are going to use more because they’re afraid to bring people back full-time. Maybe they don’t have a regular staffing vendor so they’re Googling it. You want to show up and you want to look, sure, not just for staffing agency in my city, but a whole wide range of questions people may be asking, you want your website to be answering those questions so you get found in Google searches, but that visibility is one part.

David:

The other part is I think staffing companies from a sales perspective need to work with their salespeople on how to be really strategic. What businesses in your local community or in the industry you serve are still hiring? Why are they hiring? What are their talent needs? And based on what you know about the audience to create a direct marketing campaign where we use marketing to do the first outreach, to create awareness, to position your business the way you want to be seen, to grab somebody’s attention so they know that you exist and you’re not one of 10,000 staffing companies just making cold calls, to give people a reason to talk to the salesperson so when the salesperson does pick up the phone, and that’s the part of integrating sales and marketing together into an integrated direct marketing program. The salesperson picks up the phone, they’re calling someone who’s heard their name, who knows what they do, who is positively predisposed to talking to them and if you’ve gone too far, he actually has a real strong reason to meet with that staffing salesperson.

David:

When you put all those things together, a staffing salesperson, instead of making maybe 20 calls to get a connect or 50 calls to get an appointment, it may still be hard to get people on the phone and connect, but when you have it, the probability of a connect to turning into an appointment will go up. One of our clients in the last recession after 2009, 2010 did this and they saw their outbound sales call to appointment ratio went up by 100% just by being more strategic about going after the right people with a good campaign.

Mandy:

Wow, that’s amazing.

It sounds like, based on what you said, that really staffing professionals do need to adjust their strategy and also the tactics that they’re using. And it also sounds like it’s really a multipronged approach that seems to be working best. There’s not really one silver bullet in this economy right now.

David:

I wish there was, but you definitely need to plant as many seeds as you can right now, because you don’t know what’s going to bear fruit. And your great long-term clients may cut their staffing and all of a sudden, what are you going to do? So you need to be getting more clients. This is really a time to push for having a greater number of clients even if they’re a little onesy-twosy clients, because you can’t be reliant on what paid your bills six, seven months ago because it may not pay your bills in August and September and the fall of 2020. You want more diversification in your client mix, and as you said, you have to change the tactics, change the strategies so that you’re making the most value out of your sales time.

Mandy:

And those onesy-twosy orders, as you referred to them, who knows where those may lead once we start regaining momentum again?

Let’s change directions here and talk about the other side of the equation. What should staffing agencies be doing if they need more qualified candidates right now? You were talking a little bit about how now there are 10,000 haystacks to look through to find candidates, but…

What should staffing agencies be doing if they’re struggling to recruit?

David:

There’s people that are struggling to recruit usually for one of two reasons. Number one is if you’re placing lower level of workers and they’re getting an extra 600 bucks a week. I know that just ended, but hopefully something will get passed because those people can’t go to nothing. But if they’re getting 600 bucks a week as basically an incentive not to work, then it’s going to be really hard to get them off the sidelines. You’re going to need to, in that audience, try to find people who just really want to be working, people who want to know that they get the pick of the best jobs. Definitely if you want the best opportunities that pay the most, now is the time to accept assignments.

David:

People who may be concerned that, “Hey, unemployment benefits are going to end, and what will I do afterwards?” Those are also people that you can get off the sidelines by appealing to them. When you think about your job advertising, you to focus on your best paying jobs. You really need to show what people could make by working with you. And I know not every job is going to pay at the top, but you need to sell your best jobs. You need to sell the things that are most saleable to get people in the door.

Mandy:

Well, specifically you were talking about if the pay isn’t there, would you recommend that an account manager counsel or educate an employer about the realities of pay in this market?

David:

Absolutely, so an account manager, a salesperson can say, “We had company A and company B. Here were the pay rates. Here were the fill rates.” One of our teammates, Matt Lozar, director of recruitment marketing actually studied this. And he looked at the application rate based on pay rate. Anything less than $15 an hour, the application rate has plummeted in the last six months. Anything about $15, $16, it stayed pretty even, a little declined, but $17 and up, the application rate has doubled.

People will come off the sidelines if it’s paying a little bit more than that $600 a week and a staffing company may want to say to an employer, “You know, I only pay 12 bucks an hour to do this job.” Well, until unemployment ends, they may have those jobs unfilled if they’re not at $15 an hour. And that’s just a harsh reality. Staffing companies absolutely need to coach their clients on the realities of the market.

Mandy:

Those are some interesting statistics and takeaways. And I really appreciate you taking the time here to give our viewers some practical ideas that they can implement tomorrow, today.

David:

Mandy, I want to add, because whether it’s lower-level workers or high-level workers, the other thing staffing companies have to recognize is the importance of showing safety. And it sort of goes without saying right now, America’s got a challenge. We’ve got a virus that is not really under control. Hopefully by the time people are seeing this, it is more under control, but workers want to know, moms and dads want to know they’re going to go to a workplace that’s safe. They want to know they’re going to have flexibility if they need to take care of their kids.

David:

In promoting the jobs, whether it’s lower-level jobs or mid-tier or senior level executives, people want to know that they’re going to be safe and that their employer is going to give them some flexibility. Staffing companies need to, again, consult with their clients. How can we offer people that sense of safety and job security and flexibility? Because if we can do that, we’re going to get the best talent. And so staffing salespeople need to get closer to their clients to have these conversations and put all this stuff into their job ads, into their social media so they’re demonstrating safety and flexibility.

Mandy:

If viewers have questions about anything that you’ve covered today, where can they get those questions answered or how could they learn more about any of the things that we discussed today?

David:

Oh, great question. I wish I had a short answer and I’ll try to keep it short. The one self-promotional one is there’s a lot of good resources. We have recorded webinars we’ve done on many of these topics. You can go to lunchwithhaley.com and watch those on-demand webinars. They’re all completely free to listen to. There’s great advice from this downturn in the last six months. We’ve been doing two webinars every month with some amazing guest speakers on recruiting, on sales.

In fact, we have one coming up next week with Leah Daniels from Appcast on recruitment marketing. Also in our main haleymarketing.com website, our Idea Club Newsletter, if you don’t get it, subscribe because we’re covering these topics, our ideas, industry best practices, third party ideas we find.

David:

And the last thing that I would suggest is our good friend Google. Take any question you have and type it in, because there’s so much content being produced right now that you’re going to find lots of expert opinion, new webinars to watch, blog posts that have been written, guides that have been produced. Take advantage of all the things that marketers like us are doing to produce more content. It’s really valuable stuff. You can get amazing free education right now.

Mandy:

Sounds like some great advice. Thank you very much for the time today and have a great day.

David:

Thanks so much, Mandy.

What works in staffing sales, marketing and recruiting?

Watch our webinars to find out!

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