Managing A Staffing Business Means Cultivating Advocates

Managing a Staffing Business; Cultivating AdvocatesIf you’re managing a staffing business you may have come to the conclusion that traditional marketing methods newspaper, radio and TV advertising, trade shows, etc. don’t deliver like they used to. You’re not alone, of course. People aren’t consuming media or making purchasing decisions like they used to. And marketing professionals are still trying to catch up to many disruptive trends:

  • Clients aren’t really paying attention.

    Several studies have confirmed that traditional marketing communications just don’t seem relevant. Clients are checking out product and service information in their own ways, either on the Internet, through word-of-mouth or through customer reviews.

  • CEOs haven’t the patience.

    In a 2011 survey of 600 CEOs by London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 73% said that CMOs lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth. This therefore has a knock on effect for any sort of investment into marketing.

  • Social media augments traditional media.

Social media hasn’t killed traditional media, but it has changed the equation on how money is spent and customers courted. The time people are spending on FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn is time they aren’t spending with traditional media. (If you want to learn more about digital trends for 2013, see our previous blog post.) 

Bill Lee recently wrote a piece in the Harvard Business Review

So what does this have to do with managing a staffing business?

It means we need to develop new ways to bring customers to our door and maintain our connections to them. One way is by developing “business advocates.” Business advocates are nothing more than customers, employees, prospects or partners that care about what our staffing firms are doing and may even share our news with their networks of colleagues, customers and friends. Here are a few was to build a community of business advocates for your staffing firm.  

1.Use social media to develop community marketing.

Most people, when faced with a purchase decision, now turn to the Internet for reviews, information and their friends’ opinions and advice. It’s not a solo decision; it involves a community. Consider how you can use your own firm’s social media efforts to replicate this community-oriented buying experience. For example, what if you published a survey that enabled your customers to identify themselves as “promoters?” You could then send a form inviting them to write a review or recommendation on any of several social media sites. Make it easy! The promoter’s network will instantly learn about his experience with your firm. Even if someone does not identify himself as a “promoter,” you can encourage him to “like” you on Facebook, connect with you on LinkedIn or follow you on Twitter. 

2. Find your customer influencers. 

Who are your most valuable customers? Which customers seem to get the most from your staffing firm? What customers are you most important to?  Identify them. These are your Most Valuable Customers (your MVCs), the customers most likely to advocate on your behalf and influence potential new customers. These are the people you want to make partners in your success by giving them “insider knowledge” about developments in your firm and maybe even including in some key strategic decision-making. In return, you may ask your MVCs how to penetrate new markets affordably.

3. Help them build social capital.

Traditionally, you may encourage customer advocacy with cash rewards, discounts or other financial inducement. In building a community-oriented marketing program, you’d help your advocates and influencers create social capital: it helps them build their affiliation networks, increase their reputation and gives them access to new knowledge all of which your customer influencers crave. For example, you may seek to publish pieces by our MVCs on your company blog, or give them public credit for specific ideas related to your business, credit they can spread through their own networks.

So although traditional marketing may be all but dead and buried, the possibilities of peer influence-based, community-orientated marketing holds great promise. In managing a staffing business your authentic customer relationships are vital and important in creating sustained growth and positive reputations and referrals.