With all the global flux, fragmentation, and consolidation in the human capital marketplace today, it’s vital that HR vendors understand their specific space, channel, niche, vertical, target market – whatever you call it, you’d better know it. Otherwise, selling your Aunt Ruthie’s homemade fragrant flower soaps at the flea market will be an uncomfortable but likely career transition.
Okay, that may be a stretch, but how easily can you answer the following questions:
Granted, most of us don’t have the time to research all of these facets (and then comprehend and analyze and put to use in our marketing and PR campaigns) – but we should be making time – at least some time – to be a successful vendor of choice. Whether you do it all yourself, have staff that can assist you, use a marketing or PR firm, or use a online marketing and PR service such as HRmarketer.com (shameless plug – our service answers all the above questions and more), you must know your space to have a profitable place!
- Who are your competitors and what differentiates your products and services from theirs?
- Who are your customers and why do they buy your products and services (and why aren’t others buying)?
- What are the “hot” topics and trends in your space?
- What are the key publications (and workforce and HR journalists) that cover your space?
- Who’s getting press in those pubs and who’s advertising in them (your competitors)?
- What are the key conferences and expos in your space?
- Who’s exhibiting, sponsoring, and/or speaking at those events?
- What are the key associations in your space, and do you belong to any of them?
- Who are the analysts that cover human capital?
Repeat after me: I must know my space to have a profitable place!
Here are some of our recommendations:
Repeat after me: I do not want to sell fragrant flower soaps at the flea market…
- Know your specific market and how it fits into the human capital marketplace. If you’re in recruitment and staffing, this would include searching for and hiring new employees and a wide variety of services from sourcing and selection technologies, job boards, staffing and relocation firms, testing and assessment technologies, applicant tracking technologies, executive search/placement firms, background checking services, etc.
- Know who your competitors are and what differentiates your products and services. If you sell applicant tracking software, stay abreast of what’s happening with the latest technologies and services, and what’s happening with companies like Taleo, iCMS, Recruiternet, Deploy Solutions, Workstream, etc. Review the top industry print and online publications that cover ATS technologies (Workforce Management, Electronic Recruiting Exchange, HR Innovator, HR.com, etc.).
- Know the “hot” topics and trends in human capital. Regularly review HR and HR-related publications like HR Executive, HR Magazine, HRO Today, Employee Benefit News, Training & Development, etc. You’ll also find out who is getting press and who is advertising.
- Know who the primary editorial contacts are for the industry publications in your space, what their news preferences are, and send them regular monthly or quarterly “newsworthy” press releases and periodic byline article pitches.
- Know the key conferences and expos in your space and evaluate whether or not you should attend, exhibit, sponsor, or speak at them. For recruitment and staffing, consider major annual conferences like SHRM, the Kennedy Recruiting Conference & Expos, Staffing World, etc., and don’t forget about the state SHRM conferences and other regional recruitment events. Most event organizers list their current exhibitors and sponsors online, so pay attention to where your competitors are marketing.
- Know the key membership associations in your space. Joining the appropriate associations (like the America Staffing Association, SHRM, the Human Capital Institute, etc.) are great for keeping up with what’s happening in your industry, and of course for fostering business development and partnership opportunities.
- Know the analysts who cover human capital and keep in contact with them – like Aberdeen, Gartner, HR.com/ICG Research, etc. Most industry analysts welcome briefings from vendors on new product announcements and/or other news.
- And for goodness sake, know your customers!!!