Yesterday I read a column in The Wall Street Journal by Erin White entitled Avoid Sinking Your Career When Opting to Jump Ship. In it White talks about how many executives tire of the corporate grind and decide to either “jump ship” and join smaller companies or start-ups, or launch their own start-ups. It’s a risk that could be very rewarding for the right people, as long as they’re prepared to take on many different roles and not be worried about doing even the most menial of tasks (that they probably haven’t done for years – you know, menial tasks like marketing and media relations.)
That got me thinking about the dozens of boutique firms popping up like weeds in the human capital marketplace over the past year, particularly those in recruitment &staffing, organizational development, benefits and payroll administration, HR outsourcing, background screening and performance assessment. Many of these firms were started by executives fleeing the cold and gray corporate world.
Even our founder, Mark Willaman, left the corporate world and joined a work/life start-up before eventually starting Fisher Vista, LLC and launching HRmarketer.com, now the no. 1 online marketing and PR service in the human resources industry.
But unlike our founder and many others who launch successful companies, too many fledging firms with fantastic products and/or services don’t invest in marketing and lead-generation campaigns. In fact, research has shown that a major reason why many start-ups fail (whether a restaurant or niche job board) is due to a lack of investment in marketing – incidentally, a related reason many new companies fail is because they underestimate the sales cycle. Unfortunately as most of you know, there isn’t a lead generation fairy that leaves hot sales prospects under your pillows.
(But wait, isn’t there? No, no, there’s not. Stop it.)
Many of our first-time HRmarketer clients (many of them founders of their own businesses) tell us that they don’t have time to do a lot of marketing or PR. There just too busy doing other things, like managing the day-to-day operations of the company.
Folks, if you don’t create and implement even the most basic marketing and lead-generation plan (and close those leads of course), you’ll be back on the street faster than you can say, “Tell me again the value of writing a press release.”
For some great, and affordable, marketing and lead-generation strategies and tips, check out Seven Strategies for the New Year by Rob Engelman and Brian Carroll’s blog posting Blueprint for Personal Lead Generation Success.
Here are some of our own quick tips to add (also see our previous blogs entitled “Yes, Marketing Is Everything” and “Know Your Space To Have A Profitable Place”):
You are the lead-generation fairy at your organization, so lift up your wand and find those leads!
- Put together a marketing and media relations plan for the year, even if it’s only an outline, a touchstone if you will, based on where your leads should and will come from.
- Send out timely and newsworthy press releases with regularity throughout the year (monthly, quarterly, etc.) to your target publications and via a wire service.
- Research your target publications and the topics they’re interested in and pitch article ideas to them.
- Write and post case studies and white papers that can be downloaded from your website. Also, distribute them to HR and HR-related news sites.
- Know your customers and get them to evangelize your business. Referrals are some of the best leads you can generate.
- Exhibit, sponsor, and/or speak at the key conferences in your space. If nothing else, attend the key conferences to meet and greet your target market and your competition. Know your target market!
- Create cost-effective direct marketing campaigns (print and/or email) and consistently implement them throughout the year. Always keep an eye on your return on investment (ROI).
- Develop educational Webinars and Webcasts for your target market.
- Build strategic partnerships with other companies to help promote your products and services.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)!