It all depends on the hoopla of the night before. And how many people will remember it.

Last week at TRU USA there was a lot of discussion about the power of social media and/or word of mouth marketing (referrals and such) when it comes to recruiting and third-party candidate searches.

No money spent anywhere else.

Very cool, but I was also relieved to discover that these smart folk agreed that marketing activities such as social media were not free -- they take time and staff and that costs money regardless of how "free" the online services are.

Now, Verbal Summary did sponsor a band for our big TweetUp the first night of TRU USA. Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo they were called. They rocked. I drank. I drank some more. I bought their CD. I slept it off and listened to their CD the next morning. And I just listened to it yesterday. I remember that Verbal Summary brought the band in (check out Verbal Summary's service -- very concise and cool).

But is that enough to truly grow a firm long term? I mean, unless you're a content with a lifestyle business, which is perfectly fine of course, how do you grow aggressively on grass roots social media word of mouth long term, with maybe the occasional rock and roll blues band? Can you? And whether you're B2B or B2C, is that enough to shape the way your marketplace sees you?

How many parts online organic to synthesized traditional? And how much should that vary between HR software firms, recruiting services firms, leadership development firms, etc.?

Those are the questions that came up in the San Jose Mercury News article I read yesterday about Google -- Google's word of mouth creates the buzz.

Yes, that's an extreme jump -- from third-party recruiting agencies to Google gigantica -- but the discussion around the marketing mix is the same.

We've touted before that your overall marketing spend should be around 15%-20% of total revenue.

For years Yahoo, eBay and Microsoft have been at 21%-22%. Google around 8%.

Relatively speaking that's still a lot of money. Google didn't gain the market share they currently have by word of mouth alone, you've got to fuel it with:

In 2009 Google's marketing spend increased to 9% of revenue. Again, that's a lot of money.

Most HR suppliers don't have those budgets or annual revenue numbers, but there's a lot of the marketing mix that can and should be used, however dialed up and down it becomes.

You're constantly in the starting up, scaling and nurturing mode and a certain level of investment has to be made and a lot of hard work played out.

Enough to drive you to drink.

We were talking about word of mouth, right? How many parts online organic to synthesized traditional?

Like how many parts vodka to how many parts tomato juice? It all depends on the hoopla of the night before.

And how many people will remember it.

Hey, SHRM's bringing in Hall and Oates this year. Time to par-tay.

Post by Kevin W. Grossman (join me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn - and now join HRmarketer on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn!)

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