Ahhhh, if I had a dollar for every HR vendor who suspended or cut their marketing and PR budget because their latest grow big overnight marketing idea or campaign fell flat. And if I had another dollar for every vendor who got all jacked-up about wanting to be more visible in social media and once they realized the amount of work involved in doing so, delayed the initiative or quit all-together.
I'd have a lot of cash.
I was reading the The War of Art by Steven Pressfield last night (cool book) and the following two paragraphs got me thinking about marketing - sadly, most things get me thinking about marketing.
Resistance outwits the amateur with the oldest trick in the book: It uses his own enthusiasm against him. Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an overambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion. It knows we can't sustain that level of intensity. We will hit the wall. We will crash. "Only 50 people registered for my webcast! No more webcasts".
The professional, on the other and, understands delayed gratification. He is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise, not the hare. Have you heard the legend of Sylvester Stallone staying up three nights straight to churn out the screenplay for Rocky? I don't know, it may even be true. But it's the most pernicious species of myth to set before the awakening writer, because it seduces him into believing he can pull off the big score without pain and without persistence. - Excerpt from The War of Art, Steven Pressfield.
"Hey, that social media news release I sent didn't result in a single media placement. No more press releases."
"None of the 200 downloads from my direct marketing campaign last month bought anything from us yet. No more direct email campaigns."
"The last 5 speaking opportunities I applied for were rejected. What a waste. No more."
"I spent hours applying for that award and I did not win. No more award submissions."
"You mean I need to update my blog at least 4 times a month? I don't have the time. Forget blogging."
The list of excuses goes on and on.
Folks, marketing is hard. Really hard.
I don't know why so many smart entrepreneurs and business owners subscribe to the "build it and they will come" philosophy. It doesn't happen.
Marketing is not only hard, Marketing is Everything as the now famous Harvard Business Review article argued in 1991.
Building a brand (or company) cannot happen without aggressive and consistent marketing - day in and day out, month to month, year after year. Nor can it occur by focusing on a few tactics like only doing social media marketing. Our latest e-book The Right Mix: A B2B Marketing Allocation Guide discusses the importance of incorporating many tactics in your marketing.
Take a look at the most successful companies in the HR space. None - and I mean none - achieved their success without a sustained and broad marketing and PR plan. None.
There are no we-got-big-quick-without-any-marketing case studies.
So why do so many companies skimp on marketing or quit when a few tactics don't pan out?
In some cases it's a cash flow reason. OK. Fair push back. But is that REALLY the reason?
More often or not it's cultural or fear of the unknown. Or both.
A lot of business owners - especially those without a strong business or marketing background - are resistant to marketing. Sometimes they've been burned by the promise-you-everything firm. Other times they just feel uncomfortable investing in something that doesn't have a guaranteed outcome. And some are overwhelmed with everything they see they need to do and have no idea where to start.
But the irony is it really isn't that hard (getting started).
Start small. And have a plan and a disciplined process.
And for crying out loud, be patient.
So as we get ready for SHRM and then prepare for HR Tech (you are going to one of these events, right?) I present you with an achievable marketing and PR plan to get you started in the mysterious world of HR marketing.
Think of it as a marketing starter-kit.
1. Create a piece of content like a white paper. Lets say, as an example, you sell a product or service equating to background screening. You might write about the importance of doing background checks for new hires, the proper way of conducting these checks, what's legal, the types of checks you might want to do, how they may be different for full-time employees versus contractors, and current legislation that might impact how you conduct such checks. The point is to make it educational and position your company as a thought leader in the space you compete in. Don't be promotional.
2. Put the white paper on your website. You might want to require a short form to be completed in order for someone to access the content - these become leads for your sales team.
3. Promote the content. Start with an online news release that announces the availability of the content and directs readers to a landing page on your web site where they can download the content.
4. Send the news release to key journalists in your industry. In your email, "pitch" the news in a way that encourages the journalist to write about your content. You might even offer a customer or expert the journalist can interview on the subject.
5. Send a similar "pitch" to prominent bloggers and analysts who might find the content useful and may write about it.
6. Send a direct email to your house prospect list announcing the availability of the content. You can also rent or purchase an email list of prospects in your industry and do a campaign to them.
7. If you have a newsletter, mention the availability of the content in the newsletter.
8. Blog about the content on your company blog. Break it into several blog posts over a several week period, highlighting certain sections within the white paper.
9. "Share" the content on your company Facebook Page. Also share it to your LinkedIn network and groups you participate in or manage. Then tweet about it with relevant hashtags. Do several tweets over a few weeks, each time pitching it it in a slightly different way with different hashtags. And have everyone on your team do the same.
10. Record a short podcast on the white paper topic. Keep it under 20 or 30 minutes and designate someone to host the podcast and interview a subject matter expert on the topic you write about - think of it as a short Q&A session on the key topics in the white paper. Use a service like Skype to do the recording. When done, upload to iTunes and link to it from your web site.
11. Condense the white paper into a 500-800 word article and pitch it as a byline article for inclusion in a relevant trade magazine or website in your marketplace. Every publisher needs content and you'd be surprised at the interest you might receive.
12. If you have a company YouTube channel you can record a short video that summarizes the content. This is easier than you think. It can be as simple as using iMovie and your built in web cam to discuss the white paper, show a few graphs and direct people to a URL where they can access it.
13. Consider a webcast. Use a service like GoToWebinar to host a webinar on the topic discussed in the white paper. Have a guest speaker who is an expert on the subject matter. You can then use direct marketing, a press release and your social sites to promote the webinar - maybe offering the white paper as a perk to attendees. And of course, you can record the webinar and have it on your web site for visitors to view.
Everything i just discussed can be spread out over two to three months.
If you can produce four quality white papers throughout the year then you have a solid 12 months worth of marketing tactics.
It's a start.
And it's not that hard if you have a plan and a process and stay disciplined to its execution. And not as much of an investment as you might think.
If you don't have the internal resources then outsource part or all of it to a company like HRmarketer. Lots of companies have done so and have great success stories to share.
If you have the resources consider a product like HRmarketer.com software to give you the information and the tools to get the work done. There are also other qualified marketing and PR firms that can help you like Starr Tincup and The Devon Group to name a few. We've all been doing this for a long time and we're all very good at what we do. Very good.
So dip your toes into the water and give it a try. And be patient and stay aggressive.
See you at SHRM. We're booth number 932.
Post by HRmarketer CEO Mark Willaman. Join Mark on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Labels: content marketing