HRmarketer Turns Ten! Recap of first decade. Looking ahead to next.


It's our birthday.

The company I founded a decade ago will turn 10 in October. Sing along with us, won't you?

HRmarketer will celebrate 10 years in business this October, 2011. To share in our celebration, we created an HR trivia quiz with the theme "10 questions for 10 years". As of yesterday I was told nobody had submitted a perfect score. Maybe you will be the first - take the quiz here. (we'll give away a few iPads to people who took the quiz at the upcoming HR Technology® Conference & Exposition).

My goodness. A lot of change has occurred the last decade in the HR marketplace. And like most companies, a lot of change has occurred with our own business since we hung out our shingle 10 years ago.

When we first launched HRmarketer.com a decade ago most B2B decision makers got their HR news and information from a few news portals and outside sources like analysts, conferences, and print trade magazines where journalists operated as gatekeepers. And this news was consumed at prescribed times during the day — a lunch hour, after dinner or during commute times.

These more "traditional" outlets remain very important today. But now, we get most of our news from the Internet. And we consume this news throughout the day via email, webinars, podcasts, blogs and on networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook where we actively share the news we consume. It's a never ending loop where everyone functions as a news source and few gatekeepers control what news we see.

These new technologies have fundamentally changed the way we consume/share information and how businesses market their products. It has also required us to completely transform our HRmarketer.com software (more on that later).

As I look back on our first decade one thing that hasn't changed are my "three truths about starting a business" that I often share with people considering the move into entrepreneurship. These are:
  1. Determine how much it will cost to start the business – double it
  2. Determine how much time you’ll spend running the business - double it.
  3. Estimate how much money the business will make – half it.
In spite of me personally not being very sentimental and adhering to the old sayings, "you are only as good as your last game" and "past performance is not indicative of future results," I guess 10 years in business deserves a little retrospective blog post. After all, 10 years is an achievement. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50% of small businesses fail in the first year and 95% fail within the first five years.

We are still around because of our amazingly talented HRmarketer team - many of whom have have been with me since the beginning. We pride ourselves on being a close business family and I have been truly blessed by this team's friendship and dedication. Our business is still relevant purely and simply because of this team.

So here it goes - a little recap of HRmarketer's first decade.

2001: We formally open for business in my guest house in the Santa Cruz mountains during a deep recession and shortly after 9-11. A vivid memory was our first employee, Pamela, waking me up at 4am making breakfast (loudly) in our Kitchen. Yes, we operate a little differently here in the Silicon Valley. My wife was pregnant and very understanding.

2002: We move to real office space and sell our first HRmarketer.com software license to Matt Pitchford at TruStar Solutions. Thanks Matt.

2003: We formally launch our HRmarketer Services Group to help customers with their marketing and media relations.

2004: We launch the HRmarketer blog. Hey, it was a big deal in 2004! Since then this blog has been recognized on many Top HR blog lists.

2005: HRmarketer.com reports 36 consecutive months of sales growth.

2006: Our best year yet measured by revenue and profits fueled by the growth of the Services Group. We also launched a blogs information database on HRmarketer.com and our Trends in HR Marketing research series.

2007: We launched our HR Directory and Buyers Guide. Today, it is one of the largest HR vendor buyer guides and the directory contains over 5,000 articles, white papers and other useful HR content.

2008: We launched major upgrades to the HRmarketer.com software including a new "alert" system that allowed users to customize over 20 alerts such as speaking opportunities, new journalists, award deadlines, and editorial opportunities - and get them via email, RSS or their software dashboard.

2009: We acquired Outcalt & Associates, the owner of HRVendors.com and the HR Vendor print Phonebook. We also released Conversation Starters, our groundbreaking eBook outlining the importance of participating in social media marketing and how to do it.

2010: HRmarketer achieves record revenue growth in 2010 and we launched our HRmarketer.com "cloud" upgrade with improved measurement and social media features, including a integration with Google Analytics. Also launched a Media & Analyst Relations module helping customers to centrally manage, track and report on their outreach activities.

2011: We launched our HR Tradewinds eNewsletter and a new eBook, The Right Mix: A B2B Marketing Allocation Guide. On the software side, we added new collaboration features, enabling the seamless sharing and management of marketing and PR information. Also expanded HRmarketer.com's information databases to help HR vendors market to departments beyond HR and reach decision makers in IT, Finance, Operations and Procurement.

2012: A peek into the future:
By the time 2012 arrives we will have completely overhauled the HRmarketer.com software platform - 12 months in the making (actually to be launched in the Fall of 2011).

The new platform will leverage the growing popularity and importance of "social" media/networking and the need to capture the online conversations taking place amongst journalists, analysts and other online 'influencers" within the HR and B2B market segments - and to analyze this information to show what's trending, who is driving these conversations and how to seamlessly reach these audiences.

In short, we are rapidly adapting the software by aggregating the right information HR vendors need to implement and manage effective marketing and PR and providing the tools to use this information effectively.

This has always been and always will be the core of what we do. It's our DNA.

But whoa, we're not quite there yet, although we'll be there in October.

So let's stay in the present and celebrate 10 years in business first.

And once again, join us in celebration by taking our HR trivia quiz and then stop by our booth #950 at the 14th Annual HR Technology® Conference & Exposition to see if you won an iPad 2 - and get a sneak preview of our new platform.

We'd love to hear from you.

We're all ears, you know - SocialEars.

Post by HRmarketer CEO Mark Willaman. Join Mark on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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