To successfully ride the winds of change, emphasize the positive:
Look at what your customers value most about you, and make that the focus of your marketing communications.
This approach enabled Celarity, a marketing and creative services staffing and recruiting firm, to double the number of candidates it places and increase revenue by more than 35% over the past two years. This is especially impressive considering it was during a period that has been tumultuous for the “hypercyclical” staffing industry.
John Arnold, Celarity’s Marketing and Operations Manager, shares a simple two-prong approach that contributed significantly to this growth by helping increase the number of inbound leads by about 100%.
Step #1: Clarify value
When Arnold came on board two years ago, he noticed that the look and feel of Celarity’s marketing communications was inconsistent.
“Consistency in message – how it looks and what it says – is critical to building recognition, trust and relationships,” he explains.
To create a communication style that would reflect the best of the organization, he conducted:
He spent six months examining what differentiated Celarity from the competitors and analyzed competitors’ performance. This included:
- Reviewing marketing materials
- Monitoring social media
- Gathering feedback from clients and recruits who had worked with them
Sales team interviews
He turned to his sales professionals who were speaking with employers and recruits every day. He wanted the unvarnished truth about marketplace perceptions regarding where Celarity excelled and where the organization fell behind.
He discovered that Celarity’s emphasis on helping candidates grow in their careers, as opposed to merely filling a position, made the organization a favorite among people looking for jobs. This is important because the candidates Celarity places on a temporary basis often end up in permanent positions. When they need temporary help, who do they call? Celarity, of course.
“Social media has made organizations transparent. Your marketing must match your product or you’ll foster distrust and hurt your relationships,” he explains. “Marketing today is about what you’re doing, not what you’re saying.”
Step #2: Communicate that value
Armed with this information, Arnold developed communication to spread Celarity’s value message of advancing opportunity for both the candidates and the clients who employ them. This included the following tactics.
Establish monthly newsletters
Celarity launched separate email programs to reach its three primary audiences:
- Candidates – Those who are looking for temporary positions. The newsletters focus on helping them take their careers to the next level. They include career advice and job-hunting tips, job openings and local marketing events.
- Clients – Employers who have positions to fill. Newsletters include articles on how to interview candidates, check references and general management tips.
- Employees – Those who have already been placed. Their newsletter provides advice on how to succeed at work, and keeps them in the loop on changing processes, procedures and opportunities to engage with other Celarity recruits.
Arnold says each newsletter distribution increases website traffic by at least 30% and provides a meaningful follow-up opportunity for salespeople; the email platform allows them to see who has read an article. Furthermore, Arnold analyzes clickthrough rates and feedback to determine what type of content their marketplace values most, and produces more of the same.
Leverage social media
Celarity has accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and later Google+. Until Arnold came on board, the company wasn’t using them much. So, Arnold started tweeting articles featuring career advice, news about upcoming events and job openings, in addition to blog updates.
In a few months, Celarity’s Twitter following mushroomed from 100 to 2,000. He started a LinkedIn group that now has more than 300 members. Most importantly, Celarity is now a well-recognized brand among Minnesota creatives, he says.
“When I told people about where I worked when I started at Celarity, it was hit or miss on whether they would know the company,” says Arnold. “Today, I rarely come across someone who doesn’t know who we are.”
Celarity started sending postcards to both potential and present clients. The postcards are sales-focused and emphasize the quality of the company’s candidates.
Celarity cycles through its client and potential-client database, sending organizations a postcard every quarter. The team includes existing clients in this campaign because they may be interested in hiring additional employees. Arnold says the effort always produces four or five sales-ready leads and one or two sales.
“People think direct mail is a dinosaur. I’ll let them keep thinking that, because the more they believe that, the more attention our direct mail will get,” laughs Arnold.
In a marketplace inundated with fresh ideas, platforms and strategies, it’s easy to steer marketing off course, especially in a harsh business environment, warns Arnold.
“Always do your due diligence; take the time to examine your value, make sure it aligns with your message, and you’re spreading that message where your customers are most likely to get it,” he says.
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