When is your strategy important? In times of great difficulty and change, your business and marketing strategy are the foundation for getting through those times. Your marketing strategy should be focused on:

  • growing your business within your existing sectors,
  • opening new doors with companies you are not currently working with,
  • staying embedded with your existing clients,
  • defining new areas of opportunity,
  • attracting the best candidates,
  • improving all of your business procedures and processes,
  • defining your true differentiation

Let’s take a look at what’s needed to further enhance or create your business and marketing strategy.

Your Strategy During COVID-19
Every single day, we work with clients to understand their needs and drive key results for them. However, when the truly unexpected comes out of nowhere and forces you to look at your business through an entirely new lens, you need to invest your energy in fleshing out your marketing strategy. For those clients with a high functioning marketing strategy, holding on to business and growing was still practical. We all attempt to build strategies that stand the test of time and situations like the pandemic have caused us to look at how we can shift or pivot into new directions when needed.

At the beginning of 2020, not one staffing firm would have likely believed that all of their clients would require a virtual workforce. Did your strategy focus your staffing firm in niche areas that would be resistant to market conditions? Do the industries you serve provide great enough diversity to avoid high levels of industry impact? The pandemic has tested many business and marketing strategies, so it’s time to enhance them or begin defining them to find your road to success.

Right now, your marketing strategy should be focused on showing high levels of value to your clients, displaying high levels of communication to your candidates, and providing a deep dive into what you do for your clients, consultants, and staff. Ask yourself this, “did my strategy help my team focus and drive new business or did it provide no value?” Because your strategy focuses on your messaging and differentiation, you may have found that much of your messaging was centered around a face-to-face component that required an immediate change as to why clients and consultants should work with you. If you haven’t already, focus your marketing strategy on providing high value content to your clients in the form of ways to onboard consultants virtually, insights into the labor market, insights into how working from home is affecting productivity, and much more. As for consultants, shift your energy into real time communication with your remote workforce. Right now, differentiation is all about content, quality, forward thinking, innovation, and collaboration.

When the Unexpected Hits, How Do You Pivot?business and marketing strategy
For many organizations, the concept of pivoting is difficult. The concept of “change” is listed as one of the toughest areas for human beings and businesses to adapt to. I get it, change is tough. But, if your workforce provides essential operations to your clients, then asking yourself what you can do to perfect your systems, processes, and procedures to make both the client and consultant experience better should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy. You may say it’s all about the business and not marketing, but the reality is that these decisions are marketable.

One of our clients set up intake centers for their clients in order to handle the onboarding of consultants for them. Many of their clients saw that as an incredible partnership and will likely never forget the level of effort they put forth. Consultant care has been widely regarded as something we all do, but in the current environment it became the most important thing we do. So how did you pivot? Did you divide up the workforce or create metrics for each of your recruiters and salespeople to keep ongoing communication and not just email with your consultants and hiring managers? Did you shift from live appreciation events to virtual? Did you begin working with clients to understand what upcoming needs they would have in order to be able to pipeline and provide the needed talent faster? Most of what we discuss on a daily basis in marketing are about setting ourselves apart in a crowded marketplace. Interestingly enough during the pandemic, very few staffing firms stepped up to enhance how they work on a day-to-day basis.

When we talk about pivoting, were not necessarily talking about different functions, we are talking about different ways of delivering those functions. For example, Sense is a tool for consultant care and engagement that automates the communication experience. This tool is a fantastic communication component to your consultant care strategy, but many staffing firms removed the essential component of human interaction that is required in times like now. Emailing and regular touch points through texting your consultants are certainly core, but did you reintroduce SPEAKING with your candidates regularly? Did you create social, virtual happy hours to build loyalty? This is just one example, but pivoting requires you to think of new ways to deliver your services or to develop new audiences.

The Marketplace: Specialist vs Big Box Store
Over the last many years, the concept of being everything to everyone vs being a specialist has been challenged. Which approach are you using? Let’s talk about this a little further…

For those of us that remember the old-fashioned hardware store, we have seen that Home Depot and its big box store approach captured the market due to having everything under a single roof. The local hardware store rarely exists anymore and it’s proof that the marketplace wants to get everything in a single place. But wait! When someone receives a cancer diagnosis, is the first thing they think of to go to their general practitioner or an oncologist? For the sake of our readers and their health, please choose the oncologist in this situation. This example proves that specialization is at the forefront of peoples’ minds.

These examples are meant to show you that even at the same time, the marketplace is going in different directions and both answers are correct. With all of this said, most clients are looking for a level of specialization from their staffing firms. Expertise in professional services has grown as one of the greatest differentiators. Have you broken your services into definable practice areas to show your level of ability from a staffing perspective as well as a consulting perspective in order to be more essential to your client base? Saying that you are able to help with anything feels like a good statement, but being able to define your expertise and be a partner to your clients requires greater specialization and seems to be pushing out the big box store as it applies to staffing. Build out your expertise in order to share your differentiation and define your business and marketing strategy for the coming years.

How to Use Your Strategy to Drive Toward Improvement and True Differentiation
I mentioned a couple of examples of where the pandemic caused a shift in your approach. Did you look at ways to offer your services virtually? Did you transform your business experience digitally? Did you increase your consultant care? Did you provide valuable content to your clients and consultants that would assist in their hiring or careers? The collaboration that has been required and created by the pandemic between companies, consultants, and their vendors/partners has never been more evident than today. All of these efforts have stimulated new conversations and new ways of doing business that should be at the forefront of your messaging and differentiation. With the creation of virtual onboarding, our client was able to get a video testimonial and case study from the client that has driven engagement with prospects and consultants. The areas of improvement that we have all taken on to provide better service, be better partners, and become more digital are all marketable components that differentiate you to your client base.business and marketing strategy

If you’re looking for your business cure to the pandemic, look no further than your business and marketing strategy. Capitalize on your strengths, develop your practices, and communicate like you never have before. If you’d like some help, give us a call. Were happy to donate an hour of our time to help walk you through some of your challenges.

About S.J.Hemley Marketing
S.J.Hemley Marketing is a marketing and sales consulting firm focused on driving tangible results for professional services firms. Brand matters, but not without ROI. With over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within staffing and recruiting, we have helped to drive successful branding, sales training, lead generation activities as well as defining marketing strategy for top organizations. www.sjhemleymarketing.com