As Ian Malcolm pronounced in the original Jurassic Park, “Life will find a way,” so too will all the marketing professionals who refuse to slow down, despite social distancing restrictions. Many of us connected at last week’s StaffingTec365. It was one of nine free monthly deep dives into staffing technology innovation. This first event was billed as an opportunity to share trends, technologies and insights shaping the future of marketing to help staffing businesses accelerate growth. It delivered on multiple fronts.
I had the opportunity to lead three discussions with industry innovators:
- The first was an interview with the keynote speaker, Adam Bleibtreu.
- The second session featured industry innovator Anna Frazzetto and how she leveraged digital transformation to build a personal brand and revenue-generating business relationships.
- In my final session, I moderated a panel with three marketing leaders (Kip Havel, Melissa Phillips and Kyle Powers) about how they have led their staffing companies in dealing with the pandemic and where they expect marketing to go next.
Highlights of the three sessions follow:
Connecting with a Digital Transformation Pioneer
Unlike those of us who rely on LinkedIn to showcase our accomplishments, Adam Bleibtreu, CMO of both On Assignment and Creative Circle, has IMDB and Artrepreneur profiles. That’s because his first job was as an associate producer with Marvel Studios. He not only helped launch Muppet Babies, he got to share office space with Stan Lee, produce Super Bowl commercials, work with Michael Jackson, create Gas Station TV and much more. In the process, he earned 10 Emmy awards and generated millions in revenue.
With all of that, I asked Adam to tell us what was foundational to his success. “I was never the brightest, fastest, strongest. What I did have was the capacity to outwork people. Work with really smart people and then empower them. Let them do what they do.”
What rises to the top for you? “Early on, it was the thought around ‘there are no bad ideas.’ I have the capacity to be relentlessly curious and help people find solutions.”
What surprises you most about the industry? “The staffing industry has the unique opportunity to impact people’s lives and careers. This is near and dear to the core of what I want to do.”
How do you strike the right balance between client- and candidate-focused initiatives, brand building, culture, retention, etc.? “Marketing has the ability to impact people’s behavior. Pay attention to the audience you’re speaking to, the channel, the timing. You have to have really powerful BI tools to measure the impact of campaigns. Be patient. [Generating revenue] is not flipping a switch; it happens over time.”
What about the importance of the candidate experience? “97% of people who apply to a job will not get it, so if you treat them with humanity, it will go a long way.”
In closing, as Adam shared his thoughts on the current martech landscape, he was quick to point out that it’s critical to have an analytics person to translate data to tell a story. His quick picks on tools: “Mya is one of the most astounding AI-powered chatbots that engages folks from the moment they get to a website, helping to narrow the funnel. Sense and Herefish are two phenomenal tools that measure engagement through the lifecycle. Pardot or Mailchimp for email marketing.”
How a Thought Leadership Platform and Digital Content Strategy Drove Millions in Revenue
To offer demonstrable proof of how a digital strategy can create the framework for a mainstay revenue stream, I spoke with Anna Frazzetto, Ch
ief Digital Technology Of
ficer, Tential. Anna and I collaborated on the transition from traditional marketing strategy to digital strategy for a technology staffing and solutions provider, eventually generating more than $4M in revenue.
What Anna did was masterful. She leveraged an array of digital assets to drive brand recognition and ultimately sales by positioning herself as a peer to her buyers. This included:
- Social media profiles that reflect how you want to be seen
- SEO-strong blogs
- Contributed content (CIO.com, Forbes)
- Prominent roles at key industry, professional and community events
- Recognition as an influencer, e.g., Wall Street Journal quotes
- Thought leadership, such as CIO and Women in Technology surveys
According to Anna, while it’s important to develop a marketing strategy and a unique way to tell your story, “You need to have that personal brand that others can relate to. It is more about establishing credibility with the client. I am a firm believer in personal brand ⎯ it is how companies buy. They buy from people.”
When asked how she managed it all, Anna was quick to point out that you can’t do it alone. “I may be the face of everything, but there is a team behind me. The marketing program (thank you, ClearEdge Marketing), bringing in the right SME, the ghostwriter… that allows you to do all these things.” From Anna’s perspective, ROI is definitely achievable when you build a partnership between sales and marketing. “It is not enough to just produce things; you have to get the sales team involved… capitalize on the material.”
If she were starting over today, what would she focus on first? “Start with the fundamentals, the messaging to establish the footprint. Then the website, which can happen in phases. Scale up and scale down. Build on things, adding different components. Budget a certain amount for the first year and add as your business grows.”
Whatever else you do, be sure to put in the work. Anna certainly does: she visits local markets, trains her people on how to leverage every asset, sends out sample posts and emails. Most importantly, she lifts people up.
Marketing Innovation and Strategy for Staffing Firms
Rounding out my StaffingTEC365 experience was a dynamic panel discussion around accelerating business innovation through digital transformation, marketing leadership and organizational effectiveness. We heard some terrific input from our three panelists:
Sr. Director Interactive Marketing
Doubling Down During the Pandemic. When I asked how they had recalibrated marketing strategies to better align with business and market needs, both Kip and Melissa stressed the challenge of transitioning to a virtual sales model. Melissa noted the “… earthshaking level of change, as staffing is a very face-to-face process. Enabling the salesforce and getting tools in everyone’s hands quickly was a challenge.” Kyle’s summation rings true for many: “If you have an idea, forget your title, let’s go. Depending on what you touched in your day job; things change overnight.”
The Emerging CMO. Melissa believes the key skills a marketing executive must possess to successfully lead and drive bottom-line growth include “a thorough understanding of operations, sales, lead generation and tools and technology that can plug and play.” According to Kip: “Managing and creating exceptional experiences is the most important thing to focus on. Consider yourself a business person that practices marketing. Ask what problem you’re trying to solve and then bring in everyone (technology, finance, legal, product, etc.) that can help you solve it. Don’t forget about the human element… connections. That’s what elevates the role of the recruiter. Experience is what can set you apart.”
A Look Ahead. To close out our discussion, I asked our panelists to share their thoughts about the future. Where is marketing going? What are the tools and technologies needed to streamline operations, improve experiences and optimize lead acquisition? Surprisingly, they brought us full circle, with a prediction shared not only with each other but with our keynote speaker, Adam Bleibtreu ⎯ all emphasized the criticality of data analytics. Melissa talked about digitalization, centralization and virtualization. Kip expects “More data and a 360-degree view, but what do we do with that data? Those who are nimble and adaptable will win.” Kyle agrees: “The CMO who brings data to the table will become the strategic powerhouse of the organization.”
This StaffingTec365 session was completely dedicated to staffing technology innovation. It was a wonderful experience that allowed me to interact with a brilliant group of marketing thought leaders. What were your key takeaways? I’d love to hear them. Send me a note at lvickrey@clearedgemarketing.
For in-depth insights on the rapidly evolving staffing technology landscape, go to https://staffingtec.com/ and see the full schedule of free events.