001: David Searns speaks of All Things Marketing – All the Things you NEED to Know to Successfully Market your Staffing Business

Released Jan 2019

Is your recruitment firm lacking when it comes to differentiating itself among your competitors? Are your social posts boring?

When it comes to marketing a staffing firm, few people know the industry like David. David has a degree in Information Systems from Clarkson University, an MBA from The Wharton School, and more than 20 years of marketing and consulting experience in the staffing industry. He is the CEO of Haley Marketing, the largest marketing firm in the world, dedicated to servicing the staffing and recruiting industry.

This podcast dives deep into the recruitment marketing space. David explains the importance of branding, the 4 pillars of recruitment marketing, why cold calling is NOT dead, and shares advice on how to stand out among other recruiters. His knowledge of marketing in the staffing industry is second to none.

Short Transcript

David Alonso: What is your advice to any CEO struggling to get exposure for their business? With such a good economy right now and the difficulties attracting talent, how do they get ahead and get those candidates first and attract them on a regular basis?

David Searns: There is no silver bullet that is going to kill all woes. One of the things we are recommending for people to do is to think about your recruitment marketing through 4 pillars.

The first pillar is your career site. Is my career site designed to attract people? Is it designed to optimize conversions? We find that a lot of ATS’ will be the job application being used on a recruiting firm’s website. They may lose up to 90% of candidates at the bottom of the funnel when those people were trying to apply.

The second pillar is optimizing job advertising. A lot of our clients have accounts with the big name job boards but they are not thinking about the most strategic ways to advertise their jobs. A lot of the budget goes to the job they could’ve easily filled where little of the budget goes to the jobs that really need help. Every one of our clients needs to look at ways to implement tools to more strategically control spending to attract people.

The third pillar is social media. How do I do social recruiting? Not just to sell jobs. What is the emotional journey the candidate goes through when thinking about employment? That is the emotional journey you should engage with on social media to bring them to your website.

The final pillar is the employment brand. The recruitment brand is weak. I have to get people aware of my company and trust me.

David Alonso: Any CEO who has been in business for 10 years would have built their businesses on the back of cold calling and emailing. Do you think that these channels are finished, should we give it up and put all our efforts into social?

David Searns: Sales people forever put in process to build rapport and to get people to trust you. Social media is just another step in that process. Instead of doing it one to one, I’m doing it one to many and making my brand more visible. I am doing the same thing I can do in a sales call but at the top of the funnel. Usually when you put it in the perspective of this, it is no different from how you sold, just different in the channel you are engaging in, they usually get it. Every time you are talking to someone think about how many times you want to check your phone to see your email or see the latest social media update. If you are not on these sites how are you going to connect with people.

Cold Calling isn’t dead at all. The art of cold calling needs to be integrated within other things you are doing. You really want to show that you understand the business you are calling on. You don’t want a highly skilled sales professional to spend 90% of their workday leaving voicemail messages.

David Alonso: When I look at LinkedIn it can be boring with so much noise. A lot with of my feed is dominated by recruiters posting bland jobs. What advice can you give our listeners to differentiate their posts and push out more varied content?

David Searns: As a recruiter, you want a perfect ratio of interesting content to job postings and you want this ratio to be about 5-1. You want anyone who sees your name to associate you with that value of content. It becomes bland when its boring stock photo. I like to watch what everyone is doing and see who’s doing it a little differently. That subject line or header is the first thing people see. What makes your post more important that other ones?

David Alonso: Should companies be producing different content for different platforms? What type of content works and how much content should we be producing each week?

David Searns: I don’t think you really need different content as long as it is the same audience you are trying to reach. The content you share should be geared towards the audience more than the platform. The selection of platform should be based on the audience and the goals you have.

David Alonso: Are CEO's reluctant to be the face of their company on social media. Is it dangerous for CEOS not to be involved and let the recruiters seemingly steal the limelight? How important is the CEOs personal brand for their growth and does it matter?

David Searns: You just hit home. A much as I have always loved to write content, it is so different making yourself as the entire brand. A personal brand at the end of the day isn’t worth as much as the company brand. As a CEO you want to be involved with being part of that voice but you don’t want to be the entire voice.

David Alonso: If a client gave you an unlimited digital marketing budget to work with. Which channels by percentage would you split it by and why?

David Searns: When we teach people marketing, we talk about a pyramid. The very bottom of your pyramid are your company’s core values, something that marketing really doesn’t drive, but is the foundation for everything you do. The very top of the pyramid are you sales people and your recruiters doing there every day activity. In the middle, there are three steps. Step number 1, is to determine your companies messaging. What do you want to be known for? What segment of the market are you working with? Who is your ideal candidate? On top of that is the materials that you use to convey your messaging to your clients and candidates. The last layer has two parts. One half is integrated direct marketing for the sales people. This Is the first place I would invest in to make my sales people more productive so they have to make fewer cold calls. The other half of that is content and inbound marketing. Most staffing companies are doing a lot of inbound recruiting and less direct marketing. I want to invest my money in ways to get my business found ex: producing content and sharing content (organic or paid advertising to get it in front of the right people.)

David Alonso: You have worked with so many CEOS over the years. How patient do they need to be see a return with digital marketing?  Tell me about typical frustrations they have along the way and how do you manage it?

David Searns:  Some results are easy to measure and others aren’t. I can immediately see a spike in traffic to our website. If you are looking to be the top of search results, that is going to take months. We like to look at the short term wins. “Are we getting likes?” “Are we getting click throughs?’

We also want to set up goals in Google Analytics. “Are we getting people to the jobs? Are we getting them to the thank you page?” You can see how people got through the funnel. Typically, within 3 months you have enough data to adjust the strategy.

David Alonso: Being a successful CEO of over 25 years, what are the top 3 tips you would give to a start up CEO?

David Searns: My first tip is positioning. The most classic mistake is trying to be all things to all people.

My second tip is to build that messaging and make sure everybody in the business knows it. Everybody from the front line staff to the back of the house to all understand the messaging so we can build a brand that is credible.

My third tip is to build a marketing plan that is very strategic. Don’t just try things to see if they will stick.