The HR marketing space has never been more crowded. The pandemic gave the business world a digital upgrade, familiarizing everyone with homeworking, video calls and managing remote teams. However, upload soon led to overload. HR executives are digitally rich yet time-poor. For HR Service Providers, this is causing major challenges for lead generation. Meanwhile, for buyers, there's little difference between one vendor and the next, and even less time to research them. So, how do you stand out from the crowd?
A traditional marketing agency would design a campaign with digital and social assets, maybe a landing page, and spread that as far and wide as possible. In this approach, KPIs are geared towards quantity (number of clicks/visits), not quality. Of the people that this method reaches, some might choose to download the asset you want them to, but most won’t. The majority of HR buyers (68%) only read or download between 2-10 sources of information when researching a purchase.1 Even amongst the people that do download yours, that is only the first step on a long journey to ultimately attracting them as a customer. Therefore, targeting and reaching the right people first – the decision-makers – is key.
For buyers, there’s little difference between one vendor and the next, and even less time to research them.
of HR buyers say that finding a vendor they can trust is one of their biggest challenges.2
With so many vendors on the market, when buyers are looking to switch or renew contracts, they may briefly look at the ratings and reviews from G2, Gartner or Capterra: if you’re not near that top right leader’s corner, then you likely won’t be looked at. There’s no point in having the best product if not enough people are familiar with your brand, and vice versa. Building familiarity and trust is essential: 47% of HR buyers say that finding a vendor that they can trust is one of their biggest challenges.2 This also causes many HR buyers to stick with ‘the devil they know’, even if they aren’t entirely satisfied with their vendor: the same survey found that only 21% buy from a new vendor while 45% bought from an existing vendor. Reaching that 21% before they buy and eating into that 45% who may want to switch but don’t have the time to compare the market, must be central to any new marketing campaign. And rather than casting a wide net, in a saturated market, you require granular targeting – tailored messages for highly defined audience segments.
buy from a
Distrust and Complexity
Prospective buyers are timid species. Just like approaching a deer in the woods, if you make one little move or are too aggressive in your approach, it scares them off, and they run away into the distance. Executives don’t trust new vendors, even if they don’t trust their existing one. There’s a lot of marketing content, assets and tactics out there competing for their attention. Among the small cadre of active buyers who do assess the market, more than 70% fully define their needs before engaging with a sales representative, and almost half identify specific solutions before reaching out.3
When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with one sales rep may be only
5% to 6%
An influential report by Gartner found that when buyers are comparing multiple suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with one sales rep may be only 5% to 6%. Sales leaders often attribute this lack of customer access to a failure on the part of sellers to deliver sufficient value as part of a typical sales interaction. However‚ Gartner found a different reality altogether. The problem is rooted in customers’ struggles to buy: "Today’s buying journey has effectively reached a tipping point where it’s become nearly unnavigable without a significant amount of help." The vast majority (77%) of buyers agree that purchases have become very complex and difficult.4
This ‘market comparison’ phase, no matter how brief, is critical to the buying process. This is when demand generation marketers have the opportunity to connect with their intended audience and start the process of building trust.
of buyers agree that purchases have become very complex and difficult.4
with HR Buyers
Content marketing was supposed to be the answer to building trust and promoting the quality of your offering. As described by ART + marketing, "Blast enough content at your target market and eventually you’ll strengthen your website’s SEO, build your email list, raise awareness and drive sales." However, the article continues, “this strategy is dying... With more brands than ever before now competing for customer’s attention (whilst spewing out endless amounts of content), there seems to be an absurd amount of noise... on sites like Medium, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.5
With events closing and moving online, the amount of digital noise has greatly increased. The goal, then, is to cut through all that noise, not add to it.
Large HR conferences have similarly been important for showcasing new technology and driving sales. However, from a business development perspective, the amount of value they really add is questionable. You and all your competitors attend, chasing after the same handful of executives in a very transactional manner (scan their badge or get their card as quickly as possible and then contact them afterwards). They have a target on their back and they know it. Due to Covid-19, with events closing and moving online, the amount of digital noise has greatly increased.
Knowing buyer intent, which accounts to go after and where they are in their contract cycle is crucial.
The goal, then, is to cut through all that noise, not add to it. You do still need quality content, but it must be highly targeted, adding real value, and taking place within a calm, mutually beneficial environment. This is the value of account-based marketing: your sales and marketing efforts should work together holistically to target and develop content for key accounts. This also needs to happen at the right time within the buyer-vendor cycle of ‘research, buy, cycle and implement’. Knowing buyer intent, which accounts to go after and where they are in their contract cycle is crucial: G2 buyer Intent data, for example, will tell you the companies currently viewing and comparing your G2 profile, so you can tailor your outreach timing.
The vendor that is ultimately chosen must be critical and credible at each step and lead the client through that journey.
The vendor that is ultimately chosen must be critical and credible at each step and lead the client through that journey. It is a relationship of trust and support. This could not look more different to the aggressive sales tactics of the not-too-distant past. As Ernest Owusu, Director of Sales Development at 6sense describes it: "in the Age of the Customer, the best way to generate the results you want is by creating a personalized experience for your buyers." To do that, he says, you need "real-time insights into who they are, what they care about, and where they are in their buying journey... and deliver the kind of value that converts."6 Similarly, according to Forbes, "Word-of-mouth is still the most effective way to raise awareness and grow a business. In fact, people are 84% more likely to trust a referral or recommendation... Impactful communities add value."7 How do ‘impactful communities’ add value? They do so by sharing experiences, case studies and honest testimonials. Think of the exclusive wooden-paneled clubs of the past where business people would meet to share tips and information; today’s ‘clubs’ can be much more inclusive international communities, while engendering the same peer-to-peer trust and respect.
A New Way Forward:
Lead Pool Marketing
Lead Pool MarketingSM is a brand new, community-based marketing concept from CorporateLeaders. It is designed to create your own community of buyers, entirely free from competitors and the noise of others trying to push their product. Lead Pool Marketing is a calm, mutually beneficial space: a safe environment, created and owned by you, where you, your clients and prospective clients can interact, building relationships and trust.
Lead Pool Marketing is a calm, mutually beneficial space: a safe environment, created and owned by you, where you, your clients and prospective clients can interact, building relationships and trust.
HR professionals understand the concept of a 'talent pool': creating and nurturing a cadre of prospective employees, even corporate alumni, via online channels. This builds a pipeline of talent that can be turned on or off as the need arises. Lead PoolSM is exactly the same approach, but rather than run by an organization for hiring talent, it is run by the HR Service Provider for prospective and current clients. You can also test the market (i.e. through Pulse Surveys, which also allow them to see the results and the mood amongst their peers) without being too pushy and build that relationship of trust and information sharing.
Forward-thinking executives, marketers and companies alike are looking to break from traditional marketing and move towards combining lead generation and sales with the community.
Forward-thinking executives, marketers and companies alike are looking to break from traditional marketing and move towards combining lead generation and sales with the community. According to Ashley Friedlein, CEO & Founder of Guild, "Online communities are one of the most efficient ways to drive value, engagement, brand awareness and recognition for B2B brands".8 This is becoming known as 'community-based marketing', further defined as "A B2B community is a group of professionals drawn together by a shared interest and held together over time by mutual support or benefit".9
Inside the Lead Pool, you nurture and grow relationships, building trust with your target companies and chosen decision-makers. We provide them with interesting, value-added content, blogs, meetings, events, and case studies, while the executives in the community can also engage with one another. You have fostered that conversation and built that trust. Meanwhile, you have also created and stocked your own pool to fish from: your Lead Pool. The community allows people to participate at their own pace, considering the content and insights as and when they have the time and willingness to dig deeper into a topic (i.e. the consumer mood drives decisions).
You made it this far
Carry on reading to learn how to engage with HR buyers through Lead Pool Marketing: