Farewell Staffing Industry, It’s Been Fun

Wed, 29 August 2012

Today is the first day in eight years that I will not go to work as a marketer within the staffing industry. Next week, I start a new job as Managing Director of Marketing for Bennett International Group, a specialized trucking and logistics company based in McDonough, GA. It is an opportunity for me to change industries, although ironically it is one with a huge ongoing staffing concern – the recruiting and retaining of truck drivers. I will also be changing locations, trading working from home in Western NY for working from an office in a place that is 1,000 miles away. (more…)

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms | No Comments »
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My Marketing Role Shift at Hudson

Mon, 27 February 2012

In this, my eighth year at Hudson I have embarked upon a different role that has already made me crazy busy in the first quarter. It started in the middle of last year, when my boss and I discussed the changing roles of marketers, and the skills we needed in the department to be the best possible business partners to the organization. Able to make one additional hire, I was given a unique choice; hire a marketer to lead the IT practice, or hire my replacement so that I could become that lead marketer. This was not an easy decision. I have prided myself on being the online marketing guru within my company. If I brought in more online talent, wouldn’t that limit my unique value proposition to the organization?

The answer as I thought about it, should be no. In fact online marketing ought to be the core competency of ALL marketers in a B2B professional services business. Why? Because buyers have shifted the primary source of their decisions from their peers to online sources. It only made sense that whatever role I wished to play, we should go out and find the best potential online marketers to join us.

With that decision made, we posted an online marketing manager job in June. We screened many excellent candidates. In the end, it came down to 2. Just as we had to make the tough decision on who to hire, a more traditionally trained copywriter decided to leave our team. We made the bold move to hire BOTH of our top candidates (one to replace our departed colleague). Starting in August, I had the great pleasure to onboard Bobby Wilson and Beth McEnery, two outstanding professional services marketers in the Chicago area.

Through the end of the year, our entire team was tied into the rebuild and launch of all of our global websites on a new Content Management System (DotNetNuke) with a new design, and a heightened focus on SEO and lead generation. As the project wound down to launch, I finally had the team that could effectively do some of what I have been doing in interactive for 8 years so that I could transition to a more all-encompassing lead marketer role.

Onward Toward Hudson IT
I have always preached that the only way to grow is to make yourself uncomfortable. If you aren’t uncomfortable in the things you are doing, then you aren’t learning. You have to learn new skills and do them with proficiency in order to make yourself comfortable again. It is purposeful career stress. Even though I was performing my interactive marketing duties to a level of proficiency, I needed a new challenge. I needed to be uncomfortable.

I accepted the responsibility of becoming the lead marketer on the Hudson IT business as well as continuing my primary responsibility as Director, Interactive Marketing for our North America region. Check out my new professional bio on the Hudson IT website. As lead marketer, my duties have already diversified to marketing strategy, increased budget responsibility, sales literature development, event planning and management, and brand positioning to name a few. While these new areas of learning alone are enough to keep me busy, I have also taken on additional people management responsibilities within our team. I’m very much looking forward to achieving outstanding results for the IT practice and helping to guide the careers of our new marketers. 2012 should be a great year!

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Marketing skills | No Comments »
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Silverpop Engage Certified

Mon, 30 January 2012

Here we are with just a quick little note to brag about being Silverpop Engage Certified. The sneaky thing about being a marketer in the digital age is just how much technical knowledge you need to have. I’m not talking about being able to write Java code, or write a SQL query (although some marketers likely have to do this too). I’m talking about getting certified in all of the technical tools we mix together on a daily basis to do our jobs. From Excel to Salesforce.com, from Adobe Photoshop to WordPress, from CSS to CMS, we are constantly required to use one of the more diverse kits of technical tools needed by any industry.

I know that engineers and architects get certified in everything from building codes to AutoCAD, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t know if they are asked on a nearly daily basis to be fluent in a new tool. From one marketing tactic to the next, there is always a new piece of management software, syndication software, creative software, Cloud Whozit, and SaaS Whatzit. So, when a vendor takes the time to offer a certification, you know they are in the business of user proficiency and user adoption. Silverpop knows that to beat their competitors at Marketo and Eloqua, they need a legion of loyal fans who are rock-star proficient at using their software to make marketing magic. If I weren’t in the weeds with the system every day trying to prove its value to my company, I might not have even bothered. I found the certification process thorough and useful in learning many corners of the software I might not have explored otherwise. With that knowledge, I just might be more ambitious with my marketing than I would have before. Mission accomplished, Silverpop. You have my thanks for the Certification challenge, and I have this handsome certificate not suitable for framing to adorn my blog and resume.

Posted in: B2B Inbound Marketing, B2B Lead Generation/Management, E-mail marketing, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms | No Comments »
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Hudson North America Hiring an Online Marketing Manager

Fri, 10 June 2011

There’s some big things happening at Hudson. We are undergoing transformational change with a new CEO on board and new web platforms to take the company where we want it to go. Many of the initiatives will take place in the digital realm of which I am the leader in our North America operation. I’m very much looking forward to the process of bringing on a new team member in our Chicago office to help us to innovate with all of the tools that are at our disposal. Check out the job description for our Online Marketing Manager position in Chicago, IL.  

Here’s a little taste…

Help build a top professional services brand using your talents as an online marketing expert. Hudson North America is seeking a skilled and motivated digital marketer to work with our line-of-business marketing managers and our web development team to build programs that achieve business results.

Catch the market upswing as we re-position our websites onto DotNetNuke, reposition our brand as Trusted Advisors globally, and position your interactive abilities as a centerpiece of the digital marketing department of the future. If you know more about thought leadership than online shopping carts, please apply!

If you know that you can rock this job, or you can refer someone else who will, please have them Apply. I will see every resume that comes into the Job Posting.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Marketing skills, Professional Networking, Workplace | 1 Comment »
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My B2B Takeaways From the Silverpop Client Summit 2011

Thu, 19 May 2011

spop-summitbanner

 

I had the pleasure of attending the 2011 Silverpop Client Summit. This was my first summit as we are a relatively new customer for Silverpop. First, let me just say that Silverpop put on a heck of an event.

Memorable Event Details

Here’s some things that made the event planning/production itself memorable

  • Any truly great event has great keynote speakers.  Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics fame, and Gary Vaynerchuk of passionate social media fame knocked their keynotes out of the park. It was a nice touch that their latest books were made available for free to all attendees.
  • It sounds stupid, but the endless promotion of the hastag #SPOP11 and displaying the tweets from it up on the big screen was really fun. It was fun to tweet and get your words up in front of a crowd in seconds.
  • A great venue. Hotel Intercontinental Buckhead had plenty of space, and outstanding food and accomodations. The staff was super professional.
  • Fun after hours events at World of Coke and listening to Girlz Girlz Girlz rock it.
  • Very well-planned learning tracks for B2B and B2C customers kept separate.
  • Plenty of networking time between presentations made making business connections very easy.

Now, My Marketing Takeaways

  • Silverpop has an outstanding staff of product strategists and support people that really are leading the field of Marketing Automation Software. I have a much higher confidence level that we made the right system selection after having attended the event and meeting the people behind the product. From the CEO, Bill Nussey to Lead Product Strategist Bryan Brown to product ninja John Field, these guys really have great vision to lead toward the future and understand the problems we as marketers all face in trying to get there.
  • Not only do they know their own product, but I feel way better about how well they understand Salesforce.com. Engage 8.3 is a far superior product to Engage B2B in how well it integrates with Salesforce.
  • I am reassured by presentations from analysts at Sirius Decisions (Meg Heuer) that all of this pain and suffering in trying to migrate to a new sales and marketing model aligned process-wise and powered by marketing automation and CRM tools is defintely the right direction.
  • I also learned that there are plenty of other organizations out there that share the challenges of getting to that vision.
  • I finally have face-to-face connections with support staff at Silverpop, from my account rep, to our product transition specialist and even to the internal marketing team. Every single person is willing and enthusiastic about helping customers adopt and take advantage of the Silverpop platform.
  • Birds of a feather. Holy cow there are plenty of marketing people out there with similar responsibilities and the varied skillsets needed to operate Marketing Automation and Lead Management. The emerging title is Marketing Operations. I didn’t know this discipline existed, especially living in such a small and lean marketing department as I currently do.

That’s it for now. I reserve the right to add to this post. It’s what I could come up with as I sit in the airport to return home after my first visit to Atlanta. My mind is mush and my motivation is high. Thanks for a great conference!

Posted in: B2B Inbound Marketing, B2B Lead Generation/Management, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Marketing Strategy | No Comments »
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Measuring Client Satisfaction: One Net Promoter® Score at a Time

Tue, 15 March 2011

Marketing is many parts listening and one part using what you’ve heard to affect change in your organization. It is amazing what a simple client survey can do to validate what you do as an organization and give you the confidence to make changes that will positively affect the customer experience.

For the past year and a half, Hudson has participated in the Inavero, Best of Staffing™ awards sponsored by CareerBuilder. It is based on sending surveys to all of our clients that essentially asks a simple question – How likely are you to recommend us to a friend? The answer to that question, rated on a 1-10 scale speak volumes to how well we’re doing as an organization. If a client rates on a scale of 1-6, they are detractors, 7-8 are passives, and 9-10 are promoters meaning they would likely give us word of mouth recommendations. Inavero also collects the primary reason for the rating and anything we could do better with our service.

From a marketing perspective, the survey is golden because it gives us great client testimonials to put in our marketing materials. It helps us with our search engine optimization for people who might be looking for the best IT staffing agencies, or one of the best staffing firms for client satisfaction  (: shaaaaameless linkbuilding right there baby :). It also gives us something to validate our quality to prospective clients and candidates. Here you can see one of the ways we address the survey in a web video from our CEO (a quick little production I did with a Flip cam):

 

 

From an organizational perspective the survey has even more benefit. It opens a communication channel with clients and helps to rescue relationships that may have ebbed in recent times. For a group spread far and wide like ours, a positive satisfaction rating gives employees a sense of pride. The direct feedback can also inject innovation into the service offering based on great ideas from clients. Overall, I’m convinced that periodic client surveys are a great way to build the quality of a staffing firm. After all, success is built one promoter at a time.

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld.

Posted in: General, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Marketing Strategy | No Comments »
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B2B Client Attraction Websites

Tue, 15 February 2011

You do a little bit every day to move the needle. In 2010, Hudson did a lotta bit every day to try to move the needle. One of the things we examined were our Client facing websites for Hudson North America. In the staffing and professional services business what you try to sell most is trust. Trust that our people are the best at what they do, and trust that we have been there and solved your problem before. The problem is that most clients are skeptical when you talk about yourself all the time. “We’re the best this”, or “Look at all about us”. What they want to know is “How can you help me?”; “Do you understand my problems?”. So, we made a simple shift from talking about us, to trying to identify with client problems. We then featured some key case studies that prove that we can solve the kinds of problems that clients have.

These were baby steps of progress in 2010. Have a look at my Hudson Microsites 2010 Portfolio entry to read more details about the redesign project. I thought it was a good time to post it and get any comments from the market. We are learning, and embarking on further redesign work to continue to push our sites to help our clients address their business issues.

Hudson Financial Solutions Home Page 2004-2009
Click to view 2004-2009 home page

Hudson Financial Solutions Home Page 2010+
Click to view 2010 home page

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Marketing Strategy, Projects, Staffing SEO/SEM, User Experience Design | No Comments »
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Diving into the Sales Lead Flow

Thu, 03 February 2011

riverIn the beginning of 2011, I have made a transition in my Interactive Marketing responsibilities. It is a shift that I have advocated for as I have tried to help elevate the value of my expertise to my company, and elevate the stature of marketing within our organization. My long term survival theory for marketing in a predominately sales organization (as opposed to engineering, manufacturing, etc) is to “get closer to the money”. This means that we need to focus our marketing activities on things that directly assist the sales team. Not that branding, marketing communications, social media, PR and the like don’t indirectly help the sales team; they do. It’s just that the more time you spend in the direct path of a sale through B2B Lead Generation and management, the more familiar you get with your sales team, the buying funnel for your customers, and better ways of adding value to the sales process. Without this as my primary goal and responsibility for my first few years, it was easy to be “disconnected from the money”

So far, my instincts have been correct. I have spent the last 3 months really diving into our CRM system – Salesforce.com. I have actually been trying to get all of the mechanics set up for how leads come in from marketing activities, get classified by sales, and ultimately get pursued for business. Much of this has to do with attempting to get the sales team and the marketing team to only use Salesforce. We are working on using it to setup and track campaign activities. When we build email lists, no more spreadsheets. It’s Salesforce queries. When we pass leads to sales, we try hard to only interact within Salesforce.  So far, this has brought up more questions than answers.

  • Do we have the right fields setup in Salesforce for data capture?
  • Are we right to spend lots of time implementing the Leads module separate from the Contacts module?
  • How exactly does a salesperson classify the many contacts at a client, when only one of them is the purchaser, but many others are the influencers?
  • In an industry like staffing, where needs arise over night, is there any true sales funnel at all?
  • When should a lead be assigned to our sales team for follow up?

After the campaigns go out the door, and the responses come back, I’m  finding that getting in the middle of lead management is a lot of work. I actually care now whether sales is pursuing and documenting a lead that we pass them. I want to see the activities get documented so that I can track where the best leads are coming from. I want to understand the nuances of the sales relationship so that I can help formulate additional nurturing tactics to turn the lead into a sale.

This is just the beginning of my learning. It’s almost like marketing is becoming a part of the sales team. If I have learned anything so far, it’s that sales is hard work – really hard.

photo by: milowinningham

Posted in: B2B Lead Generation/Management | 1 Comment »
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Just Changing the Subject – 2 Different E-mail Marketing Results

Thu, 27 January 2011

Today I paused just a second to check on the effects of some of our email marketing. First, I stopped to applaud ourselves for converting a registrant for a webinar that we are sponsoring. It was someone who didn’t register the first time we sent the email subject to the outside list, but did respond the second time we sent the exact same email.

Converting from an Outside List
I must admit I was skeptical when the only thing we changed in the invitation was the Subject Line. No content change whatsoever. This was to an outside list that we purchased from a vendor called Accuity. To date we have found that response from outside lists that we pay for has been poor. No surprise there, right? It’s not like the people asked for more spam. Of course, the hope always is that you can provide people in a highly targeted audience something of value that they want to interact with.

So, I opened up our Silverpop EngageB2B system to have a look. Sure enough, the first time we sent email to the list with a subject line of Basel II & III: Are You Prepared?, this busy financial executive, didn’t even open it. 1 week later, when we sent the exact same email with a different subject line (Basel Webinar – Earn 2 Free CPEs!) that catered more toward earning professional certification credits, the person opened the email and registered for the webinar.

Silverpop EngageB2B Activity Insight Window showing results of 2 different email subject lines

Silverpop EngageB2B Activity Insight Window showing results of 2 different email subject lines

What we never know, of course is whether the person converted because of a better subject line, or because we sent the email on the right day at the right time.

Causing an Unsubscribe
For some reason, I also noticed today that our Silverpop system not only tracks unsubscribes, but gathers comments from people as they do so. I took a look at the report and figured anyone who bothered to comment, must have been really aggravated. So I saw this comment on the report:

EngageB2B Unsubscribe Reasons Report

EngageB2B Unsubscribe Reasons Report

I looked at the user’s Activity Insight and easily spotted why the user unsubscribed. We sent 4 emails over a one month span regarding the same IT Project Management webinar, varying only the subject line. The last email put him over the top, and caused him to unsubscribe.

EngageB2B Activity Insight showing 4 different emails, the last causing an unsubscribe

EngageB2B Activity Insight showing 4 different emails, the last causing an unsubscribe

I would have to agree with his assessment, that we spammed him especially if he wasn’t a good target for the content. This whole inquiry leaves me wondering more about human behavior and email marketing. On the one hand, repetition is good, because he finally took the time to open the email. However, the end result was not so good, because we’ve lost the privilege to send email to him again. I don’t feel good at all about badgering someone to the point of an unsubscribe. Yet, as an e-mail marketer I know that it’s all part of the game.

Posted in: B2B Lead Generation/Management, E-mail marketing, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Marketing Strategy | 4 Comments »
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7 Year Anniversary at Hudson

Wed, 26 January 2011

Hello blog. Where have you been? Actually, where have I been? It has been a very long time since I have spent much time writing what’s happening at work. In February 2011, I will celebrate my 7th anniversary at Hudson, a professional staffing and recruiting firm based in Chicago, IL. I have now worked from my home in Webster, NY longer than I worked in the Chicago office. I blame the vast changes in the internet over the last 7 years for keeping me so busy, and so invested in one company. When I started this blog to try to figure out social media in 2007, Facebook wasn’t even on the radar. Last year I posted a grand total of 4 times on my blog. This was largely because my focus at work has changed from Social Media to SEO, then to Lead generation and CRM. But, also because Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter have made me lazy and distracted from long-form discussion.

There aren’t enough hours in the day after our economic downturn and staff reductions. There’s so much to figure out and learn. Instead of taking 20 minutes to write, I use that 20 minutes to read. I realize this has taken me out of the game. Writing takes practice. Writing forces you to digest what you’ve learned and replay it in a way that is at least meaningful to yourself and hopefully meaningful to others.

There you go. My first blog post of 2011, on my 7th anniversary at a job that has taught me everything I know so far about this medium, and how much more I need to learn. C’mon Kris. You’ve got to keep writing :)

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Social Media | No Comments »
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This is my Life as a 37 year old husband and father of two and my Work as Executive Director of Marketing at Bennett International Group in Mconough, GA relocating from home in Rochester, NY.
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