5 Things I Would Do If I Was the CMO at Your #HRTech Company #hrtechconf

Heading to Las Vegas for HR Tech Conference? Download our free guide by clicking here. Vegas Baby! 

We are just two short weeks of the biggest show in HR Technology. It’s the annual HR Technology Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. It’s this time of year that I am flooded even more so with emails, breaking news and requests to attend conference sessions and briefings. This year I’ve booked 20 briefings throughout the week mainly because I believe that understanding this tech is more important for my blog readers and practitioner community than ever especially heading into the 2015 fiscal year.

As a blogger and influencer, I’ve been privy to many different approaches in marketing and PR pitches for HR companies. I have a unique perspective in that I’m a HR tech marketing and product advisor who has been a buyer as well as an end user of a number of HR technologies. That’s actually a pretty rare thing.

How to Sell & Market Your HR Technology

In having all this special insight, I am extremely opinionated in how you should be marketing your HR technology to buyers in this industry. Now, I’ve written about this before but focusing on how to sell to HR. I figured, I would focus more on branding and lead generation which are important components of marketing.

#1 – Focus on HR Resources to Sell Your Technology

Don’t be all consumed by the number of leads you generate. Fight your Founder, CEO and VP of Sales. Hell, print off this blog post and tell them they are wrong. It’s about quality leads that focus on resources that lead to great conversations with buyers of your technology. Every year during our annual blog reader survey, I ask our readers how many emails, phone calls and sales calls they receive each week. Your potential buyer is inundated with pitches, lame emails and cold calls. They received on average in excess of 10, yes 10 of your sales pitches a week. In a year that equates to 520 requests to buy an HR or recruiting tech product or service.

Focus on quality leads. Focus on quality resources to drive higher conversions and a more loyal and engaged potential funnel, please.

#2 – Lose the Billboard Advertising in Silicon Valley

The technology world is a pissing contest. I get that. It’s not whoever has the bigger funding raise wins. It’s whoever spends the most money on the fact that I am awesome with a series of billboards and other roadside marketing. Once we raise $11 million in our series A, the first thing we do not do is invest $200,000 in billboards in Silicon Valley.

It’s a waste. I don’t care what your startup buddies say. Your friends is the startup world are not the leads or prospects you seek. Yes, I’m talking to you eager CEO, Founder and Co-Founder. The key to converting HR from prospects to buyers is not flooding the 101 with billboard marketing. It is a waste. See suggestion #1 for how to spend your newly found funding.

#3 – Research & Understand the HR Industry

At the moment, my email inbox is filled with PR pitches promising the most game-changing HR technology of the century. Come on. In all honesty, that’s very unlikely. Tinder for recruitment. eHarmony for hiring. Others have tried before. I’m not saying that you won’t be successful in your efforts. Just please do your homework. Sit down with whomever your target buyer is. Job shadow them for 3 days or more. Insist that your team from programmers to developers to sales and even marketing does the same. Start by reading this blog post that discusses the history of HR technology.

#4 – Pick Your Partners Carefully

When I work with new clients, I tell them that the HR industry is just weird. It’s a niche industry that is extremely hard to penetrate as well as explain. A small group of 25 or so influencers and publications effectively control the HR marketplace.  You can’t just expect to pick the brains of these same influencers or have them write about your game changing HR tech product for free. Attending the HR technology conference is a great way to research the marketplace and understand who’s influential, business oriented and a good potential partner for your company.

Partners come in all shapes and sizes. They can be pundits like me, consultants and other technologies you with to integrate or form alliances with. The HR technology market is a giant game of survivor. Tribes are created. Alliances are formed. Picking the right partners can ensure your success in the industry.

#5 – Push Back on Investors, Board of Directors & Senior Leadership

As I mentioned this industry is a crowded space. I’ve seen the human capital industry explode especially online from when I first started Blogging4Jobs in 2007. Back then no one was blogging except a select few of us like Laurie Ruettimann, Kris Done and a handful of others. I’ve spent 7 years establishing relationships with my readers and building trust. I’ve spent 7 long years researching, obsessing and understanding this weird industry. I’ve failed a lot, but I’ve also learned about creative and interactive ways to engage practitioners. I’ve watched and learned from others who have failed as well as succeeded but in different ways. It starts with you pushing back on senior leadership, investment firms and your BOD. Present them with facts about the industry. Do extensive research and be frank when they suggest purchasing 150,000 HR and recruiting emails to drive .05% conversions to drive on their email marketing campaign. Sometimes you fail. Like that time a friend of mine bought a bogus list and their company email and website was blacklisted for 48 hours for spamming the HR practitioner community.

It’s in those moments that you stand up for what you know is right and present your suggested plan of action to engage, relate and reach the interested buyers in the HR and recruiting industries. There are no short cuts to success here only commuter lanes that can increase your sales conversion and industry visibility. These are the five things I would do if I was the CMO at your HR Technology company.

Heading to Las Vegas for HR Tech Conference? Download our free guide by clicking here. Vegas Baby! 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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