Technology hype blinds leaders to marketing ROI

Recruitment leaders are wasting too much money and effort on marketing that doesn’t align with their business fundamentals, often blindly following trends that deliver little or no return on investment, according to an industry advisor.

“Technology is a really easy way to get caught up in a [marketing] hype cycle,” Navigator Consulting director of marketing and research Matt Fink told a recent Captain’s Table event.

“Marketers use the same tactics used to help your business on you,” he says. “It means that we tend to do things that we don’t necessarily apply the same level of due diligence to.”

By way of example, Fink draws on his own experience as head of marketing for a multinational office supplies business, where he took three-to-four months to define and accurately work out the return on investment of a marketing automation platform – during which time he was fielding daily sales calls from providers trying to sell him the latest and greatest platform.

“Blindly falling into those decisions does a number of things. One, we fall for it every time, and two, it distracts us away from the fundamentals,” he says. “You need to have strong fundamentals in your business, and marketing is no different.”

And while marketers are very good at finding the next opportunity, they don’t necessarily look at the things that haven’t worked as well, Fink adds. So when looking into the ‘next big thing’ in marketing tools and technology, he suggests leaders spend as much time looking for what doesn’t work with the technology as what does.

Another mistake agencies make is failing to differentiate their service offering from the rest of the market, particularly through company websites.

“This is the biggest mistake I’ve seen in my time,” Fink says. “There’s a disparity between what you say when you go out and sell and what appears on the website.”

Going further, he says there is often inconsistency between how leaders or owners describe their service offering compared to other people in the business.

“Leads can come from anywhere,” Fink says. “And if somebody in your organisation can’t communicate even the elevator pitch, there’s a missed opportunity.”

Marketing and sales need to be in concert with all parts of the organisation, he adds.

Same same, but different

Fink also sees too many organisations using “cookie cutter” approaches to marketing, which just do not work. “If you want your business to grow, you don’t want to be following exactly what everyone else is doing.”

If organisations take the same approach with marketing for every client and candidate, without taking into account variables around who they are and what makes them unique, this leads to another key marketing faux pas: misalignment.

“This is not just misalignment between marketing and sales,” he says. “It’s also a misalignment in the way in which we execute [work]… from sales through to marketing through to management and leadership through to the support functions of the business.”

When alignment between business functions breaks down, Fink says organisations end up producing marketing material that doesn’t support the sales effort and drive value within a business. It also makes them more susceptible to marketing phases and fads. Instead, he reminds leaders to keep marketing strategies simple, and keep them aligned to the business.

Looking back over his 20-year career, Fink says marketing basics haven’t changed. “Technology’s changed, the way we take it to market has changed and the platforms have changed, but there are still the same fundamentals.”

He says the key marketing fundamentals to consider are:

  • Define what makes an offering unique;
  • Clearly demonstrate value;
  • Share the wins;
  • Be where the audience is – look at alternative channels to reach candidates and clients;
  • Choose smart and invest wisely in technology and tools;
  • Don’t automate relationships – people buy from people;
  • Act now, prepare for tomorrow.

Matt presented at Navigator Consulting’s recruitment industry leaders forum – Captain’s Table, kindly supported by Job Adder and A Positive.