Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Marketing Messages Should Resonate Like Horoscopes

Sometimes really good analogies are just dropped right on your doorstep.

Here's one....

I'm forced to subscribe to the local newspaper (like physically - on my doorstep every day - because you can't get it on your iPad, but that's not for this blog).  Why am I forced? Well, in order to find things to keep two kids, age 6 and 3, occupied on weekends.  Not for news - this local paper has very little news in it (another can of worms for some other blog).  

So, every now and then as I'm flipping through the paper, the horoscope catches my eye - and it freaks me out how sometimes detailed and "on the money" it can be.  

Raises some interesting questions -  Are we humans all so predictable that they can plot cycles of different dimensions (work, relationships, finance) against annual cycles or is there something to it?  

The point here isn't whether I (or you) believe in Horoscopes or not.  But it is so incredibly related to brand and marketing messages in the Human Capital space.  The people that write Horoscopes know what makes us tick so well that what they write - and it's normally just a few sentences - resonates, sometimes at a deep meaningful level... and it's doing so for large numbers of people that are reading it at the same time.

You rarely read a Horoscope and think it's irrelevant.  However you sometimes read it and think, "Wow.  That is so in line with my life right now."

When you are marketing your product or service in the Human Capital space, you want the person receiving your brand/message to think, #1 it's relevant to them no matter how much it resonates, and #2 "That is so in line with what my department/business is dealing with right now."  In order to achieve this you have to have a deep understanding of the HR Professional and what makes them tick.

So do you?  I don't think you do.  

We are in the process of finalizing a study that culminates 2 years of research... and looking at the results has been incredibly eye-opening.  The assumptions we have all made about HR Executives, professionals, and buyers for the last 30 years (when I say we, I mean you... I'm too young to have 30 years experience... 20 years, sure)... Many of the assumptions are just plain wrong.

This is huge.  The friction between HR practitioners and Vendors in the space starts here. Marketing messages, value statements, sales messages, service strategies, and more... all developed to communicate to a profile that just isn't what we thought it was.

So, if most of the vendors are communicating in a context and a language geared for the wrong person - no wonder the HR Practitioner can't figure out who does what - the whole conversation started on the wrong page to begin with! 

We publish the report in the next week - it's big - and goes deep on who the HR practitioner, executive, and buyer is... how they like to engage with their vendors... and who they are as people.

I'll tell you this, most of you have them all wrong - and you're marketing and selling to them in the wrong ways.  From your messages to your offers to your strategic client strategies.

Thousands of HR pros helped us with this research in the interest of minimizing the friction in the market.  I'm excited to get this report out the door, and start doing just that!

Rest assured you'll hear from us as soon as the report is ready!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Brand Matters

I'm really excited about the work we're starting to do at HRxAnalysts. Starting with our Psycho-graphic Report on the HR Buyer, we are going to displace assumptions made about HR people/buyers for the last 30 years.  So many vendors are chasing a buyer profile that just isn't real any more.  Probably not surprising to a lot of HR people reading this, based on the marketing they receive on an ongoing basis.  We'll be offering the Executive Summary on this one in the next few weeks.

Next, the panel that we've built to engage in ongoing research about the brands and vendors that are in the space is the first of it's size - and of it's kind.  No other analyst firm is focused on brand, and no other firm is quantifying the buyers, while also quantifying the brands and brand experience of the vendors in the market.

We are looking at the gap between the Vendor's brand promise and messaging, and their brand perception in the market - and true brand experience with their customers.  We've found over the years that this gap has been increasing in most vendor's cases and we are beginning to illuminate this segment by segment.

Why does brand matter?

First, we're not talking about color palettes, logos, or which shiny happy faces or fonts are used on the website.  These are a part of your brand -  a very important part - that a different type of firm helps you with.  We're talking about where the rubber meets the road - an HCM technology or service's brand and messaging, versus perception and experience.  We're taking about the inflection point where buying decisions are made.

It matters a LOT.

It matters to the HR Pro and Buyer because knowing the TRUE value a of a service or product a vendor offers, versus  marketing and sale message can be the difference between the success of a project or a career.  Knowing how a vendor's current customer base rates the brand and compares the process of learning and selecting a product or service to the actual experience and value it provides POST implementation... that is HUGE.

It matters to the Vendors because the other side of this coin: setting, managing, and delivering on brand expectations in the market is the key to long term sustainable growth in a subscription-based market - and whether you're a service or technology, the Human Capital space is a subscription based market for the long view.  This is where revenue gets generated, customers get acquired, and how customers get retained.

I'm excited mostly about how this is all progressing.. but, I'm also excited about the start we're getting here.  In addition to the initial report being on track, we have serious traction in the market with key vendors in the several initial key verticals we are targeting. Our website is on track for launch this month.  Our dance cards are getting full for the ERE Spring show in San Diego.  We're running into good challenges in the business at an earlier stage than I expected - big decisions that we're making that will shape our future - the traction is real and the website isn't even live yet!

Regarding ERE, there is still some room if you want to meet with Johns Sumser and I, but please reach us soon.  Email me at george@hrexaminer.com  and we'll go from there.