by Bob Corlett
Judy runs a top tier staffing agency in DC. Her client service is impeccable. Consequently, she has attracted an intensely loyal stable of client companies who have standards as high as her own. But Washington is a big city, so Judy may be loved by a few, but she is still totally unknown to many. Every day she competes with the big-box national staffing firms who spend more on marketing than they do on internal staff training.
But all those big-box marketing platitudes don’t generate value for customers. Wading through the boastful claims only extracts value (time) from the reader. Nobody selects a staffing firm because they have a great tagline or brochure. No, in staffing, your candidates are your brand to the client company; and your client companies are your brand to the candidates.
In Washington, many of the best candidates arrive here from somewhere else. So how do all those bright, fresh faced, recent college grads find Judy? How can Judy rise above the cacophony of hollow marketing claims made by the squawking flock of look-alike temp staffing agencies?
She can’t. But fortunately someone did it for her … well, actually eight people did.
Yelp reviews are driving great people to Judy. Not only is she attracting job seekers, she’s also attracting new client companies … from Yelp. As of this writing, eight reviewers have clearly differentiated her company from the others. I know most of the other firms listed, and I must say that I thought the reviews were fairly accurate. I was particularly amused to see the 3 consecutive one star reviews of another staffing agency just a few blocks from Judy. (Devastatingly, they had one review each, in 2010, 2011, and 2012 so it’s a pattern, not just a bad month). The scathing reviews of Judy’s competitor included these gems: “RUN!” “Phony, impersonal and condescending,” and the reviewers named names, “Allyson is the rudest, nastiest person.”
Go ahead and try to beat that fire down with a marketing brochure.
In those two staffing agencies, what is the cost of bad reviews and what is the benefit of great reviews? One firm now has to combat bad reviews with expensive marketing and sales efforts, while the other firm will attract great candidates and employers by answering the phone. Judy has always been great, but now, a total of eleven anonymous reviews have decisively tipped the economics in her favor. She can spend less on marketing and win more clients. For years.
Both firms were Amazonified. One won, one lost.
In the past week, I bought two relatively expensive items on Amazon. I had a rough idea of the features I wanted, but I had done no homework. I had no intention of going to a store to talk to a sales clerk–that’s time I would never get back. So I clicked over to Amazon, searched for the item, scrolled down past the company marketing noise and read the top user reviews. I made an informed decision in less time than it would have taken me to drive to the closest store. In both cases I had not intended to even consider the brand I ended up buying—they were Amazonified. Their happy users convinced me, not their marketing boasts. I’ll believe total strangers over your marketing team any day of the week.
The Amazonification of recruiting is accelerating. Sites like Yelp and Glassdoor are pulling back the curtain on candidate experience. LinkedIn has found a way to rapidly accelerate the endorsement process, and apparently will start to weigh your endorsements in their search results.
It’s a brave new world of accountability coming. Are your recruiting practices ready for it?