3 Things I Learnt At InfluenceHR (NYC 2013)

I was in NYC last week, for the second InfluenceHR Event. I missed the first, in San Francisco earlier this year. Which I now regret.

It was a top-quality event. Hyper focused on ‘Tech companies marketing to the HR buyer’, with content tailored exclusively towards that market. No schedule-fillers here. The content was engaging, and highly targeted.

This was also reflected in the quality of the audience: startup founders, CEOs, Heads of Marketing and HR, and industry leaders such as Bill Kutik.

I’ll be attending the next one for sure.

Along with some great conversations and connections, I took away 3 lessons about marketing HR products in 2013-14.

1. Content is king, but context is queen.

Content marketing is a buzzword of 2012-13 (up there with ‘growth hacker’). But the bar for quality content is rising. And it’s increasingly critical for your content to be relevant to your customer’s context.

Context is everything you can infer about your customer, or things they’ve specifically told you, including:

  • Screen size (desktop, mobile or tablet)
  • Location
  • Interests and preferences (what has past behaviour indicated?)
  • Stage of purchase cycle (researching vs ready to buy)

Responsive web design is just one example of relevant context. Mike Volpe (CMO at Hubspot) used other examples of how content could (or should!) be tailored specifically to an individual user. He was researching a new car recently, and invested serious time customising a model for a detailed online quote. The next time he visited that website, the car-marker missed a crucial opportunity, by promoting models that were completely outside his preferences.

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Mike Volpe (CMO @ Hubspot)

2. Advocacy Marketing is fuel for your content marketing fire.

Smart companies are increasingly empowering ‘advocates’ to do marketing for them. Advocates could be engaged employees, customers or other ‘promoters’ outside the company. Examples of advocacy marketing include the <insertcompanyhere>Con events gaining popularity across the tech space.

The idea is that somewhat independent advocates will always be more convincing and compelling that company-endorsed marketing messages.

New startups are even emerging to help bring structure to these efforts. Mark Organ (founder of Eloqua, sold to Oracle) is now building a startup called Influitive. It’s an interesting product that and allows companies to reward and incentivise advocates around specific challenges.

Watch this space.

3. HR ‘buyers’ are human, like everyone else.

Well done Mike. Super insight here.

(says the discerning reader).

But marketers – across all industries – consistently forget they’re communicating with people, not just cheque-books.

A panel of HR Buyers made it clear this forgetfulness is chronic among HR and Recruitment vendors.

Need evidence you’re dealing with real people?

I’ll buy from the salesperson I like most.

If you don’t demonstrate you understand my problems in the first 5 minutes, you’re out.

I need honesty. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

It’s about relationship. I don’t want to be another client number.

I’ll forgive mistakes if you show me you care.

Most of this is just ‘Consultative Sales 101’. But it’s painfully obvious too many marketers and salespeople throw common sense out the window in the hunt for quarterly targets.

InfluenceHR: Hyper-focused content. Top-notch audience. And a great venue. This event will quickly become a must-attend event on the HR calendar.

See you there next year.