Where are you spending your HR Technology Marketing budget?

I saw the graph below the other day and it got me thinking about where should we be spending our budget to get in front of the right buyer?

If you’re in HR or Recruiting you can’t help but take notice of how and where vendors are trying to catch your eyeballs!

The classic play is by Ultimate Software, Oracle, and Workday when you watch a Professional Golf Association (PGA) event. All the big HCM payers sponsor pro golfers. In fact, Ultimate Software is a grand slam, err hole in one, when Patrick Reed (see pic above) won the 2018 Masters! You can’t buy that kind of promotion! Literally! You never know if your person will win or not!

But, is Ultimate and the rest making the right call? Do you think 64-year-old white dudes are the ones making the call on enterprise HCM buys? I tend to believe that probably not the demographic of an HR technology buyer, but it is probably the demographic of the decider, right now.

I’ll say, this isn’t a rip on Ultimate, or any other vendor, Ultimate also sponsors the NBA Miami Heat and the Ultimate logo is on the Heat’s jersey. So, they are also covering the younger side of the sports watching base as well! Infor also got in the business with the Brooklyn Nets this past year. Of course, Golden State plays in Oracle Arena.

When I think of the best possible ways to get your brand and logo in front of the buyers of HR and Recruiting technology I first think of the demographics. Most of HR and Recruiting is female dominated. Women, statistically, like to watch the NFL and College Football, then pro and college basketball, followed by baseball and soccer.

The NFL is super expensive, so that’s a really hard get. MLS soccer might be the most accessible and cheapest opportunity to get!

I like to believe, depending on your market, that major college sports are always a big draw, and the Olympics are always giant, especially the summer Olympics. They didn’t have ‘Gaming’ on this chart, but eSports is growing like crazy and that would be another segment to take a look at in terms of relatively inexpensive ways to get your brand in front of a younger buying group and build brand awareness.

Where should you be spending your HR Tech Marketing budget? 

This changes quite a bit whether you’re selling to enterprise versus selling to large, mid, or small sized organizations. Why? Enterprise purchases happen through an RFP process for the most part, so those marketing dollars are really spent on brand awareness. Just get invited to the RFP, and then win from there. Some large-sized organizations will RFP some stuff, but not all purchases. Almost no RFPs are done on mid and small sized organizations.

I think almost every HR Technology company discounts the impact that individual contributors and mid-managers have on the buying process!

I’ve worked in and ran large to small HR/TA organizations and the one common component was the people doing the day to day work were usually the ones bringing ideas and options to leadership around technology. “Hey, Tim, I was just on a webcast and XYZ company is using this new tool to hire more college kids, blah, blah, blah. We need to demo this!”

Of course, the ultimate decision to hit the budget is made by some sort of leader, but rarely do I find leaders are the ones bringing possible technology solutions to their teams. And if they do, it’s almost always via a question like, “hey, have you guys heard of XYZ product?” Which opens the gates to discussions, which leads to other possible tools, which leads to demos, etc.

I tend to believe those organizations that focus on selling to users get better traction and higher adoptions of their products, that those who do nothing but try and get in front of executives. I said this consistently for 2-3 years if you’re trying to sell a TA product and you’re not at SHRM Talent, you have no idea how to sell. There will be 3,000 TA Pros and Leaders at the conference, and the ratio of companies in the expo is super low as compared to other conferences!

Why? The feeling is individual TA contributors, TA managers, TA directors, don’t have enough juice to buy, so why go? It’s a mistake. Some of the fastest growing TA technologies on the planet are going grassroots and making fans out of the users, who are then pushing them up the chain to the decision makers. When the entire industry is just trying to talk to executives, maybe you should be talking to users!


2 thoughts on “Where are you spending your HR Technology Marketing budget?

  1. Great topic. Focused brand marketing (like sponsoring a media or sports event, outdoor ads, etc.) is expensive and drives results for larger vendors that are looking at market share leadership. This is a long game. Those results come over a longer period of consistent impressions. In branding we talk about 18 month cycles. Demand generation (demand=leads) has some impact on brand, but is really a short term/immediate play, focused on converting someone that receives a message into a lead/prospect/customer. SHRM Talent would fall primarily under lead generation. Several factors impact whether you should be leaning more or less in any direction: who your target customer is, who your target buyer(s) is, the cost of your solution, complexity of implementation, frequency of purchase (e.g. job postings are transactional easy to buy and get bought frequently vs. HRIS which gets replaced every 3+ years) and any impact on other areas of the biz (e.g. if I implement this do I need IT on board?) among other factors would point you toward the right mix (and budget) of brand marketing, high volume demand generation, more strategic account-based marketing, etc.

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