Commit to Owning Your Market in 2014

78155203The New Year is always a time of reflecting on last year and planning for what’s ahead. You are probably in the process now, either formally or informally, setting goals for your staffing business for 2014. But rather than ask yourself a traditional question like how you are going to grow your business X percent this year, I suggest asking a different one: “What do I need to do to own my market this year?”

The concept of owning your market is all about building your presence in such a way that you become synonymous with staffing in your vertical, niche, geographic area, etc. When people talk staffing, your name comes up. Think of Apple and MP3 players, or Amazon and online shopping. Alan Weiss, one of the leading consulting experts in the country, coined the term “Marketing Gravity.” You build such a strong marketing presence that business is actually attracted to you. Imagine that; rather than continuously running on that hamster wheel of cold calling, companies are actually coming to you asking for help.

You might be thinking “what’s the difference if I say I want to grow my business by 20 percent or I want to own my market — isn’t it just semantics?” Actually there are two distinct differences. One, shifting from a focus of simply growing the business a certain amount to making a commitment to own your market requires a significant shift in mindset. Two, the activities required to own your market are measurably different than growing your business a percentage.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Employment Hotlist: The fastest-growing U.S. job markets, by detailed industry and geography

If I decide I want to grow my business by 20 percent this year, then I’m immediately going to focus on short-term transactional activities. Do I need to hire a new sales rep? How many calls do they need to make? When will they hit quota? Maybe I need two sales reps? By focusing on growth and only growth, you essentially become a manager of activities. While that’s important, it usually results in losing sight of the bigger picture.

Now let’s say I make a decision this year to own my market. By the end of the year, I’m going to be the most recognizable, well-respected brand in my town, city, specialization, etc. I may still look at all of the variables I listed above, but my focus goes beyond just sales activity. I start to look at how I’m going to build my reputation, what organizations should I be active in, what should our website really look like, what marketing activities should we engage in, do I take the money for that second sales rep and instead invest it in building our brand? By asking myself how do I own my market, I’ve shifted my mindset to a much broader, more holistic approach to growing my business.

The benefit of the latter mindset is that it forces you to take a more long-term, strategic approach. And in many cases, that can be at the expense of short-term revenue gains. But in the long-term, you are creating a presence that will build on itself, multiplying your business exponentially rather than incrementally. This is the concept of marketing gravity as Weiss discusses, and the premise behind owning your market.

So how do start? Here are three quick steps to help you change your mindset:

  1. Imagine what “owning your market” would look like. You are the face of recruiting in your market. People know who you are before you are introduced. Your phone is ringing off the hook with referrals and unsolicited calls from solid prospects. You have so much business coming in that you have to … wait for it … actually RAISE your rates (GASP!).
  2. Think about what you need to do to get there. What marketing activities should you be doing? What networking organizations are going to give you the most (and best) exposure? How do you optimize your online presence? And of course, what is your budget?
  3. Put it into a 12-month plan and execute! Determine who is responsible for what activities, hold them (including yourself) accountable, and measure your progress on a weekly basis.

Now is the time to act on your plan. Don’t get discouraged – this is a process not a one-time event. And its all designed to build on itself. Want some more specific ideas on how to own your market? Access my whitepaper on Ten Ways to Kickstart your Staffing Sales for some ideas that really work in our industry. Now let’s get out there and Own Your Market!

MORE: 2014 jobs market forecast

Tom Erb

Tom Erb
Tom Erb is immediate past president of the Ohio Staffing and Search Association and past president of the Human Resources Association of Central Ohio, and currently serves on the board for the National Association of Personnel Services. He is a Certified Staffing Professional and Senior Professional of Human Resources.

Tom Erb

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  1. […] The New Year is always a time of reflecting on last year and planning for what’s ahead. You are probably in the process now, either formally or informally, setting goals for your staffing business for 2014.  […]

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