In the increasingly competitive staffing and recruiting industry environment, staffing and recruiting firms both large and small are looking for a way to differentiate themselves. Quite possibly one of the most important strategic marketing tools a staffing firm can have is an effective and interactive Web site.
Why is it so important? According to David Tallerman, eMarketer Senior Analyst, savvy B2B companies (that's your customers) use the Internet as the central channel for most marketing objectives. In the eMarketer article, 'B2B Ain't What It Used to Be,' the primary marketing goals of Internet marketing are:
• Customer acquisition
• Driving sales
• Brand awareness
• Lead generation
• Customer retention
Recognizing the Internet's strategic value is one thing, developing and integrating a Web site for your firm that will work for your business is often another. Most staffing firms lack the specific skills necessary to create and maintain a sophisticated and professionally effective Web site. So it's time to turn to professionals who do have the skills. The question then is: How do you select a Web site vendor? For the purposes of this article we will look at some key points you need to consider, these include:
1. What business goals do you want to achieve?
2. What Web development, technology, site hosting, support skills and capabilities does the vendor have?
3. How will the vendor make ongoing site updates easy for you to make?
4. What methods will the vendor use to assure you of on-track, on-time and on-budget delivery?
5. What experience does the vendor have that would help your site achieve your goals?
The first question you should ask yourself is, 'What do I want the site to do for my business?' Web sites are a key communications tool for any business that wants to be competitive in the staffing and recruiting marketplace. A Web site can look nice, but if it doesn't work for your business, what is the point? A static page with stunning photography isn't going to improve your business operations. Make sure you look at sites that have some of the functionality you would like to include in your site.
Functional interactive elements can include: 'contact us' forms, client or contingent workforce logins to conduct specific tasks, document downloads, online applications and/or the ability to upload a resume to your site. These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Have a brainstorming session with your key team members and come up with features that will specifically work for your business.
In tandem with the functionality you want from your site, make sure to research your vendor's technological expertise. What technologies are they using to create client sites? With a myriad of Web design software out there, be sure that you are getting the most bang for your buck. Do they use Microsoft .NET technology or something else? On a related subject, ask your vendor about hosting options. This is generally preferable to hosting and managing the site yourself or through another third party. In addition, don't forget to ask about ongoing support and service capabilities.
Keep in mind that your Web site is your online presence, not your vendor's. Do you have the ability to edit your content to keep your content fresh and up-to-date? Is it easy for 'non-Web-savvy' staff you designate as Webmasters to make minor changes, add pages, and the like? Nothing is less impressive than a site that last posted company news three years ago. Think of your site as a dynamic marketing tool, changing to keep up with your business.
Another key aspect to look at is a vendor's methodology. How do they plan to role out your Web site? Look for vendors that can provide you a step-by-step process that ensures that no details or items are overlooked. Ask for previous client references. A vendor with a solid track record of getting their projects done how and when the clients wants is a vendor that should be considered in your final evaluation.
When looking at Web site development vendors, keep in mind one thing. The better they know your business, the better your site's going to be in the long run. Be sure to ask them what types of companies they have worked with before and more specifically, have they ever worked with staffing and/or recruiting firms? A vendor that is familiar with the staffing industry and a staffing firm's needs and business workflow will generally 'get' the B2B needs and the core functionality you will need for your site.
More importantly, they will be able to meet your Internet marketing needs by focusing on your target audience because they know how you do business. And by focusing on your target audience your clients and contingent workforce, your Web site will be a success.
David McCullough is Director of Operations for VCG. He is responsible for customer support, training, implementation, consulting and migration services. Prior to joining VCG in 1997, David held positions within Randstad Staffing North America including branch operations and sales, as well as in the corporate office as a part of the Training and Development team. He holds a B.S. and a M.Ed. degree from Auburn University. To contact David, email him at: email@example.com.