Jon Osborne's Blog

My moral quandary

In our latest annual staffing firm survey, we asked staffing firms--500 of them--the following question: "What marketing tactic would you say has the highest bang-to-buck return on spend/effort?"

It seemed like an innocent question at the time--who knew it would put me on a philosophical knife edge between untarnished virtue and eternal damnation?

The whole problem started when the survey results began coming in.  Yes, the marketing tactic most frequently cited as high bang-to-buck was developing one's company website--yes, I had expected that answer; indeed it was the principal reason I had asked the entire question, to gather objective evidence to support my own thesis that staffing firms needed to take their websites more seriously.

But what surprised me--perhaps it shouldn't have surprised me, perhaps I had always known it--was the answer that came in second; the answer that almost tied for first was...attending/sponsoring conferences.

It would seem so crass and self-serving to report boldly that attending/sponsoring conferences was nearly tied as the highest bang-to-buck method of marketing to staffing buyers, inasmuch as Staffing Industry Analysts is the premier organizer of staffing and contingent labor-related events.  It would be even worse if I repeated that attending/sponsoring conferences is the most effective way to reach staffing buyers.  No I could not do that.  Never.

But would I not be doing a disservice to our loyal members if I withheld that vital information?  How could I face them at our upcoming conferences -- The Contingent Workforce Risk Forum to be held in Washington DC in May, our Healthcare Staffing Summit to be held in Chicago in September, the Contingent Workforce Strategies Summit to be held in Denver in October, or even  the next Staffing Industry Executive Forum to be held in Miami in March of 2011 -- if I had not given them the very best advice?

And so you see my quandary, whether to tell the plain truth--that attending/sponsoring conferences essentially ties as the most effective tactic for marketing to staffing buyers, and so be branded by some as self-serving...or to hold my peace.

And so I put my case before you in this private forum.  Those who wish to ask questions about our upcoming conferences, before passing judgment on my quandary, may do so by contacting us at your convenience.


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