- By Shawn Cohen, Energy Circle Director of Digital Strategy
Business owners in the home and commercial building, energy, and HVAC service sectors face a lot of challenges when it comes to running a successful company. From seasonal highs and lows to economic fluctuations and government legislation, so many factors impact your customer base. This makes it tricky to maintain a steady, predictable stream of customers and projects all year long.
You invest in digital marketing to help offset those factors and improve the consistency of lead generation but, what happens if you get too busy? Good problem to have, right? Sure — as long as you have enough qualified employees to staff those projects and deliver high quality work on-time, and on budget. After all, what’s the point in spending money, time, and resources on the marketing necessary to generate demand for your services if you don’t have the ability to fulfill that demand?
In Short: How do we leverage digital marketing strategies and tactics to quickly reach a broad pool of qualified candidates, and how do we compete for the best, most skilled applicants in a competitive job market and strong economic landscape?
In Long: HVAC, home performance and solar companies are — at their core — service providers in the business of delivering complex, technical and (at times) labor intensive services which often require a very specific set of knowledge, skills and experience. These companies need a reliable workforce to deliver these services and as a result, many of them are in a constant state of recruiting and hiring to build, grow, and maintain that workforce while keeping up with customer demand and expectations.
When you have an opening on your staff — your business has a need that directly impacts its ability to be successful, profitable and competitive. You need to fill that opening quickly and with the right person — but how and where do you find that person?
Recruiting, Hiring & Training is a Full-Time Gig
When you’re building a business as a service provider, your focus is so dominated by serving your customers and — especially for small business owners — on running the day-to-day operations of your company. There is little time to focus on finding the right people to join your staff — even though your employees are the critical piece of the success of your company.
How can you balance the demands on your time as a business owner, and the demands associated with the seemingly never-ending recruiting and hiring process?
A Strong Economy Means a Competitive Job Market
Not to mention, when the economy is good and the job market is strong — attracting the best, most qualified, highly motivated applicants becomes that much more challenging. Not only do you have to reach a broader pool of interested candidates in order to find the right fit, you have to do it more efficiently and more effectively than your competitors — who are also looking for HVAC technicians, or solar installers for their teams.
Kids These Days… with their FaceSpace and their Twit-a-gram!
It goes without saying, we live in a highly connected digital world with an endless stream of channels and outlets on which to search for a job. Besides the fact that there are countless traditional job board sites available online (for example: Indeed, SimplyHired, ZipRecruiter) — candidates are also now looking for career opportunities in broader and more diverse places than ever before. Channels not traditionally dedicated to career placement have infiltrated the space in a major way — Facebook has ad products and groups dedicated to recruiting and hiring, and LinkedIn is an entire platform developed with the sole purpose of serving as the “professional’s social network”. Furthermore, with the explosion of connected TV and streaming video and audio platforms like Hulu, YouTube, Pandora and Spotify — paid advertising real estate is more affordable and wider reaching than ever before.
Strategy: KISS — Keep it Simple, Stupid!
These may not be marketing tactics in the most “traditional” sense, however — setting up a system and configuring tools to simplify and automate some or all of the steps involved in recruiting and hiring does help support and streamline the process of publishing and promoting job openings. And, as you’ll want to incorporate your website and other online profiles into the mix when you are marketing career information, it’s helpful to consider your options for synchronizing efforts across multiple channels.
Strategy: Stand up and Stand Out
Now comes the strategy and tactics we more commonly think of when we talk about digital marketing: Content and Brand Presence. In a strong economy, where the job market is flush and competition for skilled employees is fierce, the way you present yourself as an employer is often the determining factor when it comes to attracting quality job applicants. The messaging, information and images you put out there about your company influence first impressions and consideration among job seekers, and – just like when marketing services to potential customers – that content has to do the work of persuading your target audience to choose you over the competitor.
Strategy: Bring the mountain to Muhammad…
As we’ve highlighted above — one of the key challenges to boosting recruiting efforts through digital marketing is honing in on where those qualified job seekers are and figuring out how to get them to come to your brand new amazing long form careers landing page. In a world where there’s a niche website, platform, network, or app for almost every career path — it can be overwhelming figuring out how to get those applicants to come to you. So — why not meet them where they already are?
While Display ads may offer the most control over the specific sites on which ads are placed across Google, it’s worth mentioning that Bing has launched a beta paid search product in partnership with LinkedIn, another Microsoft owned platform. The Bing-LinkedIn collaboration will allow advertisers to leverage LinkedIn targeting criteria like company, industry or job title. It hasn’t been rolled out universally, but eventually - this could be a great opportunity to further boost recruiting efforts through digital marketing. (And we at Energy Circle are keeping a close eye on the new feature!)
The last step in the recruiting process is — hopefully — hiring and on-boarding. So, while this tactic may not be directly related to recruiting, we felt it deserved an honorable mention. Video can be an incredibly useful tool in the onboarding and training process as well. Besides establishing your company culture as well versed in an increasingly video-oriented world, it can be a great way to streamline and formalize internal processes and policies to better organize and improve operations company wide. When your business is running like a well-oiled machine, from hiring to training to delivering services, morale is high, employee retention is strong and eventually your recruiting emergencies will be fewer and farther between!
If you’re investing in digital marketing to generate customer leads, why not also invest in marketing to attract skilled, experienced workers to join your team and serve those customers better? Attracting employees can be a lot like attracting new customers – you can leverage many of the same tactics and channels to reach and engage with people who are looking for career opportunities that you would use to reach people looking for your services. It’s just a matter of crafting the messaging and tailoring the experience to potential employees instead of HVAC, home performance, or solar customers.