In June, TechCrunch highlighted an under-the-radar boom happening in HR tech: With the tenacity of remote work, more and more business leaders are seeking out tech to manage remote teams — and HR tech startups are rising to the challenge.
The good news (per a GP Bullhound report cited in that piece): HR tech startups are doing better at fundraising than startups in other industries. But this also means the space is getting – and will continue to get – more crowded.
So how are the most successful HR tech startups breaking through the noise? And what can startups in any industry learn from them? For answers, I spoke to a dozen founders and marketing leaders at this year’s HR Tech Conference. In our conversations, the following five themes came up over and over.
Be bold: “Different is better than better”
Gal Fontyn, VP of global marketing at people enablement platform Leapsome, cited Sally Hogshead when asked how to stand out from the crowd: “Different is better than better,” he said. He noted that in the HR tech space, “a lot of companies use similar brand visuals and . . . the same kind of jargon that doesn’t mean anything.”
He wasn’t the only one. Jake Sorofman, CMO of people analytics platform Visier, said, “Too often, marketing suffers from compromise, defaulting to directions that are safe, expected, and conventional.” The impact? A dilutive effect on marketing investments.
The role of HR in enterprises is becoming more strategic. This means that selling effectively requires a less-aggressive approach.
“You need to have the courage to get a bit ahead of your skis from time to time,” he added.
Of course, “be different” is easier said than done. Even an article like this aims to help readers learn from — and imitate — what works. Still, that the imperative to differentiate came up so often can serve as validation for marketing leads in need of evidence to support their most exciting ideas. Go ahead and send your CEO this link. And then get to work on that quirky LinkedIn campaign you’ve been dying to try.