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The Predictive Index Talks Breaking the HR Marketing Mold

Published on Feb 29, 2024

The Predictive Index Talks Breaking the HR Marketing Mold
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springboard editors studioID

Marketing has changed across all industries. But HR marketing in particular has evolved by leaps and bounds as the world of work looks far different than it did a few short years ago. 

The Predictive Index (PI), a talent optimization platform, has consistently known how to talk to its HR audience despite the industry facing headwinds like hybrid work, AI in the workplace, and wavering employee engagement. Predictive Index’s best-in-class marketing tactics even landed them a bright and shiny spot on springboard’s Top 50 Content Marketing Brands of 2023

So, what are they doing to stay in a league of their own? We spoke to Andrew Barks, Content Design Lead and UX Writer, and Amy Saenger, Director of Marketing and Demand Generation at PI, to uncover the mechanics of their success to date and how they plan to further optimize their marketing strategies in 2024.

Spoiler alert: partnership strategies, how to use AI in marketing, and a controversial opinion on gated content lie ahead. 

Start With a Key Differentiator

Marketing without a clear, differentiated value proposition is a lot like pushing a boulder up a steep hill. Luckily, PI doesn’t have this problem. Enter the concept of talent optimization. 

What exactly is talent optimization? If you conduct employee surveys, think about how you communicate so your message lands properly, and take certain behaviors into account when hiring that’ll lead to success on the job, you might be practicing a form of talent optimization — you just haven’t put that name to it. 

“Talent optimization is aligning your business strategy with your talent strategy,” explains Barks.

“It’s applying behavioral data (how people are naturally inclined to show up at work) to each aspect of the employee lifecycle, and it’s the foundation of our software components.” 

PI’s entire platform (and naturally, much of their content) is built around this model. They utilize their proprietary blend of science-based behavioral data, psychometrics, and technology to help businesses hire, develop, and retain top talent. 

“The more we can bring the everyday implications to the masses with smart content, the more people will realize they’re not only interested in talent optimization, they’re already practicing it,” notes Barks. 

When you’ve already got such a strong value proposition to lead with, the burden of success lies on the shoulders of marketing and sales departments. Here’s how PI’s marketing experts hold up their end of the deal.

Lean on Brand Champions 

Putting more power into the hands of those who already champion your business can be a major marketing win. And that’s just what PI is doing as they reinvest in their ecosystem of partners, clients, and internal subject matter experts to expand their messaging.  

“We’re looking at how we can get more variety of voices out there to build better brand awareness,” explains Saenger. “That includes leveraging our partners. It includes highlighting our clients’ and the difference they make in the world using PI software. And it includes building out a subject-matter expert program.”

“We’re investing more in training and getting our experts comfortable putting themselves out there, particularly on LinkedIn,” says Saenger. To keep momentum up, part of their training includes providing weekly worksheets to help experts pull together just one thing leaders can do to provide value. 

“You don’t need a revolutionary post every time you post,” Saenger explains. 

People just want to hear those small bits of advice, so we’re bulking up our experts’ confidence and starting small to get them over the hump.

Saenger points to a recent example of one of their internal experts who spoke in a webinar for the first time. This speaker wound up being so naturally engaging that simply by sharing her POV, she drove leads instantaneously. “People were looking for more, and now she’s built her very own community with a new confidence, knowing she found people who care about the same things in the world of HR that she does.”

Your Next Move

Start by creating a list of experts — both internal and external — who champion your business. Make a game plan to encourage these brand champions to take regular action to elevate their voice (and bolster your brand’s message in the process), whether that be engaging in speaking opportunities, posting more frequently on LinkedIn, or getting permission for case studies. Need a little more inspo? Follow PI champions like Jackie Dube, Matt Poepsel, and Mike Zani.

Mind the Top-of-Funnel

There’s a tendency to get stuck in the demand and lead-gen marketing mindset, constantly pushing for the demo, notes Saenger. But PI treats its funnel differently. 

“If someone is coming into a top-of-funnel blog, the next step may not be a demo because we haven’t made the connection back to our software yet,” says Saenger, pointing to the following cartoon from Marketoonist to elucidate the point. “The better next step may be an in-person webinar to take learning a step further or a free product that directly correlates to the blog,” she continues. 

This shift to full-funnel, customer-journey led thinking can be a tough pill to swallow for modern marketers whose success is often measured by how many MQLs they can toss over to Sales. But the experts at PI promise this mindset shift is worth it.

When asked about how PI responds to the age-old predicament of ‘to gate, or not to gate?,’ Saenger says to stop and ask yourself two questions: 

  1. Who gets value out of the gate? Is it us or the prospect? If it’s only us, we’re not putting a form.

  2. Would you prefer 1,000 leads who’ve downloaded a report (and that’s all they’ve done)? Or 50 people who request a demo?

“If we hound everyone at the beginning of their journey, we may see high downloads, but we won’t see high intent,” says Saenger.

If we build a relationship and become that first company in mind when they’re ready to buy, that’s worth much more.

“Even if they don’t sign up for anything, at least they found helpful content,” adds Barks. “That enhances your credibility as a brand. That creates a good user experience.” And that’s what gets people to return.

Your Next Move

Resist the urge to drop the ‘Schedule a Demo’ CTA at every turn. Instead, map out a ‘knowledge journey,’ otherwise known as chronological look at the information a potential buyer needs to acquire in order to make a purchasing decision. Once you have that locked in, look across the journey and match it with appropriate content.

Our 2024 Content Marketing and Demand Generation Predictions show demand generation marketers aiming lower in the funnel, focusing on assets like case studies and webinars. (Webinar registrations have a 43.5% higher likelihood of being associated with a purchase than sign-ups for other content formats.) 

Use AI Wisely

We previously reported Forrester’s prediction that over 70% of business buyers will voice frustration with poorly personalized Gen AI content. So, what does PI think of AI in HR marketing? 

AI is a supplement, not a replacement, says Saenger.

This thinking mirrors the general consensus of studioID’s predictions survey: Winning the generative AI game requires treating your creative team as the star with AI as the supporting actor.

For example, you could find yourself out of a bout of writer’s block by asking AI to brainstorm some titles and/or subheads or edit human-created copy, but your content must vary, and that’s where Barks sees AI — in its current state — falling short. 

Consider what unique authority you bring to a subject, because AI can’t do that as credibly as you would, says Barks.

While Google’s algorithms account for the prevalence of AI in content, it still rewards those who take extra effort to humanize.

And in thinking of the competition, it’s a considerable miss if brands don’t research their company and their competitors across Gen AI platforms, says Saenger. “Know how you and your competitors show up to train your brain in the content you need to make for the future.” 

Your Next Move

Research your brand and 3+ competitors using generative AI. Based on the findings, use AI to brainstorm content concepts, which 61% of content marketers chose as their top choice of how they plan to use AI this year. 

Embrace Realness in Marketing

“People in HR have been through the wringer,” says Saenger. “There’s a lack of spaces for these on-the-ground HR folks to speak up. They’re craving genuine dialogue and frank discussions with real people. And we’re in a unique position to offer that to them.  Original angles and fresh POVs are what stand out to this audience.”

So does having a strong opinion on a hot-button issue and sticking to it, adds Saenger. For example, “some people think everyone should be in the office. PI firmly does not. We’ll stick to that, tell you why and how it impacts different people at work.”  

Another authenticity-based marketing tactic PI has been playing with is creating more off-the-cuff content.

“We’re just going to say what we mean, and it might not be super polished, the videos might not be high production, but I think more of that kind of realness is coming out into the B2B space,” says Saenger.

“I imagine we’re speaking to a cohort of HR leaders who are fed up because they’re not given the tools they need to make the impact expected of them, and I hope to see more of their voices and frustrations come out in conversation.” 

Your Next Move 

Saenger takes a moment to muse on the uptick in ‘unhinged content’ she’s been spotting across social and beyond, and how refreshing this filter-off approach is to see, especially in the typically ultra-buttoned up world of HR. 

Take a page out of PI’s book and ask yourself: how might your brand level with your audience and deliver the authenticity they’re craving? How could you be a bit more brazen and say what everyone else is thinking? What would your content say if you said exactly what you meant? Brainstorm that. 

Putting Insights Into Practice

What does putting these HR marketing tactics into practice look like at PI? “Meeting people between what PI wants to say and where people actually are,” says Barks, who points to PI’s Hybrid Work Toolkit, a content campaign that addressed the challenge of employee engagement in a modern-day work environment and tied it back to PI’s core products.

“Engagement has long been this nebulous goal that businesses can’t seem to crack, and it bubbled to the surface in the pandemic,” explains Barks.

“We had the opportunity to speak to the more advanced people implementing hybrid work and the absolute novices by giving them both an avenue that shed light on what was a total gray area.”

This campaign is a prime example of an ownable conversation — a critical framework to follow for producing any modern thought leadership that won’t get lost in the shuffle or hasn’t been covered ad-nauseam. 

Your Next Move

Take PI’s marketing advice and consider how you could apply it to your marketing strategies. How can you find your brand champions (and help build their confidence), mind your funnel (and the content within it), supplement with AI (without leaning too heavily on it), and, most importantly, be real?


Interview & Editing by: Lauren Smith & Emily Noel

Feature Write-Up by: Sonya Matejko