Skip to main content

How Referrals, Testimonials and Awards are the Brand Currency for Business


November 21, 2014

By Dan Campbell

This article was originally published on

Temporary and contract workers continue to gain share of the employee base as companies try to align the shifts in human capital strategies with the preferences of an increasingly mobile workforce. This trend, along with the growing skills gap and shortage of skilled labor, are leading more organizations to staffing companies for outsourced help to meet these changing demands. With our industry in the midst of an upswing cycle, it’s a prime opportunity to focus on building brand awareness and, to borrow from leadership expert Ken Blanchard, activating raving fans to build credibility for our companies and staffing at large.

Doing this correctly requires a heightened sense of self-awareness — a characteristic often cited for successful leaders, but I believe, should also reside at the organizational level. Being self-aware as a company is challenging because it requires continual analysis of what is working and what isn’t and collective buy-in on how to right the ship. But it’s that process that fosters consistency, a key element to building credibility.

Credibility is also relative. People believe actions more than words, and in particular, the actions that they and others they trust have experienced directly. In the eighth annual “Opportunities in Staffing” study by Clearly Rated and CareerBuilder, referrals, testimonials and third-party awards are noted as the top three most trusted sources of information reflective of the quality of a staffing company. It’s clear all these are derived from the experience clients and candidates have while working with a firm. It’s our relationships that earn us trust.

In fact, the same study found that just 4 percent of clients and job candidates trust staffing firm advertisements when judging the quality of a firm they are considering: “Resources without a vested interest in the potential client or job candidate selecting your firm tend to be seen as far more credible than communication vehicles controlled by your firm (advertising, sales representatives, your website, etc.).” So while we all will continue to have a website and sales reps and marketing initiatives as part of our operational framework, making sure we’re maximizing other opportunities to tell our story is important as well.

The focus placed on delivering an exceptional experience should then be followed up by helping “fans” share that experience. Where are your target audiences and how are they connecting? What role can social channels play? Referrals and testimonials can be mined like business currency because of the true value they bring to an organization.

Similarly, receiving awards or recognitions for industry leadership, community or civic involvement, and a top-class business environment are as beneficial for internal stakeholders as external. Beyond the immediate benefits of being named a leader in staffing or recognized for a dynamic company culture, internal teams will begin to develop an awareness and sense of pride around the way the company performs. As explained by Fred Reichheld, founder of Bain & Company’s Loyalty Practice and creator of the Net Promoter Score system, this is important because, “No company has ever proven (especially in the service industry) that you can maintain client loyalty without first having employee loyalty.” Externally, it is hard to not consider that a company is doing something right if third-party endorsements show a pattern of exceptional business practices.

Creating a referral-worthy experience is an ongoing effort and a perpetual initiative at every level of the organization. It should lead to positive results on the back-end of the business if your company is proactive in leveraging advocates’ recommendations and third-party awards. But class and humility are important here. While industry recognition signifies success, it’s the client wins — finding the perfect candidate for a hard-to-fill role or candidate stories and cross-company referrals — that make up those positive experiences and lasting impressions.

Article can be found on Staffingindustry.