Multi-process HRSourcing

In Focus

What goes through a CEOs mind following a successful conference like NY HR Week 2005?

by Harry Feinberg

At NY HR Week 2005, a content- rich party of 3,710 of our closest friends, more than 20 people came up to us to ask this question: What is your recipe for success? We were flattered. We were unaware of our own success. But the question is worth attempting an answer.

 

First, a step back to May 2002. There was no magazine called HRO Today. There were only human resources magazinesHR Magazine, Workforce and HR Executive. There was no HRO World conference. There were only human resources and BPO eventsthe giant SHRM conference; the HR Technology Conference; the BPO-wide trio of the Sourcing Interest Group, Michael Corbett, and Frank Casales Outsourcing.com; a random assortment of benefits and payroll events; and some European shared services conclaves. In short, there was no media presence for the HRO market, which at that time was a $35 billion basket of disparate assets.

 

In this picture, we clearly saw a market for HRO Today magazine. The launch all came down to a simple math equation. We could launch when we could count 500 vendors who could buy an advertising page. So we started counting. In six weeks, we reached 850. We knew we had a market. And coincidentally, we had a large enough database to publish an annual Resource Guide for buyers.

 

Once we solved our math problem, we started cooking up enough content to feed a monthly magazine. No small feat. Our editorial budget was exactly $0. We assembled a somewhat reliable group of 12 contributors and got ourselves fluent enough to produce 40 pages of HRO specific content every month. The first issue came out in October 2002. And when it appeared, it was a publishing anomalyprofitable in its first issue. We were lean and mean then, housed in a tiny c-class rat hole behind the Target store in Fairfield, New Jersey. Despite our humble and poorly-heated digs, we pumped out potent publications around which the newborn HRO industry started to rally.

 

In December 2002, we decided it was trade show time. But todays conference business is brutally competitive and technical, especially in New York City. So we sought and found a great conference partnerUnicomm, whose track record for consecutive successful show launches is unmatched. The magazine handled content, speakers, and marketing to exhibitors and attendees. Unicomm did the logistics. It was a beautiful relationship that resulted in a strong show, HRO World at the NY Hilton, July 2003. The partnership thrives even today.

 

But just then, a tempest blew into town. Immediately following the HRO World 2003 conference, we were drenched by a tsunami of critics that included competitors, various defenders of the status quo, and a bundle of others who were just plain scared and mean. While we kept selling hard, every day we heard loud calls for our heads on a pike. By over-selling outsourcing, they said, we were driving the worlds economy right down the drain. We were cheerleaders for what our critics called the race to the bottom.

 

But like those born-deaf bunnies who live between airplane runways, we became immune to the noise. We just kept selling. During the run-up to the Presidential election of 2004, the roaring river of rage over outsourcing and offshoring converged with the stream of competitive fear and flooded our house. Hundreds of protestors picketed our conference. Threatening e-mails showed up in our inboxes. Letters arrived promising that every flavor of horror would be visited upon us. Amid this perfect storm, we gathered in our life boat to ride it out. Our life boatour strength, the only thing we really do wellis selling. So we just stayed in the boat. Selling hard kept us afloat.

 

By and by, HRO World evolved into HRO World Europe in Brussels in November 2004. NY HR Week in 2004 begat NY HR Week 2005, which begat LA HR Week 2006. HRO Today magazine birthed HRO Europe magazine in 2003 and FAO Today magazine in 2004.

 

And so, for those of you who asked, that is our miniature story of our secrets of success. See the opportunity clearly, do the math carefully, keep it lean, partner well, know your strengths, build on them, and be relentless. It is a simple formula. Anyone can do it.  

Tags: Multi-process HR, Sourcing

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