Steven Edwards
CEO Premier Virtual Follow

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 231. Today we’ll be talking to Steve from Premier Virtual about use case or business case for why his customers choose Premier Virtual.

Premier Virtual is a virtual platform where the end user can run a career fair online without all the travel expense.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William

Show length: 25 minutes

Excel Powertools Shally Steckerl

 

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Music: 00:02 Welcome to Recruiting Daily’s Use Case podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens, or should happen, when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better, as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do.

Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William Tincup: 00:26 Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the use case podcast. Today, we have Steve on from Premier Virtual. You’ll be learning about the business case, the use case, his prospects that customers use for Premier Virtual.

So Steve, would you do us a favor, and introduce both yourself and Premier Virtual?

Steve Edwards: 00:45 William, thanks for having me today. My name is Steve Edwards. I’m the CEO of Premier Virtual. I’m an army veteran. Got out of the army, moved to Florida, got into the recruiting business, and did job fairs for nine years. And then in 2018, I saw a big slowdown in the job fair market. Found out about virtual job fairs. Started hosting my own virtual job fairs, and realized that, hey, instead of hosting the events, I should build a platform, and let other people host their own events.

And so, we built the Premier Virtual platform in 2019, developed it all 2019, launched it in January of 2020, right before COVID hit. And now, we’ve hosted or powered over 6,000 virtual hiring events on the platform. The largest was the state of Massachusetts did a job fair that had 1,700 companies, 17,000 job seekers, over 1.3 million company booth views all in a week’s time. Organizations are hosting national hiring events. Things that couldn’t be done before, or could be done, but people didn’t realize, and didn’t understand it.

Premier Virtual hosts hiring events, a one day hiring event for a company, down to their virtual hiring rooms. It’s open 24/7, where candidates can come in, answer questions, do a create their own video interview on the platform, and then chat, and do a video interview right on the spot with companies. There’s no waiting now. No waiting in long lines or queues.

William Tincup: 02:24 I love that. We’re going to unpack a bunch of things, but as a veteran, thank you for your service to our country. I appreciate that.

Steve Edwards: 02:32 Absolutely.

William Tincup: 02:34 In the last two and a half years-ish, what have you learned makes a successful virtual event? What are some of the key ingredients?

Steve Edwards: 02:44 There’s three key ingredients to a successful virtual hiring event. Number one is the platform you use. And I’m not just saying that because Premier Virtual, right? And I don’t care if it’s a trade show or a job fair, the platform to me is one of the most important things out there because you can’t think about what you, and I’m going to use you, William, you can’t think about what William likes, you have to think about your end user, right? What’s your audience out there? Is it easy to use? Is it intuitive? Is it sexy out there?

When we developed it, I went to my development team, and I said, “Listen, I need it to be easy and sexy. That’s it.” Right? “Here’s what I want. Build it like that.” But the number one thing is the platform you use. The number two thing is the marketing event. If nobody knows about your event, nobody’s going to come to your event, right?

And the third aspect is really the reminders. Is reminding people, right? A candidate registers for a job fair, three weeks from now, it’s off their mind 10 seconds later. You have to remind them, right? We actually built in reminders. Our platform averages almost 80% login ratio for candidates that register for the event that show up, which is substantially higher than almost anybody else. And at the in-person job fairs, most companies were averaging less than a 30% show rate.

If you think about that, if 100 people register for an in-person event, 30 show. For a virtual, 80 show. That’s a phenomenal number that can be there. Not only does it can it show, but it makes the clients happy because people are actually showing up to these events. You do those three things, the virtual job fair is easy.

William Tincup: 04:38 Let’s unpack all three. We’ll start with platform. What are the essential parts of the platform? For, again, we’re thinking about candidates, hiring managers, recruiters, sources, all the different people that might be involved in this, what’s important to them when they evaluate platforms?

Steve Edwards: 04:57 The first thing they’re going to look at is, one, how easy is it to set up an event? Okay? And really, there’s three aspects to every event. You have your host of the event, you have your organization or employers, you have your attendees or job seekers. From the host standpoint, how easy can I set up my event? Is it a long process? And then, what kind of analytics do I get from it? Do I know, can I track what’s happening before the event? I always like to say our analytics track before, during, and after the event.

Before, you can track what days your attendees and organizations are registering. If you’re out there spending money on marketing, getting your name out there, and you see you have a huge spike one day because you put money into let’s say TikTok. You said, “I did a big campaign on TikTok today, and it skyrocketed.” The next day, you put it on Instagram, and it went up a little bit, and then the next day, you did Facebook, and you got nothing, well, you know I’m going to spend my money on TikTok.

You can track where your marketing dollars are going based on how it’s registered. During the event, we have live analytics, so you’re going to be able to see what’s going on. How many people are chatting? How many people are visiting booths? What booths are the busiest? What jobs are getting the most resume submitted to? You can track all that data.

And then after the event, you can analyze all that data to see, okay, what happened? This company, how many people submitted their resumes, jobs? What jobs do they submit resumes to? You have analytics. Okay? From the hosts, you have the ease of use, and then the analytics. Okay? Because especially if they’re charging their companies for these events, they need to know their ROI, and they can pull all those analytics right from the platform.

Then for the organizations, we have specific setup wizards for that. It literally walks them through the setting up, right? It’s got to be easy for them. It can’t be difficult to set up, right? We built it so it’s all copy and paste. You want to copy your website, your Facebook page? You copy that, and whatever you copy and put it into the profile. You can edit your booth, edit your avatar, making it fun, where that company can really showcase their information.

If I come to your booth, can I see what your company does, see your jobs, submit my resume, research a company, and get into an interaction with that company pretty quickly, or do I have to wait in this long queue to hopefully somebody’ll talk to me in an event? We built it to get them immediately right to those companies there. They can schedule the interview right through the platform.

And then, the same thing with the candidates, right? It’s how easy can I set up my profile? Can I put all of my experience? Because we believe a candidate is more than just a resume. So many people have a resume, right? They have a generic resume. They go to an in-person job fair, or a virtual job fair, and it’s one generic resume. We allow them to upload multiple resumes.

They can also create all of their experience, and put their experience in there so a recruiter doesn’t have to read a resume. They can look, is this experience in there? Do they have any certifications? Do they have military security clearance? What do they have in there?

They can also answer some video questions. Not only is it a one-on-one video, a host could put questions like, “Tell me about yourself. Why should we hire you?” So organizations can actually get a glimpse of this candidate before they ever meet with them. It’s a full profile, not just a resume.

And then, on the candidate side, have the analytics for them as well. We know most candidates don’t take notes at a job fair, right? They don’t remember who they submitted their resumes to. We actually put all that analytics in the platform so a candidate can see, “Okay, who did I speak with? Who was I interested in? Who did I leave notes on? Did I rank my companies of here’s the ones I liked, here’s the ones I didn’t like?” All of that’s there.

And then, the best aspect is the interactions, right? Companies and candidates can either chat with each other in a one on one chat. They could get in a one on one video, they could get in a group video, or they could get in a webinar all in a matter of seconds. Anything that you can do on Zoom, you can do directly within our platform, and they don’t have to go outside of the platform to be able to do all that.

William Tincup: 09:31 I love that. Okay. Marketing, because this touches my heart. Marketing of the event. It’s not a set it and hope.

Steve Edwards: 09:40 Yup. No, it’s not. You know what? I forgot to say one thing. Before you say the marketing is also, when the host, when they’re creating the analytics, it’s how you set up the event as well is very key to the success of the event. And-

William Tincup: 09:56 Tell me a little bit about that.

Steve Edwards: 09:57 Right. What I mean is if you think about this, if you go in and you close your eyes right now, and you think about walking into a big trade show, what do you see? You see a bunch of booths out there with signs, and you don’t know. And you got to walk up, and you got to wait in line. If that’s at a job fair, and people are going, they wait in line, right? Let’s just say they’re the 10th candidate in line, they’re waiting there, they’re excited. They get up to the front of the line after 15 to 20 minutes waiting. They hand their resume and say, “Hey, my name is Steve, and I’m looking for an engineering job,” and they’re like, “Sorry. We’re only looking for accounts.” Well, guess what? You wasted all of that time because you didn’t know what job was there. Okay?

Now, I want you to think about from the recruiter side, if the 11th candidate was the perfect candidates, and they had to talk to all these other people to get to the 11th candidate, it’s not efficient for them. Okay? When these organizations, or these hosts are setting up an event, they can create a lobby.

Now, think of a lobby like this. When you go to a job board, what do you do? You say, “I’m looking for a sales job in Fort Lauderdale,” and it’s going to only show you those companies that are there. When these hosts, they create this lobby, they can have locations, industries, job titles, different types of schools, right? We do a lot with the education world. If they can come in.

When that candidate comes into that lobby, they can say, “Okay. I click on Fort Lauderdale, I click on engineering, and just the companies are there in engineering.” Now, when I go in, and I talk to that recruiter, and I see that, I’m talking to the right recruiter, and the right recruiter’s talking to me. You’re putting the right candidate with the right recruiter in a more efficient process, all because you set that up.

It doesn’t waste the candidate’s time having to search through hundreds of companies. If you think about a job fair that has 200 companies, a candidate comes in, and if they don’t have a lobby that’s created to make it efficient, they’re going to click on, well, company one doesn’t have their job, company two, company, three, company four, company five, company six, if they don’t have their jobs, they log off. Right? That candidate is gone, right?

And I explain this to companies, and I always ask, if a company’s saying, “Hey, we don’t want to do that,” I ask them this question. I said, “Okay. If I have three candidates, candidate A was in the event for 15 minutes, candidate B was in for an hour, and candidate three was in for three hours into the event, who was more efficient? Who had the best event?” And every one of them says, “Well, the one who was in three hours, because they were in the longest.”

And I go, “Okay. Now, I want you to think about this. That candidate was in there for three hours, logged into the event, went into one booth, and then all of a sudden, took a call from their girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, whoever, and they sat there, and they were on the phone the whole time. Then, Jerry Springer came on, they kicked up their feet, and they’re watching TV, and they forgot they’re logged in.”

But they didn’t really do anything. The second candidate was in for an hour. They went around, they did some things. They didn’t really do anything. The candidate was in for 15 minutes, went in, saw the companies they want to talk to, set up their interviews, scheduled interviews either during that day on the platform or after the platform, and was done. And they’re like, “Oh, that makes a lot of sense.” It’s all about setting up, and setting the right expectations for your recruiters as well as the candidates.

William Tincup: 13:23 Fantastic. Thank you so much. No marketing. What should folks think about as the marketing of events?

Steve Edwards: 13:30 Marketing is I tell everybody don’t only market in one spot. And I like to use marketing as I like to talk about dating. Okay? People think I’m a little nuts, but I get a lot of crazy ideas. Okay?

When I was out single, now I’m happily married, two kids and everything, but when I was single, I believed if you only looked in one place, if I only looked in the bar, I’m only going to find people in a bar. If I only went to church, I only find people in church, right? If I only went to the grocery store at 6:00 on a Sunday afternoon, I only found those type of people. But if I looked everywhere, that’s when you end up finding the right person.

And I look at the same thing with marketing. If you only advertise on Facebook, you’re only going to get those people on Facebook. You have to advertise everywhere. And what a lot of people don’t understand is there’s a lot of free marketing that’s out there. When if you’re doing a hiring event, let’s just say you’re an individual company, and you’re hiring in West Palm Beach, Florida, you can go to the news stations, right? Every city out there has an NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox affiliate. You can go to their website, put breaking news, and say hiring event. And you say, “Hey, our company is hiring this.” A lot of people don’t understand that. You can go to their website, and put on a calendar event on the news’s website to get, say, “Hey, we’re having a hiring event.

Free marketing is great out there. Social media, tagging companies. If you’re a host of the event, and you have let’s say 100 companies, well, when you post that, you want to tag every single company that’s out there. Because then, they are going to either retweet it, repost it, whatever it is. It’s getting that marketing that’s free.

Yes, you got to use job boards a little bit out there. You’re going to have to be able to put something out there. Now, some job boards don’t allow you to post a job fair, but you can have an individual company hiring event, and put that information on there. That’s just there’s going to be some paid aspects. Most companies, you can go to your local colleges that are out there, and put that on there.

If you’re a company that’s doing a national hiring event or a regional hiring event, you can go out, and you can do press releases. There’s organizations that are out there that you could spend $300 to do a national press release that’s out there, and that’s going to get to a bunch of different magazines. There’s also companies where you can buy media lists, where you could then in turn say if you’re doing a statewide job fair in Massachusetts, you could do a press release to all of the local news stations, newspapers as well, just by having those lists.

When Massachusetts did it, they actually put it on at the Fenway Park. On the big jumbotron, they announced their job fair right on the jumbotron. Now, those are the things that cost money. I’m not saying everything’s free out there. You’re going to have to put some money in. Because you can’t just say, “Hey, I’m going to have an event.” And we’ve had people, right? They’ll say, “Hey, I’m going to have an event, and we’re a big name,” but then they don’t market it, and they’re like, “Yeah, it wasn’t successful.” Well, why wasn’t it successful? Because nobody knew about it.

William Tincup: 17:02 Well, and ultimately, the way you flipped this around, which is wonderful, is you’ve got to think of your audience. At the end of the day, your audience is all a confluence of that host, the employees or employers. And again, those are going to be specific to who they’re trying to hire. Give us some examples of different type of bespoke events that you’ve seen some of your customers use that have been really, really effective.

Steve Edwards: 17:35 You mean just different types of events that have been on the platform?

William Tincup: 17:37 Yeah. I’m thinking about diversity events, or early stage career events, or just I don’t want to …

Steve Edwards: 17:43 And there’s been so many. Again, I love to mention the Massachusetts one, just because it had so many companies, right? 1,700 companies. There was over I think it was 42,000 available jobs during that event. That’s unheard of it. And that can’t be done in-person. Now, that was the record breaking, largest ever job fair out there. That doesn’t happen on a daily basis.

We’ve had other events where they’ve had statewide veteran job fairs that have been here at Florida. When they did their every November, which most states do some type of veteran hiring event, Florida used our platform, Texas used our platform. We’ve had events on it’s called Claim Your career showcase, which was for high school kids. They had West Palm Beach did an event with all of the high school kids where they could log in, look for internships for the summer, part-time jobs. They could meet with colleges. They could meet with potential employers that they were interested in, so they could talk to them about the types of jobs that they had out there.

We’ve had organizations that use our platform just for a registration page. Instead of using Eventbrite, which again, on the marketing side, having your event posting on Eventbrite is not a bad thing, because people look at Eventbrite a lot. Again, you can get that free advertising, but they use our platform as their registration page.

Walt Disney World up in Florida is they have their hiring events that’s through Career Source in Orlando, and Career Source is a big client of ours. They’ll do individual hiring events, but they’re using our platform as the registration because they get the candidates full profile. Not just a resume, not just somebody saying, “Hey, I’m going to come to an event.”

We have a lot of European events that’ll come in that are doing right out of college. We work with quite a few colleges that they do their job fairs. We work with a couple fraternities that are out there. Some social, some business fraternities that they do there. Like the accounting fraternity, they’ll do at some of the colleges. Or instead of doing the in-person aspect, they’re doing the virtual aspect of it.

We work with some job fair companies that do their diversity hiring events through the platform. Really, it can be done for anything. Companies doing national hiring events. Sodexo just did a national hiring event. Amazon’s getting ready to do another national hiring event on our platform.

We just had a really cool event, which was a class out of Houston, at one of the colleges in Houston. It was their sales class. What they had to do is they had to get a company to be involved in the job fair, and that’s how they got graded was if they got a company or not. Then, they had to get the company in. Each student in the class had to get a job fair, because these were all sales students, they had to get a company into the event, and then they had to attend the event, because they were all looking for jobs at their college. Salesforce was on there, Facebook, Oracle. All these huge names were students that got these companies that were on the platform.

We got, yeah, so we have FAU, which is it’s local here. We’re in South Florida, and we do some stuff with them, and they actually approached me and they said, “Hey, we have our entrepreneur and marketing class. They have to do a project, and would you take on these interns?”

I have four, and they’re doing a project right now. It’s a state of Florida, and it’s called Love Your Career Virtual Career Week. What they’re doing is they’re getting with the news stations so that the news stations can do an event for their local area where candidates, especially in Florida, so many people are moving down here to Florida, and it’s finding the job that you love, right? Everybody’s talking about the great resignation, and everything out there. They put together a proposal to me, and I donated my platform to the students so they could go out, and have a statewide Love Your Career Virtual Career Week.

William Tincup: 22:26 I love that. Okay. Last thing is buying questions. When someone’s looking at a platform like this, like Premier Virtual, what are the questions that they should be asking? Whether or not it’s a switch, or whether or not they’ve done it the old fashioned way, visited campuses, et cetera, whatever, or they’ve held events the old fashioned way, what are the buying questions that they should be asking?

Steve Edwards: 22:52 Yeah. I got to tell you, I’ve been on a lot of podcasts over the last year, and that’s probably my favorite question I’ve ever got. I have never received that question before, and I love that. That’s, William, that’s probably the best question that you could ask me to go out there.

One of the things, obviously people look at price, okay? But price means a lot of different things out there, right? To me, it’s not just the price, it’s the value of what you are getting with the platform. Because a lot of people out there, if I tell you, “Hey, here’s my price,” and you’re like, “Well, Zoom is $19 a month.” Okay. Well, Zoom is one aspect of what is in our platform. And we’re very in the mid tier of where the prices are at in the virtual platform, and stuff like that, but what they need to find out when they ask about price is what does that price include? Okay?

And the reason they have to find out about that is because a lot of my competitors out there, they’ll tell you, “Here’s the price,” but then there’s add-on fees. So that you’re limited to the number of organizations, you’re limited to the number of attendees, you’re limited the number of video minutes that you can have, you’re limited the downloads that you can have, you’re limited the time of the events, you’re limited the number of events you can have on there. People will say, “Okay. Here’s my price,” but then they have these other things that are on top of that, and they don’t tell you that up front.

William Tincup: 24:32 Feels a little bit like bait and switch.

Steve Edwards: 24:34 100%, right? And that’s where we have flat rate pricing. If you have it, it doesn’t matter how many attendees, how many organizations, that state of Massachusetts event, right? They were able to budget for that, because that was in their plan that they had right in their unlimited plan. Where if that was my competitors, it would’ve cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars, because they would’ve been hit with all of these fees after the event’s over. You can’t budget for that kind of stuff.

Now, they’ll say, “Well, we don’t think we’re going to have over that,” but then if you have too much, all of a sudden you get hit. And we’ve seen some of these where they’ll charge 50 cents to a dollar per candidate over 200 candidates.

William Tincup: 25:12 Right.

Steve Edwards: 25:12 Right?

William Tincup: 25:12 Yeah. You’re almost punishing them for being successful.

Steve Edwards: 25:16 Correct. And that’s where I’m very on the pricing.

The second thing is, again, back onto the pricing is what comes in that, too, right? Does training come in that? Do you have a dedicated client success? We’ve seen some of the people out there are like, “You only get one hour of training to start, and that’s it. Then, everything else is videos,” or, “You only get a webinar, and that’s it. If you want more training, you got to pay for that.”

Look at all those things. We have a dedicated client success team that all they do is train. We’ve had one organization, like that Massachusetts event, I think we have 15 different trainings for the organizations that were going to be on the platform that day. Because not only do we train the host, we train the organizations. I’ve been on Instagram live for candidates with colleges where they could come in, and ask me questions of what to do during this event.

The second thing is is if you’re looking to be able to host multiple events out there, if you’re looking at a single event, again, the pricing’s going to be there. Make sure there’s no add-ons, and stuff like that. But everybody has some type of package that’s multiple events, or anything that, but when you’re looking at an annual agreement, you really want to dig into what does that annual agreement mean? And the reason I say that is because you have some of the competitors out there say, “Hey, it’s an unlimited package, but you can’t do an event within 14 days of each other.” Okay?

William Tincup: 26:38 It’s not really unlimited.

Steve Edwards: 26:40 That’s a max of 26 events a year you can do that. And then, they say, another one says, “Hey, you have it unlimited, but you have to only put it when we tell you you can. And our first time that you can put it on our calendar is 10 weeks from now.” Well, what if I need one tomorrow?

You were looking at that like, again, with us, it’s our unlimited package means if you wanted to have an event on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you could. And guess what? All that analytics and data stays there for each event, each event is specific, where some of these other companies is once you go to do another event, you got to delete all that other [inaudible 00:27:14], right? And you got to really look at what that is.

Every virtual platform out there has some very positive things out there. Every one of them has some name clients. When you get on, that’s what a lot of them are going to say is, “Hey, we have this. We have this reviews on this,” right? “We’re top rated on G2 and Capterra.” Well, some of my competitors are as well, right? They have that. But to really dig in to find out the price and the value, and what they’re going to do.

And I also tell every client that we do a demo with is if you’re out there shopping, and you don’t really understand platforms, or you haven’t been on one in a while, what you need to do is do your rounds, your rounds of demos, and then tell the companies out there, “Okay. I’ve narrowed it down to my final three companies, and I want to do demos again.” Because what you’re going to see out there is some of them tell you, “Well, here’s a video. We already did a demo. Let me know if you have any other questions.” If they treat you like that upfront-

William Tincup: 28:21 That’s how you’re going to be triggered.

Steve Edwards: 28:22 … how are they going to treat you once you’re a client?

William Tincup: 28:23 That’s right.

Steve Edwards: 28:25 You’re really looking at what’s that aspect of how are they going to take care of you upfront? And ask for recommendations, right? Everybody has on their website, they have testimonials, and stuff like that. We give clients out and say, “Hey, call our clients. Ask them what they thought. Ask them the hard questions,” right? Every person that’s doing the demo out there can tell you why their platform’s the best, what’s going on out there. I know all my competition, and I know why we’re better than them. You’ll never hear me say, “Hey, this company is terrible. Don’t use them.” I’m going to say, “Hey, what are you looking for?” If they’re asking the questions. “Well, here’s what we do, and here’s how we do things just a little bit different, and a little bit better out there.”

William Tincup: 29:11 Drops mic, walks off stage.

Steve, this has been fantastic. Fantastic for the audience, especially as they look at really the future of recruiting, and the future of events as it relates to recruiting. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, and carving out time for us.

Steve Edwards: 29:29 All right, thank you, and I appreciate it. Anybody, when they think about recruiters, and this is specifically for recruiters out there, you all know how you recruited in 2019 is different than what you do here. Millennials, Gen Z, and everybody younger are used to having their phones in their pocket. Virtual is here to stay. National hiring events, regional hiring events for individual companies, hiring days, virtual hiring rooms, that’s the future.

William Tincup: 29:59 I love it. Thank you so much, my friend. Thanks for everyone listening to the use case podcast. Until next time.

Music: 30:07 You’ve been listening to Recruiting Daily’s Use Case podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform, and hit us up at recruitingdaily.com.

The Use Case Podcast

Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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