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Tag: marketing

Learning to recruit better (3/3)

The project cycle in recruitment is amazingly long.  A job opens up, documents are drawn up and approved, advertisements go out.  We rarely have a chance to change the process while it is in mid-flow; and in any case, that may be illegal.

But what can we learn by thinking like a marketer?  Are we just learning to tweak our advertisements?  Are we learning more about our people, i.e., our market?

The key ideas in this phase revolve around a concept that is really difficult to grasp.  Markets are organic and we need to think about them as it they are ‘alive’ and ‘talking back to us’.  We not only learn about them but we grow through our conversations with them as they do in turn.  But they are influenced not only by us but by other people too.  Herein lies the catch and three goals.

  1. We listen to what the market is saying back. Do we get phone calls asking for more information?  And what are applicants interested in?
  2. What did applicants already know about us and who around them prompted them to call? Are we learning more about the market and personas?
  3. Do we see “welcome” in this group and what is the market pulling us to do?

How can we think about this procedurally?

Anticipate the patterns of calls and questions.  At the start of a recruitment cycle, we should write down whom we expect to call and the questions we expect them to ask.  Is our sense of who will take an interest and when they enter and leave the application process getting updated?

Anticipate the community around the job.  At the start, write down whom we think is interested in this job.  Which mentors and patrons will notice the job and pass it on?  Who is actively watching the recruitment channels and who was alerted by a colleague?  What are we learning about the community around the job?  If you asked callers a question such as do you have colleagues who are applying, what would they say?  Above all, ask if they knew the job was coming up before you advertised it?  Is the job part of wider community or are you trying to forge a relationship with the community?

Anticipate your role in this living thing called the market.  As you listen to the question people ask, then you develop a sense of whether you are part of their world or whether they are applying because you offered a job. We often look for this information, arrogantly, in selection.  But what you are trying to establish in recruitment is whether your recruitment is talking to an established need or if you are having to stimulate that need.  Are we already part of a community?  Did applicants know this job was coming up and did they know because someone told them but because “of course” the job was coming up because there is an internal logic to their community of which we are a part?  Importantly, it also follows that this community, being ‘alive’ is always changing.  We should be getting a sense of this ‘living creature’ and understanding that our relationship with it will change.   Recruitment is not just doing some set piece tasks; it is an expression of this relationship and the next time we recruit, we be going through the entire process again because the market has changed, as have we.

Will a marketing mindset be helpful to you?

Recruiters exist to bridge an organisation with the outside world but most are simply on the periphery without a good sense of what the organisation does and so focused on their commissions that they don’t think very much at all about the community behind the labour supply.  But if you want to write better advertisements and achieve good placements more quickly, that paying some attention to the essential marketing character of recruiting might help you.

 

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How to manage the recruitment process (2/3)

In the academic world, it is the norm to give a contact number of the future line manager who is expected to take calls and talk around the job.  It is amazing how often, though, said contact person is away.   What should applicants read into that?

In the non-academic world, I remember inviting candidates around to look over the job themselves.  Technically, this is called a realistic preview, but it made an enormous impression that they were being taken seriously.  Indeed, I also worked for a university who invited shortlisted candidates in for a week. They were put up in a hotel. Anyone and everyone who wanted to interview them could in addition to the formal interviews.  And candidates were run around the town to see everything that interested them. Sometimes it was schools; sometimes it was the beach.  Their questions were answered.

Are there formal ways to think through our interaction with applicants?

Core value proposition.  What is the core value of the job and how does it relate to the applicants’ core problem that we defined earlier?   Immediately, we see that skipping steps in our homework will cause a problem!  We do need to understand our people as well as the job!

Hook.  Having identified the core value proposition, how can we express it in the simplest terms?

Time to Value.  How quickly will the applicant experience value? What is value to the applicant in the application process?  Now here is a tough one, though probably because we spend so little time thinking about this, we can quickly identify points that would annoy them!  Where is value for them in the recruitment process?  Perhaps helping them find the information they need to make an informed decision?

Stickiness. Who begins this process and who wanders off?  And most importantly, on a 2×2 who arrives whom we sincerely believe might benefit from an employment relationship with us?  And who are we losing?  But specifically, what is that we are doing that helps applicants sift themselves?

Will a marketing mindset help you?

If I am utterly honest, I see so few people manage their entire application process that I would be hesitant to call it.  And if the previous exercises to think through the job and advertisement had not been done, it would be difficult to think clearly about the process.

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How to write a good job advert (1/3)

Recently, some academics complained to the big academic job board, www.jobs.ac.uk, that an advertisement for a lectureship contained exactly one sentence that was useful to the job applicants.   We know that our job advertisements are often bad.  But in truth, most of us have no idea how to fix them.

I think the trick, which I put here for you to consider, is to remember that selection is about prediction but recruitment is about securing supply.  It is marketing.  We want to catch people’s attention but we also want them to pre-select and arrive as marketers put it, pre-qualified.  There is no merit in attracting lot of applications when you only have one job.  It wastes your time and it makes a lot of enemies.  But how do we achieve the twin goals of being noticeable and being useful?

Some marketing terms

Were we to be marketing the latest £1bn FMCG product, we might think in terms of {Category, Personas, Problems, Motivations}.

Category.  In recruiting, we probably assume that Category is just “a job” but we will probably return here to answer the question – what category of product does the customer put you in?  In other words, what would be their alternative if they weren’t using your product?  Gather your competition and you will have some idea of the category, or set, in which you fall.  Sometimes you are surprised by what people would be doing if they weren’t working for you/

Persona.  Who is likely to be interested in this job?  Where have they come from?  Where are they going to?  Who are they taking with them?  Simply imagine candidates that you would very much like to apply and write down who they are – though keep this private because to do it well you must draw out of your imagination details that will be illegal if they remain part of the system. So, if you imagine yourself recruiting a young male, write it down. Then later you can challenge yourself to imagine recruiting a young woman, an older woman or an older male.  Your task here is not to finalise the system but to begin to walk in the shoes of your applicants and to learn too what assumptions you make about them.

Problems.  Now imagine the issues that your applicants have with your category – that is you and your competition (and your competition might be a gap year!).  What questions are candiates likely to ask, not just you, but other people privately?  What are they googling?  What issues have come up with previous incumbents?  I remember being asked by a very senior person where the printer was.  It really irked him that he had to waste time running around to find his stuff.  This was not central to his competence but it pointed me to factors that he was taking into consideration.

Motivations.  What is the motivation behind these problems?  Why are these problems important to the audience?  In the case of the printer, the person wanted to be efficient, didn’t want to do administration and wanted to be respected?  Maybe these are traits I don’t want and I can signal that in the advertisement.  Or maybe, these are traits that I do want and I can indicate the ‘state of the plant’ in the advertisement.  In recruitment, money and location is important.  And so too is not lying about these.  It is amazing how often recruiters do.

Will taking a marketing mindset help you?

I know a lot of recruiters who just can’t be bothered. They don’t really understand the jobs they are filling. And forgetting that they have two audiences, concentrate mainly on what hirer wants.  That is of course, their judgement.

My experience of using marketing in recruitment is that both we successfully fill jobs, and on the first pass.  Moreover, the number of applications plummets by an order of magnitude. We get better replies and we get fewer replies.   We satisfy both our audiences: the hirer and the applicants.

With this little bit of homework, which is quite enjoyable to do, particularly in a group, we write better job advertisements.

 

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What can we do to make this a comfortable place to meet your clients?

Bohu & Tohu (son's cats) by Gattou Lucie via FlickrPlease get us a market. Quickly.

Yesterday, I had a revealing conversation with a senior businessman.  He and his colleagues were looking for a new Business Development Director.   They felt cut off from the world and had disbanded their old BD team.  Their solution was to bring over a retired client from the ‘dark side,’ so to speak, to use his (and it was going to be his) contacts among his former competitors in as their clients. The logic beggars belief.

I like this businessman.  Let’s be clear, as politicians these days like to say.  Let’s be clear.  He is an amiable man who is organized, hard working and very importantly, fair.  He is not a blaming type.  He is definitely open to new interpretations of situations from people whom he hadn’t previously realized had a view.  He’d adapt easily to a fresher more vibrant team and find a surprising and gratifying second career in a more lively atmosphere.

You have one already.  You are just neglecting it.

What an outsider can see, and might dispute, is their belief that they have insufficient contacts with the outside world.  True, they may have let their contacts wither on the vine.  True, they might have poor procedures for making contacts and looking after them.  True, the day-to-day experience in the organization might feel as musty and uncomfortable as a dirty house.

Your market and your home

This analogy will work well.  If you feel no one invites you their house, maybe clean your own and invite people around.  Maybe clean your house and step into the world with a spring in your step.  There is nothing like a cheerful person who looks like they are enjoying life to attract good fortune.  (Bring in the Feng Shui for good measure!  You aren’t going anywhere very  fast right now.  You have nothing to lose and they are not very expensive.)

It really is as simple as making your meeting places attractive

Yes, that’s all they have to do.  Just clean house.  Just go around and ask people – what can we do to make this a comfortable place to meet your clients?

What can we do to make this a comfortable place to meet your clients?

I had a more complicated plan.   But writing this helps.  This is all that is needed!  Just go around the organization and ask: what can we do to make this a comfortable place to meet your clients?

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Personas: A hack used by professionals to imagine people they don’t know well

Shooting in the dark ~ I don’t know these people!

I want you to imagine any situation in which you are preparing to work with someone who you don’t know well.

  • You are going to hire someone and you must write an advert
  • You are going for a job interview
  • You are taking a new class
  • You are going to a party and your host is relying on you to get the party going
  • You are scouting for new business and you are all but cold calling

Personas

In any of the situations, it really helps to write a persona.

We write down a little story of where the person has come from and where they are going to.  How many children do they have?  Who is their partner? What is their immediate concern?  What are the values that have guided their choice in the past?

Sometimes the persona just won’t flow

Once we start writing, sometimes we realize that our expectations don’t hang together.  We can’t make the story “come together.”

That  is the real core of our sense that we don’t ‘know’ people.  We must be able to imagine a coherent story to be comfortable.

Use a character builder

When I get stuck, I find a “character builder” online, fill out the questionnaires, and resolve in my mind all the little details I expect about the person.

The version that I use suggests a Myers-Briggs profile.   It is very good for settling on one persona.

Once I have a coherent picture of someone, then I can imagine what I am going to love about them, and also what I am not going to like.

Here is the key to resolving my ‘stuckness.’  What will I not like about the person? Where must my approach change to be reasonable?

Once I’ve got past this point, I can complete the scenario and write a few more, including scenarios of the person in the context of home, play and work.  Who else will be there and what are their personas?

Useful hack

I hope that’s useful: Use a character builder to help your write personas to understand people you don’t know well

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3rd of secret social media that is being kept from you

Save the cost of the carpets

And the 3rd well-kept secret of social media is that it saves us the cost of wearing out the carpets.

In short, the story goes like this. Social media attracts more ‘window-shoppers’. The window-shoppers hopefully include surprise visits from people outside our target market. We have more people wearing out the carpets and not buying anything. They are also people who are different from our typical customers. To extend the analogy, let’s say they bring mud in on their boots too.

So is social media a good thing. If we have more people who look-see but who don’t buy, do we want them? Aren’t carpets rather expensive?

Yes they are. But in the virtual world, carpets are fairly cheap. But that is not the real point.  In the virtual world, if you are smart, people make carpets for each other.

Let your customers weave the carpet

In a conventional company, we’d be most unhappy if people came to our shop just to party with their friends. That’s because they are using facilities that cost us money. We figure it is cheaper to advertise “off the premises” in magazines and TV than in the shop itself.

In social media, hosting a party costs as lot less. Sometimes it costs us almost nothing per person because the first person invites the second and the second the third, etc.

Let your management report reflect the carpet weaving operation

It is so obvious to anyone in social media but our reports don’t always make this clear.

  • Attracting window-shoppers has negligible cost.
  • If we are smart, we looking out for unusual newcomers. We are using the window-shoppers to help us understand how our market morphs and mutates. We are in business when we understand our market as it is, not how we want it to be.
  • And if we are really smart, our ‘window’ morphs and mutates with the market so people see what they want to see and find what they want to find.

That’s what our reports and metrics should be reflecting.

  • The cost per visitor
  • The changing nature of the market
  • The way we are responding spontaneously to changes in the market and those of our goods and service that our window-shoppers find attractive.

Now, I told you the secrets for free. I’d be happy to know what you think of them!

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1st secret that social media marketers have been keeping to themselves

Welcome to the first of the secrets social media marketers don’t tell you. Your job is not to get bigger. Your job is to change your market entirely!  Read on, and tell me if you agree that social media marketers have been oddly silent in this regard!

Conventional marketing requires massive numbers

The industrial age works on size. To make things cheap, we must make a lot. To make a profit from things that are cheap, we must sell a lot.

Competition is fierce. Look-a-likes are everywhere and the consumer is dazzled by choice and confused by the advertising that is in their face where ever they look.

It’s a vicious circle. To be noticed, we must get out there and compete with other advertising. So we add some more. And the competition is ramped up.

In the end, consumers learn to blank out and pay no attention to us.

Marketers are smart; they look for qualified customers

Marketers are on to this problem and they try to find ‘qualified customers’. They try to pay attention to people who have self-selected in some way.  So they sell us a loyalty card and once they have our email address, they bombard us with emails for ever after.

Google gives us free email. Then they serve adverts to match the content of our messages.

Both Google and Marketers are very numbers oriented and they very clinically track the number of ads we click and the emails we open (did you know that?). Google is happy with a 0.5% click through rate (CTR). They are happy if 1 out of 200 partially qualified customers responds to an ad and clicks on it.

It seems we open 2 to 3% of marketing ad that are sent to us. The rest are deleted unopened.

Social media marketers are even smarter; they know we listen to our friends

Social media works on a simple principle. We are more likely to open an email sent by friend than by a  company. Our open rate might even go up to 10%! (Do you leave 90% of email from friends unopened? It seems people do.)

Even with this ‘unopen’ rate, the increase from 0.5% to 2% to 10% is large enough to make the social media effect, or echo chamber effect, very interesting to marketers.

Why these tactics aren’t the whole story

These three tactics

  • Do more. Get more
  • Talk to people who are interested. They buy more
  • Get people to bring their friends. Half the selling is done by a friend’s recommendations

are good, but not enough. This is why.

We have worked hard to get more people. We carefully talk only to people already interested in us.  And they bring their friends.  I am all for focus and specialization but our market is getting smaller and smaller.

And it will continue to get smaller. Our personal networks and habits are changing continually. Slowly, but continually. We shed friends and gain friends the way we shed our skins. Slowly, but surely.

Social media marketers are oddly quiet about the way we replenish and refresh our networks.  This is where I think we should pay more attention.

An example from classical marketing

Coca-cola, the masters of classical marketing don’t change their product from decade to decade (lest its consumers revolt as they once did).  Nonetheless, they continually renew their relationship with the market.

Long before we we gave Gen Y a name, Coca-cola had worked out their character and formulated their market response.

They also continually look for new channels. I remember the day they put a cool box onto the mini-buses that work the streets of Johannesburg. Coca-cola have people whose sole job is to find new channels. That’s what social media should be doing!

What we learn from classical marketing that social media marketers have kept quiet

Yes, it is cool to expand our current customer base. Yes, it is cool to strengthen our market with connections between customers. Yes, it is cool to listen to what our customers are saying and to give them what they want.

It is also smart to add change to constancy. We should also ask whom of our visitors are new – not only in name but in character and need. We should challenge our social media analysts to come up with something like a new channel – something refreshingly surprising about the market.

  • What do we understand that we never understood before?
  • Who has come window shopping who never came before?

Social media marketers have been holding out on us. Our job is not only to get more customers – tough as that might be.  Our job is to map the changing landscape. I haven’t seen any metrics yet that report change.  That’s where the value is.

Next of the three secrets tomorrow!

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3 opportunities that social media marketers don’t talk about

We don’t want them to wear out the carpets

There is an old saying in business: we don’t want them to wear out the carpets.  We want inquiries, but only from people who actually buy something.  Here endeth the lesson on selling. We will sell far more to people who are genuinely interested and who have a means to pay.

Social media shock: we need to supply carpet for 200x our customers

And there beginneth the lesson on social media.  Social media specialists, beginning with Google Alerts, concentrate our attention on the numbers.

  • How many people did we reach? (Hits)
  • Did they pay attention? (Time on the site)
  • Did we invoke curiosity? (Did they explore the site?)
  • Did we get them to take an action that shows interest & intent? (A goal in Google Alerts-speak)

Getting hits is hard and getting people to stay and explore is hard.

Conversion – taking the first step to a sale is even harder.  It is shocking the first time we realize that 0.5% of people click on an advert.  That is 1 out of 200 of people wearing out your digital carpets are actually looking for something to buy.  And those 1 out of 200 don’t necessarily buy anything.

Maybe we need carpets for 1000x our customers!

Social media is advanced window shopping

Social media is advanced window shopping.  Surf.  It says it all.  It’s like going to the mall with no money and no credit card. Well, people do.  I don’t understand.  I assume they have nothing else to do.  Or maybe they have cunningly cut costs on the gym by doing their surfing on foot.

But to my point:  marketers have brought their finely-tuned focus to the web.  It’s great to have Google Alerts, to drive up our hits and get people to read and explore our content. It’s real cool when someone transforms from lurker to commentator and contacts you.  It’s rip-roaring-fantastic when they suggest some collaborative action.

Thank you marketers.   Because carpets are  expensive we must try to get the people on them to buy something!

This is all a bit industrial age, isn’t it?

What marketers don’t seem to talk about is this:  if the same people come day after day, and the same people look (very nice, welcome!), our business will never grow.

We can get more hits, and in theory as we move from 200 to 400, we should go from 1 enquiry per day to 2. Fine.   Good prediction. Throw in some natural variability and some days we get none and others more than 2.

We can confirm all of this with some elementary high school statistics.

The point is that the underlying dynamics stay the same.  Getting bigger to get richer is the thinking of the industrial age.

What marketers don’t tell us

Social media gives us three new opportunities.

1.  Reach different people. Completely change the market.

2.  Move up the value chain.  Get a higher margin per hit.

3.  Cut out the cost of replacing the carpets.

Come back tomorrow if you want more.  See you then!  The Welcome mat is out.  I’ve still got carpets!  At least for a while!

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The not-so Artful Dodgers! Networking in post-Thatcher Britain

Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger in Oliver!, the...
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In brisk, post-Thatcher Britain, we go to a lot of networking gigs

Post-Thatcher Britain, you may know, is an elbows-out sort-of-place.  Everyone is touting their wares like a scene out Dickensian Britain.  Do you remember the song “Who will buy?” from Oliver.  Well, it is like that. Except, people don’t sing so well.

Wannabe Artful Dodgers

There are wannabe Artful Dodgers at every gig.  They are not up to making-off with your wallet and silk handkerchief.  But you can see that is why they joined such a convenient crowd!

Fagin will be unhappy

When they get home, they will be in trouble with Fagin, their conscience, who asks them the wrong questions.

  • How many business cards did you give out?
  • How many business cards did you collect?
  • How much free food and drink did you score?
  • Did you find someone to give you some work?

They need to get a better conscience and a better Fagin to ask them these questions:

#1  Did they promise at least 5 favors to at least 5 different people?

If there weren’t at least 5 people at the gig who needed something they could do with their littte finger, they are sooo at the wrong gig, or soooo under-qualified to eat and drink with those people

If they were the Artful Dodger, they would pick a neighborhood better suited to their skills, or start to behave like the people in the neighborhood they’d chosen.

Or, they were so obsessed with themselves, they found out nothing about the other people there.

If they were the Artful Dodger, they would start to watch the crowd while Oliver stood in the shadows, singing mournful songs!

#2  Did 5 different people offer them 5 different favors?

Hmm, did they look at a lot of gift-horses in the mouth?  Maybe they talk too much and not give the other person even a few seconds to chip in and some assistance?

Oliver got help from all over because he was cute and un-pushy.  The Artful Dodger was admired but never got help from  anyone.

Had he washed his face, people may have helped him.  But then he wouldn’t be the Artful Dodger!

I suppose we really have to decide whether we want to work sooo hard or whether want to let luck find us!

#3  Did the person they help, or the person who took their card, write to say thank you?

Did they just hand out their cards like a free newspaper and walk away?  Or did they stay with the conversation to the point that they could offer to do something specific for the other person? Or ask them to do something specific and useful? Did they take the conversation through the stages of forming, storming, norming to performing?  Or. did they jump from forming to adjourning?

The Artful Dodger knew the endpoint – to hand his pickings over to Fagin.  But he didn’t jump there in one fell swoop. He watched, he followed, he ducked, he dived.  He fell into the other person’s rhythm.  Then he cleanly picked the other pocket and moved the contents smoothly to his own!

#4  Did they write to thank people who gave them their card?

Did they have anything at all to say to the people with whom they spent an evening?  Did they waste more time by sending an automated message when they got home?  Or did they talk to people in sufficient depth to remember them and be remembered?  Does their note reflect something they ‘did’ together?

The Artful Dodger would remember the people he met -more clearly than they would remember him.  He would know exactly how many pockets in each person’s suit, and exactly what is in them!

Which is your next networking event?

Maybe I will see you there!  I hope I remember you and you me!

I wonder what we have in common and what we could do for in each other, right there, in the few moments we share together!

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At last, it’s here! The positive psychology of marketing!

We are perishing for a want of wonder not a want of wonders.

G. K. Chesterton

Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Brand Marketing and Brand Management, Ogilivy, speaking at TED.

For social media types, check 15:30 for the positive psychology value of social media.

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