I was going through some old files when I stumbled across an article I wrote back in 2006. I skimmed it and thought that it still held its relevance today. If you would, check it out and let me know what you think of it? Thanks!
If you are a night owl like me, then you have a love/hate relationship with infomercials. If you are an impulse buyer and you can’t sleep, well it’s a perfect time to evaluate the hidden treasures presented to you by celebrities and pitchmen. On the other hand, seeing infomercials on the tube can remind you that you are up much than you probably need to be. I always sort of wondered about those infomercial guys. I mean, they must make money, otherwise why would they be there night after night after night? I think the real question I’m asking myself is, “How are they communicating a message (that gets through) to consumers that are willing to buy at a time that is (presumably) least convenient?” And more importantly, how could I leverage their more successful strategies in recruiting candidates?
Before I answer those and other questions, let me give you a crash course on infomercials. To understand the infomercial space, you have to know Timothy Hawthorne. Hawthorne is “King of the infomercial” having produced infomercials since 1986 when he created Hawthorne Direct, the nation’s first infomercial advertising agency.
“I don’t consider myself an advertising guy. I’m more of an audiovisual communicator.”
“An effective infomercial embeds a product in a tale of hope and transformation that entertains, delights, and persuades.”
“Infomercial marketers combine rigorous product development, exhaustive consumer targeting and daily scrutiny of advertising rates to create pitches that can be refined to maximize sales.”
“Creating an effective infomercial is hard work – about one in 60 turns a profit…”
“Drama motivates buyers.” That’s why diet infomercials feature “then” and “now” photos.
After soaking the article in and rethinking some of the infomercials I glanced over previously, the hamster in my brain began to run amok and I came up with… the obvious. Check out this recruitment formula. I call it Jim Stroud’s Recruitment Formula (mostly because I could not think of anything catchier at the time.)
Recruiting = infomercial + courtship
Awe-inspiring isn’t it?
The courtship part (as you can imagine) deals with the relationship side of recruiting, getting a warm and fuzzy feeling about the candidate, selling the idea of hiring said candidate to hiring manager and vice versa, blah, blah, blah… The focus for this blog post is the infomercial piece.
The next time you get a new requirement and you are tossing around in your mind how you will sell the opportunity to a prospect, pause and ask yourself this question, “How effective will this sales pitch be if the hiring managers love it, but the prospects don’t dig it?” And then? I would like to suggest the following:
Once you have a message that the hiring mangers can appreciate, create a story around it that reflects the managers’ sentiment but is appealing to candidates. For example, “We see our widget – “The Product 3000″ as more than a device. It is an artificial intelligence that helps us keep track of our lives. In the near future, The Product 3000 will monitor our health, accept verbal commands and direct us to our wants based on past behavior. We are almost finished with the future; we just need someone like you to help us connect the dots. Are you interested?” (Notice the drama?)
Gather a focus group of employees that are already in the role you are recruiting for and let them hear the sales pitch. Ask them to evaluate the story, not the style of delivery (which can be perfected privately). Gather the feedback and adjust the story to fit the targeted audience. (Are prospects who develop search engines susceptible to the same types of stories used on Certified Public Accountants?) I think it would be a mistake to use one static rhetorical message as a one-sized-fits-all solution.
Once the stories are perfected, track the data on the calls made. What would prove most noteworthy are things like:
- What time of day was the call made? (morning / lunch/ evening)
- Where was the call made? (Candidate’s home? / Candidate’s office?)
- What day of the week was the call made?
- How did they react to a story-based pitch verses the standard fact-based pitch.
Track results on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, review and make changes where appropriate.
The King of the Infomercial said, “Creating an effective infomercial is hard work – about one in 60 turns a profit…” That leads me to believe that once you implement this strategy into a calling campaign, it will be a cause for continuous improvement. Once perfected however, what more could you want?
ABOUT THE WRITER
Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in lead generation strategies, social media recruiting, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens and a host of startup companies. Recently, Jim Stroud joined Bernard Hodes Group as a Director of Sourcing and Social Strategy.
Prior to Hodes, Jim Stroud has created and sold three online properties, managed an award-winning blog, published a weekly newsletter for jobseekers, a recruiter training magazine and co-hosted a popular technology podcast. Jim Stroud has also produced multiple web series devoted to such topics as: job search, recruiting, technology and language learning. Jim Stroud has been quoted by such publications as Globe and Mail, US News and World Report, Wall Street Journal and The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Monster.com, Entrepreneur, Black Enterprise and The HR Examiner have all cited Jim Stroud for his digital influence. Jim Stroud also served as the EmCee of SourceCon, the premier global conference on sourcing for three consecutive years.
When not online, Jim Stroud suffers from withdrawal symptoms that can only be soothed by chocolate chip cookies and family time.