Category: Business (page 2 of 2)

Do you have Thinkers or Doers in your marketing team? (The best have both)

Recruitment marketers tend to fall into one of these two categories: Thinkers or Doers.

What is a Thinker’s job?
These are your strategic people who outline the business’ vision as a marketing function.  They will either be leading the business, making decisions on what the direction the business should take, what it does and how it goes to market, or they will be distilling what the CEO’s vision is and translating it into a marketing strategy.

There are around 150 Marketing Directors in the UK working in the recruitment industry.  With around 12,000 recruitment agencies in the UK that makes a ratio of 80:1 agencies to marketing directors.

The average salary in London for a Marketing Director is between £60-150k with the average salary being £80k according to Michael Page.  This puts them in the top 20% of marketing professionals according to EMR.

What is a Doer’s job?
These are the people who get stuff done.  They will be the ones writing content for your website, doing email marketing, managing social media on a day to day basis.  They will implement the things set out by a Thinker.

There are around 1,500 people in the UK working in marketing in the recruitment space, so a ratio of 8:1 agencies to marketers.

Marketing executives and assistants in London earn between £23k and £40k with the average being £32k and £25k respectively according to Michael Page.

So what’s the problem?
The problem arises time and time again in recruitment when companies don’t hire enough people in marketing or they give Doers and Thinkers the wrong jobs.

Thinkers are paid too much be doing the day to day work within a marketing team.  Financial Directors and CEOs start to consider a Thinker expensive if they are working as a Doer.  And they get bored.  At this point they are either made redundant, fired or quit.

Doers tend to be junior.  It is unwise to expect them to come up with the complex strategies for your business or try to convince the board that their plan will work.  If you do, and your marketing doesn’t work these folks get it in the neck; but you can’t blame them.  They haven’t the experience to know better and they don’t have someone to direct them if you haven’t hired a Thinker to guide and mentor.

The solution…
Hire a Thinker in your organisation to be in charge of driving the strategy.  If you don’t have a big enough need for someone to continually focus on the high level stuff then rope in an expert on a contract or work with a marketing agency to put together your strategy.  Their plan needs to be actionable for the Doers in your business.  If you don’t hire a Thinker make sure the Doer in your business has a mentor who is a senior marketer in another organisation or that you invest in training and development for them.

Make sure you have Doers to implement the work your Thinker or your external consultant / marketing agency have done.  Again if you can only afford someone to look at the strategy then outsource your doing work to an agency.

“Your job is to hire the experts, give them the right direction and resources, and set the right priorities.”

The CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, on how to hire

Find the best people for your marketing team.  Hire the Doer or the Thinker or get both.  Don’t scrimp and expect one person to do both well.  Outsource which ever part you can’t get someone in-house for.


Footnote addition – 16th October 2014

According to Hays fewer than 15% of Marketing Directors regard their own digital skills as very good and 18% rate their team’s digital skills as at that of a high standard.  34% say there are skills gaps within their marketing team.  Unrealistic or over ambitious company objectives are another major professional challenge.

The 5 stories every business should tell

It was a great pleasure to be on stage at Social RecruitIn with Eamon Collins, Group Marketing Director for Page Group, and Paul Farrer, Founder and Chairman of Aspire presenting on how to build an engaging digital strategy.


Before we could write we told stories.

Oral tradition – or the original stories – was how we passed on messages, shared experiences, educated future generations and created what would one day become known as history.  In illiterate communities around the world there still remains a strong oral tradition where the elders educate youths through stories.

Old relaxed man, looking through glasses, Varanasi Benares India

In his research paper historical psychologist Dr Hodge states that “storytelling typically [took] place in a relaxed and nonthreatening environment. Customarily, the setting [was] a quiet place where everyone [could] comfortably sit.”

Today people today listen, read and watch stories everywhere: in their homes, their offices or their local Starbucks.  Stories are weaved through everything we do, and we tell stories to everyone we meet.   What we tell, and how we tell these stories defines us.

Who would you want to sit next to at a dinner party?  Who would you make your best-man?  Who would you call when you are bored?  The person who tells the best stories.

Even looking back at the word “Story” tells us something…

The entomology of the word History comes from the Greek “histor” for “learned wise man” and then evolved into “historia” which meant “narrative”.  Later through Latin it became the word we use today: “history”.   The origins of the word “Story” come from Middle English where it was used to denote “a historical account”.

The number one reason for telling stories is that they have the ability to be remembered.

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Rudyard Kipling

Stories last. 

Long after we have forgotten the data points, the slides, the general content, we still remember the stories.  In fact people interviewed after presentations almost always remember the stories and only one or two pieces of data.

Before we could write, we drew pictures.

We found that drawing the message helped to make it memorable, and we could save that content for longer.  Aboriginal art is some of the earliest forms of storytelling in art.

aboriginal art work
Our minds are pretty simple and we still react more positively to images than we do to the written word.  They say a picture says a thousand words – well it can.

The way we use stories and images allow us to drive people to action.   In her book Resonate, LinkedIn Influencer Nancy Duarte talks about this at length.   If your story resonates with your audience you will get them to do something.   Like waves on an ocean you can make the listener go up, or go down, backwards, or forwards.


Most importantly we help other to tell our stories for us.  Social media has made the sharing and passing on of stories easier than ever.  In exactly the same way people had stories to share their message, their values and their visions – today businesses have stories to tell.   The stories we tell as businesses dictate how much we sell, the loyalty of our customers and the growth we experience over time.


To make it easy I’ve come up with 5 stories that we should all be able to tell – as individuals, but also as businesses.

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • My mission
  • What I do
  • What that means for you

Who am I?

This should be an introduction to you or your business.  It is essential that it is easy to tell across multiple channels and be as relevant on the homepage of your website, your LinkedIn company page as it is being told over the phone by your recruiter.  Every person in your business needs to know this inside out.

Why am I here?

What is the purpose of this conversation or this content that you are making me read?  What are you trying to achieve?  Be up front about the objective.

My Mission.

Explain what you / your business stands for.  This is your values and your mission statement as well as your motivations.

What I do.

Your mission should be more “why” and this is more “how”.   Find your USP – your unique selling proposition and explain it to your audience.

My colleague Eelco recently said that we should no long use the term USP.   Instead we should discuss the UBR – the unique buying reason; the reason that people buy instead of the reason we sell.

What that means for you.

Complete the circle and give case studies and testimonials.  It is essential that you have success stories that demonstrate how you have achieved your mission through what you do.

The Five Stories

In practice how can we do this?
Imagine that each of these stories moves your audience from a place where they don’t know you to a place where they are ready to do business with you.  Take them on this journey through the stories you tell.

the five stories

To give you an example of how I’ve used this in the past, here is how I raised money when running a marathon earlier this year…

Meet Seb.  He is trapped behind a lamp post.  The first story I told was about being a dad… now I know that everyone who knows me knows that I am a dad, however sometimes people need a reminder.  I wanted to increase the likelihood of people seeing my future updates and engaging with them and we know that engagement today – a like or a comment – reduced the friction for future engagement.  Facebook has a system called Edgerank which means that if I generate interactions from my posts my other posts are more likely to come up in my friends’ feeds in the future.


I then sent out an email (click here for the full email) explaining that my son, from the previous picture, had a favorite film: the Jungle Book.  When the book was written there were over 10 million elephants word-wide.  Today there are around 600,000.  I was going to run a marathon to raise money so that my son could grow up in a world with elephants and so could his kids.

Then I shared my charity Just Giving page that cemented the “Why” with more information on poachers and a few videos from the BBC talking about poachers.

just giving
How was I going to do this?  By running.  So I updated all of my profile pictures across social media to a picture of me running a half marathon for charity the previous year and shared these images across the net.

Then I closed the loop by explaining how this would help.  I then told a story about Raj, a 70 year old blind elephant I met in an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka which was funded by charities like the one that I was running for.

At each step I told a story that made it personal, that could be related to and that would resonate.

This campaign – and do consider this to be a campaign – helped me to raise over £3,000 for charity without having to beg and pester.  I was able to take people from not being aware of my aim, to a point where they would happily donate to a charity I cared about.

Every business should know the stories they want to tell and how they want to tell them.  Look at your business and establish how you can use these to your advantage.

Watch the video here…

Below are the slides from the presentation that I gave…

Recruiting like an analyst

Listening to a financial analyst talk about investors’ interest in TAM made me think that recruiters need to act like analysts.

TAM stands for Total Addressable Market.  This is a measure to understand the market share you have and how much potential there is for your current service or product offering.  Investors want to guarantee returns and will invest if you aren’t already selling everything you have to everyone who is interested.

In recruitment I would look at TAM in the opposite way.  The bigger your market share of candidates the better opportunity you have of placing the right people.  Investors will also want to know how much potential for growth there is in the TAM for clients.

These figures should interest four types of people:
Your clients
Clients want to know how many people you have on your database, within your network and in your talent-pools that you can call upon.

Your candidates
Candidates want to know that you understand them, their market and that you have the best connections with the clients in that sector.

Prospective consultants
Demonstrating a good share of the TAM is today’s equivalent of the “warm desk”.  Quantifying that you have the biggest talent pool of Xyz professionals in your geographies is a great way to get people to want to work for you.

Investors / buyers
As the economy bounces back more and more acquisitions of recruitment companies are taking place across Europe.  Recruitment businesses get bought and sold based on the value of their people, their network, their contractor book, but also their market penetration and ability to connect scarce skills with client opportunities.


By quantifying your market you can begin to structure how you sell and what you spend your time doing.  In markets where jobs are slim, but there are a lot of supply of candidates obviously you would re-adress your recruitment activities to focus on finding jobs.

Supply and Demand of talent

On the flip side where the balance is skewed the other way you would focus your time on growing your network and talent pools of scarce skills.

Supply and Demand of Talent

Quantifying your market place helps you to better negotiate recruitment fees.  Knowing how many ideal candidates there are means you can quote fees that you know your efforts are worth.  In scarce skills markets it is a seller’s market.  With quantifiable data you can qualify your demand as opposed to plucking numbers out of the air.

To help you understand some of your markets and quantify the talent landscape you will need to do some real research, so I recommend starting by using these resources:

LinkedIn Talent Pool Analysis


Once you have collated the data regarding your target audience you can analyse some of the following things:
  1. How many contacts in your database are within this market?
  2. How many contacts in your database within this market have been contacted in the last 6 months?
  3. How many recruiters do you have working on that market and how many calls/emails are they sending daily?
  4. What is your website traffic from affiliated search terms or to specific pages on your website?
  5. How many connections do they have on LinkedIn who are relevant?
  6. How many Followers on LinkedIn does your company have that are relevant?

These six data points will start to paint a picture as to how much of your TAM you actually have.

Your total addressable market

Your market share in this instance is 0.5%

Knowing that some of the people connected to your employees on LinkedIn, Followers of your business and on your database will be the same it is important to establish a communication strategy across these channels.

In addition to this it is essential to make a plan to increase the percentage of your TAM over time.  This may mean finding a way of getting more hits to your website through producing more content, sponsoring content, focusing on search engine optimisation or Google Ad Words, getting more Followers on LinkedIn through targeted advertising campaigns or getting your recruiters to connect with more people.


How do you get better penetration of your relevant TAM?

Whatever your tactics are to grow your penetration – SEO, PPC, advertising, etc. – you need to follow these three steps to make sure that you are making the most of your activities.

“Fish where the fish are”.
Understand the places where these people are hanging out online.  This sounds basic but it is so often forgotten.  Don’t think what would be easiest or best for you, think what is best for your target audience.

Give them something they want.
Once you have found these people you need to be able to communicate in a way that means something to them.  Establish the type of information you can produce or share to pique their interest.  Embed your business’ message and core values into the content that you produce so that your audience is building up a preference for your recruitment agency in their mind.  Reach outside of your existing network by advertising or sponsoring content.

Make them convert.
You have found where these people are, you’ve given them something and made them aware and interested in you… now you need to make it count!  Convert them.  Unless you can get their details all you have are ethereal visitors.  Profiles, contact details and CVs are what we are aiming for.  If you are trying to convert passive people then don’t expect a CV in the first instance, but do create a list of acceptable outcomes that you would want to happen.  This list might include things like: obtain email address, phone number, make a Follower with a view to converting them at a later stage, sign up to email newsletter, job application, registration, etc.  Once you have your new Followers, connections or your database has grown you can reassess your TAM again.  This should be an ongoing process and done again at regular intervals.


Knowledge is power.  Understanding your total addressable market gives you the power and confidence to better advise your clients, establish how you should be charging and take stock of your current ability to make placements.  Analyse what you have and what you need to be better at what you want to do.

For some more ideas watch this video: Moneyball for Talent Acquisition, from LinkedIn’s James Raybould and Will Hamlin.

1 billion reasons you don’t know about Post

Who knows about Post?

No one I’ve ever spoken to knows about Post.  They are a packaged foods business which started in 1895, and at the turn of the century they were the biggest business of their kind in North America.  Eleven years after their launch, along came a more familiar brand: Kellogg’s.

There is a reason we know Kellogg’s and yet are oblivious to the once omnipresent juggernaut Post.  That reason is advertising, and the $1 billion that Kellogg’s spend every year.

Several recessions ago back in 1929 during the original Great Depression, Post followed the same path as many other consumer goods businesses and stopped advertising.  It seemed logical to them at the time – less revenue means less money to advertise with.

Like the salmon of the advertising world, Kellogg’s swam against the current.  Their decision was to double down on publicity.  The reluctance for businesses to advertise and an uncertain economy meant that advertising costs dropped.  Kellogg’s could double their ad spend in print and out of home marketing whilst still moving in to something completely new and exciting; radio advertising.

By 1933 Kellogg’s had seen profits rise 30%.  Not bad work for a recession.

But it wasn’t until the recession ended that the true benefit of the advertising was felt.  The chasm between Post and Kellogg’s widened – only this time Kellogg’s was on the winning side.

“The trouble is they taste too good.”  Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut strapline from the 1980s which was recently revived.

Building a brand isn’t like turning on a tap.  You don’t see the full potential of your brand instantly.  Building a brand is more like owning a glacier.  The amount of water in a glacier is far greater than any tap, but it has stored potential that you will see trickle through over time.

In the 1950’s when the television became commonplace in most homes, Kellogg’s started to market through this too.  Today nearly 60p from every advertising £1 goes into television.  In 1956 Kellogg’s launched Special K – to date one of their most advertised brands.
A time-line of the television
The problem with television is that it doesn’t give you the option to specifically target your audience.  You can make generalisations over what type of demographic watch what shows or channels.  For example the adverts on a sports channel would be substantially different from those on MTV and different again from a terrestrial channel and so on.
Television ad spend
But Kellogg’s have spent a lot developing a brand that is targeted at a very specific segment of the population.  Not all 7 billion people on earth would have Special K for breakfast.  Their target audience looks a lot like this:

Target Audience of Special K

In the centre of the circle is Special K’s absolute ideal consumer.  As you move outwards the audience becomes broader and broader until outside of that circle you have everyone.

Hitting just that inner circle is close to impossible with television, radio and print advertising.  Social media, however, makes it much easier.  With social media you can build awareness of your brand with people in the bull’s-eye, the people you have specifically built your brand for.

The volume of information we offer up on places like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Gmail and LinkedIn mean that we are likely to be served targeted and relevant content.  The question marketers ask is which platform provides the right context for your advert.  Where are your target audience most likely to see it, and where are they most likely to interact with it?

Advertising today isn’t the same as it was in 1930s.  Today we have more information, more choice and over 70 years of advertising experience which enables us to make our decisions.

Taking all of this into account, I’m still surprised to see so many Post-esque companies.   Sadly for those companies, we won’t remember them for much longer.

A special thank you to Marlene – my colleague, an expert in employer branding – who initially introduced me to this story.

Being a “Top Biller” – not as great as it seems

Congratulations! You are the highest fee earner in your recruitment business.

Does being labelled a top biller make you more successful?  Sure you feel a great sense of pride and you have a boost knowing that you have made an impact.  But once you look past that, how do your clients and candidates feel about this?

What if we stopped giving people an award of “top biller” and instead gave people an award for being the best recruiter?  What if we celebrated making the most placements or delivering the best service or impacting our clients’ business?

I know it is semantics, but the words you use create labels for you as an individual and as a business.  “Biller” automatically signifies that you are making money from people.  People don’t have a problem with buying, but many do have a problem with being sold to.  Recruitment shouldn’t be about sales.  It should be a transaction where one persons’ skills, knowledge and expertise are exchanged for money.  It shouldn’t feel like you are being sold to.

“Are you demonstrably helping the organisation achieve its strategic objectives?”  Jeff Grout

Surely as a recruitment consultant your aim isn’t to sell the most, but to make the right connections between candidates and clients.  Would you push a placement through that you knew wasn’t right because it meant more money?  A top biller, a cold blooded sales machine might.

“Top Biller” is a dangerous title in my mind.

Reward for number of successful placements by all means, and that may be exactly the same as being the top biller, but just don’t call it that.  Remember: the best sales people don’t sell anything.  They just get their clients to buy from them.

Sadly we haven’t heard from @TopBillerLedge in a while… but here is what comes to mind when I think of the title “Top Biller”.


Why Making Noise Isn’t The Same As Being Heard

There was a small village on a hill that was under siege.  Although the village’s walls were tall they would only keep them safe for a short time.  Whilst being wildly outnumbered and out armed they hatched a plan; a plan to scare the enemy off through the sheer noise of their people.  Every man, woman and child went to the villages boundary with pots, pans, sticks and drums and they banged and they screamed.  The noise was deafening.

Pots and Pans
Panicked by what the invading army thought was an equally large and much more vicious army they retreated.

Once everything had settled down and the villagers had finished celebrating this monumental victory I am sure one bright spark said “Hey – why don’t we just bang pots and pans all day, every day and no one will ever set siege to our village again?”

Not only is that a complete waste of time – 99% of their efforts would be futile – but they would end up scaring away traders and visitors.  That eventually would mean that the villagers wouldn’t sell their crops, trade their cattle or be able to buy raw materials.  Eventually they would go broke and starve.

No.  Just making noise for the sake it is never a good idea.

But never making noise is equally as bad; they’d probably be overrun if they hadn’t made such a racket in the first place.

What they needed was a look-out, someone who could see who was approaching the village and either welcome in the traders or rally the troops to scare off hostile forces.

“Stop writing about everything.  So many brands create content and try to cover everything, instead of focusing on the core niche that they can position themselves as an expert around.  No one cares about your special recipe… Find your niche, and then go even more niche.”
Joe Pulizzi

This is what you need to do every day with through your marketing strategy.  You need to establish what audience needs to hear and see what message.  Otherwise you put off traders with the wrong message and you miss out on the chance of inviting prospective business partners in.

Out of the 91% of consumers opting out or unsubscribing from emails, 46% do so because the messages are not relevant.

41% of consumers would consider ending a brand relationship because of irrelevant messaging, and an additional 22% would definitely end the relationship because of irrelevance.

Relevant is exactly what the most successful sales people make themselves on each of their calls.  You won’t hear them talking about the other markets they cover, or how broad their experience is.  No, they talk about the relevancy to that client, their specific expertise, their business and their problems.

If you shout the same thing at everyone you will scare them off.  Unless under-siege, I’m guessing that isn’t the outcome you are looking for.

Efficient Isn’t The Same As Best

We are obsessed with improving how efficient we are.  When an FMCG company is bought the first things the new owners do is look to cut costs through supply chain efficiencies, redundancies (workforce efficiencies) and economies of scale (purchasing efficiencies).  It is a way of squeezing higher margins from the same products.  Bigger margins equate to bigger profits.  Everyone is a winner right?  Well, maybe the shareholders win… at first at least.  Rarely do these efficiencies actually make those products better or more appealing for their existing or new customers.

But what if we start thinking beyond our pockets and our ever-ticking watches?  Delivering shareholder value through cost-cutting often results in a short term fix which is not sustainable long-term.

Look at Tesco and the recent horse meat scandal.  Tesco cut costs, cut costs, cut costs.  Raising their margins on meat meant having to find new supply chains which eventually meant losing control over the quality of their end product.

Tesco Horse Meat Scandal

Trust of Tesco’s bargain meat is at an all-time low and customers who can afford an alternative are voting with their feet and spending their money elsewhere.  In fact the horse meat scandal wiped £300m off Tesco’s market value.  The shareholders aren’t so happy with that.

Cutting costs in a bid to be more efficient eventually meant being less effective as a business.  The short-term increase in profit margins from meat is today offset by the fact that people aren’t buying from Tesco.

When Henkel in Germany, quickly followed by Unilever in the UK, first launched toothpaste pumps in the early ‘80s everyone thought it would revolutionise the toothpaste market.  “Death of the tube!” was proclaimed.  It was innovative; it made getting toothpaste out of the tube simpler and shaved milliseconds off your daily oral hygiene routine.

Although it was marketed as being economical due to the fact that each squeeze was consistent, and simple as an application, the problem came because instead of leaving just a tiny fraction still in the packaging – which happens with traditional toothpaste tubes – people where leaving over 12% behind in the tube which eventually ended up in the bin.  12% after 12% after 12% adds up.

Colgate Toothpaste Pump

In addition to the wastage there was also the increased cost.  Toothpaste at the time was roughly £1.00 for 125ml from traditional tubes, but with the toothpaste pump it went up to £1.20 for 100ml.  That is 50% more expensive.  And that is a lot to ask when the consumer is getting less out.

Was the toothpaste pump efficient?  Well, yes from a time and ease of use perspective, but if your objective was to make brushing your teeth cheap and less wasteful then it was a huge failure.

The same thing happens every day in marketing.  Time efficiency and cost efficiencies aren’t always able to deliver the results we want.

I use Hootsuite to schedule the vast majority of my Tweets.  It is an incredible time saving tool.  I can spend my commute reading articles and then schedule the interesting ones to be posted on Twitter throughout the coming days.  This means that I don’t have to keep manually going on to Twitter and sending something out or sending multiple posts out at the same time.

Hootsuite is amazing.  I highly recommend that everyone uses something like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your Tweets and social media posts.  However I know that if I want to make a big impact with a specific post I need to manually login to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to post my updates.  The wording, the length of the post and the images need to be done differently on each platform to get as many views, clicks, shares and interactions as possible.  To be more effective I need to pass up some of this efficiency.

On LinkedIn I can post a status update and send it directly to my Twitter account.  But I haven’t got a character limit on LinkedIn so I’m likely to exceed my 140 characters for Twitter and not realise.  Now I’ve made my Tweet look messy and difficult to read.  To be more effective I need to pass up some of this efficiency.

Similarly, with job multi-posting tools we aren’t always being as effective as we would want.  When you are sending a job to LinkedIn you are sending it onto a platform where the audience is 80% passive.  That means that people are going to interact with your roles in completely different way to how they interact with your roles on a job board where they are almost always 100% active.  The message to an active job seeker needs to be different to what a passive job seeker is interested in seeing.  Realistically if I want to see better results I need to think about my audience and write job descriptions accordingly.  To be more effective I need to pass up some of this efficiency.

Look at your objectives as a business – how efficient and how effective are you at achieving these through your current marketing activities?

Vintage weighing scales

If you are just looking at cutting cost or saving time you might be missing out on the opportunity of yielding the results you want.  Thinking back to the toothpaste pump; how much are you leaving in the tube as a result of trying to make everything quick and easy?  How many loyal customers are you driving away by making your product and service so cheap to produce that it is unrecognisable to your target audience?

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
John Wanamaker 1838 -1922.  Marketing pioneer.

It is difficult to attribute sales success directly to advertising and marketing. Although not all of your advertising is being effective or potentially efficient is it time to just switch everything off?   Efficiency and effectiveness can be looked at through many different lenses so I’m not saying that there is a hard and fast rule that every business should follow; however purely looking at how to make things easier, cheaper and faster isn’t going to be the answer.

Of course you must run your business efficiently so as not to waste your money or your time.  It would be absurd to claim otherwise.  We only have 24 hours in a day and a finite amount of money after all.  Yet there is a balance to be had between efficiency (cost and time), effectiveness and the final results you wish to achieve.  I urge you not to measure efficiency without first understanding how effective you are being.  Don’t be efficient to the detriment of achieving real success.

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