Monday, August 31, 2009

Niche targeting so difficult

Where I work, we're an advertising agency - and we often do our best to target niche groups with relevant and attractive messages for our clients. It's advertising - we're not talking about long-term engagement here - so we need to be targeted, punchy and we need candidates to quickly comprehend the deal.

One of the campaigns I'm working on at the moment requires people who could *quite literally* come from any career background. It's really not about what they've done; it's more about the type of person they are and the attributes they possess.

What we've discovered, is there are certain talent pools that these people appear in, and - without giving the game away - there might be some in Law, some in Advertising, and some in - say - Warehousing.

Anyway, my point is that once we've nailed down these groups, we need to uncover the media these people hang-out in (note: not looking for jobseeking media, we go for the passive market first). So once we've found an array of websites or communities for individuals working in Law, Advertising and Warehousing, we end up with maybe 20 different sites, all of which have marginally different specs for their banner advertising.

Back to the point in hand. Right now, my team is creating 22 different banners in order for us to - well - do our job properly. Isn't this unfair on the client who has to pay for all this development, not to mention the time it takes to coordinate and despatch all this stuff?

I'm calling for universal banner sizes - you can't build a site that advertisers will use without sticking to them. What say you?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sorry, print still delivers

Thomas Shaw, over at the Recruitment Directory blog, recently shared his views on how much online is dominating press in terms of the volume of job ads placed online, and the volume of candidates who prefer to look online for jobs.

It's an interesting read. And it shows the dominance of online. But it's worth bearing in mind that this is volume-based analysis. It's good at demonstrating volume.

It isn't so good at demonstrating - well - quality.

To put this in context: Say you're looking for a really hard-to-recruit role, say, a Head of Banana Peeling. Now, put it on Seek and you might generate 300 applications. I'll bet 150 can peel potatoes, but not bananas. And 149 can peel bananas, but they have no experience in leading other Banana Peelers. If you're lucky, you might get just one applicant who can do the job and doesn't turn out to have an allergy to bananas.

In the meantime you've had to sort-through and assess all those people who ultimately didn't have the skills.

If you'd used a message that resonated with Senior Banana Peelers, along with a variety of job-seeking and non-jobseeking media platforms you know these people see, you would have generated a small pipeline of highly-qualified individuals. And - guess what - this pipeline would contain loads of those talented Senior Banana Peelers who are well-rewarded and happy in their job and hence not trailing through the job boards looking for you. The employer gets to pick the best.

Of course, it takes a bit of research and investment to do properly, but the results always win-through - it saves time at the back-end, reduces the need for re-advertising, generates higher levels of engagement, builds a pipeline - and shows the market you know what you're doing.

Thomas research is very valid for showing where the trends are, the most obvious of which are:

  • Online will attract most employers/recruiters because most feel they have to advertise in the quickest and cheapest place.
  • Online will attract most applicants because they know this about employers/recruiters, and it's free and easy for them.

I know for a fact, that we first look for value over volume when we do our media planning. And this works best with our most front-foot-thinking clients - the ones who take the time to analyse where their final hires actually first heard about the job.

For most campaigns, I can guarantee that online will generate the highest volume of response. I can also guarantee that far less volume will come from major metro press. However, when we do the ROI analysis from final hires (which, one day, I might share with you), the difference is negligible.

Yes, print always comes in more expensive. But when it generates a higher quality of applicant (and online demands extra screening/sorting time), then I think you'll find that right now print has a place in any self-respecting employer's recruitment toolkit.

Maybe not forever, though.

Because the growth of bolt-on products from the likes of CareerOne/Monster will look to increase effectiveness by generating a more targeted response from a more targeted audience base. Plus, I am still hopeful for the growth of niche sites over the behemoths we have dominating the Australian jobseeking landscape.

As always, bring it on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recruitment Advertising Agencies promoting creativity

It's great to see a recruitment advertising agency bite the bullet and take a chance on a cheeky campaign. I've worked at many, and god knows how many good marketing ideas I've seen shot down due to senior management conservative rationales.

But TMP Sydney clearly have decided to take a chance. They are running a tongue-in-cheek campaign to give away one of their industry awards on eBay to make room in their cabinet for this year's expected haul. There's also a campaign site that allows individuals to create their own FEMA.

It's a shade arrogant and will no doubt get a few competitors up in arms, but it's clearly tongue-in-cheek and I assume there will be plenty of egg-in-your-face jokes if the rewards don't roll in September's Fairfax Employment Marketing Awards (FEMAs).

Now, admittedly I work for TMP - so not only is my money on the awards rolling in, I'm also not wholly impartial. Wholly? Who am I kidding. I'm really proud to see us having a bit of a laugh at the culmination of what has been a very tough nine months. Plus I think the idea's a cracker.

But what do you think? Have TMP gone too far?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Knees up

I've been off having my knee operated on.

So, in the spirit of the drugs I've been taking, here's me with a huge Arnott's parrot.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Behold the Seek behemouth

After my last blog, bemoaning the state of the Australian media landscape when a few big fat media zeppelins dominate the market, thought I'd share a thought on how this looks in reality.

(I've put this stat at the end of this post, so if you're here for the numbers, scroll to the bottom.)

I met with Seek today, who were promoting a new agency product that allows advertisers to benchmark their jobs against the market. That is, if you're a big name in engineering, are your jobs performing above or below the market average when it comes to 'summary' views, job views and applications.

Agencies like mine work closely with Seek, so you'll excuse me while I take my tongue firmly out of my cheek and talk about this seriously for a while.

This is a great opportunity for innovative advertising agencies like ours to talk to our clients. Not necessarily about getting our clients to use Seek more strategically or buy more Seek products. It's all about showing them how they can be more effective as advertisers - here's some ideas for job posters, ranging from the minute to the magnificent.

If your jobs perform below average:
  • Have you got the classification right?
  • Have you filled out all datafields?
  • Have you posted your salary? (big effect, this one.)
  • Have you made your offer clear from the word go, so people read the ad?
  • Does your copy make the application process and the employment 'deal' clear?
  • Is your copy written well? (and by that I mean by a trained professional who understands your audience, not just your organisation.)
  • Does your ad look visually appealing or, at the least, professional?
  • Does your ad match the way you want your employer brand to be percieved in the marketplace? (or does grammar not matter any more online?)
  • Is your employer brand incorrectly* percieved in the marketplace, putting off the right candidates?

(*I use the word 'incorrectly' on purpose. After all, some perceptions could be negative, such as the idea that your people work really long hours. This isn't necessarily a bad thing if the idea matches the reality - after all, you will then attract people who get the deal beforehand and will therefore be more likely to stay.)

Most of this stuff above is really simple, tactical stuff - the icing on the cake of employer branding, if you will. I'd much rather be having conversations about how organisations can be more proactive in their attraction and retention of the right people, long-term.

But equally, the reality is many of our clients aren't proactive or strategic, and they self-post on Seek, with the standard necessarily variable. So it's worth thinking about the basics every once in a while.

Now coming back to the whole point of this post, Seek gave us some figures from June '09 that demonstrate their market dominance. If you bear in mind their two biggest competitors (CareerOne and MyCareer) are probably choices two and three in Australia, you'll see why the Australian landscape really lacks choice for the discerning employment marketer.
  • In June '09 Seek had 2.5m UBs
  • 2.9x more than CareerOne (0.8m)
  • 5.1x more than MyCareer (0.5m).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Online recruitment down - it's the media's fault

A recent report by the IAB, compiled by PWC and published on mUmBRELLA, saw recruitment making up just 1.4% of total online ad spend in the last quarter. This time three years ago, it was 5%.

So in a period when online advertising has still continued to grow (by 9%), online recruitment advertising has contracted.

And I'm blaming the media.

After all, this decline isn't really a surprise to me: I work at a recruitment advertising agency.

We've seen a dramatic fall in campaigns, and many clients I've spoken to have real internal issues to deal with. I'll bet my last Rolo that many of them were under the cosh to prove their worth to the business.

But this decline in online recruitment advertising isn't the fault of our clients.

Really, the blame lies squarely with our bloated friends sitting on their inflatable zeppelins, dictating to us minions what we can and can't have on their sites.

Because, here in Oz (unlike, say, the UK), the media landscape is dominated by a few monopolies. In online, the job boards are dominated by a goliath called Seek. The two other players (MyCareer and CareerOne) still haven't managed to get close.

In addition, here in Oz it's all about horizontal job boards - there's very little choice in terms of niche, industry or specialist sites. You've got the major metros, the main job boards, a few other sites (if you know your media) and... well... that's about it.

The outcome is a laziness in coming up with new technology and ideas. Why bother developing a range of different options if you know they're pretty much certain to post a job with you?

Well, if you're only offering short-fix options for employers who are currently recruiting - you're kinda stuffed when the recruitment stops. And that's exactly wha... Ok. Point made.

Job sites need to offer organisations options that force them to think about how they position themselves as a place to work. They need to get organisations thinking about how they shape up against their competitors - are they doing more impressive work, is their content more engaging, have they positioned themselves as the employer of choice?

After all, there are heaps of candidates out there, but it's still competitive for the best candidates. And if you want your business to succeed, you need them.

So I foresee an opportunity for niche sites to grow. And I also foresee an opportunity for the smaller job boards to steal a march on the current leader. Monster recently entered the market, joining forces with CareerOne, and I've witnessed their ambitious plans, as well as the great tactical initiatives they're offering now - and in the future.

While the industry isn't roaring ahead like we were this time last year, we've got some interesting trends to watch out for.

Bring it on, I say.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm somebody

One of my team appeared today in the latest edition of B&T (7Aug), in the Where the Bloody Hell Were You? section.

Reminded me of the scene in The Jerk where Steve Martin sees him name in the phone book "Things are going to start happening to me now."

The thing is, now she's someone, how do I manage the ego?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The customer is your wife, idiot

My ol' mucker Nathan over at the 'another advertising *bleep*' blog had a great post up today that I really enjoyed reading.

In it, he montiored the effect of social media 'disasters' on a organisation's market value.

He reckons, correctly, that we shouldn't overblow the short-term effects of negative press - generally the market shows tremendous apathy toward 'shocking', yet ultimately facile, stories. After all, news breaks today at such a high turnover that it's no time before another embarassment dominates the news agenda. Nathan covers:

  • Dominos (who could forget the pizza maker who farted on a pizza and stuck cheese up his nose?);
  • United Airlines (who broke the guitar of a man, who - quite honestly - should have taken his guitar as hand luggage IMO); and
  • Vile and Tacky O (who I had never, ever heard broadcast and now believe should be sent back to the adolescent borstal they we're dragged up in)

But think back to the UK jeweller Gerald Ratner who claimed he sold 'crap' and how that ultimately led to the freefall of their share price - and the downfall of the UK's largest high street jeweller.

And then there was the chief executive of Barclaycard who admitted he steers well clear on his own product because it was, well, too expensive. His customers were the type who didn't wear suits to work, he claimed in his down-to-earth way.

But the examples Nathan mentions haven't really had much of an effect at all. In fact, Dominos shares have grown in value as the recession increases demand for takeaway pizzas.

So ultimately what differs Nathan's three examples from the Ratners or the Barclaycard cases?

I think it's this: none of these controversies involve the figurehead of an organisation making a mockery of his/her customers.

Dominos responded on Youtube within a few days of the crisis, and - while it wasn't sophisticated - it did come across as genuinely concerned about putting things right. United Airlines won't suffer because one individual wrote a song; the intrinsic value of the UA brand is still strong, and the experience most people have is still positive.

Vile and Tacky O, I think, will likely suffer. One has crossed his arms over his portly frame and refused to apologise. The other has gone off to repeatedly put on and take off her blonde hair extensions in her country retreat (or at least that's what I imagine). They've failed to recognise and respond to what customers want - that they apologise and explain themselves.

In all of these tales, there's no player who's bigger than the team.

No player, except the customer.