Posted by: Michael Hennessy | July 9, 2008

“Scientific Advertising” applied to Talent Marketing/Advertising

What’s old is new again. I came across this book, Scientific Advertising which was published in 1923 and written by Claude Hopkins. In marketing circles, it’s considered one of the direct marketing bibles. What does that have to do with recruiting or more specifcially Talent Marketing? A lot.

The book is pretty short, only 59 pages ,and it’s been released to the public domain, so you can download it and read it for free. I found many of his insights and techniques directly applicable to what we are calling talent marketing. In fact, the entire premise of the book is that advertising was previously based on guess work and intuition, which resulted in very poor performance. Only through the systematic and scientific approach of trying, measuring and them improving your ads, has it become a major business. And it’s the companies who have used those principles who now KNOW they are running the most effective campaigns to sell their products or services.

This systematic approach is what talent marketing is all about. Here’s a small snippet from the first chapter of the book which i find resonates today in the talent marketing space.

“We propose in this book to deal with those fundamentals, those universal principles. To teach only established techniques. There is that technique in advertising, as in all art, science and mechanics. And it is, as in all lines, a basic essential.

The lack of those fundamentals has been the main trouble with advertising of the past. Each worker was a law unto himself. all previous knowledge, all progress in the line, was a closed book to him. It was like a man trying to build a modern locomotive without first ascertaining what others had done. It was like Columbus starting out to find an undiscovered land.

Men were guided by whims and fancies – vagrant, changing breezes. They rarely arrived at their port. When they did, quite by accident, it was by a long roundabout course.

Each early mariner in this sea mapped his own separate course. There were no charts to guide him. Not a
lighthouse marked a harbor, not a buoy showed a reef. The wrecks were unrecorded, so countless ventures came to grief on the same rocks and shoals.

Advertising was a gamble, a speculation of the rashest sort. One man’s guess on the proper course was as likely to be as good as anothers’. There were no safe pilots, because few sailed the same course twice.

The condition has been corrected. Now the only uncertainties pertain to people and to the products, not to methods. We cannot say that an article will be popular, but we know how to sell it in the most effective way.”

The above passage could easily be talking about the current lack of systematic knowledge needed in the talent marketing space. How many companies and recruiters are doomed to try the same failed recruitment strategies and crash upon the rocks because they lacked the knowledge of which direction to go? The reality is that very little is known in terms of tried & true principles for recruiting because the industry has not taken this Scientific approach. Yet the tools and ability to measure all your talent marketing efforts now exists..so that you can run those test ads, measure their performance, and finally start making informed decisions on which direction to go.

If you have some free time and are looking for some keen insights into how best to create your talent marketing campaigns, i recommend reading this book….you’ll definitely come away with some new perspectives. And then, hopefully, you can start to implement some of those systematic principles in your next talent marketing/recruiting efforts.

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