Current Yellow Pages logo.

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Message and Medium Matter

One of the more irritating things about living in an apartment complex are the constant attempts at outreach by merchants in the surrounding area. These business owners rightly view our apartment community as a concentrated mecca of potential business, and they use printed media to let us know they are out there. Unfortunately, the message is rarely delivered effectively because of the medium.

There are probably about 20 pizza places and a half dozen places to get Chinese carryout within a two mile radius of where I live. I swear they all send me a handbill or a coupon every week. Here’s the bad news: I never look at them. They get stuck on my windshield, in my door, in my mailbox, but I never read them or use them. They are just hand delivered trash as far as I am concerned.

I am not receiving the message because the medium doesn’t work for me. Put a coupon on my Facebook page and I might notice it. Put in on my car, and it goes in the trash at the Hess station or Dunkin Donuts when I stop to get my coffee.

The Yellow Pages

I know that all the different publications that get delivered to my stoop are not supposed to be referred to as “the Yellow Pages”, but I am going to do it anyway. So whether your book is printed by some very distant kin to Ma Bell herself or comes to me via a printer from China doesn’t really matter. I don’t look at any of them.

Listen to this advertisers: I get the book. I pick it up. I throw it in the trash. I get extra pissed because the area where I live doesn’t offer any sort of convenient recycling.

People paid to have their ads run. People paid to get those book delivered. Sometimes the books make it all the way to my front door. Sometimes, they get dumped by the communal mail area. No matter where I get them from, all of mine wind up in the trash.

Why? Because somebody somewhere came up with the idea to send me something I didn’t want or need.

I will concede that some people, perhaps even many, use these books to find services or shops that they wouldn’t have found otherwise. So there may yet be a place in the universe for books that will let you “Let you fingers do the walking”. If there wasn’t some utilization, I doubt whether people would pay to advertise in these books, the companies who sell the ads wouldn’t print them, and the dudes who dump the damn things on my steps wouldn’t get paid to do so. All that is great, but… I. Don’t. Read. Your. Damn. Books!

You are sending me something I don’t need or want.

Lots of Human Resources departments are just like the Yellow Pages

So what can you do?

Make a list of 10 things that you hate about HR?

And then start fixing one!

I think that HR has allowed itself to become like the yellow pages. Somebody somewhere thinks they are making a good project or providing a valuable service. The companies they work for pay them to do this. People still get paid to make sure the the product or service is placed in the hands of the organizational customers.

And when they get, the customer isn’t exactly sure where it came from, why they needed it in the first place, or what they exactly they are supposed to do with it. If they act like me when I get a advertisement on my windshield, they look for the closest, most convenient trash receptacle, dump the unwanted item without really giving it much attention, and move on.

Is this happening to you? Probably!

Give the Customer what they want! (most of the time)

So here are some ways for HR peeps to start fixing their departments if they are broken like this.

1. Give your customers what they want more often than giving them what you think they need!
2. Tell them what you are giving them.
3. Tell them why.
4. Tell them what they are supposed to do with it.
5. Explain the freakin’ value proposition! They need to know “WITFM”? (What’s in this for me?)
6. Review your customer communication channels. Check to see if messages are getting through.
7. Check the trash for discards and figure out why that happened in order to fix it.

Now, go get some shit done!

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Views: 173

Comment by Charles Van Heerden on September 29, 2009 at 1:50am
Hi Michael, it seems as if you have not had great interactions with your HR departments. The key is really understanding what your customers need, at all levels. I would venture to state that HR is generally much more customer focused than most Finance Departments (though I am not sure that should be the benchmark).

The biggest issue is that everyone thinks they can do hr (transactional) but don't understand HR (strategic).
Comment by Martien de Jong on September 29, 2009 at 4:50am
To me this does not seem like the HR department, but more like the organisation as a whole.
I agree with your point, and the list is very useful.
Usually it is much easier to give someone what they need than making them need what you want to give them.
Comment by David C. White on September 29, 2009 at 11:49am
Regarding your disdain for advertising:
A response from a 30 year adv. vet turned financial and legal recruiter.

All those flyers that litter your life?
Like recruiting, the advertisers – pizza joints, Chinese takeouts, etc. – are playing a numbers game they know will pay off.
Consider: PollyWantAPizza prints and distributes 1000 flyers for about $100. If they get a one percent response, that’s ten new customers. If five become regulars, the costs will be paid off pretty quickly. Plus, happy customers tell other people who become new customers.

Another scenario: You come home from work and think to yourself, “Ummmm, pizza.”
(Yes, I know Homer says, “Ummmm, donuts” but we’re talking dinner here.) For finding a place to order from, your choices are, 1. turn on the computer and wait for it to boot up or 2., grab the Yellow Pages. My guess? It is faster to flip through the Yellow Pages rather wait for your PC or Mac to wake up; not to mention the time finding a pizza joint online. But wait – your computer is out for revenge and taking its time booting up AND you threw out the Yellow Pages and all the pizza and Chinese flyers – you’re going to starve!!!

So don’t feel you’re being singled out with all the flyers and Yellow Pages. I used to work for Discover Card and the marketing numbers for mailers I saw would make your teeth itch.
Regarding your 7 steps to fixing HR:
As a recruiter, we sometimes know what a company needs as well as what they want. After submitting “wants” and getting rejections, we know that when we submit a “need” the reaction will be more accepting. At our firm, we submit a candidate write up that covers your points 2-5 with the resume. It also helps to have built a good working relationship with clients.

BTW: You lost credibility when you mentioned your love of Dunkin Donuts coffee!
I admit I really like Dunkin Donut’s apple fritters and French crullers – but their coffee?
The last cup of DD coffee tasted like the cardboard cup.

David White
Comment by Michael VanDervort on September 29, 2009 at 12:20pm
@David White

Hey, thanks for the sparky, bub!

I used to be a dyed in the wool starbucks guy until I figured out that I could get a cup of coffee, two donuts, and change for the same price at DD as I did for a cup of crappy tasting stuff at SBUX.

Where do you go in Chicago? White Pantry? White Castle? McD's?

Seriously, thanks for the insight to your recruting process. This post is really part of looking at HR in total, as opposed to recruiting. I know this site is called recruiting blogs, but I am fond of the place and many of the people, so sometimes I go outside the recruiting sphere.



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