Don’t create a monster!

“After so much time spent in painful labour, to arrive at once at the summit of my desires was the most gratifying consummation of my toils. But this discovery was so great and overwhelming that all the steps by which I had been progressively led to it were obliterated, and I beheld only the result.”


Photo credit: twm1340

That’s what Victor Frankenstein says about his achievement in Mary Shelley’s famous novel, and, of course, his methodology proves to be tragically flawed. In our session at the 2013 AGR Conference, I talked about how different it is to the much more scientific method taken by Back to the Future’s Doc Brown, whose approach is to make a hypothesis, test, tweak and learn (“Great Scott!”) as he goes.

It’s an approach which has been applied by those companies who subscribe to the Lean Startup movement, including the likes of Facebook. In a nutshell, the Lean Startup argues that we should build, measure and learn much quicker than we’re used to doing, so that we can minimise the amount of time and money wasted developing untested (so potentially unwanted) ideas.

It’s an infectious way of thinking, and one we’ve seen adopted by some of the employers we work with – especially smaller ones – take in developing their graduate attraction strategies. We’ve found it’s a great way of thinking to improve useful innovation and maximise ROI from graduate attraction activities.

Here are a few tips to help you think leaner in your graduate recruitment marketing strategies:

  1. Make a hypothesis based on what you know about your target audience(s) and work out a quick, cheap marketing strategy to test whether it is true (Build, Measure, Learn). Digital platforms are particularly good for this because they are so quick and often they are free to use.
  2. Repeat step 1 as often as you can.
  3. Make the constant process of learning about your target audience more important than the results of any individual campaign or initiative. Think: “The only failure is failing to learn.”
  4. Don’t pin all your plans on qualitative research. Remember: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them” (Steve Jobs). The only way to test if your target audience responds to your campaign is by trying it.
  5. Make innovation a constant process informed by the results of your last experiment, not an annual search for a fad no-one else has found yet.
  6. Challenge your organisation’s guidelines if you find they are not working for you. Those guidelines are an investment – they take time and money to follow. What return are they bringing your organisation?
  7. Seek out allies from other areas of your organisation who are facing the same challenges. Address them together.
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