Shannon and I were on a shopping pilgramage last Sunday in one of those outlet malls that stretch out like the Amazon River, a seemingly endless procession of brands, window spam, crying babies, hipsters, hoods and grandmas (and the old men waiting for their shopping compadres in front of the stores in a scene stolen right out of a hospital waiting room in Boca Raton Florida). Like any shopping warrior on a consumer safari there comes a time when your exhaustion reaches a point of desparation and your good senses are replaced by a desire to consume…mall food (gasp).
So there we were rolling our two rent-a-dinosaur-strollers down the mall food court eyeing the Sbarro pasta for the kids and with Shan and I having all the intent in the world to nibble on a couple of double-decker taco supreme’s at Taco Hell. We were eagerly anticipating this satisfying mix of mexi-simu-muck when
we were propositioned by a mall food native. No, not that kind of
proposition. They wanted us to sample their village food.
We quickly declined and kept moving towards our Taco Hut, where before we could clear the first site of accostment, we were surreptitiously propositioned by another smiling native with a tooth pick and some unidentified local food substance. We both began to indicate our desire to refrain from her offering when she dropped the hammer on us and thrust the toothpick in our face as one might a spear. It was clear that she intended to hurt us, with as many toothpicks as it would take, if we dared pass through her village without tasting her cooking. Shannon and I both looked at each other, considered our representative treatment of natives, the sins of our white conquering fathers, and decided that as ambassadors of our country we should sample the native fare. We took the offering, hoping to not find ourselves Indiana Jonesing some monkey brains. Pow! Our taste buds were set on fiahhhhh with a tantalizing mixture of sodium, MSG, and Teriyaki chicken goodness that had us ordering a plate before we could unroot ourselves from our stunned, immobilized, it-doesn’t-taste-like-chicken-I-don’t-want-Taco-Hell-anymore euphoria. Just like that, we were sample suckers!
Is our experience unique?
According to an article published Tuesday, October 17 on Promo Magazine (Sampling Reigns as as key method to drive in-store ROI) we had an up close and personal experience with the powerful influence of sampling. According to Promo:
"Product sampling is the most influential in-store marketing method when it comes to influencing consumer purchase decisions, and is a reliable option for marketers looking to increase ROI.
Some 52.4% of adults 18 and older said they were either "influenced" or "greatly influenced" by in-store product sampling, compared to 43.2% who cited product labels and 39.5% for shelf coupons, according to the recent Simultaneous Media Usage Survey by BIGresearch."
So how do we apply this to recruiting?
Well I’d like your feedback on this. The idea of employees ‘trying out a company’ and vice versa is not new but I don’t think the practice is common. At least in terms of it being an explicit hiring practice. I think the model is flawed at present and skewed towards the employer and not in the least attractive but to the most self-assured of individuals. But, I don’t see that it has to be that way. Most offers of employment are truly at-will anyway. Wouldn’t an employment contract with a 6 month minimum with a built in stay/or leave decision at month three be a workable alternative? That way both employer and employee would have a three month transition to their next life?
Also from the Promo Magazine Article…
"Whether you’re promotionally oriented or you want to make up your own
mind, sooner or later you have to figure out if you like the taste of
the pizza," said Phil Rist, a researcher at BIGresearch. "It’s at a
point where you can experience the product directly."
While sampling may not be a stated recruiting strategy at most companies most employers have a well tested ‘try before you buy’ hiring model. It’s called consulting, or freelancing, and desperation, among other things. With consulting, the employer has all the benefits of the sampling strategy in addition to none of the headaches that hiring full time employees has. And on the consultant side, as a free agent there isn’t a down side either, because the job is just another contract and consultants/free agents are always working on what there next gig will be. I bet you’ll recognize the following scenario.
Company X hires an independent consultant,let’s call her Jane, on a 1 month project. They like the consultant so much they keep her around for another project for four additional months. At some point during this time they make Jane the consultant an offer to stay as Jane the employee. Consultant Jane and Company X are joined in holy compamony until the next layoff or a better offer comes along. This isn’t a bad model. The free agent finds out if they really like the company and the company makes a real sure-thing hire. So why isn’t this practice more prevalent in today’s talent hungry market where access to the right talent adds up to victory or defeat in the marketplace?
Do you have a tasty toothpick sample ready to wave in front of your next superstar employee? Are you looking for your next full time company mover and shaker in the ever burgeoning free agent talent pool? Have you had any experiences with sampling as a direct recruitment strategy or in the passive free agent/consulting model I’ve outlined? Sound off would ya?
[tags]Recruiting, Free Agents, Freelancing, Sample Marketing[/tags]