By: Marc Acton, Associate Creative Director
Lessons learned over a decade of recruiting some of the world’s finest humans for one of the world’s toughest jobs.
For about a decade, iostudio has been convincing highly qualified applicants to sign up for a job that could take them to some very uncomfortable, hot and sandy places. In fact, as one of the team of civilian companies contracted to recruit for the Army National Guard, every one of our successful recruits has to come to terms with the fact that buying what we’re selling might literally land them in real danger. This undertaking has been, for me personally, one of the most satisfying challenges I’ve ever undertaken. But it has also been hugely challenging. Fortunately, we’ve learned a few things over the years about what works, what doesn’t, and how to sell a product that requires a life-changing commitment.
The show-don’t-tell principle is even more important if you’re changing people’s lives.
One of our most successful recent projects for the National Guard’s website was an application that walked recruits through their entire career. Like a choose your own adventure book, users are given a series of content describing each phase of their career, with questions posed throughout that steer the experience. By the end, they can see what a whole career spent in the Guard might look like. When we released the timeline app, conversion skyrocketed.
It’s not hard for motivated individuals to imagine having a new life, but even for the bravest, it’s still a little scary. So whether you’re recruiting medical professionals, law enforcement, or military, showing your audience what their new life will look like will improve conversion.
Customer engagement is critical.
My wife can’t leave a shoe store without having a 20-minute conversation with at least one salesperson. It’s adorable. But for most of us, buying everyday items takes very little engagement with a seller. When you’re recruiting for life changing jobs, though, more nurturing is needed.
For iostudio, we address the need for maximum engagement in two primary ways. First, we run a first-rate call center, staffed with professional subject matter experts, highly educated in the product that we’re selling. Second, we streamline the process of getting applicants to real live recruiters, who walk our applicants through the entire process of joining, from start to finish.
If what you’re selling requires a major life change, build engagement into your marketing plan. Prioritize customer service, and don’t skimp on your human resource investment.
You have to balance features with benefits.
Some people have service in their bones. Soldiers, physicians, nurses, physical therapists—you won’t find many of these professionals without that helper gene. Whatever it is that gives certain people an internal desire to help people, almost all of them have it, and we should absolutely speak to it.
But if you’re recruiting for these jobs, altruism alone doesn’t fill all the boots that need filling. Instead, a balance has to be struck between the nuts and bolt features of the positions with the benefits. For the Guard, features include tangible things like pay, or training opportunities. Benefits can be tangible too, but are more about how recruits will be affected by signing up. So a feature might be that the Guard offers education benefits. The benefit to that feature would be new career options. When you’re recruiting heroes, it’s often the features that get your foot in the door. But if you’re not selling the benefits, and including some aspirational content, you’re missing out on some conversion rate.
Don’t forget the Influencers.
We recently updated the Guard’s homepage. Along with a few other changes, we implemented some user pathing options for influencers—parents, coaches, teachers, anybody who would have an affect on our target market. The content we’re now presenting them with wasn’t just curated for them, it was actually written to them.
There might be some real Lone Rangers out there who make these major life changes all on their own. But most everybody who’s making a major life change is going to consult with their people. Recruiting doctors? Better have some information for spouses. Trying to fill positions at an overseas nonprofit? Better talk to your recruits’ families.
By the way, after we made the changes to the homepage, which our influencer pathing was a huge part of, we saw a 48% decrease in bounce rate, and a 13% increase in average visit duration. Include your market’s loved ones in your messaging, and you should see similar results.
If you’re tired of jumping through all of these recruitment hoops yourself, you don’t have too. We can help. Our hoop game is strong.
Marc Acton was born at a very young age in a moderately old town in Florida. Some other stuff happened, and then he became iostudio’s Associate Creative Director. For us, he proudly pokes and prods projects for the Army National Guard including social media and web, writing and strategizing content that converts. He is a fan of the Oxford comma, saying more with less, and helping write bios for extremely talented iostudians. He also flies helicopters for the Army National Guard. Which reminds us, how can you tell if a helicopter pilot is at your party? (He’ll tell you.)