Thursday, May 08, 2008

Do you sell to BOTH of your markets?

Every business, at least every business that is successful, knows what's its primary market is: scientific equipment buyers; over-priced coffee consumers; low-cost chiropractic patients. Could be anything.

But do you know about your other market?

I can hear you now... "Oh great dispenser of wisdom, what is this market?" Well, let me give you a hint: have you tried to hire an excellent software developer lately? Let me tell you, it's hard. Really hard.

I'm trying to hire four developers right now. Unfortunately for me I'm having a tough time finding people with the smarts, drive, talent, and special-something that makes for a great GenoLogics employee. But that's not why I'm writing this post.

The point of this post is that all my hiring pain has made me realize that there is a second market that our we haven't properly focused on. A market that is absolutely critical to our business success. A market that no business can afford to ignore, but which is often unnoticed. It is the market for talent.

In a traditional market your business is likely trying push some product or service into the hands (or minds) of its customers. This is done through sales channels, distribution mechanisms, advertising and revenue collection models. You do all this while competing against other businesses selling products to those same customers. Standard Harvard Business School stuff.

The good news is, once you recognize it, the market for talent is familiar in some important ways. You just need to relabel a few things and it all becomes clear. For example the product you are selling is a job. The revenue you are hoping to collect is the time and attention of a potential employee. That part is straightforward.

But what changes when, instead of a point-in-time purchase like a cup of coffee, you are trying to sell something that requires your customers to commit the majority of their time and effort to your product? All of a sudden your product starts looking less like that cup of coffee, and more like a fitness membership.

So what is your sales channel? How do you distribute your product? Do you have the correct marketing and advertising plan?

Your answers to these three questions can make the difference between a ho-hum hiring drive, and a remarkable recruitment effort, so think carefully.

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