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What HR and Recruiting Can Learn From Groupon....

What can HR and Recruiting Learn from Groupon?  Simple.  If you don't think marketing is a big part of your job, you've missed the point.

Let me set it up for you.  I was on site with a client for whom we're heading a retained search.  Purple squirrel stuff, I was there to dig through about 3 hours worth of work product (the work the right candidate would Groupon_4C produce) so I could be super honed in to what the shade of purple the squirrel would be.

The preceding weekend, I penned a job posting for the position.  I've written in the past about the need to use job postings as a marketing tool.  Still, I was a little wary of giving the founder of a company (who really didn't know the Capitalist style) a renegade job posting.  

Then, I thought about Groupon and quickly came to my senses.  I couldn't afford NOT to go with the renegade job posting.

Here's the link between my search and Groupon.  Groupon has created a new market for daily offer/coupons in the metro areas they serve.  The primary way they've built the business includes one strategy you'd totally expect and one strategy no one else had the creativity to think of.  They've built the business on the back of an expanded sales force (you expect that) and a dynamic editorial group (no one has ever done that in this sector) that is responsible for writing coupon offers that stand out from the crowd.  Here are some notes from a Dig Communication interview with Brandon Copple, Managing Editor of Groupon:

"DIG: What’s the role of editorial at Groupon now, and where do you see it going over time?

BC: Before I took this job, (CEO) Andrew Mason told me that he saw editorial as the soul of Groupon. My boss, Aaron With, the editor in chief, has created this amazing content that’s built on quality, transparency and accuracy. (For businesses that do offers through the site,) it’s like being featured in a magazine, with a funny, clear and compelling description of your business. But we don’t oversell. We don’t use any of their proprietary language or branding… As far as where it’s going, one of my goals is to make Groupon a destination for aspiring writers. I want it to be a place you go because you want to write for a living, because you want to write every day, write creatively and get published on a site that’s widely read and respected.

DIG: So you really view the editorial voice as something that differentiates Groupon from all those new competitors out there?

BC: Definitely. We have this incredible voice that’s unique. Based on humor, creative but clear, descriptive but concise. There’s nobody out there putting as much muscle and intellectual power into their editorial. And our sales reps use it (as a point of difference when appealing to businesses)."

Translation: There's opportunity to differentiate in every job on the planet by thinking more like a marketer, and HR and Recruiting have more opportunity than most.

You can write the same old job posting that everyone else is doing and give the market what it expects.  Be prepared for your opening to be swiftly treated like most - which is to say ignored.

Or, you can be a marketer and try and write something that gets noticed and shared.  It's tough, because when you put yourself out there, you open yourself up to be mocked by the cynical/jaded/those just waiting for the end to come.  It's a risk.

Be like Groupon.  They recently got 6 Billion reasons confirming their content/marketing approach is valued in a way different from all their competitors.


Jim D'Amico

Kris, interesting take, however, I think your argument may put to much basis on the potential value of written job postings. I agree it's a great opportunity to differentiate yourself, but I'm not convinced the effort:return ratio will be there. But that's also dependent on the effectiveness of other channels, I know. Here's an interesting article on Groupon that's worth keeping in mind.
The lesson I take away, is differentiate now, before everyone is doing there version of it, and the "noise" again becomes deafing for candidates.


Hi Jim -

Valid point. While the post doesn't capture it, my larger point is that HR and Recruiting pros need to think like marketers. In the case of job postings, it's being more of a writer - in other areas, the skills required might be more direct-mail related. In another, the focus might be on the creative.

The key is to think like a marketer...Other thing - the creativity required to effectively differentiate doesn't exist in the industry - so if people don't start because they feel like the the value gap will be narrowed as others come to the party.. Well, that's a rationalization for never seeking to differentiate...

Good points... Thanks for the comment and dialog...

Lauren Klein

Kris - thanks for the article and I really like the provocation for new media approaches to recruiting. Would be interested to hear your perspective on who is doing this new thinking well and perhaps share your insights with some of our members at Regards, Lauren


Groupon does have some unique editorials, but I have to admit the first online company that comes to mind when I think of creative writing is HR/Recruiting can learn a lot from both of them.

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