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Prestigious Products: The Flypaper for Recruiting Top Talent

Does talent matter?

According to Gallup, if you get the top 20% most talented candidates for a role, you’ll frequently realize a 10% increase in productivity, a 20% increase in sales, a 30% increase in profitability, a 10% decrease in turnover and a 25% decrease in unscheduled absences.

Getting top talent pays off! But how do you attract top talent in a tight labor market? How do you compete with the likes of Apple, Google or any company offering sexy, sizzling, high-profile products?

To fight back, you need to draw attention to something of your own that is so bright and shiny, that candidates can’t resist peeking at your job postings. A great way to do that is to create a luxury-like, prestige version of a product in your portfolio that is so amazing and so over-the-top that potential employees will want to learn more.

This concept applies to any product or service category, to any industry and to any job function. Even the most boring, uninspiring and low-cost product offering can be transformed in a way that will grab attention.

The goal of adding prestige is not necessarily to create a high-volume sales potential business. In fact, when you create a luxury-like version of your product, you may never sell a single unit. That’s because the goal is to create a crown jewel so remarkable as a way to prove to your customers, your employees and to your potential employees that you have the wherewithal, the leadership and the resources to pull it off. You’re making a powerful statement that your company is capable and competitive. You’re drawing all kinds of attention from investors, competitors, community leaders and the media. Luxury gets noticed.

It’s an extreme strategy, but it works because it is extreme. As a result, customers are impressed. They suddenly understand your company and your brand in a way that wasn’t possible before. And they’re more inclined to buy your products and services with a fuller appreciation of what you deliver. Thus, they become more loyal. Just like customers, your potential employees are also impressed.

But what exactly is luxury or anything that reaches a level of prestige? According to  The Management of Luxury, “a luxury good must be rare and desirable... A luxury good must be extreme compared to the other offerings in its category, but there is something inherently relative about luxury goods, driving the definition of luxury away from the offering itself and toward a consumer’s perspective.”

Two characteristics, broadly speaking, emerge most often from luxury industry experts: uniqueness and individualization. Luxury items are over-the-top compared to their non-luxury counterparts, and they are somehow connected to the owner in a personalized or customized way. That’s what creates a masterful, prestigious solution without equal.

To create an amazing version of an existing product, you need to turn on what I call “luxury switches” that transform a product or service so that it becomes unique and individualized. You can read about 15 of the most powerful switches and how to use them in a creative and powerful way, here.

Is it worth the investment? Go back and re-read the Gallup results if you’re still in doubt. But how would you put a prestige product to work for you in a talent recruiting context?

Let’s imagine you invest in creating a prestige version of a product or service in your portfolio. Now that you have the visible, tangible evidence of how capable your company is, you can bring it to job fairs to let prospective candidates interact with it. You can start a social media community around the product to drive awareness. You could show off the product at industry trade shows and conventions. You can brag about this amazing addition to the portfolio in virtually every communication and sales channel you use.

Imagine you make power tools used by contractors: concrete drills, jackhammers and cutting tools. It’s a highly competitive market with a global reach and constant price pressures. You need to attract top-tier MBAs into your finance and marketing groups around the world. On the surface, this could seem like a boring category for young MBAs. You could offer high salaries, of course, but that is not enough. You need to show candidates that they are joining an incredibly talented group of like-minded professionals who want to make the most amazing versions of that product category possible.

And that is exactly what companies like Bosch, Festool, Siemens and others do. The marketing team at Bosch USA, for example, is one of the most talented and motivated group of marketing professionals I’ve ever met, and every bit as skilled as the best marketers at consumer-packaged goods companies like Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

This strategy is even more important if you don’t have brand recognition like the companies just mentioned. Have you ever heard of Danaher? It may be the largest company you’ve never heard of, a $22 billion, Fortune 500 behemoth with an amazing portfolio of diversified healthcare business units. Its biggest challenge in recruiting is overcoming the lack of brand recognition. Imagine you’re at a job fair and you have to choose between visiting the teams from Amazon, Nike, GE, Disney or Danaher (who?).

Without that "recruiting flypaper", your company will struggle to get the talent it needs.

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