Is it Time to Change the Way We Remunerate Recruiters?


As someone who is champion to the science of Marketing, many an executive throws down a gauntlet for me in terms of Marketing innovation: In a recent Pricing Workshop, someone challenged me to develop a better “model of exchange” in recruitment. Well here goes…


For a long time, some business leaders have harboured a certain dissatisfaction in the price-value equation for recruitment services in Australia.


For employers, there has been a suspicion that recruiters are paid excessively for what they do. For recruiters, there is a perception of the importance of correct recruitment that justifies their high commissions. For applicants, there is a frustration that they have been screened out with inadequate diligence, and that recruiters deliver an inefficient service to both applicants and employers.


Recruiters argue commissions of 30% of more for senior and key appointments are justified, citing “costs and overheads” that form an impeccable service. Sophistications such as advanced CV screening, diligent and deep reference-checking, background research, best-quality personality testing and other “overheads” are presented as depth and value in the service provided, giving the employer the best chance of securing an “A-class” candidate.


However, recruiters are very quick to limit their liability to a three-month trial period, before the waive all responsibility and leave the joined match to its own future.


For quality candidates who refuse to lie or exaggerate in their CV, there is a loss of trust in a system that doesn’t give a honest applicant a “fair go”.


A bad appointment can mean the end with blame being purposeless

All too often the employee doesn’t reveal weaknesses or inability to deliver until well past that point… with employers discovering all too late that they should have employed someone else.


Recruiters blame their clients for incomplete or inappropriate briefs, or simply the decision responsibility being beyond their mandate.


Employers blame recruiters for presenting tool limited a field of appropriate candidates, not consulting in a fiduciary manner, filling the brief rather than offering alternative (better?) options, of simply doing a personality match rather than a skills/competence match.


Regardless, a bad appointment can mean loss of profits, milestone negative implications that can extend to downturn, loss of jobs, or even the end of the organisation.


A Better Way to Remunerate Recruiters?

It is only right and proper that recruiters who genuinely match the best possible candidate to the right employers be handsomely rewarded.


At the other end of the spectrum, it is also unproductive to reward recruiters if they present inappropriate, badly selected, unsuitable or inadequately competent candidates.


An alternative Model to Reward Recruiters

What if recruiters could be rewarded for quality of employee service?

What if recruiters could be rewarded for duration of employee service?

What if recruiters could be rewarded for contribution to employee performance?

Wouldn’t it be fairer if recruiters shared in employees’ bonuses?

Wouldn’t it be fairer if recruiters shared in employees’ salary increases?

Wouldn’t it be fairer if recruiters shared in employees’ career progression?

I wonder if it is time to reward recruiters with a superior win/win/win approach?

How about rewarding recruiters on a longer-term basis? What if they were paid an override for every year of service? 10 years in the job would be a great appointment – worthy of a handsome commission. 18 months of hair-pulling agony, sub-optimal results, and organisational disharmony not rewarded significantly means recruiters have “skin-in-the game”.

The override could include bonuses and pay-rises… that would be fair too, while NOT receiving huge commissions for appointing short-duration candidates would also be fair.



I genuinely would like to hear comments on this … form recruiters, employers AND candidates… it could be an opportunity to bring about constructive change… but if it is not, I’d like to hear other thoughts.


There is a crisis of engagement. With 87% of employees disengaged worldwide, Gallup states in a 2016 report that “employee engagement has barely budged in years”. In the United States and Australia these figures are 68% and 76% respectively. These levels of disengagement represent billions of dollars in costs to organisations and governments.

Why are so many employees disengaged? How can organisations increase engagement? What effect do disengaged customers, students, welfare recipients and other stakeholders have on the bottom line and on organisational success? How can you find a superior means to overcome these engagement problems?

With a market in need of a viable solution, management has to address the symptoms, the foundations and find the solution, including a next generation of engagement tools.

Leaders MUST address the issues, the direct & indirect costs, the effect on customer experience, and the philosophies around minimising, and explore new & engaging methodology to deal with this problem.


Increasing employee engagement investments of 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year. (Source: Workplace Research Foundation). Employers are rapidly catching on to the positive ROI of investing in their employee engagement efforts.

Highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity. (Source: Workplace Research Foundation). This is a huge part of where we see increased profits coming from. Kevin Kruse (@Kruse) coined a great term to define this ripple effect that employee engagement tends to have on an organization, he calls it, “The Engagement Profit Chain”.

Companies that foster engaged brand ambassadors in their workforce report an average of 2.69 sick days taken annually per employee, compared to companies with weak engagement efforts, reporting an average of 6.19 sick days. (Source: Workplace Research Foundation). Sick days can be very costly in the way of lost productivity and reduced workplace morale. Reducing these costs is just another benefit associated with employee engagement efforts.

Companies with engaged employees, outperform those without by 202%. (Source: Dale Carnegie). “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don’t work just for a pay-cheque, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals.” – Kevin Kruse

Companies that implement regular employee feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than for employees who receive no feedback. (Source: Gallup). This is a big one folks! There are a lot of estimates on the cost of employee turnover, and honestly, that number is going to be different for each employee, location and company. The exact number doesn’t matter as much as the prevention of that cost. What is employee turnover costing you?

Only about 25% of business leaders have an employee engagement strategy. (Source: Dale Carnegie). There’s another powerful statistic. The benefits of building an engaged workforce are undeniable, yet so many companies haven’t made the investment yet. This disconnect seems like the opportunity for a strong competitive advantage over the other 75% of companies who don’t have a strategy.

The numbers don’t lie, organizations are going to need to invest in employee engagement in order to stay competitive, drive productivity and improve the bottom line.


Leaders need to develop sincere, motivating, inspiring alignment of teams for many reasons… Remove silos, undo secret agenda, create unity of effort, inspire initiative, minimise mistakes, etc.

At Launch Engineering, we deal with this under the “8th “P” of Marketing, “Politics”… were we recognise that Internal Marketing is key to Marketing Strategy & Planning. Readers should contact Launch engineering or visit…



Brand Equity Grows with Business Productivity from People

Engagement Levels Around the World

43 years of Marketing… And it struck me that I have been obsessed with perfection of application and implementation of marketing excellence for 40 of those years – holy hell!

To be fair, my blind faith in commercially-usable academic knowledge has been the major reason I have pulled off some record-breaking successes in my career… by simply taking proven marketing science and applying it.

So, it’s no wonder that my peers shake their heads in dour and reluctant tolerance to what we call the “dumbing down” of skills and knowledge in the world of Marketing.

In particular, we’ve seen an awful downward slide in the quality and output of market research… reviewing studies done for clients who should have known better, but didn’t.

Is it the client’s fault for not have the skills to be a discriminating buyer?

Is it the researchers’ fault for not setting a standard and mentoring their clients to understand the importance of asking the right people, the right questions, in the right way?

Is it the pure academics, devoid of commercial experience, who are to blame for not delivering the education necessary in marketing graduates?

Is it the academic institutions that should be kicked for appointing inappropriate teachers of marketing for the hundreds of students who are paying for, expecting but not getting, skills that will empower them in commercial marketing roles?

Where does it stop and who will stop it?

Applying some of the theories of Marketing, we might predict that the commercial world will ultimately reject the inferior products now being delivered by academia… forcing academic institutions to return to the belief that only working practitioners marketing can teach it,  which was the original springboard of Marketing into wide-spread fame.

In the meantime, the absence of properly trained Marketing strategists, and the substitution of operational trained under-educated executives TRYING to make prudent business decisions likely to leave many of them face-down in puddles of business problems that shouldn’t even exist.

Absolutely, and without exception, any business that has been successful, accumulated profits and held major market share, should NEVER, that is EVER, g broke, die, or even experience a failed product launch.

Only when management goes wrong, get arrogant, or complacent, of suffers belligerence and apathy borne of bureaucratic inefficiency, do organisations begin to struggle or worse.

And ONLY, when leaders are empowered with strategic marketing knowledge and input, as well as authority to act and utilise this knowledge, will market leaders stop going broke, losing to competitors, or make other terminal business management decisions.

The questions is three-fold:

  1. What proportion of executives are drowning in puddles?
  2. How many partially strategic executives are face-down in shallow water?
  3. And how nay are truly able to survive in the deep?


The Hierarchies of Marketing


Many of my followers enthusiastically support my Hierarchies of Marketing model that identifies the need to ‘balance’ Operational Marketing abilities in organisations with with Strategic knowledge.

The heterogeneous functions within the Marketing Profession

The heterogeneous functions within the Marketing Profession

The basic premise is someone who can lay bricks may not be a natural choice to evolve into the designer for a building like the Opera House: Despite years of experience and loads of confidence… he/she simply may not know how much he/she doesn’t know! (Likewise, a younger person who looks after Marketing Communications collateral and organises trade shows, may not be the best-trained executive to take over a higher, more strategic roles just because they’ve “been in marketing” for 15 years.)

Operational potency and prowess (knowing how the business works, inside-out) have long been respected in day-to-day management; while contemplated, educated and scientific input has been dismissed or resisted. Galileo’s scientific explanation that proposed the planets did not rotate around the earth, to Louis Pasteur suggesting milk processing to control harmful bacteria, are historical examples of OPERATIONAL people harming progress in their disregard for their ‘theoretical’ advisors.

History of Mismanagement Repeats Itself

It was operational leaders of Fairfax in the 2000’s who dismissed the threat of the internet: There operationally skilled CEO insisting that the SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) would forever be the ONLY way consumers would find a job, buy real-estate, or a car!

The finance & banking industry listened to Operational folk and gagged the strategic advice of specialised theorists prior to (perhaps causing) the GFC of 2008.

Led by operationally cluey folk, the traditional retail brands in the retail fashion industry now sit on the brink of crippling demise!

IN the midst of retail collapse, success stories abound of those quick to take up online retailing gazumping their more powerful but less responsive competitors.

So many businesses are now still struggling to adopt to the online world… many fashion retailers burdened by traditional shops that drain overheads and exhaust working capital, while slick on-line fashion retailers guzzle down healthy loads of profit.

Poor Old Sampson

Sampson is an old school friend who was a natural entrepreneur at 14. It was Sam who organised our first school dance. It was Sam who, year one after leaving school, first made the newspapers for entrepreneurial excellence. It was Sam who bought the first Porsche (cash) before the rest of us turned 21. It was Sam who grew his business nationally with dozens of retail stores around the country…. It is now Sam who is bleeding a 6-figure, monthly loss. Trapped by faith in operational colleagues, and the smoke and mirrors of “good-time” (operationally skilled) consultants and peers, Sam dismisses the strategic counsel that could save his fortunes, slingshot him into new, winning business success, and eliminate his struggles to slow the bleeding and develop “me-too” systems to follow (too late) his internet-entrenched competitors.

Lack of Strategic Management Expertise is as Bad as Missing Operational Talent

When the opportunity of online retailing first became feasible, the future was so obvious for strategic folk, but so difficult to convince their operational counterparts, that some strategists “jumped the fence’ to try their hand at operational activities… with mixed results… that only encouraged operational leaders that these strategic opposites were wrong.

Regardless, the KEY POINT is that businesses short of strategic leadership (not tactical ideas guys, but properly trained and qualified strategy planners) are inevitably temporary business entities… they’ll survive, even prosper is ‘good times’, but fold like a deck of cards as soon as innovation (such as disruptive technology, economic change, socio-cultural metamorphosis, etc.) occurs.

Online Retailing as a Mandatory Channel of Distribution

Online Retailing, for MOST product categories and industries, has become a viable, if not mandatory, channel of distribution. Innovative businesses have already secured positioning and infrastructure to prosper.

Although innovative businesses have already secured positioning and infrastructure to prosper, traditional retailers can still profit from their understanding of operational issues by combining comprehensive strategic thought, to secure sustainable competitive advantage in online retailing… but only with open-mindedness and hunger to maintain and build existing retail businesses into ones that will persist in the future.

It means taking what you know, adding the proven, scientific tools of marketing strategists TO the new skills of digital promotional experts… AND THEN the traditional skills of advertising and promotions specialists, WITH the specific skills of qualified web development and IT gurus…

Summarily, opportunities for domination in online retailing still exist “SUBJECT TO” some factors

“First entrant advantage” has gone. Now, marketers need the formal, disciplined knowledge of TRAINED marketing strategists, who understand the plethora of market alternatives, and business dimensions, above and beyond buyer behaviour dynamics and 8P’s inter-relationships, to identify, build and nurture sustainable competitive advantage: Massive opportunities can erupt out of Type II (Dynamically Continuous) Innovation, but Type I (Continuous Innovation) will prove a hard battle!

21st Century Marketers must coordinate and/or integrate online and physical distribution channels: It is time for traditional retailers to pursue Blue-Ocean strategy and avoid the red-ocean tactics that no longer serve adequate return on investment.


Anyone wanting to discuss the above, other strategic issues, retail online generally, or Hierarchies of Marketing,  is welcome to respond … or visit





When I was a boy, and asked “what do you want to do when you grow up?”, instead of saying fireman or policeman, I would say, “Be a time & efficiency expert”… having evolved into the quasi wish-come-true version of that, I find it enormously frustrating to watch, and doubly frustrating when my assistance is refused, because I can see the solutions, or alternatives, for businesses in trouble.

All around, I see businesses doing it tough, going bad, or just struggling. Other businesses appear to be raking in sales, but losing money through habitual and comfortable routine inefficiencies.

Sadly, bogus consultants, operational ‘experts who have failed to help’ and snake-oil sales folk, have all tarnished the promise of salvation, so these struggling companies – so close to the trees they can’t see the forest – struggle on… doing what they always do, and getting the results they have always gotten. 😦

Years ago, I came across research into how to stop a business bleeding, and how to turn it around, that is summarised below in 8 points…

  1. Accept you must do things differently
  2. Stop & plan: Work on the business, not in it
  3. Listen to your customer service & sales people
  4. Re-evaluate the capabilities of your advisors
  5. Listen to customers
  6. Study your closest competitors
  7. Milk every asset, call in every favour
  8. Move out of your comfort zone

But there are MANY ways to skin a cat.

I remember being served “Cuy” (cooked guinea pig, a Peruvian delicacy) in Peru at the bottom of Machu Picchu…. Having just finished the trek and in celebratory mode, I recall eating regardless of the fact it looked and tasted like rat (and probably was).  The point is, that if you can identify a different market, and position a core product in a different context, you can satisfy new customers with old capabilities (even that pesky kitchen rat!).

THIS is a skill that is beyond operational thinking. It is the domain of power for creative strategists. and goes to the heart of most of the 8 points above.

When executives, who are struggling, say, “we have leading industry experts on our Board and they can’t do anything” or “I can’t afford consultant right now”… yet their inner voice tells them they are headed for doom, these 8 points may be the wake up call necessary.

Some of my followers might recall that I lectured in Marketing Planning at UTS Graduate School of Business between 2003 and 2009.

Others might remember I have written Marketing Plans for national and international companies, many FMCG,  pharmaceutical and consumer durables, a plethora of other big, small & medium companies, both B2B and B2C.

I may have mentioned that I routinely travel to Asia to deliver commercial workshops on Marketing Planning to executives of large national and international companies.

Consequently, I have spent some time and effort to develop an approach to Marketing Planning that takes:

  1. the profit generating tools from academic Marketing Planning, and
  2. the commercial implementation and reality-checked truths of Marketing Planning in the business world,

… and merged and coordinated both, to put together a Marketing Planning workshop designed to help professional marketing and strategic planning executives write break-though, winning marketing plans.

I’m delivering this  richly empowering “how to” this coming February 17 and 18, in Sydney, so I’ve attached a link to a page where you can get a brochure and more info, and I’d be thrilled if you, others you think might benefit, or professional colleagues who could do with some finesse in Marketing Planning, could attend.

I trust that you will give this some serious thought and, if its not for you, pass it on to someone who you think could use the knowledge.

You’ll be able to download the brochure, find information and booking options at..

And please feel free to comment with your thoughts on the content, or any questions.

“The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate them at your own risk”. (Reis, A., & Trout, J. – 1993)” still inspires debate, reflection and grounding among professional marketers.

In reality, it’s an empirically proven list of importance leadership tools for quality CEO’s to consider in the course of nurturing a business.

Entering my 40th year in business, I reflect more frequently on the absolute truth of Law 18, the Law of Success, that says, “Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure.”

One quip about consulting goes, “The people who want your advice don’t need it and people who need your advice don’t want it.”

This is so true with my existing clients right now… the one’s that collaboratively share, and open their minds, grow profitably and consistently…

Looking back over my career (this is not about me, per se, but demonstrations of real outcomes)

It was a humble executive that asked my to derive a strategy 30 years ago that has delivered $250M p.a. in sales for a FMCG brand that his company had fail on launch. It was humility that opened the minds of a large transport company, so I could create strategy that allowed them to find $250M in profit that had alluded them for years.

It was a humble pharmaceutical Marketing Director that opened his mind to my interpretation of academic models that created a new product line in analgesics that has generated $320M of sales in the past 20 years.

On the other hand…

It was sheer corporate arrogance that has stopped Australia’s leading retailer from securing $400M increase in EBT per annum since 2007.

It was defiant arrogance that had a senior finance executive turn his back on me when I suggested I might be able to help his bank deal with troubled divisions, resulting in a 2.5% slump in share price as a result.

When I warned Australia’s Childcare chain, there were indicators that showed they needed my help, told me they didn’t need help… two years before they went bust… the same with Sydney’s oldest confectionery manufacturer.

A few years ago leading Singapore Corporation told me they knew it all and pursued a 6-Sigma project. It ended up costing them $750K and they generated a 0.5% increase in profits as a result. Comparatively, my firm took the same idea to a similar corporation (without arrogant executives) in Thailand, that cost them only $150,000 and generated a massive 22% increase in profit.

When asked, as a child, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I naively answered, “A time and efficiency expert”. In my earliest learning years, I studied for a decade and a half to just to empower myself with the kernel of understanding that needed to grow for another 15 years.

Only in the last decade have I grasped that the key is political finesse and diplomatic charisma, COMBINED with street scars and academic knowledge, but the Catch-22 is that a single individual cannot possess both charm and ability. Arrogance is a cross that some bare openly and others try to conceal and other, still, deny exists.

Leaders can develop a culture that can hamper arrogance, but arrogant leaders will nourish it. Yet is seems unavoidable. Perhaps it is the business circle of life… creating opportunity for new, fresh organisations to grow, while mega corporations choke to death on it?

I’d be interested to hear what others perceive regarding Law 18, please comment, particularly if you have answers to dealing with Corporate Arrogance.