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?


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.

If every SMB used a QUALIFIED marketing consultant there would be  a LOT less SMB’s but a LOT more successful corporations. If not, they’d either be large businesses, merged businesses or different businesses.

Small businesses are, far too often, stunted by the limited skills, incompetence, or timidness of the Owner, CEO, major shareholder.

Qualified Accountants, aggressive Sales executives, IT buffs, Workplace bullies, proud tradesman and rich kids can all end up owning or running a business. They are not bad people, and CAN be successful business managers, if they open their minds to, and receive, GOOD business advice.

Did you know advanced marketing training includes CORRECT responses to make for differing market and business conditions, and the Strategic directions and setting certain business circumstances and avoided in others is an area MOST people don’t assume falls under the responsibility of Marketing Management?

Big companies support heavyweight bureaucracy , sometime crippling politics, excessive salaries in top heavy management structures, and other IN-efficiencies of scale because they embrace productive business disciplines and scientific business principles.

SME’s are more likely to make decisions based on emotion, limited experience and education, the way they’ve always done it, or the cheapest option (likely to be the worst choice)…

Only advanced marketing professionals possess the balance of training and skills in the broad plethora of marketing disciplines, that include:

– Distribution Analysis & Strategy
– Buyer Behaviour Analysis
– B2B strategic methodology
– Marketing Accountability Analysis (ROI, Forecasting, Performance Assessment, Net Marketing Contribution)
– Marketing Communications theory specific to the unique factors of an individual business – rather than those that may be seen to have worked for other businesses
– Pricing Methods and Strategies
– SCIENTIFIC New Product Development
– Understanding of the factors that generate Sustainable Competitive Advantage
– Marketing planning >>> Resource planning >>> Management
– Brand equity, brand portfolio strategies, brand life cycle, etc.
– STP (Segmentation, Targeting, positioning)
– Innovation types, product types, life cycle types, gap analysis..
– The right use of digital, when analogue is still better, and how to maximize returns from both media options

…. and so much more!

The great Conundrum of Marketing is that decision-makers often know so little about the depth and breadth of Marketing, and self-proclaimed marketing experts who are perceived to be good at “Marketing” when their strategic skills are all but absent, far out-number those with REAL skills and true knowledge.

When leaders find the latter, and IF they listen, THAT is when a business prospers… A GOOD Strategic Marketing Consultant will more than pay for themselves (many times over) – that is HOW to recognize a good one, and that is why SMB’s/SME’s should search for and hold on to, a qualified strategic marketing consultant.

One of the profound things I learned after 13 years studying “Marketing” at Uni, from tutoring & lecturing in “Marketing” to MBA students and debating “Marketing” with my peers, is the commercial advantage of using academic knowledge that has meaning and relevance in the commercial environment.


One of the things taught in higher Economics is that “super-normal” profits only comes to businesses that fall into the economic industry-classification of “Monopolies” or “Monopolistic Competition” (e.g. Oligopolies), while industries where competitors, existing in “Perfect Competition”, inevitably will not maintain long-term “super-normal” profits.

Likewise, in Strategic Marketing Industry Life Cycle Analysis, we KNOW that high margins and premium pricing is much more difficult in “Market Maturity” than in “Growth” and that all industries are likely to enter “Industry Shakeout” at early Maturity stage, primarily because it is more profitable to merge, than it is to grow organically.

Experts among us might shout “in professional services, price is a yardstick of quality” and “Price is in-elastic” but only when the service is heterogeneous in the mind of the buyer.

Product Management “Product Analysis” theory tells us that augmented product metamorphosises into actual product over time – in the case of Marketing Consulting this means clients expect Marketing Consultants to know more, deliver more, contribute more, be more…

History shows formidable marketing successes over the past 40 years have routinely originated by applying higher-level strategic marketing models, so are we NOT  being negligent in ignoring these rules in any marketing consulting business, and industry?

There is a saying, “Only a fool knows everything” that might convert to, “Everybody has something uniquely special they can contribute”… Even Philip Kotler said, “Marketing takes a day to learn and a lifetime to master”, although I’d debate this… I believe Marketing takes a lifetime to learn and is impossible for a single individual to “master”.

Why No Single Marketing Consultant Has ALL the Answers

Think about it… There are 8 “P’s” of Marketing… The 4 “P’s” that everyone (who does a basic business course) learns: Price, Product, Place & Promotion…. are the simplest, but even these  simple topics are complex and extensive.

For instance, JUST “Promotion” breaks down to:
1. Advertising,
2. Public Relations,
3. Sales Promotions, and
4. Personal Selling

… AND, that small subset called “ADVERTISING”, requires professional training in Mass media (Digital, TV, Radio, Print to name a few), direct marketing (CRO online, post, off-the-page, and others), web (YouTube, SEO, PPC, SEM, SMM, CRO, content)… each requiring creative, production, media buying and implementation skills…. coordinated with position, targeting, segmentation, buyer behaviour, buyer adoption stage… and 1001 other professional specializations.
… BUT PROMOTION ALSO INCLUDES Public Relations, Sales Promotions, and Personal Selling… which are all (if not more) as complex and arduous as advertising.

How can an Advertising Expert be a Marketing Expert?

Look at “PRODUCT”… there’s branding, portfolio management, new product development, market research management, packaging, product typing, product differentiation, product management… and on… There’s Boston Matrix, Ansoff Matrix, Brand Equity Management, the Product-Service continuum, levels of involvement, etc, etc and all these vary across 2-5 segments!!!

How can a Product Management Expert be a Marketing Expert?

“PLACE (Distribution)” and “PRICING” are even more complex and divergent… and that is before we move into PEOPLE, PROCESSES and so on…

… and then the synergy can be lost by silos that divide (and cannabalise) marketing efficiencies…

What Would Marketing Consultants Do (in Theory) to Maximise Their Value, their Efficiency & Their Profits?

The business world NEEDS to understand & adopt adopt the “Hierarchies of Marketing” – or some model like it – because, right now, the profession nurtures those who “don’t know how much they don’t know” as employers, naive of the depth and breadth of the discipline of “Marketing”, hire one person to be a jack of all trades instead of many that they should really recruit. (Feel free to request a copy of my [free] e-book, “The Four Faces of Marketing”.)

There is opportunity businesses to make HUGE bounds forward by NOT hiring a ‘gun’ Marketing Manager, for say $170,000 pa, but appointing a Marketing Consultancy for the same money and getting a team of leading experts who collaborate and delegate work to team member/s best qualified to deliver exceptionally good output.

There is a HUGE win/win here… the customer gets BETTER STRATEGIC MARKETING input, and generates better marketing OUTPUT, makes more money, re-invests more… and the marketing firm shares success accordingly.

The only ‘catch’ is the marketing consultancy HAS to deliver exceptional, extraordinary marketing… which no individual can possibly do.

My colleagues and I incorporated Launch Engineering 10 years ago and brought in the best possible minds we knew – in the key areas of Market Research, Information Management, Digital Implementation, and so on, but a small, boutique firm will always reach a flattened sales curve: The world isn’t quite beating a path to our firm’s door as much as we’d like. Why? Well there’s a host reasons that go beyond this post, albeit great strategists cannot yet be 100% brilliant in all operational marketing disciplines.

Should boutique marketing consultancies merge, or compete, and why?

If other marketing consultancies, reading this, see some merit to the points I’ve made, perhaps they would care to offer some feedback and comment… … and tell me, “Should boutique marketing consultancies merge or compete, and why?”

If you’ve read this far and want to delve deeper into Marketing “science”, PLEASE read (for free) about the Hierarchies of Marketing, and other marketing issues, in this e-book by downloading from this address…

I wrote this book (see below) for different folks:

    • Business Leaders wanting to build an amazingly resilient business
    • Marketing Professionals
    • SEO Professionals
    • Management professionals
    • Wikipedia – who maintain a completely wrong definition of Marketing on their site but refuse to change it
    • People who think Wikipedia’s definition of Marketing is right

Download a FREE copy of my latest book – The Four Faces of Marketing