Today, I have two stories on evolving one’s selling points while the market changes.

First, how would you feel if your boss called you in and told you that he knows you are out looking for a job and he is not happy about it? You would likely be very uncomfortable, especially if you had not actually done it.That happened to an executive whose old resume was roughly updated and passed around by a headhunter without the permission of the executive himself. The headhunter was trying to impress prospective clients with his pool of candidates.

This hapless executive was shocked, but despite protest, he was still fired.Clearly,not all headhunters are the same. This example is real and highlights the risks of dealing with headhunters who are not so professional.

This is also a point of differentiation that some other better headhunters now seem to be using as they adapt to a changing market.

Headhunters used to be more genteel. As far as their corporate clients were concerned, these headhunters’ selling pointsincluded their pools of great candidates whose careers, skills and personalities they had already checked out and tracked over the years, helping them better  judge their fit to the culture of the client.

But lately, some headhunters have become rather less ethical, doing things like sending around resumes without the permission of the resume owners as the headhunters try to drum up business. These same headhunters can also poach people from their own clients, biting the hand that feeds them and making it worse by sometimes doing all that under the table. Some of them do not care about getting caught.

The more ethical headhunters are now adapting their selling points to both corporate clients and to desirable executives, now including an increased emphasis on their confidentiality and ethical practices. They combine their face-to-face selling situations with email updates that alert their corporate clients and their pools of candidates to the risks of working with headhunters who are fast and loose.

Clearly, there could be difficulties communicating these points persuasively.Previously burnt executives may become wary of all headhunters, regardless of morality. So,savvy headhunters are trying to supplement their selling points by publicizing their own adherence to a code of conduct.

Let us watch how that works.

The second story today is about how Singapore Airlines, who is evolving their presentation of the Singapore Girl. The Singapore Girl has been the incarnation of “attentive service” for many years and has helped the airline set itself far apart from and well above all other airlines. Story is that it was adopted by Singapore Airlines years ago at the recommendation of the great adman Ian Batey, even after research showed that service was only the eighth most important attribute of airlines as far as passengers were concerned back then. Batey believed that they could make the idea of “service” a selling point of their own. The airline agreed and executed it brilliantly in advertising, by using the hyper-attentive, elegant, beautiful, and distinctive, Singapore Girl. The campaign was supported by the entire airline to ensure that it did actually deliver exemplary service.

Singapore Girl is going to be portrayed differently in the airline’s new advertising. Brand Channel reports that the new ad campaign will focus on what the airline does to ensure a comfortable experience for its passengers. As there is an increasing need for authenticity among passengers, Singapore Girl will be seen examining jasmine tea leaves in the highlands of China, touching the softest leather in Scotland for its seats, helping select movies, etc. Doing things this way probably would be a memorable and dramatic way to talk about some of the elements that go into the airline’s great service, while still wrapping it up in the familiar, that is, the Singapore Girl who is “service” incarnate. This is a much better presentation when compared to a campaign that simply states “softest leather”, “finest tea”, and so on.

 

Benedicto “Poch” Cid is the Chief Brand Adviser of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (www.mansmith.net), the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines. For inquiries, please email info@mansmith.net call (+63-2) 584-5858 /412-0034 or text (63) 918-81-168-88. Please also send your marketing, sales and strategy questions to mentors@mansmith.net.