Interruption Marketing

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Interruption Marketing
By Peter Weddle

Whether you’re sourcing with a social media site or a job board, one fact remains true: whenever you connect with a passive prospect, you are interrupting them. They aren’t looking for a job or for you, so your contact is, by definition, intruding into whatever it is they are doing. That’s the premise behind “interruption marketing.” It’s the process of barging in on top talent while still conveying a positive first impression. When executed effectively, it transforms even the most passive prospects—those who normally wouldn’t even consider a new job offer—into a person who is actively interested in your opening.

Interruption marketing can be used to shape both your recruitment advertising and your networking online. It is based on several attributes that are particularly prevalent among passive prospects:

• They are busy with their jobs so have the attention span of a gnat.

• They listened to their mothers so are wary of strangers.

• They are already successful so never look for a job but are always on the lookout for career advancement opportunities.

Interruption marketing is the process of tailoring your communications to accommodate and, where possible, leverage these attributes. That means your messages must be short and to the point. They should introduce you as well as your opportunity. And, they must focus initially, at least, on the one topic that interests passive prospects the most when learning about an employer and its employment opportunities. Done well, interruption marketing conveys the right information with enough impact to get busy people to stop whatever they’re doing and make a conscious, but quick decision they wouldn’t otherwise make.

That decision can produce one of four possible outcomes. Three of those outcomes are positive and just one is negative. The positive outcomes are:

• The prospect indicates an interest in your opportunity and wants to learn more;

• The prospect is not interested in your opportunity, but refers you to someone who might be; and

• The prospect is not interested and does not make a referral, but agrees to hear about other opportunities you may have in the future.

The lone negative outcome occurs when a prospect is not interested in your opportunity, in making a referral or in ever hearing from you again. And even that decision isn’t as bad as it might seem at first blush, because at least you now know not to waste any time on them in the future.

The form and content of interruption marketing communications are different depending on whether you’re advertising or networking. Both, however, are a form of marketing, NOT sales. Their role isn’t to close the deal and recruit the prospect, but rather to get them to move from a passive to an active state so you can evaluate and, if appropriate, sell them.

For recruitment advertising, interruption marketing begins with the title of your ad and continues through just the first four lines of copy. If you don’t get those right, passive prospects won’t read any further, and the opportunity to sell them (with the rest of your ad) will be lost.

What elements should they include? Here are my recommendations:

• The title should be short (35-40 characters) and hard hitting while addressing three pass-fail topics. Either your title has these elements and passive prospects will read on, or it doesn’t and they won’t read any further. The topics are: the location of the opening, the kind of talent or skill you’re seeking (not the position’s bureaucratic label), and the one aspect of your organization’s employment experience most likely to influence “A” level talent. Don’t guess on this last element, it’s critical that you get it right. So, ask the people who really know—the “A” level talent who already work for your organization.

• The first four lies of the ad should lead with your strength by covering four pass-fail topics. The first two topics describe the key aspects of your offer: why the opening is a dream job and why your organization is a dream employer. The best evidence for that is an answer to one or more of the following questions: what will they get to do, what will they get to learn, what will they get to accomplish and who will they get to work with. Then, address the topic of compensation by stating a salary range in numbers. Why is that so critical? Because the best talent doesn’t work for money but they do use their pay level as a measure of their career advancement. And finally, make a strong statement about your employer’s commitment to individual privacy. Passive prospects are risk averse, so they need to know you will protect them.

For networking, interruption marketing begins with your first message to a prospect. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so it’s important that you make the right one. In this case, the Subject line of your message as well as the first four lines of its content will determine if a prospect reads any further.

Here’s what I recommend you include:

• The Subject line should be short (35-40 characters) and intriguing, but not obfuscate the purpose of your communication. It should have impact, but not come across as a hard sell. Use a professional tone and, as with the title of a recruitment ad, focuses on that one aspect of your organization’s employment experience most likely to influence “A” level talent.

• The first four lines of the message should reassure them that you’re not some online wacko who’s wasting their time, but rather a recruiter who’s done their homework before connecting with them. To achieve that goal, use a businesslike but not overly formal tone and offer the following information. First, tell them how you identified them as a prospect. For example, you might explain that they were recommended by one of their friends or colleagues or that you saw their post on a blog or message board or that you were impressed with their profile that you found on a social media site. Then, use short declarative statements to describe why you think they would be a good fit with your opportunity. The more explicit you are—by relating your opening to their current or previous experience—the more persuasive you will be. If you don’t have that kind of detailed knowledge, make your case by answering one or more of the same questions that should be addressed in the body of a recruitment ad.

Interruption marketing is founded on a truism of communications. No matter how powerful the media—regardless of whether you’re using LinkedIn or LatPro, Twitter or, Facebook or—it’s the message that ensures your success.

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Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including his latest, Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System.

© Copyright 2009 WEDDLE’s LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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