The Talk Of The Town?

My recent piece about the plonkers at Porsche got more reaction than I anticipated, and so I thought I’d give you another example of what passes for marketing in some industries.    Just last week  I received the following missive:


Subject Line:  Why Everybody Is Talking About RPO.

Hi John,

I hope you don’t mind me emailing you unannounced but I’m convinced what follows must be of interest to you or a colleague.

Our continuing involvement with leading organisations has resulted in a marked improvement in both their quality of hire and recruitment spend, so I thought you might be interested in learning some of the secrets.

Working with our clients, we have been able to:

    Stop HR spending unnecessary time on recruitment administration
    Reduce time to hire by 40%
    Reduce cost per hire by more than £1,000 per placement
    Increase recruitment efficiency by working closely with hiring managers
    Increase candidate satisfaction with the recruitment process to over 80%

This and more, has been achieved by outsourcing their recruitment to us. That means that we have assumed responsibility for their end to end recruitment process. We source candidates directly, performance manage agencies and set up our revolutionary recruitment software. Can you imagine…

    A world where agencies never call
    Significant and fast improvements to your recruitment process
    Your own national award winning recruitment team just a phone call away
    Recruiting a higher quality of candidates at a lower cost

I would welcome the opportunity to explain how we can help you to achieve these benefits all within a reduced spend on recruitment.

*****   **********
Client Solutions Executive


Now I may be making a wild generalisation based on my own experience, but I don’t believe everyone is talking about RPO. They might be talking about the latest contestant to be  voted off  X Factor, their Christmas plans  or the recent death of Nelson Mandella, but I don’t think RPO is a hot topic around very many parts – not least of which is because 99% of people won’t have a clue what it is. And I’m one of them!

I searched  in the body copy of the email  for the answer – but none was forthcoming.  I’m going to make a wild stab that the ‘R’ stands for recruitment and the ‘O’ for outsourcing. The ‘P’ is anyone’s guess. I genuinely have no idea.

So what they’ve done here is use some jargon which few will understand, (RPO) made a ridiculous  and pointless claim about it (that everyone is talking about it) and then  not bothered to explain what it is. It’s all very confusing and counterproductive, something that isn’t a huge surprise, coming as it does from someone who signs himself off as a ‘Client Solutions Executive’.

I could waste another couple of thousand words dissecting  the rest of the email, but there’s little point. Few will get past the subject line and opening, so it doesn’t really matter how good or bad the rest of it is.

When I started out in the direct response business over 20 years ago, copywriting was a vital skill which very few did well. I think the same can be said today, but with the big difference that a great many more are now trying their hand at it. Twenty years ago, you had to make sure everything was  as good as it could possibly be before sending it out, because the only methods of getting  your message in front of potential customers involved spending money.  The online arena has created an environment in which some take the view that there’s nothing to lose – just chuck any old rubbish out there. If it works, great. If not, well nothing lost.

That’s a huge shame, because the ability to reach customers and prospective  customers electronically, and without cost, is a potential fortune maker. Most are throwing that fortune away for want of learning some simple skills. And why aren’t they learning them? Well I suspect it’s because they don’t realise what can be achieved by doing things differently.

Every morning,  I come into the office to find an inbox stuffed with orders,  all placed as a result of an electronic sales message. Some days it’s just a few hundred pounds, more typically it’s  a few thousand. I think the record….after a particularly good weekend….was close to a quarter of a million pounds! And if I recall correctly, there was no mention of RPO (or anything like it) in the email that brought that in!

* My latest book ‘Why Didn’t They Tell Me? – 99 Shameless Success Secrets They Don’t Teach You At Eton, Harrow Or Even The Classiest Comprehensive’ is now published. Go to for full details.

5 thoughts on “The Talk Of The Town?

  1. Ann Rawsthorne

    Phew I thought it was just ME…… that I was the dunce who didn’t understand what the hell the mr client solutions executive was going on about or even who they were……. Stop the gobbledygook !

  2. Terry Fennell

    John, your comment that anyone is now trying to be a copy writer is very true. I only read the email as you had commented and I wanted to see what you found annoying.
    Had it been sent to me I would have deleted after the first sentence.
    I am 72 and had a grammar school education but am no literary genius but I find it most annoying when even paid journalists can’t use grammar correctly. I read mainly computing and photography magazines and often find I need to re-read and analyse sentences to understand them because of lack of punctuation.
    Anyway keep up the good work, the above comments don’t apply to Streetwise

  3. Peter Wood

    Your system deleted me halfway through.

    I was going to say what the hell does “performance manage agencies” mean? When I got to the end I could understand that he seemed to be running some sort of a recruitment agency but I wouldn’t trust him to recruit a cleaner for me, let alone somebody doing something important.

  4. Peter Wood

    I should add that I’m not in any way downgrading the importance of a cleaner, I just meant compared to something like selling that directly contributes to the income of the business,


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