MEN WANTED for hazardous journey, small wages, …

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This ad was placed in an English newspaper circa 1919 by explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton for one of his South Pole expeditions. Undaunted, roughly 500 adventuresome souls responded.

Why was this ad effective? One might argue that it worked because life was full of constant danger in 1919 and people’s alternatives were limited. Alternatively, one might argue that people responded because Shackleton was already known as a seasoned adventurer with good reputation.

I would disagree with both arguments. Instead, I contend that the 500 applicants responded because the ad resonated with their desire for excitement, being challenged and achieving a difficult task. Anyone reading this ad who was truly longing for adventure would likely respond. Further, the ad clearly served to weed out the faint of heart, and those looking for easy money and a comfortable work experience.

Indeed, despite Shackleton’s crew abandoning ship when it got stuck in the ice, and then drifting for months in freezing conditions on an ice floe, many survived. Research done concluded that so many people survived because of the type of people who responded to the ad. If he had just asked for sailors, many more likely would have perished.

When you write your help wanted copy, consider Shackelton’s ad and use wording that will inspire the type of person that you are looking to hire. Similarly, when you write marketing materials, write them in a way that will resonate with your ideal customer.

If you do so, you will get the right type of people to respond and save yourself time in filtering out people who are not a good fit for your company.

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