ERIC Identifier: ED304633
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Walz, Garry R.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Personnel Services Ann Arbor MI.
Marketeer: New Role for Career and Placement Specialists.
Highlights: An ERIC/CAPS Digest.
Though several attitudes toward advertising and marketing have changed
remarkably in recent years, and even a bastion of professional respectability
such as the American Bar Association is on record as favoring discrete marketing
by its members, resistance to marketing by the helping professions persists.
CP&P center staffs are often hesitant to employ marketing principles and
practices in their program development strategies for three specific reasons.
First, they may adjudge marketing to smack of crass commercialism. Secondly,
they may perceive marketing as unnecessary. Third, they may consider marketing
to be proper and probably necessary, but optimistic expectations of what it can
accomplish are seldom, if ever, realized in actual practice so it becomes
unworthy of any major effort.
All of the aforementioned beliefs are frequently the result of actual
experiences that have confirmed for a staff the undesirability of undertaking
any major marketing initiatives. These limited experiences, however, should not
blind us to both the desirability and the achievability of CP&P centers'
designing and installing effective marketing programs. The benefits far outweigh
the negatives. And the consequences of ignoring the marketing imperative can be
diminished impact, with eventual program stagnation. The difficulties that
people experience are not inherent in marketing, but result from faulty
conceptualization and implementation. Given an appropriate perspective and
reasonable amounts of energy, commitment and skill, a CP&P center can have a
useful and self-justifying marketing system.
A center probably can't spend its way to a good marketing program--although
many do try, and one needs only modest resources to achieve many marketing
DEFINITION OF MARKETING
A functional definition of human
services marketing reads as follows:
Marketing in a human services setting should be targeted
to increasing clients' awareness of critical needs and
choices and assisting them to make informed decisions
and plans with particular reference to how a given
service, e.g., career planning and placement center, can be
Two basic tenets underlie the above view of marketing. First, we are born
into and live and die in a world where marketing is omnipresent. A service which
is not promoted may not even be considered for adoption and/or use because of
ignorance of its availability.
Second, marketing cannot make a success of a poor product or service. As a
general rule, it can be said that quality wins out in the marketplace.
Much of what can be described as marketing is appropriate to CP&P centers
and there are basic concepts in marketing which deserve greater attention and
interest from career planning and placement specialists.
PRODUCT AND SERVICE LIFE CYCLE
Basic to marketing is the
concept that every product or service progresses through a predictable life
cycle of introduction to abandonment. Regardless of the length of the life
cycle, the stages are the same:
Stage One: Introduction. In this stage, the product is new and has few
competitors. The role of marketing at this point is to build demand by informing
potential users of the existence of the product or service.
Stage Two: Growth. In the growth stage, there is a shift from building mass
demand for the product by showing that it exists to stimulating selective
demand, i.e., identifying and communicating why a given product or service is
best and will effectively meet a user's need and interest.
Stage Three: Maturity. In this stage, the competition becomes very strong.
The sale and/or use of one product or service is usually won at the expense of
another as the overall level of sales is stabilized. It becomes important to
stimulate further response to the product or service by identifying new uses for
Stage Four: Decline. In the decline stage, there is a reduction in the use of
the product or service. However, the costs remain high because of the intense
competitive effort that is still required. The key decision at this point is
whether or not to abandon the product or service.
If CP&P centers adopt the life cycle concept in their view of products
and services, they must respond to two specific challenges. First, it is
apparent that each life cycle stage requires a different marketing strategy.
Second, it is extremely important to find new products or services that will
replace those which are in a declining stage and must be redeveloped or dropped.
These two challenges are very relevant to the state of CP&P as we know it
today. In many areas, CP&P is in a maturity stage, even approaching a
decline, e.g., employers are taking on the placement function themselves because
of their dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of the existing services. The
point is that career counseling and placement services may be in different life
cycle stages. Therefore, we must identify the particular stage that each service
is in and then develop an appropriate and relevant marketing strategy for it.
THE USE OF MARKETING CONCEPTS IN COUNSELING AND THE HUMAN
As broad social changes take place, it is important that counseling
services be able to respond to these societal demands. We may either do this in
a proactive way, demonstrating our viability and desire to meet people's needs
and interests, or ignore the life cycles of our products and services, thereby
risking abandonment and extinction because of declining usage. Several
developments are placing the human services in an increasingly competitive and
-- Self-help books
-- Self-help networks
-- Entry of other helping services into areas previously served by counselors
-- Availability of computer and other technologically based helping services
The future is likely to see a great increase in the number of self-help and
personal growth programs which provide the client with the opportunity for
"comparison shopping" before deciding where to obtain help.
A useful way to visualize marketing potentialities and strategies is to think
about services and users in four different ways:
1. Old services, old users. The traditional approach, it says in effect,
"Stay with what you know best, do what you have been successful doing in the
2 New services, old users. The next safest approach, with the risk in
bringing out new services minimized because of the knowledge of the users.
3. Old services, new users. A difficult area because of lack of experience in
dealing with the users, hence the possibility that service providers are not
aware of their characteristics, needs, and interests.
4. New services, new users. The most difficult area of all because of lack of
knowledge of the users' experiences with the product.
MAJOR RELEVANT MARKETING CONCEPTS
In seeking to apply
marketing concepts to counseling, it may be helpful to select the major ideas
that offer the most promise for strengthening counseling in the human services.
1. The single most important factor contributing to new product service
success is product/service uniqueness and superiority. The competition for
services now offered by CP&P centers demands that they identify how their
service is unique and why it is superior to the others.
2. It is crucial in a marketing approach to know your audience and potential
consumers and their needs.
3. Product myopia occurs when an organization focuses on the product or
service rather than on the needs that the product or service addresses. The best
illustration of this from the counseling field is the continual priority that
helping professionals give to individual counseling, while the
public--students,, adults or other clients--consistently downgrade its
4. The success of organizations in developing new products and services is a
function not of the amount of money put into research and development, but
rather of managerial skills and expertise in marketing programs and services.
5. It is important from a marketing standpoint to use the service life cycle
in anticipating and planning for both problems and opportunities. CP&P
centers must continuously monitor changes in population subgroups that indicate
different needs and interests, and make appropriate changes in how they present,
prescribe, and provide counseling.
6. Synergistic interface is a concept of combining a stable product or
service with new information or a high technology change. A clear example of
this may be the application of computer-assisted career guidance to career
7. A successful marketing plan is geared to developing new markets and new
A MARKETING LIST FOR COUNSELORS
The following are six
specific recommendations and/or actions for enhancing the image of CP&P
services and increasing their use by potential publics.
1. Adopt a positive attitude toward the use of marketing concepts and
strategies in more effectively disseminating CP&P services.
2. Define what excellence and quality are in career counseling and placement
3. Develop an appropriate marketing strategy for each stage of development.
4. Make a strong and ongoing commitment toward the research and development
of new programs and practices.
5. Maximize the building of synergistic interfaces.
6. Regularly and systematically assess user and potential user needs and
The career planning and placement specialist
must become a marketeer--versed in and committed to the use of marketing
concepts and tools to improve the quality and extend the use by clients of
career planning and placement programs and services. The ideas presented here
can be adopted and adapted by a center to develop its own customized program.
Adopting a marketeer orientation to CP&P programs furnishes the central
focus on which to base realistic and realizable goals and priorities.
Rehrig, N. H. (1987). Striving for excellence
really pays off: An interview with Jack Shingleton. Journal of Career Planning & Employment, 48(1), pp. 46-51.
Walz, G. R. (1985). The marketing of counseling. Ann Arbor, MI: The
University of Michigan, ERIC Counseling and Personnel Services Clearinghouse.