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Why aren’t you marketing?

If I had hair I’d be pulling it out. I just get so frustrated when I see people laughing in the face of logic.


Recently I’ve been listening to the full series of Scale Up podcasts by the REC with Kevin Green and various business owners in recruitment. It has been brilliant.

One theme that repeats time and time again is that businesses who grow fast have all invested heavily in marketing, advertising and branding. Adam Buck CEO of Phaidon said he ploughed the majority of his money and profits into advertising which helped him and Shelby Jennings grow in the UK and internationally. John O’Sullivan, when setting up Best People, said advertising was what made the difference for them. It helped them hire talent, win clients and get candidates. The founder of Sigmar Adrian McGennis said their advertising was a key driver of their success.

But every day I hear recruitment businesses not wanting to invest in marketing, branding or advertising. 

It frustrates me.

Whilst I applaud them for their undying self-belief, thinking that they can do things their way, that they can be successful even though they aren’t following the rules of good business or that they are somehow exempt from taking the path most other successful companies have already carved out. 

It frustrates me. 

Be head strong by all means. Successful entrepreneurs often are. But please, have sense. Save yourself the hassle and take the easy way out. Focus more energy on doing a good job, advertising in the right way, communicate effectively and watch your business grow. 

Recruitment doesn’t need to be this hard. Take heed of those who have gone before you and follow suit.

Good luck.

Can you Tweet your brand?

The optimal length for social media updates keeps getting shorter.  The top performing LinkedIn posts in the last month were 120 characters or less and all contained images or videos.  The optimum length for a blog headline has also shrunk down to just 6 words.  This post only used 5, as have all of my most read blogs.

As our attention span shrinks and our need for instance gratification increases brands need to develop easy to digest core messages that describe what they do and how they do it.

This exercise should be taken further than just the social media space.  In Talk Like TED it recommends that each business interaction and presentation be summarised in a less than 140 character, the length of a Tweet, in order to be memorable for the audience.

Can you capture what you do in less than 140 characters?

My headline on LinkedIn is:

Helping recruitment agencies to get the best from LinkedIn.

9 words.
59 characters with spaces.

If you can Tweet what you do then add it to your LinkedIn profile as a headline.  This will be added to every connection request, every InMail you send and be seen when people search for you or visit your profile.

Following most presentations I gave in 2013 and 2014 I checked Twitter to see if it had been mentioned (come on we all do it!) and time after time the same phrases was Tweeted and reTweeted:

The best recruiters act like marketers.

6 words.
39 characters with spaces.

The best recruiters act like marketers

Today the market has changed and people understand that recruitment is evolving.  Now I spend much of my time helping recruitment agencies that are trying to be more marketing focused to get the most from LinkedIn (as my headline would suggest) through media, marketing, branding, and communication.  I would sum up most of my conversations or presentations with the following Tweetable sound-bite:

How people see you will dictate your future success.

9 words.
52 characters with spaces.

What should your message be?  What do you want your candidates and clients to remember about you?  Make sure you can Tweet it.


 

Here is an infographic from Buffer with the optimal length of status updates across various social platforms.

’The

 

Are we social media sheep?

Marketing is getting the right message to the right people.  In social media to get the message out to the right people we need to think about two elements: building our follower base, getting our followers to share our message.

The first; building your followers, focuses on building an organic reach.  This is an audience of individuals who have said, “Yes I am interested in what you have to say and I am an advocate.”

The second; getting followers to share, is often referred to as your earned reach.  You improve your reach as more connections of your followers see your message through social sharing.  The quality of your message will dictate your success.  This reach is potentially unlimited.  Viral marketing is based on this concept.  On LinkedIn roughly 33% of company status updates are seen from an earned audience – people who are not currently following that company but have seen it through their connections sharing, liking or commenting on that update.

The more followers you generate, the easier it is to gain even more followers.  And the more your content gets shared and distributed by your followers the more likely future shares are to occur.  The opposite is also true – if you post poor content and receive no interactions it is hard to suddenly generate engagement… but that is another story.

There are three psychological factors that are behind this concept:

1.    The Fear of Missing Out
Fear of missing out (or FOMO) is a form of social anxiety.  This is especially associated with modern technologies such as mobile phones and social networking services.

2.    Social Proof
Social proof is where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.

3.    Bandwagon Effect / Cultural Phenomenon
The bandwagon effect is where the rate of uptake of beliefs, ideas and trends increases the more that they have already been adopted by others.

The Fear of Missing Out
To make the most of the Fear of Missing Out you need to demonstrate why people should follow you.  Explain what it is you are doing to improve their life, and in recruitment marketing specifically, how are you influencing and improving someone’s career.  Are you opening them up to opportunities?  What might they miss out on if they don’t follow you?

Social Proof
If people assume the masses can’t be wrong then you can take advantage of this by generating high volumes of followers which in turn makes it easier to generate more followers still.  Getting yourself added to directories and lists of people to follow will serve as evidence that you are someone that others revere and are interested in.

Recently Facebook optimised videos in their news feed to take advantage of this.  You can now see how many people have watched videos, and as the numbers of views increase, this small design tweak will drive up still more video views and help content to go viral.

Facebook view counter

Bandwagon Effect / Cultural Phenomenon
You have a window to accelerate your success early on in social media.  Being the first to do something increases the likelihood of people wanting to be involved with your brand.  Everyone loves something new and exciting.  When Twitter and Facebook first launched people would follow everyone and everything, whereas today we are more selective as the initial novelty has worn off.

Have your competitors beaten you to the punch and have they all started using tools or platforms that you haven’t?  You have a window of opportunity to get in before it becomes harder to generate followers.

The first advertisement on Instagram was posted by Michael Kors, and as they were the pioneers they sparked such interest that in 18 hours they had acquired in excess of 34,000 new followers.  Being the first to market has its benefits!  Being too late to the party means that people may well already have made their allegiances and you may struggle to achieve success organically.

5:15 PM: Pampered in Paris #MKTimeless

A photo posted by Michael Kors (@michaelkors) on

With each of these elements there is an opportunity.  Start looking at your marketing strategy to establish how these psychological factors can improve your social media strategy.  The more you focus on the bandwagon effect, FOMO and social proof the easier it is to grow you organic reach and generate more followers as well as improve the likelihood of these individuals sharing your content.

The 5 stories every business should tell

It was a great pleasure to be on stage at Social RecruitIn with Eamon Collins, Group Marketing Director for Page Group, and Paul Farrer, Founder and Chairman of Aspire presenting on how to build an engaging digital strategy.

cropped-JAM_6070.jpg

Before we could write we told stories.

Oral tradition – or the original stories – was how we passed on messages, shared experiences, educated future generations and created what would one day become known as history.  In illiterate communities around the world there still remains a strong oral tradition where the elders educate youths through stories.

Old relaxed man, looking through glasses, Varanasi Benares India

In his research paper historical psychologist Dr Hodge states that “storytelling typically [took] place in a relaxed and nonthreatening environment. Customarily, the setting [was] a quiet place where everyone [could] comfortably sit.”

Today people today listen, read and watch stories everywhere: in their homes, their offices or their local Starbucks.  Stories are weaved through everything we do, and we tell stories to everyone we meet.   What we tell, and how we tell these stories defines us.

Who would you want to sit next to at a dinner party?  Who would you make your best-man?  Who would you call when you are bored?  The person who tells the best stories.

Even looking back at the word “Story” tells us something…

The entomology of the word History comes from the Greek “histor” for “learned wise man” and then evolved into “historia” which meant “narrative”.  Later through Latin it became the word we use today: “history”.   The origins of the word “Story” come from Middle English where it was used to denote “a historical account”.

The number one reason for telling stories is that they have the ability to be remembered.

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Rudyard Kipling

Stories last. 

Long after we have forgotten the data points, the slides, the general content, we still remember the stories.  In fact people interviewed after presentations almost always remember the stories and only one or two pieces of data.

Before we could write, we drew pictures.

We found that drawing the message helped to make it memorable, and we could save that content for longer.  Aboriginal art is some of the earliest forms of storytelling in art.

aboriginal art work
Our minds are pretty simple and we still react more positively to images than we do to the written word.  They say a picture says a thousand words – well it can.

The way we use stories and images allow us to drive people to action.   In her book Resonate, LinkedIn Influencer Nancy Duarte talks about this at length.   If your story resonates with your audience you will get them to do something.   Like waves on an ocean you can make the listener go up, or go down, backwards, or forwards.

resonate

Most importantly we help other to tell our stories for us.  Social media has made the sharing and passing on of stories easier than ever.  In exactly the same way people had stories to share their message, their values and their visions – today businesses have stories to tell.   The stories we tell as businesses dictate how much we sell, the loyalty of our customers and the growth we experience over time.


 

To make it easy I’ve come up with 5 stories that we should all be able to tell – as individuals, but also as businesses.

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • My mission
  • What I do
  • What that means for you

Who am I?

This should be an introduction to you or your business.  It is essential that it is easy to tell across multiple channels and be as relevant on the homepage of your website, your LinkedIn company page as it is being told over the phone by your recruiter.  Every person in your business needs to know this inside out.

Why am I here?

What is the purpose of this conversation or this content that you are making me read?  What are you trying to achieve?  Be up front about the objective.

My Mission.

Explain what you / your business stands for.  This is your values and your mission statement as well as your motivations.

What I do.

Your mission should be more “why” and this is more “how”.   Find your USP – your unique selling proposition and explain it to your audience.

My colleague Eelco recently said that we should no long use the term USP.   Instead we should discuss the UBR – the unique buying reason; the reason that people buy instead of the reason we sell.

What that means for you.

Complete the circle and give case studies and testimonials.  It is essential that you have success stories that demonstrate how you have achieved your mission through what you do.

The Five Stories


In practice how can we do this?
Imagine that each of these stories moves your audience from a place where they don’t know you to a place where they are ready to do business with you.  Take them on this journey through the stories you tell.

the five stories

To give you an example of how I’ve used this in the past, here is how I raised money when running a marathon earlier this year…

Meet Seb.  He is trapped behind a lamp post.  The first story I told was about being a dad… now I know that everyone who knows me knows that I am a dad, however sometimes people need a reminder.  I wanted to increase the likelihood of people seeing my future updates and engaging with them and we know that engagement today – a like or a comment – reduced the friction for future engagement.  Facebook has a system called Edgerank which means that if I generate interactions from my posts my other posts are more likely to come up in my friends’ feeds in the future.

sebfb

I then sent out an email (click here for the full email) explaining that my son, from the previous picture, had a favorite film: the Jungle Book.  When the book was written there were over 10 million elephants word-wide.  Today there are around 600,000.  I was going to run a marathon to raise money so that my son could grow up in a world with elephants and so could his kids.

dumbo
Then I shared my charity Just Giving page that cemented the “Why” with more information on poachers and a few videos from the BBC talking about poachers.

just giving
How was I going to do this?  By running.  So I updated all of my profile pictures across social media to a picture of me running a half marathon for charity the previous year and shared these images across the net.

20x30-RPHG0696
Then I closed the loop by explaining how this would help.  I then told a story about Raj, a 70 year old blind elephant I met in an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka which was funded by charities like the one that I was running for.

At each step I told a story that made it personal, that could be related to and that would resonate.

IMG_3748
This campaign – and do consider this to be a campaign – helped me to raise over £3,000 for charity without having to beg and pester.  I was able to take people from not being aware of my aim, to a point where they would happily donate to a charity I cared about.

Every business should know the stories they want to tell and how they want to tell them.  Look at your business and establish how you can use these to your advantage.


Watch the video here…

Below are the slides from the presentation that I gave…

Being a “Top Biller” – not as great as it seems

Congratulations! You are the highest fee earner in your recruitment business.

Does being labelled a top biller make you more successful?  Sure you feel a great sense of pride and you have a boost knowing that you have made an impact.  But once you look past that, how do your clients and candidates feel about this?

What if we stopped giving people an award of “top biller” and instead gave people an award for being the best recruiter?  What if we celebrated making the most placements or delivering the best service or impacting our clients’ business?

I know it is semantics, but the words you use create labels for you as an individual and as a business.  “Biller” automatically signifies that you are making money from people.  People don’t have a problem with buying, but many do have a problem with being sold to.  Recruitment shouldn’t be about sales.  It should be a transaction where one persons’ skills, knowledge and expertise are exchanged for money.  It shouldn’t feel like you are being sold to.

“Are you demonstrably helping the organisation achieve its strategic objectives?”  Jeff Grout

Surely as a recruitment consultant your aim isn’t to sell the most, but to make the right connections between candidates and clients.  Would you push a placement through that you knew wasn’t right because it meant more money?  A top biller, a cold blooded sales machine might.

“Top Biller” is a dangerous title in my mind.

Reward for number of successful placements by all means, and that may be exactly the same as being the top biller, but just don’t call it that.  Remember: the best sales people don’t sell anything.  They just get their clients to buy from them.


Sadly we haven’t heard from @TopBillerLedge in a while… but here is what comes to mind when I think of the title “Top Biller”.

TopbillerLedge

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