Episode 140: Use LinkedIn to build a recruitment pipeline

Episode 140: Use LinkedIn to build a recruitment pipeline

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Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 140: Use LinkedIn to build a recruitment pipeline
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Episode 140 includes:

  • Why you should be constantly recruiting on LinkedIn – even if you don’t have a vacancy
  • How you can use marketing momentum to grow your MSP
  • Plus on the show this week a branding expert explains the power of a single message

Featured guest:

Mike Verret is a featured guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Thank you to Mike Verret from Verret and Associates for joining Paul to talk about how MSPs can be better at talking about themselves.

Mike has spent over 25 years in the brand marketing business and the hallmark of his career is his ability to understand an audience. Now he shows businesses how to talk about themselves To THEIR audience.

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-verret-7027211

Show notes:

Episode transcription

Voiceover:
Fresh every Tuesday, for MSPs around the world, this is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast.

Paul Green:
Well, hi there. Welcome back to the show. This is what we’ve got coming up for you this week.

Mike Verret:
I’ve had to do everything across the marketing spectrum. But when I looked back, the one commonality was the audience that I was speaking to. Understanding how your audience reacts to what’s important to you, versus what’s important to them, is a blind spot in business.

Paul Green:
That’s Mike Verret. He’s my guest later on in the show. And he’s an expert at helping businesses, like yours, communicate with their prospects. He’s got some great advice for you in this week’s show. We’re also going to be talking about recruitment. It’s a bit of a nightmare at the moment, but I’ve got an idea for you. It’s not going to solve your short-term recruitment problems, but long-term, it’s going to help you build a pipeline of prospective staff.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast.

Paul Green:
One of the most challenging aspects of my work is translating everything that I do to make it as relevant as possible to multiple cultures. So as you can hear from my voice, I’m based in the UK. And let’s take, for example, our MSP Marketing Edge service. So we produce a ton of content every week and every month for our members. Now, we have about 650 members and a proportion of those are in the UK. So we produce a UK version of everything that we do. And then we produce a different version for our members in the US, and to be used internationally.

Paul Green:
And there are some easy aspects of that conversion and some difficult aspects. The easy aspects are things like the spellings. Take the word, recognise. In the UK, it’s spelt with an S, in the US, it’s spelt with a Z. So that’s easy to do. You can get a spell checker to do that for you. There are some minor punctuation differences between US and UK English, things like dollars instead of pounds, that stuff’s kind of easy. The hard stuff is, actually, the cultural references. So I’m 47. I’ve grown up with a whole load of sayings, phrases, just cultural references, that are normal for me because I’ve lived in the UK my whole life. And yet, they’re not applicable to people in the US. So we have to strip out cultural references, or change those references, when we are pulling together our US content.

Paul Green:
But that also works against me in the other way. What I mean by that is, sometimes, I’ll read something in a book and assume it’s a cultural reference in the US. And actually, it turns out not to be. I’ll give you an example. So I read a book, a number of years ago, and I cannot for the life of me remember what the book is. But I read about something called big mo. What is big mo? Well, it’s big momentum. It’s that thing that, once you get started with something and keep pushing on it, actually, it becomes easier and easier because you’ve got momentum. And momentum’s a wonderful thing; it’s what we’re going to talk about in this bit. But big mo, it turns out, is not a widespread cultural reference in the US. And I only found this out after doing a number of webinars for US vendors, where I talked about big mo, “You got to go and get big mo.” And some feedback I got was, people didn’t know what big mo was. That was a bit embarrassing, wasn’t it?

Paul Green:
So big mo is just big momentum. It’s what happens when you throw yourself into something and you just keep going and keep going and keep going with it. And it takes time to build up this momentum. The easy way to think of momentum is to think of something like a cart or something on wheels being pushed down a hill. We’ve all done that as kids, perhaps with our bikes or a toy or something like that. And of course, as it builds up momentum, it gets faster and faster and faster. And you’ll know from your business, that that’s exactly how business works. When you get started in your very first business, and you’re sat in your spare bedroom on day one, you’ve got nothing but good ideas. Maybe a business plan, but you don’t have any clients. You don’t have any marketing. You don’t have any momentum. That’s the hardest thing to do.

Paul Green:
And in fact, if you’ve ever started another business, a second or a third business, and I’ve started a small number of businesses, that day one is so hard. Because all you’ve got to keep you going is energy and drive. You’ve got no momentum whatsoever. And yet, it’s the momentum that keeps you going. If you think about your MSP right now, yes, you’ve got clients, you’ve got revenue, you’ve got marketing, you’ve got referrals, all of these things, they’re momentum. And actually, the goal is to keep the momentum going and turn it into big momentum. Big mo is back again. Big momentum is where you just keep doing stuff. You keep doing stuff daily, weekly, monthly. And that’s the thing that eventually pays off for you in the long-term.

Paul Green:
The goal for your MSP is to build up big mo with your marketing. And you can’t do this by doing a bit of marketing now and again. You have to do marketing on a regular basis, that means setting up a marketing system. It’s a marketing engine or a machine that’s doing stuff for you on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. And I’ll make some recommendations in a second what those things should be. But instead of just looking at marketing as, “Well, let’s do a bit more of it.” You set this up. You get other people to implement and execute your marketing for you. On a daily basis, that would be posting on social media. On a weekly basis, that would be sending out an educational email. And on a monthly basis, that would be physically shipping, mailing stuff out, in the post, to prospects. Because getting something into their hands is a very powerful thing to do.

Paul Green:
Now, those are only some basics, but you’ve got there some pretty solid actions, daily, weekly, monthly actions. Keep going with that. And what will happen over time is, you will build up big momentum. Now, big mo only brings the rewards down the line. If you do some work on building your momentum today, nothing’s going to happen. Nothing’s going to happen next week, next month, maybe even till next year. And here’s where many MSPs get this wrong. They give up too early. They put in place the marketing machine, but they don’t leave the machine running long enough.

Paul Green:
Just before recording this, I’ve come off a Zoom call with some of my peer group within the MSP Marketing Edge. We have peer groups which are available. And one of our members there, John, has a marketing machine that he’s had running now for a couple of years. And we were talking about how that marketing machine doesn’t directly deliver results for him on a regular basis. And yet, he’s getting results from other things on a regular basis. So what I mean from that is, he’s got social media that’s being posted, emails that are going out. I think he’s sending stuff out printed as well. He’s got people phoning his prospects. And that generates good prospects for him now and again, but not all the time. And we were talking about the fact that he’s getting more referrals from his clients. He’s getting more cold leads turning up from his websites. And in general, there is just a lot more sales activity happening in that business. There’s lots more sales coming in. There’s lots more revenue coming in. And all of that is coming from his big mo.

Paul Green:
To put it another way, the more momentum he builds up, the more luck he seems to have in his marketing. So that marketing machine doesn’t seem to generate direct results for him. But of course it does, because as he’s improving and adding content to his website on a regular basis, that generates attention for him, that generates leads. The more he does on social media, the more it reminds his existing clients to refer him. The more it gets old contacts that he hasn’t spoken to for a number of years to get in touch with him. John’s got enormous momentum going with that machine.

Paul Green:
And we are always looking for how can we track results? What’s the ROI that we get from something? And yet, we forget that, actually, certainly in what you sell… Which is a very complicated and very dangerous thing for people to buy. They don’t understand technology. They don’t understand what you sell. And they are scared. They are terrified of making a mistake. So in that situation, it’s a very complicated purchase for them. In a situation like that, the more momentum you build up, the more that you are out there doing marketing, the safer you appear to be to them. So if you don’t have big mo going in your business just yet, then my challenge to you is this. Get started by putting in place some of the pieces. Something you can do on a daily basis, something on a weekly basis, and something on a monthly basis.

Voiceover:
Here’s this week’s clever idea.

Paul Green:
I’m not sure what it’s like where you are right now, but certainly here in the UK at the moment, and to a certain extent in the US from what I’ve heard, recruitment is a challenge. The cost of living is going up. Salary expectations are going up. And there seems to be a lack of supply of good quality technicians. And all of these things have come together to make it… It’s an employee’s market at the moment, rather than an employer’s market. You also seem to have a phenomenon of… That’s such a difficult word to say, please don’t make me say that again, producer James.

Producer James:
Once more, please.

Paul Green:
A phenomenon of people going to job interviews to see if they could get a job elsewhere, in order to get a pay rise with their existing employer. Which is, obviously, deeply frustrating for you if you are looking to recruit someone right now. Because you make a job offer, and they don’t accept it. They take the fact that you’ve made them a job offer at a higher salary, and they use that to leverage themselves a pay rise with their existing employer. How dare they?

Paul Green:
I view recruitment problems as a marketing challenge. Because if you think about it, the challenge of getting someone to come and work for you, is that really any different to getting a prospect to choose you? It’s just a different form of marketing. And just as with marketing for new clients, like I was just talking about, I don’t believe that recruitment should just be a one-off event. You should have a recruitment machine. You should constantly be recruiting. Now, you may only have one vacancy a year that you need to fill. But rather than waiting for you to have that vacancy, and then doing some urgent hiring of people and putting job adverts out, what if you built yourself up a recruitment pipeline? So that at the point you’ve got the problem, there are people there in your pipeline that you can hire.

Paul Green:
Let me tell you exactly how you would do that. I believe it can mostly be done over LinkedIn. In fact, this doesn’t have to be a very time consuming thing at all. If you can identify the kinds of people that you would want to work for you. So let’s say a level two technician. You could ask yourself, where else do level two technicians work around here? And sure, they could work for another MSP. But also, ask yourself, what other technology companies around here employ people who are likely to have the same skillsets? And in virtually all areas, you just think sideways. What other kinds of companies around you would employ someone with the same skillset as a level two technician? What kind of companies would have internal IT people that at least it would be worth you talking to?

Paul Green:
So once you’ve built a target list of companies where these people might be working, you then go and do a bit of LinkedIn stalking. And this is what makes LinkedIn beautiful, because it’s not only a great prospecting tool, but it’s also a great tool to meet potential future employees. So let’s say, there was a company near you and you knew they had an internal IT department of three or four people. You could go onto LinkedIn. You could look at that company. You could look at everyone who works in that company. And you could just try and connect with them on LinkedIn. And in your connecting note, you know how, when you try and connect with someone on LinkedIn, there’s a little note that you can write? You would just say, “Hi, I run a local tech support company,” or a managed services provider, if you think they would know what that was. “I’m always looking to connect with like-minded individuals in the area and I’d like to add you to my network.”

Paul Green:
So you don’t mention jobs or recruitment or anything at that stage. The goal, at this first stage, is just to connect to them on LinkedIn. Now, some people will completely ignore your approach, and other people will just be interested. They’ll be like, “Ooh,” almost intrigued. “Who’s this person?” So they will connect with you. And that’s when you can then message them. And the message is not to offer them a job or anything crazy like that. You would message them, and you put this in your own words. You would say, “Hey, we don’t currently have any vacancies right now, but it’s always good to know people like you with your particular skill set. Because you never know what the opportunities are in the future. How would you feel…” And remember, how would you feel is a great way of asking someone a question where you don’t really know what their response will be. “How would you feel about meeting up for a coffee or a beer, just for us to say hello and get to know each other?”

Paul Green:
And the goal here is to move a small number of people onto that second stage. You’ve got to have a bit of a chat on LinkedIn. But those people who might one day be interested, their interest is piqued. They will come and meet you for a coffee or a beer. And it’s just a chance for you to get to know them. Now, this is how you build your pipeline. It’s really as simple as that. Imagine if you could have had a coffee with three or four potentially suitable people. They might be in your town or the next town. But you’ve met up with them. You’ve had a chat about them. You’ve had a little chat about you. And off the back of that, you’ve just kept in touch. Perhaps through WhatsApp, something that’s easier to keep in touch with people, compared to LinkedIn.

Paul Green:
The next time you have a vacancy, you’ve already got a pipeline. You don’t need to be mucking about pulling an advert together, or stressing about where you’re going to advertise it. You can just simply send a couple of WhatsApp messages. “Oh, hi, Dave. I know it’s been a few months since I’ve been in touch. Things are really busy here and we’ve just created a new vacancy.” So much easier to talk about creating a new vacancy, than to say that someone has left you. “We’ve just created a new vacancy. Is this a good time for us to have a serious conversation about it? Or is the timing not quite right for you?” Now, what a beautiful message that would be to send out to someone, “Is this a good time to talk? Or is the timing not right for you?”

Paul Green:
Because if the timing is good, great, the chances of them coming to work for you are really quite high. But if the timing isn’t right, you’re still leaving them in the pipeline. This isn’t one of those, “You’ve got to come and work for me now or that’s it,” moments. Actually, you’re setting them up to potentially work for you in the future, if it’s right for you and if it’s right for them. So don’t let recruitment be a one-off event, turn it into a machine. And with just a little bit of work now, and a little bit of maintenance throughout the year, using LinkedIn, you can build yourself a recruitment pipeline.

Voiceover:
Paul’s blatant plug.

Paul Green:
I have a public service announcement. Fanfare, please. If you want to make your marketing easy, have a look at MSP Marketing Edge. We only supply it to one MSP per area, and your first month is free. There’s no contract, cancel any time. But you’ve got to see if your area is still available. Make your marketing easy at mspmarketingedge.com.

Voiceover:
The big interview.

Mike Verret:
Hello, I am Mike Verret, and my business is called Verret & Associates. And I show you how to talk about your business.

Paul Green:
And you were highly recommended to me to come onto the podcast, Mike. Because you answer the question for businesses of how they can stand out and be different from their competitors. And we know that most MSPs really struggle with this. How do you stand out in a busy market, where there are lots of people doing, more or less, exactly the same thing as you? So we’re going to come onto that later on in the interview. Let’s first of all, learn more about you. So who are you, where do you come from, and how are you an authority on helping businesses to market themselves and communicate better?

Mike Verret:
Well, I’ll start with, I’m located in the United States, a bit north of New York. And I spent about 27 years in marketing, advertising, and brand management, ultimately. I could confidently say that I have concepted a new action figure for a Marvel film, let’s say, based on a consumer insight. Gotten it built, written the marketing plan, worked on the ad campaign, wrote the commercial, and acted in it. I’ve had to do everything across the marketing spectrum. But when I looked back on my 25 years, the one commonality was the audience that I was speaking to. I always had a good understanding of how to connect to an audience and bring them through an idea on their terms. And that becomes remarkably important in communication. Because when you have something that’s yours that you want to tell someone about, every part of it is yours. And understanding how your audience reacts to what’s important to you, versus what’s important to them, is a blind spot in business.

Mike Verret:
Because when you’re thinking about everything 100% important to you, and only 5% matters to your audience, how do you find that 5%? This is something that I’ve looked back on my career and said, “This was a problem that I actually was figuring out and solving, but I didn’t realise I was doing it.” And it’s a difficult thing to see from the inside, simply because… Let’s say, Stephen King, a famous author, writes a new book, 400 pages of horror genius. There’s no way he can extrapolate the three paragraphs that have to go on the inside flap to sell the book, because he knows absolutely everything. He needs somebody to read the book and pull out what’s going to be important to the audience to get them to buy it.

Mike Verret:
And that’s similar to how businesses operate is they see everything, trying to see the outside is hard. So I’ve turned my business into, quite literally, showing other businesses how to talk about themselves to their audience. Simply by understanding how an audience thinks, helping them to clarify what they need to do to reach that audience, and creating one way to talk about your business. One message that breeds that consistency with your audience and you’re known for the right reasons. And that reason is different. Different. How do you appear different?

Paul Green:
Yes, how do you appear different? And this is music to my ears because you have… As you would expect, because this is what you do for a living, you’ve managed to summarise there why I think so many MSPs struggle with marketing. Essentially, they assume that the audience they’re speaking to has the same knowledge that they do, both about technology but, also, about their specific business. Is this a common thing for all business owners then?

Mike Verret:
Absolutely. MSP owners are part of that. And any business though, goes through the same thing, where they know what they have. We think, when it’s our business, we think in terms of services and benefits to our audience. But let’s take a step back and think about how we get there. We start out any business, MSP owner included, with a vision of what you want to build. Then you build it. And it’s predicated on what problem am I solving for my customer? You build it. You get to the services that you can provide, the products that you can provide, and how you can help them. Of course, you want to go out and tell them about that. It’s human nature. You built it, “Look at this.” The problem is everybody has built a solution similar. And everybody is out telling them about the services and benefits to them. So everyone looks the same.

Mike Verret:
And it’s simply because business… I’ll give you two thoughts here. One, there’s no business without show business. Meaning, every business is… There are scripts. There are actors and actresses. There are roles. There are directors. There are producers. All of this is internal. You don’t act or talk the way you do in business when you’re out of business. We don’t say words like IDA or synergise. If you and I were old friends and we went out for a pint one afternoon, and I said, “It’s great to see you, Paul, but I got to run. I got to go pick up my son. So what are your KPIs this weekend?” I would never ever say that. I’d say, “What are you doing this weekend?” So just by being an internal process, to get to services and benefits, they are already putting themselves in a corner. They’re lagging behind because they don’t attach the importance of that to their audience the right way.

Mike Verret:
Now, the other thing to take away is an audience remembers one of three things: first, best, or different. That’s it. That’s what they will hold onto. And first and best are, obviously, tough to come by. First is, by definition, that’s the first time I’ve ever done that. Best is subjective. “That’s the best food I’ve ever had,” may not be related that to somebody else. But different is something that stands out to everyone. And I’ll give you a very quick example of this. You go on Google to search for a plumber. You hit search, first three results say, “We are a plumber,” and a phone number. The fourth result says, “Stop now, water has escaped the system it’s supposed to be in. That’s bad. Drop everything and call.”

Mike Verret:
One of those four looks completely different. The reason is because the fourth one chose to speak to you about why you typed plumber into the Google search bar. They didn’t just say, “Yep, you’re in the right place. We’re a plumber.” They said, “Oh, we know why you’re here. You have a leak. Water is dripping where it shouldn’t.” If it’s a light bulb or a shingle on the house, that’ll wait till the weekend. But not water. And that plumber knows that. So that’s how they appear different. That’s what an audience remembers. That’s what we have to work towards. And if you think about the world of MSPs, it becomes really challenging when everybody has the same type of technology or support or service. And they’re all saying the same thing. It creates a world of sameness.

Paul Green:
It does it, and same-y kills sales. So the issue that MSPs have… And taking your earlier point that you’re fully absorbed in your business. So every MSP has… To the outside world, they do the same thing. Now, I know, and most MSPs know, that, actually, they do things differently. So they’ll have different ways of working. There are an unlimited series of differences between one MSP and another. It could be their technology stack. It could be their procedures, their processes. Everyone has different ways of working, down to experience levels and all of that sort of stuff.

Paul Green:
But to the ordinary, every day business owner and manager, who is ultimately buying from them, who are not privy to all of this information and all of this complexity, they just see, “Oh, here’s a company that fixes computers. Here’s a company that fixes computers.” Because even though that’s not what MSPs do, MSPs are so much bigger than that, that’s very much the mindset of, “Oh, we just need someone to look after the IT. So what’s the process, Mike, that you would take an MSP through to help them find the thing that makes them seem different from their competitors?

Mike Verret:
The first place to go is understanding what the customer needs and why they are looking for this help. So I need to put myself in the shoes of who the MSP audience is. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a managed service provider is going to be targeting smaller to mid businesses. Probably not big businesses, because big businesses are going to have, say, an internal team to manage it, an IT department. So we’ve got small to medium sized businesses, who have something to sell, but are thinking in terms of technology stack, or process, or little features and benefits. And that’s what they see as their value.

Mike Verret:
But all of that is hidden in the fact that this person has IT issues and they have to manage everything in their business. They don’t have a department. So the first thing I’m thinking, if I’m an MSP owner and I want to connect to them the right way, is about all of the technology they need. And how much of it they don’t understand. And they need a partner to get them where they need to be, understanding how to get them what they need, how to use it, and support it along the way to make sure they reach their success. That’s much more important than a feature, much more.

Paul Green:
Yes, yes, absolutely. So it’s really about understanding… Well, I guess it’s like trying to… This is the hardest thing, isn’t it? It’s trying to figure out how people who aren’t like you think, and how people who aren’t like you act. And I guess this is where you come in, Mike, because this is what you do for a living. Based on your, as you said earlier, your 25 years of experience, tell us a little bit more about what you do? And how we can get in touch with you?

Mike Verret:
Well, what I focus on is getting to that one message. One way that a business talks about itself. That is the same on a website, LinkedIn profile, networking pitch, sales presentation. Building that consistency and standing out as different. And I work within two weeks, three meetings, to get businesses sorted so that they can start building their website. And going out and selling, and saying the right thing on networking pages. And I work with businesses big and small, but where I excel is businesses that have to worry about everything. Small businesses, medium sized businesses that are growing. Either of those growing, there’s a lot that they’re taking on. And if I can help them to get that clarity on how they speak to their audience, it tends to solve a lot of challenges down the road. The easiest way to get in touch is to find me on LinkedIn, Mike Verret, V-E-R-R-E-T. And you can schedule time with me right from there. And you can also go to my website, verretand, A-N-D, associates.com.

Paul Green:
Thank you, Mike. Now, you and I are going to continue our conversation in the extended interview on YouTube. And there’s so many things that I want to talk to you about. One of them we’re going to… Well, probably the first thing we’re going to look at, is why we get stuck in the business, in our heads. And why we find it difficult to relate to other people. I also want to pick up on something you said earlier about internal language. And you mentioned about saying to your friend, “Hey, what are your KPIs this weekend?” I want to explore why we do that in business because… And I think I have a theory, but I’ll be interested in testing it on you because you’re the expert at this. And then, of course, I’ll have to ask about your 25 years acting, marketing, all of those kind of things. I’m going to ask what kind of cool stuff you’ve done over the last quarter of a century or so. So we’re going to continue that conversation now. Well, before you chime in there, Mike, because I know you’ve got something to tell us.

Mike Verret:
I have teaser for you. I have a teaser for you.

Paul Green:
Okay, go for it then. Okay, go for it.

Mike Verret:
If you want to hear about how I named a dinosaur in the movie, Jurassic World, go to YouTube.

Paul Green:
Oh, I love it. And you can hear that, and see that, at youtube.com/mspmarketing.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast. This week’s recommended book.

Max Pruger:
Hi, I’m Max Pruger, the GM of compliance manager for Kaseya. The book I recommend is, Becoming Your Own Banker by Nelson Nash. Every MSP is in two businesses, the MSP business and the banking business. The banking business is typically the more lucrative of the two. So by following the principles in this book, over time, you can take over the banking function in your life, as well as in your business. And funnel the benefits back to yourself.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Adam Wootton:
Adam Wootton, owner of Impact Sales Coaching. I’m on Paul’s show next week, talking about sales strategy and sales improvement. I’ll see you there.

Paul Green:
And make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to this podcast so you never miss an episode. Because the other thing we’ll be talking about next week is how to achieve crazy growth. I’ve got a great story to share with you of an MSP that I work with. And how the three directors of that business have split up the business so they each have a very clear area of responsibility. It’s leading to crazy growth. I cannot wait to share that with you next week. Plus, we’ll be talking about business cards. Are they still relevant in 2022? Over on YouTube, we’ve got our extended interview with Mike Verret. And on Thursday we’ll be publishing the latest episode of our show about this show. It’s called Another Byte and you can see it at youtube.com/mspmarketing. Join me next Tuesday, and have a very profitable week in your MSP.

Voiceover:
Made in the UK, for MSPs around the world, Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast.

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