The marketing and branding of your company impacts so much more than just sales. Marketing for existing customers, new customers, and technicians are all connected. In this episode, Philip St. Jacques of WorkWave explains the importance of building your brand story in the recruitment process. Join host Ryan Englin as he chats with Philip about why businesses should invest in marketing and branding and how advertising your culture externally help attract top talent into your organization.
Recruit Better & Sell Better With A Brand Story With Philip St. Jacques
Our guest is an owner of a marketing agency that believes in employer branding and putting your marketing efforts towards what potential job seekers or employees learn about your company. What they see about your company’s brand is equally, if not more important, than being able to market to customers.
In fact, he tells me that he talks to employers all the time to say, “I can’t take on one more ounce of business unless I can find more people.” As an owner of a marketing company and a partner with WorkWave, Philip St. Jacques is out there helping brands from small all the way to enterprises solve their recruiting problems. I’m looking forward to our conversation. Philip, welcome to the show.
Thank you. I appreciate it.
I’m excited about our conversation. Let’s jump right in. What’s the biggest myth of your industry?
There’s no denying that the past years have been challenging for a lot of people. As people in field service, we had to deal with a lot of different challenges that we’d never seen before. One of the biggest myths is that the marketing for existing customers, for new customers, and for technicians to help grow the business are all separate. They’re not. It’s one ecosystem.
We’ve got clients to tell us, “I cannot take on one more piece of business if I don’t get any more technicians.” That seems to be a pervasive problem. That’s a newish problem. We’ve heard that before. It’s always been a challenge in the industry especially if you get more specialized verticals, but never consistently across every business owner that we typically speak to are they having trouble with either recruitment or retention.
You say that they’re not separate. Unpack that for me a little bit. How are they all connected in your world?
At the end of the day, it’s about that brand story. It’s about the story of the cultural fit for the customer. It’s like, “How is this all put together?” That’s where it all becomes connected. The technician, the employee culture, and the culture around the customer experience are all related to the same thing. There’s a problem that needs a solution. Technicians need a new career path.
We were talking to somebody in the HVAC space where he said, “Hiring bonuses don’t do it anymore. Everyone’s offering a hiring bonus. What’s the differentiator?” We found that most of the time it’s a cultural fit. “I didn’t get along with this. They don’t care about my future. They don’t value what I do. Someone else is getting more than me.” It’s more of the cultural fit that is what people are looking for because the money’s there. These steeled technicians can get money everywhere. If it’s a matter of $1 dollar to an hour, that’s not meaningful money. It’s about the cultural fit. “Does this place feel like home to me?”
It’s great that you talk about it from the employee’s side and their perspective. I find that when I meet with employers and they tell me, “I can’t find any good people.” I’m like, “Define good for me?” They’ll tell me, “They need to show up on time. They need to be able to talk to the customer. They need to keep their tools in good shape, their trucks are stocked and clean. They need to clean up the job site.” I’m like, “None of that has to do with being a technician. All that has to do with their value system and whether or not they’re a cultural fit for you.”
Good is a subjective term at any level. Maybe you’re not a good employer. I’m not saying that they’re not good employers but it’s not a one-way street. That’s what it is. It’s not, “I have a job. You must come to this job.” It’s more of, “Here’s what values that we bring as a company to you as a professional.” That’s the conversation that needs to be had. Good is a subjective term. Cleaning trucks have nothing to do with satisfying customers. It does at a minor point but if you’re starting the conversation, you’re looking at the wrong thing.Marketing and branding costs something. It’s an investment. A lot of times people aren’t used to the dollars it takes to actually get that done. Click To Tweet
You make it sound simple. You have this brand story. You wave a magic wand and everything works. I don’t think it’s that simple because a lot of people don’t do it. What do you think is holding people back from putting together this brand story and being able to bring the synergies across these disciplines together?
A lot of time it’s the mindset. A lot of the companies that we work with started off small. They grew up big but they still have that small company mentality. Marketing and branding cost something. It’s an investment in the company and a lot of times people aren’t used to the dollars it takes to get that done. The way we work is we’re bringing a team that you couldn’t assemble yourself. It’s almost a timeshare of this team, brand strategy, digital folks, web folks, content people, SEO, and SEM. We’re bringing us all to bear onto your business at a fraction of what it would take to have you build a team yourself.
They first got to get their mind right around this and say, “I need the brand story.” I like what you said too. Maybe you didn’t quite say it but you implied it. Bring in outside experts to do this for you. I tell people all the time, “It’s hard to read the label of the jar you’re inside of.” When they’re that close to it, it’s hard to do it on their own. That goes on top of what you were saying. Bring in the experts to help you with this brand story. Let’s talk about this. Do they get this brand story together? What’s this do for them? How does this help them?
It helps to focus a little bit more on what they do best. It helps project the culture out into the marketplace, not only for new customers and existing customers but also for these technicians that are like, “I remember those guys. I remember that team. They’re doing something. Let me take a look because they’re doing something meaningful. ” I’d imagine like a lot of the interests we’re working in, everybody knows each other. All the companies know each other. All the technicians know each other. These are small like the HVAC industry, large industries.
If you look at it from a regional level, 100% know everybody and what they’re doing. You start to make changes and focus on the things that are more external like the brand building and that culture. People will take notice. That’s a big part of it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Not doing anything isn’t going to change your outcome. Does that make sense?
Yeah. I have a line that I tell people. “If you’re not attracting good people, it might be because you’re not attractive to good people.” It’s exactly everything you’re talking about. It’s being clear on your brand story, having good marketing, and understanding what’s for you and what’s not working with experts. This is all they do.
A lot of the people that we work with either grew up in the trades or they bought in and they know nothing about the trades. Both of them are equally suited to not being able to perform in certain areas of the business. They’re either too close to it or too disconnected from it. Bringing those outside experts who may be able to help is a cool idea especially when you’ve got a one-stop-shop like WorkWave.
We cut to the heart of the matter. We were talking about franchise development. Coming in the door, we know what the problem is with franchise. We’re looking for new franchisees to open up new locations. We almost prescribe it coming in the door, “This is what the challenges are.” We know where to look. First of all, I love that line that you said. I’m going to use that.
It’s like going to get your car fixed. I can certainly pop the hood. I can certainly watch a YouTube video. I can certainly turn a wrench but I have no desire to figure out how to fix my car. I want to bring it somewhere and pop the hood. People know exactly where to look. I got the tool. They tell me exactly what’s wrong. I’m going to fix it. I’ll 100% pay for that.
Marketing is the same way when we’re talking about recruitment or marketing for new customers. If you trust the person that’s telling you that they know where to look and to diagnose what’s wrong, that’s worth its weight in gold. We’re working with a janitorial supply company down in the Maryland area. He is a great guy, a great company. They were all in on this CRM, this content publishing path platform.
It’s a household name. Everybody knows it. The CEO was like, “I was all-in on this platform. I was taking the classes. I’m watching the videos. I’m diving in. I’m going for my certification.” I stopped and said, “I don’t want to know any of this. I’d rather bring somebody in that knows this. Why am I learning?” It’s that type of thing. Either you’re going to invest, you’re going to lean in and learn everything there is to know, or you’re going to trust somebody and bring somebody in that can help.
Recruiting is something that does have a direct impact on the financial health of your business. You already said it, “I can’t take on another customer until I get more people.” That’s not what your business is about. Unless you’re a staffing agency, you don’t need to be super expert at being able to recruit people. You do need to be good at retaining them but you don’t have to worry about the recruiting. Let the experts analyze.
I heard you say a lot about the tech stuff. I know WorkWave. We could go in a hundred different directions on the ways WorkWave can support people but I want to focus on some things that you’ve seen work when it comes to recruiting tech. What’s a good tip that you could share with our readers if they want to recruit tech more effectively?
I’m not young anymore but I do know that mobile-first is something that they respond to. I’m imagining a lot of the technicians that coming are either coming out of the trade schools or they’re growing into their careers. They’re mobile-first. If your website, your communications, and even your social profiles and applications, aren’t thinking in terms of mobile-first like being able to apply for a job while you’re sitting in your truck between jobs. Someone’s scrolling through and be able to apply for a job using your thumb. That’s what people are looking for. It’s making it a lot easier. If you’re thinking that somebody’s going to mail in a resume or write one, that’s not going to happen.
We ran across this with somebody. I’m like, “What? Fax machine? What is this?”
It might seem obvious to some people but if this is the way you’ve always done it, this is what you know. Being able to cut and clip a resume, click a button to apply for a job, autofill the information, and shoot it off somewhere, it’s simplicity. Mobile-first technology is how we do things.
There’s a statistic out there. More than 90% of job seekers start and end their job-seeking journey online. Whether they’re doing it on someone else’s dime because they’re on the company computer or they’re doing it when they’re hanging out with their kids and surfing on their phone, it’s all online now.
It’s all online and it’s coming at you in all different ways. I love LinkedIn. You can’t log in. You can’t scroll for 30 seconds without seeing somebody looking for a job or posting a job opening. It’s being where the people and your audience are looking. It seems simple but a lot of people haven’t caught up.
I would even say to take it one step further because your audience is on Indeed but so is every single one of your competitors and non-competitors. Where else is your audience that is not buried with competition and getting clear on that? I imagine that’s the stuff that you can do over there at WorkWave.
A lot of times people will reach out when Indeed is not working or if a recruiter’s not working. The tried and true things that they’ve always relied upon stopped working. You’re like, “Where do I go? I’ve got to compete, eat it even harder on the platforms that I’m used to,” but then it’s still not working. That’s when you have to take a step back and say, “How am I showing up as a consumer brand? How am I showing up as an employer brand?” Those things are important.
I remember it wasn’t that long ago where everybody’s like, “Craigslist isn’t working for me anymore.” Now we almost never talk about Craigslist anymore. It’s, “Indeed and ZipRecruiter aren’t working for me anymore.” There’s always going to be a platform that’s going to get saturated and you’re going to have to be ready to move. Unless your business is 100% recruiting, that’s what you focus your effort on, it’s best to work with people that get it.
I tell people a lot of times, “As the owner, as the person that is fully responsible for operations, you should spend about 30% of your time on recruiting,” which is weird because they’re like, “I have HR people that do that.” I’m like, “You have HR people that have 100 other things to do besides figuring out why Indeed isn’t working.”Be somewhere the message isn’t so diluted. Click To Tweet
That tips more toward the marketing side of things as opposed to the recruiting side of things. HR is good when you’ve got somebody close and in the door. That’s when HR is good. Everything up until that person makes contact with the HR department is all the marketing side of things. How are you getting people to the door? Once they’re through the door, they go into a different process.
Once you’ve got this story and some stuff, what are some things that you’ve seen effective? You had mentioned being mobile-first but are there social media platforms that do well? Is there a certain type of maybe video content, written content, or memes? What are some things that you’ve seen that have been good at helping attract good people?
A lot of times it is thinking and shelling up where people aren’t expecting it. Everyone’s on Indeed and it’s oversaturated. I’m sure you’ve heard of this platform called Nextdoor. The CEO was just on Shark Tank a few weeks ago, which was fascinating. It took them ten years to get enough neighborhoods together to turn it into something.
Next door is great though because it’s so local. It’s like neighborhood to neighborhood. There are people on there. There’s an audience on there but you’re not competing with people 20 or 30 miles away. You’re zoned in on your neighborhoods. You could expand that search out for a couple of miles around your neighborhoods. We found that to be efficient and effective because you can micro-target as many neighborhoods as you want but it becomes efficient to target.
The takeaway for me is to think outside the box with the platforms that you already know and use. I don’t use Nextdoor but my wife does. I know a lot about Nextdoor. I would’ve never thought about that. It’s great that you have something that’s worked.
It’s worked but it starts with, “Let’s give this a try.” It’s not like we’re one of many. We’re 1 of 1 if we’re talking about recruiting technicians. We’re 1 of 1 on that platform. It puts us at the front of the line. We’ll put it that way.
Marketing 101 is you got to stand out. You got to be different. The whole point of marketing is to differentiate yourself a little bit. If you’re the only one there, you’re different. You don’t have to do anything different, just be in a different place and you can get great results from it
Be somewhere where the message isn’t so diluted. That’s the other thing too. This goes back to a few years ago. If you were the first ones using Google Ads, you had free reign. You were running ads for $1 a click and making money. All of a sudden, everybody got real smart at it and that $1 a click is $10, $20 sometimes $30 to get somebody over to your website.
People are like, “Google Ads doesn’t work anymore.” I’m like, “It still works. It’s just competitive now. Everybody’s doing it. There’s a lot of money flowing through there.” It’s being efficient, looking in those areas, and getting the brand story together. We’re looking for those other areas where no one else is looking.
It’s good. It got me thinking. Google got more expensive, which means you have to get more efficient. You have to get more effective in order for your new customer to be the same. I see that a lot of times it used to work. A lot of employers will stick with what worked last year or even before the pandemic. They’re like, “It worked before. Why isn’t it working now?”
When it comes to recruiting, the pandemic has shifted the way people think about work. If you haven’t shifted then you’re already behind the times. When you’re helping these guys recruit techs, what have you found to be a good way to make that transition from marketing to, “It’s time to interview the guy or it’s time to hire the guy?” Is there a process or tool that you recommend to your clients to say, “Here’s how you can make that be an effective transition?”
We’re about getting people to the door. We’ll assess that quality. You’ve got a model or a platform to help on the interview side once somebody’s through the door. That’s not our area of expertise.
I thought I’d ask because you see a lot of it. One thing I can say is to treat it like a customer lead. I ask people all the time, “How long when a customer lead comes in, would you let it sit?” I’m like, “Five minutes.” Why is it that you let an app that can’t sit for seven days?
That is a great point because at the end of the day, they’re both equal revenue to the company. The technician has to service the job to turn that into revenue. A new customer is the one that has a problem that needs to be solved that turns into revenue. If we’re looking at it from both avenues are revenue-producing, how long are you going to delay that revenue by not jumping on this?
Give me the quick little spiel on WorkWave and how you can help work with our readers. Talk to me about your free giveaway.
I’m going to start with the free marketing assessment first because that’s the easy part. To your audience, I’m happy to do an analysis of your recruitment marketing, your franchise leads gen operation marketing, or even your new business market. I will take a look at it and give you our two cents as a mechanic that can pop the hood, hear the noise, understand what’s needed and be able to diagnose it. That’s what we can do. We’ll do a free analysis. We’re happy to do that for your readers.
WorkWave is a large operational software company. They’re in several large verticals like pest control, lawn care, residential and commercial cleaning, HVAC, plumbing, and fire safety. At the end of the day, WorkWave is an operational software company for field service businesses. It’s about any industry all the way from routing to billing to the operational software and all of that stuff. The marketing services side is all about that new customer, new technician, and that acquisition strategy to help you grow.
It is a one-stop-shop. You could start, grow with you and then get into other areas as needed. You’re there to support them in a lot of different areas.
We’ve got programs for new businesses. On brand new business, where do I do? We have a product called Instant Website Builder. If you’re in a field service vertical, you don’t have a website, you’ve got ten minutes and you don’t even know how to code, you can have a website in ten minutes. We’ve already written it for the industry. All you have to do is put your address in, put in your contact information, and maybe upload your logo but we built it to make it easy.
“I need something online. I don’t want to figure it out. I don’t have enough money to hire a web guy.” We built this. For $79 a month, you can have this website that you can turn right on all the way up through the bespoke marketing services that are like, “I’ve got 80 franchisees in the market and they all need more leads. How do we put our program together to satisfy all of them?”
When you’re offering a free digital marketing audit, it’s legit. You guys know what you’re doing because you work with small companies all the way up to the enterprise level. You’re able to take advantage of that free audit. Even if you’re working with an agency, I would imagine you don’t want to change. There are so many other ways that they could work with you and get some extra value from you guys.
We work with companies all the time that have outgrown their current agency and that’s perfectly fine. We’ve been in that boat. We signed out a client who said, “We hit the limits of what they’re able to do. We need a different thinking and a better strategy.” It’s very small, large and everything is in the middle.
Philip, I enjoyed our conversation. I will make sure that our audience can take advantage of that free audit. Thank you so much. I love hearing from other marketing experts who are like, “Recruiting is a marketing activity. You need to think about marketing.” Thanks for being here.
Thank you. I appreciate it.
About Philip St. Jacques
Brothers Philip and Michael started St. Jacques Marketing in 1991. St. Jacques has grown significantly and now specializes in closing the gap between marketing and sales and is a brand of marketing thought leadership. Their insight-based strategic process is the hallmark of St. Jacques Marketing’s success today that’s core to the St. Jacques brand of marketing leadership. Understanding that quality research and analysis delivers insights that leads to distinct positioning is the cornerstone of marketing success.
Philip is the front-facing, thought leader for St. Jacques Marketing and is sought after for many speaking opportunities. Marketing is a fractured and complex process and one of the most complex processes to scale. As social, mobile, and digital channels evolve and mature, how do brands provide leadership and how do brands embrace new strategies. These challenges are top of mind for brands large and small.
He is also the cultural leader for St. Jacques, creating an environment of belonging, inclusion and appreciation that creates a family atmosphere.
“St. Jacques has a culture where everyone can feel a sense of ownership and is fulfilled professionally. We put no limits on growth and have yet to reach what’s even possible.”
Specialties: digital lead generation strategies, brand strategy positioning, local and regional marketing strategies, franchise brand marketing, inbound content strategies, and operations.