Strategy

Work: Recruitment Website and Videos for Benjamin F. Edwards & Co

Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. (BFEC) is growing by leaps and bounds, spreading new locations across the country. To both spur and continue this growth, the organization reached out to Falk Harrison to design and implement a messaging strategy.

The organization does benefit from investors placing their trust in and their assets with a Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. financial consultant (FC). However, after conducting research, we determined that accelerated growth would be realized if financial consultants working at other full-service broker-dealers decided to make the move to Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. The book of business they’d bring with them would be the new clients BFEC is seeking.

Falk Harrison built a microsite designed to highlight how easy it is for FCs to move to BFEC, what the core values of the organization would mean to them should they decide to make the move, and how great the move worked out for the FC and his or her clients.

Benjamin F Edwards & Co Website

 
Our assignment started with three recruitment videos, focusing on the three core values the organization relies on every day. The values are integrity, trust and mutual respect. A video was concepted for each core value, and shot on location in St. Louis and Chattanooga, TN.

Benjamin F Edwards website

We shot photography of six current FCs, and solicited testimonials from them. Future potential Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. employees now have a website they can peruse while trying to make a very important life decision for themselves and their clients. BFEC wants to make it easy on FCs to figure out if the firm is going to be a good fit for them, and they want to make it easy to join and work at the firm. Falk Harrison’s job was to make this abundantly clear on the website. The site is rich with information and presents the organization in a fun, yet professional light. And our client reports that it’s working, as they continue to expand across the country.

To get Falk Harrison thinking, designing and implementing solutions for you, contact Jon Falk at (314) 531-1410.

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Recommended Reading for October 2013

Below are a few articles we found interesting enough to pass along:

1. When I first saw the title of this article, “Why Social Media is Not a Distraction for Entrepreneurs,” I kneejerk disagreed. I hadn’t even read the article, but was skeptical. Just being honest, social media is a wonderful communication and marketing tool – it is in fact changing the world. But in the wrong hands, it can be a huge distraction. However, the piece by Michael Simmons provided me a huge reminder – find the important people in your network, and keep up with them. People often ask how I can keep up with 17,000 people I’m following on Twitter, and the answer is that it is impossible. So I don’t even try. Instead, I curate lists of the people I learn from, the people that inspire me, and the people that might want to hire me. There’s a lesson here for companies worried about keeping up with their duties on social media – you’re not talking to everyone, just your customers and prospects. So I supposed the title of the article was a bit misleading.

2. A common misconception is that one tweet from an influencer, or someone with many followers, will cause the floodgates to open. It just doesn’t work that way. This article dispels the notion that targeting influencers will be the key to your success. Sneak preview: influencers sometimes purchase their followers, and robots don’t listen.

3. On the other hand, Mark Ecko is truly an influencer, and he offers an incredible list of “10 Rules for Getting Influencer Attention.” If you’re going to try to catch a lucky break via an influencer, these are some very helpful guidelines.

4. Email marketing is not dead. Here’s ten great reasons why email should be one of your marketing priorities. I especially liked #3 – the lifespan of an email. I had never considered this angle.

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7 Reasons Why B2B Social Media Marketing Works

Social media can sometimes be very confounding. This confusion is borne of a diversity of perceptions and goals. People have varying definitions of social media. Some think it’s worthless, others think it’s something their sons and daughters do, and some believe its power borders on marketing sorcery. It’s still too new to be 100% proven (no tactic, no matter how old and “proven,” is ever truly 100% proven). The goals we set range from an uptick in brand awareness to emptying a warehouse full of goods.

You won’t often see a plurality of people pushing back when a B2C social media marketing campaign is kicked off. “Oh, you’re marketing a fun product to people – social media is perfect for that!” However, when a manufacturer of chemicals wants to sell more chemicals, social media sometimes doesn’t get the call. In the majority of cases, that is a call your marketing and communications department should be making.

Below are seven reasons why social media marketing is actually a great fit for B2B organizations.

1. – Your employees need to do research to solve problems

Smart employers are always looking for self-starters. And self-starting employees have a geniune wish to do their jobs better. However, even the most talented employee needs the proper tools in order to excel. If your corporation restricts social media usage at work, you’re actually restricting your employees’ ability to conduct research. They will still be able to Google this and that, but having a network of live human beings to turn to is sometimes superior to Google. Word of mouth is not dead, and social media is word of mouth for the 21st century.

2. – Your employees want to network to enhance their own careers

I’ve had a client say to me, “We don’t want our employees on LinkedIn, because our competition will poach them.” It could happen, and maybe the information they find on LinkedIn could help, but this is a notion that is ever so slowly getting turned on its ear. I hate to break it to you, but if your employee doesn’t get poached, they could just (eek!) decide to leave.

The question companies ask themselves is, “Will we let our employees use social media at work?” when maybe it should be, “Why should we let them?” Employees are not your property, so being overly protective of them or keeping them in the shadows is going to eventually make them feel like you only value them for the job they do, and not as human beings. Jobs aren’t forever, and employees and employers alike are increasingly realizing this. Employees sometimes network. Do not be scared! Their network can help them and your company. (see #1 above and #7 below). If you offer a fulfilling, challenging and kind place to work, you give yourself a great chance of keeping your best and brightest.

3. – Spread the word about your business, and increase brand awareness

Increasing brand awareness does not directly lead to an increase in sales, but it should result in an increase in leads. A B2B social media marketing effort can generate leads, and those leads need to be handed to a salesperson or account manager for nurturing and closing. To reiterate, social media does not close the sale. Real people, answering every question and reassuring the prospect that you’ll be there to back up the product, are the deal closers. Honestly, if you take nothing else from this blog post, remember this! Go here for a deeper discussion of this issue.

4. – B2B transactions are, on average, larger

Which pond would you rather be fishing in? The one with fish that weigh, on average, about $150, or the one where they weigh $150,000? While the B2B sales cycle is a bit longer and more complicated, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is often a 6-figure purchase order. Is that worth spending time on social media? Yes, let’s spend time working to secure such orders. If a steady stream of helpful, relevant online content plays a role in finally convincing a prospect to cut that purchase order, then your marketing department will have done their job. Help your marketing department do their job by providing them the tools they need.

5. – Prove your INTENT to others

People buy from those they know, like and trust. How do you get people to trust you? For one, you can do business with them once and prove you are able to deliver. If you’ve never done business with someone, you can put on a public face that says “We eat, sleep and breathe this business. We are NERDS for this stuff. We’re specialists. Why trust anyone else?” Brochures can’t convey this quite as well as videos can. A steady stream of content describing not just what you sell, but why you sell it, will help make your case. You’re not just in it for the money – you love what you do and what you sell. Your prospects are sitting at their laptops right now, Googling various terms in order to arrive at a solution to whatever challenge they’re facing. It would be best if they stumbled across your business and your website.

I was once delivering a lecture at a Washington University Olin School MBA class, and a student raised his hand and asked about social media for B2B. Before I was able to begin answering the question, the gentleman next to him answered it for me. He worked at a B2B corporation, and they were considering three different vendors for a big project. They saw only one of the three actively answering customer service questions on social media. He said they considered this fact, and extrapolated that this company probably would be the most responsive to their needs. That company got the six-figure purchase order.

6. – Attract great employees

Oh, how often this is overlooked. The prevailing thought in some organizations is, “We have jobs available, and people really need jobs. So we’ll be able to get people to fill these positions.” Personally, I like working for organizations with taste. I like an employer who’s picky. When can an employer afford to be choosy when hiring? When they’re receiving an avalanche of resumes from well-qualified applicants. Good employees have always wanted to work for strong organizations. Increasingly, they perceive that social media aids in making a company stronger, and worse, a lack of social media makes a company look weird and behind the times. If your company isn’t using social media, it does not necessarily mean you don’t “get it.” However, perception is often reality, and you don’t want a potential employee to perceive you in this way (much less a potential customer).

7. – Generate leads – your prospects are on social media!

Let’s cut through it all. You’re going to hear social media experts tell you social media is about engagement and transparency. It’s a cocktail party. You can’t sell, sell, sell. All of that might be true, but you have bills to pay. Sales must increase. Yes, it’s all about the money. Here’s what you need to know: your customers ARE on social media. Often, they’re just participating as themselves, and not as XYZ Corporation. This point deserves reiteration. Whether you believe it or not, your customers are on social media. Get to know them as people. Repeating, people work with people they know and trust. Warm calling is more effective that cold calling. So, warm up those prospects in the more traditional ways (treat them to dinner, a sporting event, talk on the phone and ask how their kids are doing), and interact with them and support them online as well. Don’t hesitate to get to know them a bit. Be genuinely interested in them. They have families and career goals just like you do. Besides the in-person interactions, social media offers you a great way to further develop a friendship, which could develop into a working relationship.

Conclusion

These lists are always different. Google “B2B Social Media” to get other perspectives. This post purposely takes a more human angle. Companies are stronger when their employees are happy. Great employees leave their jobs when they see no way up, and when they aren’t provided the tools they need to succeed. Rally around your best employees, empower them to solve your company’s problems, and communicate with your prospects in a very genuine and direct way. Strengthen your company by strengthening both your employees and the human connections between your sales team and your prospects.

Postscript

I should mention that we help clients with this sort of work all the time. Our B2B social media work for Belden won “Best in Show” at the 2012 TAM Awards. Out of 200+ entries, our B2B social media marketing work was judged to be the best work of the year. So yes, your B2B organization can do it, too!

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Twitter Etiquette – What To Do When People Ask For a Follow

I often get asked about the best methods to acquire followers on Twitter. I also get asked directly for follows on Twitter. Sometimes the tweet is as direct as “Follow me.” Here’s a recent humorous example.

If you review this account, you’ll see many duplicate tweets to other Twitter users. I mean absolutely no disrespect to Alex, but his tweet to me was so different than the typical “Follow me” that I thought I’d make this video. In it, I offer what I think are my four options for responding to such requests. Most often, I don’t respond, and I think this is one of just a few Twitter instances where no response is acceptable.

I’d like to hear what you think I should do in such a case. Also, let me know what you do when people tweet you and ask for a follow. Let me know in the comments below.

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What do you think when you hear the word “Sustainability?”

Image from the Economist's Sep 17th 2011 Schumpeter column Green Growth http://www.economist.com/node/21529015

 

“Sustainability.” What do you think when you hear the word?

(Be honest.)

If you’re already a believer, then this simplistic post probably isn’t for you. No, this is more for the folks who have yet to dip their toes in the water. And, in part, for the naysayers.

And yet, it’s hard to believe that there are many naysayers left.

According to a survey conducted by Accenture and the UN Global Compact, “93 percent of CEOs view sustainability as critical to their company’s success.” And in a 2009 global report compiling data from over 1,500 corporate executives and managers, the Boston Consulting group finds that “companies acting aggressively on sustainability are reaping substantial rewards.” EVEN in the face of econimic downturn. And yet, a clear majority of survey respondents said that their companies had neither “developed a clear business case for sustainability” nor “acted decisively to fully exploit the opportunity and mitigate the risks that sustainability presents.”

Despite being named as a critical factor for government, international and business communities – and having been defined by the United Nations for well over 25 years – there are STILL misperceptions surrounding sustainability. It can be considered gilding on a lily. Or worse: unnecessary and expensive add-ons to already over-burdened systems.

Sound like anything you’ve heard before?

Ask most anyone unfamiliar with the crux of sustainability, and you’re likely to encounter misconceptions and arguments: “Green feel-good, rah-rah fluff.” “It’s a gussied-up recycling program.” “Expensive! How can I pay for that when I have other costs to cover” “That stuff is only for big companies.” “Definitely requires a lot of staffing….” Not only are these wrong, they completely miss the basic concept behind sustainability: that it’s the ability to grow and flourish without unduly burdening the present or future.

Broken down to raw meaning, sustainability is defined as the ability and capacity to endure. Sound good so far?

So – apply this concept to business. Would you even begin to question relevance? Take the definition to heart and sustainability isn’t only about growing, it’s about pure survival. Literally, sustainability concerns itself with a company’s ongoing chances of living to see another day.

Okay, so … MAYBE that’s a little over the top.

Or is it?

Richard Goode, Director of Sustainability at Alcatel-Lucent, states: “In good times, sustainability can be a competitive differentiator, in lean times, it’s a defensive strategy, and in really hard times, it can determine your survival.”

Former Xerox CEO Ann Mulcahey credits “being a good corporate citizen” as saving the company from certain bankruptcy.

In this light, sustainability is well beyond the scope of “necessary or irrelevant” conversation. Frankly (and this is good news), it’s already woven into your organization. And sustainable behavior is just business conducted smartly (again, the crux of how we’re supposed to be doing business in the first place).

An A.T. Kearny study reports that  “sustainability-focused companies outperform their peers” and goes on to say that companies “committed to corporate sustainability practices” achieved “above average performance in the financial markets during the financial crisis.” And that the performance differential “translated to an average of $650 million in market capitalization per company.”

That’s hardly an “unnecessary and expensive add-on” in my book.

Thee years ago, Vijay Kanal said “companies that choose to turn a blind eye to the benefits from becoming more sustainable are putting themselves at an immediate competitive disadvantage, and quite possibly set themselves up as targets for regulation in the long run.”

It’s now (and continues to be) more true than ever.

But, again – what is it?

Over the coming weeks, we’ll begin to look at Sustainability: what is it, best practices, reporting, what advantages sustainability can bring to your company, and ways to get started on the journey. And maybe a couple of items worth mentioning when “sustainability” comes up at your next meeting.

All without trying to sound too preachy. Or sales-y.  (I hate it when those things happen).

Watch this space, or get in touch to learn more.

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