Marketing Strategies to Founders or Owners of Smaller Companies – Part 1

QUESTION: Mike, I am looking to bring on some smaller tech companies as clients in the 30 to 100, maybe 150 employee bracket, the kind of companies that have 1 or 2 rounds of VC funding.  The issue I have is that my ideal hiring manager is the Chief Technology Officer/VP of Technology, which in these types of companies is often the Founder who I do not think would take too kindly to a flip marketing call.  Is my MPC, most placeable candidate, the only option at this size, or do you have any ideas or thoughts that are a bit more strategic?  I have never been a huge fan of making hundreds of – Want to buy chicken? calls. – Alex

ANSWER: This is a fantastic question!  Thank you for submitting it.  Yes, I do have a suggestion for you.  Just to put this in context, we started a construction desk in my firm a number of years ago from a dead start.  Just like you, we were not targeting the Goliaths, we were targeting the smaller companies.  I love the size you are targeting because you there is a lot less Human Resources infrastructure, so I fully endorse that size, by the way, startup to 150.  

We were calling these construction companies.  The primary hiring manager was the owner of the construction company.  The biggest challenge was to do a flip marketing call.  A flip marketing call is using an opening for a VP, a C level executive, to find an opening.  It is basically, you are starting it off as a recruit call, trying to recruit them

What I did was call them up and say, “Hey, Alex.  My name is Mike Gionta.  I am an Executive Recruiter with Hudson Consulting.  I have no idea what is going on in your career right now.  I do not actually want to talk to you about a career change, but we are anticipating doing some marketing to develop some Board of Director positions with companies that do not compete with your existing organization.  This is an opportunity to share your knowledge, earn a little extra money, and build your reputation within the high-tech space.  Alex, I have no idea what your situation is, how your time is being used.  Is something like this something you would even want to consider?”

Now, they are going to talk, because this is incredibly flattering to be considered to be on a board. They are going to talk to you.  We did this all the time.  We built an entire construction desk off of this.  It was wonderful.  I have a number of clients using this successfully.  When you get into it with that person, you basically say again, “I do not have anything right now, but I just want to see, when we run across these, should we keep you aware of them?”

They will say, “Yea, yea.”  So then I get to interview them a little bit.  So, “Alex, tell me what it is about your role as Chief Technology Officer.  Tell me where you are at with your current company, how you brought it there, and what are your biggest accomplishments.  As an advisor, what do you think some of the greatest insights you could bring to another company are?”  

You just develop a list of questions about where they work, what value they provide, which, in effect, what they are doing is bragging about themselves, correct.  So let them brag.  Let them go on and on.  You do not have to keep this long, probably 7 to 10 minutes.  You do not want to make it an in-depth thing.  I will always say, “Alex, to be respectful of your time since I do not have anything right now, I just need some of the bullet points so I can kind of know where you can make the greatest contribution so I do not waste your time calling you with the wrong type of board level opportunities.”  

Pause here for a moment.  You are talking to them about a board position.  From a stature standpoint, where do you think that brings you in their minds?  You are not some 15% contingency, go through our portal recruiter from their perception when you are having this dialogue.  That is all going on in the background, by the way, without you having to say it.  That is number 1.  

To be continued….

Next week we will continue with Mike’s answer to Alex’s question.

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