Secret Weapon: Storytelling
Humans have been telling stories for as long as we've been around. So, it's no surprise employers who tell the best stories are typically the ones who get the best workers. It matters. That's why we invited Patrick Hodgdon, VP of marketing at hot startup FactoryFix on the Cult Brand Series with RecruitmentMarketing.com's Julie Calli to explore what companies are doing right, and most importantly wrong when it comes to storytelling.
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Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.
Oh yeah, what's up everybody. It's your favorite guilty pleasure. Also known as the Chad and Cheese podcast. This is our cult brand series. My name is Joel Cheeseman, and as always I'm joined the Moe and Larry to Mike curly, Julie Calli president at recruitmentmarketing.com. And we welcome VP of Marketing at FactoryFix, Patrick Hodgdon. Patrick, welcome to the show.
Hey, Hey. Hey,
I don't even get an introduction anymore. What's going on here?
Oh, God damn it.
You just go with it.
That guy said you're not supposed to take NyQuil into in the daytime. Patrick welcome to the show.
Patrick (1m 1s):
Thank you. Thank you. Happy to be here.
Joel (1m 3s):
Chad (1m 3s):
Ah, okay. No more. You did read the fine print on the Nyquil, right? You're not supposed to like, you know, heavy equipment, operating heavy equipment or podcast at that day. You read that, right?
Joel (1m 19s):
Yeah. So I'm a little under the weather to say the least. I don't know if you can tell them I'm on enough Tylenol to mask it. But Chad and I were talking beforehand and said, Hey, should, should I just do this? Or do you need to go back to bed? And I said, you know what? The guys at the guys and gals at FactoryFix are such big fans of the Chad and Cheese podcast. Like there's no way they're going to stand for just one of us coming on the show. So Patrick, you get both of us or maybe one and a half because I'm on,
Chad (1m 45s):
Let's even better because you got Julie.
Joel (1m 47s):
Yeah, this'll be fine. Let's roll with this kids.
Patrick (1m 50s):
I'm feeling lucky. I'm feeling lucky.
Chad (1m 51s):
Julie (1m 52s):
Patrick is joining us today. VP of marketing at FactoryFix
Chad (1m 58s):
Julie (1m 59s):
Helping manufacturers hire the best talent!
Chad (2m 3s):
Which is not an easy task today. But before we get into any of that kind of fun stuff, Patrick, I want to hear about the road trip. You've got a road trip coming up. Tell us a little bit about road trip, whose goin? What was behind this? Just getting the hell out of the house? Talk to us, man.
Patrick (2m 18s):
Yep. So my wife and I are blessed to have a five kids ages 12 down to 5.
Chad (2m 26s):
What? Five kids?!
Joel (2m 28s):
Oh, you know how it works, right, Patrick?
Patrick (2m 30s):
I do. I do know how it works and we're highly proficient at it.
Julie (2m 33s):
I think he deserves the applause there.
Chad (2m 36s):
I think his wife deserved the applause.
Julie (2m 39s):
Yeah. That's a lot to put up with. Five kids.
Patrick (2m 41s):
It, my Twitter bio, you will find that I am a proud card carrying member of the married way, way up club. So yes, I'll do all credit to my wife, but yes, we are going to throw the family in the minivan. And we are going to drive out west for Minnesota where we're based to South Dakota for a couple of days. And then down to Colorado Springs for the balance of next week. And the plan originally was to come home after that. But my wife and I were watching the last couple episodes of This Is Us. And she said, you know what? We really need to go see my family in Florida. They're up in Pensacola in the panhandle. And I said, okay, well we're not doing two road trips. We're doing one big one. And so we are going from Minnesota out to Colorado, then down to Florida and back.
Patrick (3m 25s):
So 16 states in 17 days.
Joel (3m 28s):
You got this way, you got this backwards, brah. You're supposed to go to Florida in the winter and go to Minnesota in the summer. You reversed it, dude.
Patrick (3m 39s):
Chad (3m 39s):
I've got a more important question. Does she make you watch This Is Us?
Patrick (3m 45s):
No, it's been our show for awhile. I've enjoyed it. So it was good.
Julie (3m 50s):
So sad that it's over.
Chad (3m 52s):
Well, every commercial I see, it's like, they're trying to make you cry just on the commercial. I'm like, I'm not into that. I don't need that.
Julie (3m 59s):
I thought I wouldn't cry. I cry every time I watched it, I was like, I can handle this. It's just a show. No, no, no tears in the box.
Patrick (4m 11s):
It's really good storytelling. It's really good storytelling.
Chad (4m 13s):
Patrick is a softy and today we are going to be talking about storytelling and that makes sense. Before we get into storytelling really quick, give us a quick glimpse into FactoryFix. And what do you do there?
Patrick (4m 25s):
Yeah, so we are a manufacturing talent platform and we combine the power of our talent network, which now has over 411,327 skilled pros with a profile. Most of which probably don't have a LinkedIn profile or any other profile online. So, hard to find those workers. And we match that up with a manufacturing specific recruiting platform that uses both automation and screening capabilities, as well as our talent text, text messaging service, to get engaged with those candidates, right, when they are interested in your job.
Patrick (5m 7s):
So you get that interview scheduled an hours, instead of days.
Chad (5m 10s):
So, so tell us,a we're going to talk about story telling today. Tell us what's your definition of storytelling. What's that actually mean to you?
Patrick (5m 18s):
So for me, it's using the power of a narrative to communicate a message. And so from a marketing standpoint, I come from, I guess you could call it the Donald Miller school of StoryBrand, but that was really my first foray into it six years ago to kind of learn strategic narrative and storytelling in the marketing space. And the main thrust of it is that you want to make your customer the hero of the story. It's not your product. And so a good Star Wars analogy is most technology companies want to tell you about the lightsaber they created, how many features it has, why it's the best weapon, et cetera, et cetera. And in reality, you want to position the story as your customer is Luke Skywalker.
Patrick (6m 1s):
You want to position your company as the guide Obi wan Kenobi say, and you're handing them a piece of technology that allows them to go accomplish their mission and achieve success.
Joel (6m 11s):
And you Schwartz is as big as mine. Sorry, sorry. I couldn't resist.
Julie (6m 17s):
I had it on mute there for a second cause I was laughing so hard. Sorry.
Joel (6m 22s):
I can record the laughs. Those are always good.
Julie (6m 24s):
Way to bring Spaceballs into the storytelling.
Joel (6m 26s):
That's what we do here on the Chad and Cheese podcast.
Patrick (6m 29s):
What streaming service is that on Joel?
Julie (6m 33s):
Well, I love that you talked about storytelling, brand storytelling. How does that, what kind of stories are our companies telling to make manufacturing work appealing to that audience?
Patrick (6m 46s):
Yeah, I think that is the biggest opportunity in the space and which was one of the reasons I was so excited to jump on the FactoryFix rocket ship a couple of months ago. So many companies in that space really that is going to be a differentiator for them moving forward to kind of embrace the suck as they say in some of those jobs, but also, you know, really showcase how each of these manufacturing worker positions from everywhere from lower level production, through maintenance tech, up to, you know, salaried engineers, they are building the future of our country by building the future of everything that we're going to be consuming.
Patrick (7m 27s):
And so you have a very unique opportunity to really lean into that employee value proposition opportunity through the power of storytelling, to the next generation of manufacturing workers.
Julie (7m 39s):
Wow. Even that statement just made me want to stand up and wave a flag.
Joel (7m 43s):
Run through a brick wall. So Chad and I were talking to a trucking organization recently and we were a waxing poetic about the seventies when both of us were children and
Chad (7m 54s):
Smokey and the Bandit.
Joel (7m 55s):
Yeah. Trucking used to be a bad-ass profession. You had a CV, you had a monkey in the passenger seat. I mean, you had, you know, Camaro's and TransAMS on the road. Does manufacturing lack those kinds of stories, those kinds of icons and how do we get that back? Or can we?
Patrick (8m 14s):
Yeah. I think so. I think, you know, the quintessential example is Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs, obviously.
Joel (8m 21s):
Patrick (8m 21s):
But, I think peeling back the onion and showing, you know, what those jobs entailed, the people behind them and then where, you know, where those products or those parts of future products go, you know, how they're used in everyday life. And, you know, as technology continues to evolve and get cooler and cooler, those, the things that we're making, you know, get even more important and some of those stories become even more compelling as well,
Chad (8m 50s):
Even more technical skill-wise right. So, I mean, you're talking to an entirely different audience than what we used to talk to when were talking about manufacturing, just from that standpoint.
Patrick (9m 2s):
Exactly. Yup. Yup. And the skills are evolving and changing as the world does obviously, and as technology does, and you know, some of those jobs that, that weren't attractive are being automated, but that's opening up new opportunities to, you know, plan out that automation and figure out better ways to produce those items, you know, with more efficiencies and more production. And also, you know, bringing more of those to the US as we face, you know, the current supply chain problems that we're facing and some of the other world issues that are out there lingering as well.
Joel (9m 41s):
And you know, what else is cool? Not having college debt.
Patrick (9m 45s):
Also a cool thing. Yeah. Would you like to make $80,000 in three years or would you like to be, you know, 80,000 in debt in four years? Okay,
Joel (9m 52s):
Exactly. How powerful is that story in manufacturing of not caring that student loan debt, how are those stories being told by the employer side or by communities and governments?
Patrick (10m 1s):
Yeah, I think that's, again, one of the biggest opportunities for all of those organizations or organizations to be doing, it's a big reason we're working closely with National Association of Manufacturers and their creators wanted bus tour to get out and meet with a lot of high school students and showcase with some of their brand partners like Dow Industries, you know, what these jobs entail and what these career paths look like to go straight into the trades and not go into that college debt scenario.
Julie (10m 30s):
I think that's wonderful. There's so many people out there that, you know, especially people that are transitioning into the workforce that have no idea what the different opportunities are out there for them. So I love that idea of helping people understand the options that lay in front of them.
Patrick (10m 47s):
Chad (10m 47s):
Let's talk a little bit about experience and step back, and let's talk about how you actually got into storytelling and let's talk about some of those stories you are able to tell and how did those unfold?
Patrick (11m 2s):
Really got into it? Back in 2016, I was in the HR tech space for a hot minute with a small software company down in Orlando, Florida called Riptide Software. And they were big in the military training space. Think, you know, the video game that the Marines practice playing warfare on, like a five-year $50 million project and they wanted to take the training analytics that they had built into the enterprise space and had not really ever done traditional sales and marketing having been in the military space and so I had stumbled upon Donald Miller StoryBrand and took the online workshop to kind of get trained into that system. And then I started following a lot of people that were working on storytelling and strategic narrative in the B2B tech space, Andy Raskin being one.
Patrick (11m 53s):
And then ultimately the team of David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt over at Drift up in Boston being another one and really understood the power of, you know, the strategic narrative, being an unlock in the marketing space to attract customers to your product, by making them the hero of the story and how you were enabling and equipping them to achieve the success that they needed. So from my time at Riptide, I actually started the Chief Learning Officer podcast at that time way back in 2016. Met my friend, James Carberry, who runs Sweet Fish Media, and they do podcast production and content for B2B brands.
Patrick (12m 33s):
And so he helped me put that podcast together and was able to immediately connect with a lot of Fortune 500 brands like Sears and General Mills and Home Depot and have their learning leaders or Chief Learning Officers or their directors of learning on the podcast to tell their stories from the learning space and connect with potential customers for Riptide at that time. And so I've taken those lessons. And then soon after I left Riptide started consulting and kind of turned it into a half day workshop that I called Story Sprints. And so working with founders in the startup space to really kind of unlock the potential of strategic narrative and messaging for their brands.
Patrick (13m 17s):
And so from there, I ended up bouncing around in the tech space for a few years and then moved back to Minnesota. And just a couple of months ago was introduced into the opportunity at FactoryFix and so very excited to get back into the HR tech space. I think there's just, you know, I'm preaching to the choir here, but there's so much opportunity in the space to do more with storytelling and to help these employer brands really tell their stories to engage their workers.
Chad (13m 46s):
So I like in the prehistoric age, right? I mean, that's HR tech. I mean, we're so far behind everybody else.
Patrick (13m 53s):
Yup. Yeah. And I recently came from the furniture space, which on the retail side is in a very similar position.
Joel (14m 2s):
Yeah. I'd imagine. You mentioned podcasting, which many would think is sort of a progressive way to market. What are their success stories or interesting case studies of companies that you guys work with that are branding themselves, whether it be social media or via mobile, like what are companies doing? What mediums are they using and platforms to brand themselves and tell their employment stories?
Patrick (14m 25s):
Yeah. I think video and audio are two of the more important opportunities that content obviously can be reshared and distributed via social channels. I was actually just talking with friend of the show, Elena Valentine a couple of weeks ago after Unleash. And what they're doing at SkillScout, I think is, is, you know, very intriguing from an employer brand standpoint and telling those stories and unlocking them through, through that video. I think storytelling as a medium or as a channel just comes to life more when you get tone and especially with video or your can see people's passion really come out as they're talking about the opportunity that they have in their jobs, or with their company.
Joel (15m 12s):
There are typically two schools of thought there, one is sort of the stuff that Elena's making, where it's really nicely professionally manicured, HD, you know, really good video quality. And then there's the, Hey, turn your phone on and, you know,
Chad (15m 28s):
Joel (15m 28s):
Do a dance on TikTok right? So like, where do you think manufacturing companies are falling on? Are they doing the more off the cuff TikTok stuff? Are they more like digging into real professional content?
Patrick (15m 40s):
It probably leans more professional. I think, you know, in the manufacturing space, we've got some influencers that are, you know, more savvy with the social media, but they're few and far between, and the ones that are doing it are standing out very quickly and very fast because they're the only ones using those mediums. And, you know, I think the biggest thing is not enough manufacturing companies, you know, are convinced that this will work. And so, you know, they don't have the budget, they don't have somebody that actually owns it. And they're just trying to do, you know, they're more trying to check a box then, you know, create a media company or, you know, have more aspirational goals in terms of we're going to create really engaging content.
Patrick (16m 25s):
Not what my friend James Carberry likes to call commodity content, right. That every brand can crank out and check a box on. Okay.
Chad (16m 33s):
Yeah. It looks like what everybody else does. It's boring and inauthentic.
Patrick (16m 37s):
Yeah. You swap the logos out and it's the same video, right?
Chad (16m 42s):
Patrick (16m 42s):
Julie (16m 43s):
I think recently hearing someone say like, there there's always an audience for something, and it's a matter of like, you get your story out there and if it really speaks to the type of people that you're looking for, that's all that matters. It doesn't matter if the whole world likes your beautifully produced video, does the audience that you're trying to reach like it and care about it and I think like video is so empowering with that. Now I cannot believe some of the things my son watches on YouTube. Like, I'll see, I'm like, what are you watching? Like this repetitive motion or something, and there's this word now it's satisfying. Like, oh, it's so satisfying to just watch this thing happen or this machine run or the paint mix.
Julie (17m 27s):
And I feel like there's great opportunity in that. Is it, do you see that any of the brands that you're working with or trying to tell stories out of what they're creating and trying to reach those audiences find just the satisfaction and what's being made or is it always a brand story and its impact on the world?
Patrick (17m 46s):
No, I think you, you hit the nail on the head, like showing what is being created and how it's made, which, you know, we had as or I had as a TV show growing up in the late nineties, early aughts, you know, I think there is a huge opportunity to, to showcase more of, you know, what is actually being produced and where it fits in, whether it's, you know, a completed product or a piece of a bigger product. You know, I think there's a huge opportunity there. And for sure, you know, my kids are the same. They, you know, they don't want to be professional athletes. They want to be YouTube stars and they want to be entertained and satisfied watching those different YouTube videos or you know, the TikToks.
Patrick (18m 26s):
I think there's a lot of content on TikTok that is that same type of type of content.
Julie (18m 32s):
Our future is a next generation who finds great satisfaction in video. And I think that a lot of people are very still stuck on, well, it has to be this highly produced story, but those stories, those simple ones are the ones that the generation coming next enjoys the most. Simple satisfaction out of what's being made.
Joel (18m 54s):
The Big Short is one of my favorite movies. I don't know if you've seen it. It's brilliant if you haven't. Anyway, Christian Bale plays a character named Michael Burry and Michael Burry is a real person who said recently, and I quote, "the US labor market is about to be sliced in half with blue collar workers remaining, a sought after commodity, while white collar workers see job losses and falling wages". Would you disagree with that or agree? And if you agree, how is that going to change the landscape for branding in manufacturing?
Patrick (19m 25s):
Yeah, I think the biggest challenge is where that next generation of, of manufacturing workers is going to come from? We're four people all talking on a podcast today. We're not going to be signing up to go to go work in a factory tomorrow. And, you know, part of that comes from how we were raised. And a lot of us had parents or grandparents that were blue collar workers that worked really hard so that their kids or grandkids could be white collar workers. And I think you have, we've been missing a generation, so to speak of that pipeline growing. And so that's going to be the big unlock is what we were talking about earlier, the juxtaposition and the storytelling of the college path or the trade path and understanding that this can be a great career for you and truly unlock the American dream and so we're trying to kind of reignite that.
Joel (20m 16s):
Do you see more companies like thinking about how do we get white collar workers into the trades? Like, are there, is there a messaging around, you know, Hey, sitting on a keyboard all day might not be that exciting to everybody. Here's an option outside of that. Are companies thinking about that and doing that?
Patrick (20m 32s):
I don't think the companies are yet. I do think that there are a lot of people that, especially over the last couple of years have reevaluated where they're spending a majority of their time. And I think a lot of people realized how much they love working with their hands and not just sitting and staring at a screen. And so you have some of them dabbling with, maybe it's a side hustle, building furniture, something, you know, in that vein, but there could potentially be those that want to, you know, make that more of a full-time thing. But I don't think, you know, at least I haven't seen in my short time jumping back into the manufacturing space, haven't seen that yet.
Chad (21m 13s):
Potential opportunity down the road Having a military background, whenever I see companies say that they are quote unquote "veteran friendly", or they want to hire veterans or whatever smoke they're thrown at us. Right. You can see through the actual marketing, they're using actors and clip art. I mean, you can see and feel that it's not authentic. Right. I would assume that you can probably say the exact same thing about the trades. You put a pipe in somebody's hand and not you Joel, and in somebody's hand, a wrench. Right. And it's like, anybody can be a plumber. Well, that's just not the case.
Chad (21m 55s):
So when it comes to those types of situations, how are you working with your clients at all and helping them and try to navigate past just the stupid, silly shit that is inauthentic versus what's real and something that will actually help them.
Patrick (22m 11s):
Yeah, that's something that we're starting to have more conversations with our clients on. And I think as an opportunity as we continue to grow and build out our market is to really actually lean in and help them with their employer brand and with their storytelling, whether that's just at the job description level, which is what we engage with them on now to potentially, you know, here's the type of content you need. Here's the, you know, don't use stock photography as you just pointed out, which is pretty easy to spot, or, you know, even down to your careers page and the employer brand content that you're creating.
Chad (22m 46s):
Talk about the job description real quick. How can you impact the job description with good storytelling?
Patrick (22m 53s):
Yeah, I think a big opportunity there is cutting back on all of the computer generated standard requirements. And, you know, a lot of that comes down to the company level and how much autonomy the hiring managers have to edit and change those. But a lot of these job descriptions still say, Hey, you need a college degree. And it's like, well, do you really need a college to go, to come be an entry entry level production worker and get trained on, you know, being a machine operator. And so I think there's opportunities one to take stuff out that doesn't need to be in there. And then two to be in a much more conversational tone and you know, infuse some of that storytelling of, you know, you will be our next machine operator.
Patrick (23m 40s):
And this job is very important because, you know, XYZ and here's how you fit into the broader, you know, company ecosystem and where this job is important in that production line.
Julie (23m 51s):
I mean, I'm fascinated by listening to both the need for companies to tell better stories. And I think it's wonderful that you're helping them do that because I think that's a big struggle that people have. They're like, I don't know why I can't get anybody.
Chad (24m 1s):
Well, question to you real quick though, when it comes to job descriptions and storytelling, and I mean, this is the base data point that is used by all of these systems that are out there to match candidates, to be able to distribute and target candidates. Right. So can you talk a little bit about your experience with job descriptions and how important that is?
Julie (24m 26s):
I mean, I certainly can say the job description is your ad, right? People are trying to identify, is this for me or not? Do I qualify for this or not? I think one of the biggest places that companies go wrong is even in the title. I remember the first time I came across a title, I'm like, what is a kitter? I had no idea what a kitter was.
Joel (24m 44s):
A kidder? Like K I D D E R?
Julie (24m 47s):
And I was like, who am I searching for care? Like K I T T E R, that was the job title. And I was like, I have never heard of this before. And they're like, oh, it's common in manufacturing. And I was like, do you think that people know that generally?
Chad (25m 3s):
A Kitter might. That's a good question. Yeah.
Julie (25m 7s):
Do you get that often Patrick, like titles that are very strange?
Patrick (25m 9s):
Julie (25m 10s):
Gimme a few. I want to hear some of the fun ones.
Patrick (25m 13s):
Yeah. The team was just talking about a good one. It was basically a forklift operator, but it had, it might as well have said NASCAR driver or something crazy. It was just like, they were trying to get so creative on it. That's one of the things we have to coach our clients on. It's like, you know, you're actually, you think this is going to stand out, but it actually is just going to hurt you in terms of, you know, people understanding what it is. And also it being distributed and shown to the right people, searching for, you know, what it truly is. And so a lot of times we have to kind of help our clients normalize some of those more creative job titles, where they think that is going to, you know, be the difference maker and getting more applicants
Chad (25m 55s):
Don't overthink it.
Julie (25m 57s):
Yeah. The job title would be one, but, you know, I'm actually really interested in the matching. If you try to keep the job description interesting and tell the story, how can you still make sure it's got those things that, you know, we're looking for anybody with a heartbeat, like that really helps you identify who's the right fit for the talent. Like that's, those are the hit points that you want to make sure different from one job description to the next to help you find really the right person that you're looking for, then just anybody with a heartbeat, any tips on that?
Patrick (26m 32s):
Yeah. I think, you know, for us, we've found a lot of success with our platform using the pre-screening questions. So once we, you know, match a candidate, they passed kind of the resume and skills matching algorithm. We then actually send customized screening questions that our client actually writes and those are actually sometimes even more valuable than, than the resume and skill matching, because we can ask specifically, Hey, have you worked on this type of machine before? Have you worked, you know, if you're hiring in food production, do you have experience in food production or, you know, or is it just other manufacturing?
Patrick (27m 13s):
And so for certain clients, they are able to kind of have an extra layer of weeding out who really makes sense for this job and make sense to actually spend the time interviewing.
Joel (27m 25s):
I think you mentioned robotics earlier in the same interview with the trucking organization, they talked about how young people don't want to get into a profession that they think is going to be roboticized, you know, five to 10 years down the road. In this case, it was self-driving trucks. Certainly we hear about robotics and automation and all the manufacturing skills. Do you find that companies, like what tips would you give companies looking to combat that narrative? Are associations in manufacturing looking to combat that? Or do you think it's a missed opportunity?
Patrick (27m 59s):
I'm remembering, somebody mentioned that same stat at one of the keynotes at Unleash might've been Peter's, but, you know, we basically said, oh, we're not going to need truckers right. Now we have a crisis.