People often ask me why I decided to build a business around branded publishing. If we’re riding in an elevator together, I have only about five seconds to answer their question before the door opens and everyone goes their separate ways. So in those cases, I end up giving the short version: “After several years in the staffing industry, I realized there was an unmet need in the market, and I set out to fill it.”
If I have more than five seconds of someone’s attention, though, I can tell a fuller story that not only conveys my passion for this new venture but convinces my audience of the need for branded publishing.
Before starting Mamu Media, I spent eight years as the sales director for a staffing company in the Philadelphia area. During my career there, several recurring challenges caused tremendous frustration for me and my team.
First, our geographic market was extremely saturated, with at least a dozen companies providing the same services as my company: administrative and light industrial staffing.
Second, because these companies provided identical services without differentiating themselves from each other, it became common practice to sell on price. To win a new deal, all anyone had to do was undercut the incumbent provider.
And third, as a result of the first two factors, the industry became highly commoditized. Companies that are commodities lack value—an essential component to long-term success in any industry. I’ve long understood that in order to avoid being viewed as a commodity, an organization must build value throughout and beyond the entire sales process and make it an integral part of the client relationship.
After repeatedly encountering this trio of problems, I realized that I couldn’t just keep managing them as they arose: I needed to solve them. So I started thinking about how to better position my firm and market its services.
I considered the characteristics of the people I sold to (who were mainly HR leadership). Like most people, they like to buy but they don’t like to “be sold.” They also work hard to earn and maintain their “seat at the table” by contributing to the future growth and stability of their organizations. Finally, they always seek to increase their knowledge and like to collaborate to solve problems.
Once I identified these characteristics, an easy fix became obvious: we needed to adopt a more consultative sales approach.
Through my company’s blog and newsletter, I shifted our content marketing so it emphasized thought leadership more and changed our focus with social media to match. However, it quickly became clear that this space was way more crowded than the Philadelphia market. We need something else.
Things really clicked for me during a meeting with a client. At these sorts of meetings, I’d usually give the client some sort of branded trinket, such as a pen or a jar of candy. As I wrapped up this particular appointment, I pulled a candy jar out of my bag and placed it on her desk … and then realized I’d set it down right next to an Office Team candy jar. Suddenly I noticed my competitors’ branded tchotchkes all over her desk, including a stress ball with the Manpower logo on it and an Adecco pen in her hand.
Driving home after that meeting, I thought to myself, “There must be a better way to leverage tangible assets that actually add some value when I leave them behind. Wouldn’t it be great to hand clients a workforce-management publication that was wrapped in my brand and filled with content written by industry thought leaders (and not by me, the staffing sales guy)?”
I thought this was a great idea but knew I’d never be able to pull it off while working in the staffing industry. I needed an entirely new approach—and a new company.
I shared the idea with my partner, and together we wrote up a business plan. And Mamu Media was born.