[Podcast] Industry Spotlight | Donnie Gupton – Cofounder, Ora Marketing – Embracing AI, Brand Building, and Dynamic Differentiation in the Talent Industry

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Show notes

On this episode of The Full Desk Experience, Kortney Harmon interviews Donnie Gupton, a marketing and lead generation maestro who’s been shaking up the recruiting industry with his Relevant Recruiter Method. Donnie has a wealth of knowledge to share about staying nimble in a competitive marketplace and leveraging the digital space to stand out.

In this episode, we’ll discuss the evergreen principles of marketing from the 90s and the cutting-edge strategies of 2024. Donnie will guide us through the challenges facing recruiters today and introduce us to methods of differentiation, brand awareness, and creating a strong digital presence. Donnie strongly believes in the power of LinkedIn as a tool for building relationships, generating leads, and crafting content that resonates with your audience.

With insights into the pillars of leadership, LinkedIn mastery, and the impactful use of case studies and testimonials, this episode is a trove of strategies designed to forge a path to success. Join us as we explore how to blend traditional marketing wisdom with innovative tools like AI and automation to keep your recruitment game ahead of the curve.

So, buckle up for a valuable conversation with Donnie Gupton, and let’s get ready to transform the way we approach marketing and business development in the dynamic world of recruiting.


Donnie Gupton [00:00:00]:
Well, you can ruin your reputation with bad automation too. You can ruin your reputation through automation, LinkedIn, email, voice automation, like any it doesn’t matter what it is, if you don’t have the right strategy for it, then you might burn down more bridges picking up that one win along the way. So it’s really important to like kind of start with that first, what’s the outcome? I’m after what’s the strategy? And then get really, really clean stuff from there to help you just move faster.

Kortney Harmon [00:00:25]:
Hi, I’m Kortney Harmon, director of industry relations at Crelate. This is the industry Spotlight, a series of the full desk experience, a curlate original podcast. In this series, we will talk with top leaders and influencers who are shaping the talent industry, shining a light on popular trends, the latest news, and the stories that laid the groundwork for their success. Welcome back to another episode of the full Desk Experience industry Spotlight welcome to another episode of the full Desk experience industry spotlight. Today we have a very special guest, Donnie Gupton. He’s the founder of the relevant recruiter method. Donnie is a marketing and lead generation specialist who has helped numerous recruiting staffing executive search firms really streamline their processes, generate inbound leads and really position themselves as the go to authorities in their respective markets. In this episode, we’ll be diving deep into Donnie’s innovative approach, which really promises to revolutionize the way recruiters and business developers conduct their business.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:34]:
So we’ll explore some limitations. We’re going to learn how Donnie leverages his systems and talks about automating, content marketing, digital presence and really creates a consistently filled pipeline for prospects. So get ready to take notes as we uncover the secrets behind Donnie, his relevant recruiter method, and how you can transform your recruiting business. So let’s dive in. Donnie, thank you so much for joining us today. I appreciate you taking the time and welcome to the show.

Donnie Gupton [00:02:02]:
Thank you, Kortney. I’m excited to be here. I appreciate that wonderful intro and yeah, I’m excited to drive some value. Hopefully everyone walks away with a little nugget here today.

Kortney Harmon [00:02:11]:
I love it. It’s all it takes is one or two.

Donnie Gupton [00:02:13]:

Kortney Harmon [00:02:14]:
So do me a favor. Could you tell us a bit more about your background and how you really got into the recruiting, staffing and recruiting industry in general, general?

Donnie Gupton [00:02:22]:
Yeah, I always love this question. So I think, like a lot of folks, I didn’t go to college to become a recruiter. I didn’t go to college to be a part of this recruiting industry in general. And in fact, I’ve never even owned or been a recruiter myself, I actually completely stumbled into this industry as a marketing business development kind of an expert, and so little short history. I helped grow my dad’s floor covering company. We were partners for a retail kind of construction flooring business in the Bay Area. And back in 2007, 2008, when the economy started to crash, we were fully invested into the yellow pages. Like $3,500 a month yellow pages.

Donnie Gupton [00:02:58]:
We wanted to be number one, and nobody was opening up the yellow pages. Coincidentally, during that time, this was when social media started to kind of pop up, so we didn’t have money to invest into our business because we were kind of trying to survive as a small business at that time. And so it was all effort. So that’s when YouTube and all these things, long story short, started following this guy. His name is Gary V. If anybody’s ever heard of Gary Vaynerchuk. Before he was Gary Vaynerchuk, he had wine library tv. Check it out.

Donnie Gupton [00:03:25]:
It’s awesome. So he was reviewing wines for his parents wine store. And so I just started doing the same concept for my dad’s floor covering store, and we grew that business from under a million to over 6 million in a three year span. And it was all through digital. So that’s where I was like, all right, I’ve got some skills, I’ve got some stuff, but I really didn’t want to be running that business anymore, so I went out on my own. I wanted to coach. I found a person giving you the Cliff notes. Now, in the staffing industry, we saw some really great results together.

Donnie Gupton [00:03:55]:
She was a direct hire recruiter, actually, in the nurse practitioner space. And so we started running some campaigns, and that’s when I really just learned and built this, the relevant recruiter method through helping people in these strategies through time. So that was six years ago now. Yeah.

Kortney Harmon [00:04:11]:
And the rest is history. You’re loving every minute of the world, right?

Donnie Gupton [00:04:14]:
Oh, I love this. I love the space. I think that one of the things about the recruiting industry is not a single day is the same. You get to deal with a lot of excellent people, and by extension, with me, empowering, you know, and helping people elevate their brands. By extension, I get to help people find excellent career opportunities and help companies find excellent talent. So, yeah, I love the role that I get to play, and I really kind of stay right in my specific zone.

Kortney Harmon [00:04:39]:
I love that. So you’ve obviously seen some different perspectives across our industry and especially focusing on business development. I know, kind of heard you earlier make the comment on another call, business development. Some people think it’s optional. So that might play into this. But could you share your perspective on maybe some common challenges our business development teams and staffing and recruiting really face when trying to find new clients in todays market?

Donnie Gupton [00:05:06]:
Well, I think if you look at where were at right now and this isnt universally true, but with a lot of recruiters im speaking with is theres just less than what there was a couple years ago, less job orders, less opportunities for them to go sell for so to speak. And so I think thats one of the things that you have to keep in mind is that youre dealing with a very, very kind of saturated, very competitive market. So knowing that then the traditional tactics probably arent going to work as well as they normally did because when the economy shrinks and when there’s less opportunities, then everybody becomes a business developer. And so I think one of the common things that happen is that recruiting agencies are usually really good at that recruiting function, right, of doing, delivering talent. And then what happens is they get really, really busy. They get a bunch of orders on their plate and then they completely stop business development. And sometimes people get legacy clients that can support them for years, right. And then all of a sudden the economy tweaks like it just did, like we’re going through right now.

Donnie Gupton [00:06:05]:
And again, I know some industries more than others and then they’re stuck back at square one and it’s like, well what do I do? And then they try to go do what they did five years ago, which was pick up the phone and cold call or mass email. And then it’s like, oh, well that doesn’t work. And so now we’re kind of out of touch. So I think a lot of it actually sometimes just come with having a very simple system that you can follow and a lot of recruiting agencies that I see that I ended up helping is theyre just chasing different tactics, chasing the next shiny object. But it kind of brings back into what you started off the question with is in some businesses it becomes an option, right. And more marketing to business development is like for whatever reason in the staffing recruiting industry is like, oh, well, I dont need to have a marketing plan. But we were kind of joking. Its like, well, no SaaS company ever came out and said, well, I dont need to have a marketing and business development plan.

Donnie Gupton [00:06:53]:
For whatever reason. Recruiting just seems to be a little bit behind the times where some of these things are viewed as being optional. But yeah, I know that’s a long winded answer to what is a challenge. A lot of it is just lack of strategy. And sometimes we get ourselves because we’re good at what we do. It actually can hurt us sometimes with business development.

Kortney Harmon [00:07:11]:
Yeah, we often put blinders on, especially. I know you and I were both athletes, so I think of, like, muscle memory, something we haven’t had to do for a while. So therefore, that muscle is not up to par. And then we tweak how we’re using that muscle, and it’s like, oh, crap, I’m really out of shape. It’s kind of like that same concept, and it’s. I think that’s where a lot of our markets are today. So I love that answer. I think it’s very insightful and absolutely across the board, probably at this moment.

Donnie Gupton [00:07:35]:
Yeah, totally.

Kortney Harmon [00:07:36]:
So talk to me about your relevant recruiter method. What really inspired you to develop this? Obviously, you watch Gary Vee. Why the recruiting industry, and what core principles are really behind this method? Talk to me a little bit more about that.

Donnie Gupton [00:07:52]:
So, you know, it was inspired just based off of, like, what I saw as market need. When I first. It’s funny, when I own the floor covering company with my dad, we never were approached by recruiters or staffing agencies. We were small companies. So it was like, it was never a part of my world. Well, once I got exposed to the world, then I saw that everything. And again, this was about six years ago, but I saw that everything was kind of still very manual. Everything was one to one in terms of the effort.

Donnie Gupton [00:08:15]:
And most of it was still on the cold call. And so for me, it was like I just knew for myself, like, I would never make a cold call in my life. Right. I want to be clear. It’s like, of course, if you’re recruiting, it’s any and all means necessary, but if you’re on business development side and all you’re doing is cold calling, I can tell you there’s a lot better ways now in 2024 to generate some clients. Now, it’s not to say to not be on the phone. There’s just better ways to get to the phone. Right? So when we look at the relevant recruiter method, what we really looked at is first challenge that we see with a lot of recruiting agencies is they just get caught in the noise.

Donnie Gupton [00:08:47]:
They’re not differentiated. They don’t know how to differentiate themselves. But even if they are different, their differentiator is not driving phone calls for them. So there’s a lot of people that are actually really good, that have repeat business legacy clients, but don’t know how to leverage that, to turn that into new business from cold prospects. That’s one of the first things that we help people do is really, truly stand out and differentiate in the marketplace. And that’s what really drives good, thoughtful brand awareness to your market. But ultimately, for those that are looking for more exclusive, retained contingent type opportunities, is being able to position yourself as being different than the next recruiter. And so for me, I really like to work with recruiters that aren’t as transactionally focused as they are trying to be more partner focused in the business.

Donnie Gupton [00:09:29]:
Because my goal is not to just help drive job orders, but to actually drive revenue. And I feel like that comes from a better relationship with the hiring leaders. And when you’re talking about standing out, I think one of the things that a lot of recruiters forget is like there’s almost another recruiter on every corner. It’s like almost like a supermarket, right? And so we were talking about this beforehand, but it’s like the recruiting industry doesn’t have the best overall reputation. So if you’re kind of standing in that same group and you’re not trying to change or drive a different narrative, then whatever the person’s previous experience was with recruiter is what they’re naturally going to put you into that same bucket. So standing out is the first thing. The next thing that we really focus on is a more leveraged pipeline build. This is where we really turn LinkedIn into a lead machine.

Donnie Gupton [00:10:15]:
And so our first objective is to strategically grow somebody’s LinkedIn network with prospective hiring leaders. And for me, it’s not as much hr. I’m not saying that that’s not the, you know, there’s some paths that that’s the way in. But for me, we’re usually looking at, you know, for example, if it’s accounting and finance, we’re going after CFO’s and controllers, we’re going after the people that are feeling the pain of that open position. And that’s one of the things that we really try to do with, with our positioning. Getting somebody to stand out is to help them stand out and position themselves as a problem solver for the hiring leaders challenge. And so the LinkedIn lead machine is us just solving the challenge of obscurity, whereas there’s just, for a lot of small businesses, there’s just not enough people that know that we exist to be able to help and support them. So with that, we’re going to grow our network.

Donnie Gupton [00:10:57]:
But this is where the game gets really tricky. And this is where a lot of people have experienced stuff on LinkedIn that makes them cringe and like, I don’t want to do that, right. So we don’t do is we don’t connect and pitch all day long, right? So we’re not going to connect with our audience. We’re not going to share our best unique selling proposition with our connections right away. Why? Because nobody signed up to LinkedIn to do that right now. I will tell you that we leverage automation all day long. We do it very effectively. And we’ve got great approaches that are more based off of building a relationship and more client or candidate centric on the outreach, which creates great responses.

Donnie Gupton [00:11:31]:
That’s a key component is turning LinkedIn into a lead machine and leveraging LinkedIn, not using the old school ways of just straight up sending in mails, which you have one shot, one kill. If you don’t get it, you’re done. Well, now, the new strategy is grow your network so I can send multiple messages because people are busy and we need to be able to capture their attention and follow up is a big part of that. And that’s what the system allows for, which then brings us into what we call the content conversion system. Now, the great thing I think about LinkedIn thats really unique is you can actually strategically build an audience of people that you want to reach out and prospect to, which we just discussed, but also that can consume your content. So when you get into this whole buzzword of like, oh, I think everybody knows now is like, you got to have a presence, you got to create a little bit of content. But then where do I start? Who am I creating content? What does good content look like? But the thing that I think is still most overlooked is if you create content, you dont have an audience. You basically have an audience of one.

Donnie Gupton [00:12:26]:
You’re going to be reading your own stuff and watch your own stuff. And so you want to be able to build an audience strategically. And that’s where these two steps kind of come into play as we build an audience. Well, now we’re going to create content specific for that audience. So we’ve built this into three pillars. And the first pillar is what we call leadership. And the leadership pillar is where you really want to just showcase to your audience that, you know, their pains, problems, frustrations, mistakes of what’s going on with their hiring efforts right now. And in this pillar, you want to really establish yourself as being the leader to solve those problems and be the ultimate solution to solve those problems.

Donnie Gupton [00:13:05]:
Now, one of the things that you want to really establish here, and this is. I can’t drive this part home enough is if you just start creating content, our ego tells us that everyone should listen, right? I’ve got a lot of good things to say. I think we all feel this way, and so. But the bottom line is you have to give thought into what your audience is experiencing. And the first thing that your audience wants to know is like, well, Kortney, why should I stop scrolling the feed and listen to you? And the ultimate thing that solves that and answers that question is your track record. And that’s where. Oh, because I’ve done it, and I’ve done it several times over. And so sharing case studies and testimonials and things like that, not from, like, a bragging standpoint, but, like, I have to drive this narrative that I am successful in what I’m doing, and I know what I’m doing.

Donnie Gupton [00:13:52]:
And if we’re not lying to each other here, everybody wants to work with somebody who’s winning, and it’s successful. Right? And so I know I’m winded, but I’m going to wrap this thing up with this for you here, Kortney. Um, so the next two pillars in the content are service. So how can you add value to your market? What are the tips, the tricks, the how to’s busting myths and things like that? And then the third content pillar that we work on is connection. And I think especially on LinkedIn, everyone shies away at this. But it’s like, Kortney, what are your interests? What are your hobbies? What are your beliefs? I want to know that you were a former d one softball player, right? I want to know about your family. I want to know about your husband. I want to know about your kids.

Donnie Gupton [00:14:24]:
Like, what are you guys doing? Now, don’t get this wrong. I’m not saying we’re Instagram influencers snapping photos of every meal and posting that on there, but where you can throw in a little bit of flavor because that builds human connection. And in 2024, at least, I’ll speak for myself. Like, I love authentic things. I think I love things that are real. There’s chat, GPT, there’s AI. There’s all these things out there. And so a lot of times, people will create content for a long time but never actually connect with their audience, and they never see the full, full benefit of time.

Donnie Gupton [00:14:51]:
It, because that people don’t know who they are, necessarily. So that’s what we’ve developed, helps really drive the inbound lead. And then from there, we show up on multiple channels and continue to share that message. So I’m done with that now.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:04]:
I love it. I love so many things about everything that you just said. As recruiters and professionals in this industry, it’s really easy to get caught up in the important versus the urgent or the urgent versus the important. I’m sorry, I said that backwards, but we come in and we fight fires every day. And honestly, marketing is put on the back burner. Business developments put on the back burner. In my training days, we always used to say, like, a proactive call, block a day keeps the doctor away. Kind of same poverty away in that terms.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:32]:
But it’s easier said than done if you don’t plan for it. And I love that that’s a thought. It’s a plan. And honestly, AI, as much as it’s a great thing, I spoke last week at the Massachusetts staffing conference, and I was like, I really challenge everyone to make engagement the word of 2024. I don’t know about you as an athlete, but I know me. Whenever I was in sports, I always had a word of the year, a word to break my focus, a word to get reengaged. And engagement is the word for me for this year. Be authentic.

Kortney Harmon [00:16:01]:
And I love the fact that I know that you played football, and I, knowing what your kids do and your daughter runs track and competitive cheerleading, those are the things that make relationships. And I oftentimes we don’t have time for those, so we just hurry up, and we’re like, well, I don’t have anything to talk to them about. Let’s move on to the next.

Donnie Gupton [00:16:16]:

Kortney Harmon [00:16:17]:
And that’s where you’re losing business.

Donnie Gupton [00:16:18]:
Yeah. It’s so funny because everyone has a story, especially about personal stuff, right? Especially on LinkedIn. It’s like, oh, you don’t share that there. Who wrote the rule book is what I want to know. Like, there is no rule book out there. So create your own right. And the more you start to look at the platform on, like, oh, well, you have to behave this way on this platform and behave this way on that platform. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be strategic and be aware, but the bottom line is, these platforms describe your brand.

Donnie Gupton [00:16:41]:
Part of my brand is who I am as a person, and I can’t tell you how many phone calls I’ve had where people can come in. And it’s like the most natural rapport building that there’s ever been, where it’s like, hey, I saw this. Hey, you do that. Hey, you do this. And it’s like, there’s already a connection, like where the awkwardness of that phone call is kind of gone. It’s like, all right, let’s dive in now we can talk about the real stuff. So, yeah, I think it’s a great way to really differentiate yourself from somebody else because one of our biggest differentiators, especially in recruiting, is the people. And when I was on, I hosted a panel a couple months back and it was really interesting listening, and there was a panel full of hiring leaders.

Donnie Gupton [00:17:17]:
So who the recruiters want to work with. And one of the things that they said is one of the things were noticing now is how recruiting firms that are starting to brand some of their recruiters, theyre having more connection with them because at the end of the day, its like, okay, well, theres ABC search firm, but these hiring managers now know that Kortney is going to be the one doing the search. And they want to know a little bit about Kortney, who’s doing the search. And this is where modern companies are really starting to adopt not just their company brand, but the individual personal brands within their recruiting team as well.

Kortney Harmon [00:17:48]:
I love that. Such a big play. You talked about LinkedIn and cold calling. So I’m going to go down that road right now. A lot of recruiting agencies, staffing firms really rely heavily on LinkedIn outreach, those in males or cold calling as their primary sourcing and bd developments. Right. So talk to me about what limitations that these maybe those transactional tactics, how can they evolve and how could that hinder their approach?

Donnie Gupton [00:18:15]:
Yeah, well, you know, I think first and foremost, like I said earlier, I think any approach can ultimately can work. I think it’s pick what you want to do. Right. And like I said, I would never pick up and I would never have a cold calling strategy because that’s just who I am. That’s not to say that cold calling doesn’t work, but I think if you were reading the writing on the wall, like everything that takes to do a cold call now in 2024, well, it’s challenging to get the right data, even though there’s more data now than there has ever been. It’s just getting the right data. And then second, how many other people have already pummeled that prospect with that same cold call? But third, and I think this is the thing that the biggest thing to take away from here is when I’m constantly paying the chase game, then I’ve now immediately positioned myself as being an order taker. And there’s probably a very, very small handful of people that can take a chase of I’m in a cold call.

Donnie Gupton [00:19:03]:
Flip the script on that and become the authority on the call. Those two things just don’t typically align when like, I’m going to run after you, but I’m also going to tell you I’m the best in the game doing this, where it’s like, hey, if I can flip that into attracting you, then there’s a little bit more belief in that type of a system. So I think the biggest thing for me with all of the outbound, doesn’t matter if it’s cold calling, emailing, LinkedIn is sometimes you get put into this category of somebody who’s desperate for business. Right. And I’m not saying that’s all the time, but I think that’s one of the bigger challenges with it, is when you get in the technical part. Yeah, you got 15 different voicemail boxes you need to hop through to get to the hiring person. I think on the, on the recruiting side, it’s a little bit easier if you can get somebody’s personal information. But for just staying kind of on the BD side, I think it’s just all those hoops and all the buttons you have to push, but then you’re just kind of putting yourself into like, no, you’re, you’re an order taker.

Donnie Gupton [00:19:50]:
And I think for me, that’s the big thing that I want to flip the position of, like, no, I’m, I’m an advisor. I’m an authority. I’m the relevant recruiter in your marketplace. Right. So that’s what I’m after. More is like less transactional approach.

Kortney Harmon [00:20:02]:
I love it. I think it’s important. You mentioned standing up from competition a few times. How do you go about standing out from competitors, establishing a strong brand presence. And the way you’re talking and the way I’ve seen, it’s crucial for recruiting firms. So talk to me about some strategies agencies can implement, maybe to position themselves as that authority in their niche industry. They can say it all they want, but having a stretch is really important to playbook.

Donnie Gupton [00:20:27]:
So I think the first thing, and this is one that I think is always a challenge for recruiters because most recruiters are good at recruiting. And so then they’re like, well, I can fill that position. I can fill that position. I can fill that position for that company and that company over there. But when you flip it the other way, you know, it’s, how do I become attractive to that company? Well, if I were a Fortune 100 company going through hiring challenges, that’s a heck of a lot different than what that medium sized company in your neighborhood that has one person in HR and what they’re going through in hiring challenges. They both have the same need for that it professional, for example. But the what they’re experiencing is completely different. And so my ability to articulate that I understand your day in hell and what your day in heaven should look like better than you do is now how I can really kind of start to stand out in the marketplace.

Donnie Gupton [00:21:17]:
So the first key component is actually like, what is your core customer? And believe it or not, that is something that is so far overlooked in this space, because everybody is talent focused first. With business development, you have to be company focused first. What’s their size? What’s their pain? What’s their frustration? What’s the typical organization structure? Then from there, then I can start to go, okay, well, what are they experiencing with pain points versus this? A big Fortune 100 might have a big, robust internal team. Their pain point that you might want to be hitting on is how their fraternal team just can’t seem to hit on some of these technical roles. Well, that message would not hit home with that medium sized company that has a HR person in place. Right. And so that’s the key foundation is, well, I call it the relevant recruiter. So the key to becoming relevant, the first thing is knowing who you want to be relevant to, and then second, them viewing you as very clearly to see that.

Donnie Gupton [00:22:13]:
So then you start to get into, like, well, what does every other recruiter say? Well, I’ve got x amount of years of experience. I’m the industry expert in this niche. Like, those things are not good enough anymore. So, yeah, that should be a part of your plan. But ultimately, what I do with people is, like, once I understand my target market, then I start to go, okay, can I find three things that are unique about my process that I can then deliver? Experience can be a part of it. It just can’t be all of it, right? Yeah. But I think the thing and the take home here is think about benefits rather than features. And so oftentimes when people go to market and they start to differentiate themselves, they’re like, oh, well, we’ll just stay on this experience when I have 30 years of experience, okay, how does that benefit me? So that’s a feature.

Donnie Gupton [00:22:59]:
It’s like, I have 30 years of experience. It’s like, no, I have 30 years of experience. So you can be assured that every candidate crosses your desk is somebody that’s been completely vetted by somebody who’s done this and viewed over 1000 applicants. So what you’re going to get is a very qualified candidate. Cool. So your experience means that I’m going to get qualified candidates and I don’t have to waste my time. That’s differentiation, because I’m taking what I think is my feature and I make it what’s in it for them. So those are some things that you can do if you identify kind of three uniques in your marketplace, and at least two of those or one of those is very unique from the rest of your competitors.

Donnie Gupton [00:23:31]:
And we’re explaining that story that gives us something to, to work off of there.

Kortney Harmon [00:23:35]:
So I think that’s amazing. Even as I used to teach MPC training about how to go market a candidate to your client, we did the same thing. It was literally about benefits. Don’t give a number, give the why. And it comes down to we oftentimes just speak and think. Our words hold impact when, I hate to go back to when I was eight, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Yeah, in that process, my mother was right again.

Donnie Gupton [00:24:02]:
Dang it.

Kortney Harmon [00:24:04]:
But it shows value today as we’re marketing as well. So. Absolutely true. You’ve talked about content creation. I know this is also a part of your business. Content creation and marketing are becoming increasingly important, especially in our space recruiters. We’re a little slow to get up on the marketing bandwagon.

Donnie Gupton [00:24:22]:

Kortney Harmon [00:24:22]:
So what role does content really play in attracting and engaging your clients?

Donnie Gupton [00:24:28]:
So content going back in the differentiation, content is one of the best ways where you’re like, okay, well, I can tell you I’m good or I’ll just show you, okay, and so content is a big part of getting you to stand out and differentiate, but what you’re ultimately trying to do when it comes to attraction is first and foremost, you have to have something that you’re standing on. And so what I see a lot of people do with their content is like, okay, I know I need to get in the content game. Let me go ahead and share this article. Boom bucket, check that box for the day. Did my content. And it’s like you’re checking a box versus like, no, this is a strategy. Like, I’m fully into this. And so I think focusing first and foremost is like, well, what is your mindset around the content? Okay, so, like, if people follow me for a while, they understand that, like, I’m talking a lot about content that generates leads.

Donnie Gupton [00:25:14]:
Now I understand that that’s what my goal is. But once I understand what that goal is then I completely release from that and I go, how do I now add value and share and showcase my leadership and connect with my audience in an authentic way and doing that consistently. And so what this allows you to do, like I said, is I can either tell you I’m different, I can show you how I’m different. And so that’s really the biggest takeaway with content is like, I just posted this last week about how I helped one of my clients from one campaign generate a $236,000 pipeline. And so I can tell that story. I can add value. I can prove the success of my program. I can share and give people a glimpse of, like, what this individual was going through, and it builds connection.

Donnie Gupton [00:25:59]:
And then people in your content’s good. When somebody goes, oh, he gets me, she gets me, they understand it. And that’s what your goal with your content is. And that goes back into, well, how do I stand out? How do I differentiate? Well, I need to know my target market. Well, once I know my target market, it’s very easily for me to say, hey, if you’re an independent and boutique recruiting agency firm owner, are you tired of being on the revenue roller coaster where you have a ton of job orders and all of a sudden that gets pulled out from underneath you? But then you weren’t able to stay consistent with business development because all your time, energy and effort was focused on filling those roles. I can say that very clearly because that’s my target market. I understand that pain. I understand that day in hell every single, it’s like I hear it all the time.

Donnie Gupton [00:26:39]:
Right? And so my ability then to be able to showcase that and then, oh, wow, that really resonates with me. And that’s where you really start to attract people. But one of the things I want to, I kind of slightly said this, and I want to drive this home, really is like, you got to plant a flag in the ground. You can’t have a toe in the water with this stuff. You can’t be like, well, I really like, contingent search really works good, and RPO is good, too, and retains good. Which one of these would you like? It’s like, no, if you’re unretained, then you’re dying on retained and you’re telling people all day long why contingency is not the way to go about it. Why? Because that’s how you capture attention. Nobody attracted anybody by just being a part of the noise.

Donnie Gupton [00:27:20]:
Right? To attract people, you need to believe in things that other people are going to believe in. And you carve out that. So a lot of that comes from having a mindset of abundance is knowing like, hey, when I come out and say cold calling stinks, there’s going to be a part of me that are just going to immediately go, I’m never listening to that guy, ever because I’ve cold, cold my whole life. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And I’m fine with that because what I’m looking to capture is go, the person that goes, yeah, cold calling does suck and I want something different. Awesome. Now we’re going somewhere, right? So be bold with your content efforts. And that’s how we start attracting.

Kortney Harmon [00:27:50]:
I love it. Hey, I’m a going against the grain kind of gal sometimes. I love it.

Donnie Gupton [00:27:54]:

Kortney Harmon [00:27:55]:
You mentioned a while ago about automation. It’s part of our industry, so automation and leveraging digital platforms can really streamline lead generation and outreach efforts. How can recruiting firms really incorporate technologies to help with these processes? Because it gets overwhelming and we talked about it earlier, everyone just wants the easy button and think that it’s just going to happen, but it’s a necessary evil. There’s the human touch, but there’s the automation. Talk to me about what that balance looks like.

Donnie Gupton [00:28:25]:
Yeah, I think this is a great topic in our industry. It’s funny, I see people sometimes that’ll like brag about how they grew their LinkedIn profile and they did it the right way and they did it the right way and they’ve all grown so organically and like kudos to them. But that’s like bragging like that you just walked from LA to New York and the rest of us were on a jet plane. And that’s what automation can do for people, right? Is we can basically take those that are walking and put them onto a jet plane to get them where they go faster. Now that’s all nice and sounds really good, but the key thing is having strategy. So there’s excellent tools out there like crelate that can help. But if we don’t have a strategy that we’re implementing, then we just have another shiny object that we’ve just chased after. Right? And there’s a lot of them out there.

Donnie Gupton [00:29:10]:
And so I think the first thing that when you look at automation, you need to get away from, like, I think people think automation, the first thing they go to is like, well, what tool? No, ask yourself first, what strategy? What am I using this for? Am I using it for business development? Okay, perfect. So, well, what I don’t want to do is I don’t want to show up like everybody else that I’ve experienced on my LinkedIn, which is I’m going to connect with you and then I’m going to immediately get slapped with a pitch right away. All right. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to show up to it that way. I don’t also want to show up how other people shown up where it’s like I get a random message about me growing my recruiting business on my LinkedIn and I don’t even own a recruiting business. So that shows me you’ve done none of your research. So you mentioned before, we talked a lot about this before about the whole easy button.

Donnie Gupton [00:29:53]:
Automation just makes the job simpler. It doesn’t necessarily make it easier. And so my clients that really win with automation, what they’re doing differently is they have very, very incredibly targeted lists and then they make sure that they have a very, very congruent message that’s going to go with that very clean list. And then they make sure that they’re not just selling, they make sure that they’re focusing on the prospect and what’s in it for the prospect. And by doing those three things where its targeted, targeted list focused on the prospect, thats how were able to generate more conversations and were strategically focused were not just like oh heres automation, oh theres 15 different emails to set up, lets grab all those emails, well just run them through the spam thing and hopefully it works. And I think thats what a lot of this industry is if Im being honest, is you see people all the time and people offering solutions like oh well, set up your email. What does that look like? Were going to set up five different domains and we’re going to guarantee you one new client from this effort in a month. What they didn’t tell you is how many bridges they’re going to burn down along the way.

Donnie Gupton [00:30:46]:
Right. And this is just one of those things where people don’t know what they don’t know. But a lot of it kind of goes back into what we were talking about earlier with like cold calling. Well you can ruin your reputation with bad automation too. You can ruin your reputation through automation, LinkedIn, email, voice automation, like any, it doesn’t matter what it is, if you don’t have the right strategy for it then you might burn down more bridges picking up that one win along the way. So it’s really important to like kind of start with that first, what’s the outcome I’m after, what’s the strategy and then get really, really clean stuff from there to help you just move faster. So a lot of the things that I’m really excited about that I’m working with my clients on is we’re doing a very personalized stuff upfront with automated sequences following up and it’s just light and stuff on fire because people want the personalized, right. Nobody’s going to argue that personalized doesn’t keep you leveraged, but at least if you have follow up that’s leveraging, now you’ve got some good stuff.

Donnie Gupton [00:31:40]:
And we’re doing like personalized videos specifically to target clients or candidates, and then with automated follow up multi channel LinkedIn email off of that. It’s just awesome.

Kortney Harmon [00:31:50]:
I love it. Well, when working with people, I’m assuming, and working with organizations, you have to shift focus, and shifting to new approaches often comes with challenges and roadblocks. There’s always those naysayers that say, no, it should be done this way. So what are some of those common obstacles that organizations or those BDS organization, like the BD arm of an organization, face when trying to adopt new strategies? And how can they overcome them before they even start?

Donnie Gupton [00:32:18]:
Yeah, I think first is shedding their old. Right. Sometimes we’re so connected and so ingrained into our old strategies that because it’s what we know, we can’t teach the new tricks. Sometimes I think sometimes it’s just what is it that, what am I doing in the past? What am I saying goodbye to? What am I holding on to? And getting clarity on that first, I think is really, really powerful. But then I think from there it’s actually is interesting because I’m going to bring this from a sales call I had this morning, which is you have to be aligned with what you want. Right. So I think there’s always a place where you’re going to do things, and especially if you’re in a coaching program. Like if you’re in a coaching program and you’re not uncomfortable, I don’t think you’re in the right one because you’re not truly expanding yourself.

Donnie Gupton [00:33:00]:
And a good coach should be expanding you, but it should also be expanding and you should be wanting to be expanded in these areas. I think the expansion and the desire to actually change and knowing what you’re going after is crucially important. And then from there it becomes very much how do I intentionally set up my day for these new activities and really understanding that you’re going to be creating something different new? And so it’s habits, skillset, mindset. Right. Habits, skillset, mindset. What’s the mindset about my new habit I’m going to create? What’s the skill set I need to execute it. And if we’re always doing those things and looking at it from that way, then that’s how we, I personally help people kind of get on and adopt these new strategies is, hey, do we believe in it? Cool. We believe in it.

Donnie Gupton [00:33:47]:
Let’s go all in. We’re burning the boats, as Tony Robbins says, right? We’re burning the boats now. We’re going all in. Skillset, mindset, habits, and then that’s how we usually build out a new system for somebody.

Kortney Harmon [00:33:59]:
Adoption is hard and change is hard for people. So I love it. It’s investing in all the stakeholders that have the process. I mean, heck, from our end, changing atss, that’s a whole new bag of tricks, and I can only imagine just a process. And that probably creates a lot of resistance to be like, well, the industry’s changing. We need to change with it. Yep, and it’s a whole new step. So obviously this is ever changing.

Kortney Harmon [00:34:24]:
The recruiting industry is ever changing, evolving what new trends and best practices that they are emerging every single day. I guess my question to you is, on the marketing end, how are you staying ahead of the curve? How do you maintain and make sure your methods are relevant and effective? Because you probably change, you turn the day, you change the covers, and it changes instantly. So talk to me about that.

Donnie Gupton [00:34:52]:
Yeah, so this will go back. First, I’m going to start with some of the things we’ve already been talking about is a lot of marketing. A lot of what you see is just the next new shining object that’s out there. And there’s a lot of the same principles of marketing that were taught in the 1990s that are still very, very relevant to this day. Right. So what you see changing is the tactics. So for me personally, it’s like I’m always working with a coach myself. I’m always staying up to date with other people.

Donnie Gupton [00:35:16]:
I think it’s dishonest and to be a coach and not be coached. So that’s one of the things that helps me kind of stay ahead of the trends, is I’m always working with somebody who’s doing the same thing, looking at other marketing trends. Of course, I look at other courses and information out there. I actually leverage AI and chat GPT a lot for my own research. There’s certain people that I follow on LinkedIn, for example, like that are way more experts at the LinkedIn algorithm than I am cool. Well, I don’t need to be the ultimate expert of LinkedIn algorithm. I’ll go listen to these people and then I’ll, you know, go apply my strategies to that. So, yeah, I think there’s always a balance.

Donnie Gupton [00:35:51]:
Like, I think that you always want to be, you have to be looking ahead, like you said. I mean, you wake up, you know, you go to sleep, you wake up tomorrow, it’ll be a whole different platform, a whole nother thing. I think the challenge is, like, before I start chasing that shiny object is what’s working, what’s not already that I’m doing. But so much of marketing really comes down to psychology and human behavior, and that stuff doesn’t change. People are always going to be driven to avoid fear in their life. People are going to always, for example, want to keep up with the Joneses, whether they don’t want to meet admitted or not. There’s certain marketing psychological behaviors that will always be true. And that’s the thing that I think is where I kind of stay focused on is like, all right, well, there might be a tweak on how we want to hook in somebody on LinkedIn.

Donnie Gupton [00:36:34]:
There might be a way that we want to change the way we’re posting this video on LinkedIn. We might want to change our videos from being vertical to horizontal. We might want to go to know, like, those are all just things that we’re paying attention to. And I’ve got a team that pays attention to that stuff. But we’re reviewing analytics from our own campaign performances and our client campaign performances that we let the data kind of guide us towards things that we want to make big edits on. But in terms of, like, just the market knowledge, I actually use a lot of chat, GBT and Google Gemini as my research. And if you haven’t figured out those tools to really, like, support and help you with that stuff, I mean, there’s just gold mines in there. So, yeah, I mean, that’s just some of the things that I’m doing.

Kortney Harmon [00:37:10]:
I love it, and I feel like. I feel like I’m being dishonest. Like, some days I’m like, okay, I’m going to go to Claude today. The next day I’m going to go to Gemini. I feel like I’m cheating on the AI.

Donnie Gupton [00:37:20]:
Yeah, yeah, for sure, for sure.

Kortney Harmon [00:37:23]:
But absolutely, using those tools just to get insight is huge in our industry, too, especially the industry we serve. To think about how much you can scale another vertical, how quickly you can get access to your information, to your recruiters and your sales teams, like if you are not using it, we did a ten best case used cases for chat GPT in your organization and it was a hit. Absolutely. People love that. So I love that you bring that up and having a coach is huge. I, of course, as an athlete, and I’m sure you probably that is stuck in our mind, but Tom Brady being in his position, no one ever probably has accomplished what he’s accomplished, but guess what? There are people to look at him in a different lens and give him guidance. So who are we to say that we shouldn’t do that as well? I think the first step is admitting in any process of getting better. So I love that.

Donnie Gupton [00:38:12]:
Yeah, I think it’s such an interesting kind of topic. You know, I mean, coaching has really kind of hit the mainstream big over the like the last five years, right? And there’s, and I don’t think it’s. I think everybody has their own kind of personality, right? I think some people are very open to coaching. I think some people like, I’m always like, show me. And I’m all in on it, right? Just kind of my personality. Then there’s other people that are, I think on the flip side of that are very ego driven, which are like, hey, I want to figure this out on my own. I’m not, not saying that it’s a knock, that’s fine. And then there’s others that are in between, which are like, yeah, you know what? I’ve been watching on the fence for a while.

Donnie Gupton [00:38:43]:
I think I’m going to go ahead and give that a thing. But if we’re being honest, coaching is like recruiters, there’s a lot of good ones and there’s a lot that aren’t right. And so you have a negative experience and then that becomes your taste. And that’s actually coming back into my relevant sales call from this morning. That’s what she said. She’s like, hey, I went through a program a couple months back. It wasn’t the same. She’s like, but similar.

Donnie Gupton [00:39:03]:
But like, I didn’t see any of the results that I would hope to see within your program. Right. So she’s also what’s going to be different, right. And so that it’s just, hey, a good coach is going to show up for you and ask you questions about your unique challenges and your unique things. And I think a lot of what people are experiencing out there is coming into somebody who’s built their own system and then they like, force feed that on you rather than, you know, I think one of the things I take pride in with the relevant recruiter method is it’s a very specific methodology to follow, but it’s all personally implemented for each one of my clients, and that’s what makes it really different. That’s why we see such good results with people that go through the program.

Kortney Harmon [00:39:40]:
I love it. I think it’s amazing. I’ve said this a hundred times. Even as an athlete, I was like, well, I can’t throw my perfect game without criticism on my no hitter. I always love a different insight. I love being challenged in a positive way, as long as it’s for growth. So I think that’s amazing that you’re able to give that insight and that collaborative relationship with your firms.

Donnie Gupton [00:40:01]:
I appreciate that.

Kortney Harmon [00:40:02]:
I only have one last question. I’ve kept you quite a while today. We’ve had some quality time back to back, so I’m going to leave one more question for you. Looking ahead, what are your thoughts on the future of recruiting? And think about those firms and agencies positioning themselves to adapt to a potential industry disruptions or changes. What can they do? How can they prepare for those things coming in the future? If you can think of anything?

Donnie Gupton [00:40:25]:
Yeah, I mean, I still believe the future of the recruiting industry, from where I sit, is just a firm’s ability, whether they’re an independent or a boutique or even a medium. Like your ability to dominate your digital space can make your job and your life easier on all aspects. So a lot of times with. When I say digital space, it’s like your LinkedIn, your Facebook, your email, your YouTube, wherever you’re at is really starting to dominate and build brands on these different channels. Because I think the thing that people naturally look at is like, well, if I spend time online, is it going to generate me a lead? Am I going to get business from this activity? And if you do it right, the answer is universal. Yeah, 100% it will. But there’s also these other benefits that I don’t think a lot of people really keep in mind, which is a lot of my clients, what they’ll experience after they put together a system like this is. And this is why I say it’s like going all in on digital.

Donnie Gupton [00:41:19]:
It’s not like I think there’s a lot of people that are playing in the water now, but, like, it’s a. This is a jump in cannonball. And so what this will impact is like, your response rates from your outreach now instead of just being a recruiter in their inbox. Oh, you know what, Kortney? I’ve seen some of your stuff, they may not be able to exactly connect those dots, but there’s some subconscious brand awareness that’s going on. Right. So it’s a back and forth game that everybody thinks about, like content. Oh, I just want the inbound lead from the content. But it’s like, no, if you go all in on this and your company’s presence does, like, I’ve got a firm that we work with down in Houston that like, they have about 30 people we manage their brands for and they absolutely kill it.

Donnie Gupton [00:41:58]:
And last year they had a banner year. They’re doing north of 10 million. And they grew last year. In an economy where most other companies, and not universally, but most other companies were struggling, well, they are way far ahead in terms of what they’re doing with their team. Their team is fully branded online. They have LinkedIn automation system setups. They still do cold calling, they still do a lot of the traditional things that recruiters do, but they’re all in on digital, they’re all in on driving their own brand narrative, and they’re doing it at the individual level, which makes it really, really powerful. And if you’re at that point where you have a team, think about how much value you’re adding to your team now by giving them resources to make their job and do their job easier, better, more efficiently, but also even grow their brands.

Donnie Gupton [00:42:42]:
I don’t care what you’re doing. And this is my belief, if, like, you don’t have a personal brand in 24, I don’t care if you are the owner of a business or if you are the sales manager, you have the ability in 2024 to drive your own narrative. And I don’t care if I’m running a business or if I’m an employee, I’m going to control the heck out of that and I’m going all in on it. So that, hey, if it’s just me advancing my career, awesome, I’m going to be in control of that. I’m going to be all in on that. If it’s me growing my recruiting business, then awesome, I’m going to do that. If it’s just me growing my role as a recruiter for the business I’m working with, because all of this, at the end of the day, can still come back as a personal benefit, and it also will benefit the person I might personally be working for right now, which creates win wins for all. So all in, not a toe in the water, all in on digital.

Kortney Harmon [00:43:28]:
I think that’s amazing. Great piece of advice. And all of those things, even if it’s personal or for your company, all seem to go hand in hand and a benefit to everybody.

Donnie Gupton [00:43:37]:

Kortney Harmon [00:43:38]:
Donnie, thank you so much for joining us today. Love this. Love this conversation. Love to hear different insights and how people can be successful outside of the norm that they’ve been dealing with over the past few years. So thank you so much for your time. I greatly appreciate you.

Donnie Gupton [00:43:52]:
No, I appreciate being here. Appreciate the opportunity. It was a lot of fun.

Kortney Harmon [00:43:54]:
And for our listeners, for those of you who may be interested, we’ll include Donnie’s LinkedIn profile and relevant recruiter website if you’re interested in learning more. Absolutely. An insightful and inspiring conversation from Donnie. It’s history, the mastermind behind the relevant recruiter method and we’ve really learned a lot about innovative approach really when it comes to lead generation, personal branding, positioning your recruiting firms as authorities in your respective markets. So from leveraging automation to digital presence to creating compelling content and implementing multi platform strategies, thank you so much Donnie. I’m sure our audience has gained leaps and bounds from the knowledge that you shared with us today. So for everyone listening, thank you. And Johnny, keep sharing your expertise.

Kortney Harmon [00:44:42]:
Our listeners definitely gained insight. Until next time, have a wonderful day. I’m Kortney Harmon with Krilate. Thanks for joining us for this episode of Industry Spotlight, a new series from the full Desk experience. New episodes will be dropping monthly. Be sure you’re subscribed to our podcast so you can catch the next industry spotlight episode and all episodes of the full desk experience here or wherever you listen.

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