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Recruiting Via Marketing

Kerry Guard • Tuesday, January 11, 2022 • 52 minutes to listen

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Amber Anderson

Amber Anderson is the Founder and Head of Strategy at Tote + Pears.



Hello, I'm Kerry Guard and welcome to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders.

Welcome to Season 10. This marks 80 episodes, 80 conversations with amazing marketing leaders. The things I have learned from these amazing humans across the globe. I have talked to people from the United States, to Canada, to the UK, to Europe and I've even talked to people who are in Australia. Thank you technology. It has been an amazing ride these last few years. And I'm so thankful for all these amazing, amazing conversations I've had. I'm so proud of the team here at MKG who made it possible. And I'm so stoked to introduce you to season 10 as the greatness continues, and the great conversations continue.

And what an honor to kick off season 10 with the very first person I had a podcast conversation with. I have brought back, for a very special episode, Amber Anderson. If you haven't listened to my very first conversation with Amber, those early days, it's still so good. We talk about intersectionality. And what that means was a whole new term for me when I first met Amber, which is why I wanted to have her on. And how it relates to marketing is specifically around women, where women live their ethnicity, their race, their life stage, and how as marketers, we need to make sure that our marketing meets women where they are in whatever they're going through and how we can support them. It's so good. It's so good. If you haven't listened to it, go check it out after this episode, because this episode isn't dependent on that episode. It's nice to have.

This episode's really cool because there's, I'm gonna call it a crisis because I think it is. And I think as tech marketers, as people hiring, we're all feeling the crunch, and the great resignation, and how people have really decided to take control of their work. And the companies they work for and the lifestyle they want. Remote working is real, people. It is here to stay, it is not going anywhere. We've been remote at MKG since the beginning, so 10 years now. And then COVID hit and it threw everybody into remote working. And people figured out that remote working works for them. And some people figured out that it doesn't. And I think that's where we need to figure out where we as companies, once again, need to figure out how we meet people where they are and what they need. Because if we don't, we're not gonna be able to ever hire the right people.

And so Amber and Tote and Pears, figured out that this is a crisis and a real need for tech marketing companies to define what their culture is in this new landscape. And so Amber and I dig into how Tote and Pears have pivoted slightly, they're still branding and creative agency. And they still focus on women and intersectionality. But they're doing it in a much more focused way to help tech companies hire women, and help them figure out what their company culture and messaging and branding is as it relates to bringing the right people in for the right job. And I just think it's so smart, because it's everything we do as marketers, but instead of our audience being the people we're trying to sell to the customers, it's looking at the job hunt in recruiting in a way that we already think it's beautiful. It's beautiful. I love this conversation with Amber. What a great way to kick off season 10. And so, let's get to it.


Kerry Guard: Amber, thank you for joining me, again, back again. So glad to have you.

Amber Anderson: Thanks for having me, Kerry. It's good to be here.

Kerry Guard: So before we kick off, it has been a while and we've morphed a bit. So I think it's good to take a step back and have our listeners be re-introduced to Amber. Can you just tell your story, Amber? What do you do? And how did you get there?

Amber Anderson: Sure. So, I'm the founder of Tote and Pears, which is a woman plus studio. We provide insights and brand strategy and digital marketing services to companies that are trying to recruit, retain and stay connected to women, as customers and employees. So I've had the agency for 10 years in January, which is a big milestone for any agency. Agency life is fun and exciting but it has so many different paths. So that's super exciting. So 10 years are coming up.

Kerry Guard: Congrats!

Amber Anderson: Thank you! My background is actually technology. So I got here because I was working as a tech consultant. I started in business analysis and moved into product and technical product at a tech company that was in the education space, shifted into consulting for some major universities, and then had an “aha” moment after I had my son. And that really got me thinking about what was important to me where I want to use my energy and how I could provide the most impact to the people I cared about and the things that I care about, all at the same time. So that's how I founded Tote and Pears.

Kerry Guard: I love those “aha” moments and our children definitely create those.

Amber Anderson: They sure do.

Kerry Guard: I want to get more into Tote and Pears, especially around this recruiting piece. But before we get there, as a people first company, you can relate to this as well. It's just nice to humanize our experiences and be able to reconnect to one another beyond just being marketers. So what's the challenge you're currently facing?

Amber Anderson: Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest challenge all of us are facing is the unknown. We're in the middle of a pandemic. So as we're speaking, we've gone a year, year and a half, living in an unknown territory, and all of our lives have been changed in one shape or form. And especially as a parent, you know, there's so many questions for us. We're sending our children back to school without vaccinations. We're trying to figure out as employers, how can we bring on more talented people and support them through their transitions as they're trying to figure out life on their own? There's a lot of challenges today. And I think for me, one of the things that's important is just taking a moment and acknowledging that, figuring out how to compartmentalize, deal with the things that I can deal with and provide support in the areas where I can provide support, and keep trucking along and providing value and everywhere that I touch, you know. But yeah, I say COVID is a challenge from all angles. And that's probably the biggest one I'm battling today. What does that mean, for me and my team, for me and the work that we do?

Kerry Guard: So as a remote-first agency, what does that mean for your team? I mean, I don't want to say just another day at the office, because it was definitely not just the other day at the office no matter where you were in the world. But as we come back to this “new normal”, and as a remote company, what are you finding that is staying as is and has been normal? And what challenges are you finding that are brand new, and part of this new normal that you didn't have before?

Amber Anderson: Yeah, so you know, where we work has never been a challenge for us, we've always been remote, we will always be remote, we enjoy the opportunity to pull talent from all over the world, and also to be able to bring perspectives from all over the world into the work that we do. The challenge is now you add on this layer of complexity. So we had a resource that had COVID and was in the hospital. We've had people who have lost loved ones to COVID people who have lost loved ones during COVID and had to experience saying goodbye to some of their loved ones remotely. I mean, the emotional impact of a pandemic is impacting everyone. Right? So I think as an employer, the big thing is how can I support my team in a way that's different from me? No, we didn't have to have conversations about the ongoing grief of a loved one to this extent, and the unknown and what that has done for them and their family. So keeping them motivated, keeping them feeling supported, keeping clients motivated, keeping clients supported. There's a new layer that we have, especially since our agencies are mission driven. We also have this big community of women in their families that we care about too. So telling their stories, making sure we're clear. Those are new challenges, and they're gonna be ongoing challenges for all of us. You know, how do you support people now through this new stage of life, something we're not familiar with. But something that I'm, you know, always actively trying to do my best at.

Kerry Guard: And also, as a business owner, I can completely relate. It has been one challenging emotional roller coaster for sure, as we feel what everybody else is feeling and 100% trying to be there. And I know as, as leaders of any organization or even within a team, especially when you feel really connected, that that is something we're all struggling and facing as we try and give this balancing act right of trying to give space to that and allow people to go and be with their loved ones and feel the grief and go and be through that, at the same time is trying to hold up our businesses and get work done. It has definitely been a balancing act to a whole new degree for sure.

Amber Anderson: Who knew, you know. And then as business owners, we're responsible for so much in those decisions. And sometimes that means having to make tough decisions that impact our employees so that we can keep the business afloat. And sometimes it means having to say no to clients, because I need my employee morale and my employment, you know, mental capacity. So it's just really squeezed into so much tighter, but great lessons, right. And it's the challenge that we're all up for, and one that I am proud to say that I'm battling through with a great team behind me. I'm grateful for it.

Kerry Guard: Well, thank you for sharing your challenges, because I think we're all as you said, we're all facing them. And it's nice to just hear we're not alone sometimes and especially now. And something we're also not really alone in but I think you have a unique perspective on, is recruiting. There's like this whole new world that's happening in terms of talent, and I think you touched on it briefly in terms of your own recruiting. But man, is it tough out there for employers?

Amber Anderson: Yeah, we're in the middle of one of the biggest labor shortages and mass exodus of our time, right. And, you know, I was doing some research for an article I wrote. I think it's like 4 million people quitting their jobs in April, it's just a crazy time, this blend of people feeling really empowered to find the spaces that resonate with them. And employers are trying to find a way that they can bring more resources to the table in a dynamic that's different and new, you just have this blend, right. And what has been really interesting about it is how much it goes back to employees now having a choice about where they work, whereas before, it's kind of in a business market or corporate market. And now you're seeing employees, saying, You know what, I want more money, I want more time, I want to be at a place that I feel happy at. And that's a new spin for some people that you actually have to show up and tell your story and people are going to choose to come or not to come work for you.

Kerry Guard: Oh, you’ve done research? Because yes, because that's what you do. But I want to dig into that for a second. I think that's so interesting that, you know, 4 million people quit to go find that they quit, right, that they didn't like to go or they weren't fired, but laid off because a whole lot of layoffs happened right last March for Lowe's. All of that happened last year. And now this year, people are making the choice. In such an unknown time, it seems so counterproductive. But there's something clearly missing for them at their current employer versus what they're looking for, money time, like you said. Is there anything else that is sort of sticking out from your research about why? Where people are going? Or are they going to the big corporate companies like the Amazons and the Googles and the Facebook's of the world and finding that comfort? Or are they in challenges? Are they looking for the smaller niche startups? Is there any sort of nuance there in terms of where these people are headed?

Amber Anderson: Specifics about where they're headed. What I do know that's important is to look at what were the challenges that were kind of pushing people out. And we send our research around women, and there's been a lot of that flap about the challenges women were facing in the workforce, whether that be how they were feeling in organizations or the challenges of being a caregiver, whether that be a parent you're caring for or a child, women overwhelmingly are leaving the workforce because they had to, or they just can't do it anymore. And the pandemic was really kind of the catalyst to say this is too much. Many times we were kind of seeing that happen behind the scenes where it was getting hidden. But now it was just everything kind of came to the forefront. So that's really where we spent our time thinking about what the impacts have we seen happen between COVID, and also some of the social justice things that were brought up over the summer, that are now bringing people to a point where they're saying, Enough is enough. And I don't have to, or I don't want to do this anymore, or I simply cannot, I cannot do what you're asking me to do. And so I have to choose. And so those are really the things that were interesting to us, and also very close to home as, and those of us that children know, when you have young children at home, or you're trying to home school, there's only so much that you can do. And so I think we're just seeing that.

Kerry Guard: Are those women going back to work? Or are they because I know, like a bunch of my friends who gave up their jobs to literally stay at home with their kids. But now his kids are going back to school, even though that's very unknown and gray. But as that sort of happens, are women returning to the workforce now? Or are they still staying at home to be with their kids? What's sort of the dynamic there?

Amber Anderson: Well, 42% of women in the United States are the primary breadwinner for their families. So think about that number on the path, the huge number, so it's a lack of understanding that it's not always a choice to have to do it. You know, at some point in time with the pandemic, there is no other option. There's no daycare, there's no childcare, there's no school, I have to stay home. And then there's the burden of like, I'm still not comfortable sending my kids off, or we're still seeing schools close. But I have no choice. And I need to go back. So there's so many layers to that conversation, so many layers to what people are experiencing at this time, that make it difficult to pinpoint it. But those are all important pieces to the conversation in the puzzle.

Kerry Guard: We have to see the big picture and the whole person, right.

Amber Anderson: Yeah, always.

Kerry Guard: So in terms of what Tote and Pears is doing now, and how we landed on our conversation, when we connected a week or so ago, you mentioned that Tote and Pears is pivoting more towards the brand side, and even looking at helping these women find their place and in a really unique way. So can you just give us, tell us how you stumbled upon this need of, is it helping the brands find the people? Is it helping the women find the roles? What sort of led you to this place, there's clearly a problem here and something we can do about it?

Amber Anderson: Yeah, so I mean, we have always been a branding agency. So for us, branding is the center of the conversation with stories that gets you to have that connection with whoever's on the other end. And we've been saying the whole time reality is you have one brand, right? You might think of it like I've got a consumer brand, and I have an employer brand, but you have one brand, and whether or not you're trying to attract that person to buy from you or you're trying to get them to work for you. It's really the same conversation. Who are you? What are your values, the people that are going to align are going to gravitate to you. And so what we've been doing is we've always done Employer Branding. We're extending our focus now because we see such a need, that this conversation has been missed, as brands have been focused so much on the consumer, they forgot their biggest asset was always their people, right?

And so for us at Tote and Pears, we are centered around women and families. That's what we do. We're a representation of the audience. Our research or insights has always been about what is happening, what is the need? And how do we make sure we can connect those people to the products, services and the companies that have things that are good for them. So we're very strategically positioned, as in we're audience driven. We're an insights company and we're very research focused. So when it came to this conversation around what employers now lost sight of, that they are losing mass amounts of employees and having a hard time connecting, again, you had COVID, you had social justice issues here in the States. Who do you turn to? You have to turn back to see what those people always needed or what they have been saying to you. And that's really where we kind of stuck up. So what happened was, we've always been doing it, but we saw a big spike in interest from our agency, once companies became really desperate to try and figure out how do I now get people to come work for me and more than that day? How do I keep my people?

Kerry Guard: It’s so overwhelming. The keeping part, and I want to get there in a second because it's a two-sided coin. It's all very well to get them but then it is how you keep them and I mean, from our experience in agencies, and you primarily work with tech companies, I don't know what the stats are there, which I'm sure you're going to tell me in a second. But for agencies, the turnover is about two years, if you're lucky. If you keep somebody for two years, you're doing okay. Obviously, you want to keep them for longer. But that tends to be what happens, people get bored, or they're looking for something new, or they want to get promoted, or they're looking for more money or a case may be two years. Are you finding that in the tech industry and for women and parents as well? Are they staying a little longer? Are they staying less? What's sort of the turnover there? And maybe COVID turned it on its head?

Amber Anderson: Really high? Yeah, you know, I think what, because I don't have the exact numbers for turnover rates, it's gonna depend. And I think that the bigger thing is, in the organization, how driven are people to you and your mission. So it sounds so corny to talk about your mission, vision and values. And agency life, what can be tricky is a lot of times we're servicing other people's mission and vision. And if we don't have a niche, sometimes our people are kind of like, I like this project, I don't like that project. And that can make them kind of, you know, toggle. But it's the companies that really have a really core drive. And people get behind that that makes it easier for them to stay, they see themselves, they see value in their purpose. And that's what people are looking for now, especially millennials and below. It's like, Look, I'm not going to stay in this company, and I'm not going to get a pension. I'm here for appointed time to use my skills, and I want to be able to be happy where I am. I want to feel proud of the work that I'm doing.

And so as companies, it comes back to us like, have we been honest about what we're doing and who we are. Because if we haven't been, then people see that, and they're gonna leave. If we're honest about it, then we can have an honest conversation, right? It's a choice and always has been, for people to join in on the work that we're doing. And sometimes that gets lost. So what we've been really focused on is let's get back to that fundamental piece. It has always been a two way street. What is it that connects the dots for us? And once we're clear that we brought the right people in, and we can continue to work towards that goal together.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, I mean, I find that tech companies don't really build a product to fill a need. But they don't necessarily lead with what their core mission is that sort of comes later. So when you're engaging with a brand, and you're going to help them recruit, it's obviously not just saying, Okay, here's your basic messaging, and you know, how to go engage on these channels. It sounds like you really have to uproot the core of who they are, and get back to the basics to say, before we even get there. Yes, that's how you outreach? And yes, that's how you get in front of people. Yeah. Before you get there, in order for you to connect with them, you have to matter, you have to have something that's beyond just having a product that fills as that's out there to check a box.

Amber Anderson: Yeah, absolutely. So I think it's like, you know, there's the idea that you can get people and butts in seats, right. And if you do a bunch of ads, you might, but to get people to stay and give them the best. They have to have purpose, there's a purpose for why I'm here and at the core of what people look for, and my differ on what that purpose is. Some people like money. Some people might be mission driven. Some people like how I feel in this environment, the work on type of doing the technology and working on what is your purpose? What are the things that are going to get the people that are going to gravitate towards your culture to come? What do they care about? So very fundamental. Let's go back, who are the ideal people to work for us? What do they care about? What do we care about? How do we tell them what we care about, so we can make sure that they understand it? And that we can do that stuff together? You know, like blinding is very much about us just telling our story. And you know, it doesn't have to be around your product. Sometimes your culture is driven around other things like are we you know, laughing and joking. Are we really creative spaces? Are we heads down more focused on you know, the tech and is that what we lead into? Your story is your story. The point is, let's figure out what those fundamental pieces are which are your pillars and let's elevate that so people can see it and they can see if they fit there.

Kerry Guard: I believe in the story wholeheartedly, but I also want to be clear and see if you agree with me here, Amber, your story isn't Once Upon A Time, 10 years ago. We decided to start this thing that's like that is not. So that sounds like you're telling a story. And Sure you are. But your story is more around the why. Right?

Amber Anderson: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Why are we here? What are we doing? And how are we doing it? Right? Like, why, what, how? Those are easy. Why, what, how. What are we doing? And if you can answer those questions for people in a way that's honest and authentic, then they see you. And they can agree. I get it. Right. And, and then they can come with you like, it's not. It's not that you're manipulating people. You're just being honest. Right. So we don't have to do a bunch of paperwork. Yeah, it's not a bunch of paperwork. It's not a bunch of jargon. It's real, authentic conversations.

Kerry Guard: I think what's hard, I'm even struggling with figuring out our mission statement and our branding as we continue to evolve over the last, we're 10 years old as well. It's trying to not make it feel like vaporware, like the smoke that nobody can touch. It's words, but it's got to feel tangible. And you got to back it up, which leads us into like, once you create your mission, then it's those values. Right? That actually yeah, that you live by that backup, your mission.

Amber Anderson: Yeah, exactly. And it's also really important to make sure that you're thinking about those in the context of the business goals and objectives. Right. So sometimes what happens, especially for startups, as we think about it in our basement with the co-founders, and the people that we know, so we've created this culture around these ideas like our own box, and we forget that there's other people in the world who could contribute to that. So part of it is really stepping back and saying, let's take all the jargon out, let's just get right to the point, like what are the things that we really care about? What are we trying to achieve in as simple a language as possible? And by taking some of that jargon out, you can get rid of some of the stereotypes, some of the things that are going to turn other people off, because they don't speak your same language. And instead get to the core, which is what all people have, like, we have a core, we have personalities. And then when you take those layers out, then it gets easier. And I just think that's a really important piece. Because otherwise, especially in tech, you find that we are not recruiting from diverse pools, because we've created a culture and a conversation that's around our incubator, like the people that we know. And we didn't realize, in doing that, we totally alienated other sets of people, women, people of color, people from disabilities, you know, we just eliminated an entire pool of people, because we didn't realize that conversation was an isolation. Instead, we need to go back to the drawing board and just think about what our goals are, and get back to the fundamentals.

Kerry Guard: And bring more people in, I would think, too, because when you are that additional team in the basement or in the garage, trying to figure out what you want your values to be. When you start adding people to the organization, your culture is going to change and evolve. And so what does that mean? And as the original founders, you might not have a pulse on that. So bringing in those other voices to contribute to that I imagine helps in that bias in finding what that core is outside of the jargon.

Amber Anderson: Yeah, yeah. And it's not just bringing in more people, but are we bringing in a diverse set of people? Because a lot of times, rightfully so right? As a founder, you're just trying to get resources, who's on the dream? Who do I touch, who do I convince, and it usually is in our core circle. But we do get to a point where it's like, I need to expand out and sometimes our culture has already been built because of that core circle. So being able to have kind of an outsourced resource to come in and help you identify ways to make it so that it's more appealing is a natural evolution of a startup.

Kerry Guard: Let's talk about this because I was really curious when I was figuring out my questions of, you know, when we're talking about marketing, so I'm just gonna speak from experience, right? So when I'm recruiting, I want to talk tactics here for a second, you're going to pull me back up, because I know tactics and you know - A lovely conversation of balance here. But when I'm recruiting, I definitely have some messaging around who we are from being people first to seeing the big picture to leading with transparency. I'm sure there's some work we could definitely do around language and getting more to the point. And I'm sure there's bias there. However, what I'm recruiting, I am doing it manually, I am creating a list of people who fit the roles and responsibilities that I need. However, I'm also looking for that diversity, equity and inclusion, and doing it by hand. Because in my experience, when I don't do it by hand, I don't get a diverse pool.

So when you're talking about branding, and you're talking about finding that mission, vision, values and being able to create it in a way that is inclusive, I imagine by doing that, you fall less than to my challenge of, you know, when I, if I was to put a different, not a different message out there. But if I was to look at my mission, vision and values, and actually do a bit more equity, inclusion and work on that, I'm imagining that that's the beauty of what you do, that you can still do, “mass outreach” in a really thoughtful way. Still putting parameters and making sure you're touching the right people who are going to do the job. But you're going to get a much diverse, rich pool of people. I mean, is that?

Amber Anderson: Yeah, so when you think of branding, I think it's really about going back to high school. I use this example a lot. It's like when you think about who you were in high school, you had the jocks, you had the preppy kids, you had the nerdy kids, you had a whole slew of people that kind of fit into these personas, right? And really a brand is about who I am? Like if my company could stand up and talk or put on an outfit or go to a store? What would we say? What would we do, how would we show up. And the first thing is, before you start bidding job applications onto people, you need to have a foundation so they know who they're talking to. And the brand is really there to build that foundation, right? So a lot of tech companies, the product, it's not just about email automation, although they've killed some sides, it's about more than that. And so for us, what we're really looking forward to is how do we create that personality, that experience, that feeling? So that when you put your job application out there, people say, this is really cool. I want to know more, because they already feel like they can understand who you are, or they can relate to it. And that's probably the biggest issue we see is that people don't understand that there is this space in which you're showing up. How are you showing up? That's the question the brand answers. How are we showing up? So when we do show up, we're talking to the right people, they see us, we see them, they feel connected. Now we have a conversation.

Kerry Guard: I must protect that feels really hard, especially B2B Tech, where it's so product driven. So creating this personality, this persona around the brand itself. That feels daunting. But I could just be speaking from left field here.

Amber Anderson: It takes a creative team, right? So think about the companies that you spend time all day long on B2B products. I gave you one, MailChimp, Facebook, sometimes can be B2B, they have an advertising platform. Google is an advertising platform, but you learned it as a consumer, you had a feeling about who they were as a consumer. And then now you use their product as a company, right? There's tons of B2B companies out there that have a brand. And there's a lot that doesn't -, because when you think about it, people are buying the product, whether it's B2B or not. Can you relate to that person on the other end? Who's your audience? Is it an employee? Is it somebody that's a customer buying from another company? Regardless, it's a person and people relate to people, they don't relate to technology. The better you can get at branding, the better you can appeal to people who are going to buy it.

Kerry Guard: So let's talk about this first for a second in terms of like, because I've been banging my head against the wall from a recruiting standpoint, and it's a tough market out there for hiring. I don't know if you're experiencing the sandbar and maybe you are for your clients and why this is like the clear need now especially for a billion people. You know, being up you have essentially leaving their jobs to go pick where they want to go in a tough market. And so how it feels like the easy thing to do is just like I'll just hire a recruiter, and they'll just solve all my problems. I have hired a recruiter, and they have not by any stretch of the imagination solved any of my problems. So in terms of why, you know, so it's this whole new idea of using marketing, essentially, as your recruiter. Right?

Amber Anderson: Yeah. So I would say the first thing is, let's make sure we show up in the space in the market, we show up in a way that attracts people. So that's where the brand comes in. The second piece is, once I have my brand in place, where do I show up? That's where marketing comes in. So here's who we are really clear about that? It's very obvious. We've got all of our assets on our website or job descriptions, whatever, those are your assets right? Now, where do we put those things so that people who are gonna worry, that's what we want, and what we're looking for find us? Again, if we start thinking about it, so technically, it's the same thing as if you're doing it for a consumer, right? We do the same process, we put ourselves in a place where the people that we want to buy our product are going to be when we're doing it for employees, we put our brand in the place, we want people to come work for us, where are they going to be? And you show up that way. So for example, you probably see it all the time. And you've got some organizations that might do events, and they'll partner with other women centric organizations, if they're trying to hire women, you might have organizations that are launching podcasts and partnerships with other brands, you could be companies and do all kinds of creative things, right? Like, it's not, it's not brain surgery, it's just about us re thinking about our employees, not as one off that as people that need to connect that we need to connect with? And what tools do we use to do that? There's like a million ways to do it. But again, you have to first start up when you do show up? Have you shown up in a way that's going to attract those people? Are you telling them what they need to hear? Are you really living your mission? Are you being honest, all those things, you're gonna ruin your opportunity if you show up the wrong way. So that's why you start with branding and make sure that you're being very clear, then you show up and let the people start to see you. And that is how we start to get our clients to trim off the fat when it comes to recruiting, it's just about showing up in the right way in the right places.

Kerry Guard: I mean, even if you were to hire a recruiter, you need to have these things in place, regardless, and it's a difference between whether I mean, your mission, your vision, your values, that it's not different between whether you're recruiting or whether you're bringing on new clients. You don't change one to create the other. Right? So you need it for both, I think it's just a matter of actually putting the lens on media for both.

Amber Anderson: Right. So if you think about some of the companies that you know, like Nike is a tough company, right. But you might know them as a consumer for buying some of their other products. Target has one of the largest tech companies in the United States, they have more tech employees than some of the biggest ones. But you don't think of them as a tech company. You think of them as a retailer. They're a tech company. For example, I worked for an education company, we were a tech company. But education is a product that we produce. Everything is a tech company. So you're competing now, for companies that are big, that are massive other things that have already got brand recognition that have already sold people on their brand, through our consumers that way. Now, wouldn't it be awesome to go work for this company where you love their products, we have to get better at thinking about our brands differently, especially in B2B, to grab that attention to be able to stand out to show up in a good way and to tell our story so we can get people to come work for us. Because honestly, we're competing with everyone at this point,

Kerry Guard: Which is so hard.

Amber Anderson: It isn't if you can go back to the fundamentals of like, what are you doing? There's somebody out there for you, right that believes in you that wants to work in a small agency that wants to do digital recruiting, that wants to work for a CEO, that's a woman, there's value add in who you are, it's not about trying to worry about everybody else. It's about picking out what makes you super unique, and telling that story in a way that is perfect for your target audience.

Kerry Guard: It's so true. So in terms of this, we know we're talking about a lot of the Back to Basics, is that really where you come in is that where really all begins, is bringing in a company like yours who can put this lens on it for women for moms who are looking for that if you want to hire women and moms looking for jobs, bring in a company like yours to put that lens on your mission, vision and values. Does that mean that's all you're recruiting for or does that mean? You're just helping people and also include those people.

Amber Anderson: Yeah, so our focus is women and families. So even if you think that you're hiring a man who's more likely, if he's married to a woman, gonna ask his wife, there's the job opportunity, here's the hours, here's the location, we very rarely make these decisions in isolation. Right? So what we really are focused on is Women and Families, what are the things that this demographic needs, specifically. Women make up 47% of the workforce, in tech, or 25%, that means you're missing an opportunity. So that's the reason we set ourselves around women. And like we said, with families, it's now when you add on that parental layer, what are the needs, it's changed. So we're here to make sure it's clear, we all know how to recruit for everyone else. These are two different graphic layers that we feel really need some extra attention. So we can recruit and help you with everyone. But we're going to make sure that you're targeting this audience, which just ignored a lot. And that you're losing out on the opportunity to really connect with. The messaging and the story behind the scenes is going to seem like it's just generic, it's not like we're going to talk, hey, we're luring women, right? It's not about that, it's just making sure that we are including the needs of that demographic, which are so often missed, and will help you grab their attention by taking into account what they're looking for what they need, and telling them the story that they need to hear in order for them to resonate. So yeah, companies will pull Tote and Pears in when they're saying, you know, we recognize that we want to attract a more diverse talent pool, we're having challenges retaining certain demographics, and we want to have some new lenses added so we can make sure we're putting our reach on everyone, that would be a good fit. So, organization.

Kerry Guard: Last question for you, and then we're gonna wrap up, because I do think that this idea of retaining is important. And so do you help with the trait, like with the, you know, sort of laying the foundation of Okay, now, once you have an employee, what do you do now? Like, how do you keep them? And so what does that entail? What are some of your best practices of some of the things you tackle and help brands lay that groundwork? Because that's still mission vision values? Or is there something beyond that?

Amber Anderson: I mean, it's an experience. So just like if you were doing it for consumers, you're selling a product where they continue the continued ways that we have this conversation, and we stay engaged with our customers, same thing for employees, what they need, what would they like to hear from us? And what are ways that we can support them? So for every client, it's very different. For some clients, it might be content based, and event based. What is the content we produce? What are the events?

I'll give you an example. What is it now, seven years ago, we started an organization called War, which was centered around creating experiences for working parents. The reason we did that is we found a lot of working parents, once they had children they couldn't attend happy hours, they couldn't attend all the networking events that were going on. And all of them were at night or at a time when they were trying to tuck their children into bed or had to get off to pick the kids up from school. So as an organization, they were building, especially in tech, with these experiences around a demographic that didn't align with other people, right. So when parents needed to move on, they lost the opportunity to do promotions, they felt like they weren't connected to their teams, they just felt excluded. And so what we would do is we would say, Okay, here's our audience, what are the things that our audience needs? Let's build some events and make some family friendly. Mind blown, right? Let's have happy hours for children, museums, let's do creative things in which we can make sure everyone - that kind of stuff happening is part of the brand, we identify who our audiences are. And we have a conversation about what does that person need at every stage of their journey, and we will stay with the company to make sure that they're able as their employees change, or the culture changes or the environment changes? What does my audience mean now? How do I give that to them? That's an ongoing forever, you know, changing evolution, that is exciting, if you understand how valuable it is to create an account and curate this amazing workforce, right? And it's the same thing we do for our customers. We change our narrative, we change our ad content, we change our graphics, sometimes we'll do partnerships, sometimes we'll do events, things like that.

Kerry Guard: It comes back to our very original conversation around intersectionality, right, of really understanding people where they are literally physically and also what connects them and so, so good, ever so good to have you back.

Before we close out, I do have my three people-first questions, which is just nice to pull back the curtain. We're all human and we're more than just marketer so we have lives outside of our jobs. It's true. We like to at least pretend sometimes.

Amber Anderson: I'll say all day long I'm a human. So what’s that?

Kerry Guard: I love it. I love it. Okay, so the last 18 months have turned our lives upside down. And at the beginning, we were all stuck at home, maybe coming out of the pandemic, but you know, what new hobbies have you picked up, if any, in the last 18 months?

Amber Anderson: You know, I used to work out a lot. I'm a former athlete, I played softball at Arizona State. And I just lost sight of the opportunity to get out and do as much exercising as I really wanted. So being able to get back into exercise mode with my seven and a half year old, and my husband has been amazing. So we picked up some biking, we picked up some rocking, we did a little bit of track work, it just felt really good to, you know, kind of get, get back into it. Get away from the day to day routine and see what life looks like through the eyes of a seven year old who can run all day. So that's probably the biggest day.

Kerry Guard: All day, I wish I could just hold up my children's energy, we would make billions.

Amber Anderson: We'd be done. Yeah. They've got it all, they've taken the energy. I'd say for mine.

Kerry Guard: I have just a tiny bit of it. I feel like I can. So much further. Ah, so good. If you were in an office with your team, or when you guys can all get back together, maybe you're starting to figure that out? What song would you want playing to sort of set the tone of that feeling of gathering and being together?

Amber Anderson: That's funny. So we're also very different. And the sad thing is I have shifted into classical music. Because I think to calm my nerves in the midst of data and compartmentalizing the focus, there's a video game we really love. And we're really starting to get into VR, AR. And so just being able to see the amazing things that are happening between the bridge of video games and life. But there's a video game that's older called HUE, and my seven year old can play it. It's two dimensional, but it's all classical music, and I really enjoy that. So I probably would play that. And then the young people on my team would be like, like, why are we buying them to go, and we probably let them play their playlists. I think each of us would probably pick whatever songs got us through that moment. And then allow ourselves to kind of laugh and smile and just embrace the differences amongst us.

Kerry Guard: I love it.

Amber Anderson: I would also probably say Hamilton, I really love the Hamilton soundtrack.

Kerry Guard: It’s so good. Yeah, like repeating in my head. I also feel like a word will happen like I just feel so I don't know if this is like a good thing to say I'm gonna say it anyway, but because of hurricane Ida I've been seeing the hurricane song from Hamilton like it's just like right at the the visual of that moment of him standing on that chair in the middle of this hurricane. It's just -

Amber Anderson: So good. One of my favorites. I think that came out of the pandemic we watched on Disney plus.

Kerry Guard: So good. Finally if you could travel anywhere without consequence given the world we live in right now, where would you go and why?

Amber Anderson: This is funny. So again, I think about my story. When I was really young, my plane got hit by lightning so I hate traveling. So I am I would love to in theory go to Bora Bora but I think my anxiety will get the best of me and I used to travel all the time when I play softball we traveled, when I worked we traveled, I just I was so madly in love with my best yeah but I would say an island without if I didn't have to fly there I would for sure say like a beautiful island with clear water. My husband always wanted to do something like that. That's what we would probably do in Bora Bora, Fiji.

Kerry Guard: That sounds amazing. My husband and I actually met in Hawaii, fun fact. Clearwater blue sky, you know, it's not quite as far as Bora Bora. But you still gotta fly I'm sorry to say and after that. Yeah, I can imagine that would be tricky.

Amber Anderson: I mean, I was like eight, but I still remember it so I didn't feel like it but I can do it.

Kerry Guard: Fair enough. Fair enough. But it's been a while and the desk is a nice, lovely place that we've all gotten accustomed to. I like mind very much to standing -

Amber, so good to see you. Thank you for joining me again for being back and for your wisdom. Recruiting is a whole new world now. And we are better off having listened to your story and knowing more about the women and the challenges they are facing and how we can help them. So thank you for that.

Amber Anderson: Thank you so much for having me, Kerry.


That was my conversation with Amber Anderson. Look, it's a tough market out there. In terms of hiring, there's a ton of people looking, which is great. But they have the power to choose where they want to go, because everyone, including us, is hiring. So lots of people are looking but lots of people are hiring. So if you're ready to embrace, if you haven't already, a real flexible workplace environment where you trust your employees to do the work, and give them the supportive environment to do it. Then connect with Amber on LinkedIn or visit Tote and Pears and see how they could help you find the right diverse workforce you know you need, we all need.

Amber, thank you so much for joining me, it was so great to have you back on. What an honor.

And thank you for tuning into season 10. Keep on going as our next episode is with Peter Zaballos on Heart Centered Leadership. That's not what Peter calls it. But that's what my business coach Todd Palmer calls it. And I think it's such a beautiful way to really sum up how Peter leads. Managers, listen up and lean into this one. You can't help wanting to be a better leader to the people you're managing after listening to this episode. Can't help it. You're going to want to lean in and take notes. And I encourage you to go get a notebook right now, while you keep on keeping on.

Thank you again for listening to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders, the podcast that helps brands get found via transparent measurable digital marketing. I'm your host, Kerry Guard, and until next time.

This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex tech companies like cybersecurity, grow their businesses and fuel their mission through SEO, digital ads, and analytics.

Hosted by Kerry Guard, CEO co-founder MKG Marketing. Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.

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