Jake Hall The Manufacturing Millennial

Jake Hall

"I said, what other ways can I create a non-directive approach to let them know that I am still here? By taking the non-aggressive approach I said, okay, I'm going to start creating content daily on LinkedIn, talking about different problems in the industry. And this is kind of how how my content really took off."

00:00-03:51 Introduction and building relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic

03:51-08:30 How The Manufacturing Millennial was created

08:30-10:13  Which social media platforms Jake Hall has found to be the most effective 

10:13-20:13     Secret sauce for gaining over 3 million views in less than nine months

20:13- 23:30 More pro tips from Jake Hall- mentor the next generation and create a foundation

23:30-23:46  How to reach Jake Hall and closing

Rob Hughes (00:03):

How to go from zero to over 3 million views in nine months on LinkedIn. Today, we interviewed The Manufacturing Millennial, Jake Hall, on The Thrive Collective. Hey, business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders. Welcome to The Thrive Collective. You know, this is your show to help you make more money, avoid costly mistakes, and fully integrate your faith into your life and leadership. I am Rob Hughes, your host. It is a joy to serve you. And I’ll tell you what today. We got a story to share with y’all today. A friend of mine, Jake Hall is joining us The Manufacturing Millennial. So here’s the deal. Jake works in business development in the manufacturing space. And we’re talking about a field that was hit hard in March of 2020, when COVID locked up the United States. And Jake built an online tribe and audience from zero to over 3 million video views using social media in nine months. This is huge. He basically has cracked the code that many of you are looking for. And based on his experience, we’re here to learn how in the world that that gets done today. So I’m so excited to have Jake would love to welcome Jake to The Thrive Collective. So, Hey Jake, how are you doing?

Jake Hall (01:33):

I’m great, Rob. Thanks for having me on. It’s great to have this conversation.

Rob Hughes (01:38):

Yeah. Your world has got to feel a little bit like a whirlwind over the last year. As we record this, the pandemic is not actually even a full year old in the U S right now, or at least our perception of it. But you, my friend, you have built an audience fast and an enormous following. Let’s just start in square one: manufacturing and business development. This is traditionally kind of that handshake and bring in donuts in business development world. Isn’t it like? In-Person is that true?

Jake Hall (02:11):

Yeah, absolutely. I would say for the long time, it’s always been that ideology of knocking on Jimmy’s doors saying, Jimmy, how you doing? You want to grab lunch today? Tell me what’s going on. And things have changed.

Rob Hughes (02:22):

So the essence of that, the handshakes, the door knocks, whatever it’s about building relationship, taking Jimmy out for lunch. But you know, then the pandemic throws a curve ball into that shuts everything down. You can’t go to restaurants, but that didn’t stop you from building relationships. So tell us, like introduce kind of your backstory and what happened last year to The Thrive Collective.

Jake Hall (02:44):

Yeah, absolutely. So, so let’s kind of go back to the beginning. For seven years after I graduated from Grand Valley, with my engineering degree, I went into industrial sales. So industrial sales within a distributor, we worked with basically two types of clients. One would be the custom machine builder. Who’s making all the automation equipment out there. And the other side is the end user. During that time you developed a lot of relationships with both these core groups and it was a lot of face-to-face conversation that was happening. And when COVID hit, businesses were shut down, manufacturing facilities were shut down. Anyone who was not considered a vital person to be working there was told to work from home. So I would say 90% of my daily conversations was eliminated with basically an order to say everyone’s worked from home. So I had to go back and rethink how I would communicate with my clients, how I would find new opportunities and continue to grow these relationships.

Rob Hughes (03:51):

What I love at this moment of your story is you took ownership over that conversation. The mindset of saying, okay, circumstances changed. How do I press through this? You gave yourself agency. A good friend of mine, Don Miller says, you have an internal locus of control where you say, you know what circumstances are, what they are. I got to make the best of this. So, so what did you do? What was your next step?

Jake Hall (04:18):

I would say this goes back to how The Manufacturing Millennial started and how I took a turning point back in March of last year. And I say, you know what, I’m going to do this and I’m going to grow something. So when I was in distribution, Rob, there was an organization that I was a part of where all these distribution owners and leaders would meet twice a year to get together in a room at some resort in California or Florida. And they get together and talk about the housing industry. What’s happening, what things are changing. One point in time when I was sitting in that room with all these other business leaders, I looked across the room and I looked at what is the age demographic? And I realized really quickly that I was one of maybe two or three other people in that audience of 400 people that was under the age of 40.

Jake Hall (05:04):

And I said the distribution and the manufacturing industry. And we can look at all the data too is completely unrepresentative when it comes to the millennials and the gen Zs, what we consider the future workforce of manufacturing. And I said, I need to find ways to start working with manufacturers and starting talking to them and then approaching them on a different way that excites younger generations about manufacturing. And what excites young generations? Well, technology, social media, and how we can incorporate those two together in a lot of aspects. Jumping forward to March. I said, okay, I can’t see a lot of these customers face to face. So how do I engage with them? Emails and text messages are great. I think everyone definitely took the webinar approach for the first month or two with people working from home. But we know how quickly that died off.

Jake Hall (05:53):

Everyone got pretty webinar burned out within the first couple months. I said, what other ways can I create a non-directive approach to let them know that I am still here. By taking the non-aggressive approach I said, okay, I’m going to start creating content daily on LinkedIn, talking about different problems in the industry. And then I would say, you know, Rob, this is kind of how, how my content really took off and the approach I did. I said, I need to keep people’s attention. So therefore I can’t make a five or 10 minute video. I got to keep it short and sweet. I got to keep it under 60 seconds. So that was one of my first things. The other thing that I looked at when I created content was how can I relate to someone? And I think this is a lot of times, especially within the manufacturing world that they miss.

Jake Hall (06:38):

Let’s face a lot of manufacturers and people, they’re engineers. They have engineer mindset. They have this ideal where I need to give them the latest spec sheets and information and tell them why my is so great with A, B and C specifications. Well, that’s not really what matters. What matters to a lot of people is identifying the problem that exists and positioning yourself in a way as a subject matter expert. Or I call an SME that says, I can have a detailed conversation about this topic with you to know that no matter what product I bring to the table, you know, that I am bringing you the best solution. So really quickly, you know, as they went to creating this content, I said, I need to create a way where I don’t bore them out with details, but identify a problem that they can relate to and then create content.

Rob Hughes (07:27):

Brilliant. So you took out the, the role of a teacher sharing valuable ideas and illustrations with them where, you know, traditional sales approach, if you will, business development might be, Hey, you got 10 minutes. I could talk to you, call me now, let’s buy now, buy now, buy from me. You know, sometimes when I’m teaching in seminar, I’ll say picture two personas door to door salesperson, and a school teacher. Knowing nothing else other than those two personas, who do you trust? We trust the teacher. Because inherently we look at a door to door salesperson as they want something from us, but the difference with a school teacher, an educator, a subject matter expert as Jake calls, is they want something for you. They’re giving ideas. And so I just applaud your effort in that Jake. You’ve created content that’s interesting. So social media, you could choose a lot of different ways to do that. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, what social media platforms have you found to be effective and what led you to choose those?

Jake Hall (08:30):

The platform I started on was LinkedIn. And the reason why I started on LinkedIn, Rob was because I felt that that’s where most of my target audience existed in which a way I can curate relationships. And that was the big thing with my last job was developing relationships. And I still wanted to do that. If I go out on a platform like Facebook or YouTube or Instagram, I can’t have those detailed conversations in my opinion that those other platforms provide. I can go on LinkedIn, find out that I’m connected to Dave over at company, ABC, Luke, who else works at ABC and asked Dave for an introduction. I don’t have that networking ability on any other social platform as of now. So selecting LinkedIn allow me to not only establish and keep growing the relationships that existed. I was able to use that as a platform to then every time a person liked or shared my video, every single one of their connections also saw that they liked and shared my video. And that’s where this growth of followers and views happen significantly because I get an average of twice as many views on my videos as I currently have in terms of followers.

Rob Hughes (09:47):

Isn’t that something? So the anatomy of these videos, Jake, I think that’s your secret sauce between that and as you mentioned, the, the highly connection, relational, LinkedIn of seeing who’s connected to who in the, in the professional space. Break it down for us, the anatomy of these videos, what are you putting in there that’s creating that secret magic sauce that grew you to over 3 million views in less than nine months?

Jake Hall (10:13):

It’s hard to conceptualize this. I don’t advertise or put like company logos and contact information on any of these videos. And for companies that reach out to me and saying, Hey, we want to feature your video and we want you to use this format and all this stuff. We want to have our company logo here at the beginning. And at the end, they said, that’s great, you can do that, but I’m not going to feature that. Because I think our human mentality is we want to go against what we think we should be told to do. And a lot of people, they have all these advertisements constantly placed in front of them and that they feel like it’s an advertisement or they’re trying to be sold something they’re going to keep on scrolling. And so when I, when I’m able to take these videos, I make it in a way where it’s an informative process.

Jake Hall (10:59):

I’m not trying to sell you anything directly. I’m just here to show you something you might not have learned before, or you might not have known this is how a specific manufacturing process happens. And then what I’m finding, Rob is people who want to know more about that are going to like that video or comment or share it or engage with me. And that way every conversation I’m having a LinkedIn as a result of one that’s generated from a video is an actual opportunity rather than me just blinding and throwing information out there and seeing what sticks.

Rob Hughes (11:33):

Yeah. It’s almost like relationally folks are interacting with these videos and opting in. They’re engaging with you, they’re reaching out and they’re qualified. They trust you as a teacher, not just as a sales person.

Commercial Break:

Thrive Collective family. Just want to pause from our program to say, thank you. Thank you for listening, subscribing and thank you for being a faithful follower of The Thrive Collective podcast. You know, we bring guests on this show with excellent ideas centered around helping small businesses accelerate growth. Would you like to be one of those guests on a future episode? Hey, we’d love to invite you to apply. Simply click the link in the description and perhaps we’ll hear you on a future episode of this show. Okay. Now back to our scheduled program.

So for those of us who have not yet seen a Manufacturing Millennial video, give us an example, like describe a couple of videos, just how simple these videos are. Jake, give us an example of some of the processes that you’ve illustrated using video. Yeah.

Jake Hall (12:39):

These videos, my goal is to keep them under 90 seconds long, so a rather short video. And in the top of the video is always, there is a four to six letter description of what is happening in the process. And it could be everything from automated, you know, beverage packaging to AR interaction with assembly or robotic bin picking. It’s, it’s one of those things where, you know, keeping it super short and sweet, where they’re going to see something it’s going to bring their attention and draw them in. And the one thing that I’ve learned with my videos is having a personal brand attached. I think that’s the one thing that I haven’t mentioned yet, Rob, is the manufacturing. Millennial is a personal brand. It’s this idea that I’m creating around myself where I would say more people on LinkedIn, know me as The Manufacturer Millennial than my actual name, Jake Hall. And that’s because of this brand that I’m creating people whenever they see this video, it’s a blue video with a blue header, a blue bottom, and a, a blue baseball cap with my cartoon figure on it. And people message me and say, Oh man, whenever I’m going through my newsfeed, I’ll see that. And I’ll see your, you know, cartoon figure and I’ll stop because I know exactly what it is. I’m going to get a short video about manufacturing that had never seen before.

Rob Hughes (13:54):

And so these are simple videos, like you’re literally capturing these as you’re on production floors or in with clients or are in a manufacturing facility. Is that right?

Jake Hall (14:04):

Yeah. I mean, there’s definitely points that I’m capturing, but I would say Rob, a lot of it is as well companies sending me video that they already have. And I’m just taking that information and really knocking down a video that’s seven and a half minutes, condensing it into what I think is actually important or interesting and pumping it out in 60 seconds. And what’s super exciting about this. This, Rob, is I posted a video yesterday at 9:00 AM and that video has curated more views on LinkedIn than that company’s entire YouTube page with all of over 50 videos on their YouTube page that’s been in existence since 2010. My one video has curated more views than their entire YouTube platform. It just shows the power of this influence in social media, but also the fact of when you create your content in a way that highlights a problem that you’re solving rather than the product that you’re producing, it creates a lot more engagement.

Rob Hughes (15:10):

I love that Jake, that is phenomenal advice and that’s true for any branding and messaging. And our work as a StoryBrand Certified Guide. It’s true. The problem is the story in a good told story. If I told you the next Die Hard 45 was coming out in Bruce Willis, the whole thing was about Bruce Willis taking his daughter out for ice cream. Would you go see that movie? I mean, none of us would. But if I said, well, on the way the ice cream, she gets kidnapped and he has to single-handedly rescue her now, would you go see that movie? Then the answer is, well yeah, now there’s a plot line. So something happened. It’s the problem. The problem was clearly defined. And so you’ve basically created videos, highlighting a solution to a problem. This is how plastic gets extruded. This is how brushes are made. This is how certain elements in the manufacturing process are done. Things that we probably take for granted, but now seeing it, it’s like, oh, that’s, that’s very interesting. And you’re gaining a following from that.

Jake Hall (16:09):

Absolutely. And I would say, you know, along with my videos, LinkedIn allows you to put about two to three sentences on your top of your video that you can fill in the information before that person’s required to click more information to view the rest of it. So within that two to three sentence, I always try and highlight something interesting about that product or about that process. It’s almost like today I learned type of philosophy. Where there is a video I did probably about a month ago about the alcohol beverage industry and it was talking about six robots that were doing a bunch of palletizing of these bear cases. So in my video, my main content that I talked about was listen, e-commerce purchasing of beer and stay at home has gone up 43% since COVID well, that’s an interesting fact, and that makes a lot of other companies look at okay, what’s happened to the logistics industry ever since COVID happened.

Jake Hall (17:05):

Well, why is that happening? What it does is it creates a lot of conversation that then people will then type, put down in the comments. And then the LinkedIn algorithm is going to see that people on different platforms in different markets are engaging in my video. And that’s what makes it trending on LinkedIn. Because there’s something really interesting that I found on LinkedIn, I can share a video right now, I have about 15,000 followers right now on LinkedIn, Rob, and LinkedIn does not share that video to every single person. LinkedIn will share that to a specific amount of people. And if that portion of people like and comment on that video, then they will take that and separate that and send it to the rest of the people. It’s the same thing with your newsfeed on, on Facebook or Twitter, they don’t send it to everybody. They’ll send it to a specific group. And then from that information, they’ll spread that if it’s an engaging piece of content, having people liking comment, your video or say, wow, that’s really interesting. I didn’t know about that. And you’re putting a fact in there for people to relate at established to makes them that video get more traffic.

Rob Hughes (18:08):

So if I hear the principle here is to give content that people want to comment and affirm or acknowledge or ask questions on or interact with. But those comments, those likes really make a difference.

Jake Hall (18:20):

Oh, 100%. And that’s the two option approach that we can take. One is you can take a video and you can talk about the problem that it’s solving and then hopefully other people have that problem and they can comment on to that. Or you could just simply say, this is a robot that can do 2000 parts per minute packing that has a payload of 80 kg. Who’s going to comment on that when you create a separation between the problem and the solution, and then the product, you’re going to find a huge line. When, in terms of when people start engaging and that’s with every industry, that’s not just manufacturing, that’s an industry. How do you create a conversation for people to talk about versus for them just to say, oh, that’s cool. And then keep moving.

Rob Hughes (19:02):

Yeah. So don’t download information to them. Invite your viewers into a story, invite your viewers into the problem in the solution and have them feel that tension of how it is solved. And I’ll tell you Thrive Collective family. This is true. The principles that Jake is sharing with you transcend any one industry. These are universal principles that if you bring them to your social media, to your audiences, it will engage, it will expand, it will grow your tribe. So talk about the problems that they face. You know, a tip that you mentioned in clients and teaching is to have people sit down and brainstorm a list of a hundred questions. You think your ideal audience is asking in Googling for Jake. It’s a highly technical thing that they’re asking clearly, and he’s solving that. But you listening to this brainstorm on a legal pad, a hundred questions, you think people are Googling and questioning in, in, in holding in their mind. And can you provide the solution to that? Whether it be in short video clips, blogs, vlogs, and so on, because that’s ultimately, if you solve their problems, they’ll follow. Any other pro tips that you’ve picked up over the last nine really short months, Jake, that you would want to share with The Thrive Collective family.

Jake Hall (20:13):

Yeah, absolutely. And this goes back to my passion about supporting and mentoring the next generation of people. And this, in this case is the manufacturing industries where I have a huge passion for getting younger people involved with the industry. It’s take that younger person in your company that you work with, who is comfortable getting in front of a camera. Who’s comfortable working with social media and creating conversation and give them a platform to stand on where they can really go out and create conversation on a platform. And I’ll give it from my perspective where I’m a millennial and I love getting in front of a camera and having conversations. I think it’s fantastic. And when you go out there and you generate conversation about an industry in particular, in my case, it’s manufacturing. And then around that, it’s this thing called industry 4.0 and IOT, the internet of things.

Jake Hall (21:09):

And when I go out and we talk about those conversations, I’m not talking anything specifically about what my business does. Companies get too focused on something that’s specific related to them and never engage a broader audience. There’s a lot of things in manufacturing, just like there’s a lot of things in other industries. And even though you might not be the expert on everything within your industry or what you’re specialized on, if you create broad enough conversation where you’re beginning to pull in other people who might not have been in your network, that’s where you get a following in conversation. So that’s the big thing. Take younger generations of people out there and have them start talking about topics that are relative to your industry. And create content on if it’s once a week, if it’s twice a week, or have them on a podcast like we are right now . Rob, I know you’re not involved with industry 4.0 and IOT and manufacturing, and to an extent you’re not on a floor, figuring out how they can improve in SCADA system. But yet we still have a foundation when it relates to growing businesses and mentoring people. It’s not about manufacturing. It’s not about implementing the latest technology. It’s about how I developed a personal brand specific to my industry that can generate conversation about problems we’re trying to solve. And that personal brand can be any industry out there with anyone that wants to follow that.

Rob Hughes (22:35):

Just brilliance of carve out that personal brand for yourself or somebody on your team. I can guarantee you that if I were in the manufacturing space and the idea of millennials came up, Jake’s name would come to mind, he’s branded himself in nine short months to become The Manufacturing Millennial, to really speak to that space. And you know what, the proof’s in the pudding. It’s not just saying that. I mean over 3 million views, 15,000 followers in that short time horizon, that’s huge, absolutely huge. So Jake, I just gotta say, thank you for your generosity. Thank you for helping businesses accelerate their growth by solving interesting problems. And thanks for your time invested with The Thrive Collective family today. If any of our Thrive Collective family members want to reach out, quite frankly, if you’re listening to this and you own a manufacturing company and you need some of Jake’s services, how would they go about reaching out to you and connect with Jay?

Jake Hall (23:30):

I would say the best place is on LinkedIn, you know, search The Manufacturer Millennial or Jake Hall. And you’ll find me I’m I’m wearing the blue baseball cap and all my photos. So I’m pretty easy to pick up. But then also, if you wanted to, you can go on my website, themanufacturingmillennial.com and find some more information there. 

Rob Hughes (23:46):

So Jake hauled The Manufacturing Millennial we’ll put links to your bio in the show notes as well, a Thrive Collective. This truly is. Do you want to talk about accelerating your growth? What would growth do for you? Just imagine, I don’t know if it’s 15,000 followers and 3 million views, but if you were to grow a tribe, imagine the revenue generation that would be possible for your organization. And if you’re able to put interesting content out, thus building your reputation and your organization’s legacy, avoid the costly missteps that you would avoid. And also, I know Jake personally as well. I know he’s a man of God. I know he’s a man of faith. So you think about this, you know, Thrive Collective. We’re speaking to you, business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders. This is your show. And, Jake, I’m so glad to have you in to share with us the topics that we cover for you or to help you grow your revenue, avoid costly mistakes, fully integrate your faith into your life leadership. Thanks for investing this time listening to the episode today and Thrive Collective family, go see Jake Hall. We’ll put a link to his information in the show notes, Jake. Thank you. Thrive Collective. We’ll see at the next one.

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