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Here’s Lee Frederiksen, Managing Partner at Hinge

Jerome Knyszewski

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This is a photo of Lee Frederiksen, managing partner at Hinge

Lee Frederiksen means a lot of things to Hinge. As managing partner, he leads the company’s research efforts in understanding the marketing approach of several big and high-growth firms.

According to the Hinge website, Lee Frederiksen employs a “research-based approach to the marketing of professional services firms.” Why follow this approach? Lee answers that marketers haven’t undertaken their research into this field with quite the necessary rigor. Working in this field excites him. As a research pioneer, Lee is thrilled to conduct research in the growth of organizations, analyzing the steps they take to reach even more success.

Before going to Hinge, Lee Frederiksen had obtained his Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology and became a tenured professor. However, he left academia behind to lead the Organizational Consulting Practice at an accounting and consulting form belonging to the “Big 8.” When he became an entrepreneur, Lee never looked back. He has found his calling. Since then, he has focused his work on helping businesses grow.

His training as a behavioral psychologist has influenced the business strategy he deploys for his work. Lee Frederiksen’s training also made him keenly interested in human behavior and its effects on business growth.

Lee Frederiksen has also written several books based on his research. These books include The Visible Expert, Online Marketing for Professional Services, Spiraling Up, and Inside the Buyer’s Brain. His work has also appeared in professional journals as well as the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and Advertising Age.

Through his work, Lee Frederiksen has also toured the world to give lectures on strategy, marketing, and organizational management. Watch Lee in action through this video.

Check out more in-depth interviews with industry leaders here.

 

Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?

Lee Frederiksen: Our research on employer branding shows that culture and purpose are priorities to job seekers across all career phases, especially in competitive markets. Organizations with a healthy culture and purpose can attract and retain key talent. They can also attract partners and resources that share the same overriding purpose.

Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?

Lee Frederiksen: I’ve had to manage through the same challenge, as have our clients. The root cause of such standstills is often being out of sync with your market. Maybe you don’t have the right products or the right promotions or the right delivery. You can break out of a slump by doing research on your audiences and competitors. What are your audiences most concerned about? And how are you better and different from your competitors?

Your growth can also stall because you simply lack the resources to continue growing. In professional services, this is often because you can’t recruit people fast enough to serve more clients.

Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

Lee Frederiksen: Having observed the economy cycle through peaks and troughs over the past few decades, I’ve seen businesses lose traction in difficult times once they lose confidence in their ability to grow. They start to view the failure of other businesses as portents of their own failure. Rather than address the issues, they are paralyzed by them. Once they’ve convinced themselves that there’s nothing they can do, they end up talking themselves out of even those activities that could save the business. The key here is to do the research and question the assumptions we make when we analyze the data. Otherwise, we allow our filters to distort our own data.

Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

Lee Frederiksen: How do you strike a balance between optimism and paranoia? You need a healthy level of both to run a company. Without it, people lose hope, trust, and confidence that they can get through hard times. On the other hand, they must keep a vigilant eye on what can go wrong so they can change course quickly if they have to.

Another delicate balance is that between making quick decisions and doing the research to make the right decision. One extreme can lead to rash decisions and the other, to analysis paralysis.

Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?

Lee Frederiksen: Behind every purchase is the intention to solve a problem. Getting prospects through the funnel is a process in building up their trust in your ability to help them. This is no more true than in professional services, where buyers look to sellers for answers and sellers educate in order to convert. Market research is a crucial first step to gaining mastery of your audience and your place in the sandbox. It helps you understand your target audiences’ challenges enough to speak to them directly, decide whether they’re worth solving, and choose the best approach for the situation.

Implementing a content marketing program is another important step. Every piece of content acquaints your audience with your expertise and draws them closer to conversion. By making this content not only educational but easy to access, you further cement their confidence in your ability and earn their good will.

Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?

Lee Frederiksen: In B2B marketing, especially professional services marketing, there are three dimensions to your brand’s strength: reputation, visibility, and relevance to your target audience. When you strengthen any or, more ideally, all three, you fortify your brand. There are five strategies to build up all three. First, develop and distribute online content that educates your audience on the most effective ways to solve their problems. If you write articles or produce videos that educate rather than promote, and share them online, your audiences will more easily find you and link your expertise to addressing their problems.

Second, raise the profile of your organization’s experts. Most companies have experts who remain largely unknown outside their client groups. If you showcase their expertise through insightful podcasts or articles, to name a few, you’ll build up their personal brands, which, in turn, will give your corporate brand a boost. In psychology circles, we call this the halo effect.

Third, partner with reputable brands that target similar audiences without offering competing services or products. In professional services, partnering with recognized, reputable industry or trade associations will bolster your credibility and visibility. In today’s low-trust unpredictable environment, a trusted third-party’s validation of your expertise will help you stand out from competitors.

Fourth, grow your presence in social media. Everyone is looking for what they need online. Our research shows that professional services buyers are using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, in this order, for business. Now that in-person events are on hold, you’ll want to increase your visibility online. Your website and these platforms are good channels for spreading your educational content.

Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?

Lee Frederiksen: Any business leader should keep their finger on the pulse of their audiences’ pains and goals and how they work. Delighting customers starts with understanding their emotional and practical needs and what they’ll find remarkably helpful and unanticipated. Help them address consequential problems that seemed unsolvable or that were off their radar until you brought it up.

Find out what they are and watch them closely. Are they linked to speed, quality, variety, depth, or empathy. Chances are factors will shift.

Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Lee Frederiksen: You need social media to be visible. These platforms are great channels for spreading expert insights and ideas. But if you have an unhealthy organizational culture or disgruntled clients, social media will amplify a bad reputation. If you have anything to be ashamed of, you should be afraid. This is not an issue I’m concerned about. And you shouldn’t be if you lay the groundwork for good stakeholder management — whether that’s you managing the team or you and your team managing clients.

To minimize the risk of being called out by employees and clients, cultivate a healthy workplace culture and frequently communicate and share your insights with clients, respectively. The more relevant your expertise to the client’s business challenges, the more they’ll want you to communicate with them. Another risk mitigation strategy is to have a purpose, plan, and policies for your use of social media.

Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Lee Frederiksen: What I find common is the copycat strategy. Founders build a business model based on competitors’ business models then charge less. They skip finding out what their target market needs and how they can fulfill those needs in better ways.

Another mistake, one that’s easy to make when you don’t research your target market, is to offer too much at the start rather than specialize. It undercuts your ability to differentiate your business and to deliver value effectively and efficiently.

Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Lee Frederiksen: It would be a movement around spending more time listening and less expressing oneself. Don’t be afraid of silence.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Lee Frederiksen: Readers can follow me on @LeeFrederiksen and LinkedIn.

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

 

Jerome Knyszewski is the Reputation Management Expert with the most recommendations and endorsements on the professional network, LinkedIn. His specialties are Online Reputation Management & Marketing, Strategic Alliances, Business Growth Strategies, He is a best selling author and Professional Speaker.

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