Fran Biderman-Gross, Advantages
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for GWBC Radio’s Open for Business. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here broadcasting live from the 2022 WBENC National Conference inside the GWBC booth, Booth 1812, if you want to come by and see us. I’m so excited to have our guest, Fran from Advantages. I just followed your lead, Fran, so don’t give me a hard time. Don’t start second guessing not telling me your last name.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:00:37] Fran Biderman-Gross.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:38] You could do that. That’s on you.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:00:40] I’m just Fran. I’m good.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:41] You said Frantastic.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:00:43] I did.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:43] You gave me a lot of options, so don’t blame me.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:00:45] I’ve been called a lot of things.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:48] So, tell us about Advantages. How are you serving folks?
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:00:50] Sure. We drive profit with purpose through marketing performance. So, we are a purpose-based, values-based organization that helps purpose-driven leaders.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:03] Other purpose-based organizations.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:01:04] Yeah. Exactly. Get their message out from the branding and marketing perspective.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:07] So, what’s your backstory? How’d you get into this line of work?
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:01:09] Oh, my gosh. You ask the fun questions. So, my late husband and I started a mere kind of printing company, and we just kind of kept –
Lee Kantor: [00:01:19] A printing company?
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:01:20] Yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:20] For authors? Or printing, like, brochures.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:01:25] No. No. Brochures. Authors. No. The book came much later. So, we were helping companies get noticed. We’ve really been very true to that message for the last, literally, October is going to be 30 years. Today is actually his an anniversary. I lost him 21 years ago, just before 9/11, after a two year battle. But long live the dream of visionary in Visionary Land of helping purpose-based individuals or very intentional leaders do the really great things that they do. So, we did start in printing.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:57] So, the heart of it was always around that purpose-based, values- based?
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:02:00] I was going to say, you know, good people want to want to work with good people. That’s really the bottom line. And we really love working with good people. And we want to attract good people to them. And we want to help them lead great cultures that are really intentional. And we want to help them with the clarity of their message, hence the brand component to what we do.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:22] But was that a strategic choice or was this something that, “Hey, this is just how we are, why don’t we just hang out with other folks like us?” Like, how did this come about? Like, did you start out that that is the mission?
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:02:35] Definitely not. We wanted to really help other companies get noticed. We wanted them to stand out from their competition. But when we started to really build the relationships, and good people just tend to stick with good people, good people doing good things. Look, we buy stuff from people we like, right?
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:02:54] So, we tend to do business with people that are similar to us, and what we believe in, and realizing that there is a communication strategy called purpose. And really diving into that got us going from goods to services, and really helping build the internal side of how I’ve dissected a brand which is into your three keys, which is really how you lead your culture from an internal perspective. And the agency just does it on the external side.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:24] So, the heart of it was you noticed some characteristics and you’re like, “Hey, instead of just hoping the next client has some of these characteristics, let’s just hone in on people who believe what we believe.”
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:03:41] Exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:41] “Who think like we think and let’s serve them.”
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:03:44] Exactly. So, when you think about it, why do you exist? Why do I exist? I know this can get into a very interesting conversation. But we think about, Why am I here? Why is this business here? What am I willing to fight for? What am I willing to stand for?
Lee Kantor: [00:04:03] And what am I willing to say no to? Well, that’s part of it, too, right?
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:04:06] A hundred percent. When you think about the theory of purpose in general or why, you want to actually repel the wrong people as much as you want to attract. So, to me, it’s a two for one. Because you don’t want a ton of people in the funnel. You don’t want to attract a thousand people. I actually want a hundred people in the funnel because they’re more likely to be more like me. So, I don’t want to attract the mass. I want to attract the people that believe the things that I believe, we have a much better shot of building a really great emotional connection.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:38] And building a business that matters about the things that matter to me.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:04:43] Exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:43] And that’s really at the heart of it. And especially with these professional services and the service-based businesses, they don’t need a million customers that they burn and churn through. That isn’t a good model for them. It’s not efficient. It’s not effective. It doesn’t make them feel good at the end of the day. These folks need a handful of new clients. That’s it. They don’t need a million.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:05:01] A hundred percent. I mean, you walk away from a conference this big, if you walk away with just a couple of really good connections, it could completely be life changing. So, it’s not about let’s pound the pavement, stop at every booth, figure out who every supplier is, and who’s the decision maker. Yes, you need a strategy to come here. But you need to leave with the strategy at the same time, because otherwise you’re just putting a lot of stuff in the funnel.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:25] And that’s going to take up time, distract you, and maybe get you even off course.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:05:29] Exactly. I like to say, we flip the funnel and make a megaphone. Amplify your one message so that you can attract and repel at the rate. And then, you can just spend a lot more of your time talking to people who most likely believe you’ll find the alignment somewhere, whether you’re a perfect fit or they need my service right now, it just doesn’t matter. You’re building the world.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:52] So, when you were doing this and you were starting out doing, you know, brochures or whatever you were doing at the beginning, when did you start feeling, “Hey, you know what? This attraction and getting the right people, this is a better fit.” Like, when did you start kind of getting the hint that maybe we’re onto something here?
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:06:08] You know, that’s a great question. So, for ten plus years, I was the printing princess, getting noticed, carrying a wand, all these things, and I have a pretty outgoing personality, so people would remember me. And it was just too many people.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:06:22] And then, I met Simon Sinek long before his TEDx Talk at an event. And this might sound really bad, but it was an event at the Entrepreneurs Organization and it was, like, bring your marketing and bring your best piece. So, I did. And we have award winning graphic design and award winning blah, blah, blah. And I brought my best piece and then he just ripped it apart. And I’m like, “Do you not know me?” I was insulted beyond control, thinking in my chair.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:52] I’m a princess.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:06:52] I know. I was like, “Just, whatever, bleep,” all over me. But I was curious about, like, what does this magnetic connection really mean? And we began a phenomenal friendship of exploration. And we worked together for a long time just exploring, you know, how does this start with why things work? Oh, there’s a whole communication theory of purpose. And that really put me on a ten year trajectory of breaking it down and saying, “Oh. There’s a place in Y, and there’s three keys, and there’s what’s your purpose? Okay. Well, that’s your cause, purpose and belief.” But inside of that is your mission and your vision, your cause and your impact.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:07:32] Like, we could get all business-y and everything, but the bottom line is, human beings are here for a reason. And just because you’re making money at something as a result of what you’re doing for your company, you are making the world a better place in some way, shape, or form by connecting people for the right reasons. And as long as you get really, really clear at what that is, it makes it easier to do it better and faster with more people you like. And that started me on that trajectory.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:00] Now, when you’re talking to folks and they maybe aren’t thinking as deep as that, and they are more superficially looking at their business and the nuts and bolts of business, because we wanted all the time here in our business, sometimes they focus on metrics and they use the word metric like it’s some magic thing. It’s a number, so then it’s real. And so, it’s real, it must be important. And if it’s important, I better track it. But they don’t know how to discern the metrics that matter versus the metrics that can be counted. So, just because something that can be counted doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth counting.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:08:37] First of all, you are a great interviewer because that is a fantastic question. Counting things that really matter is really important. And most of the times, actually unconventional things that you need to really look at, which really make the difference. So, when we think about metrics that matter, it’s like, What’s going to help me move the needle? What’s going to help me go further, faster? What’s actually going to be aligned?
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:09:02] We talk about qualifications and why are we even talking to this type of person if it’s not really going to suit what we’re doing, and keeping everybody on track. Like we start working with companies all the time and like, “Great. Who’s your ideal?” And they start listing them. And then, we go – we call it – hand-to-hand combat, when we’re actually providing that lead gen to sales, I’m like, “Okay. Wait a minute. You told me he had to look like this, or she had to look like, or they had to look like this, this.” But when it came down to it, that wasn’t really right.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:09:40] So, what are we actually measuring? So, let’s redo the qualifications. Let’s really look at the data. Well, all these people took six months to convert, and da, da, da, da, da. What do we learn from that? So, you have to really look at things with a different lens very often to get the juice of what is really going to get to connect you. So, metrics are great. Vanity metrics are a whole other discussion.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:03] Well, we call them cost-metrics.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:10:05] Cost-metrics. I love that. That’s awesome. But you’re right, it’s hard to cut to the chase of which metrics really matter. And it’s really important to actually dissect the unconventional things. Dissecting that is really key.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:20] That might take work. And a lot of times they don’t want to do that. They want to look at a dashboard and say, “Oh, there’s 14 greens, so we’re having a good month while I don’t have money in the bank. But I have 14 greens.”
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:10:31] You know, you can’t skip doing the work.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:34] I know.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:10:35] You can’t skip doing the work. I mean, like if I had a magic wand –
Lee Kantor: [00:10:38] That’s why we’re doing this, it’s for the work. Believe it or not, the work is what matters.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:10:42] Every step of the work matters. Making the decision, like marketing, our job is to fail things faster. But enough time that it’s fast enough. I still need to gather data. So, don’t say, “Oh, two weeks of gathering data is enough.” No, it’s not. You can’t get a critical mass of anything. I can’t get to a baseline. Everybody wants to get to the steady state without doing the testing, and you can’t do that.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:06] But the calendar I built two months ago said it would be done by today.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:11:10] Uh-huh. That’s nice. And how many things did you not account for that we ran into that we actually had to adjust for? But it is about testing and taking the period of time that it needs. I like to say it’s four to six months in one channel when you actually create a hypothesis that you need to prove. But, honestly, that’s the right way. You can’t get to a steady state unless I can prove something in one channel. I couldn’t scale it unless I can prove it somewhere.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:38] Right. So, talk about your book. What was the impetus of writing it all down? Because that’s fun. That’s a job by itself.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:11:47] It was a very long job. It was a really, really hard job. If you told me how much – nevermind. I wrote the book as a gift because I really believe that entrepreneurs, whether you’re in professional services or not, you really deserve to understand the anatomy of your own brand. And when you can harness the clear communications, it really unlocks a lot of things.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:12:16] And when you think about the most successful people in the world, we can talk about Oprah. She sits down in a meeting and asks for clarity, what’s the intention of the meeting, which always is trying to get to clarity. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to get to clarity. It’s our responsibility to lead with clarity. So, marketing strategist, it’s a leadership book as a gift for CEOs going, You can be profitable in every aspect of your business if you have clarity. So, how do you get to clarity? And I give you the baseline. I mean, the appendix is actually the process we take people through. I gave it away.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:49] Don’t tell anybody that.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:12:50] No. Go by the book. But if you want to help, reach out, and all that’s great. But everybody’s always happier when there’s more clarity. People understand where they’re going. Why do they matter? Everybody deserves to be safe at work, to feel valued for their contribution. And it’s the leader’s responsibility to do that.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:13] Right. To help them be seen and heard.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:13:15] Absolutely. And valued. And valued. And given the opportunity to grow and given the opportunity to advance the company.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:24] Right. Have bigger expectations and bigger dreams.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:13:27] Exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:28] So, if somebody wants to learn more, get a hold of the book, what’s the coordinates?
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:13:32] You can Google Fran Biderman-Gross on Amazon.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:36] You can spell it.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:13:38] B-I-D- no. You can go to 3keysbook.com and, really, you’ll link everything from there, from the podcast that I do to – I don’t know, – just learn more about it.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:49] All your good stuff there.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:13:51] Yeah. Well, that’s a good video.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:52] Thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Fran Biderman-Gross: [00:13:56] My pleasure. Thank you so much for being such a great host with incredible questions. It was super engaging. Thank you.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:02] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll be back in a few at the 2022 WBENC National Conference.
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