Haven't you ever wondered what unique companies are making the United States that we don't even think about? In this episode, Ben Baker interviews Darrin Mitchell to talk about their company, and the value add of content marketing. He starts off by narrating how Trout River Industries began and how it became what it is today. He goes on to stress the importance of trust in digital marketing and its effects on business. He warns about listening to wrong and outdated advice that's no longer applicable to business today. Darrin and Ben also talk about the benefits of having your own podcast. What have you done for your business when it comes to content marketing?
We have an incredible treat for you. Trout River Industries is on the east coast of Canada. They do heavy equipment trailers. It is an industry that few people in my audience ever think about. We see this rolling stock everywhere. It's a matter of sitting there and looking at companies going, “What are the unique companies that are making our country, the United States and around the world work that we don't even think about?” I've got Darrin Mitchell on the show. Darrin, welcome to the show. I love to have you. You are a success story. First of all, tell me a little bit about Trout River, where did you guys come from, where you are and then we'll get into where you're going.
The Trout River story, many people would almost consider it a sad one. We like to think it's a great one. Years ago, we knew we were about to enter into an industry where people are comfortable with 5% margins. It is capital intensive. It relies on you being next to your customer and supplier in which you compete on volume to be successful. Considering the fact years ago, we had not a single thing in that column going in our favor because most people don't even know where Prince Edward Island exists. We knew we had to be different on day one. We knew we had to design the business model differently. We knew we had to design the marketing strategy differently than anything else that existed.
At day one, we had no ability to compete with anything else that was out there. What we did is we focused on a business model and technology live bottom trailers instead of a dump trailer going up in the air and the stuff coming out in the back. Our technology has a conveyor belt, which unloads the material. It's safer and a more versatile product. That was our a-ha moment that this is the thing we need to focus on. Its value-added, it’s unique, and it has enough technology and moving parts that our bigger competitors were scared of it. We knew we had to focus on that.
We knew we had to do that one thing so well that even when people said, “You can't be as good as the guys in New York.” We knew we were the underdog. We had to do it so well that it overcame that trust barrier with the marketplace. That whole version of starting a business and being the underdog, we truly had to live that model every single day. As a result, not being where the mass marketplace is, the next a-ha moment that we had was, “Why don't we use digital connection to connect with customers all over the world?” We're not where our competitors and main customer base is. Why not go looking elsewhere in the entire globe and satisfy those customers’ needs as opposed to competing in an old and competitive marketplace? That was our strategy, out of necessity and being the underdog.
Anybody who's reading this should go grab a map and take a look where Prince Edward Island is. It's on the eastern part of Canada. When you first started, there wasn't even a bridge that took you from the island to the mainland. Everything had to come in by ferry. Now there's the Confederation Bridge and it's great, but you need to think about how isolated you were when you first started. You're a worldwide company. You have clients throughout North America, Australia, Europe, and in the Middle East as well. To be able to go from being a relative unknown to being a company that is seen as a player within the industry, someone that is providing a service in the industry, something that's unique in the industry, that's a challenge. You started talking about content. You started talking about value add and differentiation. How do you differentiate yourself? What’s the one thing that you are doing that your competitors are not?Does your business plan reflect the fact that we, as humans, now trust a cellular phone more than we trust face to face contact? Click To Tweet
What I would suggest to any of your readers that are not making the money or the progress in the business that they think they should be making is to take a hard look at their business plan and ask themselves some of the following questions. Does their business plan reflect the fact that we as humans trust a cellular phone? We trust this device more than we trust face-to-face contact. If you think about it, this device is in your home, bathroom and bedroom. It's in your relationships. Anybody out there who's running a business who doesn't appreciate that this is one of the ways we make decisions, if you don't exist on this device, you don't exist in the minds of your customers.
As a philosophy, you need to appreciate that. Not in practice, we have a website and all that bullcrap. We have marketing material. For any of your readers, I would challenge them to say, “How far is it from your house to New York City? Which route would you take to get from your house to New York City?” I guarantee that every single time the thought process is, “Let me check.” We trust this device to help us in our decision-making process. That is one of the most powerful ships in the economy since this device came out from Apple. When this became a mass product, it became not only part of our lives but part of our decision-making process.
As a philosophy, when companies are out there are thinking about their business plans, their models, and how do we access new markets, you have to appreciate the fact that anybody who may want to do business with you is going to first start doing business with you through this device. That’s important when people are looking at their current business plans and their plans for the future. It’s to appreciate the fact that this is how we make decisions.
The second thing that I would also suggest for companies out there as a result of this is that many of the business leaders that I speak with in my realm will tell me the importance of having 30-year relationships, “Our relationships go back many years, Darrin. You have to appreciate that we do business with company X, Y, and Z because it's been that way for 30 years.” When your business planning, those relationships matter much less than they used to. It's back to this device that we are a society of now. That 30-year relationship means less to me more than it does. I need answers now, “You have to understand. We're going to come and see you in two weeks. We'll set up a meeting.” No, that world doesn't exist anymore. It is not efficient and it's not how we as human beings think anymore.
The last thing on the list, back to your phone, is that if you can’t solve your customers’ problems quickly and instantly, you are one swipe away from not existing anymore. That next swipe on this device, if they solve their problems, that's who they're going to keep going to. If we don't build this into our mentality for all of our businesses going forward, that core philosophy for developing services and mechanisms within our business, you will become someone else's food.
Someone else will present themselves whether that customer is in Dubai, Japan or Phoenix. If you're not here, you don't exist. That was the base level of our philosophy for developing our content marketing to make sure that our content was on as many platforms as possible. That content could end up in someone's bathroom being consumed by a potential customer. I know that's an odd thing for us to talk about sneaking in your customers’ bathrooms, but that's where they're bringing their phones. That's what's influencing their decision-making process.
That was all of our philosophy at day one, especially even when YouTube came out. We started hammering YouTube right away with all different types of content videos. People were ending up calling us saying, “We've consumed enough of your content. We now trust you. Because we trust you, we feel like we can problem-solve better together.” What a wonderful added benefit of this device that we seem to love and hate is I've walked into meetings before where our customers have said, “Let me explain my financial situation to you.” Who does that in business? I'm the guy who was already in their bedroom while they were getting ready to go to sleep at night. It's weird, but we're building trust with people who want to give us more money.
What you're saying is interesting because you first started the company where websites and technology was in its infancy. Now, 70%-plus of people, the first time that they view you is on a mobile device. It’s on five square-inches. If you're not thinking that way or if you're not developing your content in such a way that it is easy to read, use, load, and easy to munch on in a five square-inch real estate, you're doing yourself a disservice. That's where people are doing it. They say that 70% of the decision is already made by the time you walk in the door. You're marketing and your content, that's what builds the trust and relationship.
If you can give your clients the information that they need before they're asking for it and provide them with ways where they can understand more about you and how you can help them on a variety of different issues at their fingertips, that's a mobile-first solution and ideology. I applaud you because there are few companies, especially in the traditional industries, that are thinking that way. They are realizing, “I have to make sure that whatever text on my website, when we shrink it down to 5 or 4 square inches, could be read without having to zoom in on everything or swipe left or right.” It's sitting there and going, “How easy are you making it for people to do business with you?” I love that.
Two quick points to that is I would plead and beg with any of your readers out there. I see a lot of people who are suffering doing everything they can in business to practice what they have been told is the best practice. That is no longer best practice. I feel a lot, especially for those traditional industries who are going, “I'm doing everything right. I'm working my ass off. I'm not getting the results that I'm looking for.” I personally feel, especially with the digital connection strategy that it is more important than anything else you're going to be doing in your business.
I come from an old manufacturing world. My group of friends are saying, “It's all about winning and getting efficient.” Are you building something for someone who doesn't even exist anymore? Yeah, but it's the right thing to do. No, it's because you as a collective grew up in the wrong era. There is a whole network of professionals out there who are telling you the wrong advice. It is advice that was pre-2007. That is not the best business advice anymore. We have changed the way we think and make decisions.There is a whole network of professionals out there who are telling you the wrong advice. Click To Tweet
I would beg for any of those businesses. I feel for them and they're good people who have a lot riding on this. They get up early and come home late. They miss their kids’ soccer games and they're still trying to do all the right things because that's what their echo chamber is telling them to do. It's still not producing those results and I feel bad for those people. Even the people giving them the advice think it's the right thing. It's not the right advice. Since 2007, the world changed how it thinks. When you change how you think, you change the way you do business. Anything you can do to get that message out is important.
Back on the decision-making in business and producing content. I did a deal years ago. I got a phone call one day from one of the largest construction companies in the world. The purchasing manager said to me, “I'm interested in your product. When can we meet?” Me being eager for any type of money because we needed it, I hopped on the next airplane. I was in that man's office at 5:00 to 7:00 the next morning. I walked in and he sat in his chair and typed on his phone and stared at his phone for the first five minutes. I started to get upset, “I got on an airplane and flew here to see you.” He said, “If I buy your product, am I going to have problems?” I said, “Maybe, but I'm going to come back and fix it because I'm that person.” “Are you telling me that if I go with you, this is a good decision.” I'm thinking, “Is there something wrong that I'm missing? This guy hasn't even made eye contact with me.”
I worked up the courage because I was getting a little upset and I said, “Mark, I got to ask you a question. Why am I even here right now?” He said, “I want to order your product.” I said, “Why can't you make eye contact with me?” He said, “I'm watching your videos.” That man had already assumed that the little guy on his screen was more important than the 6’2” guy standing in front of him who happened to be this same guy. He said, “Let's make a deal.” I walked out of there with $2.6 million worth of purchase orders. He said to me at the door, “Could you supply me with additional parts?” I said, “No problem.” They tagged on an additional $360,000 deal. He trusted the little man in the box more than the guy in front of him, who happened to be the same person.
I have customers calling me and telling me how our technology works and I'll say, “That's awesome. Thank you for explaining to me how our technology works. How did you get all this information? Did you order our product?” “No, we read about it on Wikipedia.” Do you know who wrote that on the Wikipedia site? We did. There are all different types of content marketing. We make sure we surround the wagons around the customer. No matter where they go, we're giving them little consumable bits that they eat when and where they want. If they consume enough, trust is built far enough so the phone call is placed.
I love the fact that you are content-driven. It's about giving people information in a way that's relevant to them. Some of your videos are going to resonate with some people. Some videos are going to resonate with somebody and sometimes your white papers are. Different content is going to resonate with different people. What I want to talk to you about is my realm, which is podcasting. I would love to hear your viewpoint of how podcasting can help make a relevant difference in your cost to be able to help you build strong relationships with your customers, your competitors, and how business is going to benefit. You are passionate about this. I'd love to find out why you think that podcasting is going to be something that's going to allow businesses to tell their story in a relevant way.
It’s simple. People love doing business with people. If you're brave enough to develop your own podcasting, you will attract people who intuitively will share your values. They'll share your approach to the world. They'll appreciate your viewpoints. That is a subtle level of trust that is being built a little bit and piece by piece in the minds of the customer base. Without trust, you have nothing. The flip side is that the podcast is a personable and non-intrusive approach to business.
I know my customer base don't want to see one more guy like me walk in the door and promise the world. I’ve seen this 100 times, "Why should I trust you?” That can be built over time in places that you didn't know exist. A lot of people in business would say, “We're going after New York.” New York is a big place. There may be somebody in India who even sees more value in this. Going back to this little device, why would I not want to do business with people in India? I love people from India. They do more business there.
Your podcast almost becomes super soldiers that work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year around the world and it's not expensive. The biggest thing you're going to have to do to be successful in it is you have to believe it. If you don't believe it, you're going to try and make things all polish. Customers don't like this. They get enough flashy stuff in the rest of their life. What they're looking for that they're not getting in a lot of places in their life is honesty. If I already have trust and honesty built with you, think of all the great things we can do together. We don't have to second guess each other anymore. Nothing is left to be proven.
That's what I love about podcasting. It allows for an authentic conversation. It allows you to be real. It allows you to have a conversation. I hate when people sit there and go, “Here are the ten questions I'm going to ask my guest.” What it does is it takes the natural part of it. People get prepared. People get contrive. People are not authentic. With that, there's no level of trust. You can sit there drip by drip, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year build trust by people by allowing them into your company, hearing your podcast, and finding out from various people within your company. How your company exists from your customers, from your suppliers, and all different parts of your brand ecosystem, who you are, what you do and why you do it, gives people that level of trust. It allows people to understand why they should do business with you, instead of doing business with everybody else.
We're in a trust economy. This economy is all about trust. It's not about who you knew years ago. It's, who is taking care of me now? Who is the person that I know, at 2:00 in the morning, I can grab these five inches of real estate and get the answer to the questions that I need to have done? Those are the people that we're looking for. I love the fact that content marketing is the thing that made you successful. What I love about creating these podcasts for companies is that we create 30-plus or 50 pieces of content that can be turned around and shared across different platforms. It's not just the podcast itself, it's taking that content, cutting it up, and allowing people to use it across different mediums.
I would add one more thing to that. It is absolutely a massive benefit for us that we didn't intend on. In the world we live in, we always think about, “How do we get to the marketplace?” What our content marketing has also done for us is we were able to use it to sell to our supply chain. We had companies calling us from all over the world and say, “Here are the different products and services that we offer that were outside our traditional supply chain that we would’ve never know. It helped us get a solid profit margin on our product.” If you think about it, you're using digital content to sell to your own supply chain. That's not traditional thinking. That was a huge benefit that companies from all over the world calling us to do business that we wouldn't have known in the traditional sense.If people consume your content enough, then trust is built, and the phone call is placed. Click To Tweet
The other thing that happened is our employees started consuming the exact same content. They were taking the videos home to show their husband and their children, “This is what I do when I go to work every day.” Our families are becoming part of our success. Our families are consuming the same content we're producing. People have more value in what they're doing when they come to work. We've given them a tool to share that when they go home. People feel much better about themselves that they can say, “Look what I'm part of.” Those are some huge benefits that we didn't intend on when we see the result of how much connectiveness this creates.
It gives a sense of pride and engagement. It gives a sense of purpose to your employees to be able to say, “This is the company that I'm with.” If you can give them a material that they can share out on their social media platforms and you've got 100, 200, 400 employees, each one of them has 1,000 people across their network, that's a lot of social sharing all talking about you. It's not you telling people how wonderful you are. Its other people telling people how wonderful you are.
Some of those people will be clients and influencers. Some of those people will tell somebody else who will tell somebody else about you. That's how social media content works. It's not about the persons you reach, it's the people that they reach utilizing your content and giving them something that they can share like what you were saying about your distributors. It gives something the distributors can. They can turn around and give that information to their customers, and be able to build a value chain. I love that.
You're doing a great job, Ben. More companies need to get their stories out because it builds trust. Trust is the basis for everything you're going to do to make money.
Darrin, thank you for being part of this podcast. Thanks for taking your time. I love the story of Trout River. You guys are doing an amazing job. If you know people that could use their own personal branded podcast, please send them my way because I love helping people tell their stories.
Thank you, Ben.
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