Nothing beats experience as a teacher. How much more when you are in a room full of brilliant minds with a combined 100 years of experience? Ben Baker welcomes you to the Game Changers series. In this first part of four, he brings together the minds of Ray Ziganto, Allison DeFord, Mark Mitchell, Mark Roberts, and Chris Luecke to talk about marketing that is seen, heard, and, most importantly, felt. This series was produced in August 2020 with the goal of talking about where we are today in terms of sales and marketing, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. Together, they break down the misconceptions surrounding marketing and discuss how to bring your customers into the conversation and speak their language. People will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Follow along this great discussion to find out how you can achieve that in your marketing.
I had the opportunity to record with five amazing people a series that we called Sales and Marketing Game Changers. I want to introduce it to you. The group that I recorded this with was Ray Ziganto, Allison DeFord, Mark Mitchell, Chris Luecke and Mark Roberts. This incredible group got together and we recorded a bunch of episodes to be able to sit there and say, “Here's where we are. This is where we should be going and this is how to get there.” The first part is called Marketing That's Seen, Heard and Felt. Sit back, enjoy and I'd love to hear your thoughts.
This is a four-part series. We have minds here that span from North America, from Canada to the US and from the East Coast to the West. We want to talk to you about marketing. That's what this is all about. It's all about sales and marketing. Where are we going from here? I want to let everybody introduce themselves because within this room, we've got over 100 years of experience. We've got people that have written blogs, have the video, got the T-shirt, fall down the hole and figured their way out of it more times than you can imagine.
Let's introduce the gang. We're going to sit down and we're going to talk about a different piece of marketing and marketing strategy. The key thing is, how do we make you better? How do we give you the tools so you can be better, so you can figure out where are you, and where are you going and how to get there? Let's start with the queen bee. Allison, it's always ladies first. You are the impetus. You are the woman that brought us all together. Allison DeFord, tell us a little bit about yourself, and then we're going to let the rest of this crew have their shots.
Thank you, Ben. My name is Allison DeFord. I founded an agency called FELT Marketing. We are the only retrofit company for manufacturers that I know of since 1994. The real strength we have is helping you get to the heart of your ideal customer. It's a little unconventional than your run of the mill marketing agency. With that, I'll pass the torch to Mr. Ziganto.
I am Ray Ziganto. I am the manufacturing unicorn. I live and breathe manufacturing my entire career all over the world. It is my passion. I am the Founder of Linara International. What we do is help companies of all types and sizes find out again what it is that is cool and what's possible for them. I roll up my sleeves and we get in there and we go make it happen. I'm also the proud co-host of the MFG Out Loud podcast that has courageous conversations for the manufacturing community. I am thrilled and honored to be in the company now. With that, I'm going to send it over to Mr. Mark Mitchell.
I'm Mark Mitchell from Whizard Strategy. We are a consulting firm that specializes in helping companies in the building materials industry. It was extremely dependent on a complicated distribution channel in which you have decision-makers and influencers, and you can think you've made a sale, but you didn't. That's the area that I focus on is helping building material manufacturers to grow their sales or get them unstuck when they're having a challenge or a problem. I wrote a book about Building Materials Channel Marketing. I have a weekly newsletter about building material issues, a podcast and a blog. You can go to my website, SeeTheWhizard.com. There's a lot of great free content there for you.
My name is Mark Roberts. I founded OTB Solutions back in 2000. My focus and passion are improving sales effectiveness. What's ironic is for years, people have paid me to fix sales problems. If you google that, you'll find me. It's usually ranked number one on Google, but the way I fix them typically is with marketing. I look forward to participating in this and answering questions as they come in.Marketing is a team sport. It's not just limited to someone with that title. Click To Tweet
I always love crashing parties where I shouldn't be at. I love being part of this prestigious group. Thanks for having me a part of the crew. I'm an account manager at Rockwell Automation. I serve the high-tech industry here in Northern California. As a result of this, I'm a big advocate of individual contributors and salespeople serving as marketers within their organization. I think marketing is a team sport. It's not limited to someone with that title. I live and breathe that through my nighttime activity, which is hosting Manufacturing Happy Hour. It's a podcast where my guests and I take on the biggest trends and technologies coming up in the manufacturing sector over a cold one preferred through interviews with leaders in this industry. We're excited to have you taken us through this conversation.
Thanks, everybody. My name is Ben Baker. I’ll give you a little bit of a hint about myself. My company is called Your Brand Marketing. What I do for a lot of companies is we are a podcast host for hire. What we do is we create host and distribute custom podcasts for brands to be able to tell their story from a 360-degree point of view. We interview your employees, your strategic partners, your vendors, your clients, and be able to get an understanding of who you truly are, what you do, why you do it, why you're valuable to people and where are you going.
People use this information for training both inside the company and marketing outside the company. It builds insights. It cements relationships and allows you to engage people. This is the gang. This is who's going to be around for the next four weeks. The first question I want to ask and I'm going to toss this one out to Mark Mitchell. We'll start with Mark and we'll go around the room. What do you think is the biggest misconception about marketing now?
From my perspective which is building materials industry who's ten years behind the rest of the world in terms of things. In the worst case, they view marketing as a tactical solution. They rarely go to marketing and say, “We're having a problem. Can you help us develop a strategy?” They go, “A new website. That'll fix it. Let's go to this trade show. We need a new brochure.” The biggest issue to me is they think they're marketing, but they're jumping to the tactic and then producing that. They don't believe marketing is measurable. They'll rely on anecdotal information like, “The president likes the new website. That makes it a success.” That's my answer to it from my perspective. A lot of manufacturers fit into the same thing that the building materials industry does. We're not Apple, Nike and Procter & Gamble when it comes to marketing.
That's important for people to know is it can't just be Apple, Nike and IBM that's spending the time doing great marketing. Every company does because it's not the short-term sale, it's long-term relationships and that's what marketing does. Marketing allows us to build clientele, cement relationships, and add value. It allows other people to tell our story for us. There's a lot of misconceptions about what marketing truly is. A lot of people think it’s advertising. Marketing and advertising are completely different. Allison, I want you to chime in on this.
Many of the manufacturers that I have interacted with especially if you are the late 50s and older, think it's an advertising and think it's like madmen. The thing that I've had more than one person lean in and whisper and say, “I don't understand how all this works, all this new stuff and it scares me.” I thought, “What a revelation, thank you for being honest.” The misconception that troubles me the most that I would like to help correct is that marketing used to be done at you. Now good and effective marketing is done for you and because of you. It's a completely different way to approach it to get different results.
Expand on that for me. Give me a little bit idea of what you need for you and with you? We've gone from a world of push to a world of conversation.Really good and effective marketing is done for you and because of you. Click To Tweet
Here's a simple example. Take your website for example. Mark Mitchell and I have had numerous conversations about this. If you look at the majority of websites now and I'll refer to manufacturers because that's the sandbox where I play. The majority of them you'll see the word we like, “We do this. We look like this. We believe this.” If you are a truly customer-centric company and you exist for your customers to solve their problem and your marketing is made for them and because of them, it's going to say like, “We see you. You have this problem and this is how you can have a better business or a better life or build a better wall.”
It's about flipping it. I've said this to client numerous times and I always get the same look and I love it. They'll say, “What do we want to say?” I say, “Let's slow down. How do you want them to feel?” They look at me like, “What?” “How you want them to feel when they see this ad or this website page, or this tweet? How do you want them to feel?” If you know how you want somebody to feel, then you can reverse engineer it and create the content, the dialogue, the messaging, the way that you work with your sales team and your internal culture. It's all connected because of the customer.
It's inviting your customer into the conversation. Chris, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
The line that “B2B is different” is one of the biggest misconceptions I come across where we were talking about the examples of Nike. It's not just a B2C shoe company that's responsible for doing good marketing. If a company wants to grow and scale, every company should have that type of good marketing. I had a guest on Manufacturing Happy Hour to prove this point. I brought someone in from the beer industry, which is much B2C. You're selling beer to a consumer and his quote was perfect. He's like, “I feel like too many times where we're talking like robots to robots. It's got to be people to people at the end of the day.” This will go into a theme that I'm going to talk about a couple of times now and that's humanizing a marketing effort within the side of the B2B space.
For example, me being in the manufacturing space, I'm going to connect with a brand a whole lot more if I see a picture of one of their employees out in the field. Whether that's at a chemical plant, in the oil field, on the manufacturing floor sharing a story about that person why they love what they do and why they love working for that company. I'm going to connect with that a whole lot more than I would with a picture of a widget that the company makes for example. My biggest misconception is trying to debunk the myth that marketing for B2B is different than B2C. There are some little things here and there, but at the end of the day, people to people is the big message.
Whether it's B2C or B2B, it's H2H because we're all buying from people. It's all about trust. We're in the trust economy. People don't buy widgets anymore. They buy trust. They say, “Can this person take care of me? Can they solve the problem that I have? Can they make my life easier?” That trust is built because of human relationships. Not because of your $0.50 cheaper, not because you happen to be in the same town as somebody else. It has to do with the fact that you relate to these people and you connect with these people on a human-to-human basis.
The number one misconception is we don't need marketing because our salespeople have a relationship with our customers. As long as we have that, we're good. We know what's going on. I've been at this long enough to recognize it. Many years ago, that was the point of the relationship where that interface happened but along came technology and everything else. Allison shared a number of times before that 70% of the research and effort that goes into making a decision about sourcing with a company happens before they even reach out.
How much of this conversation is happening outside of your sales team, your field sales team, unless you've read engineered that in this world? I don't diminish the importance of the rapport that anybody in your company has that is in contact and customer-facing, marketing is mission-critical. It is not optional. It is not something that you can get to someday or apply somewhere else. Chances are, you're probably way underinvested in it right now and not getting the results that you should.
Mark, you get the rebuttal on this because you're our sales guru. I want to hear your thoughts on this.
Good marketing creates a tremendous amount of value. Nothing frustrates me more than when I worked with a CEO or a CFO and they tell me, “50% of marketing is good, 50% of marketing is waste. I don't know which 50% I'm getting.” To echo what Ray said is it also drives me crazy that manufacturers tell me, “It's not my job to market. My job is to educate with product, features and benefit bingo, as I call it, but it’s my channel partner who's supposed to be doing the marketing.” They couldn't be worse off. They couldn't be more wrong. As we indicated as you said, 70% of the buying process is over before the buyer speaks with a salesperson and 20% are reaching out because they want to work out the final details.
They've already made a decision. Why not be part of the conversation early on? If your website is a virtual brochure, you're not getting the ROI. No wonder the CRO is angry. What you need to be doing is talking in the voice of your customers about the problems that you solve for them. Those are the terms they're googling. Call me a crazy sales guy talking about marketing, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once. What we should be doing is putting voice on our websites the way our customers speak and solve their problems.
I'm going to echo that because the one thing I tell my clients is, “If you're going to be doing your SEO, ask your clients, what terms are they using on Google when they're thinking about you? If you were to describe me to somebody that didn't know who I was, how would you describe me?” You use those words because we need to speak in the language of our clients. We need to speak not in technical data, not in features and benefits. We need to talk in the language of the client and the mediums of the client to be able to use that.
Let’s face it, 70% to 80% of the people that are viewing your product for the first time are viewing it on 5 square inches or less. They're on their phone. If we don't have a marketing strategy that is addressing and making sure that people can view your material and understand your value to them on that mobile device, you are far behind the curve. The world has changed. Good, bad, ugly or whatever you want to call it. We're not going back to the way things were. December 2019 is gone. The first quarter of 2020 is gone. We need to move forward. The question is, where do you guys see marketing? How is it differentiated? What does good marketing look like going forward versus where it was a few months ago? What has changed? How do we have to change in terms of our marketing to be able to make sure that we're effective? Ray, I'm letting you go first this time.
Stimulus-response is what we're seeing and absent a crisis, businesses and people respond in a certain way. You build too much inventory. You take your time. You get on airplanes because they're cheap. Every business on the planet is facing constraints like, “I can't do what I used to do, but I'm still here. I still have responsibilities.” Getting over the initial shock, how do you get back to playing offense in the marketplace?Marketing owns the voice of the customer. Click To Tweet
These smart companies, big, small and everywhere in between have figured out how to get to that five square inches or the television or on their laptops, wherever it is, and engage with their customers that way. I love that everybody brought up, forget about B2B, B2C and all of that. Make it H2H because what's working now is making your client or your target audience feel something based on your authenticity about your business. How are we making them feel in their language? These smart companies are embracing video.
They're embracing social media and staying with it more than, “I did a blog post last month.” It’s getting into that routine. If there's going to be a routine, what I see is it's going to be businesses using social media and all the tools that are available and get in the conversation. It’s getting out there and being heard in an authentic way. That's forcing a lot of hands that absent COVID, a lot of companies would have still tucked in, stayed back, and waited to see how this whole social media thing was going to play out. It's decisions made. You're in or you’re out.
Social media is got to be a two-way street. There are way too many companies out there that throw stuff out on an auto program and say, “Here's my sixteen posts. They're going out on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or whatever. I'm going to send them out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis” and then they're going to forget about it. If you don't have people that are listening to the responses and responding to the responses in real-time, you've completely lost the advantage that you've created, because people are interested. If people are responding to your social media, they're interested. If you're ignoring them, they're going to go find somebody else. Allison, you go first.
Being social is not just talking at, but listening to, and then talking again. It's an ongoing two-way conversation. What you said is spot on and that was the thing too. Good and effective marketing is not about paying for 1,000 likes or being able to show that you got X amount of impressions this month. That's a metric. When it comes to what is good effective marketing, what does it look like? I'm of the Seth Godin school. I believe it's spending the time and money with the skill to tell a story that spreads, which influences people that change actions.
Build a better website as Mark talked about. He and I both know this firsthand. It's not a tool. That's not what marketing is. It's not tactics. It's bigger. It's your whole promise. It's how the experience you create consistently over time. Social media is part of that. To answer your question quickly what's changed, I don't think marketing has changed in a few months because that's what I believe it is. What has changed is what Ray said. It’s how quickly you can adapt to the tools and tactics the way that people are consuming information now.
Chris, what're your thoughts on this? You are a lot closer to social media than a lot of people in this room. We're all heavily into social media, but you live, breathe and die it. Where are your thoughts on what's changed? How has it changed and where do you think we should be going?
I like going towards the middle and the end because then I can feed off some of the answers and build off of. If you need someone to continue to pick up the rear, I’m happy to do it. I'm going to echo a couple of things that were first said. Ray, you mentioned getting into a routine with social media or with marketing in general. This is something I was talking to my sales counterparts about right off the bat saying, “Now that you're stuck at home all the time, schedule an hour on LinkedIn the same way that you would a sales call. Put it on your calendar, say you're going to be on there from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM and then get out of there.”
You don't want to spend all day on there, but you want to go on there, post some meaningful content, and then bend to the point that you and Allison were making. Respond to that save time. After you get into doing that, you also have the opportunity to go back in and talk to your potential customers, your leads, people in your partner, network, or whatever that is. Continue that conversation because that's what it's all about. It's about that two-way dialogue. This is where I'm going to go next to my answer.
The one thing that has changed is as we can't do as much face-to-face stuff in person, we need to find a way to compensate for that by doing that digitally. I'll give an example. One thing I've been doing is virtual happy hours with people in my own industry and community. I think that's extremely important because we've been talking about humanizing. We've been talking about the human element. We've been talking about the two-way dialogue. This is a great way to make up for the fact that the core marketing activity a few months ago was going to trade shows. We need to find ways to compensate for that with collaborative Zoom calls.
I see a lot of people doing Zoom calls that are like a hangout session or still a one-way webinar dialogue. The biggest thing I would say is to make it a two-way conversation. Have a featured guest on a Zoom call with twenty of your customers, but give all of the people that are on that call the chance to participate, whether that's with a Q&A or whether that's in little breakout rooms after the fact. That's my answer. Taking those social media habits, posting, responding, and then expounding upon that by adding that humanized element through virtual engagement.
We are social beings. I find that's the one thing that's missing. You have all these virtual events, but they're all talking heads. We're guilty of this. We're a bunch of talking heads right here and this is going to engage a lot of people. People are going to contact us and be able to ask questions and we're all going to respond to them and it's important. As a professional speaker, I speak around the world. What we found is when we've gone digital, I'm no longer in front of 500, 1,000, 2,000 people. I'm having to do this digitally. My speeches have become way shorter. I'm spending far more time on questions and comments.
I would far more like to engage the audience and allow them to ask the questions that are relevant to them and allow them to talk to each other in the chat rooms, and also to allow them to have that ability to engage than be a talking head. As businesses, we need to facilitate that. We need to find technology that will allow the building of the virtual communities because that's what people are missing. The businesses that can figure out how to create communities of their raving fans, their tribe, in Seth Godin's words are going to be the ones that are going to thrive. Mark Roberts, I want to hear yours and then Mark Mitchell, you can clean up this statement.
It might be a little controversial. Who owns the voice of the customer in your business? If you have a marketing department, I challenge you that it's marketing. Unfortunately, when I work with your salespeople, they're saying value propositions that might've worked several years ago, but they're simply not true now. They're damaging your brand. In the last several days, think about how much has changed. I was coaching a salesperson. I get to listen in on sales calls, which is fun but also disturbing sometimes. The guy was talking about their volume discount in container loads. After the call, I quickly called him, “Do you know we’re in COVID right now?” “Yeah.” “You know that people are reducing inventories because cash is king, but you're leading with a value proposition about tying up their cash.” “I've never had anybody say that to me before.”
My advice is marketing owns the voice of the customer. When's the last time you did a value proposition audit? It's not that complicated. I'm going to be talking in one of these episodes about how 20% of your customers represent about 300% of your profit. What if we call that 20% and ask them, “How has this changed? How has marketing changed? How have your problems changed? Are there any new criteria that you're making decisions with? Has your buying process changed?” Equipping our sales teams with messaging that resonates and a process that works.Marketing has to be able to create a series of content that is absolutely shareable. Click To Tweet
Let's take the mystery out of this and add a little bit of science. I want to emphasize that marketing needs to own the voice of the customer and that's always controversial because I have CEOs telling me all the time, “No. My salespeople.” I want marketing to understand the language of our customers, the problems that they have. I want them to feed good rich case studies and content. Not only the voice of the customer but the voice of each buyer persona.
I'm going to challenge you on that because I agree with you and I disagree with you. The problem is a lot of marketing people live in the cloud. They spend their entire life in analytics. They spend their entire life guessing games and sitting there going, “It should be like this.” Instead of going out there and God forbid talking to a customer and finding out what is the language of the customer or going alongside a salesperson and having that conversation. We need to be able to sit there and have our language in the actual language of our customers and not what we think the language of our customers is. That's an important thing. The marketing, as it says to your point, has to be able to create a series of content that is shareable.
It's easy for people to share, “Here are Facebook posts. Here's LinkedIn messaging. Here's Twitter feeds. Here are position papers, here's whatever,” and have all that place in a shared folder somewhere that anybody in the company can grab and put up on their social media feeds. What that does is it gives that consistent brand message across mediums and across groups. We as marketers have to think that we can't assume that analytics know everything. They're a good indicator. They give us good hints, but we still need to take that information and cross-reference it with actual conversations with our clients when we're building good content. Mark Mitchell?
My clients are building material manufacturers. I always joke there are too many old white guys in charge. They're set in their ways. The exciting thing is this Coronavirus challenge is forcing them to relook at things. An example is when I work with a company, I'm reviewing their marketing budget, how they spend their money and one of my pet peeves as many times is they spend or over-reliant on trade shows.
It's a small company with no money. They're going to spend at least $15,000 for this little booth in the corner for two and a half days that hope somebody comes by. If they're a larger company spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, it's the same thing. Two and a half days, you've got to do whatever you're going to do. If we understand digital marketing websites, SEO content, social media, and all those things, you now have 365 days, 24 hours a day presence in front of these customers.
The old white guys can't go to trade shows. The trade shows are all canceled. They're going, “Either put this money to the bottom line or maybe there's a better way to spend it.” They're waking up to that. The other one is they're starting to recognize the difference in ages. I had a client who contacted me and said, “Mark, my challenge is half my salespeople are older and they don't understand social media. They don't understand texting.
They only understand personal face to face meetings, phone calls, and emails. The other half is younger people. They don't understand the value of having a face-to-face call or even a phone call because they can do everything.” They're looking at the quickest, most efficient way for them and for the customer to get the information. It’s like, “How do we get both teams to understand when is a phone call or a person meeting a good idea?” The older white guy can answer a text and that's all the customer needs. Like, “Can you ship this by Friday?” “Yes.” They don't need any more than that. You've helped them out because you got them the answer then they can go on to something else.
I see that it's an exciting time right now for companies to step back. They've been forced to reevaluate their marketing. I'm hoping that the smart ones are going to recognize the shift towards digital and some of the other ones are either going to sit and wait until trade shows come back or printing literature or print ads in magazines. For some companies, it’s the right thing to do. For most companies, when I say to a company, “Why aren't you doing more with social media content, SEO?” They'll look and say, “We don't have enough budget.” I say, “You spend $150,000 in this trade show for two and a half days. What did you get from it?” It's almost always nothing.
The old white people have to be able to mentor younger people and younger people need to mentor older people. Everybody has something to add to the conversation. Everybody can give the other person another way of looking at things. Leadership that facilitates that are the companies that are going to win because sometimes a trade show makes sense. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes an article makes sense. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a huge social media push makes sense. Sometimes it doesn't. It's a matter of looking at it as an overall strategy of who are your customers? Where are they? How do they consume information? What's relevant to them?” Building an overall communication strategy that takes all that into consideration. I agree with it.
Companies have to sit there and say, “There are no more secret cows.” Just because we've always done it that way doesn't mean that it's relevant moving forward. We need to start thinking that way and say, “How can we do it better? The more people we can get in a room or a virtual room to be able to sit around and talk and say, “We've got 100 years of experience here. Some of you guys have less than I have more. Some of you are digitally savvy. Some of you aren't. I want to hear everything. Let's hear everything. Let's talk about it without judgment and figure out how can we utilize all this strategy, all this information, and all this knowledge to be better as a company?” Those are the companies that are going to survive and thrive.
The next person I want to go to is Mark Roberts because the next question is the job of sales and marketing is growing. Our job is to help drive the engine, try to make success 3X, 5X, 10X a company and allow it to scale. You had a social media post that went through the roof. It's not the fact that this particular post went through the roof. It's the messaging behind it and why you think that it resonated so much because it comes down to how do you grow a company and how do you get people thinking in a different way? Mark, I want you to quickly tell that story because it hits the hammer right on the head.
I was looking at my cell phone checking some social media and there was an interesting article about this school teacher. She gave every child in her class a balloon and asked them to blow it up. She asked them to write their name on it, then throw it in the hallway. They had to go out and they had five minutes to go out and find their balloon. None of the kids were able to do it and there were probably hundreds of balloons. The post that I did on LinkedIn is a picture of the hallway. What she did was she's like, “Stop. I want you to reach down and pick up a balloon and then give it to whoever's name is on it.”
Within two minutes, everybody had their balloons. What she talked about and what she did was draw an analogy between this, happiness, serving others and the joy that you can get from serving others. That's my thing. That's what attracted me to first want to speak with Allison and Ray. My passion is serving others and genuinely helping people. I've gotten a lot of critics on LinkedIn. I might publish something out of Psalms. I might publish something out of the Bible. I might give some inspirational quotes from a famous author and people have the need to interact with me. Let's put it that way. I posted this in the spirit of giving somebody a trick or a technique to feel happy in this challenging time. It's been viewed 77,000 times.
It's been shared I don't know how many thousands of times. I have 250 comments. People are reaching out to me and wanting to connect with me, strangers, people that I've never talked to or I've never met with. I backed up and I said, “What happened here?” One of the courses I teach is storytelling. The way this person wrote the story is brilliant because it's in the form of the hero's journey. It had a good visual and it resonated because of what like what Allison said is how did it make you feel? My challenge to everybody is I want you to take some of your marketing and give it to your children, give it to your wife and ask them, “How does this make you feel when you read it?”People will forget what you said, but they're always going to remember how you made them feel. Click To Tweet
It’s the Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, but they're always going to remember how you made them feel.” That's where we need to move forward.
A big part of my work is with manufacturers and their dealers and distributors channel partners. What happens to be a little bit of a niche of mine is helping salespeople who grew up as engineers. We need to teach them that storytelling, that messaging in the form of a story, not only does it resonate, but it's memorable. The shame is a lot of manufacturing companies believe marketing should be bullet points and factual. If you study how people buy, they buy based on feelings. They justify it with data.
Allison, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
That is the cornerstone of every bit of the work that we do and why we're called FELT because your brand isn't just seen or heard. The most beloved brands are felt. What Mark said is true. It's a fact. People make decisions in general, but especially to purchase. I've heard different percentages here. We'll call it 70% to 90% of the time based on emotion. I can only speak to manufacturers, but there are many other kinds of companies that do this too. Why are we only tapping 5% to 15% of the customer's decision-making brain with features and benefits and how old we are and how many trucks we have and look at our stacks of lumber? It's not motivating. That's not how people make decisions.
However, you can point this out and the percentage of people that change is small. That has always been baffling to me, but that is the truth and that is science. If you want to scale, you want to grow, pay attention to that. Tap into that. My belief is to stop trying to be everything to everyone. If you want to grow your company 3, 5, 10 times, it is possible. Trying to say everything to everyone, like every manufacturer I've ever worked with and Mark is going to chuckle at this, you do an ad for them. Let's say, we're going to do an ad series. They want to kitchen sink it every single time. This has been going on for many years that I've been doing this. I'm trying to tell them people can't retain every single nut and bolt that you sell in one ad. You've all seen those ads. They don't work. There's no call to action.
The point is, stop trying to say everything and say one thing. Focus on that one thing. A lot of people that I work with also feel like they sell a commodity product, “We sell gravel or we sell drywall. Our products are similar to our competitors. They're much bigger than us.” My thing is this, stop treating your company or your product like a commodity because the most important thing is the experience that you bring. If you create one that's not like anybody else, people can't get this anywhere else but with you. That is how you're going to scale your business. It's much bigger than just marketing and that's coming from a marketing person. It's got to be this bigger mindset.
It's a difference between saying we build houses to build your home. It's having that emotional attachment. People sitting there going, “Why should I care about you?” Ray, you're up.
I had the privilege of having a guest on a podcast, Darren Mitchell. He pointed out something. It's like, “All the facts, the data and everything is known, shared and available. The majority of people when they're confronted with it aren't going to do a damn thing about it.” We’re going to be the first ones to feature Darren's top ten reasons why manufacturers are going to ignore good advice about what's going forward.
With all due respect to those that are reading this that might be kicking tires or whatever, I get it. None of this is going to work unless there's a commitment from the top. There has to be that buy-in. You've got to come off the sidelines and suit up and we're in the game. We're going to do this because part of it is going to be, there's a recurring theme. Whether it's marketing and communications as a tool that's going to get your business to that next level.
I consult with manufacturing companies all over the world on everything from sales strategy to operations optimization and technology implementations. Every one of them will fly into the ground if there isn't a commitment from leadership, and if you don't build the muscles you need to build to establish communication skills internally and externally. If you don't figure out how to engage with your own staff or engage with your own customer in a way that they understand, you're going to fail no matter what you try to do.
We've all been sold shortcuts over time and say, “We'll overlay this thing and you won't have to do that messy thing by talking to anybody. It'll take care of it for you” and then watch how it pisses everybody off or it doesn't get used. If you're serious about wanting to grow that 3X, 5X or 10X, you've got to get good at that two-way communication thing. That is listening to your customers and getting your staff involved. A lot of times company leaders, I'm not going to ask because they might tell me something I don't like and I want to go down the path of this project.
There's as much a readiness assessment as anything. How ready are we to get to next? Maybe there's some foundational work we need to do while we're building up. The notion that growth is going to happen slow and steady. I've seen more hockey stick growth trajectories due to well-thought out and executed planning. It doesn't happen by accident. It's a plan. You've got to know what your baselines are. You can do it but only the people that want to do it. If you're half-hearted, you're going to fail. I guarantee it.
I'm getting a little lost here. What question are we on right now?
The question that we’re on is if you are going to give people one piece of advice to 3X, 5X, 10X their business, what is the one thing that you would do to help people scale?People will forget what you said, but they're always going to remember how you made them feel. Click To Tweet
To go all-in digitally, get recognize the power of their website, social media content, SEO and sharing. As Chris was talking, get all of their employees on board. Everyone is a thought leader. I've never met a person I didn't learn something from. I'll sit with a salesman that sells roofing and I'll go, “You have a lot of expertise. You should be sharing this.” Whether you're writing a blog post for your company, recording a video, or doing something on LinkedIn, every one of your experienced employees is a wealth of knowledge that their customers could benefit from. Many people feel, “I don't know.” I think back to 2012 when I started my blog, it was intimidating.
First, I was afraid I'm going to say something that somebody is going to disagree with. One of my mentors said, “Mark if somebody doesn't disagree, you're not trying hard enough.” You had to build up this confidence and start to learn. Back to Mark Roberts’ mindset. If you have a mindset about, “I'm trying to help a customer make the right decision, which may not be my product, they'll read into the trustworthiness and genuineness of that.” I think that most companies in building materials don't recognize fully the power of the digital world.
Chris, do you want to put a bow on this?
From my standpoint, how does marketing help with growth whether we're talking 2X, 10X or whatever that amplification might be? The number one thing in my book and this is probably from my perspective as a sales guy is action-oriented content. I always have a call to action at the end of my videos. I'll give an example that came up earlier. We were talking about trade shows where it's a five-figure investment to have a trade show. Now, we're having virtual trade shows. That investment is still the same amount. It hasn't gotten cheaper to have a booth at a virtual trade show, it's still five figures.
I was attending one. These booths are glorified brochures at the end of the day. We're talking about the website as brochures that you've spent $15,000 to have a virtual brochure within this virtual event. There are easy things people can do. That's creating a piece of actual oriented content to introduce someone to their trade show with, for example, a one-minute video like Allison was saying earlier, focus on one thing. If you were to spend 1 or 5 minutes here, this is the first thing I'd recommend you do and maybe I guide you somewhere after that at that point. Creating some direction for your customers, your prospects to go, once that piece of content is out there and it's getting likes, shares and views, it's directing the type of activity that you're looking for.
We've walked this thing around and there's an amazing amount of content that's come out of this and I can’t wait for the next episode where we do leverage data that stops selling naked. Before I let everybody go, I want to go out to you one by one and I want one sentence. What's the one thing you would do to help people move the needle? Ray, you’re first.
Starting now, even if you had zero budget, I'd start calling my key customers. I would get them on the phone, get them on Zoom and start asking questions about them, about their business, about how they are coping, and what do they need to be able to grow. There's a couple of things that have come as a result of that. It's the Hawthorne effect. By virtue of the leadership of an organization, reaching out, engaging one-on-one, and taking the time to listen and ask about them. The feedback that you're going to get from there is going to inform what you need to do next. It's going to tell you, “We’ve moved from buying this way or that way. While we love that the sales guy comes by every three weeks, we'd appreciate it if you stepped up the EDI thing so we could get better at doing some automated type things.” You'd be shocked what happens when you talk to your customer and if you're serious about taking that next journey, your first step is to get on the phone with your customer.
I'm going to stay on that thread. It's part of my secret sauce, but calling your customers and clearly understand how do they buy, why do they buy, and why they don't buy from you and actively listen, no filter, no biases. If you can't do it and a lot of people can't, hire somebody that will help them transcribe the calls. You will get more insights into twenty phone calls than any of the feedback you're getting from your salespeople.
Number one is to go where your customers are. You don't need to be everywhere. If that's on LinkedIn, if that's in their inbox, pick one or two spots to start before trying to take on the world. Number two, humanize your brand and do it with action-oriented content. Finally, marketing is everyone's responsibility. This is not a marketing department's role anymore. If you want to scale your marketing efforts, if you want to scale your company and grow your business, it's everyone's responsibility to share that content and have those conversations.
I'm following along on the same theme I'm hearing. In my experience, I see sales and marketing people have excellent usually product knowledge and maybe they've been trained in selling. What they're always missing almost always is knowledge of the customer. I'm reminded of Mayor Ed Koch in New York City. I always think of him as the person that would walk down the street and to everybody that he ran into, he would say, “Tell me how I'm doing.” As opposed to like, “Aren't I doing a great job?” like we'd hear politicians now. He was looking for telling me how I'm doing.
I am always telling CEOs and senior people, “You need to be in contact with your everyday customer, not just your twenty biggest that you take on a fishing trip or something.” I will see occasionally like GAF roofing. I go to a big trade show. There's the CEO and his whole mission is he wants to talk face to face to the roofing contractors. He doesn't care how big you are. It doesn't care what you buy. Whatever he's trying to get his own knowledge together so than when his sales and marketing people come and say, “We should do this.” He has some knowledge about why do they think that's right. Expanding your knowledge of the customer is the most important thing you can do and regularly be looking for feedback. I'm reminded years ago about Proctor & Gamble. They record every phone call.Do everything in your power to make it easier to find you, to buy from you, and to share the experience. Click To Tweet
Somebody calls their 800 number on the back of Tide or Crest toothpaste and they comment on something. They used to make cassettes of those and give them to the senior executives to listen to in their car on their way home. It was a way to be in touch with every day of, “What are people calling about?” Too many senior people insulate themselves from like, “That's not my job. I'm the VP of this.” They insulate themselves from who the real customer. That would be my recommendation of how to make things happen in a short order of time cost-effectively.
When we stop making decisions based on filtered dashboards, sit there and listen to the end customer and listen to the employees who are doing the job, the intelligence that we gain is amazing. I love what I'm hearing from everybody. Allison, queen bee, our fearless leader, the person who brought us all together, I leave the last word for you.
I'll leave it with one long run-on sentence. Thank you for opening that up, Chris. If you're playing possum waiting until the COVID clears, stop it. It makes me think of the Bob Newhart episode on Saturday Night Live when he was a therapist. Whatever the problem was that the person across the desk had, he'd say, “Stop it.” That's my advice. Once you do that, there's one thing that you should do. Do everything in your power to make it easier to find you, to buy from you and to share the experience.
That's a phenomenal place to stop. Everybody on this panel, Mark, Mark, Chris, Allison, Ray, you guys have been a wealth of information. You've been amazing. You've been giving. Thank you all for putting incredible thought into your answers. We're going to be back together, same time, same place. The topic is going to be leveraging data to stop selling naked. I look forward to joining you all again. Somebody else gets to host this thing and people get to beat me up for a reason. I look forward to being with you again next time. Let's have a great day.
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