Blog for Building Materials Companies

Marketing That’s Seen, Felt, and Heard.

  |  Posted in Marketing

Marketing That’s Seen, Felt, and Heard.

I had the pleasure of participating in a 4 part live stream event “Sales and Marketing Game Changers., There were five other presenters who each have a different expertise and approach. Each week we tackled four questions and offered six different answers. I learned a lot from the other experts and I wanted to share it with you.

This is the first in a series of four episodes and our subject is “Sales and Marketing That is Seen, Felt, and Heard.

If you’d rather listen or watch you can listen to the podcast here or watch it on YouTube here.

Ben Baker:

Hi everybody. My name’s Ben Baker and welcome to the Game Changers. This is a four part series, it’s going to be happening through the month of August, all over North America. It is amazing. We have minds here that span North America, from Canada, the US from the East coast to West. And 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? And what I want to do, first of all, is I want to bring on everybody. I want to let everybody introduce themselves, because within this room, we’ve got over a hundred years of experience. We’ve got people that have written over the blog, have the video, got the T-shirt, fall down the hole, figured their way out of it, more times than you can imagine. So let’s introduce the gang.

Ben Baker:

Then we’re going to sit down and every week, we’re going to sit down and we’re going to talk about in different piece of marketing and marketing strategy. And 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? So let’s start with queen bee, Allison, it’s always ladies first. You are the impetus. You are the woman that brought us all together. So Allison DeFord, you get the mic first. Tell us a little bit about yourself and then we’re going to let the rest of this motley crew have their shot.

Allison DeFord:

Oh, well, thank you, Ben. My name’s Allison DeFord. I founded an agency called Felt Marketing. We are the only retrofit company for manufacturers that I know of since 1994. And I think the real strength we have is helping you get to the heart of your ideal customer. So it’s a little unconventional than your run of the mill marketing agency. And I think, with that, I’ll just pass the torch to Mr. Ziganto.

Ray Ziganto:

All right. Thanks Allison, appreciate it. I’m Ray Ziganto, I am the manufacturing unicorn. I’ve lived and breathed manufacturing my entire career, all over the world.

I am the founder of Linara International. And what we do is help companies of all types and sizes find out again what it is that is really cool and what’s possible for them. Then I roll up my sleeves and we get in there, we go make it happen. I’m also the proud cohost of MFG OutLoud, the podcast that has the courageous conversations for the manufacturing community. And I am so thrilled and honored to be in the company, this crew today. And with that, I’m going to send it over to Mr. Mark Mitchell.

Mark Mitchell:

 I’m Mark Mitchell from a Whizard Strategy. We are a consulting firm that specializes in helping companies in the building material’s industry. Who is 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 really didn’t. And so that’s the area that I really 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’m so good at it, that I actually wrote a book. So my high school English teacher would never believe it, but I wrote a book about Building Material Channel Marketing. And I have a weekly newsletter about building material issues and a podcast and a blog. So you can go to my website, seethewhizard.com, which is spelled W-H-I-Z-A-R-D. And there’s a lot of great free content there for you.

Mark Roberts:

Hi everybody. My name is Mark Roberts. I founded OTB Solutions back in 2000 and my focus, my passion is improving sales effectiveness. And what’s ironic is for years, people have paid me to fix sales problems. Matter of fact, 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. So I look forward to participating in this and answering questions as they come in.

Chris:

All right. I’ll pick up the caboose here. And first of all, I say, I always love crashing parties where I shouldn’t be at. So I love being part of this prestigious group. Thanks for having me as part of the crew. But what I will say is by day, 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 just limited to someone with that title. And 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. So excited to be here today. Ben, excellent intro. We’re excited to have you taking us through today’s conversation.

Ben Baker:

Thanks everybody. Now, my name is Ben Baker and we’ll get into this little bit, but give you a little bit of hint about myself as we get into this. My company is called Your Brand Marketing. And what I do for a lot 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. So 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 you’re going.

Ben Baker:

And people use this information for trading both inside the company and marketing outside the company. It builds insights, it cements relationships and allows you to engage people. So this is the game, this is who’s going to be around for the next four weeks. And 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 today?

Mark Mitchell:

Well, from my perspective, which is building materials industry, who is 10 years behind the rest of the world in terms of things, that 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, “Oh, a new website. Yep. That’ll fix it, right? Well, let’s go to this trade show. We need a new brochure,” right? And so the biggest issue to me is they think they’re marketing, but they’re really jumping to the tactic, and then producing that. They don’t believe marketing is measurable. They rely on anecdotal information. The president really likes the new website, so that makes it a success, okay? That’s my answer to it from my perspective. And I think a lot of manufacturers fit into the same thing that the building material industry does. We’re not Apple, we’re not Nike, we’re not Proctor & Gamble when it comes to marketing.

Ben Baker:

Yeah. And 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 just the short term sales, it’s longterm relationships. And that’s what marketing does. Marketing allows us to build clientele, cement relationships, add value, allow other people to tell our story for us. And you’re right, there’s a lot of misconceptions about what marketing truly is. A lot of people think it’s advertising.

Ben Baker:

Marketing and advertising are completely different. So Allison, I want you to chime in on this.

Allison DeFord:

Well, many of the manufacturers that I have interacted with, especially if you are, I’m going to say, late 50s and older, think it’s advertising and think it’s like Madmen. I’ve actually had more than one person lean in and whisper and say, “I really don’t understand how all this works, all this new stuff. And it scares me.” And I thought, “What a revelation, thank you for being honest.” So I think my misconception, I think that troubles me the most that I would like to help of course, correct, is that marketing used to be done at you. Right? And now really good and effective marketing is done for you and because of you. So it’s a completely different way to approach it, to get really different results.

Ben Baker:

So expand on that for me. Give me a little bit idea of what you mean about for you and with you. So it’s when we’re getting into that, because you’re right, we’ve gone from a world of push to a world of conversation, but I want you to expand on that.

Allison DeFord:

Okay. Here’s just a simple example because I can go down a rabbit hole with this, so I’ll keep it brief. Take your website, for example, okay? And I know Mark Mitchell and I have had numerous conversations about this. If you look at the majority of websites today and I can… I’ll just refer to manufacturers because that’s the sandbox where I play.

Allison DeFord:

Majority of them, you’ll see the word, we. We do this, we look like this, we believe this. If you are a truly customer centric company and you exist for your customers, right, to solve their problem and your marketing is made for them, and because of them, it’s going to say, “You. 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.” So I think it’s really about flipping it.

Allison DeFord:

And I’ve said this to clients numerous times, and I always get the same look and I love it. They’ll say, “Well, what do we want to say?” And I say, “Well, let’s slow down. How do you want them to feel?” And they look at me like, “What?” How do 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, right, your internal culture. It’s all connected because of the customer.

Ben Baker:

I love it. It’s inviting your customer into the conversation.

Allison DeFord:

Right.

Ben Baker:

Chris, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Chris:

Yeah. So for the folks that aren’t watching the video, if they’re listening just on audio somewhere, I’m about to do some air quotes. But 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, B to C shoe company that’s responsible for doing good marketing. If a company wants to grow and scale, every company, it’s that type of good marketing. I recently had a guest on Manufacturing Happy Hour to prove this point. I brought someone in from the beer industry, which is very much B2C. You’re selling beer to a consumer, and his quote was perfect. He’s like, “You know what? I feel like too many times where we’re talking robots to robots.” Really, it’s just got to be people to people at the end of the day.

Chris:

And this will go into a theme I’m going to talk about a couple of times today, I’m sure. And that’s really humanizing a marketing effort within side of the B2B space. I’m going to connect with the brand. For example, me being in the manufacturing space, I’m going to connect with the brand a whole lot more if I see a picture of one of their employees out in the field, whether that’s a chemical plant, in the oil field, on the manufacturing floor, sharing a story about that person, why they love what they do, why they love working for that company. I’m going to connect with that a whole lot more than I would with say a picture of a widget that that company makes, for example. So my biggest misconception is you’re trying to debunk that myth, that marketing for B2B is different than B2C. Sure, there are some little things here and there, but at the end of the day, people are people, is the big message.

Ben Baker:

Yeah. I mean, I love that because whether it’s business to consumer, to B2C or B2B with business to business, really it’s human to human.

Ben Baker:

It’s H to H, 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 they have? Can they make my life easier?” And that trust is built because of human relationships. Not because of you’re 50 cents 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. So I love that. Absolutely love that. Ray.

Ray Ziganto:

Right. First off, I want to make it clear that if you’re anything lower than the first or second person to respond to a question here, you’re screwed. All the really good stuff gets sucked out. [crosstalk 00:14:35].

Ben Baker:

Well, we’ll make you start next time, okay? With your winding, you know what? You’ll get your turn.

Ray Ziganto:

Love what everybody said so far. The number one misconception I’ve bumped into time and time again is, “We don’t need marketing because our salespeople have the relationship with our customers. And as long as we have that, we’re good. We know what’s going on.” And it’s like, “My gosh, been at this long enough to recognize it.” Well, yeah, 20, 30 years ago, that was the point of the relationship where that interface happened, but along came technology and everything else. Allison shared number of times before what 70% of the research and effort that goes into making a decision about sourcing with a company happens before they even reach out. So-

Ben Baker:

Exactly.

Ray Ziganto:

… how much of this conversation is happening outside of your sales team, your field sales team, unless you’ve re-engineered that in today’s world. So no, while I don’t diminish the importance of the rapport that anybody in your company has, that is in contact and facing customer facing, marketing is mission critical. It is mission critical, it is not optional, it is not something that you can get to someday or applies somewhere else. And chances are, you’re probably way under invested in it right now and not getting the results that you should. So my two cents.

Ben Baker:

I love it. And that’s really US pennies. The [crosstalk 00:16:26], to Canada, we don’t get the full two cents worth, we’re only about 1.8 cents or something like that. Mark, you get the rebuttal on this because you’re our sales guru. So-

Ray Ziganto:

That’s right.

Ben Baker:

… I want to hear your thoughts on this.

Mark Mitchell:

Marketing, good marketing creates a tremendous amount of value. Nothing frustrates me more than when I work with a CEO or a CFO, when they tell me, “Yeah, well, 50% of marketing is good. 50% of marketing is a waste. I just don’t know which 50% I’m getting,” right? 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 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, and they couldn’t be more wrong. Today, as we indicated, like you said, 70% of the buying processes over before the buyer speaks with the sales person and 20%, they’re just reaching out because they want to work out the final details. They’ve already made a decision.

Mark Mitchell:

So why not be part of the conversation early on? And if your website is a virtual brochure, you’re not getting ROI. No wonder the CROs are angry, right? 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, so call me crazy. Again, sales guy talking about marketing, but I did stay at a holiday Inn express once, and I think what we should be doing is putting voice on our websites, the way our customers speak and solve their problems.

Ben Baker:

Well, I love that. And 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 are the terms that they use on Google? When they’re thinking about you, ask your clients, is this how… “If you were to describe me to somebody that didn’t know who I was, how would you describe me? And use those words, because we need to speak in the language of our clients. We need to speak, not in technical data, not in your 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.” Because let’s face it 70 to 80% of the people that are viewing your product for the first time are viewing it on five square inches or less, they’re on their phone. And if we don’t have a marketing strategy that is addressing, making sure that people can view your material and understand your value to them on that mobile device, you are so far behind the curve. It’s ridiculous.

Ben Baker:

So the next question, and it leads right into that. It is the world’s changed, good, bad, the ugly, 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. So 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 say, six months ago? What’s changed and how do we have to change in terms of our marketing, to be able to make sure that we’re effective? And Ray, I’m letting you go first this time.

Ray Ziganto:

Well, thank you, Ben. I think what happened, the whole world, everybody stimulus response is what we’re seeing and absent at crisis, businesses and people responded in a certain way. You build too much inventory, you take your time, you get on airplanes, because they’re cheap. Guess what? Every business on the planet is facing constraints. And that constraint is, I can’t do what I used to do, but I’m still here and I still have responsibilities. And get over the initial shock, how do you get back to playing offense in the marketplace? And there’s these smart companies, big, small, and everywhere in between have figured out how to, as you say, get to that five square inches, or the television, or on their laptops, whatever it is, and engage with their customers that way.

Ray Ziganto:

I loved that everybody brought up, forget about B2B, B2C, all that, make it H to H because what’s working today is making your client or your target audience feel something based on your authenticity about your business, as Allison said. How are we making them feel in their language? So the smart companies are embracing video, they’re embracing social media and staying with it more than… Well, I did a blog post, that was last month. It’s getting in that routine. If there’s going to be a routine of what I see, it’s going to be businesses using social media and all the tools that are available and getting in the conversation, getting out there and being heard in an authentic way. I think that’s forcing a lot of hands, that absent COVID. A lot of companies would have still tucked in and 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 out.

Ben Baker:

Yeah. And I agree with you, because 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, “Okay, here’s my 16 posts. They’re going out on Facebook and Instagram, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, whatever. And I’m just going to send them out on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.” And then they’re going to forget about it. But 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. And if you’re ignoring them, they’re going to go find somebody else. So Mark Roberts… Okay, Allison, you go first.

Allison DeFord:

No, I didn’t mean to interrupt, but being social is not just talking at, but listening to, and then talking again. So it’s an ongoing two way-conversation. So what you said is spot on. The people that are… and that was the thing too. Good, effective marketing, it’s not about paying for a thousand likes or being able to show that you got X amount of impressions this month, that’s a metric. But I think when it comes to what is good, effective marketing, what does it really look like? I’m of the Seth Godin school, and I believe it’s spending the time and money with skill to tell a story that spreads, that influences people, that changes actions, right? So-

Ben Baker:

I love that.

Allison DeFord:

… I didn’t say build a better website like 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 your pole promise, it’s how the experience you create consistently over time, and social media is part of that. And to answer your question quickly, what’s changed, I honestly don’t think marketing has changed in four months because that’s what I believe, what I just said. That’s what I believe it is. What I think has changed is what Ray said. It’s how quickly you can adapt with the tools and tactics, the way that people are consuming information now. That’s all. And if you’re still moving at the speed of a giant oil tanker, decision by committee, sorry, but you’re fucked. I mean, that’s my two-cents.

Ben Baker:

Chris, what’s your thoughts on this? Because you are a lot closer to social media than a lot of people in this room. I mean, we’re all heavily into social media, but you live, breathe and diet. So give me your thoughts on where your thoughts are on, what’s changed, how has it changed and where do you think we should be going.

Chris:

Sure. I mean, this is a great question. And I actually like going towards the middle and the end, because then I can feed off some of the answers and build off. So if you need someone to continue to pick up the rear, happy to do it. But I’m going to echo a couple of things that were first said. So Ray, you mentioned getting into a routine with social media and this is, or just with marketing in general, this is something I was talking to my sales counterparts about right off the bat saying, “Hey, 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.”

Chris:

You don’t want to spend all day on there, but you want to go on there, hopefully post some meaningful content and then bend to the point that you and Allison were making respond to that save time. So 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, whatever that is. Continue that conversation, because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about that two way dialogue. And this is where I’m going to go next with my answer. I think 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 community.

Chris:

And 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 a core marketing activity four months ago was going to trade shows, four or five months ago. We need to find ways to compensate for that with collaborative Zoom calls. And I see a lot of people doing Zoom calls that are like a Hangouts session or still a one-way webinar dialogue. The biggest thing I would say is make it a two way conversation. Sure, have a featured guest on a Zoom call with 20 of your customers, but give all of the people that are on that call the chance to participate, whether that’s with a Q and A, or whether that’s in little breakout rooms after the fact. So that’s my answer, taking those social media habits, posting responding, and then expanding upon that by adding that humanized element to virtual engagement.

Ben Baker:

Yeah. I love that Chris, because we are really are a social beings and I find that, that’s the one thing that’s missing. You have all these virtual events, but they’re all talking heads. And we’re guilty of this, we’re a bunch of talking heads right here. And hopefully, this is going to engage a lot of people and people are going to contact us and be able to ask questions and we’re all going to respond to them. And I think it’s important, but as a professional speakers, I speak around the world. What we found is when we’ve gone digital as we’re no longer in front of 500,000, 2000 people, I’m having to do this digitally, my speeches have become way shorter and I’m spending far more time on questions and comments. I would far more like to engage the audience and be allowed them to ask the questions that are relevant to them and allow them to talk to each other in the chat rooms, allow them to have that ability to engage than just be a talking head.

Ben Baker:

And I think as businesses, we need to facilitate that. We need to find technology that will allow the building of the virtual communities, because I think that’s what people are missing. And 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. So Mark Roberts, I want to hear yours, and then Mark Mitchell, you can clean up this statement.

Mark Roberts:

Yeah, I might be a little controversial, but here it goes. Who owns the voice of the customer?

Ben Baker:

I love controversy.

Mark Roberts:

Who owns the voice of the customer in your business? If you have a marketing department, I challenge you that it’s marketing. And unfortunately though, when I work with your salespeople, they’re saying value propositions that might’ve worked 10 years ago, but they’re simply not true today. They’re actually damaging your brand.

Mark Roberts:

And in the last 90 days, think about how much has changed. And I was just coaching a sales person. I get to listen in on sales calls, which is fun, but also disturbing sometimes. And a guy was talking about their volume discount in container loads. And after the call, I quickly called him and I said, “Wait a minute. You know right now, we’re in COVID right now, right?” “Yeah.” “And 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.”

Mark Roberts:

So 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 profit, I’m sorry, 20% of your customers represent about 300% of your profit. So what if we just call those 20% and ask them, “How has this changed? How has marketing changed? How has your problems changed? Is there any new criteria that you’re making decisions with? Has your buying process changed? And then equipping our teams, our sales teams with messaging that resonates and a process that works.

Mark Roberts:

Yeah, let’s take the mystery out of this and add a little bit of science, right? So again, I really 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, no, no, no, my salespeople, no.” I want marketing to understand the language of our customers, the problems that they have. And I want them to feed really good rich case studies and content, and not only the voice of the customer, but the voice of each buyer persona.

Ben Baker:

And I’m going to challenge you on that, because I agree with you and I disagree with you because 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, “Okay, well, it should be like this,” instead of actually going out there and talking, “Oh my God, God forbid actually talking to a customer and finding out what really is the language of the customer, or going alongside a sales person and having that conversation.” And I think that we really need to be able to sit there and have our language in the actual language of our customer, not what we think the language of our customer is.

Mark Roberts:

Correct.

Ben Baker:

So I think that, that’s really an important thing. And I think the marketing, as it says, and your point has to be able to create a series of content that is absolutely shareable. It’s easy for people to share. Here are Facebook posts, here’s LinkedIn messaging, here’s Twitter feeds, here’s, as you said, here’s 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. Because what that does is, it gives that consistent brand message across mediums and across groups. So I love what you’re saying, but we as marketers have to think that we don’t… 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 Roberts:

That’s a key point.

Ben Baker:

Yeah. Mark Mitchell.

Mark Mitchell:

Yes. In my client’s building material manufacturers, I always joke there’s too many old white guys in charge, okay? So they’re set in their ways. And so the exciting thing is this coronavirus challenge is forcing them to re-look at things.

Mark Mitchell:

Okay? And so an example, is one of the things that I… when I work with a company I’m reviewing their marketing budget, how they spend their money and one of my pet peeves is many times is they spend or over-rely on trade shows, so they’ll spend… if it’s a small company with no money and they’re going to spend at least $15,000 for this little booth in the corner for two and a half days, then hope somebody comes by. And 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.

Mark Mitchell:

And when you have, for example, really understand digital marketing websites, SEO, content, social media, all those things, you now have 365 days, 24 hours a day presence in front of these customers. And so the old white guys now, they can’t go to trade shows, right? The trade shows are all canceled, at least, for now. And so they’re going, “Okay. Well, I either can just put this money to bottom line or maybe there’s a better way to spend it.” So they’re waking up to that. The other one is they’re starting to recognize the difference in ages.

Mark Mitchell:

So I had a client a couple of months ago, contact me and said, “Okay, Mark. My challenge is half of 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,” right? Then the other half is younger people. And they don’t understand the value of having a face-to-face call, or even a phone call, right, because they can do everything. They’re looking at the most, 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 that when is a phone call or person meeting a good idea?” And G, yes, older, white guy, you can answer a text and that’s all the customer needs. Like, “Can you ship this by Friday?” “Yes.”

Ben Baker:

Yes.

Mark Mitchell:

They don’t need any more than that. You’ve helped them out because you got them the answer, they can go on to something else. And so I just see it’s an exciting time right now for companies to step back. They’ve been forced to reevaluate their marketing. And I’m hope the smart ones are going to recognize the shift to digital, and some of the other ones, they’re either just going to sit and wait till trade shows come back or printing literatures, or printing print ads in magazines. Those are some of my pet peeves. And for some companies, they’re the right thing to do, but for most companies, when I say to a company, “Why aren’t you doing more with social media content, SEO?” For example, they’ll look and say, “Well, we don’t have enough budget.” And I say, “Well, you spend $150,000 in this trade show for two and a half days, what did you get from it? What really did you get?” Right. And it’s almost always nothing.

Ben Baker:

And I agree with you. I think the old white people have to be able to mentor the younger people and the younger people need to mentor the older people, because-

Mark Mitchell:

Exactly.

Ben Baker:

… everybody has something to add to the conversation. Everybody can give the other person another way of looking at things and 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. And 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? And building a communication strategy and overall communication strategy that takes all that into consideration. So I agree with that.

Ben Baker:

Companies have to sit there and say, “There are no more sacred cows, there are no…” Just because we’ve always done it that way, doesn’t mean it’s relevant moving forward. And we need to start thinking that way and say, “Okay, how can we do it better?” And the more people we can get in a room or a virtual room to be able to sit around and talk and say, “Listen, we’ve got a hundred years of experience in here. Some of you guys have less, some may have more, some of you are digitally savvy, some of you aren’t. I want to hear everything, let’s hear everything, and let’s talk about it without judgment and figure out how can we utilize all this strategy, all this information, all this knowledge to be better as a company.” And I think that those are the companies that are going to survive and thrive.

Ben Baker:

Now, the next person I want to go to is Mark Roberts, because the next question is legit. The job of sales and marketing is growth. Our job is to help drive the engine, try to make success three, five, 10X company, allow it to scale, and you just had a social media post that went through the roof. And 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 was 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? So, Mark, I want you to quickly tell that story, because I think it hits the hammer right on the head.

Mark Roberts:

Well, it was on the weekend, 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 him to blow it up, and she asked them to write their name on it and then throw it in the hallway. And then they had to go out and they had five minutes to go out and find their balloon, and none of the kids were able to do it. [crosstalk 00:39:44]-

Ben Baker:

And there were probably hundreds of balloons, right?

Mark Roberts:

Hundreds of balloons.

Mark Roberts:

In the post that I did in LinkedIn, there’s a picture of a hallway. And then what she did was she said, “Okay, tell you what. Stop. I want you to reach down, pick up a balloon and then give it to whoever’s name is on it.” Within two minutes, everybody had their balloons. And what she talked about and what she did was draw an analogy between this and happiness and serving others and the joy that you can get from serving others. And that’s actually my thing. That’s what really attracted me to first want to speak with Allison and Ray.

Mark Roberts:

My passion is serving others, helping people, genuinely helping people. I’ve got a lot of critics though on LinkedIn, right? I might pop, publish something out of Psalms, I might publish something out of the Bible. I might give some inspirational quote from a famous author and people just have the need to interact with me. Let’s just put it that way. However, I posted this in the spirit of just giving somebody a trick, a technique to feel happy in this challenging time.

Mark Roberts:

As of this morning, it’s been viewed 77,000 times. It’s been share, I don’t know how many thousands of times. I have 250 comments. People are reaching out to me, wanting to connect with me, strangers, people that I’ve never taught or I’ve never met with. So I really backed up and I said, “What just happened here?” Well, one of the courses I teach is storytelling. So the way this person wrote the story is brilliant because it’s in the form of the Hero’s Journey. And if you’re not familiar with that, we don’t have time, but [crosstalk 00:41:26]-

Ben Baker:

Think of the Lion King.

Mark Roberts:

Yeah. And had a really good visual, but again, it resonated because of what… like what Allison said is, “How did that make you feel?” And my challenge is to everybody. 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?”

Ben Baker:

Because it’s the Maya Angelou. People will forget what you said, you’ll have what you thought, but they’re always going to remember how you made them feel. And I think that, that’s where we need to move forward.

Mark Roberts:

A big part of my work is with manufacturers and their dealers distributors channel partners. And what happens to be a little bit of a niche of mine is helping salespeople who grew up as engineers. And we need to teach them that storytelling, that messaging in the form of a story, so that 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. But if you study how people buy, they buy based on feeling, they justify it with data.

Ben Baker:

I couldn’t agree more. Allison, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Allison DeFord:

Oh God, perfect segue, because 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, right? The most beloved brands are felt. So the whole point and what Mark said is true, it’s fact. People make decisions to purchase decisions in general, but especially to purchase. I’ve heard different percentages here, so we’ll call it 70 to 90% of the time based on emotion. Yet, and again, I can only speak to manufacturers, but there are many other kinds of companies that do this too. Why are we only tapping five 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.

Allison DeFord:

However, you can point this out. And the percentage of people that actually change is very small. So, that has always been baffling to me, but that is truth, and that is science. And so I think my God, if you want to scale, you want to grow, pay attention to that, tap into that. And my belief is stop trying to be everything to everyone.

Allison DeFord:

If you want to grow your company three times, five times, 10 times, it is possible, but and trying to say everything to everyone… every manufacturer I’ve ever worked with, and Mark is going to chuckle at this. You do an ad for them and 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 30 years, that I’ve been doing this. And 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 kind of ads, they don’t work and there’s no call to action. So the breakdown of an ad, that’s… my God, I could do a whole series just on that. But the point is, stop trying to say everything and say one thing. Focus on that one thing.

Allison DeFord:

A lot of people that I work with also feel like they sell a commodity, commodity product, right? We sell gravel or we sell dry wall, it’s at six one half a dozen, the other… our products pretty similar to our competitor, they’re much bigger than us. And 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. And 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. So it’s much bigger than just marketing and that’s coming from a marketing person, right? It’s got to be this bigger mindset.

Ben Baker:

Well, I love that because it’s a difference between saying we build houses, to we build your home.

Allison DeFord:

Right.

Ben Baker:

It’s having that emotional attachment.

Allison DeFord:

Yeah.

Ben Baker:

And people sitting there going, “Why should I care about you?” And I love that, Allison. That’s great. Ray, you’re up.

Ray Ziganto:

Allison and I had the privilege of having a guest on the podcast the other day, Darrin Mitchell.

Ben Baker:

Oh, you had Darrin on the show. Oh, perfect. He’s great.

Ray Ziganto:

What an awesome guy, and he pointed out something. It’s like, “You know what? All the facts and the data and everything is known and shared and available. And the majority of people when they’re confronted with it, aren’t going to do a damn thing about it.” And in fact, I think that’d be the first ones to feature Darrin’s top 10 reasons why manufacturers are going to ignore good advice, about what’s going [inaudible 00:46:50].

Ray Ziganto:

So with all due respect to those that are listening to this, that might be kicking tires or whatever, I get it, but none of this is going to work unless there’s a commitment from the top. There has to be that buy-in, you got to come off the goddamn sidelines and suit up and we’re in the game. And 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 got news for you. I consult with manufacturing companies all over the world on everything from sales strategy to operations optimization, to technology implementations.

Ray Ziganto:

And guess what? Every one of them will fly into the ground if there isn’t 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 actually 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. It’s a [inaudible 00:48:00], we’ve all been sold shortcuts over time and say, “We’ll, just overlay this thing,” and you won’t have to actually do that messy thing, like 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, is the thing. So where we are right now, if you’re serious about wanting to grow that three X, five X or 10X, you really got to get good at that two way communication thing.

Ray Ziganto:

That’s listening to your customers, engaging, getting your staff involved. A lot of times companies, leaders think, “I’m not going to ask because they might tell me something I don’t like. And I really want to go down the path of this project and say it’d be fun.” Okay, there’s as much a readiness as much 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. And the notion that, well, the growth is going to happen slow and steady, I’ve got news for you. I’ve seen more hockey stick growth trajectories due to well thought out and executed planning. Doesn’t happen by accident, it’s a plan. You’ve got to know what your baselines are. So you can do it, but only the people that want to do it. If you’re in there, if you’re half-hearted, you’re going to fail, I guarantee you.

Ben Baker:

I love it.

Allison DeFord:

Please, how do you really feel?

Ray Ziganto:

I don’t understand you. I’m from Chicago. Let me tell you another question.

Ben Baker:

Mark Mitchell.

Mark Mitchell:

So I’m getting a little lost here. So, what question are we on right now?

Ben Baker:

The question that we’re on is, now that we’ve talked all over this point, is if you are going to give people one piece of advice to three X, five X, 10 X in business, what is the one thing that you would do to help people scale?

Mark Mitchell:

To just go all in digitally, just recognize the power of their website, of SEO, social media, content, SEO, 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, and 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. But so many people feel, “Well, I don’t know.” I just think back to, I’m going to say 2012, when I started my blog, it was intimidating.

Mark Mitchell:

First, I was afraid I’m going to say something somebody is going to disagree with. And then one of my mentors said, “Mark, if somebody doesn’t disagree, you’re not trying hard enough,” right? And you just had to build up this confidence and start to learn. And I think, back to Mark Roberts’ mindset, if you have a mindset about, I’m trying to help a customer make the right decision, okay, which may not be my product, okay? But, and so that they’ll read into the trustworthiness and genuineness of that. And I just think that most companies, at least, in building materials don’t recognize fully the power of the digital world.

Ben Baker:

I love it. Chris, you want to put a bow on this?

Chris:

Absolutely. So from my standpoint, how does marketing help with growth? Whether we’re talking two X, 10 X, 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. Now I always have a call to action at the end of my videos, and I’ll give an example that came up earlier. We were talking about trade shows earlier, where it’s an investment. It’s a five figure investment to have a trade show. Now, we’re having virtual trade shows, and guess what? 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. And I was recently attending one, and these boots are basically glorified brochures at the end of the day. We’re talking about website, it’s his brochures talk about, you’ve just spent $15,000. I think that was the number someone threw out earlier to have a virtual brochure within this virtual event.

Chris:

They’re easy things people can do, and that’s creating a piece of action oriented content to introduce someone to their trade show. For example, a one minute video that says, like Allison was saying earlier, focus on one thing. If you were to spend one minute here, five minutes here, this is the first thing I’d recommend you do, and maybe I guide you somewhere after that, at that point. But creating some direction for your customers, your prospects to go. So that way, once that piece of content is out there and it’s getting likes and shares and views, it’s actually directing the type of activity that you’re looking for.

Ben Baker:

I love it.

Ben Baker:

Alright, well, it’s time to wrap this up. Yeah, 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 next week where we do, Leveraging Data To Stop Selling Naked. I love the title of this thing. But before I let everybody go, I want to go after 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.

Ray Ziganto:

Wow. The one thing, starting today, 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 just start asking, not as a commercial, start asking questions about them, about their business, about how they are coping. What do they need to be able to grow? I think there’s a couple of things that have come as a result of that, it’s the Hawthorne effect. Just by virtue of the leadership of an organization, reaching out, actually engaging one-on-one, taking the time to listen and ask about them.

Ray Ziganto:

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, “Hey, we’ve moved from buying this way or that way. While we loved that your sales guy comes by every three weeks, we’d really appreciate it if you stepped up the EDI things, so we could get better at doing some automated type things.” And you’d be shocked what happens when you actually talk to your customer. And if you’re serious about taking that next journey, your first step is get on the phone with your customer.

Ben Baker:

I love it. Mike Roberts.

Mark Roberts:

I’m going to stay on that thread. I mean, it’s part of my so-called 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 and have them to transcribe the calls. You will get more insights in 20 phone calls than any of the feedback you’re getting from your salespeople.

Ben Baker:

I love that. Chris.

Chris:

All right. I’m just going to give you a long run on sentence so I can cover three sentences. Number one-

Ben Baker:

Just add some commas in there, okay?

Chris:

Exactly. I can’t visualize the commas on camera like I could with the air quotes. But anyway, so number one is, go where your customers are. You don’t need to be everywhere. Focus, 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, I’ve said it before, humanize your brand and do it with action oriented content. And then finally marketing is everyone’s responsibility, this is not just a marketing department’s role anymore. If you want to scale your marketing efforts, if you want to scale your company, grow your business, it’s everyone’s responsibility to share that content and have those conversations.

Ben Baker:

So that’s one sentence. As long as you can say it in one breath, it’s one sentence.

Chris:

Yeah. I’m going to need a drink of water after that, but yeah, I’m feeling good.

Ben Baker:

Brilliant. Mark Mitchell.

Mark Mitchell:

I’m probably 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 have been trained in selling, okay? What they’re always missing almost always is knowledge of the customer, okay? And so I’m reminded of a mayor Ed Koch in New York city, and how he would be… To me, I always think of him as a person that would walk down the street and to everybody that he ran into, he would say, “Tell me how I’m doing right.” As opposed to like, “Aren’t I doing a great job?” Like we’d hear maybe politicians today. No, he was looking for, “Tell me how I’m doing,” right?

Mark Mitchell:

And so I’m always telling CEOs and senior people, “You need to be in contact with your everyday customer, not just your 20 biggest that take on a fishing trip or something. You need…” And so I will see occasionally, like GAF Roofing, I go to the big trade show and there’s the CEO and his whole mission is he wants to talk face-to-face to roofing contractors. He doesn’t care how big you are, he doesn’t care what you buy. Whenever he’s trying to get his own knowledge together, so then 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.

Mark Mitchell:

And so I think that just expanding your knowledge of the customer, is the most important thing you can do and regularly be looking for feedback. I’m reminded of years ago, Proctor & Gamble used to… they record every phone call. Somebody calls 800 number on the back of Tide or Crest Toothpaste, and they comment on something. And they used to make cassettes of those and give them to senior executives to listen to in their car on their way home, was a way to be in touch with the every day, “What are people calling about,” right?

Mark Mitchell:

And too many senior people insulate themselves from like, “Oh no, that’s not my job. I’m the VP of this,” or whatever. And they insulate themselves from who the real customer is. So that would be my recommendation of how to make things happen in a short order of time, very cost effectively.

Ben Baker:

Yeah. It’s amazing. When we stop making decisions based on filtered dashboards and actually sit there and listen to the end customer and listen to the employees who are actually doing the job, it’s amazing the intelligence that we gain. I love that, I love what I’m hearing from everybody. Allison queen bee, our fearless leader, person who brought us all together, I leave the last word for you.

Allison DeFord:

All right. 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. Makes me think of the Bob Newhart episode on Saturday night live when he was the therapist and whatever the problem was that the person across the desk had, he’d say, “Stop it.” So, that’s my advice. And 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. Period.

Ben Baker:

You know what? 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 such incredible thought into your answers. Next week, we’re going to be back together, same time, same place, one o’clock Pacific, four o’clock Eastern. And the topic is going to be, Leveraging Data To Stop Selling Naked. So I look forward to joining you all. Again, somebody else gets to host this thing, people get to beat me up for a reason. So thank you all, I look forward to being with you again next week. Let’s have a great day.

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.