Excellent customer experience is vital to the success of your manufacturing business, and marketing automation solutions can help you not only sell your business but maintain your customer base as well. In this episode of MakingChips, Jim and Jason discuss the importance of utilizing marketing automation correctly with B2B consultant and advisor, Todd Hockenberry. Author of Inbound Organization: How to Build and Strengthen Your Company’s Future Using Inbound Principles and host of “The Industrial Executive Podcast,” Todd shares how to customize your marketing automation to your customers and how to map customer behavior so that you can provide the best service to each individual.
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“Marketing automation is using technology to facilitate conversations so that you can build relationships.” Todd explains that it all begins with the conversation between you and the customer. Many businesses aren’t even aware that the conversation is happening - how a customer found the business, what they were looking for, if or how they found the solution to their needs, and how they interacted with the people and media of the business. Without some type of automation system in place, you won’t be able to map out the journey that your customer is taking - and how you can best meet their needs.
The role of the salesman is changing in the fast-paced world that we live in. Automated marketing is a necessity, and it is extremely powerful - if done well. Just as no one has time to invite a salesman in to talk and show off a product, no one has time to participate in poor marketing. Todd encourages marketers to consider whether the tools they are using are achieving the results that they want. Email, free downloads, and website forms have all been automation staples of the past, but they aren’t effective at speaking to the customer. Emails go unopened, downloads go unread. Marketing isn’t about how you want to communicate with the buyer. It’s about how the buyer wants to communicate with you. Familiarizing yourself with how the buyer acts and what they want can help you better serve them.
Everyone processes information differently. Some people absorb a message better audibly, visually, or through actual hands-on experience. Your automated marketing strategy must take this into consideration and be customizable to the buyer. Todd explains that he uses a myriad of mediums to relay a message and provide opportunity for conversation. Personalized video messages, pop-up chat boxes, marketing personnel available to answer phone calls, texts, and emails are all ways to make that personal connection with the customer.
The key is to make sure that your customer needs are being met. Automated chat-boxes - or chat-bots - are a useful tool, if handled correctly. If customer questions are being answered then all is well, but if they aren’t being answered, how long does it take for the customer to reach an actual sales rep? Immediacy is vital in our fast-paced world of communication. If you do provide a phone number, make sure that there is actually someone there to answer it. Time is money, and people don’t want to wait for information. Todd gives some excellent insight into the importance of immediate gratification when it comes to your customer, so be sure to listen to the entire episode!
Mapping out the journey of your customer is an extremely helpful step in understanding how to best serve them. Match technology with the needs of your customer - don’t just go shopping for technology and implement it into your systems without knowing if it is what your customers need to better communicate with you and vice versa. People want a seamless, helpful experience that helps them achieve their goals. Being able to track what an individual has downloaded, what they have clicked on or opened in your website or emails, and what mediums they have used to contact you - if any - are all part of the map that helps you locate what to improve in your marketing system.
People want to see themselves when they go onto your website - but you also want to see your business values in your customer. All relationships are two-way, and Jim and Jason understand the importance of aligning company values with the customer for an excellent, long-term relationship.
Jim, for example, has set up filters that keep those he may not want to work with at bay. He doesn’t list his available machinery on his website - instead, he promotes the core values of his company and highlights what makes Carr Machine & Tool unique. His goal is to get people into a conversation with someone on his team as quickly as possible - whether that be through a chat-box, email, or phone call so that the relationship is built before anything is sold.
While there are numerous tools out there to help you track and map customer behaviors, you don’t need every bell and whistle to get started. HubSpot is a favorite of Todd, Jim, and Jason. Automated marketing is a continuous task, needing a high level of attention. HubSpot helps cut back on time spent logging information and allows you to see what each website visitor is clicking on, if they signed up for a newsletter, or if they have opened an email once, never, or several times. Being able to see what a customer is interested in will allow you to better market to them so that they are given only what they need.
CRM systems are also extremely helpful in building the relationship between you and the buyer. Don’t just use CRM systems as a place to drop email addresses to send automated messages to. Know the behavior of a person and send them the automated message that will speak to them personally. Keeping track of previous customers is another helpful aspect of a CRM system. If someone who bought your product a year ago is on your website again, then you know to reach out to them and update them on the latest and greatest that your company has to offer.
Jason and Jim both felt the need to fight against the perspective of nepotism within their family manufacturing businesses by proving their merit within their respective companies. Growing up in the family business had its perks, but it also came with the need to overcome the stigma that they were successful simply because of their bloodline. There was a lot to prove - to both themselves and others as they mastered the manufacturing business and took on greater leadership and responsibility. Guest speaker, Dietmar Goellner - Nick Goellner’s father - shares his own experience and insight into keeping nepotism out of the family business, while also mentoring his three sons within the company.
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Dietmar grew up saturated in the heart and soul of manufacturing. His father immigrated from Germany in 1958 and founded Advanced Machine & Engineering (AME) in 1966. Dietmar is now the president, CEO, and co-owner of AME - as well as the president and CEO of Henning Inc. Dietmar was raised to become the next leader within his father’s manufacturing business, but he himself has taken a different approach with his own sons. Dietmar approaches the family business as a business - putting the needs of the company and team ahead of any desire to put a family member in a job where they may not need to be.
“Being in the family might get you a job, but it won’t keep you a job,” he says. Having a managerial role in the company with shareholding and voting rights is earned by merit alone. It’s not a birthright. Dietmar never pushed his kids to follow his footsteps in the family business, but when one by one they said they were interested in pursuing their careers within the company, he took them in and placed them where the company needed them most.
Each of his three sons joined the family business with unique talents, skills, and passions. Dietmar recognized this and placed them strategically within the company - where their aptitude met their passion and the need of the business. The needs of the company must be met - and that should come above the wishes of any individual. Treat the business like a business.
It is easy to micromanage any team - but especially a team made up of family members. Dietmar discusses the importance of fighting against the micromanagement of family members within the company. Coaching and mentoring are far more productive and impactful methods of training. Dietmar warns against ever forcing or coercing a person into a position that they either aren’t wired to take over or don’t even want in the first place. Not all family members who want a part in the business are going to want a leadership role.
Mentoring begins with assimilation. Dietmar explains that with his sons, he explained the opportunity to be had by joining the company, but he also explained that they had to earn the right to vote and own shares. He did, however, include them in board meetings so that they could watch and learn what would be expected of them in the future. He also explained the importance of allowing family members to make mistakes and allowing for communication to be two-way. Whether you are the mentor or the one being mentored, you have a responsibility to communicate well. For Jim, that meant booking his dad’s schedule with a time-slot just for the two of them to go out and get martinis together and discuss business needs. Be sure to listen to the entire episode for more great insight into what mentoring and coaching the next generation looks like and how to keep from micromanaging your business.
Core values are a key component of any company’s foundation. Dietmar encourages family businesses to communicate their stance against nepotism through their core values - and the determination to stick by them. At AME, the core value of servant leadership is vital. Anyone not displaying the humility that comes through leading by example is not considered for a place within the business - whether they are family or not.
Arrogance and ignorance are two attributes that Dietmar doesn’t allow on the manufacturing floor. While he recognizes that everyone has flaws and that no one is perfect, he understands the importance of a humble and knowledgeable leader. When considering whether to promote someone - whether family or not - he looks to see whether the individual embodies the characteristics of a servant leader and also displays the manufacturing skills necessary to take the business to the next level.
Dietmar explains that another aspect of a successful and healthy family relationship within a family business is respect. He warns against losing respect for one another over business issues and by not treating each other with professionalism in the workplace. Yes, you are family, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with disrespecting one another.
Having professionals come onto the board to help navigate succession plans and other business dynamics is hugely helpful. Dietmar suggests having an excellent attorney on board to ensure that you are getting it right when it comes to the details. Beginning the conversation early with family members about how the succession plan will work for the family business is important.
Dietmar reminds listeners that arguments and misunderstandings will occur during the succession planning process. Be okay with that. Go in knowing that there will be miscommunication. Hold everything loosely and operate under grace. Be able to ask for forgiveness and forgive. Building a strong family connection while also making the right decisions for the future of the company can be difficult. Dietmar suggests that if there isn’t someone in the family who wants to take on the business, then look within the company for someone passionate and capable who does want the responsibility. Open communication and honesty should be the foundation of any succession planning.
Be sure to listen to the entire episode for more helpful pointers on how to navigate the ups and downs of working with family in the family manufacturing business and how to keep nepotism at bay.