The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode 93 · 6 months ago

The Intersection of Engineering and Content Marketing

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

What if your engineering bonuses were tied to blog post writing? 

Today’s guest, Chris Grainger, Podcast Host and Engineering and Services Manager, Electrical Equipment Company (EECO) believes that content marketing is so important he gives bonuses based on how many blog posts and how- to videos each employee produces. Chris is passionate about content marketing because he knows that it works. 

Join us as we discuss:

How to get your employees involved in content marketing 

The benefits of podcasting as a medium in the manufacturing sector

The long game of content marketing and the snowball effect

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Look, you only have so many hours in a day and you're at their supporting customers, and I get it, but in the day, what would it do for you in your business if you can support that customer while you were sleeping? Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving midsize manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode at the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a cofounder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerrilla seventy six. This episode is brought to you by prolific, an account planning solution that enables manufacturing sales teams to log key information and build account plans right inside of sales force, rather than resorting to sticky notes, spreadsheets, white boards and slide decks. Learn more at prolific dot AI. That's pro o L IFIQ DOT AI. I've been doing content marketing for over ten years with manufacturers and one of my strongest beliefs is that the most important insights to fuel your content need to come from the brains of your organizations subject matter experts. But when your subject matter experts are engineers or other technical professionals who are hired to do a job at your company and that job wasn't marketing, how do you effectively bring them into the content creation process, because more often than not they'll be the first ones to tell you that they don't have time for that. My guest today is unique in the sense that he comes from an engineering background but has found himself in a marketing role, and man is he doing a great job bringing those two sides...

...of his company's business together. Let me introduce him. Chris granger is focused on serving others. After completing his engineering degree, he found himself more interested in learning about different manufacturing companies and supporting them through electrical distribution than taking on a more traditional engineering role. Chris has had a myriad of roles, from sales engineer to business development to operations and now he oversees engineering in services. Chris founded and hosts a weekly podcast called echo asks why, where he is interviewed industry experts as they explore a variety of industrial topics, always focused on people and ideas over products. The podcast is put Chris sidebyside with his marketing team and is where he's truly found his passion. Chris has taken his love for podcasting and serving others to another show called the lion within us, and that show is aimed at serving Christian men who are hungry to be leaders, that they are predestined and to be. Chris, welcome to the show. Thank you, Joe. was honor be here my friend awesome will Chris. You know, here's what I really love about what I see you doing out there online. You are an engineering guy, or I got with an engineering background. That is sort of found your way into marketing and you fully embraced content marketing. And I've worked with a lot of manufacturers over the last decade or so and your type is a rare breed. I will tell you so I what I would love to have you do here is just start up by telling our listeners a little bit about what inspired you to dive headfirst into content creation for your company ECO. Absolutely, absolutely. It's a saying I guess I interesting story. You know, two thousand and eighteen I was running the operations division of Echo from a from our motor shop, motor repair, were libability services, things like that, and they decided to we needed to that, to divest of that part of our part of our business. So come Decemmer two thousand and eighteen, the crew that I've been working with for four...

...years they were gone. So I was I was okay, where I go now? So the ECO which was gracious. They all for me an opportunity to oversee engineering and services. I came to that group and that's working with the suburn matter experts, you know, and the product managers, the solution architects that really you know, they're the ones that they gets, you know, nuts and bolts, really designing solutions out there for manufacturing to support, to support manufacturing. And I was overseen experts, but I was not in the trenches like they were. Right so I was able to provide them good oversight, management, direction, things like that, but I still felt kind of just this, a little bit lost, to be honest, just just trying to figure out where to go. And so I started, you know, on my drives to see customers and supporting them. I was listening to a lot of podcast and I was listening to, you know, Gary Vi a lot and things like that as our start really thinking about marketing and how our customers are buying and how I could help our team of experts be in front of their customers when they're not in front of their customers right so just trying to help them think through that, and so that just really, you know, everything lined up. We brought in a marketing manager who turned out to be probably one of the best friends I have on the planet right now. Is Name as Adam sheets and and we just hit it off. So he was able to teach me a lot about marketing to and it. That kind of was just a really good opportunity for where he was marketing. He didn't know engineering or necessarily electrical what we do, and I was the opposite. I knew what we did, you know, I had that understanding of the the technical aspect, but I didn't know the marketing world. So we just literally we I mean feel like as one point we were just living together. I mean our wives call it a bromance, whatever, you know, that's fine, but we we we took that opportunity just to lean in on each other, to make each other sharper, and that's really led to this this whole world of content Careerian with the podcast, with videos, blogs,...

...and it's just kind of taken taking us to where we're all right now. Yeah, I love that. I love that you kind of recognize the opportunity and I spend so much time, or have throughout, you know, over ten years, working with manufacturers just trying to help on engineers and more technical people understand why we need their brains and their participation and content, because I always say the best content comes from the brains of a company's deep subject matter experts. The markers jobs would be the facilitator and to figure out how to tap into that and turn it into something that is public facing for your audience. So I guess my question few Chris, is like how do you get and how have you been able to get engineers and technical professionals to actually care about your content marketing initiative and to be able to understand why it's important that they're a part of it? Yeah, well, I mean I think some of its just showing them, you know, and getting them to understand, to think scalable. You know, I use I use that all ot on my gas. I look, you only have so many hours in a day, you know, and you're at their supporting customers, and I get it. But in the day, you know, what would it do for you in your business if you could support that customer? Why are you were sleeping? And that would generate some some leads for you that were actually warm leads that you could go in. At that point, you know, you're further down the sales process and you could take it and serve them at a greater level. And once I started talking like that, okay, then they started getting, you know, connecting the dots, and then some of it just came down outright reporting structure. Of just be honest with you, Joe, those a lot of these engineers, they report it to me. So it is important to me, it was important to them, and and we did interesting things like their mbos, the way that their objectives, the way they got paid on some of their bonuses were actually tied to content. And you know, nobody ever done that before and are my boss he would. At the time he was like, are you sure you want to do this?...

I'm like, will look if it's important enough that we found that their value for our customers, that people were trying to serve, then yeah, I mean we're asking them to dedicate their time to it, so this needs to be part of their their compensation package. So, you know, it came down like we've started really simple, with number of blogs, like they were. There was a blog requirement that they had to write and then, I this this past year, we took it to videos, you know, how to videos, and so they they starting to understand and any events and things like that. So they're starting to understand that, hey, it's kind of the way the role is evolving. So you know, and they, most of them, have really leaned into it. They enjoy that part of it. I can't say they enjoy always being behind a camera, but they enjoy sharing their knowledge. So that that really was a way for us to lean into it and I've tried to do things to make it easy for him. You know, I write scripts. You know, a lot of times I'll even do the videos. You know, we're I'll I'll get the content from them. You know, I'll basically interview my people and show okay, show me this software, for instance, and why is this important to a customer and why would they need to know this? And I'll just pound them with questions and then when I think at the Internet of that voc if you will, then I have what I need to make the content that is out there for end user right. Things like that. So we're just trying to different things like that to get them engaged and I love that and this is just a completely different perspective on it than most conversations I've had about this topic, because you are a guy who comes from that engineering background and you can sort of, you know, empathize with them and the fact that they've got a job to do, and I think the fact that part of their compensation is tied to being a part of content creation is just fantastic, because now it's not just this thing I'll do if I have some extra time, I'll go help Chris out with what he needs and give them fifteen minutes before I run off to my next thing, like it's actually part of their role. Man,...

...it's really great. Can you talk a little bit, Chris, about, you know, like what types of content? I've heard you obviously you have your podcast. you kind of mentioned video blogs. Talk a little bit more about different content types and the role they play at Echo. Yeah, for sure, I mean, and it all started with our blog. I mean that that was really where it's at, went and still where we see a lot of our traffic. So my team, they really we lean into to writing blogs are pretty consistent basis the Pi cast. Naturally, that that took off and two thousand and twenty. You know, we actually started that like a month before the pandemic. It was crazy. So I did my first recording at echo and literally the next day or the next week everything's shut down. So the studio. But the cool part was I had all the equipment, so I've just brought it all to my Home Office and built the home studio that I'm in right now. And you know, we never missed a beat. So that the podcast and then, I guess, about a year and to the podcast we added the video component to it. So they start off as an audio only party podcast. So we added the video component to it. And then once I started, you know, studying video and you know, I started link thinking about things from like they ask you answer the visual sale, you know, different types of ways to make videos that actually impact manufacturing. That that would that would help serve people in a much higher level and that really took us to the next level. Okay, when I'm planning with my guys, we're not planning now anymore on, you know, a video because we think it's cool. We're trying to art. What what questions are we getting asked all the time, because we need to first address those and then we need to start answering the questions like costs and the basic stuff that people are they go to Google, however, they're searching linkedin. We want to be able to pop ups as a as a authority and some of those areas and be able to show hey, we have expertise, we can help you, here's what you need to answer that questions. So...

...that's really lean a lot of the content that we're trying to create right now. Yeah, I think your perspective on that is spot on. You know, as a guy's been doing a lot of content marketing, I mean doing it's been at the core of my career, frankly. And you mentioned the book they ask you answer, which anybody listening should go check out. It's by Marcus shared and it's probably my favorite marketing book out there. But his whole his whole thing has the title implies. They ask you answers. What questions are your ideal customers and prospects trying to get answered? What are they trying to learn and their buying process? What are they struggling with in their jobs? Where your expertise can, you know, help that, and I think there are a lot of great consultative sales people out there, sales people who know how to kind of get to the core of an issue that you know their prospects are trying to face and they help. It's more of a solution based sale where they're actually a resource to them. I don't think a lot of market that translates to marketing and a lot of companies and marketing just winds up being this sort of, you know, brochure style communication, talking about ourselves and how greater people are and how greater customer services and Blah, Blah Blah, same thing everybody's saying. The approach you're talking about here, Chris, is really understanding what things your audience, what things mattered your audience and specifically those buying process influencers that you know you need to reach an influence. What do they care about? And let's make content around that so you can be a resource to them. That will help you get found, it'll help you earn trust and attention and and then it opens the door to sales conversations because you've got their attention and they actually you know, you've built credibility for yourself. Right, right, right. I'll tell you a couple of other resources you know that I've been studying around that is, you know, I interview Windy Cubby from content marketing engineered and she's got two books at talking about some of the Personaunas, and then there's a book out there to the buy or Personas Bout Capella. I forget her first name, Yep. But then also like there's a book of Super Fans from Pat Flynn, and Pat...

Flan is more on passive income type of strategy. He's got a you may be familiar with his show, I'm not sure. But it's all about really niching down and no one who you're serving and then once you know who you're serving, okay, you know what do they really need and how can you provide that that person value. So that's really driving a lot of my thinking right now where I'm trying to go to creation, because I mean it's not just about managing metrics and, you know, likes and subscribers. It's really about are we are we getting that engagement? Let's take a quick break for a word from our sponsor. Sticky notes, spreadsheets, white boards, slide decks. For many manufacturers these are the places where key account details are stored. But the most effective manufacturing sales teams today are leveraging technology for strategic account management and for maintaining customer relationships. Two of those tools, prolific relationship map and prolific crush, allow for real time visibility into key account growth, new business pursuits and which customers are at risk, and all right inside of sales force. Learn more at prolific dot AI. That's PROLIFIQ DOT AI. So, Chris, let's talk podcast specifically. I know that's been kind of your flagship platform here over the last couple of years. As you mentioned, you started it just before the pandemic and you've kept it going. So you're, I guess you're probably right, around two years now. Yeah, two years. We're getting ready to hit two hundred episodes here very soon. Wow, that's huge. So what from your perspective, what are the benefits of that particular medium. You know, an audio based and they know you've had a video component to it too. But what are the benefits of podcasting as a medium right here in the manufacturing sector? Because I think a lot of manufacturers thank a podcast that's for, you know, tech people and and stuff. But like here you are, as in an electrical distribution company, with almost two hundred episodes that you have, you know, spent your time producing.

Talk about podcasting for us, absolutely, absolutely. Man For me, I think it's been just the conversations and the exposure that is given us from one you know, it's really also outside of that. We're not really the only distributors just doing it. So we've been. We've been somewhat of you a long wolf now, for a couple years, but it's really just opened up so many great for me relationships. I've been abould have conversation with why I never would have met ever in the past, but from those conversations it's led to opportunities for us to serve them in different areas that we won't that we weren't doing that before. So I've been able to take several guests that we work through, you know, with on ECO ASS why? And you know, from that experience and just getting to know them, we find some common threads of needs they may have in a future and when I'm able to connect them, although I'm not in sales, I can connect them with the right resources at Echo and you know, it just goes from there. So it's not, you know, you're not going in cold or anything like that, and it's been. It's just been a really good beachhead for opportunities for us to serve new markets or even take a you know, like the book good to great, take a good customer and tournament to a great one, because you're putting a wonderful spotlight on and the people that I'm interviewing there, they're not getting you know, they're used to sales people calling on them, but they're not used to be an interview like this and with a camera on and sharing about their story and how they got through, you know, manufacturing and what it's meant for them and their families and things like that. So it's something cool that they can take home to and share with their with their personal network, and that's creating a whole new exposures of people from to manufacturing just just by that, you know. So it's that's been the real benefit, I think, from for me person as well as from a business Arrow I standpoint, of making those connections. Yeah, I love that. I would agree with you. As you know, you've done probably twice, twice as...

...many episodes is me at this point. But my experience has been, you know, be at the relationship building talking to people that would, as you said, are would otherwise probably would have had the chance to talk to right as a business development component of this. It's just sort of naturally happens by putting yourself side by side with smart people and exposing yourself to more people in your audience. The market research side of it has been huge for me, I know, which is just, you know, being able to talk to people in your audience time after time after time and learn what's going on in their world and understand that. It just makes you smarter and helps you understand your space a lot better so you can do your job better. So yeah, for sure I mean that. That research. I mean there's so much you know your podcaster, you know you don't. There's so much pre work that goes into an interview. If you want to. In my opinion, if you want to do it right. So for me, you know, if I'm recording with someone and manufacturing, you know, I want to go learn about their business. I'm looking at some videos, I'm trying to consume some content so that can have a meaningful conversation with them. And if they've created content for themsels, but maybe they wrote case studies or white papers or whatever, I'm going to actually read that stuff, you know, and take that time because when I want to be able to go into it and be able to have an engaging conversation. It's sharpened need to the point where, like our I was interviewing so many people own industrial sober security that the topic kept coming up. I actually went out took adustrial sabage security core student department of whole light offense and pasted it somehow, by a grace of guy, but I was able to pass that course. But it just put me in a position to where I feel a little bit more comfortable having those conversations. But I never would have been challenged that way you had that been talking to these people about these wonderful topics. It's a really good example, Ye know. So, Chris, you know, one of the things that are the areas I you know, I'll see some pushback sometimes on investing in a content program whether it means launching a podcaster, it means even just committing to consistent...

...publishing a blog. Content is, you know. Well, well, what's the row I going to be? What's how are we going to be able to know that this has this effort has produced? You know, I five xrro ire, a two xro ire even paid itself back, and I think it's kind of the wrong mindset. I don't want to sound like you know this is a cop out, but I look at content marketing as being part of the long game. It's right, there are things you can do if you got to. You need to meet your sales goals in the short term to go capture demand where it exists, and there's things you can do on the sales front and also on the marketing front. But I think content marketing as a whole is not something you start and you do for three months or even six months and say, all right, did it work, because what you're really trying to do is create a snowball effect here and I think it's requires consistency and it requires some time and patience that a lot of manufacturers don't have. So you, as a guy who has been doing a podcast, asked now for a couple of years you've been, you know, an active content marketer. What do you have to say about that topic of patients and playing the long game and if you can speak to the impact that you feel like it's had on an ECO that would be great as well, for sure. I mean it is it is. It's a long game. I mean, if you're not prepared. That's why I think most podcasts I've there's some stats out there. It's maybe they died within the first seven episodes or this definitely early on that a lot of podcast just fade out because if you're not committed to it, it's a ton of work. I mean it's a lot of work. You know, the fun part, isn't it? Like right now when we're recording, the MICS are hot people. That's what people see, but there's so much pretty imposed that goes into to making a good production. So I mean you just got to be committed to it. You know, for me I wrote a business plan of how we want to go about ECO. Asked why I wanted to have actually put some metrics and in place of here's what I want to have in the bank at all times for recorded content so that I'm not always stressed out as a guest, as a host,...

...trying to find guests. You know, get kind of gave me, you know, some runway there. So we try to keep usually it's about three months worth the content, just record it ready pushed out. That a way, you know, skin you know how to scheduling. With manufacturing it can be hard. It may be hard just to get a meeting just to try to talk to him about a problem. Mus that schedule A podcast. So that's been something that's worked well for us, just creating some really good metrics has and or management tools rather, so we can manage, you know, who's doing what from marketing standpoint. To me, you know who's got. Where's the ball? Is it in my core? Is it in marketings court? And then, you know, trying to figure out the RL. I mean that's right now where we're at, Joe. I mean we're we're developing a content marketing program you know, trying to put some formalization around that program and looking at, you know, what metrics are. You know, should we be focused on? You know, I mean obviously podcast downloads or something. You know, social media views and likes and engagement things like that are important, but you know which one, or vanity metrics versus which one, are really important, you know. So for me it's all about the engagement, the comments, and is that actually leading to a pipeline of opportunity that we can act on and alfully served at customer and and so we're trying to figure all that. I don't have all that painted out right now, you know, in a formal plan, but we are. We are in the throes of it as we speak, you know, and I'm thankful, very thankful people like you, because you put so much great content out there on that topic specifically, is helping me and our team figure okay, here's where we need to go. Yeah, I can, you know, empathize with all that. It's, you know, something we talked about a lot of guerrillas. Marketing. Attribution can be a pretty tricky thing and a lot of times, you know, an executive wants a very clear kind of black and white. All right, what is the RL on this podcast? What is the Rli on this content writing endeavor? What is the Rli on, you know, go in the blank with really anything, and what I always...

...encourage people to do is look at your marketing program much more holistically and say what, first of all, what are some of those kpis that show us we're going in the right direction? You know, are people consuming your video content? You know we use some paid media to push out social content and get more visibility on it, and we can get metrics like, you know, what percentage of these people with CEO and president job titles at midsize manufacturers in the US have watched fifty percent or more of this video, or if they're watching less than twenty five percent of it and then dropping off, it shows me that the topic probably is not resonating with them. So I think there are some of those engagement metrics that tell you if you're going in the right direction, but they're kind of just barometers to whereas you know, holistically, over up some more extended period of time, you want to say is is revenue at this company growing and are we able to trace, you know, the source of some of our leads that are being qualified by sales and turning into quote request and closing as the right customers? Can we attribute some of that to what marketings doing. So it's you know, there are are everything's measurable, but I think you need to be careful to with what you do with all the data, because it's really easy to interpret it in the wrong way and and really make decisions that aren't always supersound. So it's a tricky place to be in. I think you guys are looking at it right though. You know, it's let's invest in building the audience and creating engagement with the right people from the right companies, and good things are going to come from this. That's right me for us. What and that's we're starting audience for in need, you know. So that's that's that's the beginning and from there, all right, we're going to measure what matters, and that's where we're trying to figure out. Okay, let's make sure we're measuring the right stuff and that, you know, we're holding ourselves to the standard. That's the right standard, you know, because I mean there's too many times...

...you can be you can be chasing a wrong thing and you feel really good about it. Maybe our our followers are growing or things like that, but is that actually leading to revenue generating activity? So that's where we're looking at right now, is trying to figure out they how do we connect those dots to make sure that you have the content we're creating that does lead to that engagement that that were hopeful for, because then that's going to be to the business results that that you know we're that were aiming for an end when you got you had in the right place for sure. So yeah, well, we're trying, man. Yeah, it's great. So, Chris, is there anything I didn't ask you about that you'd like to touch on? Well, I think for the only other thing I can think of would be, you know, for the manufacturers out there, if you're trying to get your such a matter of experts, engage, because that's what I do on a regular basis. I try to work with with our sames make it easy for you know, one thing that I've really started doing with those guys sit down and we'll script out stuff and we'll have it laid out for them. Maybe it's not a word for or maybe it's an outline, but it takes that anxiety level from maybe a ten down to maybe a four. I don't think you ever get it down to to a one form with particular when you have cameras one, but I found scripts really work well for when we're going through technical content, just to make sure one you don't forget anything and it just brings that that that comfort level down. So I think that that's been a big, big area of help. And then the importance of THEOC's, you know, the voice of customers. So if you can engage your sales team and get your sales team to understand how that and marketing can work together, I kind of call it the the you know, the itot convergence. I'm calling it the sales marph being convergence. We try to we got to bring two teams together and to figure out how we can bring value to each other, because that voice of customer that's kind of drive your program you know that and that should because that's that's who you're serving, you know. So you want to make sure you understand who you're serving, you why you're serving them and how you can serve in the best so that they're just a couple areas...

I don't think I touched on a little bit, but I definitely would encourage people listening to the lean into that moving forward. Yeah, I'll back all that up. You know, I think that the best insights come from the brains of your subject matter experts. The best content topics come from the mouths of your customers and your prospects. Absolutely absolutely good. Well, Chrest, this was a lot of fun today. I'm glad I got you on here. I just love your perspective. Is that you know, kind of that fusion of engineer, technical expert and Marketing Guy, and need to get this message out to more people and manufacturing organizations so they can kind of try to replicate and learn from you, because I think you guys are doing all the right stuff. So thanks for jumping on today. It means the world come from you, Joe. We love what you're doing. We've learned so much from you. So just thank you for what you do. A gorilla the seventy six year whole team can't say enough about what you guys do, as will appreciate that. So, Chris, can you tell our audience how they can get in touch with you where they can learn more about echo and and also your your to podcasts? Oh, absolutely absolutely say. The best way to get touched me is on Linkedin. I'm pretty active there. Chris Granger, you should be able. I don't know that there's that many grangers out there. It's just like the granger catalog. Yes, I do not own part of grangers. No, that's not me. Russell Har probably be talking to Joe, but it's so yeah, check me out there. Eco onlines, our website eco. Ask why for the the PODCAST. That's that's a way to connect with the ECO stuff. And the lying within the line within us is my other podcast and that's the lying within dot us and and that's lying like, you know, Lions and tigers to bear. So that that's what that's all about. It's about serving, you know, Christian man are just trying to trying to better your lives. So that's that's a weekly podcast to it is coming out and I do coaching and do a lot of that stuff in the evenings and weekends, just trying to help help guys get better with what they're trying to achieve your life. So you had to check out both of those resources. Is Awesome, Chris. Well, thanks again for...

...doing this. Really enjoyed the conversation. Absolutely enjoyed its pleasures. All my job. Thank you. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the manufacturing executives. Before we go, I want to say a quick thank you to our sponsor, prolific. Prolific is an account planning solution that enables manufacturing sales teams to log key information and build account plans right inside of sales force, rather than resorting to sticky notes, spreadsheets, white boards and slide decks. Learn more at prolific dot AI. That's pro o L IFIQ DOT AI. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for B Tob Manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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