The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 1 year ago

Fill Your Sales Funnel in 2021 w/ Joe Sullivan


In today's podcast, I break down a simple three-step framework for what a mid-sized B2B manufacturer should be doing to fill the sales funnel in 2021. This year, we still can't rely on trade shows or other in-person meetings.

Here's what I recommend you do instead:

  1. Focus on the right people from the right companies
  2. Create amazing content specifically for them
  3. Distribute that content consistently to as many of the right people as possible

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Step one, create focus on theright people from the right companies. Step to, create amazing content specifically forthem. Step three, distribute that content with consistency in front of as manypeople in your total addressable market as possible. Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast,where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving mid size manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories toshare about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales andmarketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let'sget into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast.I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing AgencyGorilla Seventy six. So two thousand and twenty one is here, and justas much as probably everybody else out there, I'm ready to put two thousand andtwenty in the rearview mirror. No need to elaborate on that point,so I'm going to skip the fluffy stuff and get right into the meat ofit today, and what we're going to be doing here is breaking down avery simple three step framework for what we at Gorilla believe that a midsized needto be manufacturer should be doing to fill the sales funnel in two thousand andtwenty one, which is turning out to be another year where trade shows andin person meetings will be largely sidelined, at least for the first half ofthe year, and we'll see what happens after that. But so let's getinto it here. There there are three simple steps here, or at leastI'm going to make them as simple as possible and I'm going to talk aboutwhat they are real quickly here and then we'll go into each one in moredepth. So number one is focus, number two is create and number threeis distribute. And here's what I mean by each of those at a veryhigh level. So when I say focus, number one, simply stated, I'mtalking about picking and audience segment and dialing in with a laser focus onthat audience. So you want to look for one of the best, mostprofitable types of customers you serve and then specifically focus in on the most importantbuying process influencers inside of those types of companies. Maybe that means mechanical engineersor CNC machinists or plant managers or CFOs or some combination of these people,and inside of a specific type of company in a specific vertical or or geography. But regardless of what it means for you, it you know it's.This is about focusing, being intentionable, intentional about who you are going totarget and then committing to that as opposed to trying to spread yourself. Thenwe'll talk more about that in depth, but number two is create. Soyou focused on an audience. Now what we're going to do is we're goingto make amazing content assets that speak to the things that those specific people careabout the most. We're talking about the...

...buying triggers that lead them into thebuying process. I'm talking about the biggest challenges these people face and their jobs, talking about the questions they most commonly try to get answered during sales callswith your team. Regardless of what those things are, we want to createamazing content assets that showcase your expertise and help that person during their buying process. And then the third step here that will dial in on is distribute.So what we're talking about now is distributing these amazing content assets for a veryspecific person in front of as many of these people as possible. So strategicallychoosing what content distribution channels we use that will guarantee consumption by as much ofyour total addressable market inside of that audience as possible. So that's the framework. Now let's talk in more depth about what what each of these means andhow to go about doing it. So let's start with number one. Focus. So we've consulted at guerrilla hundreds, literally hundreds of of mid size bbmanufacturers throughout the course of our fourteen year existence, and I can count probablyon one hand. It definitely to the number of these companies who have saidwe only serve one or two core audiences. Instead, what I'm hearing is well, we serve fifteen different verticals or different types of customers, and they'reall really important. But you know, I think if we're honest with ourselveshere, we all know that not all customers are created equal and if evenif somehow they are, you can't win the marketing game without focusing in onone or two or maybe three of those segments and just being very intensible intentionalabout your marketing. With that audience. So one of the the most importantpieces of advice I can give you here is make that decision as early asyou can this year. Choose an audience and let's go hard at that typeof customer. If you don't, you're just going to spread yourself then you'renot going to have enough budget or manpower or combination of those two things tomake a significant impact anywhere and, worse yet, your message is not goingto resonate with anyone in particular and that's just going to position you as anotherinterchangeable generalist as opposed to an organization that has deep expertise and can help aspecific type of customer achieve what they're trying to achieve. So, you know, one last point on on this. Number one focus that I want toemphasize here is is that focusing your marketing effort does not mean that you areno longer serving all those other segments. I think this is the biggest pieceof pushback I tend to get early on when I have these conversations with clientsis that, you know, they say, well, we can't just zero inon these two segments because we've got all these other ones that are importanttoo, and and I'm not saying those other ones aren't important. I'm justsaying you can't channel your energy toward all of them simultaneously or you're going toget nowhere. So what it does mean is that for the next three orsix months, or maybe even this year, you're going to commit your organization towinning business with a specific type of...

...customer via very intentional, dialed inmarketing strategy that is for them. Okay, so enough on focus. Let's goto number two of three in this simple marketing framework, and that iscreate. So now that you're locked in on a very specific audience segment,what you're going to do here is create amazing content that speaks to the thingsthat that type of person from that type of company actually cares about. Sohow do you figure out exactly what those things are? That's going to beprobably one of the first questions to get answered here, right how do weknow what this type of person cares about? I think the best things are acouple things you can do here. The best things you can do gotalk to five or ten of your current customers who fit the profile that you'retargeting, the types of customers that where you're finding yourself saying, Oh man, if we just replicate this type of customer, and have you know,three more of these types of companies are a hundred more, or whatever itlooks like for you. You know who your best customers are and why.Let's go talk to them and let's learn things like, well, why didthey choose you as opposed to when your competitors? What do they think intheir mind sets, you apart from your competitors, that they didn't choose?What's your value proposition right? What? What problems have you helped them solve? In their words, not in your words. We can make assumptions aboutthat, but hearing it directly from them can be a different story. Whatproblems do they wish that you could help them solve? That maybe you're notand maybe you're not asking those questions, or maybe you are, but regardless, these are the things that you want to learn from them and these arethe things that can feed the type of content you create to then go putin front of more companies who look like them. You know, the otherthing I want you to do here is go talk to your sales team.If that's not you, some a lot of the listeners to this podcast areprobably coming from a sales background. But if that's not you, then gotalk to your sales team. What are the most common issues that they arehearing about regularly from these types of customers, these ideal customers that you're going tozero in and target with some focus this year? What are you theyhearing from them? Biggest problems that these people are talking about? What arethose buyers struggling with and what things are they trying to achieve? And duringparticularly consultative sales calls, what are the specific questions these people are asking timeafter time? It may be very specific product or service related questions, maybe very technical things. But talk to your sales team and, you know, the other group to talk to, maybe, depending on what type oforganization you are, are your engineers or your sales engineers, people who arehaving technical, you know, engineer to engineer convert stations with your audience.What are the things that they're talking about and can we develop some content topicsaround those things? So then the next thing you want to do is organizeall these insights you're gathering from your customer interviews and from your internal conversations withtheir sales teams. Your engineers. Let's organize all this, maybe into aspreadsheet. That's what we like to do. We've got a tool on our websitethat I can link to in the show notes. But, you know, organize all these these different topics.

You figure out who are the subjectmatter experts at your company that would be the ones to provide the insights onthese topics. And it doesn't mean they have to write about it or filma video about it. Maybe you can help facilitate that, or so somebodyon your team in the marketing role can help facilitate that. But regardless,get those things down on paper, start organizing them, start thinking about whichare the best ones, that the most compelling content ideas that you know youcould create content around. You can produce this content in a number of differentformats to it doesn't have to be a written piece or what you'd think abouttraditionally as a blog post or something. You can do it that way andit's a great way to do it if you have the ability to get,you know that those things down in words on paper and and develop really goodwritten content. The other thing you could do is launch a recurring webinar series, maybe every other week or once a month, you have one of yoursubject matter experts or, to even better, to or three of them talking togetherin a very conversational way about these topics and then opening up a QAsession with a live, hyper targeted audience, you know, that audience that youdecided to focus on, of course, and step one. Other things youcould do. You could bring in a videographer for two days or oneday film your experts talking about these things while the camera rolls. Could somebodyin your team interview them, or could you put two people together and chairsand have them sort of riff on a topic that you're constantly hearing about fromyour audience? Another way to do it would be start a podcast, likeI'm doing right here. You know what are when you think about all thesethings that you're hearing in these sales calls and customer interviews, you can sithere and talk about them. I'm doing that right now. You know,I've had a number of conversations with people about where to channel their their spendtheir media budget, whether to hire an agency or do work internally. Buta lot of companies have budget to spend, with trade shows going away and andhow can you keep your pipeline full without it. Well, that's whatI'm teaching in this conversation, right. So what's your version of that?How can you utilize a podcast as a medium or a Webinar as a mediumto speak directly to your audience about these things that you know they care about? So those are four ways to do it. Blog, post, webinarseries, bring in a videographer, start a podcast, regardless of how youdo it. A concept I really like that we've talked about internally a lotwith our strategy Ma Gorilla, is this idea of the netflixing, of beto be content or you know, you think about the way you get suckedin by a great TV show on Netflix or Amazon prime or Hulu or whereeveryou watch watch your shows these days, great content that's compelling, a reallygood show. You wind up binge watching it one episode after the next,right, and the next thing you know you've polished off a whole season ina weekend or two weekends or whatever. But the idea is you can havethe same effect on your audience if the content that you create is compelling tothem and speaks to the things that they care about in their job. Thisis the B to be the business version...

...of netflix content. So think ofit that way. People consume this, caught this exact podcast you're listening toright now in this way. I have a lot of listeners who, youknow, I hear from them very frequently saying, Hey, heard your episodelast week with so and so and it was great and looking forward to thenext one. Okay, you can do a podcast, you can do throughwritten content that goes live every week and then is distributed through email or however. But think of that idea of it. How do you create compelling content ina consistent way, publishing with a regular cadence so people expect more's comingand the ready to consume it? All Right, so we've talked about stepsone in two. One is focus, to is create all this amazing contentit. Number three is distribute, and this is where so many companies missthe mark. We did an episode about content distribution not too long ago,a few months back. That goes into much more depth with this. Butthis, this step, I think, is where a lot of companies missedbecause they think of, you know, publishing content from an Indom marketing perspectivewhere you publish content, you optimize it with some keywords if it's written,or optimize it for youtube if it's a video or whatever, and then youlet it sit and you wait for people to show up and find it andand that should absolutely be part of your strategy. You know, I'm I'man advocate of inbound and Seo and doing it right, but that's a longgame, you know, it's you can't would just dive into that game andstart winning, you know, a couple months into doing it. It's goingto take your time and depending on how competitive your space is in the realworld and online, it can be really difficult to see significant results quickly.And so there needs to be a component of taking this amazing content you're creatingand then going directly at that audience you're focused on and delivering it to themdirectly. And there are a few ways to do that. There they're probablya lot of ways to do it, but I'm going to talk about afew of them. But really what it comes down to is make an assetthat your audience is going to care about and then go get it in frontof as many of those people as you possibly can so they can consume it, as opposed to letting it sit there collecting dust on your website or whereveryou're publishing it. So well, let's talk about a two ways to distributethat content. One is is by email, and this is what probably many ofyou are used to doing. But if you think about it, whatthink about what you're existing database of a thousand people, or Tenzero or ahundred thousand is used to seeing from you in their inboxes? For most ofyou it's probably a company newsletter that's jam packed with First Person Pronouns. Lotsof I me my we US are talking about the trade show you're going tobe at and talking about, you know, the new new customer you just landedand the new project or working on, and the reality is most people arejust going to sort of ignore it. They're going to breeze right by it. It's not helpful to them. It's talking about you and they careabout themselves and their problems and goals, not you and yours, until they'rein the process of actively vetting you for a p project or something that theyneed help with. So we need to...

...shift the mindset here. Create amazingcontent and use email to distribute it so that you're creating value in their inboxesevery week or every other week, probably at the at a minimum, andwhen you're talking to you speaking to those problems they have in questions or tryingto get answered, they're going to pay attention as opposed to just, youknow, bragging about yourself. So think of yourself as a media source.Think of your favorite media sources where you you gather information and read about newdevelopments and technologies and problems at other people like like you are trying to solveand how they they did it. Whether it's an online you know, it'sa website at trade journal, if it's you know, who knows, anywhereyou gather information, and even in your personal life, you know, ifyou're a reader of the New York Times or CNN or Fox News or whereveryou gather information. Be that for your audience in your niche, and I'mnot talking about breaking news, but I'm talking about deliver exceptional content that peopleare going to want to consume. Be that source, the best source possiblefor your specific niche, around your expertise and, instead of talking about yourself, provide helpful, resourceful insights okay, so that is email. So we'reagain. We're talking about step three here, which is distributing your content. Emailis one way to distribute it. Be that media source, deliver contentto them regularly via email. Another way to do it here, that isI'm becoming more and more of a fan of, is using the paid tosocial media channels. Bear with me here if this is sort of new toyou or something that you know, you might might not think is going tomake sense for your audience, but linked in and facebook are both really greatsources to distribute this this content you're creating, but you're going to probably have toput some media budget behind it. So you know most most companies,what they do by default, as they use their company pages on Linkedin orfacebook to talk about all this stuff you can buy from them and what newmachinery they're touting and amazing their customer services and who won the company volleyball gameat the company Picnic and stuff like this, and their followers are scrolling right pastit for the most part. Like you'll get some engagement on that stuff, but it's this is not something that's helping you fill your funnel. Okay, so there is a place for that to broadcast company culture. Absolutely,I'm not saying there is not, but right now we're talking about business developmentand filling your funnel and that's not going to do it for you. Sothe other problem with using your company pages in on Linkedin and facebook is isprobably about one percent of your total addressable markets even seeing these posts in thefirst place. So you know linked in and facebook they've got algorithms that youknow are they're created to try to show content to people that people want toactually consume and to the right types of people. And so you've got todo here is move beyond just using these...

...channels organically posting through your company pagesin particular. Building a personal personal brand is a great thing to do onLinkedin in particular, I think, but building an audience takes a lot oftime. You know, if you've got five hundred connections on Linkedin or or, you know, three hundred followers or whatever, you're not going to reachmuch of your audience. That's that's the reality. You've got to have tensof thousands of people following. You need to be posting consistently, you needto be you need to be commenting on other people's things and all this stufftakes time and and it's so I guess what I'm advocating for here is notjust using those organic social channels to try to, you know, spit outlinks to your new blog post through your personal linked in or your company linkedin or facebook page. What I'm talking about here is putting some significant budget, probably a few thousand dollars a month minimum, behind promoting the amazing contentthat we talked about creating and step to where you're answering questions, you're solvingproblems, you're addressing buying triggers and whether that content takes on the form ofvideo or written or audio, you can use facebook and linked in to say, you know, hey, hey, linkedin or facebook, show this content, this little video or this written piece of content. Show this to everybodywith this job title, from this type of company, in this geographic region, with these interests. And now what you're doing is you is you're amplifyingthe reach in front of a very intentionally targeted audience to show that amazing contentyou're creating to as many as possible. So this can get fairly complex.I'm trying to keep it simple and not get into the weeds too much.But, you know, a few things I want to comment on here.You know, people push back on facebook. In the BDB world, your buyersare on facebook. Like a third of the world is on facebook.And so just because facebook tends to be a place for, you know,people to post family photos and vacation pictures and and you know, things likethis, it's not a business focus network. Here's the reality. You know,you, your siblings, your children, your parents, they're probably on facebookand all those people are. Most of those people have jobs too,and and they, you know, they have a personal life and they havea work life. And just because they hop on facebook at ten PM whilethey're watching sports center or whatever, the local news, and they that's onthe TV and they're sitting on the couch flipping through facebook, it does they'renot in a business mindset. But it doesn't mean that when something scrolls acrosstheir feed that relates to an issue they were having today or a question thatthey were trying to get answered yesterday or last week, when that scrolls acrosstheir feet all of a sudden because you very intentionally targeted them, they're probablygoing to stop and they're going to watch it might be a forty five secondsvideo and then that happens again next week. They watch another video or see anotherarticle related to this problem, and...

...then another one a few days later. All of a sudden, what you're doing here is what we'd call building, no like trust with these people. You're you're building awareness by being infront of them consistent. You're delivering insights at matter for them. As andas they start to consume that content, all of a sudden you're starting totake on an expert position in their minds. And so it's this happening, withconsistency, that is going to allow you to to make some impact.So I guess to to kind of summarize this particular this step number three ofdistribute. You've got all these amazing assets you're making in step two for avery intentional audience you created, and step one. Now we got to goget the stuff in front of people people. We need to stop with the tradethe trade shows are going away. What I was going to say iswe need to stop with the the print ads in the trade journals. Twothousand, five thousand a month I see companies spending on these print ads,sometimes even more, just because you've been doing it for the last twenty yearsand the stuff getting people nowhere. You know it. Very few people cansay, you know, I spent this much in a print ad in atrade journal and I know that it returned this to me. Well, Linkedinor facebook will show you. It's going to show you data on what whatpercentage of people are consuming this content, what types of companies are consuming it, it's going to give you data on who's you know, how many peopleare clicking through and what happens on your website after those people click through.Like this, this starts to become very measurable and as you do it withconsistency over time you're going to be able to tie some rl to it.So all right. So, in summary, step one, create focus on theright people from the right companies. Step to, create amazing content specificallyfor them. Step three, distribute that content with consistency in front of asmany people in your total addressable market as possible. All right, so thatis it. I am going to conclude by recommending that, if you're lookingat your strategy for this year, still check out our industrial marketing roadmap pageon our website. We do a strategy project with with new customers, wherewe're going to help you sort of look at all this stuff figure out thebest way to get you from point a to point B via really the samestrategy that I just described here. So if you want to chat, let'sdo it. CHECK OUT OUR Industrial Marketing Road Map and thank you for listening. We will catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You'vebeen listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss anepisode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd liketo learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expandingcollection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for BTB manufacturers at Grillaseventy sixcom learn thank you so much for...

...listening. Until next time.

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