The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 10 months ago

Go Where Your Audience Is (Which May Be TikTok) w/ Todd Clouser

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Tell me a platform where you can post 15 times and have 40,000 followers.

Today’s guest throws out a TikTok in five minutes before breakfast every morning — and has incontrovertible proof that it absolutely drove 100% of the preorders for a new product.

In this episode, I interview Todd Clouser , Senior Brand Marketing Manager at Refine Labs, about the power of TikTok marketing in the trades.

Join us as we discuss:

- The potential for TikTok videos to educate students and new tradespeople

- Stunning stats and anecdotes of Todd’s TikTok success

- How to cultivate relationships with TikTok influencers

- Advice for getting started on TikTok

Subscribe to The Manufacturing Executive on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for The Manufacturing Executive in your favorite podcast player.

You can very easily create a massive audience on the Internet and teach them how to do things, and it's the same effect, except it's way more shareable, it's way more scalable and it doesn't cost very much to do it. 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 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 of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerrilla. Seventy six rewind maybe twenty or twenty five years. You'd have heard plenty of companies saying things like a website. Nah, that's not relevant to us or our customers. Maybe ten years later you'd have heard the same company saying facebook linkedin social media. Now that's not for us our customers. We've all watched this movie before, and here's the problem with it. Too often, businesses dismissed channels based on assumptions they make about their audience. Meanwhile, do you know what the smartest marketers at the smartest companies are doing? They're putting in the work to understand their customers in their prospects. They're taking the time to learn who influences the buying process inside of those organizations. They're studying where those people congregate both physically and digitally, and they're learning how those people gather and share information. Not until these smartest of marketers understand all of this would they dare make an assumption like tick tock. Nah, that's not for us. Are Our customers? Because maybe actually...

...it is. On that note, let me introduced today's guest. Todd closser is a senior brand marketing manager at refine labs. Prior to that, todd built his marketing career in the welding and fabrication industry. As a marketer, todd grew the Youtube Channel weldcom to over six hundred and Fiftyzero subscribers and over eight million monthly views across youtube, facebook and instagram. Todd is still in the welding space as a consultant working with companies to scale their organic social reach through Youtube, instagram, a facebook and now tick Tock Todd. Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me, Joe so todd. Your bio reads as a marketer, tid grew the Youtube Channel wellcom to over six hundred fifty tho subscribers and over eight million monthly views across Youtube, facebook instagram. That's no joke. And in building communities, I know very well as a marketing guys, some massive undertaking it takes time, it takes energy to take smart strategy. It takes, you know, involvement of other people and getting them on board, and you've done probably a better job than anybody I know building a digital community like that, especially inside the manufacturing or in the industrial sector, I should say. So I would love you to just kick things off here by talking a little bit about your background in the industrial sector and what you did specifically with weldcom. Yeah, so I'll kind of go back to the the very beginning just to give a little bit of background on Wellcom and kind of where I came from. So, as a marketer, I built this large following community. What I mean by that is, prior to working for Wellcom, I had absolutely zero experience knowledge anything about welding or any related industry. This was literally my first job out of college was doing this. And so when I say I built that as a marketer, what I kind of mean by that is, you know, as the person that's responsible for growing a specific channel, especially when you have absolutely no idea, you're not...

...a subject matter expert in that channel, right, you kind of have to lean on people that know better than you, and what I've seen over my career is that in a lot of these companies the subject matter experts don't want to get involved with the the marketing whatsoever and if they do, it's in very limited capacity. So the beauty of what I was able to build it wellcom is like I was literally given a domain name. So the the owner of the the domain name, wellcom, had owned it since the mid s and just never did anything with it. I was basically given the the keys to that domain and said, honestly, we don't really know what we want to do with this yet, we just want to do something with it, and so we went out and we found subject matter experts in the welding and fabrication area, everything that we did was based around what they knew. We weren't selling specific products, even though we are owned by a manufacturer. We were basically providing this free education. That the audience. You know, we slowly built that audience in the beginning, but we kind of became one of, if not the go to channel in that industry because we very much had the reputation of we're not trying to sell you something, even though we were owned by a manufacturer. The first company that owned it was a manufacture of automated welding equipment and then it got sold to a manufacture of welding torches and ancessories. We were always owned by a manufacturer, but we were able to build this this huge community and network of people that we could get these messages out without providing a sales pitch. So that's that's kind of how I mean we can go into more detail how we how we launched it, but I...

...think the key is a marketer when you're trying to build this sort of thing, is don't assume that you are smarter than the people that you're serving the content to. I think that's the problem with a lot of people that that are trying to build these communities, and I may have fallen into this early on, to even when the community would push back and say like, well, I don't think your guy did this right, this didn't look good or that's a bad well, you shouldn't have posted that me early on, not knowing what a good weld versus bad world was. I used to get combative, and we can talk about this too, because this is kind of how I learned how to make my trolls into into my assets. But in the very beginning I used to get combative with people. You know you're talking about when my subject matter experts the man and who are you? So that was a mistake I made early on. So, yeah, you really need to listen to your audience, whether that feedback is good, critical or whatever questions. That's the backbone to building a strong community. Well, what I think is so powerful here that the message I want people to take away from from this is if you had gone in, you know the company you were working or that bought Wellcom, and so we need to figure out what to do with this thing. If you had gone in and said, let's turn Wellcom into a showcase of our products or the stuff we do and just make it all about us. You think you would have got to six hundred fifty thousand subscribers and eight million monthly views? Heck now, right now, if I would have done that, it would have been a bad company channel social campaign with an expensive U O. Right, yeah, exactly that. But the thing is that is the inclination, the natural inclination that most companies have is we need to go we got to show the world why we're the best and why we're different. And Yeah, you do, you do, but you can't start there. And the smart move that you guys made is you built an audience first of the right people and then you figure out, now,...

...okay, now that we have an engaged audience, what do we do with this? And you you keep being strategic. If you go in the reverse direction, you're going to have an audience of fifty people and most of the markould be paying attach anyway. So I love that story. I remember hearing you tell it on it goes the industrial marketing show with with Matt Chanel, on Mj Peters, a long time ago. It's when I first heard of you. And here in that story I was like that is a really powerful message that I think needs to be heard by BDB companies and manufactures specifically, build the audience, create value for them before you go in and try to pitch product. Right. Yeah, and and I think for for a lot of industrial manufacturing company needs, that's kind of a hard concept to swallow in the beginning, right, because I think one of the problems with not just industrial but any any company that wants to go into Youtube is where they fail, as most of them don't have the stomach for how long it takes to see something or turn from it. But from an industrial standpoint, I think the best thing that you can do is go out to some local trade schools or trade schools that you know are putting out high quality talent in your industry and approach the instructors and they'll they've all got these lesson plans for what they're teaching students. And at wellcom, I would say, at least when towards the end when I was there, I would say about forty five percent of our audience was students and then about forty five while and about like thirty percent was people that had just been in the the trades for maybe like one to five years. And for us that was amazing because we obviously kind of had an influencer model, so we had these manufacturers coming to US weekly, because it's the Lincoln Electric Game Plan. Let's get our power sources in every single college, get our consumables and every single college so when that person comes out, that's the stuff they want to use. But for some of these other...

...manufactors that don't have the budget or the reach for the ability to do that like that, what something like a link in electric does. Know you can very easily create a massive audience on the Internet and teach them how to do things, and it's the same effect, except it's way more shareable, it's way more scalable and it doesn't cost very much to do it. It's exactly right. I think we're it's a good transition into where I want to take this conversation next, which is a channel that you have sort of started really trying to wrap your head around and I think you're doing a great job on it. So I've been following you on linked in for a while. Your post great content. I've noticed recently that you and your team at refine labs have been really pushing the video social media network Tick Tock very hard some people listening might not even know what tick tock is. If you do, you probably think of it as something that your daughter or your knees or whatever is. You know us in to post videos and not relevant to you. You know this is manufacturing right. But what I have observed is what and whate'ver seen you talk about and the what you've shown me with a couple accounts that you're working on. Wow, there is some serious potential on this platform and you're seeing it in the welding space. I'd love for your you to tell our audience a little bit about what you see unfolding right in front of your eyes right now with welders on Tick Tock. So I think from a manufacturing perspective, people think people are very shortsighted in the use case for their product or who I'm selling my product, like to write. So we'll take welding, for example. You know you might be selling into an account or a shipyard or something that's that's buying two hundred pieces of equipment and you're selling to purchasing person or an engineer and some other cases what people don't realize is there's people down the line that impact that decision. In a lot of cases it's not just like a price decision or a functionality decision, and a lot of...

...these cases those things overlap. You can get red or blue, or yellow or green, it doesn't matter. They all do the same thing. It comes down to what do they want to use at the end of the line, and I know that's not the case with everything, but my point is these welders and trades people are already creating these massive followings on on ticktock and they're they're not only influencing purchasing decisions from within the company that they're working for, but there showcasing the brands that they love on their personal tick tock pages, which is then being seen by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of the same thing. We just talked about. Students in school that want to see that product, or people that are new to the trades that want to see something cool and different, or it can be a number of things, but there's countless examples of tradespeople that have built these massive followings of millions of US per month or per week in some cases. So I think it's silly to think from a manufacturer's marketing perspective, that go. Everybody that you know, I talked to about my product is on Linkedin. So like that's the place I should be. You know. Yeah, okay, engineers are on Linkedin, that's true. Other marketing people are on Linkedin. In a lot of cases welders are on Linkedin too. You have to think about not just the person you're selling directly to, but down the line who's influencing that decision. And in trades it's one hundred percent the person that's frontline worker using the piece of equipment. Yeah, for sure, we talk a lot about you know, who's the buying committee? Who are the buying process influencers? That all have different roles in their company. They all have different things they need to accomplish personally, and you need to think about who all those people are. I mean, when you think about procurement or purchasing, if that's...

...who you're talking to, it's usually too late. Somebody else the company has already influenced the decision. And now we're price shopping, and I know that resumessage resonates across a lot of our audience. So who are those people? And Listen, I'm like welding is one example, right, but if it's true with welders now. Well, if it's not yet, it'll be true with machinists soon enough and it'll be true with other people on the front lines were working on factory floors. So not illustrate this a little bit? I love you to talk just a little bit for our audience. Who is they probably heard of tick tock, but even realize what the what the Plat? How do you use the platform? What are that? What's the type of content you're seeing? It's a bloodly video based platform, but, and I'd love if you could illustrate with a few examples from like what you're doing with some of the accounts you've been helping manage. Yeah, sure, so. For anyone who doesn't isn't familiar with Ticktock, it's essentially a short form video channel that allows you, as a creator, to do a lot with a little as far as editing in APP there's different trends. You can add copyrighted music that you wouldn't be able to add on on other channels to your content. There's a lot of transitions and cool things that, like, you couldn't have done before unless you were a video editor, and you can do it very quickly. So it gives creators the ability to make really cool content really quickly. So that's kind of the bonus from the Creator side. But the the really cool thing now is that the organic reach on that platform is unlike anything I've seen, and I was putting out content back when, like facebook, organic reach was going crazy. Even that doesn't even compare to what's going on on Tick Tock. So just to give an example of a piece of that. So one of the accounts that I manage, it's it's a wealthy manufacturer, and the content that I put out for that channel is ninety five percent user generated content. And so I put out again, I created the...

...account like a month ago. I put out maybe five posts, you know, and they're getting a hundred to two hundred views each, nothing special, right, and these are videos of people welding, essentially correct. This is videos of somebody's on a you know, welding on a pipeline and they take a video of their weld or, you know, somebody's on some sort of assembly line or production line. But yeah, essentially people filming their wells. And the sixth video I put out, and I had about twenty to fifty followers at the time. So again, nothing spectacular. Within three days had four and a half million views on it. And what happened was when that piece of content went out, the six videos that had a hundred, two hundred views prior to it, you know, now have five to ten thousand views. And every piece of content that I put out after it, minimum I'm getting tenzero views and once or twice a week one of those is is going off for anywhere from a quarter million to a million views. And this literally takes me five minutes a day first thing when I wake up, go out find a piece of content that the same type of person that would be behind my product. Doesn't even have to have the product in it doesn't matter. If it is a video that resonates with my buyer, then as long as it's not showing my competitor, I'm good with it. And some people may say, I've heard this a few times, it's like, well, you're getting a lot of views but it doesn't matter because it's not your product. It's like, okay, that may be true, but here's my two kind of rebuttals to that one. There's seeing my logo next to that video. So even if they're not seeing my piece of equipment like in the video itself. They're identifying that video with my logo. And the second thing is, and probably the more important thing, is when I do have a new...

...product come out or, you know, an update to an existing product or whatever, I've got this massive audience that's already built in. I don't have to pay for reach. I just throw a tick tock out and there was a product launch for a new machine. It's was probably like two or three weeks ago and I literally took the product in my garage. There's nothing fancy about this process. I didn't need welders, I didn't need a film crew. I went in my garage, I hung up a black sheet, I got some slomo picks of the machine with my phone and then I did some text to voice things on tick tock and it's got a hundred and fifty thousand views. Say I'm just machines coming out. Be Ready and the amount of traffic and pre orders that that tick tock has drift of in, and I know one a hundred percent that the tick tock row of the preorders because the tick tock went out the same exact day we put the product page up and there was nothing else out. It's absolutely insane. What's so little work can create? Yeah, I mean that is just so powerful. You're doing, you're almost doing at another level what you did with weldcom. If this is what it comes down to, if you understand who you're trying to reach, who's going to influence a buying process, and you can create value for them or create a community where others can create value for them. Build the audience first, like Todd said. I mean if you had launched this tick tock account with a bunch of product videos that were just focused on you, you would not have anywhere near the following that you already have. But if you go in the reverse order, create value first, build the audience first. Now it gives you that opportunity to put something out there at that that is branded or at least or maybe it's not even branded, but you've got eyeballs on it, and it doesn't even have to be a strong sales message because you've already have the reach that you need for to be impactful. Here's the other thing too, that I think a lot of people in industrial look over because generally it's capital equipment. It's a little more expensive. But what you will see when you start, if you create a user generated content model on...

Tick Tock, what you'll see is you'll find accounts that are constantly putting out really high quality stuff that, when you are it does really well and one those people, they love it when you share them, assuming that you give them credit for it because you're helping their brand. But you can identify those people that are already using, not even using your product, but already creating the content that your product goes to, and you reach out to these people and then all of a sudden that's an influencer campaign that is very easy to set up with someone you're technically already working with, even if they're not using your product. So I think of you and I were talking about this a little bit the other day because I was just asking you. So, all right, you're at a marketing agency, I'm at a marketing I brought a marketing agency like we'll figure it out right and we're. You're working on it much, much more than I am, but it's tougher when you sell an information product. But I think what's so powerful for our listeners right now who are in the manufacturing sector, is you have something physical and in a lot of cases it's something really interesting to look at. There's a process that you're running, there's a product that people can see, an action and they can see the the impact that it makes. This is what's interesting to me. Specifically on a video based platform like Tick Tock, do you agree, todd anything, you'd build on their one hundred percent. I think a lot of people kind of associate tick tock with dancing videos and that sort of thing, so which is part and parcel of the reason they don't want to get on there for their business. This may sound silly, but the reason dance videos do so well is because, and it's not just a video platform, it's very much like an adio visual platform and that kind of stuff. It's very visual and there's a if you watch any of those dancing videos, there's a heavy audio presence to it. Manufacturing and just about any trade on the front end of that super visual process. And then even from the audio side. I worked in welding for so long, so I feel like I can say...

...this that the marketing is so behind the Times of a lot of other industries. There's a big audio asm. Are Listen real closely to the audio that machines are making and stuff. People write that off like it's stupid, but it's a huge thing right now and you could get a whole bunch of people looking at your content by simply filming a piece of your equipment in action. It doesn't have to be welding, where you're looking at the final product of the wealth, be a hydraulic press. There's very much a visual and even in audio response there. That is it would just get insane amounts of views. People are more concerned about either looking silly or they don't see the value in it. The people on there aren't there their buyer. I just told you it takes me five minutes a day, and that's not an understatement. Five minutes a day. I do it when I wake up, before I go out and eat breakfast like that's when I do ticktock. When you're doing it from a user generated content perspective, it's just so easy to be really good because nobody else is taking advantage of it. Yeah, this it seems like there's a window here, and who knows how long it'll last, for you can kind of be a first mover and really get out ahead of it, because no you know, no platform less forever in terms of your ability to have that sort of crazy level of organic reach. Right, a hundred percent. If you were lucky to be on the Facebook, you know, bandwagon back in probably two thousand and thirteen. For us, like I could, I could post to so we always created youtube as our long form and then we would we would break it down for different channels. You know, I was getting maybe back then I'd get, you know, tenzero views on a youtube video. I put the same piece of content, except it was cut up into four videos instead of onelong one, and each one got a...

...million views. That helps you grow the youtube channel. For me, I think youtube is just it's so different from and I don't know that you'd actually call it the social media channel, but it's so different from other social media channels because your content has the ability to last so much longer, right, because it acts more like a search engine than a scrolling feed. I always used all this other small content to help promote the one that was most value able for me, which was youtube. Tick Tock right now is the same thing. I did this when I was at wellcom. I used to take our videos and I would I would always create a what I called a teaser, which was the trailer for the video. I take some really cool looking arc shots or slowmo shots or something and just throw them up on tick tock or while we were filming the video, take five minutes and, you know, have the guy who's on on front of the camera do something specific for Tick Tock. When I left, I think I had posted about fifteen posts over the course of two months and that was at fortyzero followers. And that's fifteen posts. Tell me a platform where you can post fifteen times and have fortyzero followers. Yeah, I mean that's just wild. I think of how active I'm on Linkedin. I probably spend five hours a week creating content for Linkedin. I have about five thousand followers after doing that for two years pretty consistently. It takes time, right and yet to be able to move that that fast. It's an opportunity. So, todd, what advice could you give? You know, a lot of our audience it probably our cap ex equipment. They might be machine builders, like CNC machine builders, or packaging equipment or industrial ovens or you know, we've got a lot of companies like that. We talked to we talk to others who might be a little more, you know, not such cap ex equipment, but still, you know, there's a product and there's a physical thing that's interesting to watch. With that, what would you advise somebody to do just to get started on Tick Tock? First thing I would say, and this is the easiest play that...

...there is, is whatever that category or niche that you're creating your product for, go on the platform and find stuff that's that's already getting a lot of us. What I did was I go on instagram and I find the content that has done really well this week and I'll go back a year. I don't care because I know that the people that are on Instante, people that are on tick tock have never seen the stuff that's on instagram. So I can look at a post on instagram and like a year ago, it got, you know, a million views. I know it's going to get fifteen million views on tick tock if I put it out today, and none of those people, maybe not none, but I would venture to say ninety percent of the people that see it on Tick Tock. They don't spend their time on Instagram, so it's brand new to them. So that that would be. My initial advice to get started is go back in the Archives of influencers in your category and see what performed posted on Tick Tock and then kind of go from there. You'll see that you'll see your audience grow extremely fast and then at that point you can reach out to those people and see if they weren't work together. It's great advice. How about user generated content inside your organization? Like I just think about if you've got if you have a your machine builder or something, could you just get videos of your people as they're doing rd at this stuff or they're testing and or your customers? Could you get your customers? I could send me an iphone video of just take a thirty second video on your iphone of of you operating this machine and community can use text it back to me a hundred percent. So most of the manufacturing facilities that that we worked with at WELLCOM and there was there was a few across honestly, we worked with like abrasives manufacturers, power source manufacturers, different you know, PPE manufacturers, different categories within the industry, and most of the facilities that we went to to film on site they had some sort of...

...whether it be r and D or an area that they brought in for sales rep training or, you know, there was a or where the machining parts. There's something on site that you could very easily give a machine operator. You know, go out there as a marketing person and ask the machine operator, Hey, you kind of know what's going on here? Shoot me like ten seconds or fifteen seconds of footage of what's going on and that's it. You don't have to post it, you don't have to edit it, just kind of or, if you really want, you could go out and film him doing it or doing it. So yeah, I mean I would say empower the people that are doing the the hands on tasks to let them show people what they do every day. And then I think the the benefit to that too is from an employee standpoint. You know, if I'm out there and I'm I'm a building parts on a ce and C and then, you know, I see my company kind of showcases me on the company Tick Tock page and it shoots off for three cours of a million views, I would think that's pretty cool, especially yeah, like go home and like show the kids like, you know, who's the Tick Tock Star now, type of thing. That would make me happier in my job too. I'd be more inclined to do it with with something else. So I mean there's definitely ways you can get creative with people inside your organization to make really cool content on tick tock. Awesome, Todd. Is there anything else you want to add to this conversation that I didn't ask you about? Honestly, I'm tick tock is. It's very I don't want to say it's difficult because I don't want to say it's difficult to do it. It's it's tough to figure out what works and what doesn't. Sometimes you think something's going to be like, Oh, this going to go be great and it just sinks. And sometimes it's like this is the dumbest thing in the world, but I'm just going to post it anyway and it gets four and a half million views. So my advice to people would be just do it. If it doesn't look great, it doesn't really matter. Just posts a lot of content, find the trends,...

...figure out what your audience likes what they don't, and just kind of optimize it from there. Awesome conversation, todd. You're teaching me. Honestly, this is the wildwast still and I'm learning at myself. So it's fun to learn alongside my audience from you here. So thanks for doing this. It was my pleasure, man. I love talking about it. Well Todd, where can our listeners get in touch with you and see what you're doing to talk about that? Or, you know, and refine labs, or think can we learn about refine as well? From the manufacturing industrial side, I run two accounts, once called AHP welders and one's called everlast welders. My Personal Tick Tock and Linkedin is Todd Klausser, and my full time Gig, where I also run tick tock, is refine labs, which is interesting because it all this stuff I just talked about you. It's kind of out the window with that one. So I'm learning that one as I go to well todd, appreciate you doing this, man, this is this is awesome. It was a lot of fun. Thanks, Jo. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. 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 BTB manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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