The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode 92 · 8 months ago

Why Influence Matters In Manufacturing


When most people hear “influencer,” it might conjure up images of YouTube icons and Reality TV stars…

Influencers don’t matter in manufacturing, right?

Well, today’s guest, Eddie Saunders, General of Demand Generation at Flex Machine Tools, thinks that statement couldn’t be any more wrong. He joins the show to share the secrets to shoring up your influencer strategies

Join us as we discuss:

  • Why influencers still matter in manufacturing
  • How to pick an influencer to work with
  • Why there is power in empathy and vulnerability 

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The attention is clearly there, there are quantifiable pieces of evidence that show that it's there, and if you can't capitalize on it, that's the brand's fault. 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 of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder 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. Christiano Ronaldo, Justin bieber Ariana Grande Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift. According to social media today, these are the world's five biggest social media influencers. Now you might be thinking, Joe, isn't this a manufacturing podcast, right? But there happens to be something the manufacturing sector can learn from these people that all the cool kids are following. It's about leveraging access to your audience through individuals who already have their attention. My guest today, a marketing pro at a machine tool manufacturer, will make this a lot more digestible to you, so let's get him in here. Eddie Saunders is a father, husband, might tie and kickboxing coach, former top ranked MMA fighter, sports announcer, singer, songwriter, videocast host, public speaker, marketer, Mascot of marketing and lover of all things adventurous. Passionate about his family, his faith in his work, Eddie strives to establish and deep in connections with others. Will always seeking to better understand the human experience. In a world of constant scrolling and watching, Eddie prefers moving and disrupting. Eddie, welcome to the show. It's so cool to be here. You've had some really amazing guests. You have some awesome conversations and I'm really humbled and excited just to be able to participate in that. So thank you, man. Well, I appreciate that and it's fun to I love having other podcast guests on this show because, you know, it's I watch the stuff that you publish and you know gets a lot of visibility on linkedin and and we didn't actually speak in person despite all the communication we've had, you know, over the last year. So we kind to run in a lot of the same circles and so it was great to finally actually meet you in person and not to have you here on the show. Should be fun. Yeah, absolutely, I got some coffee in me, a little bit of enthusiasm. So we're set up, man, we're set up. So what's on your heart mind? And so I love to talk. Well, first, the first thing we have to do here is address this MMA fighting and kickboxing thing that's on your resume, because most of my guests have things on the resume like, you know, engineering and machining and sales, which is all awesome, but yours is a little different than the typical background and I think we'd be doing a disservice to our listeners by not having to start there. Oh, oh goodness. Well, first and foremost, I'm a much better hugger, professional hugger, for what that's worth. The mom a lover. The fighting days are behind me, if you will, but knows is a huge part of my life. Started when I was, you know, sixteen years old. So I've been doing it for over fourteen years now and it was nice. It was a great challenge. Always been a competitive individual and as much as I had aspirations want to go play like the vision one football, like any you know other young football player wants to do, I thought to myself, you know, there's a lot...

...of other ways we can be competitive and actually be able to compete with individuals who were in my specific weight class. So still just as much of a challenge, the hardest I've ever had to work, you know, and overcame a lot of injury and adversity through that and it's nice to be able to do as much as I have through the community. Because you think it's just fighting, but I've been able to fight corner coach announce, been doing the commentating as well as everything, except for be a ring girl. Man. They won't let me. I'm not qualified danger, but it's okay and I've been able to stem a lot of that love and a lot of that, you know, discompetitive spirits. Now running my own MMA jin, which is just really cool. It's really fulfilling to give back to a lot of individuals, as well as having youth programs to help create type of that that youth self awareness and bully prevention it because it's a big unaddressed problem and it's just brought me a lot of amazing things, Aka my wife, my son's and some of the greatest friends that I've ever met just in my entire life. So I'm really thankful. It's really weird because you think, how can you be friends of people that you just punch and kick and choke and and beat each other up? But there's this weird thing that happens that brings humans closer together. That's pretty cool and then very unique for sure. So that's awesome. Thanks for Sharon. Well, I eat a topic that I really want to explore with you today is this idea of influencer marketing. And when I say influencer marketing in our listeners probably think, well, this is manufacturing, not the Kardashians, right. So let's give us an overview, because I know this has been your world for a while and something you've figured out how to do. Put this in context for us. What are we talking about with influencer marketing, and especially in the manufacturing sector? Yeah, so when it comes to just industrial marketing in general, everyone thanks. Okay, how can? We can't do things as exciting? How can we can't really be as innovative or outside of the box? First off, that's a personal choice, that really is, and you're seeing influencer marketing be a huge thing, kind not not even become in that specific space, because this has been around for a long time. Michael Jordan, you know with Nike, and you could probably associate all these individuals. If we go back as early as one thousand nine hundred thirty five, my girl Shirley Temple, did a collaboration with Weedi's, before they call them collaborations, as her special little picture with every box of Weedi's. So you have to thank people have been putting faces and tying them with products for the deepening of human connection since the early nineteen hundreds and even before. So, if you will, where we've only documented a small portion of that in manufacturing is really no exception to that rule. There are consumers that are involved, there's intention that really is involved in their individuals who are capturing a significant part of that attention, and I really think that a lot of individuals. I wish I could say they're missing the mark, but you have to try first in order to miss the mark, and so many manufacturers of just general tools really are are missing out on a lot of that really undervalued attention as far as I'm concerned. And when you think about influencers in social media in general, yeah, it's completely misunderstood. But in a marketing world we're all about he accumulating as much data as possible. It's two thousand and twenty two. If you can't speak data, you're already a step behind, and in marketing there's no exception to that specifically. But when it comes to that, you're able to see really the general reach, talking about likes, frequency engagement as well, which is hard to do, or difficult I should say, in a lot of other platforms. But you get to really put your brand on the shoulders of a specific individual who you know has the attention of others who specifically use your product and with marketing being a human to human thing. Really, in my heart and mind and soul, I believe that that just bolsters any specific effort that you have, and more people should gravitate towards that from a brand perspective and not run away from it. Is because you don't know what to do with your hands. So, as I think it's all a great point. For some context here, I'd love to you know, kind of hear an example you. You work at flex machine tools. What are examples of you know how you've made influencer marketing working? influencer marketing work for a machinery manufacturer? I think you mentioned to... a few weeks ago there was I forget the guy's name, or is his social name, but somebody who had five hundred thousand subscribers on Youtube and like what do you do with that when somebody has the attention of the audience you're trying to reach? Sure, sure, well, really, not all influencers are created equals. So, as individuals are really seeking that as a marketing avenue, which I highly, highly suggest, it's looking into and reverse engineering the attention. Like what are we try who are we trying to get in front of? If you will and so flex specifically, we knew that we had a machine tool that made lives easier and, as much as we would love people to listen to us and take our word for it, we thought who better than to find somebody who is a hub of attention, Aka are really well trusted influencer? In eight mom seventy nine, if you will, you know he's got we we saw his metrics, which you can't always base it off of, you know, follower account, things along those lines. We also saw that individuals were engaging with his content. It wasn't just the double tap hit and that like and scrollment on. Individuals wanted to leave a comment, they were asking questions, he was interactive and through that, even within a two year span, just providing him the opportunity to feature our specific products, knowing he was talking to the people that we were really trying really hard to talk to, and a million different ways, and we're able to really get over one point five five four million video content views and under a two year period, and then, additionally, to take it a completely different perspective so we can prove, okay, you didn't have a one and done. We also we have ergonomic products. If you will, and we understood that welders are holding these grinders and they're busting out their shoulders, arms, hands, and so he said, Hey, we have a problem to solve here, and so we did a collaboration specifically with a wellknown welder and petty's welding out of Knoxville, Tennessee, and we went through a vetting process, but we found the right communicator who has a clear chunk of attention in that welding community and through that specific collaboration, flex has been able to really capitalize not only on the additional tension frequency in those metrics, but to do what we intended to do, and that was actually sell more product to the individuals who we knew were going to use it. So those are just two great examples off the top of my head of the various other efforts. But it also starts with knowing who we're trying to talk to before we even start looking for that right influencer. Well, it's so smart. And here's what's interesting to me, and this is why it's so important that you have a pulse on where your audience gathers information, how they communicate, where they go online, because you know, I could talk to any number of manufacturers that I've worked with throughout my career, consulted, and none of them ever hesitate to run a five thousand dollar print ad in there in the Industry Journal that is most relevant to them. And I asked what, why are you doing this? What's the return on this? They say, well, you know, it's it's hard to measure, but we know our audience as gets this. Okay, so what's I mean? That the magazine shows up at in their office and sits on a coffee table, because you know they are ex type of company. Okay. Well, you're not doing anything differently here by saying a bomb seventy nine. This guy has five hundred thousand subscribers on Youtube. So what you know? He's the media platform, like that's it. Or the welder you described. That person is the media platform, except the differences. Their platform is actually getting engagement from the influencers on your customers and that you're trying to reach. So why would you too? Why would you run a five thousand dollar print ad that's going to sit on a coffee table as opposed to activate somebody who has active, loyal followers and go through that person to be your avenue and figure out how to collaborate with them. And it's so it's just this is not a new model, it's just a different channel for executing the exact same model. You figure out who has the attention... your audience and you go to them. So this should be something. That way more manufacturers are doing. It's just not in their mindset to say well, this, this guy who has youtube followers or who post something on ticktock and gets a million views, would be but the first you know, stop for me right guaranteed at tension. It's guaranteed the tension and there are so many times where we seriously just want to throw something at the wall hope it sticks, and that's that's marketing. That's marketing. You're going to make crappy campaigns. No influencers are created equal. They're just not. You know, if I wanted to release, you know, maybe that grinding tool arm, if you will, with a bomb, it probably wouldn't work very well, regardless of his specific following. So it's really important, very important, that you have at least some type of vetting process and don't just go find the person with the best but with the largest following, because relevancy is a huge, huge thing. If you're if you're trying to google search for cupcakes, I don't want to find the local plumber. You know, it's simple things along those lines. You get it, you get it. The attention is clearly there. There are quantifiable pieces of evidence that show that it's there and if you can't capitalize on it, that's the brand's fault, not the influencer. Totally agree. And yet your point about relevancy is so important. Like all you have to think about here is who are the people you are trying to reach an influence as a company? Who is your audience? Who Do you need to reach? Where do they consume information? where? Who are they following? Who are they getting information from? and think of that as a potential will avenue for reaching those people, because they already hold they've already captured the attention of your audience. So collaborate with them right. And the audiences are just growing. That's the craziness. They're just growing. I'm now we work so closely with a bomb and we get to kind of really work with them. I'll get a lot closer on specifically, not only doing campaigns with him specifically, but also helping him manage campaigns through other brands he's working with, and it's just astounding to watch his following organically grow with his consistency. So not only is it guaranteed reach for us, we also know that at tension is not going to get smaller. It's absolutely right. 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 pro L IFIQ DOT AI. So, Eddie, good lead in here to concept I've heard you talk about. I don't know if it has the Eddie Saunders like tm on the end of it, but the buddy branding system. What's this all about? I guess we're kind of talking about it already, but break down what that's all about. Sure, sure, well, honestly, it's not one hundred percent based on working with influencers. Is Not just collaboration on that specific realm. I recommend, especially in the industrial manufacturing space, if you will, that larger brands connect with one another and it's kind of the idea of a rising tide lifts all ships. But I take it back to, you know, when I was out and about running the town when I was younger, we I had to implement, you know, traveling with a buddy, right in your bike around with a buddy, or when we're going out swimming, you swim with a buddy because I hear in this marketing world it's only dark. Sometimes it can be dangerous, if you will, especially when we're treading deep waters. And and to that point, for lack of all these other fun nautical analogies, it's really the base concept of allowing individuals to open up and be vulnerable with one another and helping one other tell our stories. We were able to really capitalize on this at flex using some of the products that we had specifically, and we saw synergistic brands that...

...thought hey, if we were to do something together, not only does it allow us to help shine our light a little bit brighter, but working in tandem with another brand allows that light just to get a little bit brighter from a data perspective, from an awareness perspective and just from that synergy perspective. So if we pull the mask that is buddy branding system, it's really synergistic collaboration with brands of the like. Now again, these aren't all created equal, if you will the some brands are not meant to work together. But if we have let's let's say, for example, a large machine, large machines can be kidded up with cutting tools, for example, flex has done various collaborations, video demos, things along those lines with some of the world's largest cutting tool brands and individuals who we probably couldn't get the time of day if it was just something that we were trying to ask something of them. So it's a real empathetic, synergistic effort towards really helping one another tell your stories and the opportunities are essentially endless. Just requires an open mind, a little bit of creativity and very low amount of effort, while also doubling the amount of output. I think it's a great concept. You know, I've seen other companies bring this to life, like giving a another example, one of our clients has a robotic systems integrator, mission design and automation, and these guys, you know, they're fanic certified, they've done they've done collaborative webinars and digital events with panic right and so like. They have complementary skills. One manufacturer's robots and the other one is an integrator, and you have you have an overlapping audience, but you bring different areas of expertise together and you you know, it benefits each other like that when you when you can sort of one person brings this and the other person brings this. Well together, you're creating more value for your audience and you're also cross pollinating audiences and email lists and you know, there's just so many benefits that could come with that, of course. Of course. So that's really the point of it. If you think about yourself, and myself, for example, from an entity standpoint, you have your community. That's really what you can call whatever you want. You have your community of attention, I have my community of attention and if we combine in our efforts, it's really simplistic. I'd live just put a name on it. That sounded fun and I'm a Sucker for a literation and assets. But so the whole buddy branding is great, but it's really it's not a difficult concept, but everybody just wants to kind of keep their secret sauce and then when I can mark it myself and want to keep their cards close to their chest, that's cool, but there's power and empathy and vulnerability in two thousand and twenty two and beyond. I promise you. If you heard it here first year, I guarantee you're going to hear it somewhere else again soon. And even if you think dating back to like when covid happened and everybody just sat on their hands and they waited, we put that we seriously put our foot on the gas and we said, Hey, I want to do a collaboration with you, you, you, you, and you, and then from that has stemmed, you know, tens of videos, if you will, plenty of content that's come from that, the attention that's been taken and instead of sitting back and waiting for something to happen, we gathered our troops in our tribe and we started really shining our light, turned it up to eleven and we're carrying that momentum even now to this point, starting it back from early two thousand and nineteen, and we got so much momentum it's under it's unreal because we've rallied with others. I love it. I think it's really smart. What are some ways that a manufacture could go about doing a collaboration? You know, like I talked about doing a live digital event or Elebin are or something like that. You've talked about video content, like. What are some tactical ways you could do something in tandem with another organization? Sure, I mean and the manufacturing in the industrial world one and one things that we could really do is is it's easy figuring out what tools, and we'll go kind of to a tool manufacture or any type of machine, what type of equipment works with yours, and a lot of it's again going back to your audience and recognizing what type of content they're trying to see. Like for us, for example, we know that people love, especially the machinists world, the individuals who are utilizing our products, love watching chips being made straight up. That's a big thing and so... knowing that, in realizing what our audience wants, which really is the core of everything. You could have the greatest idea in the world, but if you haven't recognized your audience, it doesn't matter if the two biggest brands that ever did it go together, you're going to miss the marks significantly. And so really starting at that point it's going to be super, super helpful so that you can at least a line correctly. But but some of these individuals is whether it's your best customers, people are afraid to do collaborations with their customers and doing some type of video testimonial. Doesn't matter if it's a brand or it's a general consumer. These are all things that we can do. Anyone who you work with on a daily basis, whether it's from a transactional standpoint or whatever it may be. Being able to find those people, and I will say they're the biggest challenge is people who are open mind it, because you still have plenty of I'm going to hold my cards close to my chest. I can tell my own story. I don't need your help and a shallow minded is that maybe to an extent, you're going to reach that, but those who genuinely want that. I would argue that it helps even deepen that relationship because you're putting effort towards that. So, whether you have strategic partners great customers, there are so many ways that you can really help shine their like, shine your light, tell their story, tell your story and create some good synergy together. It's all about identifying your audience and then the individuals who are open minded to doing that with you, and you've told me that a lot of handshake agreements go on and influencer marketing. Coming back around to that topic for a minute here. You know, here's my product, go make a video. I could see how that would make a lot of manufacturing leaders kind of nervous. What's the balance of risk reward here from your perspective? By putting your product in kind of a stranger's hands, frankly, and saying okay, go do your thing, it's so risky and I wish people would stop doing it. Like I really do. I get it. I completely understand they're like. I respected Joe, I genuinely do, but at the end of the day, at the end of the day we're going to strip this, the layers of this on you we're going to get to the stinky core. This is a business decision and a marketing investment and as an entity, I just recommend that you treated as such. Everyone knows flex. You know we're really laid back. We have a lot of fun. You over the Google of manufacture. We get called all the time, but it's not unreasonable to hold a content creator accountable, especially in like they're providing a service, if you will, and so if you're comfortable providing a five, six or seven figure piece of machinery to somebody without any paper behind it, who you are, brave individual. Get after it, get after it, but have you ever played darts with a blindfold on? I'm sure you could hit the board. But with that being said, there's nothing wrong with put really creating some type of deliverables as well as that accountability, because you're being held accountable as the entity to provide the product or the service, whatever it may be, and so their service in return definitely needs to be laid out, because there are very generous influencers and flex has been. We've been so, so blessed to really find the right people, because I believe we have a good vetting process. But those who don't who are new to it. There are individuals that will take advantage of you. Don I don't want that to be the fear, but don't allow yourself to be taken advantage of, and that will never happen. So I would definitely say that that we can be laid back, but as the product investment increases on your specific part, we need to make sure those deliverables come infinitely more important and there's not a Dang thing wrong with having them on paper. They're almost expecting it nowadays with this whole Creator economy being a thing. So don't be afraid to make sure that you know exactly what you're getting, because this is a business investment decision you're making. I'm sure there are some, you know, breasts of relief going on right now from from some listeners say, you know, trying to figure out what do we do here? Like all right, we know who those people could potentially be, but I don't really know them and I don't know what you know they're going to do when I hand off a piece of machinery or my product and put it in their hands. So that's good here. You know, it's great. It's great and there's a lot of fear because there's so much of the Ricky Bobby Syndrome, and it's...

...because because they's only do their hands, they hold like, okay, they have a couple thousand followers. Okay, can we do this? Like, how do we engage this conversation? Remember, at the end of the day, they're literally, literally, human beings and they're using their content, their passion, their voice to just communicate with others. And if your tool gained some attention, your product, whatever it, maybe that's going to happen. But this is there's still things being delivered by you and there's nothing wrong with it, and I would say that that moving forward, not putting yourself in that position to have that conversation taken seriously, you're going to get exactly out of it what you put into it. And Eddie shifting gears here. I know you were a sales guy that moved into a marketing roll. You kind of had a marketing mindset as a sales guy already, which I think has helped you figure out a lot of the things we're doing now, for sure, but you know what mindset shift? Do you think that some sales folks and manufacturing need to be making in this era of content and video and influencer marketing and everything we're talking about today. Oh Dude, it's a war zone out there. You go bring a helmet. No, no, and it all rally like me and myself, because I was the sales for twelve years, read all kinds of books like I was in it. I was like, I'm a sales lifer, because that's just I always have, like this deep little guy, and is that I just want to be a marker car. Please be in marketing. Always wanted that. My degree is in marketing and a lot of my sales experience is, I'm has been through consulting at marketing and advertising vehicles. But what I will say is, with that relevant ex Arrian's if you will, that sales reps and really a people in that world are only as good as the tools you have and the abilities to utilize those tools. And over the last twelve years, I mean, you know, twelve years ago there were still great tools, but now, man, that the sales professional has so much content, data and so many amazing tools nowadays, and creating a personal brand is one of the greatest things that you can bring to the table. My success specifically in my previous roles has come almost exclusively from my personal branding efforts, because I recognize that I am not the only individual trying to have this conversation with the individuals who I'm trying to have this conversation with. Recognizing that was my first step, because I'm not the only one. Then two is my success is greatly determine on my ability to separate myself from those individuals and I tried all the stupid things that all the above you can imagine. But when I started developing my personal brand, I was able to really steal some of that mind share because I knew. I knew when it was between myself and another individual and we were even somewhat close, I was going to make Dang sure that I won that because of all the things that I had done prior to planting all of these seeds, if you will, of attentions. Than when that did grow and it cultivated and I were able to was able to see that the crop what was was a wonderful, wonderful result. So really leveraging personal brands is going to be huge. I think it's almost going to be necessary for success. To position yourself is almost a relevant thought leader, because obviously that's important, but a mainly positioning yourself against your competition, because they do exist. They will always exist. In any point that you're not sharpening your acts, I guarantee they are sharpening their's. Advice, eddies, there anything that I did not ask you about that you'd like to touch on? Man? No, above all things is just still be afraid. Don't be afraid to really shine your light and turn it up to eleven. especially in the industrial manufacturing space, there's a lot of individuals doing really, really cool things, but moving forward, if you ignore those efforts and you just do it the way that you've always done, you're going to receive the results and get that which you've always received. So be a good human shine your light, turn it up to eleven and hang out with your friends. Awesome, Addie, good way to wrap it up. I appreciate you doing this today and I'd love for you to tell our audience how they can get in touch with you. Absolutely love being on Linkedin. You can find me at Eddie Saunders junior on Linkedin. Also, you know, on the facebook, on the instagram as the flexing father, and if you want to, you can check out flex machine tools. Lots of amazing and occasionally really, really funny content, but playing places of looking fine awesome. How about your podcast, flex and friends? We go... on Linkedin, facebook and Youtube every Thursday at four PM where I'm sitting down chat and hanging out with and picking the brain of industry's loudest, proudest, best, brightest, most passionate and profound thought leaders. Sounds like you've said that before a couple times. Yeah, go check out as Eddie's show. Really Great podcast. He's a great interviewer and it's fun to get you on the other side of the table here and share your insights with our audience. So thanks for doing this. It's a pleasure, my friend. Thank you so much. Awesome. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. 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 bdb manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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