Essential Strategies for Manufacturing Marketers

In this Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, Jeff W. White, & Carman Pirie, Principals, Kula Partners & What We Make It, will share strategies for manufacturing marketing professionals who want to grow their digital presence and complete online.

In this Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, Jeff W. White, & Carman Pirie, Principals, Kula Partners & What We Make It, will share strategies for manufacturing marketing professionals who want to grow their digital presence and complete online.

These guys are fierce advocates for U.S. manufacturing, outstanding marketers, and work tirelessly to help clients compete.

Jeff is a User Experience (UX) and usability expert and leads the design and development practice at Kula Partners. Jeff uses his vast experience to speak to audiences about web design, usability, accessibility, marketing, and sales.

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Carman is the lead marketing and sales counsel to the firm’s North American manufacturing clients. Carman uses his vast experience to speak to audiences about the world of manufacturing marketing and the changing landscape of B2B buying.

Damon and Curt bring incredible vigor as they open the Livestream. After introducing the guests to the show, Curt asks Carman about his childhood hero. “Kareem Abdul Jabbar,” answers the guest, causing excitement among other participants.

Upon Curt’s request to elaborate further, Carman reveals that he grew up playing basketball and was six-foot-two-inch when he was ten. He was the only one allowed to do a sky hook on his team because he rigorously practiced it. He was a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was his favorite player. He recently read a piece by Kareem about LeBron James breaking a record.

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Curt finds it “a phenomenal answer.” Similarly, the host asks Jeff about his childhood inspiration.

Although the guest was not a team player and preferred individual sports, his heroes are legendary athletes such as Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Matt Hoffman, and Tony Hawk, admiring their tenacity and ability to push their limits.

Jeff’s childhood interests and hobbies included basketball, skateboarding, and BMX racing. His appreciation for these childhood heroes is rooted in their embodiment of the tenacity needed to succeed in sports and life. As the founder of Kula Partners, the speaker believes that individuals with a background in skateboarding or working in a kitchen possess valuable qualities such as perseverance and determination in the workplace.

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The host praises Jeff’s personal touch in his LinkedIn profile and his love for biking with his family. The conversation then shifts to the question as to why the guests chose to focus on marketing for the manufacturing industry, and both Carman and Jeff are invited to share their thoughts.

Carman mentions he chose to focus on the manufacturing industry because of the practicality of where he can make an impact and where he sees traction. Additionally, he talks about the unique ability of manufacturers to contribute to the economic well-being of their countries. While many manufacturers are global, the one factory that builds a community is ingrained in society’s ability to move forward collectively. Carman also shares Jeff’s story growing up next to a manufacturer in Nova Scotia that employed around 400-500 people and where his father worked for over 40 years.

The host asks Jeff the same question. He requests the guest to talk about his superpowers in manufacturing.

Jeff replies that he found it interesting to observe his father’s transition from paper and pen to computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting tables. The guest’s father was a draftsman, designing products that were coming to market. His father also contributed to the manufacturer’s growth, becoming the number one or two company worldwide for radio transmitters.

Similarly, his mom was an entrepreneur who owned a craft business. The family’s work ethic was driven by the desire to create something and bring something new into the world.

Following his family tradition, creating something and bringing it to life has always appealed to Jeff, who finds it interesting to see how it becomes part of the world. He thinks the business-to-business (B2B) side, where they primarily work, is particularly interesting and more compelling than many business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers believe it to be.

While explaining what attracted him to marketing, Jeff says that he always wanted to be a visual designer and worked at a graphic design firm when he was sixteen. He became interested in building websites and interactive tools, designing with the end user in mind, and deeply understanding how people move through digital properties.

Jeff’s agency, Kula, has two streams of expertise – marketing strategy and design/development. His focus is on the latter, designing with accessibility in mind and building and designing things anyone can use. His partnership with Carman is a big part of his agency’s success in bringing digital and offline marketing strategies to life.

Likewise, Carman explains that he has always been in the business of persuading people, starting his career in politics. He didn’t like marketing initially and found that it was treated too scientifically at university. However, he came to appreciate it as a mix of science and art, which he believes his agency reflects in its approach to marketing.

Carman believes that the agency focuses on finding the intersection between a B2B manufacturer’s niche orientation and their marketing and sales organization’s ability to go to market against a set of target accounts or a target vertical. He calls this “account base revenue competency,” which varies depending on the manufacturer’s market niche. This is the agency’s secret sauce, and he believes no one else thinks about it quite the same way.

Meanwhile, Curt asks an interesting question about the backstory of the name of Kula Partners. The guests describe that they named their firm Kula Partners because they were inspired by the concept of the Kula ring, a tribal trading network in Papua New Guinea, where pieces of Kula necklaces and bracelets made out of seashells are traded in elaborate ceremonies that connect communities. They saw the world of marketing and sales as the creation of endless pieces of Kula that bring people together. The firm’s name and logo design were based on this concept.

Damon and Curt find this name creative.

Curt requests his guests to talk about what a podcast has meant and done for them.

Jeff says the podcast has allowed Kula Partners to connect with and learn from a diverse group of manufacturing marketers, from small regional manufacturers to multibillion-dollar companies like General Electric (GE) and Honeywell. The podcast has extended their thinking about manufacturing marketing and helped them bring new insights and ideas to their clients. It has also helped them create a network of people connected through the cooler ring.

Curt asks Carman for any piece of advice for anyone who is looking forward to podcasting. The latter advises that such broadcasters should focus on connecting people and have faith that it will benefit their business. He advises them against becoming too prescriptive. Besides, “My advice to people would be to do that to lean into it.” Podcasting works well for them because it doesn’t take up a lot of time and energy, and they enjoy it. Lastly, he wants the podcasters to be honest about what feels like a heavy lift.

The host asks for Jeff’s take on problems his clients face and how he enables them to overcome these problems.

Jeff helps his manufacturing clients understand that even if they have a great solution to a problem until potential buyers are aware of it, there won’t be any demand for their product. This can make introducing a new product difficult, especially with long sales cycles in the B2B context. Jeff’s agency helps manufacturers understand the process of bringing new products to market and creating market demand. They specialize in bringing new, untested, unknown products to market.

Similarly, Jeff believes that BANT qualification (budget, authority, need, timeline) is often ineffective in highly niche categories where only a few companies can buy what you sell. He suggests being more committed to the people you’re trying to serve and understanding that not everyone in those categories is in the market at once. Jeff thinks that the attitude of some salespeople toward BANT is not helpful and that it is not the right way to gain attention in niche categories.

In the same breath, Jeff, on Curt’s request, emphasizes the importance of being open to change to drive success in the agency business. He highlights the value of iterating and improving existing strategies and models while remaining receptive to learning from others. He also stresses the significance of not being afraid to seek advice and share knowledge with others.

Curt mentions Carman’s LinkedIn profile and says he has an impressive record collection. Curt then asked Carman what record they would pull out if he received a nice testimonial from a client praising his work with them.

Carman admits that he and Jeff have different music tastes. However, when celebrating mutual success, they would choose Hey Rosetta, a Canadian band, a group they both enjoy.

However, Jeff loves Canadian rock and is a big fan of Rush, a former musical band. He also likes a heavy punk band from Winnipeg called Propagandhi. He appreciates the band’s activism for veganism and loves their heavy sound with intricate metal riffs.

Jeff has parting words of wisdom for the esteemed audience. He wants them to be open to opportunities, change, meet new people, and connect with others.

The conversation ends with Damon and Curt thanking Jeff and Carman for their precious time.

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carmen, jeff, people, manufacturers, marketing, manufacturing, clients, agency, partners, grew, talk, world, kurt, marketers, podcast, band, damon, designing, called, cooler


Carman Pirie, Damon Pistulka, Curt Anderson, Jeff White


Damon Pistulka  00:01

All right, everyone, it’s Friday and we know what that means. That means we are on the manufacturing ecommerce success series show. I am one of your co host, Damon Pistulka. And that guy right over here, Kurt Anderson, partner in crime. Take it away my friend.


Curt Anderson  00:22

What is up brother? Happy Friday dude. You know it’s kind of it’s bittersweet today because I think I think something’s what’s happening Sunday’s there’s something going on Sunday. I’m right. Yes, yes. Yes. Like Like, is there a golf tournament or tennis or?


Damon Pistulka  00:35

There is actually the Phoenix Open.


Curt Anderson  00:37

It’s right Phoenix open. I think there might be a football game football is coming to an end. But the the positive thing is springs right around the corner for us. Fans baseball is right around the corner of Damon who you’ve taken in the Super Bowl, dude.


Damon Pistulka  00:48

I, uh, you know, I would like the chiefs to win, but I think the Eagles are gonna win. All right. Well,


Curt Anderson  00:53

we’ll we’ll see what happens. So happy Superbowl weekend to everybody. Happy Friday. So man, what an honor what a privilege for myself to introduce to manufacturing marketing rockstars so we’re gonna kick things off. I’ve got Jeff White on stage, Jeff. Happy Friday. Dude, how are you?


Jeff White  01:11

I’m great. Kurt. Nice to be chatting with you. Oh,


Curt Anderson  01:14

thank you, man. This is such an honor. Such a privilege and Carmen Perry. Carmen. How’s it going? My friend,


Carman Pirie  01:20

man, it’s doing well. You know, I share this Friday excitement, but usually because it ends in a lot of old fashions. But you know, whatever gets you going, right? Yep,


Curt Anderson  01:28

absolutely. Well, hey, I know. And you guys, you’re old. you’re that much closer to the weekend than we are. So these guys live from Nova Scotia. Man, I would talk about a bucket list demon. I am dying to get up to see these guys. They live in amazing place. So if we got John Buck Leno here today, out there, drop a note. Let us know that you’re out there shopping note and a hello to Jeff and Carmen.

We’ve dropped their LinkedIn profiles, their website, they’ve got a great podcast. So let me just run through a couple of quickies here. So these guys have cool partners. They are manufacturing marketing rockstars they have a great podcast called cooler ring. So before we take a deep dive into marketing, I’d like to kick things off with a little question here. Right Damon?

So now, I’m going to pick since there’s two onstage, I’m going to pick one, Damon, I have a totally different question. So, Carmen, I’m going to come at you Jeff. I’m gonna have a totally different question for you my friend. But Carmen is a little boy growing up like you know, dude, you’re like the superhero of manufacturing, marketing. helping manufacturers all over the place when you were a little boy growing up who was your hero? Who was your hero? When you’re a little boy growing up?


Carman Pirie  02:37

Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Really? No,


Curt Anderson  02:41

that’s the first time we’ve had cream. Can you please elaborate?


Carman Pirie  02:46

Well, I grew up as a kid playing basketball and I’m six foot two now. But I think I was like six foot two when I was 10 years old, almost like I grew really fast, you know, early. And so. So as a kid playing basketball, I was the only kid allowed on my team to do a sky hook because I obsessively practice the sky hook. Like, to my hands bled calluses.

And so I don’t know, I was a Laker fan, because everybody else was a Boston Celtics fan over here on the East Coast. So I was a Laker fan to the contrary. Yep. And Kareem was the guy. And I just read a piece from Kareem. Yesterday, the day before about the LeBrons Breaking News Record, and, you know, there’s lots of reasons to steal like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the guy’s a human, you know,


Curt Anderson  03:40

class act. Well, alright. anybody under the age of 40? Just enlighten you, right?


Damon Pistulka  03:46

They got this guy hook is


Curt Anderson  03:49

one of the right one of the greatest basketball players of all time. So that was a phenomenal answer. And so coming in that ties in perfectly with Lebron breaking the record this week, so that was perfect. Haven’t had that answer before that was perfect. So guys, just Google it. If you’re under the age of 40, just Google it and you’ll see how amazing he was for us older guys.


Carman Pirie  04:07

And you guys need to understand he did the exact same move every time it was fake, right? And then a hook. And for some reason, nobody could do anything about all but he could stop it. Awesome. It really makes no sense when you think about it. No. So you should have been able to figure it out. But


Curt Anderson  04:25

somebody should have been able to stop it be Parrish or somebody back in the day, right? Somebody but nobody can stop that, that that dreaded talk. So Jeff, I’m going to come at you with a different question. Actually, I’m not I’m not very original. I don’t have another question. Who was your as a young boy growing up? Who was your hero? My friend who is your hero as a young boy growing up?


Jeff White  04:46

Oh, man. I wish I could say things like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, but I really really never got into any team sports whatsoever. Kula partners is actually the first time I’ve ever been the team player at all to be honest. I like individually do sports. And to that end, I was always a huge fan of BMX guy named Matt Hoffman and Tony Hollis. I mean, Tony Hawk is legend. Well, what a guy. And so I grew up as a skateboarder and a BMX racer, and now I’ve been mountain biking my whole life, my kids are into it.

And I just like, kind of those sorts of sports, and I always enjoyed what a lot of those people kind of embodied about those sports, you know, kind of like pushing your limits, and really trying new things and doing things that are maybe a little outside of the norm, you know, and I, I’ve just always been into, into folks like that not a huge kind of hero sort of guy, you know, I like to follow people.

But, ya know, it’s pretty hard to say anything negative about Tony and Matt Hoffman is just this crazy guy, he’s broken every bone in his body 17 times and continues to get out there and do it. You know. So I appreciate the tenacity. I’ve always said that, you know, the two people that will always consider hiring here at Kula are people who’ve worked in a kitchen, or people who’ve been skateboarding, because they just have this kind of stick to itiveness that that very few other people do. So I like that.


Curt Anderson  06:16

Well, man, you know what, Damon, like we can end the program right there and no concerns, man, that was just phenomenal. And what I love is a sports analogy. You know, like, when you think of just relentless entrepreneurs, you know, Carmine, you nailed it on the head, just great team player leader just did it the right way. You know, tenacity consistency, for a long time.

And then you take Tony Hawk, like when you’re, when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re gonna break a lot of bones a lot along the way, it’s very risky. And what I love Jeff, on your LinkedIn profile, like, if I’m not mistaken, like you’d have a picture with you, and a helmet. And in your profile, you talk about you and your three kids, and you’re out biking.

And so you know, you’ve made it personal. And you kind of talked about, this is what you bring to the table. And I love how you bring that to your business. So let’s go here, you guys are just been at this for a long time, you could have, you know, brought your superpowers to any different industry wide manufacturing, I’ll throw it out to either one of you, whoever wants to go first. But out of all the different industries that you guys could choose to help with marketing? Why manufacturing?


Carman Pirie  07:18

Yes, I can answer that when Jeff and I both quite capable of answering it. But I think, you know, for us, it’s kind of it’s kind of twofold. One is the practicality in running an agency where you, you know, you look deeply at a certain point about, you know, where you’re really making an impact and where you’re seeing the traction and where you’re getting excited.

And then you try to lean into that. So that would be one of it. One part of it. But the other part of it, maybe it’s a little kind of outside of us is, you know, manufacturers having a bit of a unique ability to contribute to the economic well being of a geographically contained area. Now, I appreciate that a lot of manufacturers are global in nature. But you don’t have you don’t hear a lot about a lot of towns being called one accounting firm towns, you know, gotcha. All right. One law firm, Pam, yeah, you know, but there are one company, right there are like the, the one factory that kind of builds a community.

And so I kind of, you know, there’s something connected to our communities and how we move ourselves and society collectively forward that is ingrained in that ability to manufacture the goods that you need or the goods that you need to trade. So I you know, that kind of lies underneath it for us. We don’t talk about that a lot. But it is kind of next door to where Jeff grew up in the middle of nowhere in Nova Scotia.

I mean, you would drive by this place on your way, if you were driving to Peggy’s Cove which got famous during the Swiss air crash, because all of the global media kind of camped out at Peggy’s Cove and use the iconic lighthouse in the backdrop of the news coverage. Well, Jeff grew up next door to this place, right? And underdrive out there. You would go right past a manufacturer that Jeff’s dad worked at for 40 some odd years. And then employs what four or 500 people


Jeff White  09:31

Yeah, shifts. You know, radio transmitters all over the world. It’s pretty crazy to think of dad joining us like the fourth employee. It was crazy. Was he really?


Carman Pirie  09:41

Yeah. So interesting. Yeah, power of that. And there’s so it’s interesting to contribute to that to be a part of that and, and we get kind of our jollies out of being a part of that in a lot of different places in the world. You know, we have clients in California clients in India and clients in here and overseas. OSHA, so kind of interesting to see that flourish? Well,


Curt Anderson  10:04

that’s awesome. And Jeff, you know what, I’m gonna throw the same question that you’d love to if you want to dig deeper. And like dad’s story, you know, employee number four, and all sudden, like, it blows up. And now it’s 500 employees. But you know, just sure, like why manufacturing? Why did you bring your talents, your superpowers in manufacturing?


Jeff White  10:19

Oh, man, that’s interesting, because I mean that that was a draftsman or dad is, well, he’s retired now. But he’s still with us. But he’s a draftsman. And so he was designing things that were kind of coming to market. And I always found that really interesting to kind of watch his career as they moved from paper and pen and drafting tables into, you know, into computers, and CAD and all that kind of thing. And then my mom was an entrepreneur who owned a craft business and basically made crafts all the time. So it was just sort of one of those things that was always omnipresent in our house.

So you know, Mom would get up at like, six in the morning work till midnight, manufacturing things, I think she probably could have found a better way, you know, to maybe not work so many hours to do these things. But, you know, it’s just certainly driven from that perspective, to create something and bring something new into the world. And, and I know that dad was always proud of kind of what he contributed to that and how that company grew.

I mean, in the last number of years, they would be that company would be like, number one or two in the world in terms of manufacturing radio transmitter, you know, coming from this tiny little place, outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. So, yeah, I, I think it would be a little bit rich, for me to say that that was the reasoning behind us moving towards manufacturing as a, as a kind of a center of where to where to focus.

But, you know, I think it’s always kind of been something that we find really appealing is, is creating something, bringing it to life. And then, you know, kind of seeing how that comes to be part of the world is pretty interesting. And the b2b side, where we primarily work is particularly interesting. I think it’s more interesting than a lot of b2c marketers think. You know, it’s, it’s a pretty cool place to be.


Carman Pirie  12:13

Because you find new stuff, right. Like, it’s interesting. When you work with manufacturers, like


Jeff White  12:20

you build what, yeah,


Carman Pirie  12:21

yeah, you have sensors whose only job is to sense if the other sensors are working correctly. Are you kidding me? Like, you know, it’s that kind of thing where I don’t know we find it interesting, but maybe we’re we’re


Curt Anderson  12:33

right in. Hey, Damon, happy Friday, Val, Val says, manufacturing just simply cool. How about that guy? So Jeff, I’m gonna come back to you. So you mentioned mom and dad sounds like they could have been heroes of yours. And so you got a little bit of like little taste of dad with manufacturing, entrepreneurship with mom. Now you are a user experience expert. I know you guys were one that you mentioned before we went live when the first HubSpot platinum partners and Canada. So how about marketing? Why did you you know, we could have gotten in different fields. Why What attracted you to marketing?


Jeff White  13:04

Oh, man, it’s a it’s a bit of an interesting road. And my kind of partnership with Carmine is a big part of that sort of later down that road. But I knew even when I was a kid that I wanted to be a designer. I always wanted to be a visual designer. When I was 16 years old, I worked for a graphic design firm for a summer, I only applied to design school when I graduated from high school, like I was going all in, right. And then the web came along in the mid 90s. And I started to learn how to talk a little thing, you know, let’s stick with CD ROMs. I’m pretty sure one of my professors actually said that.

And I, I really latched on to that. So you know, I was building websites back before Netscape was even a browser, I always wanted to kind of bring interactive tools to life. And that, you know, in terms of Kula, our agency kind of has two different kind of streams of expertise. And one of them is the marketing strategy side, which Carmen leads and brings a lot of expertise and, you know, just deep understanding of how and why people buy.

And, you know, my side is more on the design, the development, coding, kind of bringing those things into life. And I really focus on designing with the end user in mind and just having a deep understanding of exactly how people are going to move through digital properties and other experiences like that, and want to make sure that everyone is able to do that.

So have a real accessibility lens to things and want to make sure that we’re, you know, building and designing things that anybody can use no matter what device they’re browsing it with and just how do you kind of activate those strategies that Carmen and his side of the the agency draft craft Yeah. And kind of an Our job is to help bring those to life digitally and and offline as well.


Curt Anderson  15:06

That’s awesome, Carmen, I saw a quote somewhere. I’m not sure where I found it. And I think So correct me if I’m wrong here. Your team goes above and beyond to help our manufacturing clients craft digital experiences that transform how they engage buyers, serve customers, and outpace the competition do drop the mic, I love it. So just share a little bit. So Jeff’s pointing out like you are on the other side of the firm. You know, what brought you into marketing and just share a little bit of like your superpowers when you come in and help your manufacturers on your side of things.


Carman Pirie  15:38

I don’t know why marketing really, I mean, I’ve just always seems like I’ve been in the business of trying to persuade people of something. I started my career oddly in politics. I didn’t like marketing. In university, I thought they treated it as being too scientific. And it felt to me like it was more of an art, which is interesting, because I think people would probably look at our agency and say, we sit more on the science side of marketing and the art side. So I’ve long history of talking out of both sides of my mouth. So it was an ideal career.


Jeff White  16:14

Extra marketing.


Carman Pirie  16:16

Exactly. So, you know, it became a Yeah, I don’t know that there was any one big aha moment that said, our marketing is it but as you kind of, you know, continue to lean into that world. Early in my career, it just kind of one thing leads to another. But But look, when we work with manufacturers, and we think about this world, you mentioned kind of like, how do we think about helping them and, and my way of thinking of it, we really look at where’s that intersection between the nice orientation of a b2b manufacturer because b2b manufacturers differ in the extent to which they serve and thrive in these categories.

A manufacturer say that Klein Tools that manufactures pliers for electricians, well, you know, that they need to be they need to be almost a household name across that trade in a very big way.

But you contrast that with a, you know, say, a flexible packaging manufacturer that focuses maybe on the frozen food industry. Yeah, like we have a client that focuses on the frozen food and the pet food premium pet food segments. And, you know, and those instances, you only have a couple of 100 clients that could possibly buy from them.

So that relative market niche niche changes a lot of the strategy that you bring to bear and how you think about this work. So we look at that contrasted with the ability for b2b manufacturers marketing and sales and customer service organization. How, how does that boost that ability to go to market against a set of target accounts or against a target vertical? We call that account base revenue competency? I guess Kurt, would you say we’re trying to go whatever got us into marketing?

And then kind of what do we try to bring to bear? How do we think about I am challenged to use your word superpowers, but you used it not me, I guess. But how do we think about it? Well, that’s how we think about it. And I think that is a bit of the secret sauce. And I don’t know anybody else thinks about it in quite that way.


Curt Anderson  18:32

I love it and I know on your site and again, guys, so we’re here with Carmen. We’re here with Jeff. They’re coming to us live from Nova Scotia. They’re with coot they own co founders of cooler partners. drop us a note let us know that you’re out there I’d love for you to connect with these guys.

They are all just marketing rockstars I do you know you pique my curiosity I was doing little homework on you guys. So cooler ring cooler partners. Zoom we want to share like where’d the name come from? For smoking? You want to answer that one? Where did you get the name cooler? Bring it look, I think there’s little interesting background there’s is there an ad? Or what’s that look like?


Jeff White  19:03

Yeah, I’ll let Carmen tell the story. Kind of what it actually means but where, you know, when we were forming the agency back in was started the company in 2004. And kind of formed what is now cool in 2009. And we were talking about you know, what, are we going to name this thing?

Yeah, you know, there’s there’s a number of different ways you can kind of do that when you’re starting something you know, usually the combined the last names of the of the founders or something like that, but with white is boring and potentially racist. And, you know, Perry, nobody can spell it the way that Carmen has it spelled so we’re like, this is a non starter, so we can’t hear the drawing board.

Yeah, exactly. And then you could do like, you know, purple frog or something that just means nothing. And this idea that he had, I think you saw in some of the early web 2.0 days and some of those really smart You know, early marketers were talking about this thing called the cooler ring, and how it kind of related to social media. And we grasped that idea and ran with it a little bit, why don’t you tell them a bit about kind of what it actually is from Carmen,


Carman Pirie  20:16

your guys, if you guys know of, kind of kind of one of the one of the more original kind of web 2.0 voices back in the day, Hugh Macleod, so he had a website called gaping, he was famous for doing a cartoons drawn on the back of business cards.

So if you look behind me, that’s from that’s from who that’s who drew that cartoon people matter objects don’t which has been the kind of core of the firm from the start. And who, back in the day was doing some interesting kind of work around this notion of what he called social objects. And he saw a lot of what was happening in the world of marketing as the creation of social objects, these things that connect people to each other, but don’t really in and of themselves mean a whole lot.

So it was in the comparison started getting drawn to the Kula ring, which is a tribal trading network and Papua New Guinea, where tribes trade pieces of Kula necklaces and bracelets that are made out of seashells. And these things don’t intrinsic, they have much value in and of themselves, they’re, they’re really only valuable in that they are traded in these very elaborate ceremonies that connect communities to each other.

So we really see the world of marketing and sales even as as that as the creation of endless pieces of crua that are intended to bring people together. That’s why we create what we create. So we named the firm grew up partners. And if you look at the logo that Jeff designed for the agency, you’ll notice that it fits the perfect ratio as as do seashells when they grow.


Jeff White  22:23

They grow the ratio, the Fibonacci sequence, indeed.


Carman Pirie  22:27

And you also notice the different circles in the logo, representing the trading of necklaces in one direction, and bracelets in another. So there’s a little bit that kind of went into that, and we think it’s pretty special. But I gotta tell you a Kurt, it takes an awful long time to explain it.


Curt Anderson  22:53

Well, it was worth every minute. Yeah, yeah. I told you like how flip it it was when I created my name, you know? So I just I love the intention and how creative that was. Damon, what do you think?


Damon Pistulka  23:06

Yeah, we had no creativity. And then I had no, you guys, what are you doing? Right?


Curt Anderson  23:13

Yeah, you’re so far above where I’m at.


Damon Pistulka  23:16

That’s an awesome story. Because it does make sense and how you’re how you’re talking about how the coolest trading is, like marketing objects and how that brings the community together and how brings communities together and allows people to understand each other and, yeah, really, really interesting.


Carman Pirie  23:34

It’s a good, I think marketers ought to not take themselves too seriously. We think about what we create as being too precious. And, and maybe we shouldn’t worship at the altar of the bright, shiny object. And kind of that swept This encourages us to do is to say, you know, it’s about bringing people together. That’s the important piece of what you’re creating.


Curt Anderson  23:58

When you look at the history and so I did I did a little digging, I thought was brilliant. I saw you know, it’s a community exchange exchanging goods. And I just I thought it was brilliant. So let’s go here. So you guys started this marketing firm together you guys come together as partners that I’m gonna go into your podcasts for a second you know, we’re a lot of manufacturers are starting to dip their toe into going into podcasting little out of their comfort zone per se.

What inspired you guys you know, and I was familiar with you guys. You’re just perfect. I was I think you’ve been doing this for a long time. I feel like I was familiar with you guys before. COVID. What inspired you guys to turn on the podcast switch for you? And second part of that question. What has it done for you? Your you guys have phenomenal topics. Great guests. Talk what’s a podcast meant and done for you? Why did you get started and couple questions are for you guys.


Jeff White  24:46

Well, we do have phenomenal guests. I mean, Kurt, you were on there. It was great.


Curt Anderson  24:49

Well, you know what I will say this Jeff. I my mom’s favorite guest of cooler ring is me but I mean other than my mom, I don’t know if anybody else listened, but you do. You guys have great topics. Great. gasps you’re covering all sorts of different scopes of work around manufacture. So guys, if you haven’t checked it out, we jumped in the chat, you absolutely want to check out their podcast, but what inspired you to start it? And just what’s it done for you and your business?


Jeff White  25:13

I think it’s it. Really it’s kind of twofold. You know, we started the podcast about four years ago, I think we’ve interviewed somewhere around 200 guests so far. We’ve republished a few episodes, you know, some great stuff, bringing it forward. But, you know, as an agency, we’re a small ish agency, I think we’re like, 16 people right now, maybe 17. And, you know, we can only take on so many clients, and we only want so many clients. Yeah, you know, we want to be experts in our clients business.

So we can’t have hundreds of them. But we can talk to an awful lot of people and get their perspectives and bring in, you know, we’ve been very fortunate to have people from the tiniest, you know, one to three person, regional manufacturers who are just starting out to, you know, multibillion dollar VPs of marketing at some of the largest manufacturers in the world, like GE and Honeywell, and Schneider Electric, and you name it, we’ve had a great group of guests on the show.

And so what this shows allows us to do is to connect with people, you know, that that idea of, of the cooler ring, and then kind of creating something together, which is what we’re doing right now and what we do with the cooler ring, and you know, what we can learn from this massive group of expert manufacturing marketers just helps to extend our thinking about what’s going on in the game of manufacturing marketing right now.

What are people doing? What are they excited about? What can we learn? And what can we bring to, to our clients, and also, while at the same time creating this great network of of people who are all sort of connected to each other through this thing called the cooler ring? Yeah,


Curt Anderson  27:06

I love that car. And what about from your perspective? What’s it done for you, and what you feel from perspective as an entrepreneur, business owner? And I’m going to slide into another part of that question. Any advice or suggestions for manufacturers or somebody out there that like, Hey, we’re thinking about podcasting? So what’s it meant and done for you? And like, how about for somebody that’s new and thinking about it? What advice do you have?


Carman Pirie  27:29

I mean, in terms of the, the why, again, you know, it’s funny, because once you know that, what underlies the cooler ring, and the cool a partner’s name, and why we named the agency that and how we think about it, then you can basically explain everything that we do, and realize that we’re one trick pony. Because quite honestly, the cooler ring is simply about connecting people to each other.

It’s really not much more complicated than that. And you have to have a bit of faith in this world that through the act of connecting people to each other, that your business will find find its way through that. Yeah, it’s not a direct line. Like people. We don’t we don’t interview people. And then they’re they come on as clients the next day. That very rarely happens if we have had podcast guests turn into clients, but that’s not why we do it.

So yeah, it’s about connecting people to each other and not trying to be too prescriptive after that. My advice to people would be to do that to lean into it. I’m not saying they’ll do podcasting, I’m saying do whatever works for you. We’ve found podcasting works pretty well because quite honestly, it doesn’t take up a whole lot of our time and energy.

Like we can, Jeff and I can brief on a guest five minutes before we hit record. And after having a 15 minute kind of conversation with him and in dance and man, you know, you can turn out a pretty good conversation. We enjoy doing it. It doesn’t feel like a heavy lift. And I think that’s important to be honest with yourself about that. You know, it was an easy decision for Jeff and I because we had a face for radio so we’re like a podcast is awesome


Curt Anderson  29:24

if I look like you guys, I’d be on the cover of GQ. Are you kidding me? Look how handsome they are. But I absolutely love that so let’s say and I’ll I won’t use superpowers but you guys are definitely dedicated making the world a better place making manufacturers you know bigger, better, stronger and getting that word out there for manufacturers. What Jeff I’m coming to you with this one.

What are one of the most common challenges that you feel that are that you see when you’re on first engagement those first dates with the manufacturer were you like, say that ideal customer for you guys where you and Carmen just like Man, this is is a perfect client, we know we could do, you know, move the needle for them? What are some of those challenges that they face? And how do you help them overcome those challenges?


Jeff White  30:08

Yeah, that’s interesting. I mean, I think the, you know, and Carmen can probably chime in here and add even more to this.

But I think where we’ve really seen in hand a lot of this is, the longer we’ve been focused on manufacturing, the more we know, and the more we learn, and the more we can kind of bring to it and see the patterns and begin to kind of understand the vertical in a way that, you know, when we simply declared that we were a manufacturing marketing agency, we thought everybody show up and just say, Oh, you’re manufacturing, marketing, we want to hire you. And then you, you know, you realize it takes a while before people realize why you’re actually different.

And then it takes you a while to realize why you’re actually different and what you’ve what you’re bringing to that. But I think where we really kind of understand things better than ever now is in this idea of, you know, buying in a manufacturing context, especially in a b2b context has a really long sales cycle in almost every case, right? Like, you know, a lot of these people are dealing in 1824 months, 36 months and beyond, before they close a deal.

And, you know, and these deals are, are massive, in a lot of cases, eventually, not necessarily right away, depending on the manufacturer you’re talking about. And I think what a lot of manufacturers don’t necessarily understand right away when they come to us is that even if they have a phenomenal idea that solves a real problem, until their potential buyers are aware that this is a problem that can be solved, there’s no buddy actually looking for that thing.

So, you know, it can be difficult for a manufacturer to kind of understand that the product that they’ve created that solves a real problem that maybe, you know, is incredibly sustainable compared to its competition.

But as a totally new idea that nobody’s really thought to look for before, is going to have a hard time getting introduced to the market, you can’t just show up, there’s no Google searches for it. There’s no paid keywords that can be bought, that are going to find it and if they are other, it’s a recipe for massive wasted spend, because you’re trying to spill over into some consumer category that doesn’t really relate to it.

And, you know, I think they’re surprised at how difficult that’s actually going to be to bring to market. And I think where, you know, where we really see a fit for ourselves is in helping people understand what that that process looks like for bringing that category to market, or that product to market, or that brand or whatever, whatever.

But you know, it’s certainly easier when there’s already a bit of market demand for something and maybe you already have a portion of, you know, ownership of a slice of that market already. You know that that’s when things get a little bit easier. And maybe maybe we’d rather play there more often. But I think we certainly find ourselves in these situations a lot where we’re bringing new, untested, unknown products to market.


Damon Pistulka  33:24

And that’s that’s really, I mean, what you said there’s the in businesses, they overlook that fact that our unique problem we solve, people don’t understand that it’s a problem that can be solved. You said that, and getting that just that that message out. So people understand it’s something that can be solved in the way that you solve it is a is a huge undertaking. It’s awesome. No,


Carman Pirie  33:49

it isn’t a huge undertaking. You’re exactly right. And, you know, when you think about it was a new conversation a few days ago, I hope the people I was chatting with aren’t listening, because they may be upset with me. But yeah, they said like, oh, well, we’ve decided that we need to break through to the CEOs in our in our niche. And the CEOs are unaware that they exist.

They’re multibillion dollar company CEOs, a multibillion dollar publicly traded companies, they’re unaware that this exists, and they’re unaware that the problem that they saw was even a problem. So I mean, how many CEOs you know, they’re out there trying to look for new problems to solve. They usually got a pretty big list of existing problems.

So it’s about saying that they that there’s not there’s not a way forward here, there may well be but you need to come to terms with where you’re at. And it’s gonna take an interesting piece about how we help manufacturers kind of understand what the real b2b The customer journey is not the one that’s talked about a party’s not the one that’s Oh. Attention. Decision. By what?


Jeff White  35:10

Ai D A. Yeah, we can get Alec Baldwin in here to deliver the Glengarry Glen Ross speech again


Carman Pirie  35:20

the ADA the attention interest decision action. So like, Yeah, great. Yeah. There’s actually 13 stages to this buying journey. Not four. Right? Yeah. And


Jeff White  35:32

nine of them are before the A.


Damon Pistulka  35:35

Right? Yeah, exactly.


Curt Anderson  35:37

So Carmen before going live, if you want to, if you want to go here, you, you, you enlightened Daymond and I on a new term that we do we want to go there was this it was be a NT, what does b a n t stands


Carman Pirie  35:51

above the folks listening to us? If they’ve been in the world of sales at all, we’ll certainly know band. Band qualification, I always suggest certainly our current really is that, you know, an awful lot of marketers, manufacturing, marketers find themselves in this place a lot, where they’re getting pressure from the sales team, that every lead that shows up leaves to basically have a sack of cash over their back, and execution and salivating.

You know, and that’s not how most leads show up. And it’s that notion of do people have budget authority need timeline bad. And if they don’t have that, and I don’t want to talk to them as a sales guy, or girl, but I should say most of the bad attitude and sales are from sales guys, not sales girls.

And I’ve just felt tell our clients a band is BS. It’s your if you think you’re going to operate in a highly niche category, where there are a few 100, maybe a few 1000 companies in the world who can buy what you sell, and you’re finally gonna get that engineer that you’ve been dying to talk to, in that target account, you’re finally gonna get them on the on the blower.

And if they don’t have budget for this, this month, we’re going to tell them to go pound sand. I don’t think so. You know, that’s not the right way to do this. It’s not. It’s not the right way of thinking about gaining attention in those kinds of niche categories. It’s, we’ve got to be a bit more committed to the people that we’re trying to serve and break through and understanding that in those niche categories. They’re not all in market at once. Yes.


Curt Anderson  37:42

Yeah, absolutely love that. And so I know, man, this is such a patient. So I know, I want to be mindful, we’ll start winding down here in a minute or two. But so I have a couple of questions left. Now on your website, you talk about digitally enabled sales. Now, Jeff, you guys are very modest guys. In my humble opinion, very, very humble about that. My humble opinion. You’re very humble. So but you’ve built a 17 person firm, and that is a massive accomplishment. You’ve been going at it since 2004. You survived, you know, an economic downturn in oh eight, we’ve you’ve gone through COVID.

And you have this great firm that you know, this, it’s really impressive what you guys have done for anybody out there entrepreneurs out there, you know, entrepreneurship is lonely. Any words of wisdom, any advice? And like, what do you what would you contribute your success to you guys? You’re almost on your 20th anniversary, what would you contribute your success and cool partners, and how you’ve been just rocking it with clients manufacturers for for since 2004?


Jeff White  38:38

Man, I think if there’s one thing that you can say that is the the marker of success, at least in the agency business, from what I’ve seen is the desire and ability to be open to change, you really need to be able to understand when things maybe aren’t going in the direction that you want them to. And to be able to change direction or iterate or kind of improve on something that’s already working in order to kind of drive towards the success that you actually want to have. We’ve been very lucky.

And sometimes I think karma and I sort of shake our heads about how we’ve managed to build an agency of 1617 people that all are kind of open to things not being the same all the time. And, and being, you know, agreeable to the notion that, you know, like, we’re going to do this a little differently than we did it before.

And we’re going to continue to tweak this model and we’re going, you know, both our sales and delivery and that we can learn things from other people. I think one of the things I learned really early on as an entrepreneur is that I should not be afraid of reaching out to people who may have wisdom that I can learn from Most people aren’t jerks, most people will be more than happy to kind of talk about how they did something even in the same industry.

I mean, I meet all the time with other agency owners, young agency owners, you know, people who are starting out freelancing, anytime somebody emails me and wants advice, or an understanding of kind of what, what we’ve done, or how they might be able to do something similar, I have never turned anyone down in that. And I’ve never been turned down by anyone that I’ve asked for advice from. So I think that, you know, being open to change and being willing to ask for advice and share what you’ve learned, kind of, for me the things that have sort of resulted in us being successful.


Curt Anderson  40:47

I couldn’t agree with you more and the especially the ask, you know, I know that’s when we’re talking about superpowers. That’s a huge weakness of mine, you know, like, you know, all that, you know, who wants to help? Everybody is willing to help i, Jeff, that was, gosh, that was like a great line. You know what, I got a little round of applause for Jeffrey.

Right, Carmen, I’m coming at you, dude. And you’re on your LinkedIn profile, if I’m not mistaken. And on your website you guys talked about? Sounds like you guys have this amazing, wonderful record collection going on at cool partners. Did I see that on your LinkedIn profile? So let’s go here. You and Jeff just absolutely crushed it with a client. The client called you up, they sent a nice testimonial to raving about how wonderful and how amazing you are. What record are you pulling out?


Carman Pirie  41:32

There you go. This you know, this is interesting because Jeff and I agree on an awful lot of things. But we have actually very different musical tastes. Oh, do you really? Go. So so in this instance, I need to find a record that I like, but also I know that Jeff likes if I’m going to be true to a mutual celebration. So I would probably pick a Canadian band actually. Probably a hey, Rosetta album. Hey, Rosetta is the name of the band and they have this fantastic song. I hate Winnipeg. They’re from and they’re from Winnipeg.


Jeff White  42:16

Now. I really hate to do this to you. They’re not from Winnipeg, but from Newfoundland Well, hey, Rosetta is from Newfoundland the I hate peg song is Oh, bands who are from winning. That’s it.


Carman Pirie  42:29

Oh, damn. If this wasn’t like we could


Curt Anderson  42:36

No, no, but I’m a huge Tragically Hip fan. How about The Tragically Hip? Could we pull it a hip song that


Carman Pirie  42:40

we could pull the hip song that would have been an easy one? See, I wish I I fell into the trap Kurt because I went with the bands that Jeff likes he wrote that.


Jeff White  42:53

Like what would you put on carbon I be put on hold on blonde. Would you


Carman Pirie  42:57

probably put on Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde or highway 61 Revisited from Bob but also be nice. Or something from Conor Oberst? And I assure you if I quote a lyric from any one of those albums, I know exactly who the hell I’m talking about. Hey, you know what? The weaker dams and I hate Winnipeg will never live it down.


Curt Anderson  43:18

Man, I made a blunder last week, David, remember that one? So trust me when you lie. See, I do wonders every week. But you know what? If I if I you know, I gotta come up visit you guys. But we’ll we’ll crank a little hip when I come up your way. Jeff, what album are you cranking dude?


Jeff White  43:33

Oh, man. I saw the hip 19 times before Gord downy died. They were the first band I ever took ever took my wife to see she reminded me on the way in this was at the road Apple Store at the Halifax forum in 1991. She told me she hated Gord Downie’s voice on the way in to the show. And we almost broke it off right there. Yeah, I


Damon Pistulka  43:58

was gonna say You know what?


Curt Anderson  43:59

I I’m kind of surprised that you stuck with her. I’m gonna be I know.


Jeff White  44:03

I know. I know. I am too. But she’s she’s pretty wonderful in every other way.


Carman Pirie  44:09

There’s a connection to a Tragically Hip Song and she said that she tells Gord that she doesn’t give a blank about hockey. And he never saw someone say that before.


Jeff White  44:22

Yeah, no, that’s for sure. But I’m a I’m a sucker for Canadian rock. Probably more so than then Carmen. Always been a huge fit. No rush is not in there actually. Like, if you could have rush without Geddy Lee’s voice I would be all about it. Yeah. Right. Yeah, man. Yeah. Life. And yeah, that’s all great. But my absolute favorite band is a punk rock band from Winnipeg called Papa Gandhi. It’s very action forward vegan. All of these things which I have not been So I certainly appreciate a lot of the things that they’re on about. I’ve seen them a number of times as well. And I just love a super heavy punk band with intricate metal riffs.


Curt Anderson  45:12

I have to say Daymond we just the first time and like, we’re probably a couple 100 episodes in first time that we really get to geek out and Canadian rock. Yeah, spend a little quality time about The Tragically Hip. I think so, Jeff, I think I’ve seen them like maybe five or six times huge, huge hit fan. So that was awesome.


Carman Pirie  45:30

The fact that Winnipeg has been mentioned two or three times in this, yeah. Yeah. And by even by Manitobans standards, ya know, they


Jeff White  45:38

try not to talk about it.


Curt Anderson  45:41

So I will start winding down. So guys, thank you for letting us like satisfied a little little hip obsession that I have. So thank you for that. So let’s wind down, guys, I dropped your LinkedIn profiles job to your, your website, your amazing, incredible podcast. Jeff, once you close us out anything and the camera will come to you. But any last parting words of wisdom, any marketing advice, anything else that you want to share with our esteemed audience?


Jeff White  46:04

Who? That’s? Yeah, that’s a pretty broad thing.


Curt Anderson  46:10

The world in like 30 seconds or less, Jeff?


Jeff White  46:12

Yeah, I probably should have prepared for this a little better. But I don’t know. I mean, I think really, again, I’ll just kind of go back to that idea of sort of how we build the agency and how we how we think about things you know, I think you should just be really open to opportunity. Open to change open to meeting new people are open to connecting with others.

All of that seems to really resonate with a lot of the folks that we spoke speak with, and it certainly is a big part of, of my life. So I thank you again for having us on the show. It’s been wonderful to be with you.


Curt Anderson  46:46

Jeff. Thank you. Appreciate it. Hey, and before it we got a nice comment here from Kathleen. Okay, rockin music I just released a new song inspired by Joni Mitchell. Mitchell about vicious cycle by blah blah she’s another Canadian so that’s fantastic. And here we got Nicole my partner in crime. Oh, never Nicole is here. Kurt. You know, like Barenaked Ladies, you know. You know, there’s some other will think you know what Jeff wants to come in. We’re gonna have to kick out in some other Canadian bands because I’m all into this. But


Damon Pistulka  47:14

yeah, there’s a lot of a man down the list and yeah, like


Curt Anderson  47:18

I’ve got a bunch of my head but I don’t want to digress. So. Take us home brother. Any parting words of wisdom any common golden nuggets that you want to drop piece of advice for our manufacturers out there that you can share?


Jeff White  47:30

You should tell them Carmen about the connection between the Barenaked Ladies and Halifax?


Carman Pirie  47:36

It doesn’t answer the question. It doesn’t.


Jeff White  47:38

But this study is about how much they hate Halifax.


Carman Pirie  47:42

Yeah. And she’s Jeff going to be he’s just teeing it up so that he can answer the question better than i i think the advice would be I don’t know if this is advice to manufacturers so much is this to marketers and just people trying to figure out what what it is they’re doing and in their career and how they’re progressing in it. My one of my favorite quotes is be yourself. Everyone else has already taken.

And I think in this world of, of livecast, and LinkedIn, and Instagrams and everything else that happens and social. I mean, there’s an awful lot of people out there projecting images and trying to trying to act apart or trying to do something and and everybody else smells that a mile away. And I just I’ve found over the years, like, you know, it can be a rough around the edges and a few parts.

Sometimes my turn of phrases will offend cetera. And I tried, I’ve spent some of my my career trying to battle against that or try to be proper. And I think when I’ve been bashed, is when I’ve just been myself. And I think everybody else that anybody’s ever worked with me, I’d say is the same. So I really, really try to encourage everybody that works here to live by that Be yourself. Everyone else has already taken and the minute you kind of figure that out. I think a lot of other stuff comes easy.


Curt Anderson  49:17

Bam, just chopped him like Dude, that was Yeah. All right, guys. First off, Carmen, Jonathan, what a gift you two are Thank you.

I invite everybody if you’ve been sitting around, maybe it’s good time to stretch when you stand up and like let’s give a huge round roaring round of applause for Jeff and Carmen from Kula partners, these guys are just absolute rockstars you want to connect with them on LinkedIn, check out their podcast, go to their website. If you’re a manufacturer out there, boy, this resonated and you want to talk a little Canadian rock come at Jeff one more How about I related piece I used to be a huge iron lady piece. So alright, guys, we’ll wind down.

Thank you so much for joining us today. What an honor privilege is Spend time with these. fine gentlemen This was great. We appreciate everybody out there. Boy just you know if I’m like, You guys are so inspiring if you guys just go out there just be someone’s inspiration as Carmen said, Just be yourself. You know what Carmen though my mom thinks everybody, you know, digs me you know, it’s just you know, but just be yourself. You know, just be yourself Daymond take it away dude. What a great episode man.


Damon Pistulka  50:25

Wow, really, this has been this has been awesome talking to you guys about this and you know, the the just how marketers can really think about what they’re doing and help help people get their message out there. I want to thank everyone that joins us week in and week out. You know, we got Val we got Diane, we got John and all the other people too. We had Kier.

Felix Hyatt, Rick Kondo. Gary, great to see you here today. Gary Kathleen. Nicole Donnelly, as you said earlier is here today. But I want to thank everyone for stopping by dropping a comment and all those people that were listening, but you didn’t comment. You’re important to us as well. We will be back again on Monday. Who do we have Monday, Kurt?


Curt Anderson  51:07

Oh, my goodness. It’s a powerhouse on dude. Just you sit back. You just get some rest over the weekend. Don’t stay up super late for the Super Bowl. Well, you’re three hours behind. So you’re good. I’ll stay up late on Sunday, because we’ve got a great killer guest on my show. So right on Monday, have a great weekend. And Jeff and Carmen hang out with us one second. And God bless everybody. Thank


Damon Pistulka  51:27

you. Have a great weekend. Thanks.


Jeff White  51:29

Take care guys. Thank you

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