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Damon Pistulka, Michelle Jones, Jeff Long
Damon Pistulka 00:02
All right, everyone, welcome once again, I don’t know if that video was that interrupted on to everyone else but on my side it was like, go all the way through. But welcome once again it is Friday. And what does that mean? It means it’s time for manufacturing e commerce success. I’m your co host, Damon Pistulka. We are excited to talk today about helping solo manufacturer manufacturing marketers I can’t speak even though I’ve had plenty of coffee. We’re excited to have Michelle here today.
And Michelle Jones from creative but I want to say Kurt the hair ripping the hair. You are fooling us this whole time. Well, no thanks, actually. And everyone knows Kurt is gone today. He is He is out he is actually he’s taken some time off with his family celebrating their anniversary. big anniversary. Ask him. Awesome that he’s doing it. We have Jeff along with us here today helping us out. Jeff. Thanks for being here, man.
Jeff Long 01:14
Thanks so much. I drank coffee, a Red Bull and energy drink and just trying to match Kurt’s normal excitement and enthusiasm. So hopefully I can know Roche approach, you know, the tip of his energy iceberg. We’ll see. I doubt it. But yeah,
Michelle Jones 01:32
go way under caffeinated for this I just
Jeff Long 01:36
joking, by the way with all that.
Damon Pistulka 01:37
Yeah, yeah. Why don’t I say I would be I would be like throwing up. Yeah. Who knows what happened? Well, today, it’s it’s cool, Jeff, because we’ve got Michelle Jones here. Someone you’ve know. Well, and from President creative. She’s going to be talking today about helping solo manufacturing marketers, Michelle, so awesome to have you here.
Michelle Jones 01:59
Thanks so much for having me back. I can’t believe it’s really been a year since I’ve been on the show. Time flies when you’re having does like it just you blank. And you’re back. So thanks. Really?
Damon Pistulka 02:10
Yeah, good stuff. It’s been a year. Yeah, yeah. Well, Jeff started out man, you’re you got some questions for Michelle. And I got some questions. We’re gonna Kurt usually leads this thing off. So take it away, my friend.
Jeff Long 02:25
Totally, totally. So I love your company name create a vape. Right. Am I saying that correctly? creative. Creative. Yeah. I love that. I love that. So how does even that name kind of come into play when you’re working with, you know, manufacturing companies and b2b is?
Michelle Jones 02:43
That’s a great question. So creative eight. You know, when you’re naming a company, it’s always a crapshoot for how you can name it, you know, and marketers love to smash words together. So that’s exactly what I did. But then you also have to look up like, does someone else have your domain and is it trademarked already, and blah, blah, blah. So creative.
Eight stands for create, cultivate and innovate, all put together. And the reason for that is because marketing is no longer a flatline, it’s not boring. It’s constantly changing. It’s constantly evolving, even in the last 10 years, the landscape of marketing has changed so much. The last three years has absolutely wreaked havoc on marketers, and even the whole landscape of how manufacturers especially go to do business and use Mark marketing to do it.
So creative eight means that we’re going to create strategies plans, we’re going to cultivate your community, and then we’re going to innovate, so we’re not going to be stagnant, we’re going to keep growing, and we’re gonna keep changing, we’re gonna keep evolving, because that’s life. And that’s what the world does. And that’s what the business world does. vary.
Jeff Long 03:43
I love that. And I love setting that expectation of like, we’ve got to keep moving forward, we’ve got to change and pivot and grow. Like, if we’re doing a marketing strategy, you know, one time, I mean, it may have some results, but like, it’s an ongoing thing that you learn and improve.
Michelle Jones 04:00
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And we never fail. We just we create learning opportunities for ourselves, you don’t know unless you try. So you know, you can keep doing the same thing over and over again and get the same results. But what if you try something different. And a lot of times, it’s it’s not the first idea that comes up. It’s what evolves out of that first idea.
So your first idea, maybe not accurate, and it may fail, but you’re going to learn from it, and then you’ll evolve and maybe iteration four or five is finally then where you hit you strike gold. So but you can’t get to that without going through the whole process.
Damon Pistulka 04:34
Good point. Good point. So as you’re looking and working with solo marketers, what are some of the biggest challenges you see them facing today?
Michelle Jones 04:47
Well, thinking about how the landscape of marketing has changed. We’ve always been no one ever has a big budget. I don’t care how big of a company you’re as small of a company you’re at. I’ve heard little companies say Oh, must be nice to be a big company and how have big budgets.
That hasn’t been my experience, especially marketing, everyone’s always cracking down on it. So as solo marketers, which we work with a lot of manufacturing companies where there’s one person that’s in full time in their marketing department, and you’re asking what are some of the challenges they’re facing? It’s turned into a tactics sprint, like, it’s just, I need this thing. I need that thing. I need that social media posts. I need that flyer. Oh, my gosh, you’re going to this trade show.
There is no planning, everything is just very last minute and very reactive. The beauty of the landscape that we’re in is you can do things quickly. I mean, Jeff, we were just talking before this about the video that you put together in a week. It’s possible. Is it ideal? No. So a lot of marketers are just getting burned out, especially solo marketers, they’re getting burned out because stuck on this, like, hamster wheel of insanity, and they can’t get off and they can’t come up for air and they can’t get out.
Damon Pistulka 05:55
The hamster wheel of insanity right now. That’s good.
Michelle Jones 06:00
Yeah. Are you seeing a lot of right now?
Jeff Long 06:04
Are you seeing Michelle, certain strategies, tactics, even goals and objectives that maybe used to work that some of these smaller manufacturers have? Like, they just, they just can’t move on? Or move forward? Like, is there something that you find yourself kind of like shouting from the rooftops over and over or anything? Maybe not. But I just thought I’d ask,
Michelle Jones 06:27
well, you know, what’s funny, everything cycles, I just saw, I was a kid in the 90s, I just have now seen all these videos of people seeing these clothing. And they’re like, it’s vintage. I’m like, I’m vintage. It’s not vintage. So sometimes what’s old is new again. So we’re seeing some of that. So to some of the things that used to maybe not work, maybe even 10 years ago, five years ago, they’re working again, mail, email, those are all kind of coming back.
All the social media platforms have been changing their algorithms so much that it’s so hard to keep up to get your message across to your target audience. So you have to go back to some of these tactics where you know, you have a one to one point of contact or relationship, that’s likely not going to change unless they move or they change their email address or something that you’re not subject to their algorithm.
So that’s something that’s I know, that’s kind of the flip side of what you asked if that’s actually something that may not have worked, that’s working again, and then what did work, but doesn’t work anymore. Maybe this never worked. But this drives me nuts. It’s just quit checking boxes for the sake of checking boxes, we should is probably the worst marketing strategy you could possibly have. So, uh, we should be doing four social media posts a week.
Why? Why are you doing four social media posts a week? Are they bringing any value at all? Are they reaching your target audience? If not, then no. Forget it. Do you want a week? Do you want a month? So I think the box checking is a bad one. And that that, I know, that affects every marketing strategy. But that’s what you just have to keep going back and constantly revisiting your plan and being like, why are we doing this? Is it working and and just have the guts to get rid of it? If it’s not?
Damon Pistulka 08:06
Yeah, great. That right there? Is it working? Or not? You’ve given some time? And then if it’s not working, change the strategy. I think that’s yeah, that’s really, really poignant.
So when, when you’re talking with the solo marketers, right, and we’re talking about yours, like the the tactic, tactical sprint, just to get, oh, I need this and getting that done. Say we’re beyond that a little bit. And we’re in one of those times, and we don’t have 17 of those things going? What are some of the baseline things that a manufacturing marketer? Where should they start? I mean, I’m in, I’m the solo marketer at a manufacturing place, and we don’t have a lot, where do I start?
Michelle Jones 08:55
For first thing you can do is assess the resources you already have, you might have more than you think you might have less than you think, but be realistic about it. So sometimes getting things done isn’t just in the marketing department, sometimes there may be someone else, we’ve already found that there’s one of my clients had someone that was over and customer service, who actually had a marketing background and was interested in doing some more marketing.
So as part of her development plan, then they were able to incorporate it into her development plan, which was a win for the client because they didn’t have to go hire someone else or find another resource. And it was a win for her because it was a stretch goal and got her to do something a little bit different than what she’s doing it day to day. So realistically, assessing your resources is a great place to start.
Damon Pistulka 09:38
So good, so good.
Michelle Jones 09:40
And then a lot of times to figure out how you can do more with more, I would say more with less. So I was on a call two weeks ago where a salesperson was like we need to be doing more on social media. I like social media. I’m not ripping on it today. I promise just for the sake of working on it, but um And then we need a social media plan. Okay. Yeah, we do. That’s Yes. But what are we putting out there and why?
So backing up to like, hey, what if instead of creating all these fluffy social media posts, we create one really good piece of thought leadership, we create one really good white paper, one killer project profile, we will get so much mileage out of that, and you can package it and repurpose it in so many ways.
And if you can, again, look at the other resources that you have available, if you have a salesperson who’s going out, and they’re on the job site, or they’re at a location, and they’re taking photos, just one or two allies somewhere else. And and I’m getting into some of the recommendations that I have for next week with Purdue. If you haven’t signed up for that, by the way, sign up, but look for some other allies and ways to get things done, that may not be the traditional way of getting things done.
Damon Pistulka 10:49
Speaking of that, I talked with a gentleman by the name of Mickey Kennedy yesterday about press releases. And I had no idea the power of press releases if they’re done, right. And you talk about alternative ways, he was talking about some ways that I just never had thought about. And you’re saying so as a solo marketer, you really need to go, what is my biggest bang for my time?
It’s just because you can’t do it all. And like you said, there’s some they may be under pressure, hey, we got to be on social media. Well, you’re not on Facebook and on Instagram, you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re not on Twitter, you’re well, where do we need to be? Like, just get the get the one or two places you need to be if that’s even worried what you should do? Yeah. And then get your key things done. Get the key things done first. And by the way, too, you do have a program coming up at the Purdue MEP,
Michelle Jones 11:52
correct? Yes, yes. Next Thursday.
Damon Pistulka 11:55
Okay, so we’ll share the share the link to that in the comments here. But yeah, so that that’ll be great that people can get in the details and some of these other things about it. But Awesome, awesome. So we’re talking about we’re assessing, we’re working on some of the right things, what is probably going to be one of the things that is going to be the toughest challenge, or the souls remark errs, solo marketers speaking.
Michelle Jones 12:29
Hmm. I think it’s coming up with that balance of getting things done. But then also taking the time to take the step back and show the results. So for example, if you’re setting up KPIs, and you’re setting up what you need to be doing for this year, it takes time to also pull those types of metrics together, and then actually report and deliver them out as well. But then also adjust and incorporate the input.
I think that’s probably the biggest the biggest challenge and what you were saying earlier, you just said a second ago Daymond. To about we need to make sure that we have ways we are all agreed it makes it a lot easier for us to agree upon why we are doing something or we stopped doing something if we’ve all previously agreed on, for example, who our target audience is, if we can then then it becomes less of a Well,
I think we should be on Facebook, I don’t think we should be on Facebook, it’s more of a we have predetermined that our target audience does not hang out on Facebook, therefore we are not marketing there. And it shuts down that conversation because people forget, we have our little, you know, lizard brains, and we forget things very, very quickly. So that helps neutralize that conversation. A little bit.
Damon Pistulka 13:38
Good point. Good point. So Jeff, what you got going? Yeah, the questions today, here you as well,
Jeff Long 13:46
I’m probably not as familiar with you. So I don’t jump in and interrupt maybe curtain you kind of talk over each other. So I’ll try not to do that. But I love this topic, because obviously so many manufacturers are this profile, right? It’s a it’s a one person marketing, or maybe it’s sales and marketing even even together or their their sales person is doing their marketing, however that flavor looks like.
So, you know, Michelle, how do you when you come in and maybe your first you know, working on a small project or getting your foot in the door just kind of feeling out the company? Like what are some of the questions you ask or the the the things you you talk about to kind of understand both their needs and what they can actually do in house versus maybe what you can take off of their plate to make it easier for them easier and more effective probably or it’s so what? How do you have that conversation?
Michelle Jones 14:47
That’s a great question. One of my favorites. Another one of my favorite phrases is marketing is not done in a silo. So you can’t come in and just say, Oh, we’re just going to do this little segment of this little thing. And this is where my company is a little bit different in I structured it this way after being on the client side working for manufacturers for a decade, because I was like, I need someone who sees more into the business because they will help me make better decisions.
So we actually, we asked a ton of questions about sales path to market future growth goals, what are the challenges they’re facing facing the marketplace? What are products that they’re coming up with? What are their customers looking like doing? Changing? How’s that landscape changing? So we really get into, like, get all up in your business about what’s going on in your business, because it helps us be better.
Damon Pistulka 15:35
Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s so important. Because you can miss key things that can make a huge difference in marketing, that the people in business because they’ve been doing it so long, or it’s just something they always do, it can be a key factor that helps to differentiate and, and really provide more value in the eyes of the customer that they not, may not be highlighting. Hmm,
Michelle Jones 15:58
yeah. And the other thing, too, is, then we’re very, I mean, when we say we want our clients to be customer focused, and if you’re our client, we’re customer focused on you, too. So we want to look at like, what are the resources that you’re currently using? What contracts Do you already have with other with video partners, like Jeff, or with search engine optimization?
Like, if you have any kind of niche or very specific companies that you’re already engaged with? Let’s talk about that. Do you like your printer? Are they doing a good job for you? Yes, or no, because marketers, I think, tend to come in and they just want to blow everything up, hey, let’s do a new logo, hey, I’m gonna bring all my people in for you to work with like, we’re just going to start all over.
And so we want to be very cognizant of the fact that you’re in this place in marketing for a reason you got here for a reason. And there’s reason behind why everything was done this way. So we try to understand it before we just come in, like, you know, it’s all in a china shop, and just pop that into everything. And we want to make sure that we are aligning and maximizing the resources that you already have in place.
Damon Pistulka 16:58
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, I’m going to show a few comments. And then we’re going to go to you, Jeff. So validate. Here we go. Marketing is everyone in the business. There you go. We got Joshua, look at this super important to determine who your customer is, and work backwards from there. And look at this, so many people waste time creating messaging for the wrong crowd.
Michelle Jones 17:20
Ship. Mic drop.
Damon Pistulka 17:22
Yeah, that one is Joshua, you got a mic drop there. Because, listen, how many times that you work, it goes off topic a little bit. But how many times have you guys worked with people visit clients? And they want to say, their message, rather than what the client what the potential customers want to hear? Oh, yep.
Jeff Long 17:47
We could have a, I don’t know, a whole day. I mean, my work like, I don’t know, you know, probably, I mean, both of you probably tackle that in different ways. But like, Michelle, do you find that? Like, the reason I asked her, you know, are there certain things you are continually like shouting from the rooftops, like, one of them for me is, you know, companies, they’re really good at making awesome products. They do have good people.
And so they sometimes they talk more about, you know, we do this, we are this, we you know, and, you know, so it’s this constant battle of like, hey, talk about what your customers care about only right? And so I’m curious how that comes into play with some of the companies you work with and how you either delicately talk about that. Or maybe you just go all in and be like, Hey, stop it, right? It’s not about you. It’s about your customers. How do you, how do you balance that?
Michelle Jones 18:39
And I’m sure you too, have experienced with this, too. It’s fun getting a little peek into all these companies and how they operate. And it’s amazing, who has their act together, who doesn’t have their act together? Like it would surprise you, it would shock you like, there’s just because they’re a big multimillion dollar company does not mean they’re well structured, well resourced, and they have their act together. I’ve seen it from 40 million to $700 million companies. It’s, it’s amazing to me. So you asked, What was the final question then?
Jeff Long 19:11
Just how you approach that topic of like, most company, I would say 95% of companies or whatever, talk about themselves, right? They’re not they’re not customer focus, their inward focus, like, how do you kind of hit him over the head to to get them out of bed love
Michelle Jones 19:27
this movie? I mean, if I could change the names of some of the people or experiences I’ve had, I could write a book on this. And I’m going to try to keep it like high level because it’s, it could be it’s a sensitive topic. So a lot of times and I’m a business owner, myself, my parents are manufacturing business owners. Things are some things are just kind of untouchables. So it’s finding out what’s the sacred ground.
Did you just do a logo and does everyone in the company hate it? But the President who founded the company loves it, okay. We’ll tread lightly for a little while and And that’s the other thing to why you don’t come in and blow everything up, you have a little bit and build some trust. And if you quick win some low hanging fruit and again, just figure out what are the untouchables? What’s the sacred ground?
What are the things we are not going to try it on. But sometimes you do have to have that conversation and say, look like, I know you’re really attached. And this is where speaking with a lot of empathy, Crucial Conversations, like, it’s not about business anymore. It’s a personal thing. And so you have to have really more of a personal conversation about, you know, how it’s going and listen really, really intently as you’re having that conversation. Because if you don’t, you could make really, you can make a really big mistake.
Damon Pistulka 20:41
That’s awesome. Awesome. Well, Jose’s got a great the question he asked, Why are you in business? Start the conversation. I think that’s a really good one. And then Nancy, helpful for clients to understand their marketing their prospects and prospects. This is something Yeah, I can go down that road a bit, too. But I just wanted to thank Joshua for that. Awesome questions. Honestly, John, great to have you here. They’ve all thanks for having me here. We got Nancy. We got probeer we got well, we got a bunch of people.
Valerie Inger, who else I’m missing people. The comments are just flying in today. Yeah. And Valerie is solo marketer. So that’s good. Got David. Nelson Nelson’s coming in from Ghana. Wow. Nice. And, and Nwosu. Sheena, I’m trying to get through them here. Gosh, you, man. There’s lots tons of comments. Michelle, and Jeff, you’re drawn to man today. Love awesome, awesome stuff. So Oh, yeah. Devall. Does the Allison to Ford?
Jeff Long 21:54
Yes. Your wife shouldn’t give her credit. Yeah, Alice, I love that comment of, you know, does your marketing or website whatever have too much we in it, right, our friend Allison, and have her her a quote that I attribute to her and I just had a Friday, mental moment there when I didn’t. So that’s her thing. I love it.
Michelle Jones 22:16
I had one more thought about that, too. You can use the we we like yeah, it’s all about you. It’s all about you. It’s not all about you. It’s what your customers do, or what your customers customers do. It’s not about you. So one of the things I like to do as a marketer is I use that as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with clients. So I’ll work with sales, team members and say, Hey, as a manufacturer, you’re in sales, which customers have been customers for a really long time. And for that, you know, for good reason. And do we want to strengthen that relationship?
Or what are customers that we have that we could use an opportunity just to say, we need an opportunity to strengthen it a little bit more. And you want people to fall in love with you sit them down, take them to dinner, have a customer flying day, whatever? And ask them genuinely? What do you what do you see in us? What’s it like to work with us? What are our products? Like? Who are your people? I mean, just and they will, they will be loyal to you forever if you take a few nuggets of what they say and implement them. So that was one other
Damon Pistulka 23:15
thought we have one of our mic drop moments right there.
Michelle Jones 23:21
Throw it in there, you know,
Damon Pistulka 23:23
yeah, that I mean, that was violence.
Jeff Long 23:25
Michelle, I’m curious, I was gonna ask this question. And then you you gave a little more context, which is even more fun. So I was going to ask, you know, I know you came from from corporate or you know, that side of things, and now you’re owning your own agency, but then you mentioned your parents, is it owned or run or in manufacturing? So tell me a little bit about that story. And why you decided to stay in manufacturing versus go into maybe medical or, or whatever, any any other industry, besides manufacturing, kind of fill us in on that?
Michelle Jones 23:57
Well, funny, you should mention a medical two because I was gonna go into nuclear medical technology and do a five year master’s program at Finley and then I decided I didn’t want to work in a hospital doing stress tests. And business was way more versatile. So if you were with me a year ago, I talked probably a little bit ad nauseam about my parents. I love my parents. I am so proud of them.
They both have high school degrees. They are innovators. They are engineers. They are sales. My mom is one of the greatest salespeople I’ve ever met. And there was a hard knocks and they are awesome. So my dad has had all kinds of businesses through the years, but he got into manufacturing in 1989 when he bought into a wholesale millwork business with his cousins, and he bought it out I think about five years after that.
And their story is like the classic American, you know, like let’s innovate and make it work. So when they made a lot of products that were like stair treads for Home Depot, a lot of trims, moldings, things like that. So when the housing market tanked in 2008, their business drops something wild like 70%. And so my dad looked at what am I paying to get rid of? And how can I restructure my business?
And he saw that he was paying people to take away his sawdust. And so he’s was like, Well, what can I do with this? So he bought these presses. And they compact them into blocks. And they’re called Bio blocks, by the way, they’re distributed at all Ace Hardware is all over the country. So local Ace and go get them. East Coast, West Coast, no matter where you are. Yeah. My mom got into Ace Hardware without a broker, which is basically unheard of through like persistence and Business Smart street smarts. She got in.
And they’ve been doing this now for, I think they officially launched in like, 2010 when they started with the blocks. And yes, 2023. So they’ve been doing it for 13 years. My dad is engineering patents. And they had these like, firepits that you can stack the blocks and properly and Birnam they are. They’re awesome. But how did I get into manufacturing? All I heard growing up around the dinner, were day to day conversations, employees accounts, all the issues with my dad’s fixing all of his equipment constantly.
He has a treadmill that he turned into, he took the belt and turned it into like a conveyor belt at work. He took an old treadmill and did that. I mean, he’s super resourceful. So maybe that’s where I get some of my, even in my marketing with manufacturers. It’s like, how can we get resourceful with what we already have? Because that’s all I know, that’s what I’ve seen my parents do for years and years and years. So if you want to look them up
Jeff Long 26:30
by Yeah, it’s super interesting. Just a week or two ago, I was in kind of a new, new client type of situation at their facility. And they were just asking me, about me and my company. And I said, you know, one of the things that makes me unique, and it sounds like you’re similar is I’m I’m obviously a marketing person, but I’m more entrepreneurial. Right. So how do we use, you know, some of the existing tools, or some something in a different silo or something to our advantage?
Or, you know, what new service or system can we create? And so I, I love that kind of entrepreneurial attitude that your parents have. And like, to me, that’s what what makes America great, right? It’s it’s figuring out, Hey, we’ve got all this silly sawdust around.
Michelle Jones 27:15
What can we do with it? More than letting you know? Yeah.
Jeff Long 27:19
I have a friend, an author, Dan Miller, he’s, he’s written a couple new york times bestselling books and all that. And he talks about these creative ideas, you know, for for businesses, for people. And so the example he gives similar to your parents is, he noticed this, this big truck would would pass by his property. And it has all these woods for, you know, people grinding away stumps and trees and all that, and he flags him down one day, he’s like, Hey, what are you taking that?
You know? And they’re like, just the dump? He’s like, Well, I mean, you could drop them off at my property. He’s got a pretty big property. And so for like 1020 years, he will get free, you know, wood chips and mulch for his property, just because he asked just because he noticed. And it’s like, there’s so many of those opportunities around. So I just love that story of what your parents did with the Sagas.
Michelle Jones 28:08
Yeah. And I think that’s a big lesson for marketers to one just ask, sometimes, you can negotiate everything is negotiable. If you’re running print ads with an agency, I sure hope you’re not paying list price, like you better be negotiating. And then I What else can you do for me throw in some email newsletter sponsorship, like throwing all the freebies for me, right, like, negotiate your heart out.
But then also treat everything like even if you’re an employee, if your W two at a company, treat it like it’s your like little business that you’re doing here, like treat it treat that money is not the company’s money, that is your money that you’re responsible for managing the company is entrusting you with it. So when you start to put some of your personal perspective in on it and treat it as if it’s yours, you can also usually find get a little scrappy, and find more ways to get some bang for your buck.
Jeff Long 28:55
There’s a term called intrapreneur. Right? So if you’re kind of entrepreneurial inside of your company, or inside of the company, you work at intrapreneur. And there’s people that have wildly successful careers, as well as the kind of this intrapreneurial thing going on. It’s almost like a double double career. Right? So anyway, yeah, it’s super awesome. I have a couple of friends that are like that, where they still have their W two but they’re doing some cool stuff inside, they maybe own some patents or some other IP or whatever. So there’s some cool opportunities there. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 29:28
And you have to get scrappy as a solo marketer and manufacturing because like you said, yes, you’re never gonna have a budget like you want or could, would enjoy. So you got to get scrappy, like you said, if you can, if you can, even bartering and sometimes, whatever you got to do to get to help get get the right the right output if you can help somebody and they can help you. I think one of the things as as marketers, is, how do you how do you lead some of this For the business that the salespeople the leadership may not be looking at, because as a marketer, you can look at it a little bit differently.
And you might say, Yes, we’re gonna do this. And here’s someone that’s not a competitor, but we sell to the same audience. What did we, you know, did have we considered doing something with them? You know, because there’s so much of that available, if you start looking around, and it may not, if you’re both working together on something, you can leverage their audience, they can leverage your audience, there can be some real benefits for you there, that that’s going on.
That’s a great. Yeah. And as I was listening to you talk, Michelle, the one thing that came up is that having an outside marketing voice, I think, for a solo marketer is really key. Because if you don’t, you’re like, every entrepreneur slash business owner that doesn’t have some sort of advisor, helper board, whatever, you get up and look at the mirror every day, and what are we going to do today?
Well, it’s what I think I’m going to do or what my boss thinks we’re going to should be doing or what you know. And in that case, whereas an outside adviser could help you just with what you said there in that fraction of a bit, but Well, if you’re going to do print, you should be negotiating, you should be doing this. Well, that can mean that can mean a significant difference in what my budget where my budget goes, or how we spend, what we spend and where we’re really effective or not. Yeah, cool.
Michelle Jones 31:39
And sometimes when we we used to jokingly say like, Oh, your opinion could be right, or your insight could be right, we have to have an outside consultant come in, in order for it to be true. So sometimes we can do that we can back you up. But but sometimes it’s so for example, I was college athlete, I got out of the habit of working out during COVID, I need to get back into it again. So I hired a personal trainer, because I know myself, I need accountability, I need someone to discipline me and I just wanted to show up every day, and they told me what to do.
So we do that same kind of stuff with which I went this morning. But basically, we can do that you do the same thing in marketing by having an outside resource, it’s tough. So hold yourself accountable and have that discipline. So I do that I have some clients that all I do is jump on a phone, I jump on a call with them once or twice a month. We set goals, we talk through goals, we talk through any hiccups or roadblocks or things that they’re experiencing, it could be culturally, it could be personally and professionally.
I’m not going to call it coaching because that’s not really what it is. But if you’re a solo marketer, it’s tough sometimes being in an office by yourself or the person who has that marketing perspective. And it’s just nice to bounce ideas off of people. My mom calls me all the time, she does all the sales and marketing for her company. And she’s like, hey, does this Facebook post sound right? And I’m like, because I did it to me, and I edit it and send it back. She’s like, Oh, it’s so much better. You know, sometimes you just need, you need another brain just to talk to you.
Jeff Long 33:04
Yeah, yeah. And I think like you said a while ago, Michelle, like, because you’re working with different companies, you see what’s working, you can you can cross pollinate, you can, you know, do these things. Whereas sometimes, you know, a single person market or in a manufacturing, you know, they’ve got so much on their plate, they don’t maybe have time to look up, take a breath, see what the new tools and strategies are, and go from there. So you you are that, you know, you have that for them.
Michelle Jones 33:32
Yeah, I say marketing is like an iceberg. above the water, you see all the outs, see the pretty website and you see the net, you know, whatever the nice flyers, the good tradeshow booth. But underneath, you don’t see all the stuff that it takes to see mostly make all those things happen. And I think most of the time marketers we spend all of our time under literally underwater at the bottom of the iceberg. And we only get to pop up for air sometimes to see the final output of the nice.
The nice shiny objects that the rest of the world sees are like ducks, you know, paddling like crazy underwater domes, you know, smooth glide, and across the top. I mean, there’s a million analogies for what it’s like to be a marketer. But this is
great. Yeah, that’s great.
Jeff Long 34:09
So Michelle, what are what are some of the go to services, or products you have or things you know, what’s you talked a little bit about, you know, creativity at the beginning, but kind of tell me the audience all that, like, what are some of your specialties? What do you shine in? Maybe the most? Yeah,
Michelle Jones 34:31
that’s a great, thank you for asking that. So basically, I so I was in. I was in manufacturing for 10 years or so. And I got frustrated because I would have to find there was a swing of the pendulum for agencies where agencies did everything and then now we’ve gotten to a little bit more in like niche like you have to find one person to do the very specific thing now it’s swinging back again.
But I was forced sometimes into these big retainers with agencies where I used a fraction of their services so I was paying for the crap I didn’t use. Yeah, stuff. Sorry. Pay for a ton of stuff I didn’t use. And so when I started my company, I realized there’s a lot of value in, I can take these best in class marketing strategies that I’ve had working for multibillion dollar businesses, bring them to small and medium sized businesses. But I have an awesome network of people that I partner with and companies that I partner with.
So I can bring in the specific resource that you need to get the job done. So if you’re in I do a lot of work in roofing, for example. So if you need someone that’s very specific, I don’t know. I’m very specific to roofing and your copywriting and specific to roofing. If that’s not something that someone on our team personally does. I have a network of copywriters that I can talk to and pull on the best one. So you get someone who understands you and your business. So you’re not just subject to whatever agency whoever they have hired at the moment. So yeah, that’s what I that’s what I do.
So we do all kinds of stuff. We’re a Gold Certified HubSpot partner. So I found HubSpot in 2015. I love it because it helps me as a marketer, it helps me roll up all my efforts into one, like nice little report dashboard. And I can quickly see how campaigns are performing and all that. So we’re a gold HubSpot partner. So we do a lot of inbound marketing, marketing strategy, but then also some of the tactics and execution as well. So whatever sounds fun, you know,
Damon Pistulka 36:18
yeah, well, it’s it is interesting how you said, marketing has changed a little bit from the big marketing agency that we’re going to do everything for you back, a bit more into the specialize, because for manufacturers write it, you really don’t need everything, there’s, there’s probably two or three key things that are really going to be big for you. And if you can get really good help in those areas, a solo marketer can really leverage their effectiveness, because they can be that conduit to get those two or three things done really well with, with the people doing them.
Michelle Jones 36:59
And it can be costly to hire the wrong groups or vendors until you spend, not just from a money standpoint, but from time. Yeah, marketer Your time is limited, and you do not have time to be fine going through three different vendors until you find the right one, you got to bring someone on get them up and running as soon as possible and get them going. So yeah, it can be costly. From another perspective,
Damon Pistulka 37:21
that is a great point, the time it takes to get a marketing firm, to where they can be effective for you. And whatever they do is, is key. And if if someone like yourself, you know, you’ve got trusted partners you’ve already worked with, you know, they can get up to speed quickly and or have worked a lot in the industry. Like you’re talking about roofing, you’re not going to bring a roofing content creator or into a different situation where they’re not familiar, like in healthcare or something, it’s just not going to work nearly as well. Yeah. So good. Jeff. Yeah.
Jeff Long 37:59
I think so talking about that specific weakness of, you know, whether it’s roofing or just manufacturing as a whole. I think that’s key. Right. So, in fact, that’s kind of one of the reasons why I went into that niche, which is a pretty big industry, right? But it’s like, it’s, they’re good people, you know, manufacturers are making cool stuff. They’re good people, they like to work with their hands.
You know, to me, it’s like the best of everything. And so, I think I want to tell a little story about you mentioned how some of these big agencies charge a lot of money they give you, you know, you might only use a sliver of what they’re offering, I was doing some work with a firm out of Louisville a couple years ago, and they this big website, and we’re talking about taking it over and enhancing it doing all those things.
And so when we talked with the, you know, high fancy agency that was, you know, had a downtown office and all that in Cincinnati, well, their their point of contact for their website had been kind of moved over from one person to the next and then that person left and so by the time I was trying to sort out the you know, the the mess, nobody really knew where some of these key details were because like the agency was so big. They couldn’t they couldn’t really I don’t know how that that personal touch right?
And so I think agencies like yours, Michele mine, of course, you know, is that’s that’s something that you offer is that personal touch of like they’re not getting lost in the move of you know, this, you know, this person, that person whatever. So, where do you with all that being said like, where do you see in the next few months, few years, whatever, like, Where where is marketing going for manufacturing companies? What are some? What are some things that these solo manufacturing marketers can be thinking about can be maybe skating towards the puck as it’s going there to use the old Wayne Gretzky analogy
Michelle Jones 40:00
Yeah, I think now is an extremely critical time for solo marketers. And here’s why. You got to make sure you know, you’re your marketing department is no longer a cost center. It’s an ROI center, you have to prove that because we’ve been talking about a recession now for what, six months, it’s coming, it’s coming, is it coming? I don’t know.
But usually the first place, unfortunately, that companies go to cut their budget is their marketing budget. So focus on building a fort around what you have right now and protecting it and show that you are making good investments. They’re not cost they’re investments that contribute to your top line growth. So I think that’s probably the biggest thing for telemarketers especially manufacturing do right now.
The whole pandemic was a big, I think it was a big wake up call for a lot of companies who didn’t have their act together from a digital prospective, they didn’t have good email lists, they didn’t have a CRM, they didn’t have a good website where they could actually funnel through their leads. So make sure that you’ve got now it’s not set up. Now. It’s never too late to start get started today on putting a plan to protect the resources you currently have. And make sure that you can show to the C suite or whoever’s your bosses that you are getting a good ROI on the investments you’re making in marketing.
Jeff Long 41:22
That’s really good. I didn’t anticipate that answer. But like, in a good way, what you said is great, like so for the solo marketers, it’s almost I mean, it’s some of it’s kind of that job security, right, be so good, that can’t let you go. Give so much value, that you’re a key part of the team, a key part of the company. And I think that’s, you know, is is, you know, we constantly look for new ideas and different things. I know a lot of people here today that are watching, do the same. And so, yeah, I love that like find, find the value that you’re bringing and time metrics to it and be, you know, be be so valuable that can’t can’t let you go.
Damon Pistulka 42:05
Yeah, it used to be hard, though to you know, used to be hard to go. Okay, we’re doing this and attribution. Where did where did this lead come from? Where did the sales come from. And I think companies like HubSpot and others have really made it much easier for marketers to go, Okay, this campaign developed this kind of, or this effort produces kind of result.
And you’re right, from the executive level, the people that I work with they, they want to understand that they want to understand, hey, we’ll spend more and more marketing money, if I can see the results, you can show me concrete results from it, we’ll keep spending more money, because that means if we’re doing it, right, right, so I’m going to spend $1, I’m going to make some money on it. And I’m good, I just keep doing that until it doesn’t work anymore. But if you can’t tie those two results, it’s it’s a huge thing. It’s a huge risk at the executive level, huge risk for them to take and they’re, they’re going to be risk averse.
Michelle Jones 43:02
Yeah. And if you can show that too, it builds confidence in your skill set shows confidence that you get the bigger picture vision of what’s going on here, not just to your company, but in the world, and that you understand the importance of your role and the the money that you are being given to spend now.
And that just helps build future confidence, career growth, all that stuff. I mean, all these things, all the things tie together in some way, shape, or form. So I know that’s kind of like a not like, you know, smiley, sunshine, rainbows, unicorns, but it’s just I think it’s a reality of where we’re at right now. Companies didn’t have fabulous, especially in building materials, they didn’t have great key ones.
So I’m seeing a lot of companies right now just being a little more cautious about their spending. But I also have a client that’s doubling down on their ads for PPC, because they’re seeing the ROI on it. And they’re like, You know what, if we want to grow, we know it’s going to cost this much per lead, we’re seeing good leads come from the source, we’re spending more money there. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. So kudos to them.
Damon Pistulka 44:01
Yep. And right there, there. They know that their spend is creating revenue that’s creating profitability. You tie that together, like you said, and it’s an easy decision for a business owner or executive team to make. And that’s it’s so critical in marketing to be able to do that now. And it’s only going to get more critical as as we move on. It’s it’s because everybody wants to look at every dollar spending and make sure they’re putting it in the right place.
Michelle Jones 44:29
Yeah, no one likes flushing money ever. Yeah. In life, we don’t like to know.
Jeff Long 44:37
Hey, I want to bring up Jose has an amazing question here for you. Michelle, what’s your take on AI specifically for solo marketers?
Damon Pistulka 44:46
Michelle Jones 44:47
man. We made it about 45 minutes and didn’t talk about AI. That’s gonna be some kind of record.
Damon Pistulka 44:51
Yeah, it’s like usually the first 30 seconds. Yeah.
Michelle Jones 44:55
I so the question was, what about the impact of AI for marketers?
Damon Pistulka 44:59
You Yeah, here you go. What is what? What’s your take about AI for solo marketers positive and negative?
Michelle Jones 45:06
Great, great question. Ai, as we’ve seen can be incredibly powerful. And if used properly, just like anything else in life, the internet, social media, if used properly, it can be extremely powerful. If not, it can be very, very poor. So in terms of solo marketers for AI, I would encourage them to lean into it, there’s a lot of power that you can access from that, it’s not going to be a replacement, really, for anything right now.
But you know, blog posts, you need just like you don’t start with a blank piece of paper, go get Chad GPT, or Jasper or something that likes to help you start to put together an outline for it, that’ll get you, you know, halfway there, and then you can fill out the rest of it. And that’s a big time saver. The other thing too, is like headlines, if you need different email subject lines, go ask for a few different ones, you can AB test them, and then see which one’s best.
And it may be again, this is where your solo marketer, so you only have your brain to think of these things, the one of these AIs may throw out some type of subject line that you would have never thought of to do. And then it ends up performing even better than you thought. But again, then you take that learning with your brain, and you that can apply it to future stuff. Some of the pitfalls of it, just be so careful with the copywriting and the videos and the photos.
I know you can be like, you know, create a spotted unicorn on top of a roof, you know, in the rain with small children like you can do all this stuff. But the reality is, it’s a gray area right now. So just be very cautious when you’re using it for that. And also, just because it comes from Ai doesn’t mean it’s right, the internet, lots of wrong information. So still, just because you’re like writing a blog posts, and it writes your blog posts, don’t assume it’s correct.
And you still have to go through and make sure that you’re going to use blog posts, for example, you still have to go through and make sure that you are using lingo that your customers use, or prospects use and you want to tie that in there. You need to make sure if it’s technical in nature, the technical terms are being used correctly, all that stuff. So it can be a very powerful to tool right now I’d say to get started or help you with something, is it going to replace you in this exact moment? No, but you can use it as like another resource. It’s another tool to get things done if you use it properly.
Damon Pistulka 47:30
Yeah, I agree. And I heard someone say this the other day, because this is one of the things I have heard people thought that they could do with with AI is, well, my my website text doesn’t really, you know, have the SEO content or the right keywords in like a one, I’m just going to use chat GPT or something like that, to rewrite it. And they the conversation I had around this was that, you know, we can tell if it’s AI, there are things that can tell if as they are written.
And if you don’t think that Google’s not going to be in the near future or is not already searching your blog posts and everything else to see if they’re AI written or human written, they will be probably because they they’ve got a history of of the way they want to what they want to deliver to people.
And it’s as a solo marketer, this can be a huge thing, because it might be pretty easy to just dump the text in and let it spit it out and put it back. But like you said, Whatever comes out, you have to fact check you have to edit to make it sound like you are really doing it not make a sound. So make sure it is you that’s really agreeing and putting the content out.
Michelle Jones 48:43
Yeah. And truthfully, I’ve been blown away by some of the stuff it’s done. Like, the information it cranks out can be very technical in nature. And I’m like how Yes, really like niche, the niche of a niche of a niche topic, and pull it together and make it coherent article. It’s amazing.
Jeff Long 49:01
Yeah, when I think it goes back to what we just talked about just a few minutes ago of like, staying ahead of the curve and being more valuable, right. So if you’re a solo marketer, you know, get as close to revenue as you can find, you know, different opportunities, maybe the AI can’t touch yet or whatever. And so, you know, we always have to keep adapting and growing and changing and adding more value.
And for some people that’s really difficult. You know, I mentioned for me, I love that kind of entrepreneurial stuff, you know, and so, for me, I’ve, I’ve kind of created for certain, like, I’m known for the video value bombs thing and some other type of things where I’ve, I’ve kind of created and branded this idea. That’s different. I mean, it’s not 100% unique, obviously nothing is but like it’s kind of it makes you known or whatever. So solo marketers can do the same thing. They can create stuff within their company to create value for their company and get closer to revenue.
Michelle Jones 49:59
Yeah, Ah, what a funny one I’ve seen as are headshots. So as marketers, it’s tough to get good headshots if you’re like, Okay sales team, we’re gonna put together more professional profiles, the stuff you get back or even like photos and email signatures, like Good lord, where on earth did you think this was a good idea? Why did you think I don’t want to? I don’t want your child’s drawing of what you think you will have like I want Yeah, have you?
And so sometimes you can take though what you’re you’re given. And now with the headshots and AI, you can say, Okay, put this person in a, you know, blue suit jacket with a white shirt, and it will do it. Which, yeah, which can save you a lot of time and headaches. Yeah, you can actually do that in Canva. Now you can just go in and like, you highlight the area that you want to have change. It’ll change it for you. Yeah. So that’s where it’s like it is kind of that I might have no problem ethically doing that because headshot three times and I’ve gotten everything but a professional headshot. I need Yes.
Damon Pistulka 50:53
So yes. Well, there’s like anything the tools are going to be if they’re, they’re useful for some things, but they’re not going to be useful for everything.
Michelle Jones 51:02
Yeah. That’s the best way of putting it name. And you’re so right.
Damon Pistulka 51:04
It’s good. Well, you know, we’re getting near our end here. And Michelle, at awesome having you today. Always good, always good. And I want to ask one last thing. One last question. So as you’re out here today, helping clients all around the US with their marketing. What is one common thing that you think that if they just stopped and thought about for a moment, it would help them the most? One common thing
Michelle Jones 51:48
I would say, being realistic about how people perceive your brand, how people perceive your company, what you can get done, like, just be realistic, please, like don’t think you’re going to set realistic goals, sales goals, marketing goals, whatever, just be realistic. And then kind of along those lines to be authentic, stop trying to be something you’re not. Authenticity shows.
It’s, it’s so people connect with brands, that our authentic, so be authentic to your brand, stop trying to be something that you’re not and run your business authentically. And realistically. So that’s my here’s one little tiny thing, but it’s kind of like a whole philosophy and oh,
Damon Pistulka 52:39
it’s awesome perspective. So
Michelle Jones 52:41
yeah, yeah, if any parting
Damon Pistulka 52:43
Jeff Long 52:45
two simple short things. So first of all, tell us your website. Yep.
Michelle Jones 52:51
Grow with creative eight, CR EA T. I firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Long 52:56
Michelle Jones 52:59
Okay, with great debate, so Yep.
Jeff Long 53:01
Perfect, perfect. And then lastly, I know you touched on this before, but tell us a little more about the the Purdue webinar you’re giving topic time, etc. Give us a little overview of that.
Michelle Jones 53:15
It is next Thursday, I’m sure we can post a link to where you can go to sign up. But the whole session, so it’s through produce manufacturing extension program. If I screwed up that acronym, please let me know. And I’m so sorry. But it’s through their program. And they put together some awesome content, awesome webinars. I’m honored and excited to be a part of this. Next Thursday, I believe it’s at noon or 1pm. Eastern and you’ll look on my calendar and see that there’s a place that you can go to register. And like I said, we’ll give you the link to that. It’s I believe it’s free.
We’d love to have you join and I’ll go through in a more formal way and have a deep dive into marketing for solo marketing manufacturers, manufacturers marketing for weight solo marketing, for weight. Tongue tied, you guys, it’s been 55 minutes. I’m like, Yeah. Hello, marketers, we’re gonna be talking about solo marketer. So whether it’s gonna be targeted, very good, that whether you’re in manufacturing or not, it’s how to get maximum resources with their maximum results with minimal resources.
Damon Pistulka 54:19
Awesome. Awesome. Well, we’re gonna drop the link in the comments here and LinkedIn post as soon as we get down done here. But, Michelle, thanks so much for being here today. Just appreciate you stopping by.
Michelle Jones 54:32
Thanks for having me. This is fun, as always. Good. Good. Great comments and questions, too. Thank you. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 54:39
Well, we did. We had just so many great comments. I think I’ve gotten to everybody that we have, Dr. Easley is in here too, and think Jose’s lots of lots of great questions. Andy, I miss you. Farzan. Thank you, Nick. I said it right, hopefully. But, Jeff, thank you for that. Thank you for helping with the CO hosts man you can drop some great questions help us a blast
Jeff Long 55:04
I’m honored to be the the the substitute Kurt Anderson today hopefully I you know did a good job for him and tried to touch the the iceberg of wisdom that he is an excitement. So yeah, he’s a good guy. He’s He’s nice.
Damon Pistulka 55:19
You did you did my friend. And if if people don’t know you, Jeff Long true focus media what what’s going on with you?
Jeff Long 55:27
Yeah, so we’re a marketing agency for manufacturers similar to Michelle here. We specialize in kind of three things, obviously, the overall strategy, but then specifically, it’s a lot of video marketing and website design and development. You know, that’s kind of our go to niche but it’s, it’s, I always tell people, we look for ways to, you know, cut costs, increase revenue and decrease time. It’s not that we’re trying to make pretty stuff. It’s we want to be very close to revenue, kinda like what we talked about.
Damon Pistulka 55:57
Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks both of you for being here today. We’re gonna sign out today and manufacturing ecommerce success, but we’ll be back again next week. Have a great weekend, everyone. Bye