Scalable Marketing System

To be able to create marketing messages and techniques that are felt and not just heard is a form of art. And Allison DeFord knows how to practice this art very well. In this week’s episode of Manufacturing eCommerce Success, we had Allison as our guest. She is the Founder and Trailblazer of FELT Marketing for Manufacturers.

To be able to create marketing messages and techniques that are felt and not just heard is a form of art. And Allison DeFord knows how to practice this art very well.

In this week’s episode of Manufacturing eCommerce Success, we had Allison as our guest. She is the Founder and Trailblazer of FELT Marketing for Manufacturers. The talk started with Allison sharing a little about how she came up with the idea of her company.

She and her creative manager realized back in time that to achieve good sales, they not only need to have customers, but also a connection with those customers. Allison also strongly believes that you need to have scalable marketing in order to keep your company running.

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Therefore, to achieve scalable marketing you should talk more about your customers than yourself. With this, Allison shared an example that talking about your own company is like looking at your navel all the time. It may look fun to you, but others do not care about it.

Furthermore, Allison said that when you are always bragging about your company and products, you are targeting 10% of the audience. Whereas, the other 90% are the ones that make connections and communicate. So you need to make those connections in order to attain scalable marketing.

After this Curt asked Allison to discuss some of the famous terms that she uses in her line of work. To this, she responded by explaining one of those terms, which is commission breath. She said that when you go on to make a sale you don’t just blabber your sales pitch just to make the sale work. You actually try and make a connection with the customer and the sale will come naturally.

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These were just some of the great examples that Allison shared during the talk. Later on, Allison said that is just some of the mistakes that these companies make. She shared another experience of how when she started her company she thought she was better than their customers. Her marketers were also of the same view and this was wrong of them.

Lastly, Allison said that we should do scalable marketing from the inside out. She also said that you need to understand the story of your customer and make them your hero. According to her, when you realize that you are your customer, is the point you truly start understanding marketing.

Thank you to Allison for sharing her time and knowledge!  Click on the video link below to hear the entire conversation.

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customers, people, felt, marketing, manufacturers, allison, great, brand, sales, stop, create, connected, hero, commodity, story, easier, share, linkedin, marketing strategy, marketers


Damon Pistulka, Curt Anderson, Allison DeFord


Damon Pistulka  00:09

Oh, I gotta get him up here. You coming on Kurt? There we go.



it going, Alison DeFord


Damon Pistulka  00:23



Curt Anderson  00:26

Happy Friday everybody. Welcome to manufacturing ecommerce success. Let’s get it going


Damon Pistulka  00:37

Gallo music going here, Kurt. So let’s kick her off man. We’re live on LinkedIn and the other places but we got going on so let’s write out the manufacturing e commerce Success Series and Allison to forward with us here today. Take it away, Kurt.


Curt Anderson  00:51

Let’s rock and roll. So everybody, welcome. My name is Kurt Anderson. huge shout out thank you to our hosts with the most Damon Pistulka has been edgier way, super grateful for him hosting us every week. We are live on LinkedIn. We’re live on Twitter, and we are live on Facebook. Is that correct? Damon? Yes, yes. Okay. And so folks, I have to give you there’s a couple of warnings with this session that we’re going to do today.

First, I’m going to ask when our guests is speaking don’t have any liquids or fluids in your mouth because they will they will be spit out on your on your, your keyboard because Allison Ford is one of the funniest human beings I’ve ever met. She’s brilliant. She’s funny, but I’m just for a shameless plug. I’m going to give a little quotes you guys, just to give you an idea of what you’re contending with this morning.

Not to interfere with your program here, Ellison but here’s a quote I want to share with you guys. staying relevant and profitable today requires three things continuous self disruption, reorganization, and strategic communications, continuously innovating and keeping pace with how customers search, purchase and share to avoid falling into the abyss of mediocracy. or god forbid extinction. Manufacturers must do something they’ve always resisted in the past. That’s our dear friend, our guests. Allison afford. So Alison, she’s the owner of felt marketing. Welcome to our program today. Thank you very much.


Allison DeFord  02:24

Thank you for having me. I appreciate you guys so much. And I’m excited. There’s a lot to share. And we have a superhero joining us. So


Curt Anderson  02:33

we’ve got Wonder Woman minute, that’s that mini me. Is that your version of mimicry. There?



She goes with me everywhere. Awesome.


Curt Anderson  02:41

So today, we’re, uh, you’ve been in manufacturing marketing for about one or two years?



One or two, six months? Yeah,


Curt Anderson  02:50

yeah. Or maybe a couple decades or so. So Allison has been rocking it with manufacturers for many, many years and just expertise. And once you tell us a little bit about your Thought Marketing, how you’ve got into this, and we’ll jump right into the program.


Allison DeFord  03:07

Good enough. Yeah, started in 94. And the company has evolved over I’d say about every 10 years to where we are today. And we rebranded about 10 years ago, when we discovered that we wanted to lead by example, and became our own guinea pigs. And so we realized that, you know, the most beloved and successful brands aren’t just seen and heard, there felt there’s an emotional connection.

And we literally were standing in the backyard behind our office that day, and my creative partner of 20 years. At that time, we just looked each other like, brick to the head felt. So we evolved into felt marketing. And our specialty is working with manufacturers, they are the hero of our story. And, you know, most of them waste money on marketing that doesn’t grow sales.

And I’m tired of hearing stories, all these years of people getting taken advantage of by marketers, by agencies by you know, and there are a lot of good ones out there. I’m not putting them down. But I thought, you know, this is money’s too precious. And time is too precious to waste. And so I that’s what gets me up every morning. I would do it for free. If If, if I could if i was able, because I love it so much. So I just want to help people make sales easier, more profitable, and connect to the heart of your ideal customer and have fun doing it.


Curt Anderson  04:47

So let’s dig into a couple. So you have let’s let’s just jump right into the couple of the catchphrases that you have that you that we wanted to talk about today. So we’ve I’ve and what’s funny is I do a lot of presentations. I’ve actually she’d taken Allison’s little catchphrases, and now I incorporate them. And can you share with us a couple of the catchphrases that you’d like to talk about with manufacturers in their marketing strategy?


Allison DeFord  05:09

Well, gosh, put me on the spot, there are a couple, you know, we like to steer people away from, you know, wipe off the Wi Fi. Again, I don’t believe I’m the person that made this up. But it’s so true. If your site is covered in WI, man, you need to wipe that off. Because that’s not helping your customers


Damon Pistulka  05:31

trust you.


Curt Anderson  05:32

And what is the Wi Fi syndrome? What is so if you suffer from if folks if you’re out there, and we’ve all done it, we suffer from the V sub syndrome, it’s all about me. Or we can you enlighten us a little bit on that?


Allison DeFord  05:46

Well, if you peruse LinkedIn where I spend a lot of time and you just peruse posts, companies are really good. And I’ve done it too. So I’m not you know, this is not a judgment, but this is still happening and it needs to stop. His people are, you know, look at the award, we one stop by our tradeshow booth and come see us come see how great we are. I have a slide that I’m going to share in a little bit. And it’s it’s a lot like looking at your own navel. You know, it’s really exciting to you. But no one else gives a shit. Like they care about them. So stop talking about yourself and invite your customer into the story.


Damon Pistulka  06:26



Curt Anderson  06:29

So and what’s so common is, you know, and what’s the other one that you guys shared feature? feature bingo feature?



It’s Bingo.


Curt Anderson  06:38

Yeah, in Can you share a little bit about that? I know, I know, typical common, you know, manufacturer website?


Allison DeFord  06:45

Yes, yes. Um, well, you know, most companies are still trying to market and communicate rationally. Right. So features and benefits, look how great our product is look at our stacks of lumber. And it’s not motivating. And the thing is, they just don’t know that people communicate, you know, with their heart. And it’s factual that they make decisions about 90% of the time based on emotion. And so features and benefits are not engaging your emotion. So why continue tapping into only 10% of the decision making brain when you could tap into 90%? And, and, you know, start talking about something that what’s in it for the customer? Because that’s what they care about.


Curt Anderson  07:36

Right. And I see and I want to give a shout out that everybody’s joining us here on on remote again, we’re on multiple platforms live. But I see your you know, so I didn’t mention, Allison has this incredible, wonderful weekly podcast, I beg you invite you challenge you encourage you join her every week and her partner in crime is a guy that looks like he’s with us today. And re enlighten me on a little another term that you guys have called commission breath. Can you share with us what commission breath is and how you can prevent even that convert commission breath comes through can can potentially come through on your website. Tell us a little bit about that commission breath?


Allison DeFord  08:14

I Well, it’s to us it’s a lot like you know, you’re always showing up and throwing up which Kevin Murphy, I give you the TM on that buddy. You’re always seeking the sale, you know, and it’s, as a mentor of mine always said needy is creepy. So stop it. And instead of showing up to try to get the sale, show up and serve your face off, and the sale will happen more naturally.


Damon Pistulka  08:40

Show up and serve your face off. I like that.


Curt Anderson  08:45

I like that. Ellison Do you want if you want to go ahead and share your screen if you want if you want to.


Damon Pistulka  08:51

Yeah, that’d be great. While we’re getting ready, Ryan Moses asked a good question on LinkedIn. He said how do you get manufacturers to realize they need to market themselves to begin with? A good good critique?


Allison DeFord  09:06

Well, think about this. Marketing exists to support sales marketing, I think I think marketing gets a bad rap. And because I think Damon said this once when I think about marketing, it makes me want to throw up in my shoes. And I’ve honestly felt that way in the past. But if you stop thinking of marketing as this Shrum army tactic, and think of it instead of as how you communicate with people, that’s it. It’s how you communicate at every touch point.


Damon Pistulka  09:39



Curt Anderson  09:40

And it’s challenging for you know, all of us, you know, human nature, it’s all about us, instead of making it you know, the other direction. We’re going to get into that in that website. And we talked about like LinkedIn profiles, where you know, look at me all about me or you know, so back to the feature Bingo. With the manufacturer. We have high quality, we have this key Ability we deliver on time?

Well, you know, that’s not a competitive separation, because if you didn’t do those things, you probably won’t be in business. Like, right, we’ve met a lot of great marketers in our group like Steve melito. Jeff long, Greg, welcome, you guys. Thanks for stopping by Dave from Buffalo. So, um, you know, so let’s just let’s jump right into that emotional marketing that you want to talk about. Let’s dig right into that program here.


Allison DeFord  10:26

Yes, I love to, um, well, in as everybody knows, and I know anybody that works with manufacturers, like the person that asked that question, how do you convince them of the value, and traditionally, head and heart have not connected in, in manufacturing, somewhat traditional, and about 10 years behind in terms of the way that they communicate a market that said, it’s a huge opportunity, right for them to retrofit, what they’re doing, right.

So take that great foundation you have, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. But if you take a minute to step back and understand who you’re doing this for, that will change everything, and it will become clear the value that marketing brings to your business.

So, again, the ideal brand, the most successful brand, the most beloved brands across b2c, and b2b are not just seen and heard, right there felt there’s there’s emotional connection with them, they make you feel something. So you know, everybody’s on a continuous mission. And I’m going to fly through these slides, because I’m going to share this PDF with people afterwards. So I don’t want to bore you with too much information. But you know, everybody’s on the same mission, we’re trying to keep our brand relevant and profitable, and changing at the speed of COVID kind of world, right?

And, and we’re not just competing like this anymore, we’re competing on a global scale. So it’s a it’s a new system, and it needs to be more automatic, than manual. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today is how you develop this scalable, connected system that’s felt by your ideal customer. So it’s got to keep you competitive, and it’s got to make sales easier. Now, the one thing that we decided to lead with on our website was more of what the customer wants, right? customers don’t want more marketing. Let’s be honest, no one said, God, I want more marketing.

I’m going to spend some time thinking about that, and how much money I’d like to spend on it. They don’t, what they want is more sales. So our job is to make sales easier, with less marketing, that doesn’t work and the right marketing mix that does. So we always ask clients, what state are you in? And they look at you like, Well, what do you mean? Well, you’re either in a state of acquisition of modernization or transition. And I won’t go into all the minutiae of what each of those things are. I think it’s pretty obvious. So no matter what they provide,



I’m gonna spend some time thinking



that’s me. Okay. I do some in the background screwing things up picking a commercial break. So


Curt Anderson  13:27

yeah. Hey, while you’re doing that, another shout out our we have our New York tribe here bound Bonnie’s. Here. We have. We have Wayne here. So welcome to our new york tribe. So thank you for everybody showing up. So all right, let’s jump right back in all right.


Allison DeFord  13:43

Okay. So I found this image about 15 years ago. And it made me laugh out loud, it still does, I had a lot of boy cousins growing up. And of course, growing up in Indiana, you run around with no shirt on it’s hot and humid. And I was always envious of them, you know, to be able to do that.

And they would you know, they would like look at my navel, you know, and they’re like making it you know, smile and talk and make faces and I thought oh my god, that is what most companies do with their marketing is like look at my navel. Look how great I am see me do you want to talk about how great I am? And why you think I’m so great. And, and I realized a long time ago that we at felt we’re doing the same thing.

And we needed to stop it. Because that’s not motivating to anybody. So what you have to do is stop thinking about what’s in it for me the brand and think about what’s in it for them. Because they don’t care about you. They care about themselves. So this is the secret sauce of creating a connected system marketing system that is felt Right, you’ve got to make your customer, the hero of your story. And when you do that, everything gets so much easier. Right, how to listen to them, how to talk to them, where to talk to them. And so, for us, we realized about six to 10 years ago, I can’t remember how long now that manufacturers were the hero of our story. And that he


Damon Pistulka  15:33

is doing it again. Sorry. These man, I think I’ve never done this before. We’re rookies. Yeah, go ahead. Sorry.


Allison DeFord  15:44

That’s okay. But now you, you realize that you are not like, like, I’ll tell you a quick story. And I’m gonna be really vulnerable here. And it’s a little embarrassing. But yeah, we sat down a number of years ago, and we used to think, at my company, the marketers, right? That we were better than our customers, that we were smarter than them because we knew about marketing, and they didn’t.

And that was wrong. And I always say marketing is felt from the inside out. So I’m really positive that that vibe was coming through loud and clear. And it was not helping us be as successful as we could be, or helping our customers. So we decided to put ourselves through our own process. We were the guinea pigs.

And when we started working on the difference map, which I’ll share with you in a couple slides, it was well, what’s your story? And so I started thinking about it, I thought, well, gosh, I started out as a designer, a girl in her bedroom with an expensive computer, and a dream. And the more I started talking about my story, I said, Well, that sounds like most of our customers, you know, great granddad started the company 50 years ago with a dream and two nickels to rub together.

And he built something from nothing, because there was a need. And he saw that he could fill it. And and now you know how many generations later, the company has evolved. And they’re really I mean, I love manufacturing, because I feel like it’s the backbone of this country. And it just fills me with joy to support people that are making something from nothing. And so I had this aha moment, and I said, holy shit, we are our customer. We are just like them. And from that moment forward, marketing became so much easier for us. And it also influenced our process and our philosophy of how we help people go to market.

Because when your customers the hero, and you’re speaking their language, marketing becomes so fun, and easy. And it just makes sense. And the first question that we always ask people, is, how do you want them to feel? And they look at us like, are you Hi, what? We don’t even understand what do you mean? So we say, okay, we created this buyer’s journey, you can see this guy, and he represents right each stage of awareness, then you’re evaluating, then you make the purchase, then you’re using it, then you hopefully repurchase and then you’re going to tell somebody about it. That’s that adequate advocacy part.

So what we figured out is, most manufacturers how you speak to people at these different stages of the buying cycle needs to be different needs to you know, you don’t have somebody to sleep with you on the first date, well, you might, but normally, you’re going to bite somebody, first, you’re going to have a conversation, you’re going to get to know them go out on multiple dates. So you want to do the same thing with your marketing, you know, and it’s again, you don’t want to show somebody your navel on the first date, because I don’t think you’re going to get a second date.

So and most manufacturers stop in the middle, right? They stopped that usage, or the person purchased it actually. And then they stop. Well, if you know, a really smart manufacturer, who’s in tune with your customers is going to stay with them through the journey. They’re the hero of the story. So what you want to offer them like Don Miller talks about this in his book, story brand, which is phenomenal. If you haven’t read it, about offering you know, you got to close the loop.

So what happens at the end of every great story, the hero has a transformation or an evolution or some kind of change. And so you want to be with your customer on that journey from beginning to end. And then it starts over again. Like I call it that The buyers circle instead of the funnel, so it’s this continuous circle. So you got to figure out how you want them to feel at every step of the way. And how you do that. And I’m sharing these, this PDF with you guys. These are tools that we’ve created, here at felt to help clients understand their customers.

And the way that you do that is with empathy. And I think in the past that’s felt like this really soft skill, you know, fluffy, but it’s really not, it’s walking a mile in their shoes. And so when you take the time to figure out well, what are they hearing about us? What do they see from us? What are customers saying and doing? How’s the gain or positive for them? How do they think and feel? When you really figure that out? That then influences how to create your difference? Right? What is your unfair advantage, the thing that you bring to the table that nobody else can can do can bring?

And we’ve had clients say, Well, you know, we’re, we’re just a commodity, and I say, Whoa, hold the phone. If you’re just a commodity. You know, Starbucks, coffee used to be a commodity, water used to be a commodity until it wasn’t. So by figuring out your unfair advantage, you invite people into the story, and you’re going to help them be the hero. And we use things like this difference map to really make it succinct. So if you look at at the bottom, you’ve got purpose, why do we exist? If you you need to say that in a sentence, right?

It’s not some long, drawn out mission statement, that doesn’t mean anything to anybody. But the people that created it behind, you know, in a boardroom one day, it’s got to be something that every employee can say, this is why we exist. This is who we do this for. And so anyway, quick example, we have a client that is a major drywall manufacturer. And we took them through this process, we did a breakthrough boot camp, and uncovered all of these things. And they they said, Well, we don’t know, we don’t know what our unfair advantages. And I said, Well, I do, it’s that you make one part of the construction process.





Allison DeFord  22:31

And everybody just looked at me like, hmm, it can be that simple. And I said yes, because nobody else is talking about that. So who doesn’t want that? You know, they in the fact that at every step of the way, you make it easy. So if you become known for that, that’s a reason to trust you. That’s a reason that, you know, they’ll choose your product, because you’re with them every step of the way, in from specifying this product, to learning about it, being educated about it, installing it, you know, seeing the finished product, and constantly innovating for them on behalf of them.

So it’s very powerful. And the other thing that we kept running into for years with manufacturers was their very left brain and linear thinkers. So we thought, okay, we’re right brain for the most part, and how do we, how do we connect with them? How do we get them to trust this process? And so we thought, Hmm, well, science, right? factual things, people trust that.

So we spent years developing this periodic table of customer touch points. So we, we divided it up into eight categories, and laid out a brand, and and all the different ways that they can come into contact with their customers. And so we’ll take your brand, and we lay it over the periodic table. And it’s very enlightening. It’s rather than us pointing a finger and saying, you, you, this is what you’re doing or not doing. It allows them to say, Wow, we’ve got all these different touch points activated. But how many of those are optimized? How many of those are working really well?

Not as many as we’d like? And then how many are dormant? How many were not utilizing at all. And then the biggest problem that I see is that these when someone doesn’t have a connected system, it’s all these random components, right? All these amplifiers that are working on their own, but they’re not all connected and working together to say the same message and you’ve got to be repetitive because consistency breeds familiarity. familiarity breeds trust and trust is what it takes for someone to buy from you. So how are we on time I don’t want to be too wordy and I can finish Whenever you need,


Damon Pistulka  25:03

I think we’re



okay. We’re let’s, let’s keep going.


Allison DeFord  25:08

Just real quick. This is how I told people, you know, before we got on this, how to do this? Well, this is how you do it. Start with that idea of less marketing, more sales meaning, give the customer what they want, before, more importantly than what you want. And you want to create increase visibility and performance from a connected system that’s built to last. And this is the beautiful thing.

When you think of retrofitting a house or building a house, start with a strong foundation, every brand I’ve ever worked with, had a lot of great stuff to start with. They just needed to shore up their foundation. So real quick, you you like we’ll do the breakthrough boot camp with them. We’ll help them uncover their unfair advantage.

What channels are you leaving untouched? How do you shorten the sales cycle? And then the second thing we do is we look at Are you a specialty? Or are you a commodity? And who do customers think you are? That’s the most important thing. So you want to make it easier to know you? Who are these people? And why should I care. And then the next thing you want to do is create that marketing strategy. And the whole idea is planned versus haphazard. Right, make it easier to find you. So it’s how where and when you interact. Now, here’s where a lot of people fall down.

They want to go straight from the marketing strategy, straight up to the roof, shouted from the rooftops and and start creating amplifiers, right? We want to we want to a fantastic website. And we want to design and we want to start doing social media. Okay, before you start shouting through these speakers, what is it that you’re saying? And this is the substance part that I can’t stress enough that is missing from most people’s marketing strategies. And this is what helps you be felt is you’ve got to have a content strategy, right? Are you most people are reactive, you want to be proactive? And you want to plan this ahead of time.


Damon Pistulka  27:25

Whoa, what just happened there? I’m sorry about that, but the event just stopped. Well, thanks, everyone for attending on LinkedIn. We obviously have some technical details here. Difficulties here. We’ll take care of but appreciate you joining in on the conversation and we will share more with you again next week. Our remote platform has crashed Thanks a lot.

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