19 Sep The Manufacturing Digital Transformation
Manufacturing digital transformation is what’s new in the manufacturing industry. The guest we had today is the best-kept secret of this show.
In this week’s The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Curt Anderson. Curt is the author of, “Stop Being the Best Kept Secret.” Curt is an ecommerce evangelist for manufacturers. Curt helps manufacturers understand what they can do to get their business showing up and generating business digitally.
The conversation started with Damon asked Curt about the common things in people who think they need to up their digital game. To this, Curt said that when it comes to manufacturing and marketing it’s all that the basis was.
He said that what business was in the 80s 90s or even in 2021, the basic rules of manufacturing digital transformation are the same. This is why, when it comes down to marketing it’s not B2B or B2C it’s more of a human-to-human basis.
Moving on, Curt said that when it comes to manufacturing digital transformation, the first thing you need to do is to find your compatible buyer that is your soulmate. According to Curt, many people don’t realize who their soulmate is and that is an issue because a soulmate buyer is someone who needs you as well.
Discussing more manufacturing digital transformation, Curt elaborated about MEP. He said that an MEP is the manufacturing extension partnership and it is in every state. Moreover, if you are into manufacturing, the first thing you have to do is to connect with your MEP.
Further into the conversation, Curt and Damon talked about Amazon and its marketing strategies. Curt said that Amazon has made such an amazing manufacturing digital transformation. Considering this, he said that it becomes almost impossible not to buy from them.
By the end of the conversation, Curt said that the reason he loves preaching about ecommerce is that it’s easy to sell and you don’t have to put much into it. Moreover, he also mentioned that McDonald’s and Amazon are also successful because their selling processes are easy.
The conversation ended with Damon thanking Curt for his time.
Curt Anderson is the renowned author of “Stop Being The Best Kept Secret.” Along with this, he is an e-commerce evangelist for manufacturers as well. He has had a long journey in his path of work. In his line of effort, he has helped many e-commerce businesses to grow and flourish in their own way. So it’s safe to say that he is an e-commerce wizard.
Curt founded his e-commerce company in 1995 which was ranked 3× on the Internet Retailer Magazine’s Top 1000 ecommerce Companies. Along with this Anderson has been consulting with US manufacturers since 2012 on executive e-commerce strategies.
He has 30 years of successful entrepreneurial experience along with 25 years of e-commerce experience. He has also spent four years at the New York Small Businesses Development Centre (SBDC).
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The Manufacturing Digital Transformation
The Exit Your Way Business Round Table Live Stream
manufacturers, business, people, e commerce, manufacturing, sell, talking, damon, relentlessly, kurt, folks, amazon, b2b, hose, employees, product, couple, customer, linkedin, thought
Damon Pistulka, Curt Anderson
Curt Anderson 00:04
Dude, you’re like, you’re like big time you get the music going.
Damon Pistulka 00:07
Alright, everyone, Welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And with me today, it should go without introduction, but I will introduce the one and only Kurt Anderson. They brought him today, my friend. Hey,
Curt Anderson 00:24
dude, what an honor to be on faces of business, man. This is what a privilege. Thank you. I’m fired up for this.
Damon Pistulka 00:31
Yeah, it’s good. Well, we are we’re a couple minutes late, because we started talking about you know, random stuff. We’re talking about the 80s. Yep, that’s going going down the road. Yeah, going good. Good stuff. But anyway, so we got off on a tangent. Now we’re gonna try to bring it back.
Curt Anderson 00:52
Bring it back. Bring it. We’re very professional. Everybody knows that. David.
Damon Pistulka 00:55
Yeah, yeah, they’ve been around me long enough. This Martin one. All right. Today, we’re going to talk about something that I think is a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun. We spend a little time on it every week. Just a little. Yeah. Just we’re gonna talk about the manufacturing digital transformation that is underway. That is everybody’s talking about it. It is. I just don’t know how you can get away with from it
Curt Anderson 01:19
at, dude. It’s what we live for. We eat drink, breathe sleep. Yeah. How to stop being the best kept secret, right? Yeah. We’re trying to help manufacturers. That’s our, our stick. That’s our thing. You and I have just, you know, boy, what a great friendship. You know, guys, we even got together in person this year, we saw Eagles were on the Olympic Peninsula, seals, couples, otters, Professor p, we just, we had all sorts of fun. So I think, you know, obviously, I’ll be Captain Obvious with this past year with COVID.
So yeah, manufacturers are just plunging. It is super exciting to watch. Just this, this whole movement transformation from spearheading made, you know, made in America Made in USA is back to life stronger than ever. Our dear friend Harry Moser, from the joint initiative is just relentlessly on, on LinkedIn posting, speaking everywhere he can, trying to fix the supply chain problems. We our dear friend, Dan bigger, is just a relentless advocate and evangelists for you know, manufacturing, US manufacturing.
And like really trying to create that competitive bring back that competitive advantage is that digital footprint, you know, stop being the best kept secret. You know, so many manufacturers have flown under the radar, hey, we went to trade shows sales reps, the belly to belly old school sales. Rep. You know, we have a couple in our training program right now. You know, God bless them. They’re amazing. But even they’re rolling up their sleeves and saying we can’t do it, how we used to do it. We need to get caught up into the 21st century and 2021. So a lot of exciting opportunities.
Damon Pistulka 03:06
Yeah, I really think so occurred in in, one of the things I was excited about having you on today is is talking to you about, you know, you’ve probably literally spoken to several 1000 people on webinars in the last year talking about you know, digital transformation, e commerce, you know, stop being the best kept secret. So, what are some of the common things that you see, when people first go, Wow, I need to I need to step up my digital game.
Curt Anderson 03:41
You know, I’m let’s go back to the basics man. You and I, you know, we’re not young men anymore. But we’re young at heart though Damon’s heart. So you know, even we’ll go back to the 80s. You know, when you and I were back in college in the 80s. What are the four Ps of marketing? Yeah, you know, the basics, right? Yeah. And it’s just like, really, the difference is, it’s no different than it was 1900 1950 1980 to 2021. It’s the basics and what and I love what you always preach. It’s not b2b. It’s not b2c, it’s human to human.
And it’s just understanding the human behavior, understanding your customers. And I think one of my biggest takeaways, and again, sorry for this shameless plug, we do these great in e commerce trainings with e commerce management. And, you know, we just got done with one today, and folks were giving their testimonials and stuff and it was just so rewarding, so refreshing.
And I think one of our biggest takeaways, I’m eager to hear what you think, is starting with a basic Who is your ideal customer that you know, you hear that buyer persona. And I know you know, boy, fewer work at the big corporations Procter and Gamble, man, David Griffin, he’s a buffalo dude. Hey, David. How are you my man? He’s, uh, he’s off. We got together and Person last year to at Niagara Falls man so he’s a nice Dave’s a good dude. We got to have him on our Friday program.
There you go jot him down. He’d be great for your faces of business. By the way, David is an awesome huge evangelist for manufacturing. Great dude. We met through Chris Luke, he’s manufacturing happy hour Chris Luke, he is going to be in our Friday program a week from this Friday. Super excited for that. But let’s get back to that buyer persona. Yeah, go around you know, you hear avatar ICP? You know, your ideal buyer, we call them soulmate. soulmate? Yeah. Who are your soulmates?
Who’s that ideal buyer that that not only are you as a manufacturer dying to find them, they are equally trying to find you. You know, it works both ways. supply chain is disrupted. My mom having disruption with maybe my current my current supplier, current vendor, what have you. And man if you can’t be found, if you can’t be found on search, if I can’t find you on mobile, if I can’t find you on LinkedIn, a video, you’re the best kept secret. So I think understanding the first and foremost who that ideal buyer is that soulmate, that is a critical first step. In it, I will say shocking.
It’s interesting or surprising how many companies that we work with that we train where they’re like, gosh, I don’t know anybody, I’ve been metal. So anybody that needs metal bent is who my customer, you know, but when you talk to them long enough, it’s they don’t bend metal for anybody or fabricate steel for anyone, or print circuit boards for anyone. They’re in a niche. And when you talk to them, then that’s where the magic happens then also, okay, now we have an opportunity to start hitting success
Damon Pistulka 06:44
on I think to really when I when you bring up some good points, and it is the internet is a completely different game than it was even 10 years ago, certainly 20 years ago. And we still see a lot of people like when we were we were talking with you, you do a lot of work with MEPs. And you and I are on a call with a MEP won’t have to mention them by name if we don’t, but they were mentioning that over half of the people in their manufacturers in their state did not have websites. And you know, you were on the call. And we’re trying to I’m trying to imagine how do those people sell? I mean, how do they sell with that?
It because the phone changed the way that we do so many things now. Right? And Google and the phone and everything, it’s like, I just I hope that we’re seeing more and more people finally take the plunge into, hey, let’s get online. Yes, we have to look at some of these things, because it’s not working the way we want to. And I always come back. And when I’m allowed to speak in some of these things I talk about, you know, all dude’s because I am one. Yeah, it you know, we’re not the buyers anymore, right? I’m not your buyer.
You know, I might be the guy that’s trying to sell, I might be the guy that’s the owner and that manufacturing place, I might be one of the guys working in a manufacturing place. But the buyers are much younger, those buyers grew up with Google and, and doing the search, search and find what they need. And if you can’t, if you’re not found there, whoever it is, is going to be the one that they’re going to check out and contact.
Curt Anderson 08:31
Exactly. And odds are those particular folks that we’re speaking of in god bless him that, you know, it’s manufacturers boy, they are working relentlessly. They are you know, look at the fires that manufacturers. David, if you’re still out there, you know, you see it firsthand in the field, you know, you’re dealing with massive HR issues, labor shortages, how do I keep my employees safe? are they wearing masks if they had a vaccine, you know, like, so many challenging issues, PPP as our company essential? Did we close?
You know, like, my goodness, how did these manufacturers it’s, yeah, right. You know, then you throw in supply. I was talking with the manufacturer the other day, they’re their lead times have gone from suppliers have gone from 26 weeks to now they’re at, you know, 42 weeks, 50 weeks of, you know, especially like in, you know, you’re hearing like circuits and chips and all these other other things.
So when you look at everything that a manufacturer has to face on a daily basis, and they’ve built amazing, incredible businesses for probably decades, and in some cases, generations unite did a great, I thought was great, but we had a super fun time at the New York MEP. There was a company that was founded in 1865. The German final company was a civil war that founded the company started at 1865.
It’s here in New York, still going strong 150 plus years later. So again, manufacturers have a ton of things on their plate. They’re putting out non stop constantly. And and their defense aid good businesses still have good businesses, the rec capacity website just wasn’t a priority, you know, but let’s let me throw it back at you what I love what you say we do we encounter a lot of manufacturers, they’re at capacity, they couldn’t take on a single other customer another order right now. But what do they need? labor?
And what are they competing with? Fast food, you know, because like in your area in my area where you know, minimum wages is, you know, $15 an hour, you know, they can go to a fast food place. And they’re fighting for those fast food. Jobs. Yeah. And so now you need, it’s not just the wage, you need to have a competitive environment. And I love you know, if you want to share a little bit, you do a fantastic job, hey, manufacturer, if you’re not looking for new business, that’s great. But boy, that 20, something that 30 something that is looking for a job, they’re going online, and they can’t find you and find out something about you. They’re going to go somewhere else.
Damon Pistulka 11:00
Yeah, you’re making a great point, Kurt, because I think that that in some cases that you said, we’re manufacturers are very busy already with existing work. Labor is more important to them than finding another customer right now. And it’s just as important for employees to be able to see that, Hey, who are you? Are you do you have a good place to work? Do you have a sense of community?
What other you know, do I have an opportunity to grow with your company? Yeah, just all these questions that they have. And there’s a there’s a lot more. And the fast, and I’ll just back up a little bit, the fast food industry has had to work very, very hard for many years to compete and get people there. They’re used to this right. Now, manufacturers while they’ve had to work hard to find employees, not like they have to do today. Now, certainly not when it comes to the to the point that you have to be thinking about how do we look online to potential employees? Right, you know, that’s, it’s for some, that’s, that’s a foreign, that’s a foreign thought.
Curt Anderson 12:05
It’s a foreign concept, because, you know, in safe places where, you know, again, where there’s heavy manufacturing Boy, you know, typically when times are good, you can jump, you know, jump from one manufacturer to the next, you know, they’re gonna pay a decent competitive wage, you know, but that manufacturer, you know, they, you know, they would recruit, but boy, not like today, man, it’s, it’s a totally different world. So, again, from that digital standpoint, and I love the millennial generation, you know, you have a couple of kids right now.
Yeah, in a heart, heartbeat of that generation. And, you know, they want to know, what are you doing in the community? Are you giving back? How do you treat your employees? You know, they want to look and see what you’re doing on Facebook, or an Instagram or YouTube videos, or what have you.
Just like that ideal client, that customer, those soulmates that are checking you out, to see what type of processes machinery so and so forth that you have behind those closed doors for that employee wants to know the exact same thing? Yeah. So you know, so folks that are, well, you know, that internet thing, social media, it’s never going to catch up with us. It’s boy, I just you’re really putting yourself at a tough, difficult disadvantage. If you’re in that case, you know,
Damon Pistulka 13:16
yeah, yeah, I think so. And you know, what, I am really quite pleased, though, some companies that I’ve known who actually one of them that I’ve actually started working with, right, while I was in college yet, right, I’ve seen their social media take off, I was talking to the owner of that business a few weeks ago, and, and he said, Yeah, we’ve got a whole, you know, we’ve got social media personalities that I never thought we would ever have it, you know, and he goes, and it’s actually fun for us to do the things that we’re doing and get the pictures taken.
And you know, all this kind of stuff that we’re doing to help show what we do in the community and with our employees, and how we celebrate our employees and things like that.
So, you know, there’s people out there that are getting into this and making it fun and part of their business, just like all the other stuff that we’ve had to go through, not go through, but we’ve evolved through before, as you know, lean manufacturing and ISO na s 9100, or q s, or, you know, whatever your industry you’re in, and all the things and the changes we’ve dealt with. Now we have to go through this whole digital thing again, and I think, you know, as you said, manufacturers are really busy, there’s a lot of things they have to do, right. But at the end of the day, there’s so many gems that are just waiting to be shown.
Curt Anderson 14:35
Yeah, that I love that. And so, and again, I’m sorry to give a shout out, you know, with the training we just completed. Gosh, what an hour ago so one of the folks you know, digital immigrant, you know, probably our age ish generation, you know, our generation. And, you know, started came in and said, Man, when I first started out, you know, a little daunting, overwhelming. And he said, You know what, I’m now inspired. I Have a plan, you know, in man, he It was very, it was extremely motivating, inspiring here in the way he was talking about, you know, boy, it goes, what I did in 2010 isn’t applicable today. But now you know, getting out there capturing the tools and resources.
And again, you know, like we’re here on LinkedIn. So folks that are on LinkedIn, you’re you know, you’re already leaps and bounds ahead of, you know, a lot of other folks. It’s like, we’re just trying to get that message out. You know, and you’ve mentioned a couple of times, again, if any of your raving fans, your listeners, like what the heck is an MVP? What do they say? Yeah, so that’s the manufacturing extension partnership.
And there’s a manufacturing extension partnership and MEP in every state, all 50 states, so in your corner of the world is impact Washington, some states have multiple centers, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, have multiple centers, some will have like one main center, then regional satellite offices, if you will, but what they are, you know, again, for what will segue into this for a second, any entrepreneurs out there, you know, again, a lot of us on LinkedIn, solopreneurs are entrepreneurs and, you know, you feel like you’re in a silo, feel like you’re in an island, you know, man, um, you know, we’re grinding it as a cat, you know, you use that line, but you eat what you kill.
And if you didn’t kill anything, today, you’re not eating right. So you feel like you’re alone, or you’re just out there. There’s so many resources out there at the disposal for entrepreneurs. So we do a lot of work with the Small Business Development Centers. SBDCs, we just interviewed Sara, wonderful, amazing, beautiful series are birthday today, I wish her Happy Birthday reporting. We had a great interview with her. She’s at the SBDC Small Business Development Center at Temple University.
You just crushed it with a great webinar last week. And, and their services are completely free and confidential. And so anyone in there’s 1000 centers throughout the entire country. Yeah, there’s no reason to not, you know, go to a local Small Business Development Center. If you’re a manufacturer, check out your local manufacturing extension partnership, and just see what are these resources that are available for you. And I know you’ve done a great job really plunging into partnering and working with these SBDCs MEPs either doing webinars speaking, engaging, partnering, helping your clients with those services?
Damon Pistulka 17:19
Well, it’s just I think, is part of the outreach that we need to do. Because I think in any of the, the, you know, the free or paid things that that, you know, I’ve been involved with, the big thing is, is getting enough knowledge to be dangerous in this, right. Because we’re not going to be the technical experts, like we are in you know, in in programming a five axis CNC machine, or are producing the best, you know, whatever boiler system in the world, you know, we’re not, you know, you’re not going to be technical, like you are those kinds of things.
I think when it comes to the internet, digital marketing, whatever you want to call it, e commerce, and as as you know, Kurt and as all explained, in our world, e commerce really doesn’t mean Amazon only would be but really doing business with digitally, and that that’s changed so much, because that could be part of your part of it’s digital, and then it’s talking to people and finishing up the business part of it, however, could be all online, it really doesn’t matter.
But what getting enough knowledge to be dangerous, because you want to make sure that you can, you are spending the money if you are going down that digital path with resources that are going to get you some results. That’s the thing that we really are trying to do in anything that that I think the Emmy peas are doing the kind of things that we’re doing independently of that or, or with a SBDCs is really get the knowledge so that you can be dangerous enough to get the right help.
Curt Anderson 19:03
No, I agree. 100%. And that’s, and that’s and it’s not easy. You know, it’s um, you know, we talk with folks, we’re like, Man, it’s overwhelm you call it like the social media fatigue, we’re like, man, one minute, I need to tweet now you’re telling me I need to do Instagram now. What’s this Pinterest thing? What Snapchat, you know, like, tick tock, you know, like, oh, my goodness, how many?
How many platforms are there? And that’s again, like when you strip it back down to the basics. And you focus on who is your client? Who’s your audience. That’s what I love. What you do as your way is you don’t talk to talk, you walk the walk, and we again, we could round about being digital immigrants. But you do an amazing, amazing job where you know, if we looked at your digital footprint in 2018, compared to where you are in 2021. Is there a little difference or how it was? Yeah, there’s
Damon Pistulka 19:51
a little difference.
Curt Anderson 19:52
Just slightly, right. A little difference, you know, I mean, like you’ve gone relentlessly on phases of business and what you What you do an excellent job, you’re shining a bright light on other business owners, other folks in business and in your space, you know, your growth and exit strategy specialists. So that’s what you’re going to preach about, you know, those are the folks that you’re connecting.
These are the conversations, you’re bringing value, no expectations, you’re just delivering value to your folks planting those seeds out there. You know, we do our Friday Webinar Program, which we have a super wonderful, full, fun time, we’ve had great guests. And and again, we’re, you know, what the intention is, is trying to help those ideal clients are soulmates.
How can we just relentlessly help them move the needle and make this digital transformation? You know, it’s like, we, you know, we get millennials in our classes we get, you know, younger folks, but you know, a lot of times it’s digital immigrants, or, you know, what’s a more seasoned more mature crowd and a more polite way to put it, but you know, we want to speak that language. So whatever business that you’re in, that’s the language that you want to speak, you know, and that’s, we talked about on your website. How do you speak that right language?
Now you also do, we had a great call yesterday, you know, you dropped the bomb, there’s a company does like these giant tanks. And we were sitting there, you know, there are 1000s of dollars, and you’re in your bam, you’re like, Hey, you should put those on Amazon. And let me tell you why. And it was just such a radical concept. I thought it was just brilliant. Dude, I was giving you a standing ovation. You know, talk a little bit about, you know, manufacturers, even in their custom manufacturer.
Damon Pistulka 21:33
Curt Anderson 21:34
We’ll talk about the benefits of, you know, taking place take advantage of the marketplaces for those custom manufacturers.
Damon Pistulka 21:42
I think that’s a that’s a good. That’s a good question. I was thinking back that I’m supposed to be the one interviewing. Yeah. Good conversation. That’s okay. It’s back as well. So you know what i think i think that over the last 10 or so years, I you know, I started in engineering and operations and managing the manufacturing businesses, but really what what I realized is that I was woefully underprepared, underprepared to manage may or drily run manufacturing businesses, because I didn’t concentrate on sales enough.
Yeah. And, and honestly, Jeffrey Graham and other sales people that I’ve worked with in the last 10 years have really taught me a lot about how important it is to really think outside the box. And, you know, every day, as as you and I’ve talked about before, what are you doing for revenue producing activities? Mr. Big and well worth the fractional CFO gave me that term, and I use it, I use it relentlessly because it is something we have to do we have to think about, okay, where’s the new place that I haven’t thought of to try to sell? How do I how do I get my products out in front of them?
My products or services out in front of more people? this instance was they have a product? It’s a product? Yes, it’s 1000s of dollars. But if I want to sell that to somebody, and you’ve done it with other products, maybe not as expensive, but if I want to sell that to somebody, and I’m going to sell a multi $1,000 tank to somebody, they can swing buying it off Amazon, right. I got product in stock, they can they can see it. Well, what that what I just did, I have traffic, Amazon’s got more traffic than anybody on the internet other than Google, probably that’s probably like Google than Amazon, right? I don’t know, I would study at that close.
But I know there’s something it was like 200 and some million billion 2 billion visits a month or something like, right, there’s got to be a couple people that are looking for a specialized field tank, right, that and are willing to pay a few 1000 bucks for it. Right? Right. That’s the only thing that came to mind. Now I come back to running the manufacturing businesses in the past and some of the other smaller manufacturers, there could be a product you’re building that you’ve tried to sell, you’ve got I made this this because I see this a lot, you know, right in when I was in sheet metal, or in CNC machining, they come up with some it’s like, Hey, this is a great little widget. Yeah, yeah.
And I think it works good. Better. Yeah, it was something that works good. You know, it was a it was a bracket for a wall hanger or something. Well, in those days, we’re going to try to put it on your website and sell it well. Yeah. Like 100 of them some of your friends and family and then you’re done. Right. I mean, I come back to all kinds of things like even jalapeno popper cookers.
Yeah, right. Yeah, hey, shake is something that funny, but it’s something that crazy, but one of the companies that ran the owners like hey, I want to make some jalapeno popper cookers for the grill. So you mean we had stainless steel, we had lasers we had, you know, all this stuff. We’d bump up Next thing you know, we got these cool little one piece he designed really slick, right? And you know, probably could have sold 1000s have never even tried. Because it because at that time, it’s like, you know, you don’t have some today, I would have put that on Amazon and second.
Curt Anderson 25:13
I Dude, I absolutely love this concept. And again, it’s just it’s a different mindset and like you are like you want. Dude, I love that you’re what a vulnerable statement to say like, Hey, you know, this is this was my deficiency at that at this time, you know, and again, you can’t be everything to everyone, you can’t be everything to yourself in your own business, you know? So for the entrepreneurs out there, you know, you have 10 2030 employees, you know, one minute you’re throwing your CFO hat on next one HR hat next year you’re doing operations?
Well, odds are you’re not proficient or an expert in every category, let alone marketing and this whole digital marketing thing. So that’s why China align yourself with these experts. And then that’s why again, I’ll know their shout out the SBDC small business owners MEP and people there, you know, these training programs, going to webinars educating yourself so you don’t have to be the expert in all these different categories.
But like you’re saying, just enough to be dangerous, but then aligning yourself in how can you capture like that variable expense instead of like hiring an expensive person, you know, like, you know, those the CFOs Dave Griffin, you know, Dave, that was on, you know, if you still with us or resigned earlier, you know, he’s like a hired gun, it can come in and like, fix your problems. And so, but let’s dig a little deeper into the Amazon example. And this is why I was just an object. So I’m so proud for you of you when you drop that, you know, I’m like, look what you know, Mister traditional manufacturer through and had never crossed my mind. I tried.
You know, I’m trying to be a mystery commerce. It didn’t cross my mind. But we hear that resistance. I’m like, oh, what you don’t like we sell five figure items. You don’t get it like that one go on Zorro or Amazon? Our good friend Brian back. Yeah, wrote a book billion dollar b2b e commerce. He’s thinking for us next week, two weeks at Temple University, on our manufacturing webinar series. And hills, he gives examples in his book of seven figure items that are being sold on e commerce and on marketplaces. And he’s a six figure items are being sold on Amazon and on e commerce and marketplaces. And we look at the people like in
Damon Pistulka 27:29
Gen alpha, with what they’re doing with large OEM manufacturers. I mean, you know, you think of things like snow Polish Street Sweepers, snowcats for the for the mountain ski lift areas, you know, those are those are not cheap things. There’s multiple 10s of 1000s or hundreds of $1,000 things and even when you look in the industrial things in the mining trucks and right, you know, Caterpillar just so they are Volvo selling the earthmoving equipment. Yeah, that’s sold online anymore. People just say I need one. And, you know, so it these things that traditionally were not being sold like that are being sold like that every day.
Curt Anderson 28:13
And why? It’s easy. It’s just it’s just, it’s easy. You’re making no and again, what’s you know, why is Amazon? They make it so easy to you know, it’s almost impossible not to buy from them. You know, let’s go back in a day. Let’s go back in the 1950s. What was super easy? What was cutting edge franchises? Why was why didn’t McDonald’s take over the country? They made it super easy to buy from them. And you know, we’re adults. It was consistent. Yeah, I could walk into a McDonald’s anywhere. You know what, I was kidding around. You know what McDonald’s was? It was a clean bathroom to place with a clean bathroom that happened to sell burgers.
So you know, when mom and dad are traveling and the old station wagon back in our day, right? Like, alright, well do I go to Joe’s, you know, grill which probably might have the best, you know, barbecue or best whatever? Or do I play it safe? My kids are tired, they’re cranky. I know, it’s gonna be a clean bathroom. Do I go to McDonald’s, you know? And so again, you want to make it as easy as humanly possible. And what I love why we love preaching about e commerce, there is no means that as easier, more efficient, more effective to sell and kick the tires with new products and new services than e commerce because what are you putting up a web page?
Damon Pistulka 29:29
Curt Anderson 29:30
you’re putting some you know, what’s it costing on Amazon? $39.99 a month or something? You know, like what? Yeah, manzara Yeah, you’re, you know, there’s time and I don’t want to discount folks time. However, if this is a colossal dud, it didn’t work. What’s your risk, you know, you
Damon Pistulka 29:49
make a few you take a few images, take a video using it product and you see if you can sell something, you can test it out very easily that way. That’s a great point. And I come back to That’s something you really introduced last year when we were talking about it, and it’s these things have really come a long way. And these are product configurators. Okay, I think that this stuff is so exciting for me.
And there’s like, there’s like, I just, I’m just jumping up and down, because I think there’s so many companies that we could go out with or should be considering this. Because when you look at what you can do with a configurator, and I think back to companies that I ran, you know, 1015 years ago, and I’m like, if I would have had a configurator, I would have ruled out a rule. Right. So you’re going to make a go kart, right? I’m a go kart manufacturer?
Well, what kind of wheels Do you want on it? What color? Do you want it? Right? What kind of seat Do you want it? What kind of motor do you put in it? Right? Do you want you do what do you want the number plate or not? I mean, you just think about all the stuff you can do. Or you look at something that you got that you can configure different lengths or size. Yeah, just materials that are just in the things that you can do are just endless, endless. And thinking of that, and then turning that into an e commerce advantage. That means that now someone can order my product or they have to come to my competitor, and my competitor needs to take the call. Or I have one.
Yeah, that everybody gets the same one. You get that go cart. That’s what you get 1000 or you can have your own custom go cart. Right. And, yeah, I might not sell that thing. And, you know, in a big box retail store. But I’m probably gonna make a lot more margin when I sell a custom one to somebody. And I probably create a longer term customer as well. And these are these configurators are driving me crazy. This just drive me crazy, because I want to find some places I really into putting them in. What are some of the interesting applications that you’ve seen for configurators in this last year?
Curt Anderson 31:59
Dude, I you know, I? Yeah, we are. We’re ecommerce geeks, because we just we get so fired up over configurators Chris Harrington would be so proud of us right now. You know. So I’ll take a step back. And so again, for manufacturers that are looking to get in e commerce, especially those custom job shops are like, Hey, you don’t get it, we don’t have a proprietary product.
What we’re talking about is how do you take your proprietary process? every customer custom manufacturer, I don’t care what you make, you have processes. You know, grandma and grandpa might have, you know, come up with these processes. 50 years ago, generations gone have been handed down, you have internal processes. How do you scale those? Number one? Can you take a product that’s ubiquitous or you know, non proprietary where there’s any type of violation?
Can you turn that into a proprietary product? Right? What Damon’s describing here with the configurators, is we just we’re seeing a wonderful, amazing solutions. So we’ll run through a couple real quick. So Gen alpha Gen alpha is an e commerce firm for manufacturers in Wisconsin, they do an incredible job. And they are doing all sorts of different things. Do you see that Ford just announced I think two weeks ago, you can configure your own car on their website, national news, you know, go right on their website, order exactly how you want it custom order comes to the dealer.
There you go, you know, make it make it to order. It’s like going to go into the restaurant. I’m going to order you know exactly what I want. Yeah. Well, you and I when you and I had a wonderful, wonderful time together this summer we got together we visited a mazing client over in Poulsbo Washington and Olympic Peninsula over yonder took the ferry and it was a chocolate manufacturer, they are creating a chocolate configurator where you can actually create your own chocolate packages and send them out.
Now what it’s done, it’s just it’s removed the customer service. So instead of somebody saying there, Damon, do you want some truffles? Do you want some you know, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, you know better than somebody sitting there taking that order. They now you can configure. So we’ve seen chocolate we’ve seen, I always use a little ground strap example. We’ve seen. There’s a T shirt manufacturer that our friends above the fray are working on right now. So we’ve seen multiple, different configurators we had Vanessa and Noah on our show from above the fray yet she has a jewelry configurator. So we’ve seen all sorts of different configurators. And this is huge.
Damon Pistulka 34:37
And these are not just B to C These are b2b to.
Curt Anderson 34:40
These are b2b and so like So the example I use in our workshops, and webinars are my famous little ground strap, right? And we’ve seen Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Virgin Hyperloop. We’ve seen major b2b Industrial clients landing on that their website and they use a different Greater our friend Jeffrey stern at voice Express. He does. Guys I have I have his products here. He does audio brochures.
Now. It’s a little brochure with a recording device. We’re like, you know, hey, COVID I can’t go visit a customer. How do I communicate with a customer, you can send an audio brochure. And you can configure your own brochure on his website. So yeah, we could probably talk all night about it. But configurators are we’re very, very bullish on configurators for almost any manufacturer.
Damon Pistulka 35:31
Yeah, yeah, I’ve looked at again, my thing, and I’m waiting for somebody to come up with a configurator for and I don’t know, why pick this. What? hydraulic hoses? Oh, really? Yeah. What do you think about custom hydraulic hoses, I’m running, I’m running a cat dozer out in the middle of nowhere, right. And, you know, I’m not a huge company, I don’t have everything set in there, I blow hose on that thing.
Right. And, and I call and a, they, they don’t have it, or maybe I’m the maintenance guy for a big place. And we’re all over the place, you know, and you can just call it if you could get that same day or next morning to you anywhere in, in North America, I think that would be something else. But you know, these, these things there, there’s opportunities like this, for people to radically change the way that they’re doing business, you know, and b2b business, and not be to see it not just be to see and really make these things work. I, and
Curt Anderson 36:33
let’s run with that example. You know, I love that idea. So take, you know, a hose. So they’re like, well, I don’t need a standard size. And they you know, are there even a standard size, but the thing is, as the manufacturer, if I have the machinery, the equipment, the cutting equipment, the raw material, the skill set, I have everything in place. That’s what and there’s not a huge now I know, you know, maybe, you know, the argument be, Hey, wait a minute, what about setup, okay, you know, I totally get it.
However, that person that job that is that is at a halt, there’s a job that’s dead in the water, and they need that hose. What would they pay to bail me out because like, we’re losing $10,000 an hour on production or whatever, you know, whatever you’re doing that you need that hose. And you can solve that problem. I’ll pay a premium. And I can’t find this hose anywhere else on the planet. And for me to take that hose, throw it online, cut it, make it data, ship it. Now you’re almost like the made to order your manufacturer, almost a major order cook, if you will.
Damon Pistulka 37:34
Exactly. And you know, I forgot about this because I’ve interviewed a couple of people on the faces of business. So I forgot, but I talked to Chuck Coxhead and Chuck Coxhead actually did this with RF. Now he’s probably not saying this right, Chuck? So don’t forgive me. Yeah, RF shielded cable assemblies. Right? Yep. Yep. So he helped cover the company to be that exact hydraulic hose kind of concept.
They, they had to get inventory, right, you got inventory of the ends, they got him, of course, different kinds of wiring they needed to do, but they could do that. They could literally turn orders. You know, in days where other people took weeks. He said we killed it. Because we did that. We took that and we went on e commerce and we did it like that. These are the kinds of things where, yes, you may not compete on the million cable order,
Curt Anderson 38:30
but do you want to? Right, and you know what? Let’s man, we’re having fun. I know. You’re crazy. Let’s dig into that, for example, with Chuck’s example. Okay, so now let’s throw in our so now from an app, you’re an operation expert, operationally, it fits through my flow my flow we’d like we love talking about the goal, right Dr. Goldratt and throughput You know, it doesn’t bog down the system if you have it in place or like hey, you know, we need this size we need this size this person needs it next day, you know, next day or this person needs it, you know, two week lead time, whatever so you have your flow of creating that product. Let me throw on my marketing hat.
If Chuck wanted to attack let’s throw in our keyword strategy marketing Pay Per Click social whatever, right? cable assemblies cable manufacturer, very broad, right?
I’m going to have a very difficult time coming up organically I’m gonna have a difficult time you know, non paying high prices for search. But if I do RF custom cable that I need now, or you know, whatever, whatever that pursuit next day, well, I need it you know, or again, when you niche it down. So instead of being everything to everybody, you know, wire harness assembly, cable assembly, yeah, I niching it down. Now you can get more specific in those threatened in your keyword strategy.
Damon Pistulka 39:49
Yeah, yeah. And it’s in it’s this. These are things that I think that manufacturers are going to get scrappy and as that’s the exciting thing about being around manufacturing now and seeing what we’re seeing and you know, and then you take the combination of the younger people getting involved in bringing that digital knowledge into the industry. It’s really an exciting time I get it. I get I get excited just seeing people that are that are getting into it.
Curt Anderson 40:16
Yeah, I think we’re both we are so I’m bullish for the industry bullish for, excuse me opportunities. There’s just a wealth and abundance. And again, like, you know, it’s not you’re not grandma and grandpa’s manufacturing anymore. You know, there’s a lot of cool cutting edge things that are going on behind the scenes, and a lot of marketing strategies, opportunities. I love that word.
We got to start using that now scrappy, you know, how can you have a scrappy initiative, a scrappy marketing initiative? And we’re seeing it, we’re seeing tons of manufacturers who are not podcasting, yet are doing videos, who are posting machinery who are posting on a regular basis. So wait, it’s I think we’re just scratching not I think we’re just scratching the surface, you’re seeing a lot of people put out amazing content towards manufacturing. Yeah, it’s going to get more and more. So man, get out there now get out there sooner than later.
Damon Pistulka 41:08
Yeah, that’s, that’s for sure. That’s for sure. It is an exciting time. I’m just blessed to be part of it. And I think it’s, it’s so much fun. And, and, you know, we get to we get to see some of it firsthand. And some of the lights come on, when the lights come on. I mean, it’s like,
oh, I can do this.
Curt Anderson 41:27
Yeah, it’s absolutely priceless. And again, you know, we’ve been very blessed. We’re fortunate we have a lot of testimonials where folks are like, I had no idea, you know, and again, they just needed they, you know, there’s a million things I don’t know, you know, it’s just like some of you just need it. You know, like, you’ve helped me tremendously, like we’re on stream yard right now. Going on LinkedIn live. months ago, I was like, hey, Damon, I’d like to do this. I just, I’m overwhelmed. I’m intimidated.
I don’t know how to do it. Kurt, you just do this, this, this and this. You made it super easy. Now you’re not we do our LinkedIn live together on Mondays, we do it on Fridays, you know, but again, when you’re first in it, it’s a little daunting or overwhelming. But man, once you get into it, it just it doesn’t need to be difficult, you know? Yeah, just having that you enjoy using that word, Sherpa, you just need that trusted guide that Sherpa to get you’re on your way. And he had with e commerce man, the, you know, it’s a multi trillion dollar industry.
There’s just so much opportunity. I don’t care what size manufacturer you are. I don’t care where you fall in food chain. And I guess the big takeaway, if anything today, have an open mind, you know, I think what, like, frequently, you know, we’ll run into like a lot of resistance. I caught the Yeah, buts. You know, yeah, but we can’t do that. Yeah, but we can’t, you know, yeah. But, you know, just step back and just think of the word that we really hammered for 2021. The possibilities? Yeah, think of the possibilities of what you can offer, you know,
Damon Pistulka 42:58
yeah. Yeah, I think that’s it. I think I said and then, and then just take the steps to learn enough to be dangerous. I mean, no, you don’t have to be the expert, right? Because you talked about the MEPs SBDC’s. And there’s good professionals out there, you can pay to help you too. But if you learn enough to be dangerous, right, you’re not going to spend money, you’re going to be able to ask the right questions of the people you’re hiring, you’re going to be able to get the right people to help you and you’re going to get, you have a much better chance of getting the results you want.
Curt Anderson 43:28
Absolutely. And you know, and again, what we’d love to preach, help that ideal buyer, what are they called? soulmate soulmates? Help that soulmate make a buying decision on a Friday night at midnight, without having to wait for you to open up your door on Monday, you know, and think about as a consumer, how do you like to be serviced? You know, how do you like, you know, what’s the experience that you want? Now, as consumers in the US, you know, this is where we’re saying this 10 years ago, if you’re not doing it, you know, now it’s like, it’s beyond Mr. Cat, or Captain Obvious. Now. You know, you have to provide a good, healthy, smooth, ecommerce website experience.
Again, they’re gone. They’re just going to go somewhere else, you know, if they can’t see, you know, Damon, you and your team are everywhere. If I’m looking to sell my business, and I don’t know anything about you, I did not do shame on me. I didn’t do my homework, because you are all over the place. You know, YouTube online, LinkedIn, website, blogging, you name it, you know, so if a if two first, these two dudes can do it, anybody can do it. Right? Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 44:37
Yeah. And that’s what I think. And and it’s not it’s it’s not as daunting as it sounds. It’s not
Curt Anderson 44:43
no, make it make it super simple.
Damon Pistulka 44:45
Yeah. Well, Kurt, it’s been awesome talking to you today. You know, heck, I knew I knew, you know, we’re like, Yeah, what should we talk about? And I really think that hopefully, we opened some way over some people’s minds, maybe just trying some things that they They were like, maybe not, you know, more or maybe not. And maybe they got some more Yeah, but well go figure out the butts and then then figure out what, how you’re going to get there because you’re gonna need to get there.
Curt Anderson 45:12
So, you know, it’s not for everybody, but hey, just, you know, be relentless. Keep trying new things. And, you know, like you said, just align yourself with those trusted advisors, you know, put surround yourself with great people, you know, yeah, we call them dream supporters, man, surround yourself with moon supporters as entrepreneurs, you’re out there to crush your dreams, and just align yourself with the right people and make magic happen. So
Damon Pistulka 45:34
yeah, yeah. Well, Kurt, thanks so much for being here today, my friend. You know, I’m lucky enough here on the faces of business day to be speaking with none other than Kurt Anderson of b2b retail and e commerce management cooperative, about the digital or the manufacturing digital transformation.
We went all over the board talking about regulators and this and that, but hey, if you just came in this in the end, go back to the beginning and start over if you’re gonna try to do something about e commerce because Kurt’s talked to 1000s of people over the last two years, teaching them some some very good things about how to get started and get that information you need. So thanks for being here today, Kurt. Appreciate you appreciate you spending the time today.
Everyone listen to us. We are going to have a lot of fun, because I’m actually taking Thursday off on my podcast. I’m doing our live stream. I’m taking it off next Tuesday as well. Because Are you really not Yeah, I’m taking a couple days off. It’s just because it’s a holiday and I want to I want to wind down for the weekend and do some other things. But thanks so much for listening. We will be back again next Thursday, and talking to some more awesome people about manufacturing and business.
Curt Anderson 46:51
Thank you, brother. You bet.