The Manufacturing Executive Podcast Adam Beck

The Manufacturing Executive: Episode 3

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Episode show notes

Are you really doing content marketing if you don’t create white papers, write blog posts, and deliver long speeches about the benefits of your product? Can a CAD model help educate your prospective buyers just as effectively as a nice, fat e-book can?

On this episode of The Manufacturing Executive Show, Adam Beck, Director of Marketing at CADENAS PARTsolutions, talked about how manufacturers can create value for their audiences (and generate qualified leads for themselves) by making CAD models available for download on their websites.

Here’s what we discussed with Adam:

  • How to protect real manufacturing models while using a CAD model as a form of content marketing
  • The day-long event he put on for content marketers in industrial manufacturing
  • How to use CAD files as a marketing tool

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Transcript of episode

Joe Sullivan:
Welcome to the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I’m Joe Sullivan, your host, and a co-founder of the industrial marketing agency Gorilla 76. We have another really interesting guest today. Adam Beck is the director of marketing at CADENAS PARTsolutions. A marketer for nearly 20 years, Adam is working to transform industrial marketing from, “Look at me,” to, “Look at my customer.” Adam’s all about going above and beyond to ensure his customer has the best possible experience. This often isn’t considered a direct function of marketing, but Adam knows that those relationships pay dividends into the future. Adam believes that nobody cares about the features and benefits. Instead, people care about how something has transformed a business, a process, or a life. By showing how smart, creative, and forward thinking his customers are, Adam can tell a story which is far more relevant and interesting, and puts everyone in a position for success. And that’s exactly why we have him here on the show today. So on that note, Adam, thanks for joining us.

Adam Beck:
Thanks for having me.

Joe Sullivan:
Absolutely. Well, I can’t help but notice, in this crazy era where we’re all working from wherever we’re able to work from, what’s going on in your background there. What’s the story behind the guitars.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. We’re in my basement, extra bedroom slash closet, which also happens to have my guitar collection up there on the wall. I play guitar, but I also make guitars for myself from… It’s just one of those things. I go on a vacation and buy a hunk of wood and come home and make a guitar, and that’s my souvenir. So that’s a couple of them hanging on the wall. Yeah.

Joe Sullivan:
That’s awesome. Wow. What a hobby. I know you’ve been a builder of many things. Personally and professionally, I suppose, being a manufacturing guy, but tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. So I’ve worked as a marketer for roughly 20 years. I did have about a three year stint in there where I went and was a car builder out in California. So I got to see and be hands on, and really making a thing from the ground up. And I think that helps give me a different understanding of the approach to parts and components and the overall end product of a manufacturer or a builder.

Joe Sullivan:
Yeah. Totally makes sense. I appreciate you turning the camera on despite, it’s funny, what’s in the background these days of everybody’s Zoom meetings and everything. And I know from talking to you prior to hitting record here, that somewhere upstairs, you’ve got a couple of crazy kids running around, which is familiar to me as well. So you lock yourself wherever you can, I guess.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. My wife is on duty right now, on her shift. We basically tag in and out all day. I do have a two year old that has recently mastered jumping, and that’s his preferred mode of transportation. So if it sounds like there’s an earthquake directly above us, that’s what’s going on.

Joe Sullivan:
Great. Love it.

Adam Beck:
Yeah.

Joe Sullivan:
Awesome. Well, do it however we can these days.

Adam Beck:
Yeah.

Joe Sullivan:
Awesome. You and I first met, I think it was about a year ago or so. And what really caught my attention was CADENAS was in the throes of planning the first ever industrial marketing summit. And so first I want to talk a little bit about that. But can you give me a little bit of background first about your company, CADENAS PARTsolutions? I think you guys are doing some really interesting, and innovative things in the manufacturing space.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. So really to take it even a step more removed from that, engineers have a difficult job and that’s how we help manufacturers. We help them. These engineers are out there, they have to come up with creative designs, but they also have all these parts and pieces that go into that design. Things that they don’t necessarily make. We kind of describe it as a Lego set or whatever, if you’re snapping Legos together, you can make something pretty quick. If you had to create every Lego in the process, that really slows down the process of making that, and sort of stifles creativity.

Adam Beck:
So a lot of engineers are online, they’re hunting for parts, they need bearings, and gears, and motors, or a bench, or a receptacle, if they’re an architect. Whatever that thing is that they need to put in their greater design, they’re hunting for them online. They’re looking on manufacturer’s websites and they want to find those models, or a file and grab it, make sure it’s the correct one, and they want to put it into their design and move on. And that’s what we do. We help manufacturers create a safe representation of their products that they can put on their website. It’s super portable. It’s safe because all the IP that you could… You can’t manufacture that product from that, it’s a representation to go inside of another model. And it enables outputs in a 150 formats. So they can make sure that everyone in their audience gets exactly what they need. And it’s a great lead-gen tool, but it’s also a customer service tool.

Joe Sullivan:
Yeah. It’s super interesting, because it’s something I imagine a lot of manufacturers struggle with, is how do we deal with CAD models? We know our customers want them, but it’s a lot of work to have a solution for this online, from scratch. And so you have this packaged solution that can be deployed.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. So if a manufacturer was going to put up CAD models on their website, there’s so many hurdles there. It’s just the volume formats. You don’t want to put up your real manufacturing models, because someone could take that down and take it and make it. So you want to have all your IP pulled out of it. And then the timing and delivery and all of that, it all becomes a challenge and it starts to snowball. And that’s where we have our tool. It’s a cloud-based application. And we don’t really have CAD models. We have the recipe for each of those CAD models, which is what makes it lightweight, and portable. And you can put this on a website without it being this huge storage situation.

Adam Beck:
An engineer looks at it on the website, spins it around. It comes with the 3D preview. When they’re happy with it, they hit download. And that starts a instance of that actual CAD tool in the cloud, which generates a model on the fly, has a configured part number and all that. And they get an instant download. The exchange is, the engineer or architect leaves their email address. So it’s an understood content marketing tactic exchange.

Joe Sullivan:
Yeah. But so unique. It’s almost like this overlap in this area of their product and content marketing, which is something I don’t know if I’ve really seen too often. It’s something that stood out. When I first saw the CADENAS website, and I was looking at your solution and trying to understand exactly what it was. Because it’s the idea of say somebody downloading an ebook, or signing up for a webinar. It’s a very similar concept there. And something that a lot of B2B companies are doing. Not so many doing it well, maybe. But you’re essentially allowing your customers to create value for their customers in a way that most companies just wouldn’t even know where to begin with, I guess.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. I think the closest analog he could maybe have is the music industry. If a band is giving away a free download of a song to promote their album or their tour, it’s sort of in the vein they kind of have to give the product away, which is a difference. This is, it’s almost a SoftSale. We’ve done surveys over the years, four or five times, and our manufacturer partners tell us again and again, that this it’s not always a one-to-one. Usually we see that 80% of the time when a engineer downloads that model, they do buy it. It’s sometimes a six, eight, 12 month lead time, but they can see and they can forecast and they can see how this is going to affect their business into the future.

Joe Sullivan:
Yeah. That makes sense. I was kind of starting to mention a few minutes ago here that, about this time last year when we first talked, you were planning the first ever Industrial Marketing Summit, which was sort of an event that was tacked on to content marketing world. A big marketing industry event, for any of our listeners who aren’t familiar with that, that takes place in Cleveland every year. Right? And what was interesting is, and I think something that just caught my attention about you guys and your philosophy, personally, is the idea of creating value for your audience, as opposed to just, I always describe it as blasting a megaphone in their ears. And talking about, “Me, me, me.” And here’s all this stuff we do and things we sell and why you should buy from us.

Joe Sullivan:
And you guys clearly were taking a different approach. And so it’s one thing to publish blog posts, or to record some short videos of yourself. But you guys want as far as to say, “We’re going to create an entire event just to educate our customers, prospects, and really the manufacturing industry around the idea of how to market your company here in the industrial sector.” And so we’d love to hear just sort of what your inspiration was. And tell us a little bit about how that event played out, maybe.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. So our inspiration was that I was looking for events to have the typical trade show booth at. And I was going to all kinds of marketing events. And I couldn’t find anything specifically in the industrial marketing niche. There was some B2B things, and there was some that were way, way B2C, which that’s so different marketing, a lot of times, from what an industrial manufacturer is doing. So we started kicking the idea around. And Content Marketing World seemed to have a really good industrial audience already in attendance. And so we started talking with them, what if we had a day of content? And we found some manufacturers and other marketers and just put them in the forefront, and let them talk and create this more is more atmosphere. Where they can all share ideas and meet each other and talk about successes they’ve had and failures they’ve had and ways that they can all grow their business.

Joe Sullivan:
That’s great. And so tell me, what was the turnout? Did the event go well? Anything you learned from it?

Adam Beck:
Yeah. It was a really good turnout. So we had two days of… We had a big cocktail party the night before, and everybody came out, and we had pizza. And that was a lot of fun, because a lot of our team is virtual. A lot of our clients are all over the country. Some are all over the world. And it was a great time just to get everybody together and put a lot of faces with names. There’s some people we hadn’t even met in person before, which is pretty fantastic to do that. And then the next day we had basically six hours of content, five speakers, and about 150 people at that last year.

Adam Beck:
So it was a great opportunity to just see how some of these… We have companies of all sizes. We have companies that have 10 products and we have companies that have 10 trillion products, once you look at all the configurations. We have companies with huge marketing departments, and we have companies without a marketing department. So it was really cool to compare and contrast and hear them share ideas and kick new, fresh ideas around about how they can all grow their business.

Joe Sullivan:
Yeah. It makes sense. And I love bringing together people with different perspectives, and sort of using it as a time and place to purely educate. It’s one thing to do a live webinar, everybody attends webinars where it’s really just a product pitch. Right? Sort of in disguise. And that’s not what this was.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. No, we didn’t even take the stage. Yeah. I went up as a MC. And it’s a shift. It’s a philosophy shift. I think there’s a lot of times where four or five, 10 years ago, if someone from our company would have given an hour pitch about our features and benefits, and it’s just tiring, nobody wants to hear it. They want to hear about it in the application. They want to hear how the rubber hits the road, and what that did for somebody. Otherwise, it’s just kind of all fluff and a bulleted list. And it’s tough to make it interesting.

Joe Sullivan:
Yeah. You said it kind of in the intro that you sent over to me, that people are not interested in hearing about features and benefits. At least not right away. Right? They trying to solve a problem. Right?

Adam Beck:
Yeah. As a marketer, I have 500 blog posts that I’ve created on our website over the last eight or so years. If I was talking about features and benefits, every time, it would just be boring for me. And it’s tough to create relevant content when I can meet and discuss what these manufacturers are doing, and talk about the reality of their situation and their audience. And talk about it in a genuine way. I think it’s more interesting for me to write, and it creates more interesting content at the end of the day. And everybody wins.

Joe Sullivan:
Yeah. Absolutely. Well, the content marketing world, for those who don’t know, is put on by… Well, the creator is Joe Pulizzi, who’s the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, and author of the handful of really great best-selling marketing books. And I know a big part of his philosophy is, you build the audience first. Right? You figure out who you’re best at serving. You figure out how to create value for them around the things that they care about, the questions they have, the problems they’re trying to solve, the things they’re trying to achieve. You build trust with that audience. And then you kind of figure out the best way to monetize it, or turn them into customers, as opposed to just blasting this marketing and sales message at them. Content Marketing World is a perfect stage for you guys, because it’s exactly the way… It seems like you’re operating on the marketing front. Right?

Adam Beck:
Right. Which it’s kind of funny. It was questioned by a few people, our audience. And it didn’t understand, what’s the content part? Isn’t that all white papers and stuff. Well, no. That is if you’re that kind of a business. We’re not replacing white papers and blog posts. But if you think about each of these CAD models as a relevant piece of content for a manufacturer’s audience, they have such an arsenal at their fingertips, but they have to see it that way. They have to see that, “Oh, wait, my actual CAD data, or CAD information, or product information is content that I can put a form in front of or not. But that someone wants to consume and creates a marketing opportunity for me, and our future sales opportunity.”

Joe Sullivan:
Yeah. And I think that’s something that I see manufacturers struggling with a lot, the idea of feeling scared to give away too much. “If I put this out there, whether it’s written content, or CAD files, or whatever. Video of me talking about some topic that I’m an expert in, there’s a lot of worrying that happens. It’s too much, our competitors are going to copy us. They’re going to steal our customers.” And I always make the argument that there’s a lot more risk in not publishing than in publishing. Because the benefits just far outweigh the risk. When you can earn the attention and trust of somebody. And all of a sudden you have the right customer engaged with you, content helps you get found in search engines. It helps you start answering questions and earning trust. And all of this is a part of the industrial buying process now. Right? People are out there looking for information and trying to educate themselves before they’re ready for a sales conversation.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. They’re not going to talk to you. If you’re a manufacturer, and you think they’re going to just call you up out of the blue and want to shoot the breeze before they’re fully educated, it ain’t happening. And so you have to put information out there so they can self-educate. They can test, they can try on your product, basically. See how it fits. And then you can start to have a conversation about delivery and pricing and all those things.

Joe Sullivan:
Totally. I’m completely on board with that. I love how you guys are practicing… Can you speak at all to, at least from your experience, what kind of impact it’s had on your business to take this approach? You mentioned all the articles, or blog posts you’ve written over the years, you’ve done this Industrial Marketing Summit. You guys are clearly there to educate and teach your audience. What kind of impact has it had for you guys?

Adam Beck:
Yeah. Our company has been on steady growth for years. From our marketing metrics, we had, in the first few years, I think we five or six exed our web traffic. And a lot of it is, we were writing and writing and writing, and then we take another look at it and we say, “Hey, our audience or the manufacturer still needs this.” They need help educating their customers. What’s another value add that we can do. So with the new catalog, it comes with a new product, with a whole announcement that we push out there to the press release wire, but also social media email blast. We still do all of those type of marketing, but it’s all in a… The strategy is help our customers be more seen, help them reach their audience and make them be the experts and the smart forward thinking companies. And we get brought along for the ride. And that’s the great part for us.

Adam Beck:
So we do these announcements. We have taken that a step further in last couple of years, in that we create basically a howto demo for each manufacturer. So we shoot a video on their website, walking through the picks and clicks, how to actually use the tool. Because we found we’re too close to it. Sometimes we assume, “Oh, everybody knows how to use this.” But some of these manufacturers, their audience, they’ve never seen one of these tools before. A 3D configurator on their website is kind of a foreign idea. So we make a 90 second video, and that’s just something that we include because we want it to be easy for them to educate their audience. And who better to help them educate their audience than the people who created the tool.

Joe Sullivan:
Totally. Makes perfect sense. And you started touching on this already here a little bit, but one thing you mentioned before we hit record, in some of the communications you and I’ve had leading up to this conversation, is this overlap between customer service and marketing. I know you had talked specifically about delivering tools and data and value on demand with the goal of creating a great customer experience. I know this is something you’re passionate about, something that’s core to the business model at CADENAS. And so wonder if you could unpack that a little bit more for the listeners.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. So on the manufacturing side, the delivery of CAD models has traditionally been a customer service function, maybe even engineering function. Someone would call into manufacturer X and say, “Hey, I see you’re one, two, three, four, five, six bearing online. Can you send me a CAD model.” Or maybe they’d email about that, but it would be sent to engineering. They create this model and then email it back. It was kind of slow. It was maybe in one format, two formats, whatever they had available. And it took somebody to actually do work, somebody out of their function.

Adam Beck:
If it was customer service, I’m sure they have real customer service functions they could have been doing. Or it was the engineering team, they have work to do too. So by putting this online, they sort of shift that customer service, and they provide the ownership to the marketing team. This becomes a marketing tool, but it’s also serving their customers better. So they make it on demand. They can now deliver these any time of day to their customers, in whatever format they want, in any configuration they want. And they get the leads in exchange for it. So it really provides marketing for a lot of content.

Joe Sullivan:
Yeah. It’s a really interesting approach. I’ve consulted a lot of manufacturing organizations over the last 10 years or so, and my company has done work for them and help try to transform them into more helpful content focused organizations. But the perception of marketing inside of manufacturing organizations is often… It’s kind of in its own silo. They’re making brochures, and they’re doing, who knows what, with the website. Right? Trade shows. Exactly. And it’s just looked at as an expense, and this thing we do. We do our marketing stuff over here. And often the marketing department’s very disconnected from sales. And it’s absolutely not tied very well into customer service from what I’ve seen. So I love that. I talk to people sometimes who have figured out in the manufacturing space, how to get marketing and sales working together really well. But this is the first time I’ve really talked to somebody about how marketing needs to be such an integral part of customer service.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. It’s funny, because I’ve had other marketers say, “How do you get your sales team to give you access to their customers?” I say, “My sales team doesn’t slow me down in the least.” They know once I get ahold of them, or my team gets a hold of them, they’re going to love us. Because we don’t ask for anything. We know that we are a marketing tool. We are marketing to industrial marketers, and on behalf of industrial marketers at the same time. So we are all about whatever value add that we can come up with to help our manufacturing partners look awesome, and reach their audience and create the customer experience they’re trying to create.

Joe Sullivan:
That’s great. You guys are… You have a product. In a lot of ways, you’re a product company. You’re also a company that offers a marketing service, which is kind of unique. So trying to put this all back in context, to kind of put a bow on this conversation here. Considering who our audience is here, executives at manufacturing businesses, what kind of advice can you give to take some of these concepts that you’ve embraced and sort of apply them into their business? This idea of being a helpful marketer, the idea of tying it to customer service.

Adam Beck:
I think you have to understand your customer, and you have to understand the pain, and you have to understand what they’re trying to do for their customer. So this is such a chain of different customers. And what our customer needs, and what their customer needs, and what they’re trying to do at the end of the day. And how can you help them do that better? So the manufacturing side, they know that their audience is the engineer or the architect, so they need to help them get the data for their products.

Adam Beck:
Our audience is that manufacturer. So how can I help them educate their audience or provide something of value to their audience, or just do their job faster? Or what can I offload from them? What is their challenge and how can they help them do that? And for every industry or every market, it’s going to be a little bit different, but I’m always looking for ways that I can shine the spotlight on our manufacturers and help them look great. At the end of the day, a lot of who I deal with is the marketing departments at these manufacturing companies. I want them to look great to their boss. So how do you help them look great to their boss? And what can you do to continue that in the future?

Joe Sullivan:
It’s such a simple concept, but I think one that just gets overlooked with all in all the tactics and fancy tools out there. I see too many companies go in there first throwing darts, and trying this tactic, or that. And really, if you just start with who are my best customers? What do they care about? How can I help create value for them? Well, Adam, this was a really great conversation. I’m thrilled that you came on to talk about this, because you’re in this really interesting overlapping world of manufacturing with a product and being an industrial marketer. You just have a unique perspective on things. So can you tell listeners where the best place to find you is? In case they have followup questions, or would like to get in touch. Or probably, for some of them, explore the product you guys have to offer.

Adam Beck:
Yeah. So our website is partsolutions.com. Our company is called CADENAS PARTsolutions. We’re an international company. partsolutions.com though is P-A-R-T solutions, plural .com. Or they can email me directly at Adam.beck@partssolutions.com.

Joe Sullivan:
Awesome. Well, Adam, thank you once again for joining us. And for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive.

Speaker 3:
You’ve been listening to the Manufacturing Executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you’d like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you’ll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides, and tools specifically for B2B manufacturers gorilla76.com/learn. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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