The Manufacturing Executive Podcast Nick Goellner

The Manufacturing Executive: Episode 1

Listen to this episode here or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

Episode show notes

Try describing a mechanical thing with a blog post. It’s not easy. It’s not the right format. But try taking a 3-D model, making it photorealistic, and then doing animations of how it works. Now, you’re on to something.

So when you think about content marketing, do you think blogs, social media, and podcasts? Or do you think, “What’s going to help my audience?”

On this episode of The Manufacturing Executive Show, Nick Goellner, Sales & Marketing Director for Advanced Machine & Engineering and Managing Director of Making Chips, talked about content marketing in the industrial sector.

Here’s what we discussed with Nick:

  • The role content marketing should play inside a manufacturing organization
  • Why content is your job even if you are not a marketer (it’s all about the function of content)
  • The reason you shouldn’t be scared your competitors will rip off your content
  • The books Nick’s reading this summer

To ensure that you never miss an episode of The Manufacturing Show, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

Transcript of episode

Joe:
Welcome to the official episode number one of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I’m Joe Sullivan, your host, and the co-founder of the industrial marketing agency, Gorilla 76. We’ve got our first guest here today that I’m really excited about, and I think he’s going to help us kick this thing off with a bang. Let me introduce Nick Goellner. Nick is leading a new generation of manufacturers, combining the traditional values of his family’s global metalworking business with innovative, modern marketing strategies. After starting on the shop floor at Hennig Inc. fabricating machine protection components or CNC machine tools, Nick, became a designated certified machine tool sales engineer, CMTSE, and received his BS in entrepreneurial marketing from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Joe:
Nick now serves as the sales and marketing director for Advanced Machine & Engineering. In 2018, Nick became a partner and cohost of the popular manufacturing leadership podcast, MakingChips. Shortly after joining Nick helped expand the podcast platform into MakingChips 2.0, a full scale marketing agency specifically targeting the metalworking industry. He’s able to combine his passion for content marketing and metalworking by collaborating with a team of dynamic industrial marketers, serving the MakingChips clients with results-driven marketing programs. Nick, welcome to the show.

Nick:
Thanks Joe. It’s an honor to be the first manufacturing executive on the Manufacturing Executive podcast. That’s pretty cool.

Joe:
Well, I figured we’d start with somebody who’s got some experience with this whole podcasting thing, so it seemed like a natural fit.

Nick:
Yeah. I’ve got a few episodes under my belt.

Joe:
Yes you do. We’ll mention it again at the end, but for those of you listening MakingChips podcast, this is one you should all be listening to. These guys have been doing it for years and Nick joined them and added a whole additional dynamic to it, so go check that out. Nick, did my introduction do you justice or anything you’d like to add to that?

Nick:
No, it was good. I appreciate it. It’s hard to say what I do in a concise way, because I wear so many hats like a lot of other manufacturing leaders. But really I’m just a third generation manufacturing kid from a company that designs and builds machine tools. It was founded by my grandfather, and coming up with clever ways to optimize processes and design the machinery that does that, that’s like my family’s DNA. I just happen to love marketing, specifically content marketing like this.

Joe:
Awesome. Well, you and I have known each other for, it must be about five or six years or so. We met when-

Nick:
At least.

Joe:
Yeah. Maybe it might be [crosstalk 00:03:21] longer.

Nick:
I think, yeah. Because I think I launched my new website that I actually called you for about five years ago, and we were talking a couple years before that, just to… I was trying to [inaudible 00:03:34].

Joe:
Yes, you were. I remember you guys, you came through, you and some of your crew came through St. Louis where we’re located, and I think you maybe had a customer down here that you were visiting or-

Nick:
It was one of my sales guys.

Joe:
Sales trip, okay.

Nick:
Like you mentioned, I’m a sales director too, so I was bringing one of my younger sales guys who was one of the, “Hey, we got to start doing some better marketing.” And I was like, “Okay. We’re going to go find this agency.” I ended up finding you guys through one of your guides that you created, and I thought that was really well-crafted.

Joe:
All right. Awesome. Well, very good. But I can remember we grabbed lunch down the street here in the Central West End of St. Louis at the Gamlin Whiskey House. I can remember sitting there with you guys and hearing your story. I remember sitting here thinking, “I don’t know how I can justify trying to sell Nick and his crew marketing services, because I’m pretty sure they know what they’re doing, and they’ve got it figured out.” While there are probably some skillsets you could have used from the outside, I can remember flat out emailing you the next day saying, “You know what? I think you’ve got this.” I think, I’d be curious to hear your perspective, but a few years down the road here, I feel like I might have been right about that one.

Nick:
Well, yeah. I remember being pretty disappointed because I had kind of sourced you guys out, and I loved your story too. How it’s a bunch of journalists who created an industrial marketing company. I think journalism is like the skill, the number one in demand skill for me, at least with my own agency is people who can pull a story out of something. And so I wanted to hire you guys and I remember being disappointed that you were like, “I don’t think we’re the right fit for you because you’ve got so many other pieces in place.”

Nick:
You were pretty much saying like, “We’re not just like a boutique writing agency, we want to do a full holistic turnkey marketing program for you.” I was really looking for you guys as the storytellers to add an element to a program that I had already built. But after that, I thought about it more and I just really appreciated the honesty. In hindsight, I think maybe you were right, that it was better for me to go through the lumps and bumps of trying to build my own program than just at the time, hiring an agency to guide me through it.

Joe:
Cool. Yeah. It makes sense, and I think you’ve done an amazing job both on the AME side of the business and then, of course with MakingChips as well. I’m excited about this conversation because I know you and I obviously, I think when we started our first conversations it’s because we shared a lot of similar perspectives on things, industrial and marketing related. But what’s interesting is we’re coming at it from two different angles. You came up in manufacturing, in a manufacturing family. I came up in through marketing, and design really was where I started. And then we’ve sort of found our way from different angles to this middle ground, which is the industrial marketing world or sales and marketing for manufacturing organizations.

Joe:
And so I thought this would be a really interesting conversation. I wanted to start out by talking specifically about content marketing. I know it’s a passion of yours, it’s a passion of mine absolutely. And so I think what I see and I’m guessing you agree, but I want to hear your perspective is that, in general, the industrial sector is lagging behind dramatically on this front. One of the things that really stood out from our first conversations years back was that, I felt like you were kind of all over. And that was rare for me to see where you get it. Where for most manufacturers, content is about talking about how great we are and all the things we do, and our capabilities and why our competition is garbage. And our customer service is better than everybody. It’s all about me, me, me.

Joe:
What I saw from you was that, your perspective on it was, we need to build and cultivate an audience by helping solve problems, answer questions, guide them through the buying process. I’d love to hear you talk about this. What’s your perspective on what content marketing is and specifically the role you think it needs to play inside of a manufacturing organization?

Nick:
Yeah. I think one way to help understand what content marketing is, at least to me, and we read a lot of the same people so they describe it this way as well. But when the content is your product, then you’re likely doing content marketing. So instead of describing the value of another product, like we make the best widget and like all the things you just said, where the content is describing the value of something else, when the content is the value and when your content is the product, and that product adds value to your target audience, then you’re probably doing content marketing.

Nick:
I think that’s an important distinction because that’s one of the reasons why I did what I did with forming this joint venture with the MakingChips guys. Both of my partners have businesses where they’re in the manufacturing industry and are owners and operators of manufacturing businesses. But the MakingChips podcast wasn’t about Carr Machine & Tool, or about Zenger’s Industrial Supply company. It was about the manufacturing leader, the audience that they wanted to get to know. They actually took the time to understand that audience, what’s keeping them up at night? What are the topics that they want to talk about? How can we all build this community and grow together? And of course, when it was natural in conversation, they mentioned their businesses and what they did, but the product was the MakingChips podcast and the mission to equip and inspire other manufacturing leaders.

Nick:
No one would’ve listened to it if they just talked about how great their machine shop was or how they supply the best tools with the best customer service at a great price. It was about creating a community. To me, that’s when the content becomes the product and you’re doing content marketing. And so I really liked what they were doing, and I was like, “Okay. How do I just let these guys know that I appreciate them?” I sent them a storytelling video that we had created just about like the broader meaning behind our company and our mission to bring more work back to the States and why it matters, and why it’s an issue of national security. Those guys liked it and they were like, “Oh, great story telling. You should be a guest,” and one thing led to another.

Nick:
But I think it’s hard for our industry for most people to understand, okay, I can’t just talk about myself or my products. You kind of feel like you have to, like everything I create needs to be about me and what I do. And that’s actually one of the most destructive things you can do for your marketing program is just be self-centered.

Joe:
Totally agree.

Nick:
They’re my two cents on it.

Joe:
Well said. It’s almost just, it’s so natural for somebody to just jump to, here’s who we are and what we do and why we’re great. The reality is nobody is listening. Your prospects and your customers, they have their own problems they’re trying to solve. The things they’re dealing with, whether they’re engineers or plant managers or whoever they are, they’re dealing with their job and what’s in front of them today. And the last thing they need to do is hear somebody shouting some marketing or sales message at them, especially when it’s not something they need and right now. That mindset shift is when I see it happen with manufacturers, it’s like this light bulb goes off and then they can start turning a corner and thinking the way their customers and prospects think.

Nick:
Yeah. I’m a fan of product marketing. I watch commercials. I enjoy commercials. I like watching people explain the value of a product. I just don’t really think that’s the content marketing that all the content marketers are talking about. That’s like great product copywriting and great branding. And all those things are important. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just when we think content marketing, the product is the content itself, not the description of some other product.

Joe:
No, I think that’s a really, really interesting and great way to look at it. So you’ve got MakingChips, you’ve got AME. When you think about an organization like AME or maybe someone who would be a customer of the MakingChips Agency, something that I’m guessing you maybe hear that I certainly hear is from a sales person, or an engineer or a technical professional, they say, “Content is not my job. That’s the marketer’s job. The marketers, they need to go make that stuff.” And it’s a red flag immediately when I hear that, or maybe not a red flag, but something that makes me say, “Well, hold on a second.” And here’s why, and I want to hear your take on that.

Nick:
Yeah. So I think it comes down to understanding what content does, what’s the function of content. And if you’re a sales person, and you’re in a room and your job is to communicate with these people, whatever you say is your content. So if you’re giving a PowerPoint presentation to a bunch of prospects, that’s your content. If your job is to stand up in front of a group of potential customers and describe why they should work with your business, that’s your content. So if you’re in a job where a huge part of your job is communication, then content should matter to you and it does matter to you.

Nick:
I think where people get tied up is, “Well, I’m not a graphic designer, or I’m not a great writer or I’m not more of a tactician.” When it comes to content where I actually build and create the content, that’s what we have great marketers, and marketing agency and creatives. They can really help with that. But content is everyone’s priority. Whether they want to admit it or not, they think it’s their priority. They just need to kind of maybe reframe how they think to understand like, “Oh, so I have something to communicate, therefore I should care about content.”

Nick:
And so I think one of the things that’s detrimental to that kind of alignment we’re trying to create is when we’re dividing, “Okay, marketers do this and salespeople do that.” And I think Peter Drucker’s got this definition of marketing, which is to create and deliver value to a target market at a profit. It’s like, whose job is that? Is that a sales person’s job or is that a marketer’s job? The answer is yes. It’s everybody’s job. So people do too much of this, and all throughout our society where they’re trying to kind of create distinctions and create divisions, they polarized things.

Nick:
And I think the best companies don’t really think about like, “Well, I’m a sales person, so I’m going to cold call, and knock on doors and give presentations.” “And I’m a marketer, so I’m going to sit on the computer all day and I probably won’t talk to customers that much, but I’ll do a lot of writing and a lot of graphic design.” But those companies aren’t going to get anything done. I almost don’t even like calling it a sales department and a marketing department. Just call it like the customer success department or something like that, because I think that the division hurts.

Joe:
Yeah. No, it makes sense. I think something you said a second ago that sort of struck a chord is, when you’re an expert in something, whether you are a sales or marketing person in your organization, or you’re an engineer or whoever you are, the things you say are your content. And I think it’s the marketer’s job, at least from my perspective, it’s a marketer’s job, maybe the sales person’s job to package and deliver that content, in a way that might be more scalable or can reach the right people.

Joe:
And that’s why I believe that the expertise in the brains of your company’s subject matter experts, have to be the source of anything that say gets published, whether it’s a written piece of content, whether it’s a video or an interview like this. I think it’s the marketer’s job to sort of extract that knowledge and figure out how to package it, how to deliver it, how to get it in front of the right people. But it’s got to come from the expert.

Nick:
Right. Yeah. That’s a great way to say it. It can’t be like, “Okay marketers, write a bunch of articles about how I do engineering.” Well, you’re the one who knows that. So that’s why I was talking about journalism earlier. I love journalists. It’s their job to kind of distill and extract knowledge from others, and recreate it in a way that more people can understand it, and that it can have broader appeal. And so I’m always looking for a good journalist.

Joe:
Awesome. So the word on the street is that you’ve got a little hidden gem, that’s been gold for you on the content front. And I wanted to hear you kind of enlighten our listeners a little bit.

Nick:
Yeah. We don’t think of this as content marketing. It’s not one of the traditional forms of content marketing. But to me, it’s like the most valuable form of content marketing for my audience, and we give away CAD models. So it’s a digital representation of a physical product. It describes the product, it does a job for the audience. It saves them a bunch of time. They can plug it directly in their application to see if it fits, to see if it’s something they want to purchase the physical manifestation of. So why is that not content? It is.

Nick:
And so for us, we have a lot of engineers who need to buy our products and they need to apply them in their system. And if I can get them to download my CAD, there’s a huge chance that they’re going to buy the actual product from us. So we do a lot with 3D models. And it’s not just offering the CAD downloads for free. Like you guys have great writers, but try describing a mechanical thing with a blog post. And it’s not the easiest way. It’s not the right format in most cases. In some cases you can elaborate on it, and tell a story about it or explain it, and the written format might help you. But for us, we’ve been taking 3D models and making them photo realistic and doing animations of how they work, and that has just been gold for my eyes.

Nick:
So I like to think about like 3D models and whether it’s giving away a CAD, or animating it or making a photo realistic image, as like the number one content format for my audience which is what we built our agency for, for the Metalworking Leader. And so I just think, “Okay, is it an article? A blog post? Probably not. Is it a YouTube video? Maybe the animation will end up on YouTube, but it’s not all the conventional forms of blogging or content marketing that everyone thinks of, but it’s what’s going to help my audience.” So I always like to have the story dictate the format instead of the other way around. What’s the story you’re trying to tell?

Joe:
And what a smart way to operate.

Nick:
Yeah. Thank you.

Joe:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you got to think about how … And people who are out there talking and interfacing with customers, the sales people, account managers, engineer to engineer conversations, these are the people who understand how your audience consumes information and wants to gather information. And so I think it’s just such a smart way to do it. Why write some long form piece of content, when what they want from everything you’ve experienced is CAD models? Let’s put it out there and give them what they’re looking for. And that’s the thing that’s going to help them move forward in the buying process and earn your trust in the process, right?

Nick:
Yeah. And sometimes a long form piece of content is great. It’s just not always the answer. So what I found when I was looking for a lot of different marketing agencies before I had my own, was most of the proposals would be like, “Okay, we’re going to give you this many blog posts a month or this many videos.” And it’s like, “Well, you don’t really know what you’re trying to communicate yet. So how do you know what format you should communicate it in?” And for me, it was like, “Am I more likely to get someone to give me an email address in exchange for a CAD model, or in exchange for a written article that describes the CAD model?” They just want the damn CAD model. So why don’t we just give it to them?

Joe:
What would you say to someone who might be listening right now that’s saying, “Oh, geez, you just put that stuff out there for free? I mean, couldn’t our competitors just sort of copy that, and take that and make it their own? We need to keep that stuff behind closed doors for after we start the conversation.” What’s your answer to that?

Nick:
Well, you don’t always have to give like the most detailed, possible CAD model to where they have all of your intellectual property. In this industry, you want to protect your intellectual property. That’s important. But if they really want something, they can buy it, and reverse engineer it and there they have it. Or they can call someone else to get the model from you, and then it’s going to happen if they really want to get it. So why not just give it to them?

Nick:
And they’re probably not going to reverse engineer it and build it themselves. If you understand like how things cost, what they cost, that would be unwise and a waste of money and time. So for me, it’s like I’m a little bit more open innovation and open source with my thinking. And I might as well be the one who gives it to them. Because if my competitor gives it to them, they’ll get the order anyway.

Joe:
Yeah. And I think it’s a hard adjustment for a lot of companies to make. But the reality is, in a situation like that, more often than not the reward is going to outweigh the risk. Because if you’re not doing it, eventually one of your competitors is, who’s going to have their attention? The company that was scared to put it out there? Or the company that said, “No, we’re going to make this buying process as straightforward and helpful as possible for our prospects”?

Nick:
And you kind of want to transfer ownership before the sale. So you want them to feel like it’s their thing. That’s why I’m such a fan of like product selection tools, and product configurators and things where, what would be the questions that your applications engineer would ask before you get to the product that’s being built? Is there a way to kind of answer those questions digitally, and save both people a bunch of time and get closer to the solution? Or even take it a step further and actually configure the product, and have a price or a price range minus the final details that you would have to have that one to one conversation with somebody to get?

Nick:
And if there is a way to do that, in some cases, it’s just too customized and then it’s impossible. But if there’s a way to do that, what happens is that person who went through that and kind of built their own solution, they feel like they already own it a little bit. The ownership has been transferred. It’s my thing now and I want this thing. I put in all the parameters. I said no to the things I don’t need, yes to the things I do. And now here I am with the price and I’m going to buy that now. All right, I’m going to have like the final conversation with someone, to hash out the last few details and then buy it.

Nick:
So a lot of people are like, “Hey, I just want them to call me right away.” It’s like, “Well, time is money. It’s going to take a bunch of time to go through all that with them. And if they can configure it themselves and get close, you’ll save a bunch of time.” And that psychological transfer of ownership, I think does a lot to make someone want to buy from you.

Joe:
Makes total sense. So I published an article recently about 12 B2B marketing and sales books to consider reading the summer. And I think you commented very quickly on my LinkedIn post when I featured the first ones, because you and I have read a lot of the same books, like you mentioned earlier. And first one on my list which is one of my all time favorites is, New Sales. Simplified. by Mike Weinberg. And I think your comment was, “Yeah, this one’s mandatory reading for my sales team.” I was curious from your perspective, what was it about that particular book, the sort of golden nugget that you took away from that, that made it mandatory reading?

Nick:
Well, that it’s about new sales. I think in the title it can be confusing. Is it new sales simplified like a new book or? And what he means is new sales, sales you don’t already have. Customers you don’t have yet. It’s about going and finding that next opportunity, that next relationship, that next partnership. And for me, the guys I have in the field, the guys who have their head up looking around for that next opportunity, I want them to be focused on hunting, not farming. So I want them to focus on getting us a new customer, not babysitting an account going on the same milk run. And that’s what that book is all about.

Nick:
And it doesn’t just say what I just said. It gives you some actual, simple but tactical ways to have success with hunting for a new business. And one of those ways is what he calls the sales story, or you call it like your elevator pitch, or your unique sales proposition or whatever people call it. And I liked the format of that sales story, which is number one, talk about the issues or the problems that you solve for your target market, then briefly discuss what you actually do. Make that the shortest part of it. “Here’s what we offer. Here’s our products, here’s our services,” keep that the short part. And then end with what’s different and unique about your approach.

Nick:
And so if you follow that structure in sales conversation, you’ll have a lot of success on that. What I found it being like a sales and marketing dude, is that structure works super good for marketing content as well. So it’s like that being able to tell a good story, and making it about them and not yourself is consistent through sales and marketing, which is one of the reasons why I don’t like to create distinctions when I don’t have to.

Joe:
Totally, love it. And what I mentioned in that article I wrote was exactly what you just said, I think it’s chapter eight of that book, is this idea of the sales story, and I agree. It’s the best way that I’ve seen to articulate in very concisely the value you create and for who, and it translates perfectly to writing positioning for your company, that there’s so many generalists out there. It’s in my world as a marketer, it’s in manufacturing world. What really sets you apart and who is the audience you serve? You need to-

Nick:
Everyone’s the one-stop shop or the one-source solution. I still have one of the mouse pads that we made that says like, “One-source solution.” It’s like, we’re really not. I mean, there’s so many things that we don’t do. So I’m trying to squash all of that, but it goes back to what we were saying with, what you communicate is your content. And so if you know how to communicate in a way that’s audience centric or buyer centric, and the sales story is one of those ways, then you’re going to have more success whether you’re a salesperson or a marketer trying to help a sales person.

Joe:
Love it. Totally. What else is on your summer reading list?

Nick:
Well, you mentioned New Sales. Simplified., and that was the book we started with, but he wrote a followup book called Sales Management. Simplified. And I thought that one was super good too. It’s not on my list for this summer, but I reread certain sections of it when it comes time to like think about how I’m going to do my sales meeting. His structure for sales meetings was, number one, you start, you don’t have a long meeting and you just review the results, the actual sales that the person got. And the reason you start with results, because at the end of the day, that’s what sales is about getting actual sales. Not doing all your activities or “How many doors did you knock on? Or how many posts did you put on LinkedIn?” or whatever.

Nick:
It ultimately comes down to the results. “Did you bring revenue into the business?” So you start with that. But any good manager knows you can’t really manage results. This COVID thing is a perfect example. It’s hard to push all of your salespeople, and to push your company to have the best sales year ever when the economy shut down for months. So what’s next after results. That’s when you review the pipeline, the opportunities that could turn into a sale and you talk one on one with your sales person on, “Okay, what’s in your pipeline? How did it get there? And how can I help you close it?”

Nick:
And then ultimately pipeline creates results. And so what creates pipeline? And what creates pipeline is like your day to day sales activities. So that’s where CRM systems or however you log activity becomes immensely valuable, because I need to see how they’re creating pipeline. Where are they finding their new connections? What’s on their calendar for next week? What did they do last week? And so if the results are killing it, chances are they have a very full pipeline and that’s because their activities are solid.

Nick:
So those meetings are a lot shorter than the meetings I have with people where, “Okay, you don’t have results, why not? Okay. Well, your pipeline is not that full and okay, so what are you doing? How do you spend your time? And how can we work together to figure out how you can have more success with how you spend your time.” And so for me, that structure totally changed everything. And my sales guys know I’m going to communicate with that structure and they know what to expect, and they know what’s important and what’s important is the results. That’s why we start with the results. But at the end of the day, you can’t really manage results. You can just create pipeline through your activities. So I thought that was really valuable for a sales manager.

Joe:
Yeah, totally. It makes sense. Yeah, check out those books, New Sales. Simplified. and Sales Management. Simplified. by Mike Weinberg. I think any manufacturing sales leader would greatly benefit from either of those. Okay. Well, Nick, this has been a really awesome conversation. It was great to catch up and to do it publicly with the recording on, and I think you’ve brought a lot of really great insights to the audience. Can you tell our listeners what’s the best place to find you or get in touch with you, if they have follow up questions? And please, give your MakingChips podcast a plug too because like everybody here should be listening to that as well.

Nick:
Yeah. So as far as MakingChips, you can find us at makingchips.com, M-A-K-I-N-G, chips, C-H-I-P-S.com. It’s also available on any of the podcatchers, so iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, whatever you use to listen to podcasts. And then at AME and Hennig where I’m the marketing director and the sales director, the best way to communicate with me would be through LinkedIn. You could just search Nick Goellner, G-O-E-L-L-N-E-R, and you’ll find me on LinkedIn. That’s the social media platform I’m most active on.

Joe:
Awesome. Well, Nick, thank you for taking the time to join us on our official first episode of the Manufacturing Executive. And for the rest of you, we will see you next time.

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