Justin Bober, Fawcett Co.

The Power of Product Demonstration

Episode 7

Justin Bober, Product and Marketing Manager of Fawcett Co., joins Bill to discuss marketing a line of products that have an endless variety of use cases. How do you accurately create messaging for multiple problems and solutions? The conversation also explores the benefit of using in-person trade shows to inform digital strategy, as well as the power of real product demonstrations through video and hands-on trial. Fawcett Co. produces mixing equipment from laboratory scale to 1000-gallon processing vessels.

Episode Transcript

Bill: Thank you for joining the Missing Half podcast. I'm Bill Woods, your host, where we're discovering what's missing in B2B and manufacturing marketing. We're here today live from the Ascenso Tires warehouse in Stow, Ohio. As you can see, we're surrounded by a lot of tires, both large and small. And with us today is the marketing manager of Ascenso Tires. Annie Boyer. Annie, thank you for joining us today.

Annie: Hi. Thank you for having me.

Bill: Excellent. Well, thank you. So we've been working with Ascenso Tires and Tyres International before that for a number of years. And I wanted to start by just getting a little bit into your background. So you're newer here to a company that's been around a long, long time. But in the two years you've been here, you've been baptized by fire and this transition and growth. So maybe if you would talk a little bit about your educational background and maybe where you came from, because I think that also ties into why we maybe we could talk about the heritage you have in the tire industry and just start there and we'll just learn more about you.

Annie: Sure. Yeah. I went to school at Bowling Green State University. I actually started out as a marketing major, switched to public relations and then finished with a communications degree. So I took a lot of classes it just worked out that way. I was able to study abroad in France for my last semester. So that was that's an amazing experience to discover really, who you are as your final release before the real world.

Bill: Yeah. My daughter is advocating at least a year abroad to study art, and so I'm sure that will cost me a lot. Anyway, that's great, and I think that is an experience. Those are the type of experiences that really can shape you internationally and then you're now working with an international company. So that's kind of a neat transition.

Annie: Yeah, I learned early on the communication styles. I was told I have a very American accent and I need to slow down a little bit. So yeah, it was it was a great experience. And now working with an Indian company has really benefited that I'm kind of learning the cultural shifts and the communication styles. So yeah, it's great.

Bill: Excellent. So your background before the college experience, maybe there was some foreshadowing as to how we arrived in the auto and tire industry. Maybe talk a little bit about that heritage your family has in the tire business.

Annie: Yeah, my dad just retired from Bridgestone. He was there the last half of his career, he was in I.T. He actually graduated with an accounting degree, but found a passion in technology, infrastructure. So he he was there for a really long time. And it might have been the Bridgestone Invitational Golf Club seating that got me here. But it was yeah, it was a great industry to be in. And he just, you know, when I applied for this job, he was like, it's benefited me very well. And it's a growing industry and it's never going to go away anytime soon. So tires are needed on every facet. So yeah, it was a good encouragement from him.

Bill: Yeah. Ever since what, the invention of fire and the wheel, there's been certain industries that have stood the test of time and certainly wheels and tires are a big part of what keeps this economy going and keeps things moving, whether it's an agricultural tire, keeping the backbone of our country, moving with food production, or if it's the construction tires and some of the other things you guys have that keep building and road construction and just commerce moving. Yeah, I don't think you have to worry that the tire business is going away anytime soon. So that's a that's interesting. So one of the things we had, the interesting position of at the time Tyres International came to us, Mike came to me, and said, Hey, Bill, we need some help recruiting in-house marketing talent because we're just growing so fast. We need support. He didn't have the capacity or the resources to do it anymore because of his moving up in the company and extra responsibilities. So we actually helped recruit and hire you, which is kind of a neat story to see it all came full circle and now you're sitting on our podcast. So that's the we have, I guess, a vested interest in your career. But as you came in and this I think is an interesting topic, we could kind of discuss. You came in as a marketing manager and that didn't replace our services as an agency. It really was more about teamwork and support and working together. So how have you seen your role with the company and then working with us to really drive campaigns, content, social media, video, all of those things? What have you seen over the past two years?

Annie: Yeah, so I actually come from my past career. I was the only person marketing department in nonprofits. So having someone to talk to and strategize and think marketing and less business like with Mike who was just thinking, you know, maybe a little political about as we get to have creative conversations. And I think it's been a huge help. And even with the small stuff you guys helped with like posting on our website page, or Hey, can you translate this to a PDF because I don't have the software at the moment. Like even small stuff like that, but then then they can share ideas as well. I think it's a huge help. And you guys had the experience and background in manufacturing marketing, which I don't. So it’s been helping me grow in this role and learning the different facets of it and where we need to be in ten years and not just how to get something done tomorrow.

Bill: So we see strategy is a huge component and we can’t just go out and do things in marketing anymore. I mean, one of the things that's critical to our brand is, you know, in 1896 John Wanamaker, the father of modern advertising, said half or 50% of my advertising is wasted. He only wished he knew which half. And that's so much more true today because there's just an infinite number of possibilities and ways to approach it. And I think as we've seen Tyres International move to Ascenso Tires North America and that transition has been pretty amazing and fast and approaching that with an incorrect strategy could be costly or more costly and inefficient. So I think the collaboration we've been able to establish and working on the strategy first was super important and has really helped the growth and where we are today. So that's that's been exciting to see. When you look at Tyres International having been around for 50 years and as a distributor here in North America, and then you look at Ascenso while they're a new company, they're the family that owns Ascenso, has 30 plus years of manufacturing experience in the tire industry. It feels like and you can see why both companies came together because there should just be a tremendous output based on, you know, collectively 80 years of experience or however you want to do that math. Are you seeing that day to day as you watch some of your colleagues work together, both from the factory and then here from your distribution work here?

Annie: Yeah definitely, so we have so we have both the technical side and the sales side working together now. So we have people who are communicating from the plant in India saying this is where we want to go in the future. And the sales guys saying, well, this is where you should be going based off our customers needs and wants. So it's been a it's been a lot of communication, but it's gotten us really far. I think we're 700 plus SKUs now in four years, which is we're the largest growing our fastest growing tire manufacturer in the world. So I think we're in over 90 countries. So it’s not just in North America. So you get the feedback actually do communicate with our partners in Ireland and Australia and the UK and we kind of collaborate just like on the side in LinkedIn. But it's still, it's, it's great because small stuff like where do you get your tires hands and, and what are you putting at your trade shows or what kind of social media do you think is more important than others some of those things. So it's so it's really helped us kind of meld all the experiences together and to really push forward and to see where it leads.

Bill: We, my family, in the early 2000s owned about 14 John Deere dealerships, and we often found when we got together with the other dealers, we learned more than when we were talking sometimes to the manufacturer. And I think there's what you're describing, there's very important. You have your sales team here in North America, but also around the world that’s giving good market feedback. You have your technical manufacturing arm that is bringing in their feedback and it feels like with Ascenso they're listening to both sides and really trying to find the best path and the best like balance point for those things. And that probably is what is contributing to them being the fastest growing tire manufacturer in the world because you can't operate in any vacuum on the marketeting side or on the manufacturing side. You have to find that balance. So that's exciting to see. We also know that Ascenso has this credo, their tagline, mission statement, whatever it is, never stop rising. Can you talk about maybe how you see that every day and what that means here in North America to Ascenso. 

Annie: Yeah, definitely. I think honestly, it's very inspiring to like to look at that every day, which is awesome and I think it's just we're not just doing what everyone's doing. We're looking forward to what needs to happen in the future. Whether that's bias to radial or the the technology that we've been importing, that's seen a lot of traction and the steel belting and all that stuff.

Bill: Yeah. So when we look at so I have a personal interest in agriculture. I own a my family and I own a organic dairy farm. So like we actually have, full disclosure, we have some Ascenso Tires on our tractors. Yes, we paid for them. So this is not a paid program, a paid promo or whatever, but we have enjoyed those tires. But one of the things the point of this is agriculture around the world is very similar. And while there are cultural variances based on geography, climate, etc., people are just trying to grow food to feed their customers. So in specifically in the agricultural segment, I can see how you you're finding parallels in Ireland. I saw there was a recent a big event in Poland and the UK, Australia, certainly India because that's where they're from. The factory. So that's exciting to see. And I think I've been watching, I've been lurking on the social media of these different folks. I think we're starting to see that “never stop rising” really penetrate each distributor or dealer or distributor organization however that's termed in those countries really, really embody that. And I think that's a great credit to the leadership and to each member who’s really focused on that and receiving that inspiration every day. So that's that's exciting to see. So one of the things we like to talk about in this is this is the Missing Half podcast and we're trying to discover what's missing in manufacturing and B2B marketing. So when you look at what you're doing in marketing today, for Ascenso and then maybe even compare and contrast that to your nonprofit work, what do you feel maybe a year or two ago was missing that you're now kind of fulfilling and doing? And we always like to talk about what's working and also what didn't work because let's be honest, it's marketing. It all doesn't work, right? We have to test, we have to experiment, we fail, we optimize and pick ourselves back up and try again. So what do you feel are any like missing components that you were observing in the past that you fulfilled, and then after that, maybe we'll pivot to what do you feel is still missing that is part of the future.

Annie: Yeah, I think there was not much of a marketing presence before I came to be completely honest. It was very much just B2B marketing being a distributor. But now we are the manufacturer there's a little more end user involvement and I think what has been working is almost using end user marketing to get the B2B sales. So while our digital ads and our sponsored ads are more end user targeted, it's that B2B, the sales guys, the distributors are going to see that and see that we're putting in the money and effort into marketing us as a company. So they see that and like, that gets us in the door. So we did our market mapping with you guys. So you are so they those names and numbers are in the sales guys' hands as well as in our ad. And so they see the ad and they get the call from the sales guy and they’re like, I know who you are. So it's kind of melding the two, which is a lot different than what we were doing before. I think also a social media presence wasn’t much before. I think it's kind of a goal of ours is to do something every day. Just to have something out there to keep the presence front of mind. And then also our sales guys want to use that stuff in their sales. They’ll share it or they'll take that graphics and give it to their distributor. They’ll say hey you should use this on your social media help you market our company. It's those are kind of the things that have been working that maybe were missing first.

Bill: No those are good points. So when you look at those things. So let's talk about branding Ascenso was brand new to the market. And one of our first initiatives was to get branding information out there. So it wasn't to sell SKU wasn't to sell whatever SKU this is, right? It was just to say, hey, we're Ascenso, never stop rising and specifically we’re in that R1 which for those of you aren’t tire folks that's the agricultural tire this this type of profile here but front and rear on a but the that was our first effort. And one of the things I felt that was really gratifying is you don't always get attribution to every marketing dollar you spend. But whenever we got the feedback from the sales team that whenever they were walking in and talking to people on the phone, email, in person at trade shows or polishing doorknobs because it still happens in the industrial segment, they were known, the people had seen the ads. People were aware of the brand in a very short amount of time, and I think that really helped tee up some of your trade show activities. Hopefully there was more volume of people into your trade show booths. So I think that was exciting to see that branding component take place. And one of the things we're seeing in the market is branding for B2B is now so important. If we're not in front of our clients on a consistent basis, we're going to miss the opportunity for that 95/5 opportunity and the 95/5e rule states that 95% of your market is not actively buying or looking to investigate a purchase. Only 5% is active in buying. The 95 we have to stay in front with branding so that whenever they move into the 5%, we're top of mind and a consideration for that buying event. So I think that was one of the initiatives we did that was really successful. And that we continue to do because branding is so important. We've extended that with your unique value proposition. And then also you guys had some independent testing done, which I'm not a tire scientist, so I can't go into a lot of detail and I don't think that's your space either. We just as marketers, we recognize the arrows were pointing up and our performance was good, so we want to tell the market, but that's another initiative we use. So I think we had a great marriage of branding and then getting into some more features, benefits, and more importantly than that, telling the story of the value of those tires. So that was that was very important. So and I think social media is also something that you mentioned that we we've done some work in. And you're right, we've gone to the end user. So we did a wonderful shoot with Vince, a farmer in northern Ohio. This gentleman has been farming for forever. Like I think he started with the first John Deere and now he has big John Deeres and beautiful tires, wonderful man, a rural cropper here in northern Ohio. And I think he told a valuable story that is very much an important part of marketing today, which is we can't just show the factory and the machines and can just show this beautiful warehouse with all these amazing tires in it. We have to show solutions. And that end user story with that solution was so important to, I think, kind of rounding out the the company's story this year. And it was great production value. The drone, beautiful day and I think Vince may wax the tractor every day. I don't know. It's a beautiful tractor, but it was just such an amazing event. But are you seeing those social media inputs really drive conversations, not only like in the office with the factory, with the sales team and then with distributors and possibly end users?

Annie: Yeah, definitely. I think that video, we got so much great content from it that we can use in almost every section of our marketing. So while yes, it looks very nice to have this gorgeous video production on our social media, we take that to the distributor. We're using that in our OEM prospects at the moment. And saying this is a real life testimonial of someone who's had it for two seasons who has testified that the tread doesn't look a day old is the insane thing. It has everything he wants with the dual mud breakers and how long he's been farming, he he knew his stuff better than I did. He knows some of the things he was saying. I was like, That's great. I don't know what it means, but it sounds great and it's stuff I have heard our production team talk about as I'm learning, I'm like, okay, this is I'm so glad I can match what our production team’s goal is to what the end user is saying. I think that's so important and those testimonials are kind of what’s driving our business right now, bringing those videos, those small snippets. And I know we talked about doing smaller like that for a good minute and a half video, but pulling some small things from that and expanding that beyond into construction and forestry, I think is just what's really going to put us on top as the value high quality tire that we are improving it.

Bill: Sure. Yeah, I think that's an important point. You know, one of the stories, it hasn't been told yet and it's young, right? We're impetuous and impatient and we're like, we’ve got construction, forestry, we want to go and market it. And that's hopefully I'm not spoiling 2024 and 25, but there's the value proposition and the value story, the brand promise, and then the brand delivery and agriculture is going to be extended into those other markets. I think that'll be exciting to see that story play out and then also see some end users really utilize those tires or tracks or whatever type of situation there is and to execute their business and do it really well. So one of the things we worked on this year and I guess something we found that was missing was in the website, a lot of users were looking for a selector in a search functionality, not to look for the Ascenso X, Y, Z model, etc. They know their machine and they know the tire they need. So I think one of the things we found there was an area that was missing in like the usability of the website. Maybe talk about how we came to that conclusion, like the feedback you got from the sales team. And then we know we're actively addressing that even as we speak. I think there's folks back at the office are working that today, but maybe talk about how you got that feedback and learned what was missing in the website user experience in finding the tire that they needed for their application.

Annie: Yeah, So we definitely still have those customers, those and users like our our friend Vince still has a flip phone. And I couldn't email him had to call him and he wants the mailers and the print catalogs. But we're moving a little more into the digital space with our dealers and they want to make sure that they have what their customers are looking for and really cleaning up our website to showcase our range. But also what they're looking for specifically on has been a huge and just to like talking to the sales guys and having them go through the website and then communicating that to you guys and you by saying, okay, this is like the perfect mix of that. Of what's going to help clean up the website, make it, optimize it faster, and show that also what they want in the specific search functions. So I think it's been it's been that it's improved a lot over the years. I'm sure if we we we work on it constantly. I feel like it's not something that you can do and leave it alone for couple of years. It's going to need constant updates and there's development happening and new products being added. And you know, we've developed a really great process of doing that with you guys, where because it's kind of it's going to take a couple people to got there. So yeah, making it user friendly but also dealer friendly and compliant with India what they want. So it's something.

Bill: Yeah. So I think when we look at the website process and optimizing usability, probably one of the recognitions there was while large distributor deals like ABM type of work where we're looking at maybe someone has 20 or 30 branches that they're going to buy the tires by the container and then redistribute. They're probably looking more at that high level, high funnel value proposition, you know, support, supply, on time delivery, etc. When we're looking, though, this is a business that sold basically two tires at a time, right? Because you generally are based in pairs. So when we look at that, we have to recognize that not only do we have to meet that ABM or that big corporate client and communicate to them, we also have to communicate to the final transaction is going to be done with several digits, dashes and back slashes that you know, as this tire right here is 420 backslash a 90 or 30 and I don't know what that means per se. I know there's a grid and we can look it up and we can define that. But those are that's ultimately where the transaction occurs. So we have to be mindful of the different buyers personas that are involved in your website and involved in all of your digital, and then making sure that we have a user experience that meets both of them or multiple buyer personas where they're at. So that's exciting that we've we've kind of figured that out and we're developing an optimization plan for it. So when we look at what's missing and what didn't work, are there any examples and some of our clients really struggle with this So it's fine if you don't have anything. What we tried, where you tried that was not as successful as you would have liked it to have been, or your you want to change for next year.

Annie: I think something that I've learned when it comes to especially social media, there's difference between paid and organic and they going to be completely different campaigns in a sense even between social media is like our LinkedIn presence is going to be different than our Facebook presence. Our LinkedIn is very is more B2B, whereas our Facebook is more end user. So we actually got an opportunity to work and partner with his name’s Juan from Gold Rush on Discovery Plus. So yeah, and he has really helped with his influence. And if we think about influencer marketing, you think of people selling stuff on TikTok. And you, they go, we're a manufacturer. We can't really working in influencer marketing. But he has grown our social media following and by one with one post. Crazy. And it's going to be like we've given the tires he has we've made them a little more shinier and like putting the white on it. So when he's on the show you’re able to see it too so we wouldn't do that he's not on LinkedIn. That's not where his audience is. So it's completely different. And so I think trying to have the same target market for different avenues was kind of where we learned over this year. So it didn't work to do the same thing for everything. I mean, we talk about in general marketing, but anything tailored specifically like our digital ads are going to be completely different that our organic social media cause they’re not the same. And so I think that's that was the missing part, is that learning of those differences.

Bill: No, that's that's great. And I think that that talks about a category that we're very passionate about, which is no one in manufacturing and B2B marketing should talk about social media. Social media is too big of a word. We have to have a LinkedIn strategy oh wait that's even too big. We need a LinkedIn organic strategy. We need a LinkedIn paid strategy. We need LinkedIn employee advocacy strategy. We need LinkedIn and some people don't even know about this sales navigator strategy. And it is so important in today's B2B and manufacturing marketing space that we look at those things and really segment them, segment them by target audience, by message, by value proposition, by problem solution definition, and it’s so critical that we identify the differences that occur or need to occur in our approach and execution to deliver on something like social media, which has to be broken down. So Annie I think that's a that's a great insight. And I agree that Ascenso has come a long way now that was something that was missing, let's say, 12 to 18 months ago. We're getting there. We're not there yet. I don't know that we’ll ever get there. Right. It changes every day. But we're getting there. And I think the other thing that's neat about working with you guys at Ascenso is in it's exciting is your product line is changing every day. They're constantly sending out new inventory lists of new models and sizes and SKUs that they've developed. Maybe talk about that, that dynamic environment of it's never the same day twice at Ascenso Tires North America.

Annie: It’s definitely not. I think we do so much across the marketing channels. It's not because we do have those end users who need the print catalogs, but we also have to cater to the digital stuff. We have to do the trade shows, which again isn’t as fancy, I guess it's is not as digitally up and coming. You don't have screens everywhere. We have tires everywhere. So we're not going to I'm saying you need to kind of tailor to the end user who's coming to touch and see what you have. And then they're asking you, do you have this exact size? And is like, we might in two days. Like, who knows? So yeah, it's been a lot of a lot of growth and a lot of figuring out how to implement that growth smoothly and not just throwing information at people. It's collecting it in a way that you can put it out in what how they want to like take it in on how they want to talk about it to their customers. So it's it's not just, hey, we have this and it was one new size. It's like we have to twenty sizes. Where does this fit into your customer base? And I think we have been doing like even the old school presentations and USB drives and, and that stuff. That helps because then, I mean, but then we're sending them a new one in a couple of months. So it's in that works for some people more so than just putting on our website and saying, hey, go find it.

Bill: I think the important thing you're getting at there and we talk about this a lot with our clients in our office is we have to recognize that the buyer's journey is not linear. The buyer's journey is messy. It involves traditional channels like paid search, paid social, seeing ads and kind of coming in through that high funnel attraction content. But it also involves a new and emerging field called dark social, where people are watching a podcast like this and getting information and learning about 50 Marketing and learning about Ascenso Tires and then they maybe take a screenshot because I know my staff loves it when I do this on social media. Take a screenshot and send it to them and say, Talk to me about this. I'm sure there's no one else on the planet that does that. So there are so many ways in this messy buyer's journey that we have to be mindful of and make sure that we're meeting our buyers where they are, wherever they are on the journey. There's a statistic that 86% of the buyer's journey happens online before a client contacts you, via phone text email chat, however, and we have to make sure and I think you're alluding to this, that we are meeting that buyer on that 86% of the journey wherever they are and filling in those gaps. And if it's an old school USB drive, I mean, I'm a good bit older than you and I've been around a lot longer. And I remember like we used to print CDs and hand out the sleeves and then the USBs and then did you get the lanyard with the USB or did you just hand it a whole bunch of things we did back in the dark ages. But if that still works in this industry and it helps the buyer and meets them and fills that gap in their journey to get them to that purchase point, I mean, ultimately what we're here to do is not to do digital marketing, it’s to affect markets and to help our clients grow and help you grow. And if that means USB drives let’s do USB drives, if it means trade shows, as much as we all love business travel, let's do trade shows. And you know, so and to follow up on that, your trade show business you guys have done and this industry seems to still be very trade show centric. I mean, it's just the nature of it. People like to touch the tires, which I guess that's still important. I don't know. Like my family used to own a furniture manufacturing company. And people love to sit in the couches and the chairs that I kind of got because like, you would touch it, you'd sit in it, you would feel it. But this industry seems to be very they want to touch the tires. They want to see it. They want you to be there. And you guys have how many trade shows did you guys do?

Annie: It was just a handful. And I say that as an we're looking to a lot more in the future. And it's kind of, again, that building the brand awareness and then that will lead to those distributor purchases. Proposition so I it's it's and I will say that working with you you put that so much better than I could have and I think that’s such that’s a point of kind of our relationship is I have these ideas and I can you can eloquently say them and put them into action whereas I'm just like this happened and I think we should do this about it. You're like, okay, let's do a little more professional than just that. 

Bill: That's hopefully what we bring to the table. What we really strive to do and is kind of at our core is we do not want to do digital art. We want to be part of the journey at the inception with the strategy and making sure we have the right goals and objectives set forth. And it's trickier than ever, right, because we're seeing a lot of generational shifting. So there's more millennials in the workforce than ever. And the way they buy, even in the professional B2B space, is wildly different than certainly the baby boomers. I think I'm Gen X, I can't remember. You know, all those different generations. So I think it's very important that we have the right strategy and that's what I do all day is talk to clients and develop strategy. So that's hopefully why I can put those things together. But getting the information from you guys is what's so important to understand the business. And I feel like in the last two years you've come up to speed really, really quickly, even though you have that heritage in tires. Your dad was at Bridgestone in I.T. So it wasn't like you were touching the tires, but you were aware of the industry. But I feel like in the last two years you’ve really come up to speed quickly in understanding the market, which is so critical because for us to have a successful client relationship, we need a point person at the factory or representing the factory or the distributor who can help extract information, who can help be that bridge for us and will we find that team between our team and your team, when we can really work together. That's where we get outsized results. And we found that with Ascenso. So we've enjoyed the relationship certainly. And I know Mike isn't here today, but I'm going to shake his hand again so I always like to see Mike whenever I'm in town. But this is my second visit to this warehouse. The last time there were flat tires moving everywhere, which is great, but right now is a downtime, so we don't have all of the forklifts running and all the tires moving. Well, Annie, the the other things we look at is as we look towards the future and as you think about B2B and manufacturing marketing, is there anything you see as being like critical in the next phase for Ascenso develop? ome of the things that come to mind are the social media, the the organic content we’ve talked about. Those or anything else you can think of that would be super by more part of your strategy.

Annie: I think we're looking a lot closer at sales enablement stuff that we're doing. We have the initial promotional items that we give at trade shows. Pens, post-its. We've actually been becoming known for our hats. I'll give you one.

Bill: Nice, I'm looking at our producer Noah, you're going to get a hat. I got a thumbs up.

Annie: It's just as in we're really looking into doing things well. Not just to do them. And that comes with the sales enablement stuff and not just putting out fliers. It's the correct flier. It's creating a flier for a distributor. It's that kind of stuff that's going to, again, get us in the door, keep us in the door, keep us front of mind. But then it also complements everything else we're doing. It's not just those fliers are going to match our ads a little bit. Our trade show stuff is going to get into the right hands and end users are I'm I'm trying to do a little sponsorship action in there I think that's a huge deal especially these big shows because you've got the right people there who are interested in this stuff and but like the hats, they’re nice hats so it's like just like wear it out or like the shirts or the polos we're trying to invest things that are going to the dealers to get them to where to get stuff to go in their stores, like posters and tire stands and just attire out there so people can see it. So that and these are asked, is that I've never maybe never heard of that before. I'm sure something we've implemented this year is the farm service truck technician recognition program. So it was kind of it was from one of our products managers. And he sees that the truck technicians, the guys who go out and replace the farm tire in the dead of winter, in the freezing rain. They are some of our biggest advocates. Because they work with them so often. So we really wanted and they’re never really had the spotlight before because everyone's worried about the end user or the dealer. So we’re starting a program we’re taking nominees and we're going to have a committee choose a winner. We're going to fight it out for SEMA. Yeah. So it's really feeding in. We've already gotten some submissions, even though there's no submission form people are just emailing us. So it's and we got a lot of traction with publications and stuff too that are saying, wow, this is something that no one’s done before, but they should be doing it. And so we're nominees. If you have, I think like five years, you get gloves hitting the 15 years, you get a really nice cargo jacket. And so and it's just a way to say, like, we see you, we appreciate you deserve this. And it's not for the faint of heart to do this work. So it's it takes a lot to stay within it in fifteen years.

Bill: So it's a physical it's a physical business. I mean, this is you know, this isn’t even the largest tire that's in here. I've seen them replace them on our tractors at our farm. My father was in the mining business. So some of the largest tires that I see down a couple rows on the rock trucks and the wheel loaders, I saw those being replaced and it is not for the faint of heart. I will say this, though. The skill and the artistry with which a single person with a crane in some like large rock class can take on and off a huge tire by themselves makes it look easier than whenever I'm trying to change the bicycle tire on my ten-year-old's pedal bike. They they like they they learn this craft. And I think that's excellent and just amazing that you guys are recognizing their contribution to not only the American economy, but also in the whole value chain, of what you're doing. We have other clients who are doing similar things, who are really recognizing every person who's involved. And I think maybe one of the things we learned from the from Covid one of the things we've learned from the whole pandemic, whatever you want to call it, is that the blue collar work is honorable, it is valuable and it is so important to everything we do every day. And when we saw that, you know, the challenges the companies had with maintaining a workforce and then, I don't know all the figures but like Mike Rowe talks about 7 million people dropped out of the workforce on his in his Dirty Jobs or whatever it is publication or show is that there was a real crisis. And I think the other thing we deal with is the younger people and the younger generation don't value that as much so we're having trouble getting the younger people to go into that field of study and that we could about that's a whole other show we could do on like society, but let's get back to this technician recognition program I think is just amazing. I think that's going to be great and it should provide and help your story. But whether that happens or not, I think when we look at the “never stop rising” attitude of Ascenso that falls right behind with recognizing people who are always rising to do that craft and do it well. And if it's rising through a rainstorm underneath a muddy piece of equipment or it's in the mine or whatever, that certainly embodies Ascenso I think that's that's amazing. And we'll be looking forward to seeing how that pans out this year. Annie this has been an amazing conversation. We have covered everything from, you know, college days through the growth of Ascenso and your professional involvement and experience here. So that's been amazing. So thank you very much and we really appreciate you joining us today.

Annie: Yeah, thanks for coming out and sparking more ideas as we had this conversation. So I'm going to run back to my desk. I'm going to watch this over and over again.

Bill: We’ll get you a transcript so you can take those points down and will include up to 2024 2025.

Annie: I’ll be typing up the notes really fast. 

Bill: Well, thanks for joining us.

Annie: Of course. Thank you.

Episode Transcript

Bill: Welcome to the Missing Half podcast, where we're discovering what's missing in manufacturing and B2B marketing. Today I have Justin Bober from Fawcett and Trans-mix Company. Justin, thank you for joining us today.

Justin: Thank you for having me, Bill.

Bill: Excellent. Excellent. So, Justin, maybe tell us a little bit about your education and your early career and what brought you here to Fawcett and your current role?

Justin: Sure. So I went to Ithaca college, studied Business Administration, and then I got into the entrepreneurship field in there. And then I went to Cornell for a year to do blockchain and ledger management. And then during that education, I really harnessed that entrepreneurship, innovation type of enthusiasm. So when I was looking at jobs, I saw Fawcett and it was a perfect experience for me, an opportunity to allow my entrepreneurial side and my data-driven side to be able to flourish, I was able to develop new products for them, learn about their customer base, and also learn about like the different marketing initiatives that's going to drive our success.

Bill: Excellent. Excellent. So even here we have right in front of us a new product. And I know and not to spoiler alert, we're not going to talk about all the new products that are coming here to Fawcett and Trans-mix.  But I know of a number of new products you guys are developing and really trying to change the mixing and mixing technology space. So this is, as you said, that really scratched that entrepreneurial itch. So maybe talk a little bit about that.

Justin: Yeah, definitely. Well, one of my favorite parts about working with Fawcett is being able to engage with our clients and our customers to find out like perfect solutions that are going to fit their needs. And that's what I love I like problem solving and being able to see that final result and then seeing that result turn into success. So like what those people are looking for, something that they can mix multi stage of different products while having an ability to be able to quickly clean and do a turnaround. So this was a perfect product to market that and capture those type of leads.

Bill: Excellent. And you guys just correct me if I'm wrong, but you just announced this and kind of revealed this at a recent trade show. And how was the feedback at the trade show?

Justin: It was very excellent. Yeah. Everybody loved it. They thought the design was very seamless, very sturdy. They liked the idea of having the ability to mix three different pails at once. And I was recommending to a lot of the facility managers setting up stages where one EPM is dedicated to certain pigment and then have another one. So then you can mix six up to six gallons at once. With the same two units and then going back and forth. It just gives a lot more capability to what you can mix instead of having to switch from one stand, mix, bring another one, mix, etc. People are very excited about it.

Bill: Excellent. So you're responsible for the marketing at Fawcett and over at Trans-mix one of the main product lines and you're you're responsible for the technical delivery. So maybe talk a little bit about some of the things you learned as you’ve really started to develop more marketing materials, websites, videos, social media. You're really starting to engage that process, maybe just talk through what you do there and some of the things you've learned in that marketing manager position.

Justin: So one thing I've definitely learned is that none of our products are just a cookie cutter product. One product can have solutions for all types, hundreds of types of batch making and chemicals, etc. So through the marketing side, it's really important to be able to hone into that specific technical aspect of a certain product to be able to fulfill what they're looking for, because one product might not mix as well as the other product on that same piece of equipment. So talking with your clients and understanding what they're exactly mixing and how much and what their end goal is is a good way to find out exactly how you can market those technical aspects to that specific client. So if someone's more worried about, you know, the horsepower or the the motor itself and not so much the shell of the product, then the marketing content and the initiatives will be focused around that, where some other people are more worried about the the material, the durability, the longevity of the product innards, or even just what kind of blade will this fit. 

Bill: Well, it sounds like you're really dialing in into the problem and the solution for each individual target market, which is so important, you know, in 2024, nobody cares about who you are or what you do as a company until they recognize that you can solve their problem or help them realize some new opportunity or take advantage of an opportunity. So it feels like you guys are really in your development cycles here at Fawcett looking at those client use cases and client problems and then say, okay, how do we solve for that? And then the marketing side of that, you know, so there's R&D, but then we do a bit of the marketing and it's how do we communicate that to the target client and then others and scale that to to new clients. So that's very exciting. Excellent. We're always trying to discover what's missing or maybe some things you've realized or learned in the process. And one of the things I really like to talk to marketing managers about is that tactical part of of marketing. When we talk to the C-suite, it's about strategy. It's about the big picture. It's about setting goals and budgets and objectives. But whenever we get into the marketing manager's suite, which is where we really spend most of our time with our team directly with the marketing managers, which is then executing those strategies in the tactics and you know delivering things on and under budget. When you look at project management as a piece of marketing, how how do you see that making the process more efficient? And and I think this is important to recognize because a lot of people in the marketing space think a lot of it's just art know we can't get real detailed in to do's and deliverables and milestones, but project management is such a key portion of of what we do. So how do you see that all playing together?

Justin: Yeah, so marketing is very broad. It comes from the pieces that you're using. So one of our marketing initiatives is American made that everything is outsourced in America. The other part is how it's built and shipping and then the pricing and everything. So it's not just yeah, exactly. Like you said, it's not just a flier or a piece of video that's like out and about and everyone could see it. It's how is that process tied to the customer relationship to? Are they seeking something that's just simple where it can get the job done, that's fine. Are you looking for something that's more of a tailored solution?

Bill: So Justin, Fawcett is really on a growth trajectory. Fawcett and the Trans-mix brands have been something that the owners have decided to really take to the next level and try and scale. And recently you've developed a catalog, you've launched a new website, and you're really working now on your go to market strategy. Maybe just walk us through that process, what you learned and maybe some things you discovered along the way that you may be surprised, you shocked you, delighted you as you went through that process.

Justin: Yeah, I think the biggest thing I've learned is always maintaining that client interaction, whether it's just posting on social media, shout outs about something or wishing people a Merry Christmas, something like that that's very basic versus something that's very specific to a new product launch or a new accessory being launched. So having those having the catalog is great for if you're walking in and you're touring a facility, you could just give them that catalog. They could see that information right away. Having a website allows, you know, sales managers or facility managers at home may be able to browse through our websites. So that's been very nice. Our next initiative is try to get demos going so people can either come in to our office and see live tutorials or demos of how our products will work and put them up onto a video and then use that as a campaign as well.

Bill: Excellent. Yeah. Whenever we can demonstrate what we do and our unique value proposition, that's always going to help us attract more clients. And I think certainly with some of the innovation that you guys are developing here and the R&D you're putting into these products, one of the things is getting it out to more people. And you're doing a lot of great grassroots work at trade shows, getting that good feedback. But then once that's kind of tested and tried and ready to be scaled, then obviously you have the digital channels and the marketing channels to move that forward and scale it more out. So that that's that's great. And I think it's very exciting with some of the things you guys are working on. Whenever you look at marketing and that function and that part of your job, what what specifically do you see as opportunities here in the near future, specifically? I mean, you guys are a manufacturer. Fawcett and Trans-mix are manufacturers. You're going directly to businesses with B2B products. What do you see as the biggest challenge or opportunity to help grow the business?

Justin: I think video display and showing the technical side of things behind video is such a huge one. And you know, we can always send out pictures or catalogs and tell the specifications and the technical aspect, but until someone sees it in action, whether it's using their product or just water, that's that's a big one for me because clients can't understand this function or how it works by just reading it. But if they could see it, it's a lot more compelling.

Bill: Yes. So even for instance, this ergonomic so we've been aware of this mixer stand for a while and then being here today and actually putting my hands on it and actually doing it. And I'm not going to do it right now because I'm sitting here and I don't want to knock anything over here. But it was amazing to to understand what that was and what it wasn't and what what it was before the before and after. And so I agree. I think product demonstrations can be critical, especially when you're innovating. I know that when we did the video shoot in our studio, back in our office with the mixers, both the Trans-mix and then some of the Fawcett labsters seeing the vortex created by the, you know, the proprietary mixing technology. And then also I didn't really fully understand the Trans-mix until we actually were inserting it and installing it on the totes and seeing how quickly you could just rotate it, snap it into place, hook the air hose or whatever power source you were hooking up to it, and it was ready to go. So I think product demonstration is critical.

Justin: Yeah. And it gives a good opportunity to really like talk to the customer if they're thinking well, can it do this or can I put this on or can it hold this type of motor. So having that client engagement is really helpful. For sure.

Bill: Excellent. Justin whenever we look at you guys developing products, something like this ergonomic power mixer, maybe just tell us a little bit about how your team worked to develop this.

Justin: Sure. So this was actually part of our one of our existing customers that we currently sell our products to. And we were looking to fill a gap for them. They were a dispensing, large dispensing company and they had this option that would fill our gaps. And so that being the five gallon pail mixer. So this EPM the ergonomic pail mixer right here can mix up to three different five-gallon pails at once. So it can streamline production and everything like that so people can buy an EPM dedicated to one batch and then have the option of switching out batches for just one product.

Bill: Great. That's that's an important thing that we talk about a lot in our business is having those partnerships with vendors, suppliers, customers, and they can go a lot of different ways and there's a lot of different opportunities. But having that good relationship is the key and the foundation is starting those conversations. Yeah, that's great that you guys have that type of relationship with the stakeholders that are involved with the business that you can pursue something like this.

Justin: Yeah. And it opens doors for new innovation to your customers potentially too.

Bill: Excellent. Excellent. Justinone of the things you guys have done here at Fawcett and Trans-mix recently is go through a website redesign, building a catalog, and can you just maybe talk through some of the specifics of this process, specifically the website and how that process went for you and maybe, hey, even if there's some things we can do better or help to improve along the way, but what you were able to learn and your experience.

Justin: Yeah. Well, when I first started with Fawcett, the website was very basic at best. There was no imagery or any way of looking at specifications or technical aspects of a specific product. So with 50 Marketing, we were able to communicate that and they understood that very well. And were able to design a website that was very user friendly, very friendly on the technical and the manufacturing side of things, and also just friendly for our sales team to use to. So if someone's looking at the specific product they can use our website to navigate for something that they're looking for specifically.

Bill: Excellent. Excellent. And then now you've got kind of the one, two punch, you've got a great catalog and you can distribute to your clients in the physical form, but they're also they can be online. And use that tool as well whenever. Wherever they are. 

Justin: Yeah, the catalog’s great. If you're doing a tour of a facility and you're talking to a facility manager and they just need something physical that they can compare. And the website's great for technical surveying and looking for something very specific, but at the end of the day, we like to have both communicating with each other. So if someone has a physical catalog, they have the option to also go on the website using QR scans and having that just channel connect to each other.

Bill: Excellent. Yeah. Moving, I think moving Fawcett into that B2B ecommerce space somewhere in the future will be an important step for you guys as more online specification by buyers happens. So I think you guys have the right strategic outlook for that and roadmap to move that forward. So Justin one of the questions we'd like to ask our clients is just what is it like to work with 50 Marketing, the good, the bad, the ugly?

Justin: So when I first started working with 50 Marketing immediately I noticed how organized you guys are and very goal-driven to what we're looking for and the communication was very easy. You guys were very friendly and whether it was dealing with something small like adding a text or changing this versus adding a whole new page the communication was there. It was it was easy to see that the progress was happening for every meeting that we had.

Bill: That's great. So one of the things we really try and do is our client success team is usually made up of a client success manager as well as a project manager and then a copywriter. So those teams really work hard, one to make sure we're keeping your project on time and under budget and that we're giving you some risk assessment so that we're communicating to you guys, Hey, we're falling behind on this because we need this feedback or we see this gap in the schedule or this issue that we need to deal with to make sure that we're getting this done on time. So we work really hard on that. This year, we're adding another role to our client success team, where we're adding a traffic manager as well to continue to assist with that risk management as well as improve our proofing process. So we had some challenges in our proofing and feedback process last year, and we've come up with about five new techniques that we've beta tested and really are seeing improvements on today. So we're looking forward to not only continuing on our successful relationship, but hopefully improving on it here in 2024.

Justin: Definitely, you too.

Bill: Great. Well, Justin, thank you so much for talking about this and we appreciate it. We look forward to continuing to earn your business and for a successful 2024.

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