John McDowell

Co-Founder and CTO, 50 Marketing

Episode 8

This week, 50 Marketing's CTO and co-founder John McDowell sits down with Bill to talk about the company's early days and how his past experience in engineering and operations still contributes daily to his work. Learn more about the background that informs our strategy and execution for B2B businesses today.
"We prefer to work with manufacturers because we relate, we get it - we've lived it."
At 50 Marketing, John visualizes solutions to optimize processes and systems across the agency. He has over 20 years of experience in the operations of large manufacturers and B2B companies, including several mergers and acquisitions, expansive construction projects, and complex technological advancements. John keeps our teams moving forward with efficiency and an energetic pace.

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. I'm Bill Woods, your host where we're discovering what's missing in manufacturing and B2B marketing. Today I have a special guest, one of the co-founders of 50 Marketing. John McDowell is sitting down with me today to talk about our story and talk about how we got here. And, I guess maybe the story of how we got lost along the way, but still found, ourselves to be where we are today. John. So thank you for joining me.

John: Always a pleasure, Bill.

Bill: So, John, you and I go back, a thousand years ago, to a prior millennium. So we have many, many stories, to tell and to share. But I guess today, what we want to focus on, what we've been told by our producers and directors is we're supposed to talk about where we're supposed to be on our best behavior, and, we're supposed to, talk about kind of our, our founding. So, I guess we have our marching orders and know what we're supposed to be doing.

John: We do have our marching orders. And, what some of our listeners here may not know is that they are actually watching us so we can see them. So we're trying to stay focused and on subject and on task, because they're kind of giving us cues and making sure that we do stay on task.

Bill: Yeah John, before the episode started, one of the, team members actually, put something on my chair. I think it's some type of electrical shock device so that if I act up too much. Oh, there. I just got one. Just got a shock. so, anyway. Well, let's talk about. Let's talk about 50 Marketing and talk about, how we got here. I think that's that's the focus of today. So my role, currently in the organization is one of more of the visionary. I'm supposed to, I guess, dream big and come up with the big ideas and develop overall strategy for the business. And, John, maybe talk about what your role is. as we kind of follow this EOS mindset.

John: Yeah EOS, shoutout to Gino Wickman, great process, great system. we are adopting it here at 50 Marketing. And so, Bill, your role as the visionary, of course, you know, dream big overall strategy. And then my role, of course, would be the integrator role. So I look at those strategies and try and transition them into tactical plans that our team can deliver as you know, it's always a, it's always a good challenge to take those it is strategies and those strategic visions and move them into actionable items. But it's what we do every day. We deal, you know, we build roadmaps. We build our playbooks. we're building out our SOP library. And if any of the team is watching this call, they're starting to, twitch a little bit because they know that this is this is what we do every day. So, it's it's interesting and it is very challenging but I think we we like Bill and I recognize that it's really been a huge turning point for us here at the agency, and it's something that we're focused on and something that we view as vital to our growth and success.

Bill: Yeah John, I think that's, that's so right. When we look at how we've been able to scale what we do and how we've, you know, we've tested some things in the market over the past several years, we found product market fit, and we were able to then scale those up with operational efficiencies, with SOPs, with developing team members and seatss to perform these functions so that we could bring things like video to our manufacturing and B2B clients really effectively and efficiently. We could bring marketing automation, content marketing, demand gen, lead gen, social media, all of those things. The EOS system that we've implemented and that we continue to work on is really helping us deliver, I think a world class, product and service and process to our clients. So I think we're we're obviously it's messy. We've done a lot of things entrepreneurially over the years. And just like any entrepreneurial venture, when you're trying to create something, it's a little bit messy. But we've learned to, to work through those things and develop a system that's really bringing the best out of our team members and delighting our clients. So, well, one of the things, we want to talk about today we've been asked to talk about is the history of 50 Marketing and how it came to be. So I'll start, a little bit with, I came out of college, came back to work for my parents and their family business, and they asked me to focus on the marketing department because they had done most of the growth up to that point through mergers and acquisitions. And we needed to develop a professional marketing and sales program. I was tasked with back in 1999 with focusing on the marketing program. We built a marketing program, and this was during a time of massive upheaval in traditional, newspaper, radio, TV, even trade shows, any traditional form of marketing. We were seeing the efficacy drop and then simultaneously, we saw the advent and introduction of the internet, followed by, you know, social media and those type of things. So we, we got we cut our teeth and got started early in those days. And John, I think we can all remember, back to kind of what we called, hell week. Back in that was in, early 2000s where we brought in, what, 62 media companies in a ten day period and renegotiated all of our contracts and everything we were doing with them and that was kind of where we developed that contrarian philosophy about not, look, you know, the missing half the, John Wanamaker philosophy of half of my advertising is wasted, I just wish I knew which half. That's kind of where that came from.

John: Absolutely. I was already here when, when you came back from college, so I'd finished up at, at, Penn State and came back and, same family company, and what was interesting for my, from my experience is I was thrown right into more of the operations. There was a construction business here. We had some IT challenges at the time, and it was funny. I came in and sat down expecting to work mostly on, you know, engineering work and some construction. And it quickly, morphed into, many different aspects here of the, of the family businesses that we were operating. So, I remember working at, we had a furniture factory. I remember working there over one summer, Christmas break and spring break trying to get some equipment online. So we had some retail and, worked on, consolidating all the computer systems. We had, I think 12 retail stores. And they were all running independent systems and, yeah, we worked through consolidating that to one centrally hosted system. That was a journey in and of itself. Did some home building, through the early 2000s and, yeah so Bill that was around the same period of time again when you came back from school. And that's where, a lot of the I would say a lot of the focus on, you know, a lot of the M&A activity you had mentioned was truly that like acquisitions, mergers. I'm sure you remember, as I do the summer we added five and moved two, that was I think I forgot that year just there was a lot going on that year.

Bill: Yeah, I think that was the summer of our discontent or something. I can't remember the reference, but if it's the, flashbacks are feeling uncomfortable, that we went through. 

John: But at the same point, that's really when the agency was born, right? So we had this, this huge, yeah, this nice consolidation of companies, businesses. And we realized that, we really needed to tell our story, drive our business. And again, you mentioned bringing in all the ad agencies, not agencies, but, the media vendors we had at the time. Not nearly as many as are available today. Yeah, we were still in the, you know, print, TV, cable, some radio. That was largely those were largely the outlets that we had and, even then we knew. Yeah, some of this advertising is in fact wasted. And we could probably do an entire episode on on the misses and some of the old ad spends we did. 

Bill: Yeah. Back in, you know, the early 2000s, we had a, spend budget of about 1.5 million, and it was more, it was very diverse in its marketing mix. But a lot of it was consumer products driven around the John Deere brand, around the, home improvement, retail chain and then around some of the sporting goods, business we had. So it was a different era. And, John, your background probably aligns more today with what we do, you know, so our focus and our niche is around manufacturing and B2B marketing and your education, you came up through engineering school at Penn State, maybe talk a little bit about that and then, you know, you moved into probably more of the operations and manufacturing side of this business. Maybe talk a little bit about that, and how that impacts how you can add value to conversations with our clients today.

John: No, absolutely. Yeah. I went to Penn State, started at a branch campus in Altoona and then moved up to, main campus, State College, PA, finished up there and you what some people don't appreciate is in engineering, you have a really broad base of a lot of disciplines, right? So you work through some electrical engineering background items you work through, like thermodynamics. You work through, in my case, organic chemistry, of course, a lot of physics, a lot of math, a lot of stuff that just makes your head spin. Even today. Nut those who have, survived have been through, it's like, it's a group. We did survive it. It is, it is a struggle to get through some of those, coursework in classes, but, boy, it just gives such a huge, broad base to be able to talk to it like our clients that we have today. My, my dad grew up, working, and he worked for Ford Motor Company in the production line. Came here to, Pennsylvania, worked in two different steel mills, and then, but actually has a teaching background, so, growing up, you know, go to work days, I mean, you want to see a process. You watch steel being melted, like, in front of you. That is a process. And growing up talking, just, you know, kitchen table dining room table about just, different production items. and, you know, how work flows through production facilities. It was just what we did. my mom, worked for BFGoodrich in Akron, Ohio, and, we don't talk about it much, but she really climbed the corporate ladder, for someone of her ability and experience. And, she obviously left, but kids came along. It happens. And.

Bill: Happens to the best of us, John.

John: Happens to the best of us. That's correct. And, but, no, I mean, so she has a, you know, had a decent financial background and, I think she was, assistant to the controller, BFGoodrich global headquarters in Akron, Ohio. So, again, pretty proud of that for for her. And again, whenever we were growing up, it was just, that we we had different discussions about, you know, what it means to, to, kind of be in business, not from the ownership side. Right. But more on the, on the executive side or more of the executive support side. So yeah. Then come out and, come here and basically, you know, some of our clients again, back to the furniture factory. Yeah, we did an automation project and our furniture factory went from, you know, power equipment, power tools, you know, band saws, chop saws, table saws and put in, CNC routers. So huge stuff, for the factory at the time. toured a lot of facilities and, but being in that environment and kind of growing up in that environment, was very comfortable with it. And even today, like, you know, we went and visited some clients in Ohio last summer, walked in the plant, they're cutting steel. They got overhead trains running, they're welding and they was just like, yep, I know all about this.

Bill: It’s the smell, John.

John: Yeah, it's the smell. Some people don't appreciate that, but, you know, you just, it's, you know, and, you know, also, growing up in that environment, you know, where you shouldn't be and you know, where you should be. So the, but not just just great being out and being and, in those environments again, again homebuilding, job sites, construction, you know, did some light commercial work here, at the family business, built probably 250, 280 houses in the early 2000s. So know our way around the jobsite, know our way around quality work inspections a little bit. and obviously you you have to have solid plans or, you know, you're not going to move stuff ahead. 

Bill: So John, one of the things I think that's very interesting about your background, and that really gives us an edge at 50 Marketing is we have experience beyond the technical and beyond the marketing theory and approaches. So I can specifically remember sitting in the parking lot of PCC Group in Pittsburgh in the South Hills and, getting ready to go into a meeting and I’m on my phone and I'm looking at what they currently do and it said sox and nox. Sox and nox. I briefly had a relationship with chemistry in high school. We courted for a couple of classes, and then we decided to part as friends. The teacher decided that that was a great idea as well, because we were not a match to move forward. So whenever I saw sox and nox, I was completely out of my element. I remember calling you on the phone and saying, John, what is this about? And you explained, you know, they're talking about, destruction of, whatever sox and nitric nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.

John: Yep, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and components. Yeah. And how they're pollutants. Yeah.

Bill: So I think I was able to impress the, the potential client there, because we've run their business. So we've had their business for many, many years. But, I had no idea what that meant. And so your engineering background, when we deal with clients with, like, material data sheet, safety data sheets, technical documents, that has been a tremendous asset because we have a lot of clients who are very, very technical, in the items they manufacture or work with, a number of chemical producers, a number of people who've worked in different, whether it's energetics or laboratory field, those type of things. It's been very advantageous to have someone who knows as much about science and engineering as maybe some of the rest of the team knows about, marketing and creative and the type of aspects of content marketing and those type of things. So I think that's been a really great, asset to the 50 Marketing team. So when we look at, one of the other experiences I think you had is very, very important to adding to our experience and adding to our ability to deliver results for our clients is, the period of time that you ran the John Deere golf franchise for I don't know how many state territory it was. It was huge. But, running the John Deere golf territory and then experiencing, like, the men's open and the support we provided to our client at Oakmont and those type of things. So maybe if you could talk a little bit about that experience and how it influences what we talk about as far as understanding not only what we're doing for a client in their marketing, but the fact that we recognize what it means to then deliver that final product because we've been there before. Right? Like, I mean, you you helped mow the grass for the open.

John: Yeah.

Bill: So we saw it the whole way from, you know, here's the product that John Deere has, that we need to represent the client to delivery, set up service support to having whoever Tiger or Phil or whoever, hit the ball. I'm not a golfer. So hit the ball off the grass that was cut in immeasurably small increments to facilitate positive golfing experiences.

John: That was, I can honestly say that, working with John Deere golf, the golf course superintendents, the assistants, the groundskeepers, the maintenance staff at some of these facilities were truly some of the some of the best years of my professional life. And that, the just with all the honesty and all the all the enthusiasm I can give that. I mean, you meant to talk about a group in an industry that has to and I want to repeat, they have to prepare to win every day. You're talking about, mowing grass to thousandths of an inch doesn't sound like a whole lot. But these guys and gals, they're covering, I mean, they're mowing 100, 120 acres of grass to the open. So, I was privileged enough to attend the men's open, in Oakmont Country Club. And little did I know that just a few years later, we'd be representing that contract. And was at the women's open at Oakmont Country Club a few years later, and, yeah, it was it was, a very intense, but very worthwhile experience to be there. So I'll go through, I'll give a shout out. I maybe shouldn't, but, the superintendent at Oakmont at the time, his name was John Zimmers. He was local here, somewhat to our office, just from up the road in Tyrone, P.A.. But I'll tell you what. That guy, his team was sharp, and they were his assistants, all the all the suppliers as well. Right? We weren't the only group there. We had chemical suppliers there. We had, volunteers there. Show up at 3 a.m., mowed and prepped the entire golf course. Everything. There was not a square foot of of, area that was not prepped on that golf course before the sun came up every morning and every piece of equipment was was then prepped, sharpened, if needed. Any repairs needed was parked for the next shift. In the evening, did the same thing all over again. And, those those groups taught me a lot about organization because you wouldn't again, you wouldn't think it you walk into the equipment shed like, oh, yeah, here's some fancy mowers, right? Here's some, some bunker rakes here, some tractors, aerators, blowers, all the all the components that they need to make this happen. But when you actually see how they orchestrate the work and how everybody has a task, every task has a detailed process to it. You don't just go out and mow grass. You go out and mow grass that's it. You're that is not even close to what happens, out here in these facilities and these golf courses. So, but I think it was it was fantastic. And I, you know, obviously talk a lot about Oakmont. Worked with Jason over Fox Chapel, worked with some guys at the Pittsburgh Field Club. We had a seventy-two county territory with John Deere golf. So we were in Ohio, P.A., West Virginia, and covered a huge, huge geography. so that was it was a great time. I think you actually went to one of our facilities down in West Virginia. Yes. Stonewall Jackson.

Bill: Yep. That was on the way to my in-laws for a, some type of holiday. And we stopped there with the kids. We were, I think it was right around Christmas. So we obviously. And I wouldn't have partaken of golf just because that that's not my thing. But, if I see a patch of grass that is like, it looks nice, I want to put a fence around it and put cattle on it. That's kind of my approach to, looking at those type of things. Not I'd hit a ball and chase it. But God bless all those who like, like that sport. so it.

John: It was great. I do want to throw a request out there since we're recording this, we we did actually line up during the, the Women's Open and the senior PGA and, lined up all the mowers on the fairways, and we had, I think at Fox Chapel, we had maybe 13 or 14 mowers going at the same time. At Oakmont, I think we had 22, 25 mowers on the ground. And they line them up like you would see, like in the Deere commercials with the combines running through the fields right. But for golf, you don't see that kind of thing often. So if any of the supers out there have one of those photographs, I would love to have a copy. So reach out to us here, contact form, hit my email or whatever. Find me on LinkedIn in a couple days because I need to update my LinkedIn profile. But, love to have love to have a copy of one of those pictures. So anyway, so that's just a personal request out there for the for the audience, I guess.

Bill: So, John, that also highlights, you know, just how much we've seen marketing change. So sometimes when I talk about our history, with the kids or with somebody, they're like, well, where are the photos? Where are all of the selfies, where all the videos? And, so you and I go back to a time in the prior century and just the turn of the century where, you know, and the young people, if any of the kids are watching, we didn't have, phones with 19 cameras on them. Right. And, yeah, all the availability. So, like, we actually had to pay somebody to come out and take pictures. So we don't have those things, from our past. Yeah I would love to have some pictures of, you know, I, helped, my father with some mining reclamation projects, in my, youth, run, like, D8 dozer, running some rock trucks? Those are things I'll remember forever, because I'm still, a little bit nervous when I think about what I did with that D8. And the one hillside that was basically vertical, and I felt like I was going to flip the thing. But no, dad said there was no possibility of that. He was right. But it still made me nervous. Well, when we look at our history, I mean, we have a lot of experience in, manufacturing a lot of experience in sales forces. You ran the golf sales force. I ran a sales force as a sales manager for about three years. About 40 people. So I think that's another experience that's helped us understand how marketing and sales needs to work together because we can't operate in silos. The the path to purchase, for these buyers is no longer, you know, marketing just does some messaging. And then you meet the sales person at the trade show and then they show up. Yeah, that model is dying. 86% of the buyer's journey happens online before the, the client contacts the company or the company salesperson BDR, SDR, whatever title you give them and the online buyer's journey has to happen. One of the things I think that many companies and many individuals are struggling with is if they don't understand the traditional buyer's journey and what we're trying to replace, it's very difficult for them to develop that online buyer's journey and meet those customers, those potential clients, with the information they need. When they want it, where they want it, and how they want it, because they don't necessarily know what that client is looking for. And when we look at the fact that we don't have those industrial sales reps who have 30 years of experience anymore to help us understand that buyer's journey and understand what we need to provide online. And then we have these younger generations who are doing amazing work, innovating and doing podcasts and and producing reels and, and doing all the modern things. We still have to get back to the basics of providing that information online in a way that they want to see it, how they want to see it, where they want to see it, when they want to see it, and making sure they then see us as that authority, for solving their problem. So I think our experience with the sales teams helps us more rapidly deliver marketing results or marketing, projects and marketing execution that is more seamlessly integrated with sales enablement, for our clients than maybe, some of our competitors or some other folks in the market. John, when you think about product market fit for John Deere and the golf products and then, you know, we were representing the manufacturer and then you had to send out that sales team. What were the things they had to do that maybe we wouldn't do today that we would do digitally? I'm just thinking out loud about this. I mean, back then, I still remember the day we bought the brand new truck and trailer. It was sitting out here in the parking lot. We bought, like three of them. And it wasn't, what, 15 minutes later, we won't name the person Kent.  Who called and said he had already wrecked it and had smashed up the tailgate. So the old way was drive the mower to the golf course. Let them demo it.

John: Yup. Demos, demos, demos. We hosted events. I remember hosted events down at, near Nemacolin. Several demo events locally here not too far from where we are used to be. We went to Champion Lakes little demo facility there. And it was all about you had to get people in the seat, right? You had to take take you to process your equipment in our case, to that facility and again, demo it onsite. Tradeshows. Oh, my word trade shows. We had the local, local, shows here, geographically Mid-Atlantic shows. We had the national GIS show, which still happens. And that was a solid, solid week, right? You're preparing. You're getting the sales team ready. Okay. What are our talking points? What are the new equipment? What in John Deere’s case, what equipment is in the booth that we have to talk about to our clients? Oh, yeah. And, yeah, just a massive commitment of of time and effort. And I'll say this, expensive. I mean, you spend a week in San Diego near the gaslight quarter. That's an expensive week. Same thing. You spend the weekend in Las Vegas? At the conference center there for GIS. Orlando. Of course, we went to Orlando twice. And, as you know, family and kids, you can't go to Orlando without adding some other activities to the stack. So, you know, your, 4 or 5 day golf trip extends into, you know, to the GIS show extends into, oh, let's go down early and do this and the and and do this, which is great, great family time. But yeah, huge commitment of of time and resources and physically being on site. Right. You had to press the flesh and show up with that, with that equipment. So I'll go back to even some of our, our dealer days. I'll give you a shout out here. We did, and when we look at our, our retail locations for John Deere, early on, people would show up at the dealership having no idea. Yeah, I just need a tractor. Right. And we started, you know, we did the flier development and we started basically like, that was really an educational process for our potential customers as to what existed. And features and accessories existed on those equipment options. And as they came to to our locations, our sales team, I'm sure you remember this would say, yeah, they come in, holding this, you know, our fliers or whatever in their hands. Like, I want this. And our sales team was like that's fantastic. I mean, I can sell you that.

Bill: That was an early form of content marketing where we really, you know, it was direct mail based so we we sent over a half billion pieces, in that period. And, we were educating the market, not online, but on mailbox, I guess, with that information. So went from showing up and saying, hey, I need a lawn mower to, yeah, I'm looking at these two models because of such, such and such options and these price points, and we really accelerated that buying process. And and when you look at that, you know, let's talk about that John Deere history. We developed a marketing strategy. We also developed a distribution strategy and an operations strategy that we tied together that allowed us to become the number one compact tractor dealer for John Deere in the world, seven years in a row with, consistent, double-digit compound, annual sales growth over that seven year period. And, you know, that was when I look back at that experience and recognize that we, we had marketing and we had sales aligned, and we also had operations and distribution aligned. That was just an amazing period of productivity and growth, because we were able to create that alignment. And I think when you look at what we're doing today and what we can help other companies do is we understand that alignment needs to occur. If marketing's over here doing its own thing and sales is over here doing its own thing, and the manufacturing capacity isn't there, or the raw materials supply isn't there. You have, ops can't execute. All of those things have to be aligned. And that seems so simple. But it's one of the things I observe as I talk to a lot of these potential clients and talk in the marketplace is that's usually what executives and management is struggling with, is creating that alignment. Also, right. We need product market fit. We need market demand. We need product market fit, and we need some other things to fall in line. But if you have a market demand and you have product market fit but then you don't have alignment between those departments., you're not going to see success and we've experienced that time and time again. Found a real nice run for the seven years with John Deere, that we really executed well. And, and they executed well on their supply side, which some, many times was not, true of their, product performance and their delivery performance. But during that time, it was very, advantageous for us in our market. But yeah, I think when you look at those experiences and what we've been able to, bring together, then, you know, as we kind of shift, not only from an alignment and from maybe a more macro sense of business and understanding it to down to the technical delivery of the the playbook that we've developed over the past. You know, we've been doing this for 18 years, but really the past five years, we've really dialed in this playbook and scaled it really, really well. I think we're starting to see, this technical delivery that we're bringing in this portfolio of marketing services that are of benefit to manufacturing and B2B service companies, that we would have really loved to have had at any point in time during our history of operating those businesses.

John: Yeah, absolutely.

Bill: I still remember day like, I remember one of my first projects was cutting out, like, little things and taping them on a document that was then delivered to, one of the graphic design houses. This was like in ‘98, and then they did the graphic design work for a flier that that's how my kids will be making fun of how old dad is. Kids, if you want to see something like that, it's at the Smithsonian. That's where it exists. And, that's the only place you can find it with a rotary phons we used to use. Well, the the other things I think that or and, John, like you said, we could talk a lot about a lot of these things for hours and hours and hours and, I'm sure many people would then pay for us not to talk about them. So maybe that's an angle. It would be.

John: That's our next marketing strategy there. Yeah. yeah. This this price level, this engagement gets you one conversation. But if you go lower, it gets you more conversation.

Bill: That's right. our first podcast episode, Dennis Thomas, the CEO of Brechbuhler said the worst part of marketing was talking to me on a regular basis. So maybe there's some type of trend we're recognizing in the market that's very important.

John: No, I like Dennis. Dennis, hit me up. We'll start a support group for those who have to talk to Bill on a regular basis. It is a growing audience. I'm sure we can get some. We'll get some t-shirts made, you know, come up with a nice acronym, so. Yeah. Dennis, hit me up. Exactly. Yeah. We'll, we'll get something started there. I love Dennis, he's a good dude. 

Bill: So John, Whenever we look at, this conversation, maybe we bring it back to where we started the conversation about our roles today. So, as we think about the vision of 50 Marketing in helping manufacturers and B2B companies grow their companies grow their initiatives with marketing. And then we think about your role in developing playbooks and the processes and the SOPs and the production ability of our group to execute that in an efficient fashion for these companies. You know, that's I think that I think that's what they wanted us to talk about today. And then, you know, we we're all over the place. yeah. One of the producers is is waving at me, like, right now, the the point. What's this mean? Oh, okay. Wrap it up. I see, I see, no, but,

John: I think that’s  gets it back on. Get back on track. Get back on track, John. Yes. Start. Stop talking about the old stuff. Start talking about how our experience. Right. And how we we understand supply chain because we live supply chain. Right? Yeah, we understand B2B. We understand distribution because we lived it. and are living it still today. So I think that, Bill, I’d say this, I think that's really what, what kind of separates us from other, other agencies, you know, lots of talk. But honestly, we're we truly did live it. I mean, we lived, we know how to grow. We had to know how to grow a business. We did it. We know how to, you know, automate systems. We did it. We are doing it. And I think that's, I don't know. Is that, our a differentiating point. Maybe. To us, it's just a reality. It's just our, you know, our experience and what brought us here today, basically. And I think why I think if, if we asked ourselves the question, we would say, yeah, we actually prefer to work with manufacturers. We prefer to work with B2B companies. We prefer to work with, you know, product distribution companies because we relate, we understand it, we get it. And, you know, we can have a shorthand conversation about, you know, supply chain, whatever, because we we've lived it. 

Bill: No, I think that that's right on because the I think there are many people in our space and, you know, you watch other podcasts, you talk to other people at these shows or you just, you know, kind of get the vibe from their YouTube videos and they're very good at what they do very technical, understand Facebook, understand LinkedIn and in some cases are probably technically may have more proficiencies in some areas than we do. But from a if you don't understand what you're trying to do and don't understand how marketing impacts sales, operations, it doesn't matter because you're going to have so much variability. You're gonna have so much of a miss. You're going to have a missing half. I don't know if there's some way to tie that in, and I'm sure they'll tell me a way I could have done that better later. But, there there's such you're going to miss so much if you don't have that alignment and don't understand how it impacts the entire process. So I think that's that's right on as far as, one of the things that absolutely differentiates us in the market now.

John: Absolutely. And back to our our Deere experience. Right? I mean, we spent time in the source front lines with our sales team. We saw, okay, here's here's what we're saying from a marketing standpoint. Here's what sales needs from an enablement standpoint. And we draw the two together. Right. We can go back and fix it in a couple of hours. And in some cases we've seen the other side of that as well. Right. With a main mainline OEM. that doesn't always have that connection straight to the sales force, straight to the sales team, or straight to the people that needs to use that marketing sales initiative. And boy, when you talk about you can have a miss and you can have a miss in a big way and, you know, with, with timing these days, you know, back to product market fit, you have to you have to be on point when the need arises, because when your customer is ready, you need to be ready. You don't need to be ready, like, two days from now. You know, that contact form comes in, that call comes in, whatever that that, touchpoint is with your with your potential client, you just need to be ready to engage. And because they already have. Right. You touched on that earlier. Your client already knows more or less what your product is or what you've told them your product is, or what your service is. And one you need to deliver on it. But two, you need to make sure you're saying the right thing so it, you know, communicate who you are and what you do and don't have a miss because of, you know, time in the market, timing the market, whatever. But have that have your message down, have your strategy down and, just save time, right. Get closer to that transaction with your with your client, with your customer.

Bill: Well John, I think about all these experiences and, what we've been through, depending on the feedback we get, I mean, they make me go out and do these podcast episodes. I guess I was the guinea pig, but I think there's a lot of value in these conversations. And this was a very broad conversation. I think in the future, we need to dial into some conversations about some very specific technical topics that would be valuable, because we truly live it. So we're always talking about how do we have these goals and what we're trying to delight our clients with and how, we're trying to deal with our own production and operational efficiencies and integration because we we kind of treat what we do on the production side of this business like a factory. I mean, we always talk about the, conveyor belt that is moving from our client’s need back, you know, through our production line and back on the other end to deliver, the results we want for our clients. So I think there's a lot of parallels there. And that's just another testament to the way we look at marketing, the way we look at processes. It's it's very much aligned with the manufacturing process.

John: No, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And what's also nice is we have an amazing creative team as well. Right. So we're not just numbers and zeros right. So we don't just like move stuff etc. I mean it's efficient the way we move it. But at the same point, I think we need to give a little shout out to our creative team as well. They, they do some they do some awesome work in that same vein. 

Bill: Yeah I don’t know they're going to be on the podcast, John, so we didn't have to mention them. So they're good. They they don't like to talk on this level. So. But you're exactly right, John. But you know, there's a process there. But the process allows efficiency so that then experts and artists and creatives and those folks can do their art, can do their, process that is much more variable and has to, have a lot more, opportunity for variability and much more opportunity for creativity. And, yeah, that's an important part of it. Well, now two people are, pointing to their watches and one person is joining, in the producer's seat. So I guess it's time for us to wrap it up. Well John, thank you for, being part of this today. I think this type of discussion will help our clients understand who we are, understand a little bit more about our backgrounds and, where we come from, which is very similar to where our clients are most likely living today. And I think this will be, very helpful in, just kind of, bridging a gap maybe between the marketing people and the manufacturing people, because we are both of them. And, we understand that. So, thank you for joining us today.

John: Not a problem, Bill. As usual, just down the hall. Always willing to help. I'll find another way to, get something else out of you since you got me on the podcast. So don't worry. We got our list here in the back pocket. We'll, yeah. How about, well, we'll talk about creative briefs. Maybe the next time, some of our detailed, SOP processes. But, no, this has been, it's been a good chat. Long time coming. Right? We're of course, excited that we finally have our our podcast series and episode up and running. And a big shout out to Mr. William here, because if he was not the host, it would have to be me. And that would not probably go quite so well.

Bill: It's all good, right? We all find our swim lanes or are forced into whatever we're forced into. Reluctantly or not, by those, the powers that be. All right, well, thank you for joining the Missing Half podcast. We appreciate those of you who have, listened in. Once again, we're discovering what's missing in manufacturing and B2B marketing. Had John McDowall with us, our CTO. And, we'll see you next time. Thank you.

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