Growth Marketing Camp
Growth Marketing Camp

Episode 39 · 1 year ago

Joseph Lewin’s Journey to Marketing through Travel Blogging in Africa


What was the journey that led you to marketing? Joseph Lewin, Marketing Manager at CADENAS PARTsolutions, went from traveling and blogging in Africa to creating social media content for small businesses, and ultimately to marketing 3D shape search tools to engineers. Joseph shares his unique take on industrial marketing, and how you need to master writing “no fluff” content in order to reach a highly technical audience. Tune in and enjoy!

Welcome to growth marketing camp, or we sit down with our favorite marketers to do mystify growth and give you the insights to help turn your next campaign into a major success. Let's get into it. Good afternoon, Ladies and gentlemen. This is bobby and Nurrag, your host of growth marketing camp. I'm incredibly excited today to welcome Joseph Lewin, marketing manager at Kadinas part solutions, to the show. Joseph, welcome to growth marketing camp. Yeah, Bobby, thanks for having me. Really looking forward to our conversation. Is going to be fun. Yeah, me too. You know, one of the things that got me incredibly excited to have this conversation today's is when I was doing my background, I saw that you have a extensive previous history as a travel blogger, and one of the things that's so fascinating to me about this is that you are now marketing manager at Kadinas part solution, and wondering if it's a coincidence that you're now, you know, in marketing, or if somehow your experience as a traveler, blogg or photographer, if those had played any type of role and either leading you to this type of position or perhaps are influencing this position that you're taking now. Do you do you mind maybe taking a couple of minutes and sharing a little bit about that background and perhaps how it's sort of led to where you are today? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I guess another interesting note that you know up to take you from further down to figure out is while I was doing the travel blogging kind of on and off, my wife and I would use a nurse and I was actually sweeping chimneys, which is very is just seasonal job. It's a sales oriented job. So I would work about six months out of the year doing that and, you know, mix a good chunk of money, and then we would travel and, you know, do do some of this other stuff more like as a hobby in a sense, and travel around. I mean that's why I'm in marketing, is because of that. So I guess the best place to start off with that would be my wife started an organization in Kenya, so I started out doing video, which is kind of where my my launch into the marketing world really happens. So in two thousand and twelve I went on a trip with her and we took a bunch of photos of these kids that we were raising money to help. And then in two thousand and fourteen, we went and lived in Kenya for six months and we started doing a lot of video of the project to raise money, and then we went and traveled Europe after that for about a month. We straight we were traveling around and we were taking pictures in exchange for places to stay or yeah, and then the following year, in two thousand and fifteen, we took another trip to different parts of Africa and we ended up saying this place that was absolutely epic. It was fifteen hundred dollars a night to stay in this in this it wouldn't even call it a hotel. It was like a paradise resort and ZAN's bar off the coast of Tanzania, Yep, and it was just the most beautiful place I've ever been. But we just did a couple videos and some photos and exchange for staying there for a few nights and they wind and diness. There was totally ethic. That is awesome. But then that kind of transition into my wife had some different products that we wanted to to get, so we reached out to these product companies and we were like, Hey, we've been doing this for hotels. Can we trade you in exchange for your products and exchange, we're doing content for you. So we started doing some product videos that way and then that kind of transition me into creating social media content for small businesses. So I started a business doing that for a little while and I started to realize that these companies didn't have a content problem, they had a marketing problem. They didn't really have a strategy for even using content that I was creating for them, and so to me I was starting to feel a little bit bad that I'd create this video and nobody would ever see it and I'm like, well, what's the point of that? So I started really digging into marketing, messaging and positioning and I actually created this process called the brand compass to help small businesses find a niche and focus on their positioning and having unified messaging across their business as that they could really attract the right kind of customers. Awesome. Yeah, so that...

...kind of led me, you know, all of that experience led me to having a pretty decent portfolio. So and I applied to work here at Cantina's part solutions, and it was really my portfolio of passwork that got me the position to be the product marketing manager there, because we're a small company and so we have to be really agile on our marketing team and you've kind of got to be able to do a little bit of everything, and I totally had a background and just about a little bit of everything. See, yeah, that let me be work in here. It's just a big change from small business marketing over to marketing engineers and industrial manufacturers. Yeah, it also has a slight change from probably an afternoon on the waterfront and Zanzibar as well. But that's pretty incredible and I think what you're saying about needing to wear multiple hats and smaller company and just having your hands and in several different things is an important point too, and it's cool to hear that. You know, some of your experience and having done many different types of things related to marketing probably make you pretty effective at wearing multiple hats and caring certain disparate responsibilities within your marketing organization. Let's talk a little bit about codinis part solutions, because I don't know that we've spoken to a ton of marketers who specialize or execute industrial marketing and so I'd love to maybe just start by asking you a little bit about Your Business and who your customer is, and we can certainly then maybe dig in a little bit into industrial marketing as a practice as well, but maybe we can just start with the basics. Tell me about your company and who you're selling to today. Yeah, so we have two products with very different audiences. So the first one, which is where I started, is it's an engineering software product, so it supports engineers and then also the procurement department at companies that have an engineering team. And basically that product is a d shape search tool. So when an engineer creates a D model of a part that they need to use in a design that they're creating. So if they are in automobile manufacture, they have engineers that are working on the door panel and then in the door panel you have custom design metal pieces, but you're also going to have lots of motors and gears and all kinds of different stuff. So the challenge comes up where engineers aren't able to find stuff that they've used in the past because you're not searching based off of text, you're searching based off of the shape and there's not really a good way to do that without having a tool like ours. So our three D shape search tool allows engineers enables engineers to find d models of things that they've created in the past as they can reuse it and it saves them a lot of time where they have to recreate the wheel essentially. And then also there's a lot of things that happen to that D model after the engineer is done that have to happen with procurement and storing, imatory and all kinds of different things, so that more that you can reuse those parts, the more money your company can save, kind of compounding even after it leaves engineering. And then our other products. It's called ECATALOG solutions. It's an industrial marketing tool. Essentially industrial marketers are are ideal customer. There's going to be industrial marketers at manufacturing companies that create components, so that would be companies that create motors and bearings and actuators, and in the industry they're called cots parts, so commercial off the shelf parts. So it's going to be a part where an engineer it doesn't make sense for them to design that internally. They're not going to have necessarily the expertise to design that and it doesn't have enough impact on the design to be worth them manufacturing it themselves. So then they're going to purchase that from a third party vendor and bring those parts in. So what our tool does is we embed a product configurator on these industrial marketers websites so that an engineer can go to their website, configure a custom product exactly how they need it and then download a cad model or d model of that part to put into their design. And basically cuts out a huge amount of the process for an engineer to get access to the information they need. So they need certain information and they need that CAD model to use this company's part and to purchase it from them. In the past it have to call in and wait...

...for somebody to get back to them. Sometimes they take twenty four hours and sometimes it would take up to like three or four weeks to get an answer back, whereas this way the engineer can go to the site, can figure this exactly how they need it, download it instantly and then the manufacturing company gets a sales qualified lead from that because this person is gone to their site and said I'm going to put this part into my design. So they're highly qualified at that point. That's pretty cool. I mean both of those are really fascinating products. I mean I can't imagine a more high intent prospect than one who's literally configured the manufacturers product and downloading the cab model. I mean that's got to be a high value lead at that point, which I think is totally fascinating. And I got to be honest, with the initial product that you mentioned, just had a curiosity. So is this predominantly like an internal repository, I if I'm a manufacturer, or if I'm like, is this basically for me to organize my own cat drawings and parts that I've manufactured? Yeah, that's a great question. So that's kind of where our the two sides of our business tie together. So it's both. You can, okay, index your internal database so that you can find internally designed parts, but then you can also choose supplier catalogs from our list of manufacturers that are customers on the other side of the business. God, we have, I think actually a total over threezero supplier catalogs and in various ways that you can get access to brilliant and over eight hundred of those are certified that we've actually created that firsthand with that manufacture, and yeah, I have a proved that. Like, yes, what you see is what you're going to get, essentially with those models. So it just makes it easier for the engineer on both sides, both when they're getting it internally and when they need to go outside to get a vendor part. It's fascinating. I appreciate you providing a little bit of background on that. Tell me about your market. Is it fairly competitive? Is The market aware solution like yours, like, how mature is it? I guess I mean just high level, like what's your assessment of your market, both from a addressable market standpoint as was competitive standpoint? Yeah, so on the engineering software side we definitely have competitors. It's not a super competitive market, but people don't understand that they need this tool and they don't understand why they need it. And our competitors are not directly competing with us, but it's more other companies that are much bigger than us, like fortune ten and fortune fifty, companies that promise to solve this problem and a completely different way and they don't. You know, they do a lot of other things with their software. That's great, but they don't solve this problem. But we're coming in as a tiny company comparatively and saying, Hey, you should use us to solve this problem for you, when you're, you know, vendor that you use for all this other stuff is telling you that it's you know, that that their solution is going to work better than ours. So, you know, it's more of having to change the way that people think, which in some ways I don'tmost rather have competitors. Yeah, yeah, then to have to create, you know, essentially we have to try to create more demand for that product and total I think that's a much bigger challenge in some ways. Yeah, well, decent sychway here, because industrial marketing is markedly different than or, at least to me as a toltal, a new beat to it. It definitely has the unique aspects of it. Maybe you could take a second for our audience to maybe just compare and contrasts industrial marketing for manufacturers, to maybe perhaps what I would imagine a majority of our audience is typically doing with you know, more I don't know if project connent traditional beauty marketing is a way to describe it, without giving due credit to industrial marketing. But I think you understand the nature of my question. Yeah, so, I mean I think it depends on what side of industrial marketing you're in. We would really focus more on the component manufacturers for that second product that he catalog solutions, and that's really where we be considered more industrial marketing. The other side, where marketing to engineers, there is some overlap, but it's more like our customers are the engineer on the one side and then we're working directly with those same engineers for something completely yeah, on both sides of that it you're working with highly technical audiences. I...

...think that it's both a blessing and a curse. You know, on the one side, you can't just write any fleff content that you want and expect it to do well and you're going to get called out if you do something totally off base. In that world, people are a lot more willing to roll you over something you know, even a little wording it, and even over areas where there's complete disagreement. You're going to have people really getting serious. Yeah, in that space when you have super technical people like that. But then the benefit of it is if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and learn and gain a focused expertise in an area that the general market, even if they're highly technical, they're still areas where they don't really understand it. So if you can go in and you can read like research papers and if you're reading the stuff that's cited and all the online articles and then you read the stuff that those papers are citing, it's really can be hard to understand. But if you can take that and simplify it down, you can really educate that technical audience on something that they don't really understand super well, and that's really where you can win. I think, even as somebody who's not as smart as the people that you're reaching out to, if you do the research and you really dig in, you can set yourself apart big time. Yeah, I mean credibility right. I mean, like you know, we sell an email product and I can't tell you how many times as Salesperson, I'm in a room with folks who live and breathe email, and just being able to speak competently and confidently about email, which is in certain respects fairly technical, builds a level of credibility. But than me and and ultimate in the brand as well, and I imagine something set that has to be table sticks, I think if you're selling in your market, but absolutely could potentially be differentiating and add a minimum valuable in content marketing efforts is being able to tell a story in the market that's absolutely intelligent and understands like that perspective and point of view. Yeah, and it works too. I guess to kind of say what would probably be pretty different is there can be extremely long sale cycles. Okay, component manufacturing, because you're having a product, you know, so that you have motors that are being put into the door of a Ford truck that's coming out two or three years from now. You know that's no matter what you do, you're not going to speed up the sales cycle on that super far. And if you're in that component sales side of things, working for a component manufacture, you're often seen as a commodity, even if your part is actually different. Yeah, kind of lumped in as a commodity part. So you have to really work hard to figure out how to differentiate your products. And I think this, you know. This is where it segues, though, is instead of focusing so heavily on the product itself, where the peripheral things that you can do, or what is the extra information or extra value added things that you can do outside of the product itself that really set it apart? And I could be educational things, it could be community it could be adding extra data that other people aren't offering. It can be figuring out another service that solves another problem for the end user that nobody else is solving. Anything like that, which to me gets back to just that's just good marketing in any any vertical that you're in. Absolutely, I mean that's brand at the end of the day. Like that's always a big challenge, particular when you're selling a perceived commoditized product. Well, how do you differentiate? Will people got to want to do business with you? and that could be by arming your sales people with a tne budget or by putting the brand into the market as a leader in terms of education, in terms of knowledge, in terms of content. Certainly that is very much in line, I think, with the way that, like you said, any marketing organization will want to execute and portray themselves and the organizations that they represent. So it's really quite interesting. You know, I I want to be mindful of our time today. I'm still really fascinated by this question and sort of the alignment of industrial marketing and comparing and contrasting that to, you know, other industries, but maybe we can save that for fallowing interview. I would be remiss if we didn't have a chance to kind of dig in a little bit into you know, we typically talk about a campaign, but...

I think we want to maybe broaden the conversation a little bit here because I think you have an incredibly unique story to tell about a big problem that you observed within your organization. Why don't you describe at a high level sort of what you walked into and maybe set the stage for some of the solutions that you put forth? There are definitely differences and you can look look in and figure out the differences, but I think your best off, no matter what you're doing, to pull back away from the specifics of your industry and look at the underlying principles that don't change. You know, the Human Behavior Messaging, getting people to be emotional versus rational, even more important, I think, with engineers to do that then yeah, with anybody else, because if they get into rational mind you lose. You kind of have to break them out of that superrational thinking, and so it's really when you pull back and look at the fundamentals and then everything else is kind of tactical, you know, and you yeah, figure that out as you go along, and I think that's kind of what we did with this product when I started. So I started as a product marketing manager for our engineering software, that D shape search tool, and it's a really complicated product. Integrates with a lot of different enterprise level software as a companies that traverse multiple departments. So you have your PLM and cat systems, which are engineering focused, and then you have your p system, which is focused on procurement and supply chain. Then there's also other systems that it can integrate with, and so what was happening before is we were trying to land these really big enterprise why ideals where we're integrating with everything and trying to sell our software as this solution that fixes a bunch of different problems. And it does. I mean it really, actually truly does fix these different problems better, in my opinion, than any other solution that's out there. But the challenge is it was just too much information. So we get on these sales calls and I was listening sales calls, especially when I first started, and you could just tell, especially on video calls, you could just tell when we were losing people. And the salesperson can't always pick that up because they have to run the meeting, but as an observer you could see like ten minutes into an hour long meeting, some of these eyes glaze over and it's like yeah, yeah, and then, you know, the tendency was just try to then add more information, because the tendency was to think, well, if we're not connecting, it's because we're not telling the right pieces. So then it was almost like how can we throw all of the different features out there and one of them is bound to stick with this person? But we were confusing people and they couldn't quite grasp it was just too much, too many pieces for them to understand. So then what we were really working on was simplifying that messaging down, and we did that by interviewing customers, interviewing prospects and, you know, being on a bunch of customer calls and going in industry meetings and conferences and really trying to understand what is the one thing that our software does better than anybody else and what is the thing that's the easiest for this customer to understand? That doesn't solve all of their problems, but it solves one problem really well, and how can we connect that with them? And then the other piece of it was then, how do we bring our marketing and sales processes together and align them so that it was as easy as possible for this customer to understand what we do and then actually buy from us? Absolutely so you've basically assessed a scenario where got a pretty complex sale. We're not really speaking to customer needs, at least sort of in a incisse and digestible fashion. Yeah, I mean this is, you know, as I think is my career as a salesperson, and you know, we when we don't go in with the right discovery, a lot of times we're just sort of throwing whatever we can at the law and that's never sort of a predictable, repeatable method of closing business. So so what do you guys do about it? Yeah, and that's really, I think what I was trying to figure out when we went in is how do we create something that's repeatable? How do we create a sales and marketing process that streamlined between both wehere. The customer doesn't know when... INS and sales begins. It's just one one continuous process for them. And then how do we make that repeatable so that, you know, we can understand why we're losing deals or why we're not so yeah, when I started, our average sale cycle was eighteen to twenty four months and our goal was really to try to figure out how to reduce that and through the different things that we worked on, we've had multiple deals closed now and under ninety days from the time they hit our website and we just recently had one close and pay us within thirty five days when they hit our website. So it's a pretty significant difference just by simplifying messaging, really targeting it on specific pain points and problems and focusing there and then streamline in the process and essentially getting ourselves out of the way of the customer actually really business with us. Yeah, yeah, I mean, look, that's that's I think one of them were incredible, like stories I think I've heard and enter of these interviews is you have a process that's taking up two years and you have a scenar you're here, we're potentially getting a deal done and getting paid and just over a month. I want to ask you how the heck you do that, because I understand the concept of like speaking a message, but there's aspects of the process there that have to have changed as well to facilitate or eliminate that type of friction. So I understand the point of talking to the customer and really clarifying the message, but what are some of the other mechanics that were at play that allowed you to have that big of an impact? Yeah, and let me clarify too. So we aren't necessarily doing the same dullar amount in thirty days as we would have in the two year project. Okay, so we're guaranteed that that person is now with us, we're implementing our software on premis with them and have a road map to grow into that much larger deal. And so, I mean it does two things. One is we're able to serve them a lot faster. Ultimately, so they're able to start seeing the benefits of what our software does in, you know, ninety days, sometimes ninety two days too, you know, a hundred eighty days, depending on their implementation and how complicated is the starting to really start to see benefits wherea's before we're talking about two years. Then with the implementation it could be another two years, yeah, before they really start seeing benefit, and then by the time they actually get to the point of seeing benefit, they might not have gotten enough wins to continue that project. So this is also a recipe for keeping people longer. If I just want to clarify, it's not necessarily that we're doing the same, you know, the same level of deal up front, and that was kind of I think one of the big things that we did is so we simplified it down to focus on one area, and that of saying we're going to solve all the problems that you have, and you know, all the problems in the world. We're saying we're going to do this one specific thing and we're going to show you how you do that and there are some other things that we can do for you in the long run, but we're going to start with this piece. And then the other piece of it was splintering off the offering and trying to figure out what is the smallest thing that we can offer that gets this person to be a customer. And you know, if you work in the enterprise world, it can be really hard to become a vendor and to get an India sign and so even once you've decided you're going to do the deal and then you're going to do an India, you know that can really hold out the process. So we started thinking, what is the thing that we can do that can get them to sign an Ndia with us? And in some ways that's worth more than having them pay US money because we know we're a trusted advisor at that point. We're now on the vendor list. You know we're kind of trusted at that point. So instead of doing all of our demos in person, we do some of them in person, but we actually recorded our demo and we put it on the website for people to be able to access and see, because we've kind of found that when they can actually visualize our d shape search in action, they like it and it's cool, Yep, but when we just talked about it in a demo it didn't really do as much and we're able to show that much more effectively in a fifteen minute demo that way than an hour long demo live. And then after they watch that, then they get on the sale, the call with my with my sales guy and he does more discovery and really tries to understand and, you know, customize what we're doing specifically to them. But then it was really the next piece that that we've seen the biggest difference in, and that was that's where our splinter off for came in. And so we discovered that if we can... show them the d search working on their own parts, that that makes a huge difference. So they saw it now with the with the demo, and they were like wow, that's cool, but with this really work for my stuff? So then after that discovery call, we have a five hundred parts demo. So we just say hey, you sign an India with us, you send us five hundred of your parts, we're going to index them and then give you a demo with your team. We don't charge you anything to do that. And then as soon as they sign the NDA and they send us their parts, they're essentially a customer at that point, or pretty close to being a customer, much closer. And then after that we really shoot for more of a pilot type program with them. So instead of saying okay, now we're going to do five hundred thousand dollars in sales with you, guys this year we do, you know, fifteen to fiftyzero pilot depending on their scenario, and it's so much easier and so much less risky for them to make that jump. And I think you know it's kind of a combination of all of those different pieces. Yeah, I'm really making it more based on how does this person buy versus how do we want to sell to them, and you kind of making that mindset shift. I think is made a really big difference. Yet the three big things that jumped out to me and we just share. Number one is again like what problems are we actually solving for the customer? Number two is the idea that you can land and expand. I mean, to borrow a term that we certainly use in software. I mean, I guess you're selling software's the same thing as to get that minimum commitment, build a trusted devisor relationship and then continue to perform a discovery and sell more. But then I think that the real driver there also is again time to value, like that's always going to be something that's incredibly important. Let them slily show people that your solution works and helps to solve their pain and create value for them as quickly as possible and it sounds like you all had were very successful in being able to do that. I mean what type of impact? I mean, obviously cycle is a huge impact, but there any other sort of results from this that you think might be worth sharing? I mean, I don't know that anything will be more dramatic than taking a two yearlong process and turning into a thirty five day process, but what were some of the other sort of outcomes or results that were impactful? Yeah, I mean I would definitely say that that's that's definitely the biggest one. Yeah, and to me, what I'm always trying to do is, you know, obviously I believe in capitalism and making money and I don't have a problem with that. So this isn't coming from, you know, a position of not being against companies making revenue or something, but I think that if we focus on the customer first in solving their problem, you're not necessarily going to make quota doing that this month. If you're going to build a brand, that's thing going to help you make x what you're making today and five years from now. You know, if you're just focused on how do we close more deals this month, you're not building that equity with the market and you're not building that brand reputation and you're really not looking out for the customer. And so, if we may, if we have a customer centric focus, which is how do we you know just what you just just just talked about. How do we help them win in their scenario? How do we help them get that when as quickly as possible? And part of that is selfish. So if you focus on the customer first and you really help work through from the lens of what's going to serve them, then they're going to become an advocate for you in the long run and most people are going to be your sales team. They're going to sell for you, and then that's where you get referrals, that's where you get a lot more inbound coming in and reputation is you've really helped that person to win at their job and made the risk as low as possible for them. And that's really what we've tried to create in this process is how do we eliminate as much risk from the equation as possible and make it an absolute no brainer for them to do that five hundred parts demo and then for them to take that next step like how can we make it as low barrier as possible? And that really serves them because they get the winds faster, they start seeing the value faster, they start saving money and, you know, seeing the results saving time. So by focusing on serving them, that's really, I think, what's cut that sales cycle down and helped us to make a huge change there. I... doing your one deals with my customers to make it as easy for them as possible, and I'll tell them straight up I want to see successful as your but I don't really care about this year. I care about the next decade. And if we can put this in your hands today, we can show you a value, we can make you look good while knocking it out of the park for you this year. That puts in a better position to have you be our customer for the next decade, and that's really what I'm interested in, and I think that's a mindset of viewing your your prospects and customers not just as target, you know, sales targets or targeting this account. No, but viewing them as stakeholders, similar to the way that your shareholders are. Your employees are like absolute amount of care and effort that you put forth for your own employees. I mean your business doesn't exist without your employees being happy and effective and productive. Absolutely care and effort into your customer relationships too, because God knows, we don't have businesses if we don't have you know right, customers care about working with us and that we care for as well. So it's really, really fascinating to hear that story and that transition. I think there's a number of additional follow on questions I have for you and maybe to set up follow on interview, but I absolutely want to be mindful of you being a new parent and all that comes with that. I'm a new parent myself, Jose if, I really appreciate you taking some time today to share your story as well as story of your company. I think again, it's going to be a fascinating listen for our audience. Thank you so much for joining us today. Absolutely thanks for having on, Bobby. It's been a lot of fun awesome. Thanks for listening to growth marketing camp. If you enjoyed this episode, would love it if you'd give it a quick five star rating or share it with a friend or colleague looking to give a little more inspiration for their next campaign. If you want to learn more about the company behind the show, had to open sensecom. That's OPE. En Se en secom will catch you on the next episode.

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