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A to B on Marketing to the C-Suite w/ Laurie Andres of Nord Drivesystems

Welcome back to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast! In this episode we spoke with Laurie Andres, the marketing manager over at NORD Drivesystems. Originally in IT, she started doing freelance web design on the side. Eventually she made the switch and hasn't looked back! Today, she spoke with us on her interactions with the C-suite, how easy rich media content can be, and how to do social media right! (and that comes from experience)

How to Succeed on LinkedIn

Listen to this episode to hear Laurie talk about how Nord Gear Systems has accomplished over 20,000 followers on their LinkedIn page. This is an amazing number for any company, let alone one within the manufacturing industry.  We at Foremost Media also provide social media management as one of our many marketing services. You can learn more about that here.

Time Stamps:

  • 0:00 - Introduction
  • 3:08 - Marketing 101
  • 8:17 - Rich Media Video Content/Nord's LinkedIn Success
  • 14:13 - You need to have a plan
  • 15:14 - The challenge of marketing budgets
  • 19:04 - When you approach a C-suite about extra budget, how important are the ROI numbers?
  • 22:42 - Affiliated Distributors Success
  • 26:00 - Laurie's Marketing Resources
  • 29:41 - Are there any marketing successes that you're most proud of so far?
  • 32:38 - The problems with going a 100% digital
  • 35:41 - Nord's digital marketing expansion
  • 39:04 - Data and reports are not the end all be all for everything
  • 43:26 - Parting Insights

Resources Mentioned:

Find more marketing insights and show notes here


Evan Facinger: Is there something that you wish everybody knew as a marketer in a manufacturing company?

Laurie Andres: Marketing 101. A lot of folks just don't really know what it is to do marketing and how it relates to the company as a whole.

Evan Facinger: Hey everyone. Thanks for joining us on the Foremost Media Marketing Chat podcast. We've got Evan Facinger here from Foremost Media, also Jon Ballard.

Jon Ballard: Hey Evan.

Evan Facinger: And we are excited to talk with Laurie Andres here, the marketing manager at NORD DRIVESYSTEMS. Laurie, how you doing today?

Laurie Andres: I'm doing great. How are you guys?

Jon Ballard: Good, thank you.

Evan Facinger: Good. Like I said, excited to chat. So would you mind just kind of starting the conversation off explaining a little bit about how you found yourself at NORD DRIVESYSTEMS?

Laurie Andres: Sure. So I have a bit of an interesting past in terms of career. I actually started in information technology. I provided end user support and eventually worked my way up to a sysadmin role for a CRM system. At the same time, I was also doing some freelance web design and as I started going through my career, I became more interested in the design side of things and made the decision that I wanted to switch my career from IT over to a graphics and marketing role. I was extremely fortunate that my employer at the time had a marketing assistant position available, so I expressed interest and was given the opportunity. Ever since then I've had a number of roles in both B2B and B2C environments, which ultimately led to my current position at NORD DRIVESYSTEMS as their marketing manager.

Evan Facinger: Well that's interesting. you don't hear a lot about sysadmin roles really shifting over to marketing roles a lot. I mean maybe more so now with the data and a lot of the technology that's in use in a lot of different marketing roles. But what was it that was drawing you to the marketing side of things?

Laurie Andres: Well, I think just the content in the work that I would be doing was more interesting to me. Part of that sysadmin role, well actually the large portion of that role was database administration. So my primary job was data in data out, data cleansing and that just became a constant process and I needed a little bit more. So I started with the web designing as a pastime, just decided we're going to make this switch and see how it works. And it worked out fantastically.

Evan Facinger: And it's been a good journey so far from the sounds of it.

Laurie Andres: Yeah, I've been incredibly fortunate.

Evan Facinger: And is there something that you wish just everybody that found themselves as a marketer in a manufacturing company, is there something that you wish everybody knew or just understood in general?

Laurie Andres: Marketing 101. The places that I've worked for in the past, some of them who are manufacturers, they really kind of struggled with what marketing's role is because it wasn't directly related to developing product, manufacturing, sales, fulfillment and servicing. It kind of lives in its own little world on the side and what I've experienced as a lot of folks just don't really know what it is to do marketing and how it relates to the company as a whole. A story from my past, a great manufacturer, but they weren't really sure how to give me the proper direction in order to be successful. So they essentially said "Go do marketing" which I can certainly do, but I had no idea what that meant. What are the goals, what is the C-suite's definition of success, what are the expectations of me? And I think a lot of manufacturers don't look at that as closely as they should before bringing on an internal marketing team or even hiring an agency.

Evan Facinger: Yeah. And that's a good point is that if you don't really understand marketing yourself, how can you hire somebody to do it? How can you set the proper expectations? Do you really know what you're asking somebody to do if it's just the general umbrella term of marketing? Right?

Laurie Andres: Well and these days with the digital realm expanding as much as it has, I mean that's such a broad area. Marketing can mean so many different things. So really identifying what a company needs to achieve, what their goals are and being able to effectively communicate that to their marketers or to their agency, that will make a huge impact in the return on investment that they'll get.

Jon Ballard: I had a conversation with a guy yesterday, Laurie, that actually is really interesting to me. They were using us and they were having some good success with our marketing program and so much success in fact that they decided to bring it in-house and I think they were contracted for about 15 hours a month and they went in-house with it and hired actually two full-time employees. And he said, "We really didn't gain as much traction with you guys as we did when we got the two full-time employees in." But what was interesting to me is he was comparing our 15 hours to their 80 hours a week that they just invested in employees and saying they don't-

Laurie Andres: Yeah, it's definitely not an apples to apples-

Jon Ballard: Exactly-

Laurie Andres: When you're talking internal versus agency and that's another key thing that needs to be differentiated. In the case of NORD, we use both external agencies and we also have in-house talent to create the assets that we need for our comprehensive marketing program. And I think at least for us, that is a really good balance between having someone who's working 80 hours a week, very focused on what's going on with the company and being able to do technical writing and things to a level that an agency can't be expected to do. I mean, some things can be extremely complex.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, I was just going to say, I think you need a good balance there. You know, can't be an expert at everything in the broad spectrum of marketing. So where is your need and where do you need to bring in resources for that? It's an interesting balance.

Laurie Andres: Exactly. And then bringing in the resources that can achieve those specific goals. If you want to improve your website, you might bring in a web developer or an SEO person. You're not necessarily going to bring in a person who only does graphic design 'cause they're not going to have the capabilities to deal with the development and backend side that you really need to boost your website and get more traction.

Jon Ballard: Yeah.

Evan Facinger: So would you say that's one of the biggest changes that you've seen in the overall, I guess marketing for a manufacturing company over the past few years?

Laurie Andres: Yeah, I would say for sure. And especially with digital coming to the forefront and it's no longer just, "Hi, would you like a 728 by 90 banner at the top of our website?" Now we have all kinds of different opportunities and they cost real money. So how do you balance that and get enough exposures in the areas that you need without taking away from that core business?

Evan Facinger: And on that note then, as it shifted, and kind of goes over to digital, is there anything more specific that you think everybody should be doing in the industry at least marketing-wise?

Laurie Andres: Well, the easiest thing and the thing that we've had a lot of success with is getting into rich media video content, especially. Now you don't need a $10,000 camera to shoot really good impactful content. We have our sales folks who will go out to customer visits and they can take their smartphone and get a nice short that we can use for social media for our website. And it doesn't have to be a huge production. That's another pitfall I think a lot of people run into is, "Oh, we have to script it and we have to have all of these shots and everything and have it be so grand," when you can get just as much from something that just shows a little peek into the world that the company is in and how they service the customers.

Evan Facinger: Yeah. And I think that's what a lot of people, at least from my experience, want to see anyways. Whether it's potential customers, current customers, they want to see what's actually going on, not necessarily a highly staged production video, but also employees, potential people that are going to be applying and wanting to work there. They want to see what it's actually like not so much that corporate video that you typically think of.

Laurie Andres: Exactly. And it also is a balance of what messages go onto what channels. Social media is a great example and it's interesting you bring up employees because we just had a post go out last week where one of our employees was driving down the interstate and saw a truck with a NORD drive box on the back of it and they snapped a really nice picture. It's something that isn't expected, it's something that's engaging and, "Oh hey, that's something that anyone could see while they're driving down the road." And it's just something a little bit different from the norm of here's product A, this is what product A does. It's just showing that little bit of, I guess, human element to the company and the products.

Evan Facinger: Yeah. And it shows that there's cool stuff that you work on and do and once you become part of that, once you become an employee there, if we're taking the employee standpoint, you actually build cool things you might see and care enough to take a picture of.

Laurie Andres: Exactly. Exactly. And having employee advocates, having customer advocates, they can all help provide these things too. So it's really important to build those relationships and work hand in hand with all of your partners to get a great end result.

Jon Ballard: I think one of the unique things you guys are doing over there, Laurie, that not every company is doing is you're actually trying to educate your employees on the neat things you are doing. I think some companies don't really take that time to do that. And can you explain a little bit about how that's going for you?

Laurie Andres: Sure. So we have a couple of things that we're doing. The first is we've put in place a monthly newsletter that goes to all of our internal folks and lets them know what's going on in all of the different departments. And it's not a long piece, it's a couple of real quick blurbs and some images saying, "Hey, here's what's going on in other areas of the company." And then people really have that sense of connection as opposed to us being in a silo. And that's real easy to get stuck in your silo and not see what's going on elsewhere. So we do that. We also have a social media advocacy program that we put in place so our employees can actively engage with our posts from our main page, our customer pages, our other subsidiary pages. And even if they don't choose to engage, they still can see what's going on in the whole world of NORD, showing the successes that we're having that they contribute to but don't always see.

Jon Ballard: I think it's a neat program. I mean I think a lot of bigger companies like yourselves just don't take the time to educate their rank and file employees on what's going on. And I'd imagine having your employees all get eyeballs on your social media posts and comment and engage probably drives more engagement from the end user as well just because of the way the rankings work. So-

Laurie Andres: Definitely, definitely. And I'm happy to announce that as of Monday of this week we have hit 20,000 followers to our LinkedIn page.

Jon Ballard: Wow-

Laurie Andres: So just taking that extra bit of time to cultivate those relationships really has a significant impact.

Jon Ballard: That's a big number for an industrial manufacturing company. That's amazing.

Evan Facinger: Have you been doing a lot with the paid advertising to get there or is that really just the number-

Laurie Andres: No, it is-

Evan Facinger: Employee engagement-

Laurie Andres: All have been natural with video shorts with these employee either short stories about an application or a short story about what an employee's doing as part of a company culture initiative. We just really try to show our products obviously and talk about the quality and the service and all of those things. But people are really hungry to know how that company ticks on the inside. So giving that little bit of a view into the day to day has really done a lot for us to increase engagement and following on social.

Jon Ballard: Marketing-wise, what do you think everyone in the industry could start doing in the industrial manufacturing space as far as if you had advice for somebody in the industry just starting out?

Laurie Andres: Sure. Well I think going back to my previous comment, you need to have a plan. You need to know where you're going to focus, you need to know what types of things you want to try to create and figure out the most efficient way to do that. Something we're working on with video content is just trying to get a lot of B-roll and things that we can use as the puzzle pieces to create unique video content that we can use in all of our mediums. And having that library, video and also images, has made it really easy, relatively speaking, to pull everything together and have that united front message that goes out to the world.

Evan Facinger: And speaking of easy, what do you think the biggest challenge that marketers in a manufacturing company are going to face over the next five years?

Laurie Andres: There's really two that come to mind and they're both related to digital marketing. The digital realm has brought about so many new opportunities to reach the marketplace and in a lot of cases budgets are not growing to accommodate that. So as a marketer you have to look and really prioritize and figure out what stays, what goes, what maybe gets reduced spend and try to get exposure in these new mediums without taking away from your campaigns that you've already been doing. I kind of consider that that core marketing and then having that reach out into some of these new areas, that can be a struggle because a lot of times that's not something that a C-suite or senior managers will have a lot of insight on. They just know you're coming to them with a request for tens of thousands of dollars above what you're already spending. So there's an educational aspect there, trying to make sure that the budget fits what the goals are.
And then the second part of that is just creating the assets. Do you hire an agency? Do you bring people in-house? Do you increase an in-house staff? Do you give more hours to the agency? And those decisions have to be in line with what your goals are within the timeframe or you're really going to struggle. It has to be cohesive and it's a challenge for companies because everyone's different and those answers and the decisions that are made can have such a huge impact on managing campaigns, effectiveness of campaigns and that overall return on the investment. So pre-planning, that's going to be a critical piece to be able to fit into all of these areas as digital grows.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, that's a great point. I mean there's a ton of great points in there. One of them I think too is being able to sustain the internal employees long term. When you decide to make that marketing hire and you bring it in-house instead of rely as much on an agency for example, because I think the general thought process there is then you have more ownership of it, you can control it, you've got that person working for you directly versus just the agency. But you know, you take a look at that and talk about the actual ability to sustain that hire, I think that we've all seen, especially the past couple of years is what that turnover looks like. And as people start to shift jobs and change roles, do you actually have the processes and everything else in place to be able to have the marketing hires be successful internally if you're not going to outsource it?

Laurie Andres: Exactly. Or find the balance and figure out do you need a part-time marketing person to do those kind of more involved tasks and then have the lions share go with an agency or vice versa? It depends on the complexity of the product. Our gear boxes, it's a gearbox, it's relatively simple, but we have over 20 million configurations in our standard product line. So there's no way we're going to know every minute detail. But we do want to show the world that we do have a lot of options that come standard without having the added cost of custom components, the added cost of design work and development for those things and finding what those key messages are and mirroring that in everything you do will again give you that return on investment and give you the most bang for the buck, if you will, with the resources that you have available or that you can afford.

Jon Ballard: When you approach a C-suite about extra budget, how important are the numbers, like the return on investment numbers or how hard is that to get at for you guys these days?

Laurie Andres: It's a challenge for sure. It's rare to have someone who's in the C-suite who has marketing experience. I am extremely fortunate at NORD that we do have an executive who used to work in marketing so he understands things conceptually and we're able to speak about things in detail and not hit a brick wall in that conversation. It's real easy for something to go over someone's head just because they don't have any experience with it. Their goal is to keep the company going forward to make sure people get paid, to make sure customers are satisfied.
And we as marketers kind of dig into the details and get down in the weeds for all those specifics and explaining that well we can do all those things but it's going to cost X amount. It's establishing expectations and really keeping that line of communication open. Data, yes, tracking, not everything is trackable, but anything you can do as a marketer to show that you're getting traction or that you're getting some return on investment for those dollars is just going to get that understanding at a higher level and give you a better option of getting more dollars to be able to do even more.

Evan Facinger: And I think now with the technologies in place, and we'll see how the cookieless web and things like that change a lot of this tracking ability and insights into the effectiveness of the campaigns. But even now, like you said, there's certain things you can't track as well as you'd like, you have to infer a lot of the information and the data, but at least being able to have an idea and put some numbers together I think is critical to get that buy in to have some of that why you should spend the money on this, not just the arts and crafts side of things for marketing. Yeah-

Laurie Andres: Exactly, exactly. You have to be able to show that information, whether it's hard data or whether that's trends that you're seeing and really be able to lay that out in an easy to understand format. Because most likely if you start getting into the weeds and the inner workings of how these things function and what it takes to make it happen, you're going to lose them. So you really have to stick to the bottom line and what you think we can achieve or that your company can achieve by adding a little bit more to that budget.

Evan Facinger: So in your opinion, is there anybody in that manufacturing industrial space that's just doing a great job at their marketing right now?

Laurie Andres: Yeah, the first one that comes to mind is a company called Affiliated Distributors. They're commonly known in our industry as AD, they're a distributor supplier resource network and they have a ton of information that's useful for distributors of all sizes. This is especially critical for those who are very small and don't have the ability to afford any agency hours or bring in anyone in-house and they're just stuck. They know they have to do this marketing but they don't have the resources to be able to make it happen. So AD has a portal for all of their members where they can log in, they have e-commerce data images, they have direct support for members for anything hosted on their portal. So they can say, "I've been looking at this looks interesting to me, can you help me make this happen?" And they will provide that as a part of the membership to help them set up an e-commerce site to import certain supplier data into their existing website. And it's been incredibly helpful for us and hugely helpful for distributors because it's a centralized resource where it's not just the download, they get help and get some direction on how they can be the most effective with limited resources. Another thing they have is continued education. They have incentives that go along with that to keep people learning and keep them engaged and keep them coming back and using those resources. And for us at NORD, we work very closely with them and we're getting a lot out of what they provide to suppliers that in turn goes to the distributors to help them be successful. So it really goes... it's beneficial to all sides.

Evan Facinger: Right. And I think you've heard, I mean anybody in the industry at least has heard a lot about content is king and you have to do content marketing. It all revolves around content, but useful content. I think that's the-

Laurie Andres: That's the key. Yes-

Evan Facinger: Key component there. Right? It's educational, you get the value out of it, there's some utility behind the content that you can actually use is what makes it worthwhile.

Laurie Andres: Absolutely. And then as I mentioned before, more of that experience marketing where you're showing an application or you're showing, in our case we have had gear boxes that have come back for their routine maintenance and we just show someone in our service department working on one of the gear boxes. It's something that if you aren't an employee you don't have visibility into. And we're showing that and giving people that experience of how things work on the back end to make sure our customers are taken care of and that they're happy with the product and happy with how we're taking care of them.

Evan Facinger: And speaking of educational content then, is there certain resources that you're drawn to that you read regularly to get some of your marketing information from?

Laurie Andres: Well, I try not to focus on the same resources all the time. They can tend to make you think a certain way or even if it's a completely unbiased resource, it's really good to get different points of view on the same topics. So I tend to jump around quite a bit. But I do have a few go-to resources, some of which the Association for Strategic Marketing, Social Media Today. HubSpot has a great marketing blog and also the Content Marketing Institute. Those resources have been extremely helpful and of course you guys at Foremost Media have also helped us out a lot to really craft what we're doing and put our best foot forward.

Evan Facinger: Okay, happy to hear that. Yeah, I think those are all good places to get information. And you said it best, you can't just rely on one source because one source a lot of times does have an agenda, even if it's mostly unbiased, there's a certain area or expertise of marketing that they might lean towards or there's a software that they're selling that it all kind of wraps up to. But just getting those differences of opinions. Because a lot of times we hear it a lot, at least on our end, where a best practice gets implemented from a blog article. Right? Somebody wrote a blog article with the best practice that gets copied from other places and people just take it as law-

Laurie Andres: Right-

Evan Facinger: As something that you have to do. But sometimes it's not the best way to go. You have to-

Laurie Andres: Exactly. You know? And you-

Evan Facinger: consider different opinions.

Laurie Andres: Have to always remember that behind every blog, behind every white paper is a human and that human has opinions and if you take a look around, look at other resources, I will have random things pop up in my LinkedIn feed that I'll click into and just see what it's about and see what's out there. So I really try to keep an open mind and really actively keep an eye out for things that are interesting or that maybe of use in the future. There's so many resources out there, take it all in and figure out what works for you.

Evan Facinger: Right. And the good ones are actually written by humans as opposed to AI. Right?

Laurie Andres: Absolutely, 100%-

Evan Facinger: Hopefully with the recent Google update here that they'll be less and less of those being found. But I guess that remains to be seen right now.

Laurie Andres: Definitely, you know, the technology is coming a long way and as marketers we have to sift through everything and figure out what works for our company. It's not law, blog A, blog B, none of it's law. It's all information that we take and we figure out based on all of those recommendations, what works for our company. Because no company is the same as the other. Right? They're all very unique. And while there are guidelines that can be followed and that we do follow as marketers, there's nothing that says you can't think outside the box.

Evan Facinger: Exactly. And the best practices should be used as more starting points versus being written in law-

Laurie Andres: Exactly.

Evan Facinger: Yeah.

Laurie Andres: Exactly.

Evan Facinger: So is there any, I guess, marketing successes that you're most proud of so far throughout your career?

Laurie Andres: Yeah. The one that I would say I'm the most proud of is I had worked for a dealer with many manufacturers that we sold their products and something that we didn't have that was strong was a formal co-op program. We kind of had done things loosely with, "Hey, do you want pages of ads in our catalog? Oh we could do this on our website." Myself and our merchandising manager at the time actually sat down, went through all of this feedback, looked at the things that people were the most interested in doing and we formalized a co-op program with discounted ad packages for print, for event marketing, for website advertising.
We had an entire à  la carte menu where they could choose a showcase banner on a website or a brand page. And it really gave the manufacturer one, ideas to get the gears turning and two, to generate that ad revenue and have it be not just dollars coming in. The manufacturers actually got a really good value for it. And that program took off and has generated a lot of exposure and a lot of dollars that really helped the company get a leg up in terms of being able to get into more comprehensive marketing.

Evan Facinger: Well that's great. It's good to see those things resonate, right? 'Cause a lot of times you have the ideas you work on and you build it and then sometimes just things don't seem to hit as much as you think they would. So the fact that they're excited about everything, been showcasing for it. Yeah, that's a great success.

Laurie Andres: Yeah. And listening to your customers, listening to your suppliers, that's huge. Internal customers, external customers... I always joke with people and say, "You can never send me too much feedback because everything I do as a marketer is to serve our internal customers, employees, and our external customers. And without that feedback we'd just be in the dark." And I like educated guesses. I don't like all out guesses.

Evan Facinger: Well, and it's good to get the information so that you know what to use with it.

Laurie Andres: Exactly.

Evan Facinger: So success-wise, I guess, it's good you have that, what about failures, I mean, I guess is there a failure that you've learned the most from?

Laurie Andres: Yeah, it's an easy one and something that a lot of folks have kind of fought with over the last several years, which is going a hundred percent digital. We had had a campaign with one of our manufacturers where the idea was, "Let's go a hundred percent digital because it's trackable. We're going to get more placements." Everything that comes with digital advertising. We rolled it out. We probably had twice as many individual placements as we did with a mix of print and digital. And it absolutely tanked.
I mean, even the digital ads didn't perform as well as they had when it was paired with print advertising in the corresponding trade publications. And that was a big eye opener for us. We weren't really sure what to expect, but we figured we'd give it a shot. And yeah, it really did not go well to the point that we actually had some calls from customers asking if we were going out of business because we had stopped placing print ads in some of the publications. And that was a part of this, a hundred percent digital and a part of it, just our overall marketing strategy. But perception in the marketplace is critical. And making rash decisions to pull out of a publication or to pull out of advertising on a website for people who go to those resources frequently, that can put up a red flag.

Evan Facinger: Yeah. I mean, you have to be where the eyeballs are. And as much as the digital adoption really has taken place, and probably the fast forward button the past couple years for sure, there's still eyeballs in other places. And sometimes digital is crowded, you don't see as much from it. So we're a digital marketing company, obviously. Right? So I'll be the first to admit, we're probably biased when it comes to how we feel about digital marketing and everything. But at the same time, you have to recognize the value of some of the off digital channels, whether it's print, publications, events, all of those. It's just got to be part of your overall blend of how you're going to get in front of the right people.

Laurie Andres: Definitely. And that doesn't always mean that print is the answer. It could be different mediums that becomes your blend. In our case, we still had a lot of customers who got the book in their hand and wanted to flip through it. Different industries may be completely comfortable going with all digital just at that time, didn't have success with it.

Evan Facinger: So what channels are you really focused on right now?

Laurie Andres: Biggest thing we're working on at NORD is expanding digital presence. We've done a lot of work on the user experience for our website. We're bringing very targeted email campaigns into the mix as opposed to those more general marketing type emails. Obviously a lot of work on the social media side, trying to get advocates both internally and externally to bring us these ideas and things that we can show the world to give them a good idea of who NORD is as a company and how we work to service the customers and how strongly we feel about making sure that customers are happy.

Evan Facinger: Yeah. And that's what you have to do. And I think that with trade shows kind of coming back, you have your... I guess, how are your expectations this year compared to the past couple of years?

Laurie Andres: Well, it's been interesting the last couple of years we have had some shows that there were so many people there, we couldn't believe it. We were shocked. And then two months later we'd go to a show for a different industry and it would be a ghost town. So the perception of attending the shows and where the value is is very industry specific and obviously dependent on business environments and how the world is operating. Obviously the last few years have been a bit of a challenge and some folks are, "I got to get this business done, I'm showing up." Others are a little more hesitant and they look at getting their information online as opposed to in person. Even with our sales side of things, some folks prefer to just send an email and some people want you to physically be there to talk through all of the challenges and figure out how we can help.

Evan Facinger: Well, and it goes back to what you said before, different channels, making sure that you're where they are instead of just putting everything into one.

Laurie Andres: Yeah. Exactly. And it might take a little bit of trial and error. That's something that's a part of marketing. We make our best educated guesses and if something doesn't work, we try to figure out why. Perfect example of that, we had a print ad that went out and we had done an ad study along with that and we had gotten some feedback from the readers about what they did and didn't like about our message. And we actually a few months later sent out an updated ad and we got a much better response. So again, listening to what people are saying, figuring out what resonates with them. I work very closely with our sales department so what I'm doing is in line with what they're doing for the customers and potential customers. So we're on a united front and that just shows strength as a whole.

Evan Facinger: So any commonly held marketing beliefs that you just flat out don't agree with whatsoever?

Laurie Andres: The biggest one for me is that data and reports are the end all be all for everything. It's important to have information to identify trends, to lead the company down the right path. But I continually see folks who are in marketing and even other departments within a company, they just get lost in the data and they don't utilize other resources that are extremely beneficial. That practical experience, folks who've been in the industry for decades have a ton of experience and knowledge that they can pass along that can assist in marketing efforts more so than a bunch of numbers can. And using those numbers as a guideline as opposed to, "This is what it is." It's just keeping that open mind and utilizing all of your resources. Not everything that comes from a spreadsheet is your gospel, it's meant to be a guideline. It's meant to show you things that are resonating, things that are not, and how you can pivot to get better engagement with your marketing.

Evan Facinger: And it's not that the numbers aren't useful, it's not that the numbers don't tell a story, that they offer insights for it or anything, but they can't be the sole thing that you look at for it. It's almost very similar to what we're finding right now with advertising a lot. Right? With digital advertising, a lot of the different channels, Facebook for example, they're pulling away a lot of the targeting capabilities, whether it was something that they were trying to do, a sort of self policing, "We don't have such creepy data," even though there's a lot of evidence to point otherwise. Or it's Apple, the new iOS update, restricting the ability to get it, that you just don't have that same amount of dated insight that you used to rely on. I think so many people were just focused in on targeting, "I'm going to target the right people, I'm going to show this ad that isn't really well thought out. It's just an ad, but you sent to the right people, it's going to work. Well and I think we've shown time and time again, it's not really the case. It's not just about the targeting, the creative does matter. It's the Mad Men concept of what are you showing, what are you doing, what do you actually have in that ad? Because the creative a lot of times is the difference if everybody has the same targeting capabilities.

Laurie Andres: Exactly. And that data, you know, can go to a research site and you can get reports and you can get... well you can get hundreds of reports, but you can also go and talk to a salesperson who's been selling this product for a very long time and get that supplemental information that either proves or disproves the data or gives you insight as to how you can make adjustments. And it has to always be a constant evolutional process. It's always going. It's never ending.

Evan Facinger: Exactly. Just like the channels, you know, can't just do data, you can't just do creative anymore. You can't just do one channel. Everything's blended together.

Laurie Andres: Exactly. Yeah. And sometimes it can feel like a never ending battle, but you know, you really have to look at certain things, again, figure out what your goals are and adjust what you're doing to get to those goals or to get closer to those goals. And as you do that and as you get that information, whether it be data, whether it be feedback from customers or employees, that just builds up your arsenal to be able to be agile with your marketing, to change what you're doing to resonate and to get people to listen to your message.

Evan Facinger: Exactly. Well, Laurie, this has been great. I mean, a ton of great insights. I think you really came through with a lot of great information for everybody to listen to, digest, use. Any parting insights that you'd like to leave us with?

Laurie Andres: I guess the main thing is keep an open mind. Listen to people who have the experience and do your best to keep things simple, to be able to get approvals and buy in from folks who don't eat, sleep and breathe marketing like we do.

Evan Facinger: Well I love it. Well this has been great. I appreciate it. Again, thank you very much. Jon, anything you'd like to add?

Jon Ballard: No, thanks so much for your time, Laurie. Like I said, it's great to talk to some people in marketing that really have a diverse background and understand it. So it's been a pleasure working with you and appreciate your input today.

Laurie Andres: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Zach Baierl: Thanks for listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat podcast. If you want to stay on top of your marketing game, make sure to like and subscribe so you never miss an episode. For more episodes, show transcripts and marketing insights, go to foremostmedia.com.