Circuitronix: Eric Shumway, On Migrating to Digital Marketing As a Manufacturer

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Like other manufacturers, Eric was initially skeptical about migrating Circuitronix to digital marketing… but tangible results won him over!

Danny:

All right, let’s jump in today’s episode, we have Eric Shumway from Circuitronix all the way from Mesa, Arizona. Eric, thank you so much for coming here, he’s the VP of Sales and Marketing if I didn’t say that. Thank you for joining us.

Eric:

Welcome, happy to be here.

Danny:

How is it in Arizona, probably a little bit warmer than it is here in Atlanta.

Eric:

Right now it’s actually beautiful, I think we’re at the very end of what’s considered nice weather, and so we’re all getting ready for the typical Arizona summers.

Danny:

Oh, that’s awesome, it sounds great. I know we’re excited for the warmth over here in Atlanta, ourselves. So, for those who aren’t familiar with Circuitronix, give us a little background about who you guys are and what you manufacture.

Eric:

Okay, Circuitronix is a printed circuit board manufacturer, we have three primary factories in Asia and are in the process of bringing on a fourth, that build should be done by the end of the year or early next year in India. In addition, we have two sister companies in Mexico called Wattera and Chrom, and those factories produce injection-molded plastics and chrome-plated or PBD-plated plastics.

Danny:

Gotcha, all right. So, let’s talk a little bit about sales and marketing, we were having a little bit of a conversation before, and you were telling me that, well I actually would just love for you to share your story on how, some of this pivot that you guys are making just in terms of going a little bit more digital, tell me, just share with me what that move is, and why you decided to do that.

Eric:

Sure, no problem, let me kind of preface this a little bit, I’m an old-school guy, my degree was in sales and sales management, and I came up through a time where pretty much everyone was focused on that door-to-door, that business to business selling cycle, and you went and knocked on doors, and you sat in front of people, and that’s really how things were done. That kind of migrated through direct mail and other aspects, but really it was largely the same, until the advent of social media, the web explosion, all of these things, and for me, admittedly, I may have been a little bit slower on the uptake, and didn’t see the total value in digital marketing, but that has become really, really evident that the importance of the digital marketing, the platforms that, the efforts that are being made, cause in reality, we’re able to cast a much wider net, and capture people that we may have otherwise missed.

But there’s a whole other aspect to this that we’ve begun to tap into, and that is the realization that many of these next generation engineers, next generation purchasing people, they’re quite frankly from my children’s era, and they do things very differently. They don’t have the same mentality in the way of where they get their information for, for instance, engineering contacts, they’re probably not more likely to go onto a Thomas Guide, not to disparage Thomas Guide, it’s been a great tool, but what we’re finding is that many of these next generation engineers purchasing quality, they’re spending a lot more of their effort and their time on the internet, they find their information there, they can Google it, they can go to Alibaba if they’re in Asia, any number of those platforms, and so without having really tapped in, not just doing things like search engine optimization, but looking at other platforms like LinkedIn or, as I mentioned, Google and Alibaba, you’re really missing the point, and so for us, we’ve migrated pretty heavily to a digital marketing platform, and to the point where we’ve begun hiring young, fresh out of college marketing people because that’s their mindset, that’s what they’re thinking about.

Danny:

Yeah, you’re 100% dead-on. I’m curious, you said you’ve migrated to a digital marketing platform, what specifically are you using?

Eric:

We’re pretty heavily invested into LinkedIn, specifically we utilize their sales navigator platform, and then couple that with the more traditional search engine optimization, identify keywords, AdWords, things that people are going to be looking at on the internet, and marrying those two together so that we get the best play, the best coverage, people are seeing us where they need to see us but they can also interact and respond accordingly.

Danny:

Yeah, absolutely, so I mean, when time-wise, when did you start doing that?

Eric:

It’s really been primarily in the last five or six months. Recognition that we needed to do something, but really fully engaging in that has been relatively recent.

Danny:

That’s great, so all right, what was the, was there a particular catalyst or something that basically said you know what, we’ve been thinking about this, we’ve been wanting to do it, and we just need to do it, was there a particular moment or event that happened?

Eric:

Kind of, part of that was that we were looking at different ways of rebranding our company, we started in 2001, we’re in a very traditional business environment of printed circuit boards and plastics, these are not new, exciting, sexy products. And so we looked and said what can we do to set ourselves apart, what we kept coming back to was, we need to think younger, we need to act like this next generation, and so about that time, we started looking at new marketing people that we could bring into the organization, and the owner of our company, he was the one who said we ought to look at these fresh college graduates, it was not necessarily one aha moment, through various points as we looked at how do we maximize the web, that was part of that moment.

For me, though, it really came as I started talking with the younger generation, I have a son that’s in college, and was studying graphic design, he had friends, and we would talk, and then I started looking for additional marketing people to add to our company, and as we did that we looked at, do we add someone that’s got a lot of experience that knows our world, or maybe we want to look at this a little bit differently, and what we decided is, we wanted to look at this differently. We didn’t want to be just like everyone else, and doing that, the differently meant, instead of looking for old, seasoned people, we started looking at these young, fresh college graduates who were, they were used to things that were different, they didn’t view television the same way as I did, they didn’t watch their movies the same way, most of them were looking at their phones, and we started to think, although this is a very old, boring industry, not real sexy, plastics and printed circuit boards, our next generation of designers, our next generation of purchasing people and quality and engineers, these guys are young, these ladies are young, they’re getting their information differently than we’re accustomed to putting it out there. So that was really the impetus, that was the drive to find these younger, more innovative thinkers, and in doing that we’ve kind of shifted more of our moneys and our efforts into this digital marketing platform.

Danny:

It’s great, so all right, big question, you’re about five to six months in I think you were saying, so how’s it going?

Eric:

It’s going well, actually. One of the things that we’ve looked at to kind of identify if these metrics are working, is our LinkedIn engagement. And in just the last couple of months, we’ve seen the engagement on our LinkedIn pages increase by over 200%. We’re getting a lot more outreach or direct inreach, I should say, where people are responding to things as simple as little memes, we created a little contest within our company, because we wanted not only to have more content, but we wanted to engage more people in our company, and so such a simple little thing as this little one picture meme has generated a significant amount of interest by people that say that was funny or that was cute, I liked that, and all of a sudden they’re now looking at our page and then that drives them to our website, and before you know it you have a deeper and broader reach.

Danny:

Yeah absolutely, you know it’s interesting, we talk about this on the show a good bit, there was a big study that came out in 2015, that Google did, actually, and it was talking about how the average B2B buyer was at that point, this was four years ago now, or three to four depending on when in 2015 it was taken, but that the, it was nearly at that point, nearly 50% of the buyers or influencers in a B2B purchase were millennial. Obviously that has changed, it’s going to only increase obviously, and we now can only assume that it’s more than 50%, but Caterpillar actually took that and kind of ran with it and changed their whole go-to marketing strategy where it was a little bit more human-driven, and I think the story you’re sharing there, the whole meme piece, that you weren’t, I haven’t seen it, but I’m assuming you weren’t selling Circuitronix, you weren’t saying hey come buy from us. It was something that was a little bit more of, we’re just going to share something from us, we think it’s funny, whatever. Create a little bit of a relationship, and then go that way, and I think that is where a lot of manufacturers have to start thinking about things differently, and I think, sounds like you guys are doing a great job with it, that it can’t always be, and it shouldn’t be, sell sell sell, buy here, feature function, here’s all these things, the content has to be, really, we’re selling, even though it’s B2B, we’re selling to another human being.

Eric:

I think your point is spot-on. This was part of the discussion that we had within our senior management, is there were people that said “Look, that may work for a small company, but it’s not going to work for these big companies that we work with,” and my comment back was, “Why not?” Those big companies are made of people, and people respond to the same message whether it’s a small company or a big company, these are still people.

Danny:

Yeah, 100%, so another follow-up question then with that, you mentioned something that a lot of companies run into is that change management or organizational buy-in, sounds like there’s a little bit of a push-back there. How have you navigated that?

Eric:

I think like anything, you have to be able to show what your path looks like, this is what we’re going to do, this is the expectation of what that will yield, and there has to be an end line that says, at least based on this time period, we expected to get this kind of result, did we get it? Is there a return on that investment? I think best business practices still hold true, you can’t just throw good money after bad if it’s not working, but in this instance, in almost every way you have the ability to track it in some things on a daily basis, but certainly weekly, monthly, quarterly, you can look and see, have we seen an increase in the engagement, does that increase in the engagement then lead to further more leads, or the right kind of leads, are we closing more sales, all of these things interact, and you can see pretty quickly, are we seeing the success from this that we anticipated?

Danny:

Totally makes sense, so in order to be able to sort of show that closed loop, are you guys tying everything into a CRM or is it, how are you looking to see, okay we generated this interest, they’re coming to the website, and so on and so forth?

Eric:

We are, I wish that I could tell you that we had a phenomenal platform that was well-established before, this has kind of come hand in hand as we develop more of the digital platform, we’ve also been developing our CRM tie. But yes, with the new technologies that are available through almost all of the CRM platforms, you can literally tie your marketing efforts into the CRM, you can see what the response is, you can identify, are these now warm leads or are they just suspects that are tire kicking, and spend a lot less time trying to qualify these leads, as they’re coming in more qualified to start. We’ve done a few other things, like video outreach, your show’s a prime example of how we can utilize technology, but there are other ways, rather than just generating a quote, tossing it over a fence, and then a day or two later calling and hey let’s talk about this, we’ve been able to utilize some additional platforms that let us record a short little video and walk someone through a quotation or presentation, and send it to them and now we don’t have to wonder, did they get it or did they look at it, because the score actually, it links right back to us and we can say, hey they opened that at 11:33 and they spent 14 minutes looking at it and three of those were on page four. That’s the level of technology that’s available to us, and it’s all part of that digital marketing platform.

Danny:

Yeah, and now I’m super geeking out, I’m curious, so what did you use for the video messaging?

Eric:

We actually use a couple different things, one, there’s a technology called Loom that I think is excellent, you can get it in a free version, but with the paid version you get a little bit more functionality. Other things like Zoom, I think they’re all playing off each other, but Zoom is a web-based person-to-person teleconferencing with video, you can use that to record videos or give presentations, record it and then link that, and all of them can be linked with LinkedIn Sales Navigator where you can actually take your recordings, send them out in a PointDrive email, which then again does that linking. As they open the link you can identify who’s opened it, was it forwarded to someone else, now I’ve expanded that network, I’m identifying who’s important within an organization, and we’re able to drive deeper into each of these organizations, and quite frankly find the right people, so that we’re not spending a lot of time just hunting, we’re really working and nurturing and developing these relationships.

Danny:

Absolutely, so all right, so Loom, you said, L-O-O-M instead of Zoom, that’s interesting, I’ve not heard of that one, I’m very familiar with, there’s a couple other ones, but I know that’s kind of growing, that’s awesome, that’s exciting, because yeah, and I imagine depending on how it’s delivered, that I imagine the response rate’s much higher, I’m guessing, that’s what we’ve seen on our side cause we use it a lot, but yeah.

Eric:

For sure, and you know again, how have things been done in the past? Compare that to where we’re going in the future, and just the ability to take a simple presentation, I may decide that there’s, based on a conversation you and I had, there are three or four key elements in that presentation. If I just emailed it to you, you don’t know unless I’ve highlighted them and maybe then it still kind of just slips on by. But if we actually take a minute to create a three minute video, and I say “I just want to point out these three things, they’re the most important that we talked about.” Well now there’s no question, I’ve identified it, you’ve seen it, and I can see when you engaged with it. Those are the things that are kind of that next level digital marketing, but it’s not just marketing, I mean it’s really a total engagement.

Danny:

Yeah absolutely, and I love it too, and the other piece, I think, too, with the video element, it’s definitely differentiated, but I think the other piece is, it’s back to that human element, cause you’re able to make a connection, instead of, versus I’m just going to send you this thing, and you get an email or whatever that’s whatever text, and okay, maybe there’s a picture there, but now it’s like oh wow, there’s Eric, oh, okay, this is what. It just creates a little bit more of a connection.

Eric:

That may be bad, I’m not sure. Maybe you don’t want to see my face on there, but, I mean the reality is, you’re right, it is a very personal thing, it’s now taken it from some nebulous, I’ve got another email, and maybe I look at it or not, to oh, here’s someone that actually cares about me, they want to spend a little bit more time, we’re connecting at a different level.

Danny:

No, I love it, that’s great. I love hearing these stories, and all the innovations and just hearing how you said hey, we want to start doing this, and just kind of trying out different things and seeing what works, that’s awesome.

Eric:

And we did, I would tell you, it was a trial and error, tried a few different things, we identified what we shouldn’t do more than what we should initially, but in doing that it was, not only was it kind of fun, but we really did kind of create best practices for our company and, like everything that’s new, it will continue to evolve and enhance and we’ll figure out how to make it more effective.

Danny:

Yeah, absolutely, that’s great, just, congratulations on that, because that can be, that’s a big challenge, a lot of people, a lot of other companies can have, whether it’s that change in management issue or just fear of I don’t know, I don’t understand how this works, going and doing video and recording that, that kind of takes another level, people are like, “Ah, I don’t want to see myself on camera.”

Eric:

You know, I should get a royalty from all these companies, but I’m not. Another one that I thought was really cool was BrainShark, and it was one of the impetuses for the video, is that they had been pitching us on, “Hey, you need our platform to develop training modules,” and whatever these selling modules, and so we looked at it and then they sent back a video with what we had talked about, and showed us how easy it would be to create these modules in their platform, and they are, and each one of these that are out there have done a good job of identifying their strengths, but that idea, that was kind of the genesis, hey, maybe we can apply this, this is this technology company, but we’re a technology company in the print circuit board world, why aren’t we doing some of these next-gen ideas? And those were the things that kind of helped move us forward, and then as we would go to these younger marketing people in our company and say, “Hey, are you familiar with this?” They were like “Duh, yeah, we’ve been doing that for a long time.” It just all kind of made sense.

Danny:

That’s funny, that’s awesome, that’s great. So what is the next, what’s the future look like for Circuitronix?

Eric:

You know, it’s funny, as things become new they go old, we’re finding that by tapping into these newer ways of marketing, it’s driving our engagement with the customer, and so we’re spending a lot of time back in front of the customer, we’re doing things that most of us had decided was passe, trade shows. I had grown to the point where I hated trade shows, I couldn’t see any value in them because, here we spend all this money and time away from our actual effort, and hope that someone’s going to come and see us. But with this direct response marketing that we’re doing and these outreaches, what we’re finding is that we put the front-end effort in, and then we go to a trade show and we’re busy the entire time, and the right people are coming to see us, and here we are engaging face to face, like the old days, and so you ask what’s the real thing, well it’s marrying all of these, it’s not any one of them, it’s all of them. But how you interplay those, that’s the key.

Danny:

I love what you just said there, so a couple big things there, we, it’s out of arm’s reach now, but we have, we did our insights report, we talk about a lot on the show, we talked to over 156 manufacturers about their sales and marketing trends for 2019, and what was working and what wasn’t, and an interesting fact was that trade shows was the number one lead gen tactic by far, everyone said yes, but they were also saying, 53% if not more were saying yeah, we’re having a decline in leads, and I think what you just said just hits the nail on the head, and I think a lot of companies can resonate with that saying, “Man, what are we getting out of trade shows,” and I think it’s… you’ve got to flip it around a little bit, and it’s a great opportunity, but I think what a lot of people, a lot of companies miss, is that you said there’s a lot of upfront work, so I think the idea, oh, trade show, we set up a booth, here’s our banner, maybe there’s a video, whatever, people are going to come to us and whatever. You actually got to work it ahead of time, you know? you’ve got to work ahead of time, during, and after, and we’ve got some great articles and stuff on that but I think that what you’re, you just totally hit the nail on the head, you’ve got to cultivate it and get people excited and get in there.

Eric:

We did Electronica, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that show, it’s one of the largest trade shows in the world, it’s in Germany. And our organization in Germany and all throughout Europe prior to that show, spent probably six to eight weeks of doing very direct outreach and even to the point of setting up predetermined meetings, and the vice president of our European sales was literally every day in meetings, almost from the very beginning of the show to the end of the show, and we had more success as a result of that, than any show we’ve ever done.

Danny:

Yeah, and I get it 100%, it makes sense, let’s unpack that for a second. We look at it, it’s really cultivating the land if you will, getting everything ready and then everyone’s there, and you know you go to a trade show, and you get there, you’re like “Oh my gosh, I’m overwhelmed, there’s so many things. Where should I go?” You’re creating that purpose, and you’re able to talk to so many different people within a finite time, and that makes 100% sense to me, why that would be very successful for you, that’s awesome, congratulations.

Eric:

Thank you, we appreciate that.

Danny:

So everyone else who’s listening or watching IndustrialSage, take note, we’ve talked about this time and time again, listen to what Circuitronix is doing, it just makes sense, utilizing this new technology paired with what we have done in the past, it doesn’t mean that what is done in the past you completely throw away, no, not at all.

Eric:

There’s a reason it worked. All of these things will work, but much like any effort, if you’re not going to do it consistently, if you don’t continue to put the effort in, and figure out how they work together, then you’re like driving a car on two cylinders. Yeah, it’ll move, and you’ll get somewhere, but it’s not going to be in the most efficient way, you’re not going to get where you want to be as fast as you could, it’s when you couple all of these things together, you’re then running on eight cylinders, you’re going to move quickly, you’re going to get exactly where you want to be, but you have to do it all the time. you’ve got to keep putting gas in the car, you don’t just go forward for a little while and then stall, and then try to do it again, it’s got to be consistent, and when you start doing it in a consistent manner, and with all of the pieces together, that’s when you’re going to see the most bang for your buck and the best results.

Danny:

Love it, I couldn’t have said it any better. There you go, that’s it right there, that consistency, you just got to do it, and you’ve got to keep doing it. Eric, I really appreciate this time here, this has been really valuable, I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, just learning about you guys, your story, and where you’re going with it, and I love it, I’m super pumped to hear that you guys are doing video messages and all that stuff, that’s next level, that’s awesome, congratulations. So thank you again, do you have any parting words for our audience, of encouragement or advice that you might give?

Eric:

You know what, I will say, when we first started talking, I was not as familiar with IndustrialSage, and this is a little plug back with you guys, I’ve spent a lot of time on your website, and for professionals in the field like I am, I think that this is a great place to view and to look at, but also, just, you get a lot of, how would I say, value from other people that are trying to do what you’re doing. And if what I said can help someone, fantastic.

Danny:

Absolutely, that’s the name of the game. Thank you, thank you very much for that validation and the kind words, that’s what we’re trying to do here. Well, Eric, we could probably go on and on for hours and hours, but for those, if they have any questions, like to learn more about you, what’s the best way, I don’t know if you’re on, well obviously you’re on LinkedIn, so we could probably start there.

Eric:

Eric Shumway, also you can, if you’re into printed circuit boards or injection-molded plastics, you can email me at Eric.shumway@circuitronix.com, and that’s Circuitronix with an X. Or, look at our website, Circuitronix.com. Love to have you visit.

Danny:

Awesome, Eric, thank you again so much, we really appreciate it.

Eric:

You’re welcome.

Danny:

All right, okay, so look, another great episode, I love it, there are a lot of things I love about this, one is, I think just the whole story about saying, we need to make this change, and let’s try it, and let’s not do all the things super big, and let’s test some things, and I think Eric said, a really key thing for me was that he said “You know, we discovered a lot of things that we shouldn’t do, and we learned some best practices,” and what I love next is that they kept going. They didn’t say, “Ah, this didn’t work, let’s try this one thing, and this didn’t work, and oh, man, it works for everybody else but not for us.” But they kept at it, they made sure that they wanted to make, they wanted to look at what KPIs and different things they wanted to get out of it, so they could prove out that ROI, and they’re showing to be very successful, they’re showing to be innovative, they’re showing to not be fearful of things, the fact that they’re making videos and going on, I know that’s not super comfortable for everybody, but that is really where you need to be thinking, in the sense of being able to be differentiated and get your message out there. So, just take Eric’s words, put it to practice, I know you’re going to get a lot of value out of it, and that’s all I’ve got for you.

So if you have any questions, we’d love to answer them for you on IndustrialSage.com/questions, put them in there, we’ll answer them for you, if you are listening on iTunes or Stitch or any other podcast, we’d love a rating, social media, hey, share the love, and last but not least, if you’re not on our email list, you need to be, so go to IndustrialSage.com. And why do you want to do that, you want to be a subscriber, why do you want to get the email, cause there’s a lot of awesome content, just like Eric was talking about, we’re sending stuff to you all the time, not spammy, but it’s really valuable resources like this awesome interview with Eric here. And there’s a lot of other content that you don’t get, listening through iTunes and podcasts and seeing even on social media, so do that, do yourself a favor, you’re going to love it, and I’m done, I’m going to stop yapping, and I will catch you next week, I’m Danny with IndustrialSage, thanks for watching.

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