Building Brands Podcast

Building Brands Podcast

Building Brands Podcast

Crowdsourcing Building Products R&D

We had the pleasure of joining Tim Bouchard on the Building Brands podcast with Luminus. On the podcast our Marketing Manager, Billy Peele, discusses Mockett’s Annual Design Competition and how it has helped us build our brand throughout the years. We also discuss new product development in general, the company culture, and digital marketing in the 21st century.

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Click here to listen to Luminus podcast, or read the podcast transcript here:

Tim: Welcome Building Brands listeners. For the seventh episode, I’m joined by Billy Peele, Marketing Manager at Doug Mockett & Company. Doug Mockett & Company is the leader in innovative furniture components and architectural hardware providing fine architectural hardware for your fine furniture. In this episode, our conversation touches on the importance of new product development and how Doug Mockett & Company has used crowdsourcing product design through their annual design competition to augment their new product pipeline and amplify their brand.

Alright. Welcome, Billy, the Marketing Manager from Doug Mockett & Company. Thanks for being on the podcast.

Billy: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Tim: So I met Billy at IBS this year and I heard some really cool things about what Doug Mockett & Company is doing from a product R&D standpoint. So I asked Billy to come on. But before we get into all that, why don’t you give us a little background about how you got into marketing and ended up in the building materials industry and with Mockett ∓ Company,

Billy: Sure, actually I had no experience in the building materials industry coming in, but I did have a degree in marketing. I knew it was something that I wanted to do. I graduated in 2002 so a lot has changed since then. I think the basic marketing principles remain the same. But we are in a whole new world of digital marketing, kind of a new frontier, kind of like the Wild West in a sense. So it’s been fun learning all the new strategies in addition to, you know, building on the foundation of what I learned in school. It’s kind of nice to actually be able to apply it here at the job. I guess I started here in 2007. I went to school in South Carolina, USC, moved out to California to actually be a musician and then, um, that was fun for a while, and then...

Tim: I had that phase. I did that too. Not in California, but the musician part.

Billy: Yeah, I mean, super fun. And, I guess I got that out of my system and gave it the old college try, but ultimately landed here through a temp agency. It was just kind of a chance meeting with this group. And I came in for a couple months or so, just doing special projects and working in customer service. And I ended up leaving for a little while, took on a different job. I thought maybe it was more what I wanted to do.

And then after stepping away, I immediately recognized just how good the culture was there and I was happy to be able to come back. Tyra Cunningham, she’s now the vice president, she was our operations manager/customer service manager at the time. She welcomed me back with open arms, and I was super stoked to come back.

So, I guess the rest is history. I’ve been here over 12 years now, and I guess in the beginning, it was actually kind of nice to start in customer service because I really got to learn the business, learn our customer’s needs, learn about the user experience, that they’re facing when they’re trying to navigate through our website. So I was able to use all those tools.

I got into marketing so that I could actually help sculpt a better experience for them, and, you know, just having that built-in knowledge of what kind of custom requests they’d be looking for and what have you. So all that’s important in trying to create an environment where they’re comfortable doing their own research online. And obviously customer service is here to help for anything; we know you can call direct and a real person answers the phone. So it’s kind of a unique concept this day and age.

But yeah, it’s been really fun, and I think probably in the beginning I put it out there that I was interested in marketing, and I started doing some copywriting and PR for Doug and then he started giving me a little bit more and more responsibility in that regard, and I think now he’s sort of handed off a lot of that. You know, especially the copywriting, the catalogs, everything. That’s his baby. He’s a marketing guy. He’s a writer. So it was really quite an honor to be able to step in and take on some of those duties for him. So that’s kind of where we’re at now, I guess. The Company was founded in 1980. We’ve got a lot of people that have been here almost since the beginning. It’s been quite a journey.

Tim: Yeah, you mentioned that you actually stepped away and then came back. So that says a lot about the company is itself about the company itself.

Billy: Yeah.

Tim: Do you want to talk a little bit more about that history of Doug Mockett & Company? I mean, how it built that culture that has retained so many people over the years and where it’s finding its place in the market as the provider of these unique products.

Building BrandsBilly: Yeah, actually, it’s quite interesting. So the company was founded in 1980 in Hermosa Beach, literally out of Doug’s garage, like every truly great story, and it was really neat because it was just him and if he was in the garage and the washing machine was running and somebody called wanting to order some grommets or whatever he’d have to, like, call him back and say “Oh I’m out in the plant.” I gotta go inside. So then he started renting a small office space. And, you know, this is just from what I know, I’ve only been here for a short period of that time, but just knowing the company’s history a little bit, we started to slowly grow and taking on a few team members, renting an office space and then moving into a smaller office building. And then now, here in Torrance, we’re in a much larger facility, and we’re continuing to grow.

We actually recently acquired the building next door, and we use that as a sort of like a sandbox, like to build and demo all of our trade show displays over there. So we have more room to play around and new product development stuff happens over there. Photography, everything. So we’re definitely growing. But speaking to the company culture and how important it is people, people stick around. I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head, but I feel like probably at least like 25% of the people here or more have been here at least 10 years. Probably half of those have been here for 20 or more. We have taken on a lot of new talent in the past few years. But they, you know, they latched on right away. I think they recognize the great opportunity when they see it too, and we expect they’ll be here for a very long time as well.

Tim: Yeah, that comes with growth to right? You expand the workforce there. But holding on to some of those people from the beginning or the first half of it really helps build that consistency and customer experience and product experience. So you guys, what about on the business side? Where do you guys do most of your business? Do you want to describe what type of products you have, generally speaking from a category standpoint and then where you’re doing business? Commercial? Residential?

Billy: Sure. We specialize in architectural hardware, and our tagline is fine architectural hardware for your fine furniture. So we’ve always billed the brand as being a premium design solution for furniture components. And we mainly operate in the commercial space. Contract furniture namely. And that’s always been our main space because we… the company was founded on those little plastic grommets that you see in your office desk where you pass your cables through it. Obviously, we’ve come a long way from there and introduced a lot of new product categories, but it all started with that. So the office environment has always been, I guess where our bread is buttered so to speak. But in recent years, we’ve noticed an opportunity to transition into other markets because a lot of this, a lot of our parts lend themselves to different applications. And one of which, being custom home builders, where I met you actually at IBS.

Building BrandsSo that’s something that we’ve been dabbling in about the past 5 to 10 years is hospitality, residential - just kind of opening up a whole new world to us, and it’s making us rethink our product categories in general. We’ve always had stuff to outfit your office desk or your workspace, and now we’re thinking of more, you know, smarter designs for other applications that might be useful to people that are traveling, on the go, or even just at home. So I think the future is really exciting because now we can look at a much bigger picture. And it’s uncharted waters from here, you know, especially with the digital marketing landscape, new product ideas coming in, so it’s a little scary, but also really exciting.

Tim: And you guys have… in this product expansion, is your main goal to come up with the ultimate functionality, or are you also trying to make sure that you’re one of like the most forefront design, aesthetically pleasing products on the market? Is there a balance between that? Are you trying to be a unicorn and do both every single time? How does that kind of work itself out?

Billy: Yeah, I think. Obviously, both are equally important. You know that probably overused phrase ‘where form meets function’ or form versus function? You know, obviously it has to provide functionality, otherwise, it’s not really necessary. But at the same time, that’s sort of what we specialize in is the aesthetic value. We want to take a step back from just the basic utilitarian design and give it a nice designer friendly, aesthetically pleasing spin on it. So that it does compliment your furniture rather than just standing out like an eye sore, or like a big, clunky hunk of hardware. You know, we want it to be as much a part of the design as the design itself. So we have to take both into account. And sometimes one may lean a little bit more one way than the other, but ultimately they have to meet in the middle somewhere.

Tim: Who are your main targets that you’re going after from an audience standpoint? Is it architects and builders? Or designers? Or is it the end users?

Billy: I’d say we have a pretty broad scope of customers, but yeah, I think you’re right with architects and designers. And there’s probably a bit of a trickle down effect. I mean, those are the ones that really have their finger on the pulse for the current design state, and those are the ones that we’re trying to please those are the ones spec’ing parts. But that may trickle down to the end user where they’ve seen that somewhere before.

They’re familiar with the design they liked, so they’re sort of with it, but maybe not on the cutting edge of specifying it from the very beginning. Yeah, so I think we mainly deal in that space, in the commercial space with architects and designers. But we also deal with millworkers, woodworkers, cabinetmakers, and then even on down to your DIY weekend warriors. Somebody that wants to renovate their home kind of stuff. So since we sell direct, it does give us a kind of an unusual opportunity to reach a broad array of customers.

Tim: Yeah, I’m thinking with those architects and designers too, they do shop aesthetically first, and then they look to make sure that it has the function on the back end. So that probably helps you too. Because then you can also market those same types of ads to the general public, which gives you that brand exposure to kind of a double dip a little bit on that.

So we’re talking about a lot the products, which is why I’m having you on for this episode and when I met you, we talked about how you do this really cool thing. And I have since looked up more about it to you where you actually have an annual design competition. And that’s where you’re pulling some of your R&D inspiration from that. So you want to start with giving us a background on that? I think for what I looked into it’s about a 30 year old program, almost from the beginning or shortly after the beginning of the company. Yeah, how did that even come about?

Billy: You know, I think in the very beginning… So you’re right, this is our 35th year. And then the company turns 40 this year. So yeah, it was sort of in its infancy, five years in… I think Doug was initially just looking to number one, reach out and try to get some access to some new design ideas. And number two, do a little marking research in the process. Like find out what are industrial designers looking at, what’s current that I don’t know about, you know? It started pretty small as expected, and over the years, it’s grown. Word of mouth. We used to advertise about it, and I think now just the word is out there organically on its own. We post about it on social media every now and again. Just a tell a friend. If you know an industrial designer, somebody who has an idea, we get entries from all over. There’s no professional credentials required. Anybody can enter.

So it’s very simple. All you really have to do is… if you have the means to create like a 3D model or even like a nice looking sketch to give us a better idea what it is, that’s great, but it’s not required. I mean, some people just send in kind of an idea just mapped out verbally that, you know, “I’m thinking this, and this is what it’s for, and this is how it would look”. And you know those, sometimes those are great too. You don’t have to be like this professional, you know, with a degree in order to come up with something truly unique. A lot of times it’s just necessity being the mother of all invention just coming out. And ordinary people have extraordinary ideas. So it’s really cool.

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Tim: So you mentioned industrial designers - who participates in this? What type of people is it open to everyone? Are there particular people that you try and reach out to you to make sure that they’re involved? Student, professional, general public?

Billy: Yes. So we do get a lot of students, which is really cool, I think ideally, we would like to get in touch with more schools so that they can make it part of their course curriculum. We had one school, App State in North Carolina, who… their Professor of their design school, their Industrial design program, Professor Rall. He caught wind of the design competition online. He was looking for some casters for a project and he found our website and he bought some casters. And then he was like, “Oh, wait a minute, what’s this?” And he found the link to our design competition, and he was like, “What a great way to bring this into the classroom and give my students a real world application for their senior project”.

Building BrandsAnd these kids submit unbelievable ideas. They really they get it. I mean, it’s amazing. And so we had a few winners a few years ago from that class, and then we had a couple more winners the following year. We can count on them to submit some great stuff every year from here on it seems, and we want to get more schools involved because not only is it a great opportunity for them to really think in terms of like a real world application, but it’s also a chance for them to build a resume, win a little money.

They get royalties based on sales afterwards, and so we definitely want to get more students involved. But as I said, it’s open to everyone. We get a lot of freelance designers that submit ideas. We get people that probably don’t have any experience at all in industrial design that just have an idea that maybe they work in the furniture industry and have heard about it, and they’ve just been kicking around some idea for a while and you know, they’ll write it up or draw it up and send it over. So there’s really no telling where where these winners may come from.

Tim: I’m a firm believer that everyone is creative and can come up with solutions to things. So that’s really cool that it’s open that generally. What types of submissions are you’re looking for? Do you ever assign like an assignment category or anything? Or do you actually leave it up to everyone just to find the best application to come up with aesthetically pleasing or a fully functional design for it?

Billy: That’s an interesting question, because we have thought about that. As it stands now, the competition is wide open. There’s no parameters for it, there’s no instruction on what we’re looking for. It’s just ‘give us whatever you’ve got and everything’s fair game’. We have thought in the past about doing different categories, you know, to give people a little bit of direction. So it’s not so overwhelming, like ‘wow, like I could do anything. Like what? Where do I start?’ You know, we thought about like, what if you try to design something specific for this type of project or this type of product category or whatever, and we may do that at some point, maybe even divvy it up into a couple of different competitions.

But for now, I think we seem to be happy with the way that it’s working and the types of submissions that we’re getting. But I’d say if there were any guidelines at all, it would simply be It has to pertain to furniture hardware and components. That’s what we do. We do architectural hardware. So if it’s something that’s vastly outside of that scope, it might not really be for us in terms of production. It might look great, but it might not be something that we can make it so using our existing product line as a baseline to just get an idea of what works for us, that’s certainly helpful, but we actually encourage people to think outside the box as we want to expand our reach and all that stuff too.

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Tim: And then in terms of what you’re looking for, like what types of criteria or quality points are you using to determine what a winning design is? Is it more? I keep going back to this. Is that more of the functionality, or is it more of the aesthetics and the form of the product? And do you have… you mentioned winners, do you have more than one winner a year at any time or is it one person? One product that gets picked every year?

Building BrandsBilly: We have at least one winner. Some years there’s only one. Some years we have multiple. It all depends. I mean, sometimes we just we can’t say no. We just get so many great designs were like, ‘Oh, man’, we’ve had four winners in one year before, I’m not sure if we have ever had more than that. But yeah, there’s typically a couple, and I think that’s just a testament to the great designs that come in. How do we even choose from here? Like, you know, you can whittle it down to your top three or whatever, but then how do you decide from here? Just make them all. So there are only first place winners – it’s not like one, two, and three. Everybody’s awarded the same prize and same royalty agreement.

In terms of what we’re looking for, there’s a group here, Doug being at the at the helm on this, but there’s other people from our in-house R&D and new product development team weigh in on these decisions. I think we’re naturally attracted to things that are aesthetically pleasing. So when you come across something that’s just like, ‘Wow, that is really something’, of course that’s going to grab your attention. But then you have to evaluate how useful is it? How practical? How easy will it be to make?

Tim: How easy will it be to sell?

Billy: Yeah, that, too! I mean, there’s a lot of variables here, but ultimately this is a celebration of great design. We try not to let those ideas about, like, ‘how how many of these can we sell?’ - we try not to let that really influence the decision because we don’t want to hold that against the person who has such a great idea. Sometimes we’ll announce the winner knowing that this is gonna be very expensive, very tough to make whatever, but it’s just so cool. We want to basically be the face of driving innovation in the architectural hardware community.

Building BrandsSo it’s more of a statement and a showpiece in some cases than it is an actual open line product. But certainly we, and for the designers’ sake so they can collect royalties on sales, we want it to be a big hit. So again, sometimes you just come across something that just is so dazzling that it’s like, you know this this looks like a winner. But then you start weighing in those other things, maybe this is something that looked a little bit more prosaic, just very basic, kind of clunky or whatever. It might not have knocked you off your feet when you first saw it, but when you really start considering it, how functional it is, or how much value it adds to the performance of the furniture, like ‘this thing’, you know, ‘I don’t care what it looks like. This is a brilliant idea’.

So we get some of those too and usually it’s kind of like a balance – you might pick one of these one of those and somewhere in between. So the criteria doesn’t swing one way or the other. It’s all very objective. So who knows? We welcome everything.

Tim: What you’re talking about was, you know, picking one that may not be the most cost efficient one to make and may even be too early for the market. What you’re doing is you’re rewarding a whole bunch of people: the submitter because they had a very forward progressive idea or very beautiful design. Internally, your team has helped create the platform where someone could submit this idea. So it’s a good look from your perspective, from a brand standpoint, bringing that to light internally, being able to see that design learn from it. Uh, so that all kind of works in your favor to, even if you can’t get it to production. But I was gonna ask about that. How fast typically can you get these types of products into the market? Are you lining them up with product release calendars? Is it just sort of, uh, when we say we’re gonna build something, it’s this type of lead time? How long until you might see some of those winners actually in one of the catalogs or at the show on one of the tables or displays.

Billy: I think we’ve really been able to shorten the timeline on prototyping with the advent of the 3D printer. You know, the design competition itself has come a long way because of that. What used to take months, years even, of like, back and forth with a fabricator tweaking the design a little bit, then have to build a new tool or whatever, this stuff could take forever. And it could get very expensive.

Sometimes in the past, you might even have to abandon a project just because it’s getting so cumbersome, it’s so expensive, so time consuming. But now we could do a lot of this 3D molding in house, print it, look at it, decide right then and there. ‘Oh, this is cool, but can we shave down this corner a little bit?’ You know, ‘this wouldn’t fit this way like we thought it would’. And then you go print another one, you know? And so now we’re taking that weeks or months of going back and forth with the manufacturer down to, you know, hours of in house development. So that helps shorten the timeline on concept to part, but going to market, you’re always gonna run into unknowns.

You know, there’s so many variables in the process. Like we might think that this is gonna be a piece of cake. ‘Oh, it’s just a simple extruded sheet of metal. Just cut it.’ And it’s like, ‘No, we’ve got to consider this and we have to change that’. And sometimes the back and forth can just go on for a very long time. So we have a clause in the agreement that we have two years to make it.

So if your design wins, it gives us two years to actually put it together and make it available for sale. And if we can’t meet that deadline, then the choice is up to the designer - we can hand it back to them and they’re free to do what they like with it, try to shop it somewhere else, or they can just keep their trust in us to continue on the path that we’re on and just be patient with it. And usually it doesn’t take that long. But sometimes you never know. I mean, in a in a perfect world, we’d like to definitely see something go to market from concept to part in 3 to 6 months. That would be outstanding, but we can’t always make that promise.

Tim: And then that would also give you time to be able to build up the marketing positioning for it to get all the things you need. You mentioned photography and catalogs and digital assets, things like that.

Billy: Yeah, that’s that’s just the beginning, really. Once the part is made, you’re right, typically on the back end we’ve been doing some of that prepping for putting it out to market, but a lot of times we can’t really get started on it until we have an actual product that we can photograph, that we can do different types of digital media with. So there is usually like a little bit of a delay in really promoting it the way that it deserves after it’s been made. And then a lot of times, the adoption rate in the market is kind of slow. It might be on the market for a year before a designer spec’s it and the word gets out so to speak, and that’s when it really starts moving. You get that endorsement from somebody out in the industry, and now it becomes a commodity that rather than just some sort of specialty item design competition winner.

Tim: Yeah, and then once it’s spec’d, it could be a month to 18 months before the actual order gets made. So, when you pick a winner it could be anywhere from one year to three years before it actually starts to get some momentum in the market. But that’s okay. I mean, that is sort of a normal product launch timeline.

Billy: And that’s a very fair statement because we are, as you mentioned, the last guy on the supply chain. They might spec the part, but they’re still building the furniture, they’re still building the building or whatever, we’re usually not necessarily the last one to get the call, but certainly the last one to get installed on the job. So you know that in and of itself is an extra lead time that could just delay all this, the promo and the excitement about a new product.

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Tim: And you mentioned you do have an internal new product design team in R&D Team. How is this competition working in tandem with that? Do you see? You know, you’re only picking one to four, sounds like, products a year from the competition. What percentage of your new products are coming from the competition versus your internal team? Do you have a yearly, uh, I don’t want called it quota, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind, quota where you’re trying to make sure you introduce new products each year so you always have something new to talk about in the market, always show your innovation? I’m assuming that team is working on that. How does the competition work in tandem with them?

Billy: I think it works pretty well because it gives people an opportunity to get, have something to get excited about. But the reality of it is we’re trying to do new product development all year round, and whether that’s internally or working with outside designers, we are not limited to the competition. The competition is just something that we can promote. It’s sexy, there’s a cash prize, we could get a buzz going about it. But people are welcome to submit ideas outside of the competition at any time. And sometimes people that do win, we maintain that relationship with them and they’re welcome to continue submitting stuff and they do. If they want to hold off and wait for the competition, that’s fine. But they’re welcome to go and submit it. We can review it at any time.

Our in-house new product development team, yeah, we have some in-house designs going on. We have a very unique business model. We are also part distributor, part manufacturer. We do a lot of proprietary in-house design that we that we source out locally to have manufactured. We have some stuff that we get from Europe where we’ll have an exclusive agreement with them. But the goal is to have a very uniform look as a premium architectural hardware brand.

We want everything to look very consistent, very contemporary, very clean line where you can’t really tell whether it’s something that we made or something that that we had seen outside in the industry and worked on an agreement with them. It’s all sort of under the umbrella of being a Mockett product. Whether it’s something we designed, or a designer that we work with designed it. And the idea of selling direct, you know, that puts us in another unique space. Since we are largely in a B2B space, we do have kind of that B2B/B2C customer experience and all that. So this company has a lot of interesting angles that that separate us from the competition, I think.

Tim: Yeah, and with all this product development and new products coming out all the time, what, in your opinion, what’s the important thing about always having that that influx of new blood in the product lines. What’s the benefit to the company? To always be on the forefront, always be active in that aspect of the business?

Building BrandsBilly: Yeah, I mean, that’s the beating heart of the company right there is new product development. That’s the lifeblood of the future of our growth, our livelihood. Innovation is what drives us. I think complacency, sitting on our laurels, would ultimately lead to our demise, because the industry is always changing. We want to be at the forefront of that. We want to be ahead of the curve. We want to be an influencer, a company who’s setting the standard. So in order to do that, we have to constantly be churning out new ideas, new design. I’d say, at any given time we have at least 25 sometimes up to 50 new designs, at least in some stage of production. Whether, you know, it’s just somewhere in the pipeline just getting kicked around as an idea versus something that we’re actively sourcing or making.

It takes a while for it to hit the website. It might not look like there’s a ton of action at any given time that you just go check out our new product section, but behind the scenes, there’s a lot of activity, and we want to keep it that way. In fact, we want to continue to grow in that regard so that we have the means and the capability to continue to push out new products, to meet these demands, because we’re learning a lot from our customers. That’s that’s how we ultimately decide on a new direction. And a new product design is ‘what do they need? How can we make that?’ So we have some parts that we’ve been selling for a very long time that continue to do really well for us, but we see the future as something that we don’t even know what that is yet.

Tim: Yeah, I had Formica on a couple episodes ago, and Meghan the Senior Creative Lead rightly called it the ‘red dress effect’. You know, you put the red dress in the window. Everyone’s like, “Oh, that dress is pretty”. They walk in. They buy four other things that aren’t the dress. So the new products, they’re just another way to get out there to pull people into your world. And they may actually find one of the best sellers, one of your older products, and say, “You know what? That’s what I really need. I’m gonna order 500 of those for my hotel” or whatever. And that always feeds the sales activity too, right? You put new products on the market. People get attracted to it. They come into the full catalogue, find what they need from a function standpoint, and that’s where sales could pick up from there, meet their actual project need at that point?

Billy: That’s funny that she said that, the lady from Formica. That’s funny because Doug has a similar outlook on this where he says, “It’s like going to the car dealership and you got the yellow Corvette in the showroom, but you go out back and by the Impala stripper”. So it just is what it is.

Tim: In terms of the building materials industry in general, you’ve been kicking around in this industry now as you’ve been working with Doug Mockett & Company, do you have any thoughts on how it’s changing, and how it’s already changed since you’ve entered the industry? Where do you think it might be going from here on out that brand managers and marketing managers could pay attention to in the coming years?

Billy: That is a tough question because everything is changing so rapidly, and I think what we’re seeing now is you’re putting the power in the hands of the consumer. They have so much access to knowledge, and they can do their own homework. The Amazons of the world are making everything so accessible and then even just the Internet in general is really leveling the playing field because the little guys now have an opportunity to compete with the big stores because it’s all in a digital space. Like, you don’t know how big they are, if they have a good online presence, they don’t have to be the king of the retail world like the old days.

So it gives everyone an opportunity to get ahead, which is great. But it also it gives the customer so many opportunities to drop off before they make that buying decision. Any one thing that they run into along that path that deters them from buying, they have so many other options at their fingertips. I think I had read recently that the average consumer, they’re touched 12 different times by a brand before they even make a decision to buy. So whether that means they saw you in a magazine and then they saw you on social media and then they went to their website and then they saw you again on social media… I mean, they’re waiting longer to make important buying decisions because they can, because they can go source that elsewhere, they can go find it an alternative solution for that. So if they run into anything negative along that along the way, you could lose the sale. And it’s very interesting that we trust perfect strangers on the Internet more than we do the brands.

Building Brands

You know, somebody writes a bad review and you’re like, “Oh, wow. Okay, so I’m not gonna buy from them” instead of just reading what the company says about their guarantee. I think we’re putting the power in their hands. They’re much more informed. They’re much more tech savvy and being in this new digital marketing space, it’s like you just have to figure out who is your customer. Where are they? How can you reach them and how can you stay connected with them? Who knows where things are gonna be headed in the next 5 to 10 years? It’s already grown… it’s light years from where it was even 10 or 20 years ago. It’s moving so fast.

I think they’re probably looking for a more immersive experience also. So you can’t just get away with having the static product image now. We have the technology. We have the capability to create an experience where, maybe augmented reality, virtual reality, Maybe just even, at the very least, video mediums like this, where we could talk about products. This is giving another dimension to the product. Just looking at a product description is very one dimensional. But if you have an opportunity to do a video where you can talk about it, you can you could get some feedback. You know that, I think that is a very real medium that connects with people. So I think we’ll probably see more of that. And wherever it goes from there, I don’t know.

Tim: I mean, you mentioned two things that are probably pretty important coming out of that, which are ‘everyone is doing all the research on their own, so they need to be exposed to the brand’. That’s your brand strategy aspect - 12 to 50 times you might get in front of someone multiple channels, and it can’t all be sales based or they will shut you out like everyone’s used to blocking ads nowadays. But then also when you do grab their attention, the two things we’re going for are trust, which is your brand strategy and information and knowledge at your fingertips, which could be your website or catalog, something that has product specs, things that make their job easier from a selection and scoping standpoint.

And with what’s happening with millennials becoming most of the work force now, what they want is to not have to talk to someone until they’re comfortable making a decision on it. So you have to have all those pieces in place. They have to trust you and they have to be able to look at it on their own and say, “You know what? I feel very well informed. I’m confident that I could talk to someone on the phone now” Uh, and I know, I’m at the front end of that generation, but I totally get that. And then what’s one thing that you think everyone should be doing from the brand aspect right now, if you take sales out of it? What one thing can make someone trust and relate to your brand more effectively than what might be happening right now?

Billy: I think it really just boils down to communication. From a marketing strategy standpoint, as I mentioned, you do have to identify who is your customer and how can you reach them? But then once you reach them, don’t just sell to them. Have a conversation. Have an open dialogue about what are your needs so that I can do that for you. As a trusted loyal customer, we want to earn your business time and time again. We want to make whatever it is that you need, not just get comfortable with the idea that you know we have everything that you need now. That feedback is super important because they’re the ones that are buying from you and I think ultimately will dictate your success in the future. It’s easier to keep an existing customer than to go out and get a new one so we want to maintain that trust and that communication with our customers. If we don’t have it [parts], we can make it. If they design it, we can make it.

That’s one thing actually, I didn’t really mention. I’m kind of going off on a tamgent here, but we do custom parts and that’s a big part of our business. People will look at our website and they might see something like, “Oh, this is this is exactly what I’m looking for. But I wish they had it in a different color or it was a little bit longer” or, you know, whatever - they can call us, and we can make it and there’s no minimums, reasonable lead times and what have you. So I think that sort of that relationship is very important to our customers because they know that they can come to us for just about anything. So I think I think that’s important. Just knowing what their needs are and really going the extra mile to make sure that you can help them,

Tim: And that takes you away from being the commodity and to be actual resource and a support network for them for their project.

Billy: Right. Right.

Tim: Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you want to make sure you get out on this topic before we wrap up?

Billy: I would just like to let your listeners know they can find us at, and you can find us on any of our social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, it’s all /dougmockett so And I think actually, if you follow us on social media, that’s when you really get to know who we are as a brand, you look at our website and you’re gonna see really glossy, stylized photos of parts. But when you go to our social media you’ll get to know the personality of the company. You get to see in-use applications like where our customers share photos with us after they install it. And sometimes that really helps paint a picture. How you might be able to use it in your own job, your own application.

So I invite you to come have a look and certainly leave us some feedback and share your photos with us. We’d be happy to get in touch with everybody.

Tim: Awesome. Well, thanks for being on. This was great. And I will catch you online.

Billy: Sounds great. Thanks so much. Appreciate it. Have a good day.

Tim: If you’re interested in hearing more stories and strategic insights from industry experts, please subscribe to the Building Brands podcast on Apple, Spotify or Google. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please post a review and share with others who may be interested as well. Thanks for listening.

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Building Brands

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