Bringing Beauty to Industrial Manufacturing Marketing

Episode 281

April 2, 2024

Herbert Staten Jr. joins The Kula Ring this week to talk about highlighting the beauty of the product you manufacture. Herbert discusses how he considers emotion and personal engagement when developing marketing strategies in industrial manufacturing. We also discuss the potential for vertical differentiation in social media platforms. This fantastic chat offers a refreshing approach to industrial B2B marketing.

Bringing Beauty to Industrial Manufacturing Marketing Transcript:

Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White.

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White. Joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how are you doing, sir?

Carman Pirie: I am excited to be here.

Jeff White: Yeah, me as well.

Carman Pirie: It’s not every time that, like when we, I mean, look, every episode is amazing. And I love all of our guests. We don’t want to be rude but at the same time.

Jeff White: You can’t. You can’t pick favourites. 

Carman Pirie: No. I love it when we talk about some of these completely different kinds of zigs while everybody else is zagging or there’s something kind of it’s often thought about in the space, which I think is a good way to characterize today’s conversation. 

Jeff White: For sure, and I don’t want to give too many too many tips away about it. I think we just dive right into it. So joining us today is Herbert Staten Jr. Herbert is the Marketing Director at MBC Aerosol Filling Machinery. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Herbert.

Herbert Staten Jr.:Well, thank you. Thank you for having me. Excited about the you know, to kind of kind of discuss what I love doing marketing and making machines look pretty so people can buy them. So kind of excited to talk about and kind of share my my vision from when I joined MBC and you know where we’re going now.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. It’s awesome to have you with us. Let’s introduce our listeners first to MBC a bit. Tell us about the firm and how you ended up there.

Herbert Staten Jr.: MBC Aerosol is a custom-designed aerosol filling machine. So everything from you know, we make the machines that fill up the deodorants, hair sprays, pesticides you know sunscreen so our machines actually help fill those cans and put those products inside of the can that you use every day. A lot of people using kind of don’t really you know, know the history behind how it gets it.

Carman Pirie: It’s kind of one of those invisible things that everybody yeah, you probably go through it and use. Probably everybody listening to this podcast has interacted indirectly with a product that you market.

Herbert Staten Jr.: Oh, definitely be put on this morning there you know they’ve used something we’ve actually built probably.

Carman Pirie: So we hope you have at least interacted with it.

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.

Jeff White: How long’s the company been around, Herbert?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Company’s been around right now, 15 years now. So, yeah, so we’ve recently been, we’re under a new company now. You know, a company that actually purchased us and kind of gave us some more money to invest into innovation and things like that. So R.V. Industries has, you know, brought us under the umbrella of other manufacturing companies that they own just recently. So probably last year, last year or so. 

Jeff White: Very cool. 

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah. So it’s been a good spaghetti journey. The transition.

Jeff White: I was half asking that question because I wanted to know if they had been around when the whole ozone and CFC propellant debate was going on in the world kind of together and solved that one.

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah. And that debate still goes on. 

Jeff White: Oh, yeah? 

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah. That debate still goes on. I remember when I when I started at MBC, people were still talking about it. And so I end up like I wrote a couple of blogs about it, just kind of dispelling the myth of what it actually is. So people get all understand. It was actually pretty good to get a lot of traction, too, of so good. A lot of people are interested in it.

Jeff White: Interesting. I remember when that was such a selling feature as some organizations had moved towards, you know, non-CFC aerosols or whatever it was. I don’t really remember like, was that 20 years ago? Was it 30? I can’t. I can’t recall.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. You’re dating yourself now, Jeff.

Herbert Staten Jr.: It’s a while ago. I mean, it’s been going up and people still bring in. People still bring it up now. I mean, I’m going to show people. Yeah. Which shows, you know, people, Hey, what about this? Oh, yeah, yeah. I gave a link to the blog. Here go through that, you know.

Jeff White: The ozone is fine. Everything else is screwed, though, so.

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah, exactly. No, we’re good. Yeah. I mean, there are other technologies that are coming aboard, too. I mean, we do Bag-on-Valve, which is another technology used alongside aerosol.

Carman Pirie: Herbert said in kind of introducing yourself. And as we kicked off the show here, you said you got mixed up look good so people will buy it and you know, that’s really the topic of today’s show, this notion of them marketing machines through beauty and, you know, industrial machinery through beauty and that is not something you hear about every day.

Herbert Staten Jr.: No, I think it’s overlooked. I remember, you know, coming on board at MBC. and talking to the owner, Jim. And I was like, you know, I walk into the shop and like, wow, these machines, I mean, you know, just the way they look, they’re very impressive. And the details and the engineering. And I think, why don’t we showcase it? You know, why don’t we make to make that a feature? I mean, because there are some you know, there are some industries like, you know, for them with cosmetics, I mean, they’re going to they want the showroom to look great. So in most cases, so, you know, so having a machine is esthetically pleasing to the eye and kind of and is definitely a workhorse is that’s a plus.

Jeff White: Tell our audience a bit about your background because obviously, you know how you’ve come to this is part of what has allowed you to recognize, you know a previously unseen beauty.

Herbert Staten Jr.: See,  my background I actually have a degree in computer science, so that’s kind of so that’s where the analytics side comes from as far as in marketing. And I progressed and I have a background, you know, I’ve studied photography and cinematography, so I’ve done like short films, commercials and, and a lot of promotional stuff for other brands of other companies. So I got a gig that gave me that insight in addition to what, you know, what the machine could be and what it could look like. So when I light everything and, you know, give it that, I just give it that look that you know, cinematic look that everybody looks for and find those details in the machine is going to be interesting to the audience and the people that watch it.

Carman Pirie: When you first brought this up, did they look at you like a dog watching TV? Like, what is Herbert talking about?

Herbert Staten Jr.: No, you know what I did? I remember our meeting with them and I was like I saw some past videos or saw some other literature. And I’m like, how come the house machine is not lit from the inside? I mean, a light in a machine. So it actually shows those details. So I mean, they were very and then once once they saw some of the some of the videos, I’m like, okay, okay now I see. I mean, I think, you know, the owners that built MBC they knew the machines had an esthetic look that was very pleasing. So just having somebody coming in to kind of showcase so they didn’t fight it. They knew they already had an idea, which is, you know, look, we’re very well-engineered and look good. So yeah, it wasn’t a fight.

Carman Pirie: Interesting. And do you find, you know, as you kind of and I understand it’s a very niche category, but you do have competitors, I’m sure? Is there a big, do you see them maybe trying to catch up or mimic you in any way or?

Herbert Staten Jr.: It’s funny you say that. Yeah, Yeah. I’ve been you know, I’ve been watching some of our competitors and watching some of the things they do. And yes, they have started mimicking or paying attention saying, Hey, wait a minute, you know, we could we can showcase our machines as well. So yeah, it happens, which is, you know, I’m like, okay, that’s great, that’s great. You understand that now. I don’t take offence then, like, hey, okay, that’s uhh, what’s that saying that imitation is…

Carman Pirie: That’s a good form of flattery, there’s no question. And, uh, so that one assumes maybe their machines aren’t quite as beautiful either.

Herbert Staten Jr.: Uhh, I won’t say anything. I’ll keep that to myself. 

Carman Pirie: It’s really interesting. I mean, we. I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school now. I think we’re well outside of NDAs in the early days of our life as an agency here, we, uh, um, we did some work marketing a fish pump that was painted British racing green. Um, and, you know, it’s a, you know, very industrial it’s a fish pump that, you know, sits on a very hardworking fishing boat. And, you know, I think a lot of people would have looked at that and said, Why are you spending the extra money to finish the machine in that high-grade way and spending all that money on that most expensive colour paint that you can find? And then, um, they ended up getting featured on a, um, reality TV show. Um, I think largely because the pump was beautiful, like, so the Deadliest Catch, correct Jeff? 

Jeff White: Yeah, that’s right. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, they had their fish pump on that boat. Um, and I don’t think that was, you know, entirely by mistake, Right?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah. Yeah. No, not at all. Not at all. I mean, they, they, they figured out that, hey, my brand is going to stand out no matter what. It’s going to, you know, that that green and that colour pops up. You going to know exactly what it is and who it is.

Carman Pirie: Do you find, I mean, I know that you need both the steak and the sizzle here. You can’t ignore the fact of talking about the, uh, you know, the performance of the equipment and the specifications. But has your approach to highlighting the beauty extended at all towards a maybe a less of an emphasis on some of that or. Well, have you, have you noticed that like an emphasis on eye on beauty actually extends to the copy and extends to how you talk about the machine other than just how you show it?

Herbert Staten Jr.: So yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah. You know, I definitely want to, I definitely balance it out where, you know, talking about me because that’s the reliability of our machines is what has got it to this point where we have a reputation. You know, we’re a great machine. It works and works hard and, and fills products and, you know, it gives our consumers what they need. So I, you know, I focus on that, but I definitely balance those out to make sure that you know we still talk about performance but it definitely I think the engineering working alongside engineering they understand that we do have a look then we cannot continue to portray that as we keep designing, innovating.

Carman Pirie: I guess. Shifting gears here now and bouncing all over the place. But, you know, I’m thinking about highlighting the aesthetic of the machine. Has it resulted in engineering putting any more of an emphasis on how the machinery works, work, having made different decisions and knowing that the beauty of the machine is going to be highlighted more?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Oh yeah, definitely. Our engineering team is very keen on, you know, our brand right now and they understand it when they design or put a certain innovation or some type of, you know, a new type of filler or a new type of crimper or something like that it has to have a look. It has to have a look that stands out and it has to be a function that’s going to be, you know, a great piece of equipment. So, yeah, they definitely pay attention to that. Yeah, there’s no like it. Yeah. They wouldn’t like to throw something in the middle like what is that? Why are you putting that there? That doesn’t look good. Yeah. Why is it not stainless steel? Why is it not stainless steel? So yeah.

Carman Pirie: It’s one of the striking things about the machinery actually, is that the all stainless, at least some of the ones I’ve seen on.

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah. Well all stainless steel for a reason, you know, it just doesn’t corrode. It’s the last a long time and I mean I’ve seen some machines inside of shops that some of our customers, they, they take a beating, but they still look good. So that’s because they don’t corrode though, because of the all stainless steel. So that is definitely one of our advantages. Yeah. It ups the price a little bit, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Jeff White: You mentioned a moment ago about how the esthetic of the machines is part of the brand and all of that at MBC before you joined on, they didn’t really have an internal marketing department and you sort of brought this, you know, the esthetic argument and helping highlight that. How else have you kind of tried to bring that brand to life as you’ve begun to build a marketing strategy for NBC?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah, I think just helping, you know, as a storyteller, and a filmmaker, I wanted to come in and emphasize like, why we do what we do? why do we build the machines the way we build them? Yeah. And it was that there was no marketing department before I started, so there was marketing done. So I came in and really put a kind of put some structure in the kind of how we’re going to reach the customer, redesigned website, you know, using social media to really tell the stories on how we build and why we do what we do. And, you know, it’s definitely shown in some of the, you know, some of the responses from customers as far as understanding now they’re like, oh, okay, now I know why you guys do that or, you know, wow, that’s a great innovation or, you know, so it definitely helped. And that’s kind of a direction I took as far as building up the brand to this point.

Carman Pirie: When you talk about the storytelling of the brand and the way you build that, what we do fundamentally, there’s kind of two different ways people can go about that. They could kind of go from a bit of the inside out, like, this is our driving passion. These are the people that build this equipment and this is why we do it or they kind of go from the outside in and they have more highlight customers, clients and say and the problems that they’re solving there and kind of maybe showing a bit more of the people focus on external versus internal. Have you chosen one or the other and if so, why?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah, I think ours, ours is external. I mean, a lot of we’ve had some companies that we’ve actually that went from one machine, one small lab machine to now they have a full warehouse of machines and that’s just, you know, that’s just that’s kind of our DNA is to come alongside our customers and really kind of grow with them and help them innovate.

Herbert Staten Jr.: So have a new can or something like that they need that’s why we’re kind of a custom designer. They have a new can or a new brand. Somebody coming to them or have a new company or can or product. And it’s like it’s up to us to kind of help them to bring that can, you know, to the consumer and kind of have a be able to feel like that. So yeah, so it is I think it’s rewarding when I go out and see, you know, people growing, you know, some of our customers growing in there, they’re getting another machine and like, wow, we have a whole new line of product we’re going to put on this machine and what that machine is, and they’re excited about it. So, yes, ours is that very customer, you know, customer-driven as far as why we do what we do. Yeah. So it’s, you know, I think that’s why we’ve been around so long.

Jeff White: One of the things that you mentioned to us in our conversation before we started recording the podcast was that you know, in the, your operating in an incredibly niche space or niche space, you know, but you’ve mentioned too that you’re also kind of and I think it’s evident in what you’ve brought to MBC from the product standpoint in terms of how you’re showcasing it and all that. But one of the things you’ve mentioned is that you really are kind of looking at what are the trends that are out there right now in marketing and kind of bringing things maybe from a non-industrial space to the sort of things that you’re marketing. What are you seeing what are you looking for there and what do you feel you’ve taken advantage of?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah, I think well, I think coming from outside, I was, you know, kind of doing marketing for, you know, B2C. B2B is totally different. They’re more conscious of the price and you know, how what are I am I to get back on this, on this product or this machine that I’m buying? So I think thinking outside the box and looking at how B2C markets. Right, you know, kind of taking a little bit of that and just taking some risk and, you know, taking some risk on social media put some stuff out that’s either humorous or, you know, kind of seeing where it’s going to how people are going to, you know, gauge it and interact with it and engage. So, you know, yeah, I think outside the box a lot. So like sometimes I have to question what I’m about to… I’m like, okay, I don’t think I need to post that. I run some stuff by the team and like, do we think we should go with this? And they’re like, Nah, let’s not do that one. That could get us in trouble. But, but yeah, you know, I like thinking outside the box, like keeping it innovative and, you know, even ads and print ads and, you know, we still do a lot of print ads just, you know, being kind of, you know, I think, you know, inspired by car ads a lot.

It’s very emotional, very emotional the way they, build the car, you know, and then they kind of create this environment around that car. You look at Formula One, I think I saw a documentary of Formula One and how they’re and some of the, you know, the teams and how they have the cars sit in the lobby to have like all these cars they’ve driven like sit in a lobby, like a museum. It’s like, wow, that’s… But it gives a certain mystique when you walk into that, you know, you walk into the office, you’re like, wow, this is this is what they built. It’s just cars. They all look the same. We all make the same model type. But that’s but the different colours and the, you know, the story behind each one and but it gives you a different feeling so you can embrace it you like it. So that’s kind of why, I guess what inspires me is, you know, definitely look at the way cars are marketed and you know it’s showcased.

Jeff White: Have you done I know what a lot of the manufacturers that we work with that factory tour is sort of the last step usually before a purchase is made you know it’s or sometimes I guess it could be, you know, even earlier in the process. But are you working within MBC to create kind of, you know, any internal storytelling at the plant or people coming to see that?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yes. Yeah, Yeah, definitely. I would. I remember the first day there and I walked through to the facility and I’m like, How come we have no pictures of the machines on the wall? Like people walk in is nothing here? So that was kind of my first like, Hey, okay, we’re going to get some, some large, you know, 24×36 prints on the wall of each machine and details and yeah, definitely sort of. That was probably one of the things the first things I initiated because, yeah, there was nothing that told that story when you walked into the factory. So now it’s definitely, you know, the people are like, oh, okay, wow. Even like new employees coming in or new builders are like, Hey, wow, that’s great. I built that machine or, you know.

Carman Pirie: Has to be a source of pride for existing employees. Yeah?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah, exactly. So but it definitely gives it gives it a feel. And, you know, all the pictures in the conference rooms and, you know, so it gives people a feeling they come in like, okay, it was a conversation piece as well.

Carman Pirie: Herbert I want to go back to that comment that you made about B2C versus B2B and kind of taking some risks particularly in social and yeah, reflecting on that a little bit, I guess I’m curious, do we, I think I can make the argument in either direction, like I can make the argument. I think that the B2B is actually more risk-loving, that there’s more tolerance for certain types of potentially off-color humour than there might be in more B2C environments where you’re now. And I could probably make the argument in the reverse. What has been your experience?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah, man, I would say that I think I look at there’s some there are some brands out there that are definitely taking a lot of swings, you know, like Liquid Death or they’re taking, you know, but their B2C, so they can they take those swings and it works for them. It works for their brand as their brand is. So I think, you know, with, you know, with machines, you have to kind of I want to say conservatively look at it. But I think, you know, kind of stay within your brand, and who you represent, who your consumers are. Otherwise, you kind of lose them in a sense. So you have to be on that edge a little bit, but then kind of come back. I mean, you know, when I came in, I mean, I was like, hey, we’re going to get on every platform. But we are we’re on every platform, even Pinterest. Pinterest, TikTok. So we have TikTok videos that have a lot of views, just quirky engineering-type stuff or that is that I wouldn’t I didn’t actually expect it to kind of go viral, but it actually did. And I was like, wow, okay. But it’s a platform. And it actually just I mean, just showcasing the brand. I mean, I’ll just use this platform for what it is. I use social for what it is. It’s a it’s a net to bring everybody back to the website and to have a conversation about MBC.

Carman Pirie: You just mentioned how the TikTok success surprised you. Would you say that’s been the most surprising execution thus far? Or and if not, what was?

Herbert Staten Jr.: No, I’ve had some like we’ve done some blogs that have definitely had some great, you know, just great engagement. The TikTok one… Yeah, it was because it was kind of a, it was a video of like I had just kind of started the platform, you know, kind of a signed us up for the platform. And I was like, Hey, I can do a couple of videos here. Let’s see what happens. I was playing around. I’ll test a lot to see what works and what doesn’t work. And I found that people are very interested in the mechanical side of what we do is what we’re testing, you know, So they want to see the quirky stuff that the general public won’t see that are interesting, that you know taking cardboard to redirect some valves or something like that. Just, you know, I think you just find what works on each platform and that’s what I’ve done even Insta, I mean Instagram is great. I mean, you know like each platform has its own audience its own little quirk. You, you just find what works. And once I find what works, hey, I just keep, you know, just keep creating that same thing.

Carman Pirie: Until Congress shut it down.

Herbert Staten Jr.: That’s the great thing about all these platforms. You shut down one, you just move on. Don’t focus on one

 Jeff White: That’s interesting. Do you find that there’s a specific kind of grouping of, you know, potential customers for your machines in different places, in different pieces of social media? And does that impact what you create for them?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yes. Yes, it does. Yeah. On Instagram, I would find that a lot of medical pharmaceutical audiences on there that will engage with some of the machines that we build that are for pharmaceuticals. And, you know, in the MDI world, the metered dose inhaler world, and then on LinkedIn you know kind of a traditional aerosol, Bag-on-Valve type of audience that I’ll find there. So, yeah, each audience has its own, you know, like I think each I find on each platform there is something, Twitter is more informational, just kind of like, you know, or X, whatever you want to call it now.

Carman Pirie: Yeah, I refuse to call it X too. I’m with you.

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah, that’s still Twitter.

Carman Pirie: That’s fascinating that you found a bit of vertical differentiation as well in platforms. That’s really cool.

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah, a lot. Yeah. And then like I said, Twitter is more informational, you know, you’ll have something that people… and I’ll pay attention to the way I know if you ever looked at how clickbait works on like Facebook or just on websites in general and I pay a lot, I pay attention to that because it’s very emotional. So I try to drive the audience based on clickbait type of headings on Twitter. It works well.

Carman Pirie: Herbert, as a term, is drawing to a close. Um, I wonder if you have any kind of parting advice for people, maybe, maybe people who have had experience in marketing but are jumping into the industrial B2B space for the first time. What are your parting words?

Herbert Staten Jr.: Yeah, I would say just get a real good grasp on where you want your brand to go, where you want, where you want it to go. Don’t don’t limit yourself based on what others are doing. Think outside the box. It just, you know, just create and have fun with it. You know, I think I think it’s taken too seriously at times, especially within the B2B space in manufacturing, it’s taken too seriously, enjoy it. You know, we are marketing, create, be creative and just create things that are, you know, that are outside the box and you know that appeal to people when they when they see it.

Carman Pirie: Make things beautiful so people buy ‘em.

Herbert Staten Jr.: Exactly, make things beautiful, so they buy it.

Carman Pirie: Herbert, it’s been a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you so much.

Herbert Staten Jr.: No, thank you. Thank you for having me.

Jeff White: Cheers. Thanks a lot.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring with Carman Pirie and Jeff White. Don’t miss a single manufacturing marketing insight. Subscribe now at That’s K-U-L-A partners dot com slash the kula ring.

Read Full Transcript

Herbert Staten Jr. Headshot


Herbert Staten Jr.

Marketing Director at MBC Aerosol Filling Machinery

Herbert Staten Jr. is an innovative Marketing Tactician renowned for his exceptional skills in cinematography and photography, which allow him to craft captivating content that truly tells a story for MBC Aerosol. With a keen eye for manufacturing marketing trends, Herbert initiates campaigns backed by detailed analysis and keen observation. His out-of-the-box thinking and refusal to conform to conventional manufacturing marketing strategies have played a pivotal role in elevating MBC’s brand and educating consumers effectively. Herbert is dedicated to pushing boundaries and setting new standards in the industry.

The Kula Ring is a podcast for manufacturing marketers who care about evolving their strategy to gain a competitive edge.

Listen to conversations with North America’s top manufacturing marketing executives and get actionable advice for success in a rapidly transforming industry.

About Kula

Kula Partners is an agency that specializes in maximizing revenue potential for B2B manufacturers.

Our clients sell within complex, technical environments and we help them take a more targeted, account-focused approach to drive revenue growth within niche markets.


You are using an outdated browser. Things may not appear as intended. We recommend updating your browser to the latest version.