Gaining Marketing Strength Through Partnerships

Episode 283

April 16, 2024

Wayne Thompson of Pineberry Manufacturing joins the show this week to discuss the increased engagement they have garnered through closer collaboration and partnerships with their suppliers and adjacent businesses. We break down how to get started with an initiative like this and some of the pitfalls to avoid.

Gaining Marketing Strength Through Partnerships 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 you doing, mate?

Carman Pirie: I am delighted to be here.

Jeff White: Fantastic.

Carman Pirie: Excited for today’s conversation. How are you doing?

Jeff White: I’m doing good. Yeah. And I think there’s something really interesting that we’re going to be talking about here. And it’s one of those evolutions of bringing a bit of a almost a SaaS model of thinking to be to be men, you factoring. And I don’t think we’ve heard of this before and really kind of seen how this could come to life.

Carman Pirie: Yeah, it’s funny. I hadn’t. I hadn’t really thought about this as a SaaS kind of approach.

Jeff White: I think they tend to do the I mean, we’re kind of burying the lead here. But, you know, I think they sort of, you know, have adopted more of this kind of approach in a in a similar way to what our guest is doing. And I I’m interested to hear he’s kind of spinning it up. So joining us today is Wayne Thompson. Wayne is the director of Marketing and Partnerships at Pineberry Manufacturing. Welcome to The Kula Ring Wayne.

Wayne Thompson: Hey guys. Thank you for having me. Very happy to be here.

Carman Pirie: Wayne it’s you know, it’s suspicious, right when we get we’re bringing you want to talk about the second part of your title. To kind of drill into the partnership side. But we probably do that. I’d love to introduce our listeners a bit more formally to Pineberry and to yourself. So tell us a bit about Pineberry Manufacturing and how you ended up there.

Wayne Thompson: It’s a very interesting story, but yeah, for Pineberry it’s, Pineberry Manufacturing is a basically packaging automation manufacturer, so we’ve been actually celebrating our 40th anniversary this year and we basically build order management or order fulfillment systems and printing and labeling solutions for the packaging industry, if you will. So we work with all kinds of different businesses. It could be ecommerce merchants selling products online that needs a packaging automation solution or we work with the food industry. We work with a lot of companies that are doing a lot of those you know, those drop tray, those trays that you get from the grocery store and they need like labeling done. We do all that and we do a lot like a variety of different things for pharmaceutical and cannabis as well. And how I ended up here and actually my background is it’s kind of interesting because I, I really actually come from the, the software tech industry. I have a background in ecommerce and data integration. So I’ve done a lot of work around Shopify and like all these like e-commerce platforms. But then I also know that the back end is around like ERP systems, and that’s kind of like where the order management and the shipping systems that Pineberry does actually work on. It comes into play. So I’m sort of doing the whole gamut in terms of the industry covering the front end and the back end as well as the actual hardware that goes into everything. So like lately I’ve got a whole north of a 20 year history in sales, marketing and partnerships.

Carman Pirie: What a what a catch for pine berry to get somebody, uh, working on the inside that has that much knowledge of how the product actually comes to life that’s gonna help.

Wayne Thompson: It’s helpful.

Jeff White: It’s to kind of given the, a bit of the intro that I threw out at the beginning of the show, you know, Do you feel like your background in ecommerce and in software enabled you to think a little bit differently about how you might bring the notion of partnerships to a packaging manufacturer?

Wayne Thompson: Um, yeah. So I started kind of really thinking about like how this would work. I didn’t really dive into the sort of the software of the partnerships I’d really been focusing on, like expanding our manufacturing and our OEM relationships, because a lot of the systems that we do put together do have multiple different third party solutions as well. So really trying to like, enhance those relationships and get a lot more of the, um, the marketing side of our relationship really, really going. And so it kind of involves and like to the point about like the second half of my title and how the marketing and the partnership aspects kind of fall into play. I’m doing both science effectively, at least in my mind, where I’m working with our marketing team and our partners, really trying to generate interest from both parties. And then also like tap into the sales team, build the relationships between our team and their team as well and see what more like joint opportunities that we can come up with. So there’s a lot of like, yeah, we’ve got a relationship and we’ve got like rep that might work with us, but then like there’s more out there and they have, you know, larger sales organization than we may have. So, you know, we, we try to tap into that community through partnerships.

Carman Pirie: You find I mean I can imagine Prime Barry is not a massive company. You don’t have a, you know, thousands of staff. So, you know, as a result, I think that part of this partnership strategy is really just a way of accessing a level of scale and reach that may be, um, a challenge otherwise. But do you find as well that even with maybe more established players, maybe they just don’t lean into partnerships as much? Like sometimes I wonder if that’s just untapped opportunity, Like not just because they’re smaller and more nimble maybe and want to leverage that, but maybe just because other folks just aren’t paying the same amount of attention to the partnership and to curating that relationship as you might be.

Wayne Thompson: Yeah, actually, what I find I’m like, and we’ll get to the software aspect of it later. But yeah, what I did find through some of our current partnerships, when I started reaching out to the much larger organizations they’ve been thinking about, they were like, you know, like actually one company I talked to in particular, you know, they, their VP of marketing, you know, had come from a similar background as myself. And they were like, you know, we’ve been trying to figure out how we’re going to do this. You know, what what do we do to, like, really cultivate and enhance our relationships with our with our OEM partners in this case? And it was kind of funny, like I had reached out and said, you know, this is what we’re doing and let’s try to figure out a way to work more closely together. So what I did was I started, I mean, it always takes like someone to move the egg a little bit, right? So I you know, I started putting it all together or like a marketing video that we were doing. And the way I did it was I included all of the components like from our OEM partners in the video. And then I actually mentioned them like throughout the video as well, like right in the bottom, you know, showing shots of their their product as part of our overall solution. And I shared it on social made sure that their team knew about it. What they ended up doing was they shared it with their within their own community and all their sales reps saw this and just started moving it around. So it was kind of neat because some of them didn’t really know who we were and now we’re demoing their product in our videos. And of course you’re going to use that, you know, for their conversations with their customers, right? So it’s you know, it started from something small as an idea, but like it can gain traction.

Jeff White: I mean, that’s a you know, that’s really interesting and it’s a bit of a opening up. The potential for a two way conversation, you know, a two way providing of marketing assets and sales horsepower. Are they, you know, the partners that you’ve included in this in the video content or are they also kind of providing things for you to use as well in your marketing?

Wayne Thompson: Uh, it’s coming. It’s, as part of the, you know, the relationship aspect of all this. It’s a little bit of give and take sometimes. But no, actually, you know, that’s not entirely accurate. They did actually. We did do one in March. We did two back to back events, trade shows. I mean, one of them, because of all the effort that I had put in, I guess to the previous video content that I created, they did some posts as well, mentioning all their OEM partners, and we were included, you know, but they shared it on their social channels and, you know, got the name out there. But we I mean, if I hadn’t done what I had done, there is a chance that we may not be mentioned like a lot of OEMs, right? But like they put this in there and they’re like top ten, but pretty darn good. I would say.

Carman Pirie: It’s a real testament to just leaning into that partnership. I think like there’s some companies that would maybe look at an OEM ecosystem. If they’re a smaller player, they might think, Oh wow, it would be hard for me to get the attention or uh, or to be mentioned alongside some of these other other firms. And so much of it is just about putting yourself out there and expressing interest from the get go and actually developing these partnerships. I guess, I’m curious Wayne how formalized are they getting? Are we getting to a point of, um, more formal spiffing arrangements of channel partners, shared marketing agreements, I guess where are we at in the evolution of this? And maybe where have you been in your previous jobs that may be pointing to where you’re looking to take this?

Wayne Thompson: Yeah, like previously before I was, well before I joined Pineberry, I was actually part of a marketplace, like an e-commerce marketplace where I would onboard vendors, vendor partners or ISP’s basically, I would say software companies that would have to integrate into the platform part of the part of the partnership agreement was register big register component so that one think they would list their product available, available for sale in a in a platform that resellers can sell to their end clients using like using our, our platform itself. It’s a part of the arrangement was to have a register agreement in place as as as part of the partnership with them. But what we also did was provide them enablement from the platform so they would, you know, have the opportunity to, you know, with our sales team and introduce their products directly to us, directly to the sales team. And then it was a little bit more of like on boarding and hand-holding and getting like in terms of overall success for, for what I’m doing with Pineberry right now is, you know, we’re developing a channel partnership arrangement with, you know, companies that want to work with us. Possibly want to sell some of our solutions with theirs or vice versa. We like we already do it today, but it was never really like formalized. So we’re working on that. But what I’ve been doing is trying to figure out like what level of referral fee that we want to do. But in your point, like a lot of it’s going to be around like joint marketing efforts, things we can do collaborative together, not really put that like monetary component in play, if you will, but like really see what we can do from  a thought leadership point together and then like to come up with some pretty good content. So I mean, from what I’ve seen so far is a lot of the companies are starving like other companies are searching for new content to put out there. So with me, I’ve been able to like say, okay, I’ll join, I’ll jointly write something with you, let’s get something out there. And that’s a good way to start the relationship off and see what kind of leads we can generate together. And, you know, kind of when it’s sort of at a cooperative level. But yeah, what I’ve been doing outside of the vendor side of the partner relationships and the fact that we do Pineberry does an awful lot of like e-commerce shipping labeling systems. I mean like and you know, the fact is we do have customers that are on Shopify. They need labeling solutions, labeling software. We don’t provide that. So part of the philosophy going up for a partnership is to find that missing component, find that missing vendor where, you know, we’re we’re talking to a client and they’re telling us, hey, we got we need labeling like we recommend, you know, like it’d be nice to have my sales team say, Yeah, I’ve got this partner. Here they are. We do a, a warm introduction together. That lead stays in-house. That leads us. It goes to a partner that we can trust. They’re going to work with us and then hopefully, you know, they’ve got a they may have a customer on their side that has a fit for us and then we can start that way, you know? So I’m in like approaching software vendors a little different and outside the box of the normal manufacturing partnerships. But to bring them in-house and say, look, we’ve got an end-to-end solution that covers all your automation, but then also can handle the software side as well. 

Jeff White: I really like that. And I you know, the the level of reciprocity that’s baked into this is just, you know, it’s fantastic. How have you or how are you planning to bring this to life like online? Are you are you doing anything with a specific partner section on the Pineberry website or what are you thinking there?

Wayne Thompson: Yeah, so actually February launched a partner page. Our website does list a few partners that we do have in place. Some of them are our OEM partners, some of them are our packaging partners. It goes on the other side. We you know, we handle a lot of packaging, but we don’t sell it. You know, in our our customers, typically they’ll come to us with packaging samples. They’re getting it from somewhere. All right. So you know, that’s another area where I’m I’m looking at partnering a little bit more because it’s an advantage. You know, a good example is we do a lot of like automation machines for cannabis as well. And breaking more into it right now. And you know, I’ve already had like cannabis packaging suppliers come and see us come and visit with us, talk to us and what we’re doing. And they’ve got example video of what we’ve done with specific packages that typically can be sourced from them and they can now use that video when they’re talking to customers and say, Oh yeah, you know, we’ve got, you know, Mr. Customer, you got 6000 pouches, you know, for cannabis. How are you going to handle that? We’ve got an automation vendor that will do all that labeling and printing and everything for you, and you don’t have to pay a bunch of people to package it. Oh, you know, before I approached some of these companies, they never heard of us and they never thought of the idea. Most of the time it would be like, oh, you know, we don’t we don’t know. You’ll have to figure it out yourself. All right. So now they go, Well, here is Pineberry manufacturing there in Oakville. This is what they do.

Jeff White: That also opens up so many more opportunities to be found. And it gives you the right to talk about those adjacent solutions that integrate with you without sounding like you’re just kind of making it up, you know, because you have the legitimacy of the partners. You have an area of the website where you can talk about the solutions that come with the integrations, and now you can be found, you know, for cannabis packaging when maybe it would have seemed a little, I don’t know, not untrue, but, you know, less fulsome a solution on that. I love that. That’s really cool.

Wayne Thompson: Yeah. I mean the way I think about it is going back to my more enterprise sales days where I would, you know, I was selling SAP, you know, and I would go into like warehouses companies, for example, I sold SAP to a packaging vendor maybe more than ten years ago that it all the Uncle Ben’s packaging and they would their warehouse had, you know, requirements for binning solutions and they had trucking as well tracking systems or dispatching. They had a lot of things. So I had to leverage partners as a salesperson to come up with a solution that met the needs of the customer, basically. So the way I approach a lot of my partner arrangements is to like remove a lot of the, um, I don’t know, extra steps involved in the sales process when someone leaving our team or their team is talking to a customer and they need a solution, you know, I need like more than 80% of that that area covered to be successful.

Carman Pirie: It makes sense to me. I mean, one of the things I’m kind of curious about as I kind of imagine those conversations that I’ve been in where people are maybe seeming less enthusiastic about a partnership, I’m trying to think about what reasons were driving that. I think some of it is that they feel like when they bring partners to the table to help deliver a more fulsome solution, they’re both kind of, in some cases losing control of the overall solution delivery or having to at least share control. And then there’s also can be sometimes concern about, well, if I’m recommending this partner, if they if they screw up, I could basically almost take it comes with implied warranty because it came with a recommendation. How do you navigate the downside potential of that or do you just think it’s overstated?

Wayne Thompson: I think it’s important to watch out for what the way I used to handle was sort of like the project lead, I guess between all parties. Like, for example, I had one partner where like I would host the calls and co-host with another, like someone on their team and then our sales teams. It’s all actually really it’s all about alignment and making sure that the, you know, the introductions are done and everybody’s sort of in the know these conversations on like who’s doing what. So it’s, you know, we used to have more of like a statement of work or a project outline and say who is responsible for ex-wife X, Y and Z and, you know, insurance all laid out. Right? So, you know, unless you want to work with partners are not going to like potentially introduce someone else into the picture. You know, they’re going to want to like, ensure that we’re you know, we’re we’re we’re in a line and working together, basically.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. It’s hard to know how how else to approach it other than simply be careful. I do think there’s a level of, uh, transparency that can often be important in these situations, particularly where there’s a rev share component or what have you. I think to oftentimes helpful if that rev share is made kind of transparent and public to the to the end customer as well. Sometimes I found there can be conflicts emerge in partnerships when it’s not clear how people are getting paid. You know? 

Wayne Thompson: I think when it comes to end customers never really come up and really come across a part of the like that, that element of like, how are we working together in terms of who’s getting paid, what their main concerns have always been like maybe around like integration, Is it going to work together? How are you guys going to do this? So having a proper outline, like having the I guess the luxury of like positioning a complete end to end solution, including all the third parties and does have an advantage because then you can outline a project where you know, our deliverables are going to be like, you know, from like we’re going to do like A to ten sorry, A to E. And then, you know, our partners are going to do this, but they’re essentially part of us, part of our our deliverables, part of our time. And in some cases, our team was trained on likely delivering the third party solution product. All right. So I guess it would kind of depend on that. But like, yeah, like I don’t recall really having that. Like, how are you guys? You know, who’s getting spiffed and all that kind of stuff. Customers don’t really care. They’re more like they’re more interested in the end result and getting it done and like, maybe who’s going to hang up the project a little bit? Most of the time I would say it’s the customer that slows things down for everybody else. But I mean, it really, you know, it really kind of depends.

Carman Pirie: And customers love hearing that, don’t they?

Jeff White: I love something that you said in there, too, though, because you said that your team also was learning how that those kind of third party solutions worked. So I have to think that it’s also a you know, these partnership networks also help to grow capacity within your own organization because all of a sudden people understand, oh, here’s how people are going to use our machine here are the things are going to plug in to that. Here are the other parts of that process that they need to be aware of that maybe they weren’t before having these closer relationships with with integration partners. That’s a really cool little insight. 

Wayne Thompson: Yeah.

Jeff White: well Wayne, we’re kind of coming towards the end of our time here. I’m really wondering what’s next for the partnership network as you continue to, grow.

Wayne Thompson: I think what I’m going to be doing is just really focusing on growing what we’re started already today, really like grow into it. So, you know, really finding, for example, like a shipping software vendor that wants to be a part of our roadmap in terms of like building an ecosystem around e-commerce, you know, really being more involved in that community. There’s lots of them out there. You know, a lot of them do the same thing. We could be a big differentiator for them. So I want to focus on that, build that out, and then focus on some of the other areas that we’ve got going like cannabis automation systems that we’re doing and just really build that out strongly.

Carman Pirie: I’ve been like resisting the urge to give the pony joked about busting into the cannabis market. But anyway, we’re going to be shows a lot of insider cannabis knowledge that we don’t always disclose on the show. But Wayne, this has been, it’s been a pleasure to chat with you. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with our listeners today. It’s been great to have you on the show.

Wayne Thompson: Thank you very much, guys. Pleasure being here. I’d love to do it again. No problem at all. Great being here. Thank you.

Jeff White: Thank you.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring with Carman Perry 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.

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Wayne Thompson Headshot


Wayne Thompson

Director of Marketing and Partnerships at Pineberry Manufacturing

Wayne Thompson is Director of Marketing and Partnerships at Pineberry Manufacturing, Inc. and leads the overall strategic marketing efforts as well as growing their channel, OEM, and solution partners. Prior to joining Pineberry, he was Strategic Partnerships Manager for Vendasta, which provides an end-to-end platform used exclusively by agencies who sell digital products and services where he curated ISV and Technology Partnerships for their Marketplace.

With just over 20 Years of experience in the technology space, Wayne has had the opportunity to gain knowledge in eCommerce, ERP, OMS, EDI and multiple SaaS platforms and is a proud Father, Hockey Player, Runner, and BBQ Guy.

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

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