Is Your Marketing a Cost Center or a Revenue Generator?

Episode 1

August 7, 2018

In this episode of The Kula Ring, Jeff and Carman chat with Chris Schmitt, Senior Director of Strategic Development from the National Association of Manufacturers. They discuss the importance of using the data from new tools and technology to prove that marketing departments in manufacturing organizations are revenue generators, not just cost centers.

Is Your Marketing a Cost Center or a Revenue Generator? Transcript:

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

Jeff White: Hello and welcome to The Kula Ring. My name is Jeff White, and I’m joined here by my business partner Carman Pirie. Today, we have Chris Schmitt from the National Association of Manufacturers on the line, and welcome Chris.

Chris Schmitt: Hello, thanks for having me.

Carman Pirie: We’re really excited to be chatting with you today, Chris. The Senior Director of Strategic Development for the National Association of Manufacturers, we’ll just call it NAM for short for the rest of our chat, representing over 14,000 member manufacturers including 12 million employees, producing a combined economic impact of 2.25 trillion. I love when we can put those kind of numbers out there, but I do think it speaks to, in some way, the perspective that you’re bringing to the conversation today. Welcome, and Chris, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background as well as your position at NAM?

Chris: I do have a unique background. I’m a lawyer by trade, but came out of the school and realized that something outside of the law was what really my calling was. I did the JD MBA program at the same time, so I was able to look at couple of different directions. It was 2009 when I came out of grad school, and so it wasn’t a great time to come out of grad school with a degree in anything especially with a degree looking for something in business or law, and so I had to get creative. I found a very small web agency, I was employee number four, well counting the dog I was employee number five, but to be able to take it from “hey, we’re building some websites” to really a “we’re going to grow this into a legitimate web agency” was a great way to start my professional career after grad school.

We quickly found a niche in manufacturing. It was amazing how many new manufacturers in Northeast Ohio, which is where this was, how many manufacturers were so far behind the eight ball. At this point, it was 2009, a lot of them had built a level one website back in the late ’90s that they hadn’t touched, and so they were just starting to get into “hey, we should focus on websites”, and so able to build a nice client base there.

One of my clients, American Roll Form Products hired me away to come run their manufacturing department, so to jump from the agency to a $30 million manufacturer. Two years later I was hired away by a company that was ERICO at the time, that was $600 million that was ultimately purchased by Pentair, which was an $8 billion company, so to be able to ride that roller coaster from 4 people and a dog to 30,000 people in an $8 billion company I got to see a lot of different subsets of manufacturing along the way, which when the NAM opportunity came along it was amazing to be able to leverage the small, and the medium, and the large manufacturing back into conversations with manufacturers of all types from across the country in all kinds of industries. Having lived on the inside gives me a lot of opportunity to talk about experiences that I’ve had that I know that they’re going through right now, and so it makes those conversations even easier to have.

Carman: There’s this little illness of marketing, it’s once you’ve got that bug, and you look at the world through that lens you kind of— a friend of mine’s fond of saying a pickle can’t be a cucumber again. You can’t look at things except through that marketing lens sometimes, and I’m sure that carries forward in your work today.

Chris: That’s absolutely true. It’s the same affliction that lawyers have, and I always get the question of why in the world is a lawyer in marketing? At the end of the day, it’s the same skill set. It’s taking really big ideas, it’s analyzing them, distilling them down into something that’s digestible, and then presenting that digestible content to somebody that you want to take action—  be it a jury, be it a buyer, be it someone you want to come work for you. It’s all the same thought pattern, and so it never goes away. I’ll tell you in the conversations I have every day distilling the big ideas down into small ones, and then being able to get people to act upon those ideas it’s the same philosophy whether you’re marketing widgets to people around the planet, or whether you’re trying to get them to buy into a sponsorship program at the National Association of Manufacturers, it’s the same thought process.

Carman: It’s interesting to me because the more things change the more they stay the same, and you were talking about your experience as the fourth person, fifth employee at the agency, and that a lot of manufacturing clients at the time had very rudimentary web presence, and whatnot. Frankly, fast forward nine years later, and here we are, and …

Jeff: It’s still not that different.

Carman: Yeah, can we say that maybe the same thing could be said?

Chris: I think, that’s very true. If there’s one consistent thing that I’ve seen in working in marketing in the manufacturing sector it’s that manufacturing is the last industry to move on things related to sales and marketing, and I would say that the marketing department is the last one to get the permission to move even within a manufacturer. It’s just because of the way that we’ve always thought about marketing. Marketing 5 years ago, 10 years ago, even today in many organizations was about “hey, I need a new catalog let me take new photos to put them in a new catalog.” That mentality of “hey, we’re a catalog shop, we’re an outbound marketing, if you want to buy us let us know, we’re going to dump all of our parts on the table, and you point to the one that you want to buy, and we’ll sell it to you.”

What a backwards way to think about how to make money, how to drive business as an organization. As opposed to going out and talking to the customers and figuring out what you need, and “how can I help connect you through some great content, how can I help connect you through some innovative thought leaders in the industry, through some videos, through audio, by doing a podcast? How can I connect you to the content you need to be prepared when it’s time for you to make a decision to come to me?”

Carman: Is it just a mindset, then, that’s holding them back, do you think?

Chris: Absolutely. I think the biggest holdback is inertia. Manufacturers, it’s a wonderful industry, and I love to work in this industry, but we are perpetually slow to jump, and even when we do jump it’s certainly jump under the mentality of “I’m going to need you to bring me data”. It’s CEOs who are used to seeing operations say, “I saved us $2 million by becoming 1% more efficient in this process.” As a marketer in manufacturing you better be able to backup the new ideas, and be able to backup that new direction you’d like to take people with the data that they’re used to seeing from the other parts of the business.

Jeff: The good news is there’s never been a better time, and a more sophisticated tool set for being able to actually backup where those sales have come from than we have today. It’s only going to get better. How are you seeing the adoption of new marketing, and sales techniques with the manufacturers that you talk to everyday?

Chris: It’s a mile deep and a mile wide, I would say with the tools. That’s something that’s always the challenge, if you’re in the stakeholder seat, if you’re somebody who is trying to bring marketing automation into it, if you’re trying to bring a new marketing tool into the subset it’s really easy to get distracted by the fact that there are thousands of options for most anything you want to do. With the marketing technology revolution that we’re going through right now, it’s amazing how many variants of ice cream there are. You know you need ice cream, but what flavor do you need? Working with a great partner is a great start to be able to help narrow those things down, but when you do pick a tool you’re going to need to pick a tool that you can commit to, and also that’s going to prove in a relatively near-term fashion the results that you’re looking for.

I’ll tell you a story from Pentair when I was there, there was always a hesitation about doing something beyond the catalog shop. I was the driver to bring inbound mentality to the organization, and really think about okay, we are going to be a content shop. We’re not going to produce catalogs, we’re going to produce content. They said, “Well, that’s never going to work,” and I said, “Okay, here’s the tools they need. I need the social media connections, I need some tracking tools for us, and inbound tools,” HubSpot that we loved working with, “And I’m gonna need a little time.”

A little time proved to be three months when we got in the middle of the night an email from somebody who was in Africa, in Tanzania, building a substation for a telephone line facility. He saw a blog that we had posted about the best kind of grounding solutions for substations, and he used that as a connection to reach out to us to say, “I would really like to start doing business with you,” and at the time that I left Pentair a year and a half ago that had turned into a $1.8 million sale with about $3 million behind it. All of a sudden, people didn’t care how much it cost for us to be playing with Facebook because we were bringing back real dollars. Marketing, before in a manufacturing company had never brought back dollars, had never brought back leads, had never brought back people who were making decisions. They were just the connection between the sales arm needed pictures to show to people, and so they were the people who produced those pictures.

Changing that mentality, and I’ll tell you, I’ve never been so happy to walk into a board room, then after that sale, and to be able to lay that paper on the table in front of our CEO and say, “This is proof that it works,” and he said, “Great. Never asking another question, go.”

Carman: Everybody wants to have that. I think, a lot of marketers listening to you right now would say, “I’d love to be able to have that meeting, and I feel if I could get the permission to implement what I want to do that I could get the results that would power that kind of a meeting.”

Jeff: No question.

Carman: The question is, how do I get permission to start? My guess is, in your work with Pentair that there must’ve been a precursor to that. Somebody had to have green lighted the initiative, and gotten with religion, shall we say, to kick things off.

Chris: Absolutely. I’m a big believer in building equity within an organization for you to be able to have the political points to play. For us, at Pentair, it had nothing to do with websites, it actually had to do with trade shows. At trade shows in the past it was the “let’s take our products and mail them to boards, and we’ll put the ball boards on the wall, and people can and point at what they want.” It was the same mentality as the sales guy dumping out the bag on the table. To be able to take that and to say, “We can do a brand-new trade show booth for the same price are paying now, we can make it a customer focused conversation space, and we’re going to be able to create these opportunities for us to develop relationships over time as opposed to pointing point at the thing on the wall you want to buy.”

Our success in the trade show world, and we were doing 125 trade shows around the world at the time, so this was a big dollar bucket, so to be able to say, “Let me use the same dollars to get you better results,” that was something that they were comfortable with trade shows, they were comfortable with results, and we just had to connect the two things together because they never had been. The equity that came out of that success allowed us to go and say, “All right well, we’ve proven that this works. Now, let me prove to you that we don’t need as many catalogs, we need a better website. Now, let me prove to you that we need to move off of this product-based marketing into this content-based marketing.” Just picking the right battles in the front end allows you to pick the battles you want to fight on the back end.

Carman: It’s really interesting because as you were talking right there, there’s two things beating around in my mind, and I think in some way they don’t disagree with each other, they’re knocking on the same door maybe in some ways, I don’t know. One of them is that, to your point about inertia and an unwillingness to adopt new techniques in the marketing and sales side, it really seems to me that in an awful lot of manufacturing marketers I talked to they experience an environment that’s more conducive to new initiatives that support existing customers on the digital infrastructure side versus new initiatives to try to acquire new customers.

Now, on the marketing side customer acquisition investments will tend to trump, but on the digital infrastructure side it seems like they’re more content to invest in service in the existing verses finding the new. Does your experience align with that at all?

Chris: It does. We always tried to divide our work between servicing the existing customers versus going and finding the new. I will tell you that we had more luck getting permission to play in the sandbox with “go find new customers that we’re not talking to” than “service customers in a different way”. The thought was don’t screw up the good thing that we have going, we have good relationships with these clients, we don’t want to do disrupt the flow except very incrementally. However, there was the freedom to go, and social was a great example, it was the freedom to go out and say, “Okay, we’re not using social now, we’re not going to use to talk to current customers necessarily. We’re going to go use it to find people that we’re not currently talking to.” That gave us the flexibility and the freedom to go and try something new because there wasn’t a hesitation about screwing up something that was known, taking money out of the bank, if you will.

The success on the new side, the success of finding the guy in Tanzania, allowed us to come back and say, “Let’s modify how we’re having conversations with known customers,” and so I think it cuts both ways, but in my experience at least marketing within a manufacturing organization is going to get more freedom to go and explore new venues than they are to start over with something that’s already known.

Carman: Very interesting. I’m going to pay more attention to that now as I’m in conversations with marketers to see if they’re experiencing the same thing, if the friction that they experience internally is different, if it’s around servicing servicing existing verses finding new. I find there’s an interesting tension there.

Jeff: I was going to say we certainly saw at a recent B2B manufacturing conference people who were very concerned, and in fact not even really considering the new, and simply concerned about maintaining existing relationships and keeping those people happy in the way that they’ve been happy as customers for years.

Carman: And transitioning those to more digital relationships, understanding that the buyers are heading there.

Chris: It’s interesting to think about also the buy-in you have to get throughout the organization, and that’s another thing that I would encourage people that are moving into thinking about their next generation marketing within a manufacturer is you can’t go it alone. The biggest mistakes that I’ve ever made in my career as somebody leading a marketing department were directly related to the fact of I’m smart enough to get off the ground on my own. I’m going to go and prove how great of an idea this is, and it always turned out to be horrible failures.

The thing is, it didn’t matter how good the idea was, it didn’t matter how good I was at implementing the idea it was the fact that I didn’t have the buy-in from the sales, from product management, from product development, from operations, from finance, whoever I needed on the project. My first job should’ve been go out and explain to everybody else the role that they’re going to play in this project. When you start with that team-based mentality of getting everybody everyone on board, and realizing that marketing is a holistic function, it’s an organizational function, it’s not siloed, it’s an organizational function, that we’re all in marketing, and we all have to work together to be successful in marketing the only way that you’re going to get those big projects off the ground of having that buy-in from throughout the organization.

You’re listening to The Kula Ring, conversations on manufacturing marketing. Don’t forget to subscribe now at

Jeff: That leads into a point that we definitely want to talk about with you, which is around if we’re talking about having everybody engaged what about the fact that one of the things, one of the biggest challenges that we’ve certainly seen with manufacturers that we work with is talent attraction, and bringing on people who are digitally native, and understanding these kinds of things to help them flesh out that team, and lead the charge to run more content oriented marketing as opposed to the traditional ways? What do you think about the challenges that manufacturers are experiencing when it comes to HR?

Chris: I think manufacturing across the board, not just in the marketing department, but we’re continuing to outgrow this reputation from decades past of dark, dirty, and dangerous. That’s what people think of when they think manufacturing is, “Why would I want to go work there? I want to go work at Apple, I don’t really want to go work at Caterpillar.” No, if you actually go and look at those Caterpillar plants, man, they’re doing some amazing things, that’s awesome place to work, and it just takes getting over that hurdle.

Manufacturing day is something that we do nationwide, bring 300,000 kids from junior highs and high schools into manufacturing plants to be able to just overcome that myth. Many of them won’t go into manufacturing, but we want them to go out and be advocates for the fact that when their friends want to go into a job in manufacturing there’s an up an opportunity that that’s something they should support, that’s something that’s building the future, that’s innovative, that’s creative.

The robotics competitions going on right now, a great way to talk about building engineering skills, and building manufacturing skills. The biggest thing is it’s trying to find folks who are willing to take that leap of faith, but also treating them like they’re part of that creative class that they expect to be if they were to go to an agency, or were they to go to a professional services firm, it’s having somebody to come in to work on, I’ll go back to social media, to work on a social media plan for a manufacturer you better be prepared to work with them as you would a social media person at an agency as opposed to working with them as somebody who you’d hire to go and run machine six in building five.

The willingness of manufacturers to be able to realize it’s a different skill set, it’s typically a younger skill set, it’s somebody that’s coming may be fresh out of school with these skills, the willingness to, I would say, adapt culture because as much as we talk about inertia with people inertia with culture is a huge factor— to adapt the culture to attract that new talent is going to be the difference in success or failure.

Carman: I really see that it’s an interesting battle the manufacturers have in front of them because they have to overcome there’s just the industry wide, as you said, the dark, dirty, and dangerous, is that the way to describe it?

Jeff: It sounds like a Pink Floyd album.

Carman: Yeah. There’s that, the category needs to fight that battle, and then of course if the marketing departments, as you say, marketing and sales often the last department within the manufacturing enterprise to innovate doesn’t necessarily bode well for attracting the best and brightest marketing sales talent. It’s a bit of a double whammy there.

Chris: It is, but it gives you the chance. We would joke at ERICO, that then was purchased by Pentair, myself and a colleague of mine came in at the same time, and really were tasked with reinventing this marketing department. That was a big mandate but the way that we went about it, the first part was, okay we want to be the department where the cool kids work. Everybody always laughed when we said that, and I’m like, “No, I’m serious. I want to be the department where people within our organization,” now the 1200 then that became the 30,000, “I want the people in the rest of the organization to say, “How soon are you gonna have a job opening in marketing, and how do I come be part of your department?”

Getting people on the inside to believe that there was something innovative happening over in your group made it a lot easier to tell that story to people on the outside, and so a lot of the recruiting that we did were people that we found talent, we found energy, we found excitement throughout the organization, and we were able to pick off people that had different skill sets and grab them from operations, and grab them from engineering, and grab them from product management, and say, “Okay, you’re part of our marketing team now, and we’re going to build this new kind of machine, and your skills are absolutely essential to getting that machine to run.” As opposed to trying to build the walls and say we’re doing our own thing it was just the opposite. It’s tear down the walls, and how do we let as many people as possible participate in our projects?

Carman: It’s interesting to me. I’m going to really date myself now, but it reminded me, I think it was Tom Peters way back in the day who used to say that, “You’re never so powerful as when you’re powerless in some respects.” Maybe one of the secrets, if you find yourself in a peculiarly understaffed marketing department at a manufacturer with some bigger ideas, and a bit of a gift of ability to navigate the politics of the situation you might be able to, as a marketer, find yourself being given more opportunity to do more interesting things, more innovative things than you may have gotten the opportunity to do as a marketer were you to be in, for instance, the proverbial Nike or Apple. Pretty hard to go to Nike and Apple and get the mandate to completely revolutionize their marketing. They’ve got that nailed already, by the way. You were able to, reasonably fresh out of school, find a few opportunities with significant companies to do just that.

Chris: Absolutely. Since you mentioned Nike and Apple, one of the wild things about the environment right now is that companies like Nike, and like Apple want to be seen as manufacturers more than they ever have in their past. They’re part of the group that we are, as the NAM, working with to be able to revolutionize how people think about marketing, and people think about manufacturing, and how people think about this entire industry. The more of those, I don’t know, blue-chip tech companies, or blue-chip consumer companies that you can get to raise their hand and say, “Yes, we’re a manufacturer,” that helps the whole industry rise. That’s something that we certainly have enjoyed working with those sorts of companies.

Back to the other point, it is an awesome opportunity when you’ve got nothing to lose to go bold in your ideas, and finding the people who are willing to let you be creative, and let you grow is not only from a personal career development perspective exciting, but also from an organization side if you go in with the mentality of I’m here to solve this problem, and my timeframe is two to three years, and if it works okay, and if it doesn’t work okay. Not going in with the, I need to focus on getting this right, and 30 years from now I’m going to stick around and see how this organization changes, but much more of as a consultant, if you will, it’s a how do you go in with a mentality of I’ve got a limited timeframe to get this thing rolling, that’s going to free you up to be able to try some new things that people that are career folks in the marketing department may not have the opportunity to do.

Carman: I think that’s some great advice. I tend to think that there’s this other thing that’s bizarre to me in terms of the propensity for manufacturers to under invest, and under innovate in the marketing and sales function. It’s that so much, and you guys have touched on it already, Jeff you were mentioning earlier around the tech stack’s never been more robust, the ability to do measurable marketing that meets much of the objectives that we’re talking about, being able to prove the worth of the tool, the data, etc. Obviously, it’s more advanced than ever.

I think there’s another layer that manufacturers have been the innovators in terms of automation in every other aspect of the enterprise. In terms of how they automate their operations they leave professional services firms in the dust, as an example. You can certainly automate professional services to some degree, and have systems, and robust infrastructure in the background, but very often you don’t. You never hear of a manufacturer today that would be operating the same way that they were 50 years ago, but you would certainly hear of professional services firms that fundamentally operate the same way today as they did 50 years ago.

All that to say, automation everywhere except marketing and sales in some way. Innovation, strong technology adoption, everywhere else in the enterprise except marketing and sales. It would seem if marketers could somehow tap into that sensitivity and existing know how couldn’t they move that forward a bit?

Chris: Absolutely. It’s trying to change the mentality from marketing within our organization as a cost center to marketing within our organization is a revenue generator. That’s the theme of what I’ve come back to over 10 years in the marketplace is the if you can make that switch, if you can get people to go from thinking of you as a cost to a benefit as a part of the organization you’re going to have a lot of flexibility and a lot of power.

What you’re talking about with operations, and fixing the operations if they do an exceptional job they may save 10% on a process, whatever it is. All they’re doing is costing a little less, they’re never getting to the point of actually making money for the organization whereas in marketing if you use automation the right way, and if you’re able to find the right customers, and expand the pie as opposed to just expanding your piece of the pie expand the pie generally for what you’re organization is concerned with you’re going to be in a position to be able to come back and drive money to the top line, and not necessarily have to worry about the percentage cost differential for your department pretty soon you start to pay for yourself.

Pretty soon, all of a sudden, it’s like okay, your revenue neutral. That’s one of the things we accomplished in my department before I left,  we were making more money than it costs to employ all of us, and we could track it, and we could prove it through tracking tools, through end down marketing tools. We could prove that they were actually not only not losing money on us anymore, but they were to the point now that we were making money every day when we came to work, and that changed the tenor of the conversation because people were able to see us as somewhere that was a potential cash cow. That sort of growth is very exciting.

Carman: It strikes me that cost, in some way, it’s maybe a bit of the gulf here is that it’s easier to quantify, if you will, a cost savings than it is to quantify that exponential potential that might be there on the marketing side if it’s done right. There’s almost a bit more faith that needs to be there whereas if you’re looking at a cost that already exists, and you’re trying to describe to somebody how you’re going to chip away 10% of it where they can see the 100% of it in front of them, and then you tell them the 10% you’re going to chip off, and this is how you’re going to do it, it’s maybe a little easier to explain, and a little bit more certainty baked into the process. Maybe that’s it, maybe the lack of certainty when we’re talking about it being net new revenue generation versus cost savings as part of that gulf, I don’t know. What are your thoughts?

Chris: That absolutely is true, and it’s trying to put things back into the language that the boardroom is going to understand. The old adage in marketing is you’re always wasting 50% of your marketing dollars you just don’t know which ones. We were able to go into many boardroom conversations and say, “Look, I cannot sit up here and tell you in good faith that I’m going to be able to remove the feeling, or the opinion, or the perception that we are wasting money,” I said, “But what I’m here to do is to help you go from feeling like we’re wasting 50% of the money to feeling like maybe we’re wasting 10%.” I said, “If I can provide certainty to 90% of our investment is proving return, and the other 10% is still lost in the quagmire, is that good?” It’s the well, yeah that’s better than 50, and we say, “Great, let’s work towards that, and let’s work towards being aware of where we can measure and where we can’t.”

Always being able to or always being willing to raise our hand and say, “We put money into trade shows I cannot tell you last year whether that trade show in Germany paid for itself, but I can tell you that the leads that we generated from Germany following that trade show related to digital ads that we sent out around it those had a great return, so maybe next year instead of doing the show itself let’s focus on ads in Germany because I can prove one and I can’t approve the other.” That’s something that the C level folks within manufacturers you’re speaking their language because they’re used to seeing production reports, they’re used to seeing the financial performance of the firm boil down to very easy to understand matrix and metrics, and so trying to create those things, matrix and metrics, for the marketing department is going to put you in the conversation with the other departments as somebody that is part of the team as opposed to somebody that is part of the cost structure, part of the problem.

Jeff: I think that’s really interesting too. You talk about going from 50% uncertainty to 10% uncertainty. I would suggest that every marketer should have at least 10% uncertainty for the experiments they’re running to see what actually catches and burns. It’s an interesting time where you can be testing out new initiatives and seeing if there is going to be an actual ROI with them as opposed to well, we’re going to go drop 400 grand on this trade show, and cross our fingers, and hope for the best, and we don’t really know what our strategy is for tracking what’s going to come out of that.

Chris: As marketers, we have some great flexibility there. I always describe the marketing department in any business, but particularly in manufacturers, marketing is the toy department of the department store. We’re expected to be a little off kilter, we’re expected to be a little experimental, we’re expected to be loud, we’re expected to be fun, and crazy, and aggressive. That gives you a lot of chance to be able to go out and experiment whereas other parts of the organization aren’t necessarily given that same sort of leeway. I would say take advantage of that.

That was one of the frustrations when I came to ERICO was marketing was where people went to hear the word ‘no.’ Marketing had somehow gone even further left than legal in terms of people you didn’t want to talk to because they were going to give you the answer that they don’t want to work with you, they wouldn’t help, it’d never work. When we came in we said, “You know what? Now, we’re the department of yes, we’re gonna find a way to help you with whatever you come to us, and need help with.” Being able to swing it from the worst place in the organization to come for help to the best place in the organization to come for help gave a lot of flexibility in how we were going about projects.

Carman: Man, if marketing isn’t at least the fun place to work then what’s the point?

Jeff: We’ve always said that clients coming to us or working with us is generally the best part of your day.

Carman: We’d like to think at least, but at least it’s not like being an accountant.

Chris: Exactly, there’s a reason I bailed on the big buildings downtown in favor of going into a marketing department because the thought of working in legal, and sure I could have a very lucrative career, but I don’t know that I’d have very much fun. I love the switch to marketing and being able to talk to my former legal colleagues, and certainly accentuate opportunities I’ve had in life that they never got to have because we were sitting in their office.

Carman: Chris, I can tell you that one thing that the legal background did give you is an ability to articulate your argument and move it forward, and I think that has clearly helped you in previous roles, as well as explaining how our listeners can take advantage of some of that advice to help move their own initiatives forward. Thank you so much for the conversation. We’ve really enjoyed it.

Jeff: Absolutely.

Chris: Thanks for having me, and best of luck to you, and all the marketers out there listening.

Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring with Carman Pirie and Jeff White. Don’t miss a single manufacturing marketing insight. Subscribe now at

Read Full Transcript


Chris Schmitt

Senior Director of Strategic Development

Chris Schmitt is Senior Director of Strategic Development at The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The largest manufacturing association in the United States, NAM represents small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. A lawyer by trade, after grad school, Chris worked at small web agency specializing in websites for manufacturers. He then worked for one of the agency’s clients—American Roll Form Products as Director of Marketing and In-House Counsel. Two years later, he was hired at ERICO, which was ultimately purchased by Pentair, where he was Global Marketing Director before working at NAM.

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.