Niche Markets, Long Sales Cycles, and the Ebb of Email and Print

Episode 221

February 7, 2023

In this episode of The Kula Ring, Kevin Summ gives us a peek into marketing a niche, high-value product with a lengthy sales cycle. From multinational hurdles to the ubiquitous love of stickers, we get into the nitty-gritty of how Anguil Environmental stays a partner to their clients. Kevin also discusses the diminishing presence of email and print strategies in their field.

Niche Markets, Long Sales Cycles, and the Ebb of Email and Print 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 and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how you doing, sir?

Carman Pirie: I am excited for today’s show, my friend, and good to be chatting with you and back with the audience once again. 

Jeff White: Indeed. And you know, we’ll just start off the show by apologizing. If you can hear a fire alarm going in the distance, that’s because it’s outside of our office, and I just heard the fire engines roll up, so hopefully it’ll go off soon. But-

Carman Pirie: Yes. We’re hopeful. We’re hopeful that the divey tavern a couple of buildings down isn’t going up in smoke. 

Jeff White: It would be a shame. 

Carman Pirie: But it wouldn’t be the first time. It wouldn’t be the first time. And there’s a hotel kind of attached to it, so this could get bigger than the both of us, so if we need to cut this out early, we’ll let y’all know. 

Jeff White: It would be the first time that that has had to happen in several hundred episodes, but yeah, I am looking forward to our guest today, and joining us today is Kevin Summ. Kevin is the Director of Marketing at Anguil Environmental. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Kevin. 

Kevin Summ: Thanks, guys. Looking forward to the discussion, as well. 

Carman Pirie: Kevin, it’s awesome to have you on the show, and I love how Jeff almost screwed up on Anguil. It was a really hard one for him to get. 

Jeff White: You didn’t really get it there, either. You just-

Carman Pirie: Anguil. I thought I did it good. 

Jeff White: All right, it’s fine. It’s fine. 

Kevin Summ: I’ve spent my career here trying to correct people, so I get it. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. It’s an interesting one. But look, in all seriousness, let’s jump into it. Kevin, introduce yourself to our audience, and perhaps tell us a little bit about Anguil along the way, if you would. 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. Thanks. Kevin Summ, I’m the Director of Marketing at Anguil. I was fortunate enough to get my start in this career, crazy enough, 27 years ago, and I’ve stuck with it. It’s exciting. You feel like you’re doing something for the better good of society and I’m really passionate about marketing. I love it. I work for a great company. Anguil’s a family-owned company. We do industrial air and water pollution control. It’s interesting from a marketing perspective because our demand is regulatory driven. When you’re selling other products, people have demands for all sorts of reasons. Our customers are manufacturers and the government, the local or federal governments are requiring them to purchase our technologies and services, and we’re basically helping manufacturers when they have water or air discharge. We’re helping them keep the air clean and keep the water pure. 

We’re a global company. We started here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Grown quite considerably in the last 10 years. I would say it’s all good marketing, but no, there’s a lot of-

Jeff White: But of course, we’d say that. 

Kevin Summ: Yeah, right? No, we have a great company. 

Carman Pirie: Man, if the company would have been cut in half in the last 10 years they’d have blamed marketing, so you may as well take the good. 

Kevin Summ: Exactly. Exactly. No, our family attitude and culture just starts at the top and goes through the whole company. It’s great. We’ve got a presence in China, Taiwan, we just opened an office in India, we’re heavy in Europe. It’s just really exciting. It’s a cool industry. Very niche, or as you say up in Canada, niche. 

Jeff White: Thank you. Appreciate that. We weren’t sure what you meant at first. Where it is so regulatory driven and where you are a global company, how does that impact your go-to-market strategy? Is it different in the United States than it is in China or other countries?

Kevin Summ: Yeah. It is different. Definitely. The easy answer there is yes. But even it’s different within the United States. You can have… I’ll start with the United States. You can have a manufacturer that’s making a product and they have a certain SIC code, but they happen to be manufacturing within a heavily populated area. That same manufacturer with the same product, and the same output, that’s doing it out in rural nowhere, the regulations, the requirement for our equipment is different. So, that’s unique going – when you’re marketing 101, they’re like, “Oh, target SIC codes, NAIC codes.” We can’t do that because one SIC code in Guam does not mean it’s gonna be regulated in the United States.

But globally, though, yeah, it’s challenging. It’s very refreshing to see the amount of international inquiries coming in from countries that just never had regulations before. From an environmentalist’s standpoint, I find that refreshing. Even China, they’re clamping down hard. Our office in China is slammed with business and inquiries. Right now, we’re seeing a huge influx in inquiries from Malaysia. You know, and oftentimes they cite U.S. regulations, which is kind of cool too. They’ll say, “Well, we’re following U.S. regs.” And then Europe has a slightly different set of regulations but very strict, as well. 

But I have to say the last three to four years, the big change has been what they call ESG. It’s environmental social governance. So, where 10 years ago a company would say, “My local regulatory authority is saying that I need to stop this air, this water pollutant from going into the environment,” now it’s very refreshing because you just have, corporations have these ESG ratings. It’s kind of sometimes regulated by their banks, but it’s your company’s external personality, if you will. How are you treating your employees? How are you treating the environment? How are you treating your community? And that ESG rating, it’s just very cool to see. It’s driving people to buy our systems. Because everybody wants to be green until they see the price tag, and then… But these ESGs are really changing that. It’s cool.

Carman Pirie: I’m kind of curious. To what extent do you find yourself trying to anticipate or chase regulatory changes, versus simply the sales offices and whatnot responding to them as they happen? To what extent are you trying to anticipate, “Oh, this is happening in country X, Y, or Z, or region X, Y, or Z, and therefore we’re spinning up our marketing in advance of that or in parallel.” 

Kevin Summ: Yeah, I often tell my boss if we could follow the EPA around in their cars, you wouldn’t need marketing. But it’s tough. It’s very challenging. Sometimes we try and tackle that with both sales and marketing. The salesmen on the street often are hearing, “Hey, Kevin, this new compound,” one of them in the news right now is ethylene oxide. It’s a heavy… They’ve found that it’s very cancer causing. The rate at which it causes cancer is much more dangerous than they originally even anticipated, so four to five years ago we were hearing that on the street from our salespeople, so then they bring it back to marketing and we say, “Okay, now let’s dive in. Let’s get with the regulatory authorities, start doing research.” But there’s a lot of chasing. 

Jeff White: Does that drive product development, as well? 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. Yeah. It does, really. It really does. These are custom systems, so nothing we make is the same. The standard system is upwards of $300,000 to $400,000. They can be smaller, but that’s on average, and they’re all custom built for the application. 

Carman Pirie: Really cool. So, I mean, this is an interesting challenge, because on the one hand, you’re… Trying to chase the world environmental regulations as a global provider of these systems is not going to be an easy chore. As you said, it’s a very niche market, so how do you… What’s your marketing mix look like? Where’s the gold in that mix that you’re like, “Look, I found this is what drives…” If I needed one thing to drive leads, it’s X, Y, or Z. What is it? 

(clip) Kevin Summ: You know, my kids are in high school right now, so they’re studying marketing, which is kind of cool, and they talk about the four Ps, and the marketing mix, and it’s just kind of cliché, right? But I have to say the marketing mix is really crucial for us. We could spend a lot of money on a very aggressive digital campaign that targets the right industry, and targets the right audience, and because we are very niche, and it’s a very expensive capital expenditure, we may get a couple leads out of that, which is… Hey, we’ll take it. It just takes one lead for us, or a couple leads, but I like to say grown adults like stickers, so being in the manufacturing world, people wear hard hats. And they wear them with pride. You walk around a facility, you walk around a job site, they’ve got their hard hats and you can tell how long they’ve been in the business by how many stickers they have on it or how cool it is, and the guy that walks up with a brand new hard hat is clearly new. 

So, we want to get an Anguil sticker on his hat, and he works for a chemical company now that needs one of our systems. He may go to the competing chemical company tomorrow and I hope he shows up with his hard hat with our sticker on it. 

Jeff White: I was always amazed that people carried those between jobs, because in one of my first positions ever as a designer I was doing a lot of work with industrial paper manufacturers, and touring their plants, and shooting videos to teach kids about forestry and stuff like that, and I was always amazed that guys that had been there forever had these beat up old hard hats, and covered in decals and everything else, their name on the front, but you could tell some of them had come from the power company or other places. They had all those stickers on there, too. So, it truly is a kind of a badge that follows the prospect around. Not the prospect, but certainly an influencer, potentially. 

Kevin Summ: Yes. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. 

Carman Pirie: I guess that’s an interesting question though, Jeff, or a point, because of course if you think about grown adults like stickers, appreciate there are white hats, and blue hats, and the people buying your systems may wear one hat or the other, and influencers may wear one hat or the other. What does that committee look like? Who are you trying to get in front of? Because it’s not just the guy or girl in the hard hat I’m guessing. 

Kevin Summ: No, and whether we’re trying to sell service, or replacement, a lot of times our systems are purchased from a procurement department with engineers, and maybe people who have never been in the facility itself. They’re designing or they’re the permit person. But yeah, then once it gets in the field we’re targeting the person turning the wrench on it. 

Carman Pirie: I’m kind of curious. How much do those people turning the wrenches actually pull new business? How much do they influence it, do you find? 

Kevin Summ: A lot. I really do. A lot of these manufacturing facilities are very incestual, where if you’re in a certain industry, like Jeff was saying, if you’re in the printing industry, you’re gonna move, you’re gonna make the most money if you move to another printing company, and hopefully you go from turning the wrench to being the maintenance manager, and then all of a sudden next thing you know you’re in on the decision on the next system and you had a good opinion of our device at your last employer, and now you’re with a different company in a bigger position. So, yeah, that’s where that marketing mix really comes in. You gotta hit them at every angle

Jeff White: One of those angles, though, that you’re not necessarily hitting people in is print anymore. What was driving that and has that… Has the actualization of digital really made the difference in the last number of years?

Carman Pirie: Are you kind of asking if there are any regrets in ditching print? 

Jeff White: Yeah. Every once in a while you hear from people who are, “Oh, we used to get some really great leads from that trade publication.” 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. Yeah. Well, from an environmental standpoint, print is now… A lot of printers use water-based solvents, or water-based prints, so inks, so that’s a good thing, so yeah, people are truly not using as much print as they used to, but from a marketing standpoint we certainly aren’t. We haven’t printed a piece of literature in probably four or five years. Our trade shows are now going completely paperless. We’ll have QR codes out and that’s a new thing for us. It’s a sustainability initiative for us, so no more paper at trade shows, and I’m a Post-It Note guy, too, which is gonna drive me nuts. I’m gonna have to use my phone to take notes. 

But it’s good, but yeah, 50% if not more of our budget is digital. And a good chunk of that, surprisingly, is still trade shows too. We’re still doing trade shows. I don’t think they’re dead like the industry said at one point. They’re just different. Whereas you used to expect thousands of people to show up at the booth, now you hope for hundreds, but they’re there to have conversations, which is good, especially in the United States. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. I’m thinking… I’m curious to see how booth design, display thinking kind of evolves to accommodate that. Because I think at one point in those shows that were incredibly busy, where there’s just thousands of people moving through a booth or whatever, you’re trying to accomplish one thing, and then when you have time to actually talk to people, you kind of actually are trying to accomplish a different thing, or you can kind of design the experience a different way. And the QR codes are just the tip of the iceberg. If we can be thankful to the pandemic for anything, it’s the people that invented the QR codes. They actually taught people how to use this thing for the first time, I feel. It’s such a strange thing. 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. Right. I agree. 

Carman Pirie: Now they actually get engagement. 

Jeff White: Yeah. We were trying to get people to make it a thing back in 2014 and they wouldn’t do it. 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. I felt as an industry we were trying to make people. That’s a good point. We were definitely pushing it. 

Jeff White: Yeah. No one was listening. 

Carman Pirie: Most people were like, “What? What is that?” 

Jeff White: I have to download a special app to read it? 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. Why would I do that? 

Jeff White: Yeah. I always said that when Apple makes it a native part of the camera app, that’s when QR codes will take off, so it’s interesting to kind of think about is that what spurred it, or was it the pandemic and the proliferation of QR codes? Or did they happen at the same time? I don’t know. 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. Someone should write a book. 

Jeff White: It’s probably already out there. There’s probably a whole podcast about it. How are you… So, trade shows are still a thing. I think we’re hearing that across the board. It’s really interesting because during the early days of the pandemic, we had a number of episodes with people who, from the IMTS show, and other trade shows, as well as those who were kind of peripherally related or reliant on them, who were saying, “Oh my goodness. It’s changed forever. We’ll never go back. It’s all going this other way.” And now we’re kind of rebounding and a lot of the things that many of us were taking as gospel two years ago, or even a year ago, are realizing no, no. Things kind of want to find their natural balance back the other way potentially and we’re going to be going back into those places. 

But I guess where I’m going with this is how… In that mix, how are you bringing things to life digitally? Not necessarily just for the show, but more broadly, the digital strategy of how you’re targeting these niches?

Kevin Summ: Yeah. A couple things come to mind. Of course, your website and search engine optimization and all that, which seems now so routine, almost so necessary, but I really think for our business specifically, we need to become hunters, and I think to myself having worked with salesmen from 20 years ago, and they would get the bingo card from the magazine. I don’t know, you guys probably remember, but magazines used to go out and if you liked a product, you’d circle a number and send it into the magazine, and then that advertiser would send you a piece of literature, this and that. And you know, those salespeople would live and die by those bingo cards. 

And now, if I would have told them 20 years ago, “Hey, in 20 years we’re gonna be able to put our company information in front of someone wherever in the world in a moment’s notice. We can push out a piece of content. We can tweet something out and they could be on vacation and see our messaging.” And then the game changer really in my opinion is the fact that oftentimes we can tell the salesperson who that was. You know, this reverse IP lookup is huge for us. We’re hunting. I hate to say this, but sometimes when you can track people that come to your website and do… Let’s put it this way, an intelligent canvassing. Everybody hates big brother, right? But we have reporting software that’ll say, “Hey, someone in this industry, in this region, at this company, is looking at your product.” 

That’s a salesman’s dream. And by the way, you got this great thing called LinkedIn, and it’ll tell you exactly what it does and where he works. You can pull up the company name and it’ll tell you who all works there. So, 20 years ago those salesmen would have said, “That’ll never happen. No way. No, I’m gonna drive in my car and drop off books at different manufacturers.” And now how cool is that that they can sit behind their computer and canvas? Intelligently canvas. 

Jeff White: I have to think, though, that a lot of those sales guys back then probably still like that idea better, of somebody taking something out of the magazine, punching that circle, and requesting the information. Like, “That’s a solid lead.” These guys showing up to our website-

Carman Pirie: They had to mean it. They had to mean it then. 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. Yeah. 

Jeff White: It was postage paid but you still had to put it in the box, you know? 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, but it is important to note, though, because when you are in this kind of category, very few people are showing up to the website by accident. They’re not spending time to explore what’s going on because they’re bored and between periods at their kid’s hockey game or something, to use a Canadian reference. So, that kind of, I guess the way you labeled it, intelligent canvasing makes a ton of sense. And it’s still low-hanging fruit for a lot of people. A lot of B2B manufacturers still aren’t doing that and providing the sales teams with that information. 

Kevin Summ: I would agree with you. In the industrial world, it’s sometimes easy to look like a marketing genius because we’re slow to adapt from an industrial standpoint. A lot of times you’ll have an owner of a manufacturing facility like ours, or a system provider like us, and you’ll have the owner say, “Well, I can do the marketing. We don’t need to hire somebody for that. Why would I use an agency?” And then when they realize that their competition’s passing them up… But they’re slow to adapt is my point oftentimes. 

In our industry, I bet we were the first ones to do pay per click, and I think I took my competitors off guard. We started in 2007 and I was standing next to a competitor once at a trade show and he says, “I see your stuff everywhere. How are you doing that?” I just shook my head. “I’m not really sure. You go figure it out.” 

Jeff White: That’s pretty awesome. I remember the days when you could actually find an industry that hadn’t discovered pay per click yet and introduce it to them and just decimate their competitors. 

Carman Pirie: Of course, that kind of… These kind of newbie gains at the gym are gonna be harder to get. 

Kevin Summ: Yes. 

Carman Pirie: Next five years aren’t gonna be as easy as the last 15. 

Kevin Summ: No. No. The competition’s gotten smarter, for sure. One thing, interesting, we were talking earlier about print, but in our industry… I don’t remember the year, but in one year we had… There were three industrial pollution control magazines that were the top dogs, and they were still print, and it rocked our world because they all three went out of business in the span of two years, and none of them converted to digitally. So, there was this void of digital pollution control publishers, and thankfully now we’ve got several that have come up, but none of those three print made the conversion, and we had a void. It was crazy. 

To your point, Carman, I don’t know that we’ll have that… That may not happen. Something like that may not happen again. 

Carman Pirie: I find some businesses that operate kind of in these more regulatory categories, sometimes… Or companies that try to help other companies be more environmentally friendly or what have you, sometimes it can seem like you struggle to wear the two hats. On the one hand, are you savior of the environment and enforcer of regulation? Or are you the service provider that helps people do what they need to do in order to meet that objective? Have you ever run into that kind of tension in your marketing and outreach efforts? Has this come up at all? And again, if it’s an absolutely silly question, I’m open to that too. 

Kevin Summ: No, actually, it’s not. I’ll go back to trade shows. I mean, we would have people walk by us at trade shows, and we have this picture of this massive pollution control device, and the guy walks by, and he goes, “I used to have one of those. Finally got rid of it.” He was wearing it with a badge of honor that he got his regulatory authority to get rid of that terrible thing that he had to manage, because we’re end-of-pipe, so the manufacturer is making their widgets, and they want the process equipment operating 24/7. Uptime, uptime, uptime. We’re at the tail end taking everything they throw at us from water, to air, and when our system doesn’t operate as they expect, we are the devil. We are big, bad government making them do this. And then in the United States, you kind of have the, “Well, they’re getting away with this overseas. That’s why we’re not competitive.” That’s not really true anymore. 

And one interesting thing that we found is even 10, 15 years ago, U.S. companies that did business overseas stuck with U.S. regulations. If they started manufacturing in foreign countries, they followed U.S. regulations. And I don’t think the general public really understood that. Now, that was U.S. companies, granted. 

Carman Pirie: Sure. It’s really interesting, though. 

Jeff White: Is it just that they’re more worldly, then? Versed in what’s expected in other places? 

Kevin Summ: Well, now it’s they have these standards, these ESGs, or sure. Now it’s they don’t want that black eye from a PR standpoint. If you’re a manufacturer and you get this black eye of, “Wow, everybody around my plant has cancer, all the people that live around my plant,” I always use Guam as the example, but I’m in Guam, and I’ve got a manufacturing facility, and everybody around me is dying. Now that gets out in the web, and you’ve got a huge black eye. So, it’s almost like forget what the regulatory people say. We, manufacturer of XYZ manufacturing, we don’t want that black eye. 

Carman Pirie: There’s a real economic impact now. 

Kevin Summ: Right. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: It allows you to sell in some ways… You can move from selling “we help you meet regulations”, to the fear, uncertainty, and doubt associated with that black eye. 

Kevin Summ: Yes. Yeah. Absolutely. 

Carman Pirie: Powerful motivator. 

Kevin Summ: Definitely.

Jeff White: Well, when it starts to appear in popular culture, I’m thinking of Erin Brockovich and other things like that, those are things that regular people can recognize.

Carman Pirie: Not a recent movie, one should note. 

Jeff White: No. 

Kevin Summ: That was an impressive reference, by the way. 

Jeff White: Cripes, is it that old? Wow. 

Kevin Summ: It was one of the first, though. That I will say. That was a game changer. 

Carman Pirie: Well, this could change your marketing, as well, of course, if we’re seeing the ESG sensibility being one of the drivers. Are you starting to shift your marketing then to say you know what, it’s not so much about the regulations driving our business. We can actually go out and try to seek out businesses that are looking to be a gold standard in their ESG rating? 

Kevin Summ: Yes. Yeah. Those are the customers we definitely want. Every once in a while you gotta divorce a bad customer, and we certainly try and latch onto the ones that have the mentality you just described. Really, those are the ones that value it, and they’re easier to work with. And these things take maintenance. You know, you can’t just set it and forget it. And to stay in compliance, you have to invest time and money, and so yeah, the customers that have that at the forefront of their mind are easier to work with, and yeah, we do try and play to their heart strings a little bit, too. Especially socially, right? Socially our messaging is much more green, I guess, and more emotional. 

Jeff White: That’s really interesting because it brings another layer to creating an ideal customer profile. How are these… It’s not just like, “What’s the firmographic information of your firm,” in order to understand what you’re about. But then you’re also layering on top of it what other messaging are we hearing? What other kind of sustainability initiatives are they touting? In order to find your top tier customers that are placing a real value and importance on environmental initiatives, you’d probably do well to look at what other initiatives, environmental initiatives, are they talking about? And then kind of put that onto the actual typical information. 

Carman Pirie: Well, are they actually publishing an ESG report? Things of that sort would all be pretty strong indicators that this might be a tier one prospect, potentially. 

Jeff White: Yeah. 

Kevin Summ: And you know, that… Our sales cycle is extremely long, so then when we’re down to after the two year journey from their first inquiry, to the proposal, and now let’s just say we’re down one of two suppliers being selected or considered, yeah, we do well at keeping our customers profitable. So, we design around keeping them up and keeping them in good favor with the local authorities, their local environment, and they… When you show that you’ve done it to the client, show that you’ve done it to the client for other people, you can sometimes get a premium. And you should. We stand behind that. We have these core values that are extremely strong. We just developed them, and “we don’t walk away” is one of them. We don’t walk away. Our company, it’s always been our philosophy. We don’t walk away until the customer is happy. 

And in our industry, people do. It’s kind of scary. The contracts are written so that there’s 10% at the end which is based on compliance and we have some competitors that will just say, “You know what, Mr. Customer? You can have my 10%. I’m not gonna fix this.” 

Carman Pirie: 90% was good. 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. So, we definitely don’t walk away, and we never have. It’s something we take pride in saying and standing behind. 

Carman Pirie: It’s been a fascinating chat. I’m just curious as we come to a close here kind of… Is there something around the corner or something that you’re seeing from a marketing perspective that you’re either thinking holds a lot of promise or is causing a lot of concern? 

Kevin Summ: One that’s kind of hitting me right now a little bit is the effectiveness of email marketing. It’s just difficult. You know, even here at Anguil, we have… I believe we have two spam filters, so if somebody wants to get ahold of me, they gotta get through two different spam filters, one based in Outlook and the other is a third party. We don’t spam people. Our marketing messages are very targeted. They’re to people who have opted in, so we’re very cognizant of that, but even still people aren’t answering those emails, even when we break through and get to their inbox. They’re just… Everybody’s so consumed with, or excuse me, so exposed to marketing, and they’re much more selective about what they click on, and what they read, and so email marketing is tough. It’s another one of those things that used to be so effective, and we thought was so great, and now it’s just… It’s tough. 

Carman Pirie: It’s a bit of a digital sacred cow, isn’t it? I mean, all the other things can come and go, but man, email marketing has been-

Jeff White: You can always depend on email. But apparently not the deliverability. 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. Yeah. You gotta really design well so you can get through those multiple spam filters. And then even if you do, hopefully they don’t unsubscribe, or worse yet, tag you as junk. Then you’ll never make it back in. 

Carman Pirie: So, at what point are you… Are you actually looking at it now and saying our marketing in three years won’t rely on email anymore? Has that kind of decision been taken? 

Kevin Summ: I wouldn’t say the decision’s been made but I feel like the writing is on the wall a little bit. We certainly don’t use it like we used to. Like I used to do trade shows, and now when someone’s like, “Hey, we’re gonna be at this trade show,” and we’d go into our CRM and select based on industry, I’m hoping these people are gonna meet me at the show. They got to. I sent them an email. We don’t do a lot of promotion for trade shows anymore, because I see the unsubscribes happen, and I don’t want to be that supplier. When we do go into their inbox and intrude into their inbox, we want it to be relevant. Hey, we know you have this type of system, we think that you may want to look at this, this, and this in order to stay out of trouble with pollutants. And then maybe at the bottom say, “And by the way, we’ll be at the XYZ show.” 

Jeff White: I think, though, at least if they unsubscribe or worse, mark you as spam, at least then you know when you stand. It’s the ones that are unengaged and just get dropped out by your email tool because they’re not doing anything, just the degradation that happens over time as people just ignore I think is probably the bigger, an even bigger threat than someone unsubscribing. At least if someone is unsubscribing, they’re making a choice to do something. 

Kevin Summ: Good point. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: It’s interesting to… You know, you see people kind of grabbing for the alternatives, right? I got a salesperson that I was engaged in a conversation with just before the holidays, recently tried to add me to a Slack channel or something. I was like, “What are you doing? What’s going on here?” It’s like…

Jeff White: If you text me, we’re done. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. But we’ve actually talked to people who have looked at their sales strategy as trying to earn the right to text. As a salesperson, they thought that when they earned the right to text, that… And I get that. You know, you are getting over a barrier, but, pretty hard to do that at scale, earning the right to text, and I think as marketers we may just have to look for something completely different. Not saying, “What’s gonna replace email that’s almost kind of just like it?” 

Kevin Summ: That is an interesting perspective, though, that barrier to text. I hadn’t looked at it that way. That’s interesting. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. How good does the relationship have to be, or how good does the value that you provide have to be, in order for that person to actually want you to text them? 

Kevin Summ: Yeah. Yeah. And you better be a high value target, because that salesperson only has so many hours in the day, and so if he’s trying to get in, if that’s the objective is to text clients, you better be one that’s gonna be buying. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. Well, look-

Jeff White: Yeah. Who is a textworthy client? 

Carman Pirie: There’s a solid Seinfeld reference for those not paying attention. 

Jeff White: That’s probably even older than Erin Brockovich. 

Carman Pirie: Indeed, indeed. And with that, we shall thank Kevin for joining us today. It’s been a pleasure to have you on the show, mate. 

Kevin Summ: Thanks, guys. Great conversation. Enjoyed it. 

Jeff White: Yeah. Me as well. Thank you. 

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

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Kevin Summ

Director of Marketing

Over the past twenty-five years, Kevin Summ has been actively involved in the marketing and sale of environmental technologies for various industrial applications. With a good technical understanding of pollution control systems and the regulations to which they are applied, Kevin also has vast experience developing particulate and emission abatement equipment into almost every industry and region of the world. As the Director of Marketing at Anguil Environmental Systems, he is heavily involved in partner development and ultimately responsible for all advertising, new product promotion, and target marketing for the company’s air and wastewater treatment products in international markets. Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has served on numerous environmental committees including the Institute of Clean Air Companies and Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee for the Federal Government. Kevin also manages a consortium of 20,000 members focused on industrial air pollution control technology development. Anguil Environmental Systems is proud to be a family owned and operated company located in Milwaukee, WI and engaged in an industry that ensures future generations a sustainable environment. The entire organization remains dedicated to its’ slogan, “Committed to Cleaner Air and Water.”

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.


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