OKR Alignment is Critical for Successful Marketing Strategies

Episode 246

August 1, 2023

This week in the Summer Spotlight Series, we are shining our light on Matt Canter and the wonderful conversation we had with him! We talked about objectives and key results methodology he used while at Greenfield Global. With Matt’s diverse background we get a well rounded look at the methods he describes. Utilizing automation and efficient systems with deep organizational alignment, Matt shares his successes. Whether you heard it then or it is new, you can learn something from this chat!

OKR Alignment is Critical for Successful Marketing Strategies 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 are you doing, mate? 

Carman Pirie: I am delighted to be here yet again. 

Jeff White: Fantastic. Good to see you. 

Carman Pirie: And you? 

Jeff White: I’m doing great. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: Nice. 

Jeff White: Really looking forward to what promises to be an interesting discussion. We haven’t really delved too, too much into the idea of the development of marketing teams within established manufacturers. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, you know, but it is certainly… There are a wide number of manufacturers out there, particularly the ones that maybe fall more in the midsized category often, that they’ve been making do with very minimal marketing investment. 

Jeff White: Yeah. Great sales teams often. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, and they’re looking to build out that function in-house, and frankly, most just don’t know where to start. 

Jeff White: Yeah. I mean, I think it really, in most cases, starts with hiring somebody who knows how to do this. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, or that they hope maybe knows how to do it, and then we’ll find out, right?

Jeff White: Yeah, exactly. 

Carman Pirie: But today’s guest represents a lovely success story two years in of building out that organization, so-

Jeff White: Yeah. On the journey. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Exactly right. 

Jeff White: Yeah, so joining us today is Matt Canter. Matt is the Director of Marketing at Greenfield Global. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Matt. 

Matt Canter: Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

Carman Pirie: It’s lovely to have you on the show. I want to know more about Greenfield Global and dive in to understand a bit more about what they do, but before we do that, perhaps we could introduce our listeners to you on a more personal level and kind of what brought you to Greenfield, because you have a bit of an interesting career path. 

Matt Canter: Yeah, absolutely. I’m happy to give you a little bit of background and context, and yeah, on the surface, if you looked at my LinkedIn profile or resume, it would be maybe non-linear, but I think one of the really interesting, and cool, and engaging things about the marketing function is that the skillsets are so transferable. So, a little bit about my background. I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. Played competitive ice hockey my whole life, which led me to university in Utah. Lived in Utah for five years and when I was there, I had two internships. One in professional hockey and one in professional soccer. So, having a former sports background, combining the business and marketing of sports, light bulbs went off and goes, “Okay, this could be the next step for my master’s degree.” 

So, I moved to San Francisco for the University of San Francisco’s Sports Management Program. Took a year, actually, and immediately got an opportunity to go to San Diego and work for the USGA at the U.S. Open. Came back to San Francisco, got into a sports marketing agency doing really cool global sponsorships. Actually, developed a really neat guerilla marketing strategy that kind of pushed back against the idea that you don’t need to spend the money for the Olympic rings when you can work with the national governing bodies. And then from there, went to a larger ad agency, got into the craft beer world, got really geeky into that, studied and passed the Certified Cicerone exam. Sat in the brand seat, the trade marketing seat, and then the general marketing manager seat at a brewery in San Francisco. 

And then came down to Southern California and joined a global travel company across three luxury travel brands leading the marketing team of 10, working with folks in Australia, in Europe, and Asia, on a daily basis for global travel strategies around their customer bases. Got into the cannabis industry. I was always super interested in the nascent industry, especially in becoming an agent of change around the dialogue with cannabis and what it means from a legal point of view, so joined a company called KushCo Holdings and led them through three acquisitions, multiple rebrands, the development of a pretty large ancillary marketplace. Kind of think of it like an Amazon for the cannabis industry, selling everything except the plant. 

And then that led me to Greenfield Global because there’s an interesting throughline in my background I didn’t necessarily set out to accomplish, but I think a lot of the roles that I’ve been in and had success in is where there’s a need for a marketing function to be created from scratch, scale quickly, and develop the data-driven strategies and campaigns that are supporting the commercial goals. So, when I joined Greenfield, that’s exactly why I was brought in. The company is super interesting. It’s been around for 30-plus years. It’s privately held. It is North America’s one of largest ethanol producers, packagers, and distributors, but has three distinct business units. One is a beverage and distilled spirits. One is specialty chemicals and ingredients. And then the last one is renewable energy, so the company has around 600 or so employees globally. We have a brand new, $30 million facility in Ireland going live this quarter. So, a lot of excitement is happening on the Greenfield side, and now it’s just a matter of how myself and two other individuals in the marketing team support the function and how do we scale our efforts so that we’re efficient and that our delivery actually makes sense to the business. 

Carman Pirie: Matt, I am thankful that you were able to draw the throughline that connected-

Jeff White: Sports marketing.

Carman Pirie: Sports marketing, and cannabis. Well, cannabis and brewing are at least… You’re at least on some sin marketing there a little bit. And then travel. But you’re quite right. The one consistency is as I even scroll through your LinkedIn, it is very much you can tell it’s these organizations that are looking to like you say, establish a modern marketing organization and scale it quickly. And you know, I guess as you’ve looked to do that, give us a bit of the current state of the nation because you were the first marketing hire in the firm’s 30-plus year history. How many people are there now and how are things evolving? 

Matt Canter: Yeah, so I have myself and two direct reports. Someone is focused on design and because we’re a small team, he also doubles as the trade show manager, as well as the life science team lead, and then I have a digital marketing manager. And so, we’re hyper, hyper-focused on efficiency. How do we automate as many of the customer touchpoints as possible so that we’re getting rid of some of the manual pieces that we would otherwise have to do, whether that’s new customer surveying, quarterly pulse surveys, drip campaigns for new customers, or if we come out to a product launch, how we create an automated sequence depending on the actions that customers take inside of those emails, they’re either delivered different content, a different value proposition, or they’re kicked over to sales for an immediate follow-up. So, trying to leverage the automation technology that we have within Pardot, and soon we’ll be onboarding Einstein from an account-based marketing point of view. 

But really, our functionality, we’re consistently talking about really four buckets. It’s customer experience, retention, acquisition, and brand positioning. 

Jeff White: In terms of the team that you’ve built thus far, what do you see? Do you feel like you have a sufficient team to carry the weight of those four tenets? Or do you foresee kind of plugging some other HR, I don’t want to say holes. That doesn’t sound fair. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. No, but I think it’s a fair question, Jeff, because I mean automation’s great, but of course every new tool is something else to manage and something else that requires some level of care and feeding. 

Matt Canter: Yeah. Yeah. So, it’s pretty funny because just recently we completed our 2022 team feedback reports, kind of lining out what does next year looks like, and how does that relate to the budget, and there’s really no other individuals on the docket to be hired to the marketing team. Now, would we be more efficient and be able to tackle and complete more projects if we had additional resources? 100%. I think from the business’s point of view is that they see absolute need and value in the marketing function. I think that as we onboard a new ERP system, we build out the brand positioning with new brands that are coming out, website resources, that’s gonna take a lot of time and budget to get to a good spot. We’ll probably look to bring someone else on maybe next year or one year after next year, but for now, myself and three others, talk on a daily basis about priorities. 

Because it doesn’t matter that we service the whole business because sometimes internal stakeholders, they don’t really have that on their forefront when they make requests. And so, requests still come in every day, and so we have to talk as a team, and then I talk to the management team, as well as the individuals who are bringing up those requests, to make sure I understand what’s the timeframe, what’s the commercial viability, and what’s the opportunity cost that we have if we hit this or if we don’t hit this? And by having that alignment, it’s really critical, and one of the platforms that is really important is having a platform around OKRs because at any given time I’m able to go into that system and I can see what the CEO’s quarterly goals are. I can see what he’s being measured on and why it’s important to the business. And in the exact same vein, I can click around, and I can see all of the business leaders of all of the business units, what their goals are, and how are they being measured. 

So, we take all that information, and then that’s how the marketing team develops its quarterly objectives. But a huge caveat is that as the quarter goes on, things arise, right? Nothing is ever set in stone. So, there’s this interesting balance between planning the quarter and saying, “These are all the things that we’re gonna do from a customer, an acquisition, an advertising point of view, a technology point of view, but you still need to factor in and keep enough time frame, and resources, and budget to be able to attack the things that arise in the middle of the quarter that become pressing and super important but you had no line of sight to.” 

Carman Pirie: I love how we’ve moved from a business world that used to plan and make five-year plans on the regular to one where, I don’t know, three months is a long time. 

Jeff White: How could we possibly know?

Carman Pirie: Yeah, exactly. 

Jeff White: Well, I mean, within those two years that you’ve been there, we’ve seen a rather large shake-up in how things actually work. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, of course. Of course. I don’t want to get too far past the mention of OKRs, because not everybody is gonna know what objectives and key results are, like what that term OKR means, and kind of how it comes to life inside of an organization, so I guess can you perhaps just orient us all to that briefly? 

Matt Canter: Yeah. Absolutely. I’d love to. And in fact, I’ve tried to implement this methodology at a previous company where it wasn’t driven top-down and no surprise, it didn’t work. I’ve known of OKRs because even though I’m in the marketing function, I have both left and right brain, super analytical, super organized, but then also can pull on those creative strings when needed. And so, here at Greenfield, I think one of the things that I just absolutely love and is gonna be a massive takeaway from my time here is when you have the entire company, this is a global company of around 600 employees, and we are all on the exact same page as it relates to why are we doing something, why does it matter, and how does it connect with the entire business? 

So, objective key result, essentially it starts at the top, and it goes all the way down to the bottom, and the CEO is the very first person at the beginning of every single quarter to lay out his OKRs. He basically says, “These are my three or four main objectives,” and then underneath that is a number of tactics that are smart, right? They’re realistic, they’re measurable, and they’re time-oriented. And then from there on, his direct reports, the leaders of the business units, do their OKRs. And then everybody underneath them continues that process until the last rung has done their OKRs. 

So, at the end of that, what you have is that you have someone that’s in a coordinator or an entry-level position, all the way up to the CEO, we are all literally doing work that is attached to the next level up. And so, for me, it’s so helpful because coming back to the same point, having three individuals on the marketing team service a very diverse business with so many needs, we have to be super strategic and prioritize, and so if something arises that’s not within the OKR methodology, we kind of take a pause and we go, “Listen, this may be an awesome idea and something that we really want to do, but we may have to come back to this next quarter or the next quarter because we just don’t have any room in our ability to take this on at the moment.” So, it keeps us really focused and it keeps us online to make sure that everything that we’re doing hits all the way to the top. 

And the super cool thing is everybody’s accountable. I can go in and I can poke around at all of the C-level executives and see what their OKRs are just like anybody in the business can go into marketing and look and see exactly what are we striving for, what are our status updates, and what are the data points that we’re using to measure ourselves against? 

Carman Pirie: Man, one of the lovely things about that as you outlined with the prioritization is it allows you to be very dispassionate about it at that point, you know? You kind of take, I think, a lot of the emotion out of telling somebody that their idea maybe has to wait or isn’t gonna get done this quarter. 

Jeff White: Yeah. It’s not in the OKR this quarter. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. It’s almost like when you can say something’s policy. It’s not your opinion that it’s not gonna happen. It’s policy that it’s not gonna happen. It’s a similar effect, it seems to me. 

Matt Canter: Yeah, and another thing that’s also really cool in terms of making sure that we’re aligned is that prior to every quarter, I spend a couple of weeks and I go to all of the different leaders that I interact with, whether it’s on the quality side, the sales side, C-level communications side, product side, and I basically say, “This is what my OKRs look like next quarter. Let’s have a quick chat and let’s align.” Because maybe the managing director of Ireland, managing a brand-new facility, with a lot of really aggressive sales goals, says, “I love it but let’s factor in one, two, and three, these new products that are coming online.” Or an individual within the extraction market, say, where their customers are very transactional, they’re very cost and quality-focused, so why don’t we spin up some content, video format, some automation campaigns that we can reactivate some customers that we haven’t talked to in the last six months? 

So, it kind of forces you to create those touchpoints, even though they’re happening all the time throughout the quarter and throughout the year. You kind of want a point in time to go, “Okay, listen. This is what we did last quarter. This went well. This didn’t. This is what I’m looking for ahead. Does that align with what you’re looking at?” So, we take that moment, we align, we put it into the system, and then boom, we’re off and running. 

Carman Pirie: I’m kind of curious. You said earlier, as well, this notion of four key areas of customer experience, retention, acquisition, and brand positioning. And as you come into an organization that hasn’t had a dedicated marketing function, and we’re only two years in, and I’m sure that in some ways can seem like a long time, and like it was yesterday at the same time. I’m curious, where do you see the biggest gaps among those four? Is there one of them that jumped out? It would strike me, I mean, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I guess I would assume that a company like that is probably pretty good at retaining customers, probably doesn’t have a huge amount of turnover. But maybe they’ve let some of the intricacies of customer experience slip. I don’t know. I’m kind of… What would you say needed the most attention of those four pillars?

Matt Canter: Yeah. Absolutely. By far and away content creation and brand positioning. By far and away. So, a couple of quick examples. The company is Greenfield Global and one of the product brands it acquired many, many, many years ago is Pharmco. It was Pharmco Aaper. Aaper was dropped and simply became Pharmco. Now, the really interesting thing is that we did an internal survey and the really interesting thing about this company is that there are individuals that have worked here for 10, 15, 20-plus years, and then there’s a whole nother bucket of employees that have been here for one to two years, so you have this pretty big gap of legacy mindset and then a brand-new point of view ready to make a change, and be innovative, and push boundaries, right? 

So, we did an internal survey, and we asked our team what are we? How do you refer to customers? How can customers refer to us? What do people buy from us? Do they buy Greenfield products or, as an example, Pharmco products? And we came down to the distinct conclusion that we have an alignment problem where people use the term Greenfield and Pharmco interchangeably. So, it’s no… I guess a quick example would be you don’t go to the store, and you don’t buy a Mars bar, even though that is a product. You buy a Snickers bar, right? So, you’re not buying the company, you’re buying the product brand, so we’re actually going through an internal process right now to realign what are our product brands, how does that look against our company, what are some key examples that we can create, and then we’re gonna go out internally, kind of do a virtual roadshow, and have an internal university course. We’re going to have PDFs that we can call for examples. We’re going to have sales and customer service discussions so that we’re communicating the right value proposition to the audience in the right way. 

And then the other element that I mentioned was content, so it is amazing that you listen to some of the stories that our customer service and our sales team tell us, and none of that is out in the world. You would have no idea that we are working in mission-critical applications that affect everyday human lives. It totally blows my mind working with companies like Edwards Lifescience on solutions that actually keep human components in transit from point A to point B before they go into humans. That’s amazing. Or working in capacities with the COVID-19 vaccination and being part of mission-critical with the U.S. government, being within the Moderna supply chain. There is all… and this is happening every single day across the business, but guess what? If you went onto our website, if you went onto our LinkedIn page, you would have a really hard time finding that information. 

So, a huge, huge effort going into 2022 is going to be shifting our internal mindset of talking about ourselves, where we send out an email and it’s like, “This is a product. This is what it can be used for. Call us or click here.” Right? And that’s gonna completely transform into thought leadership content. Why do you want to use X product versus Y product in this type of application? Why is ethanol good for cannabis extraction? What’s happening in the supply chain of corn and how can corn prices affect what’s happening with our clients and what can we do as leaders in the space to help mitigate that? 

We have no video content, either. I mean, talking to yourselves, manufacturing marketers, and then you guys have had a lot of really awesome guests who have already talked on this topic, and how powerful and important short-form video content is, so we’ve created a couple of short-form animation videos. We have a couple more coming. We have a 3D model video. And then once COVID subsides, we’re gonna be doing a pretty big video production going to our facilities in Ireland, Kentucky, and Connecticut, collecting tons of content and then chopping them all out so that we can start to develop some really easy to consume value proposition pieces that are gonna live on our website, in automation campaigns, in the acquisition campaigns that we’re doing for top of the funnel awareness, trying to give context. Who are we and why are we valued in this space? And what products and services do we offer? 

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Jeff White: I don’t want to lose sight of one thing that you said there, and I think it’s because you’re in the U.S., but in Canada, you can actually buy a Mars bar. 

Carman Pirie: You can. Thank you for bringing this up, Jeff. We need to clarify. 

Jeff White: It’s more popular than Snickers if I recall correctly. 

Carman Pirie: Yes. Well, I don’t know about that, but I will say-

Jeff White: Well, in my house it is. 

Carman Pirie: And just to connect the dots for our American friends, a Mars bar in the U.S. is called a Milky Way. They’re the same. 

Matt Canter: There you go. That’s it. 

Carman Pirie: But in Canada, we call it a Mars bar. You don’t have the Milky Way. 

Jeff White: Well, and Smarties here are different from Smarties there. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, but now we’re just muddying the waters. But Snickers does exist on both sides. 

Jeff White: On both sides of the border. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: All right. I mean, look, that was almost an international incident. 

Jeff White: Important point. Yeah. No, we could have… There would have been Canada Border Services arriving momentarily. 

Carman Pirie: Indeed. 

Jeff White: But I think you’re absolutely right and a lot of organizations of your size and much bigger have a really hard time ensuring that they capture the success stories so that they can be used for future marketing. We had a guest on the show before, probably about a year or so ago, and they forgot to take a photo of a particular one-off piece of equipment before it left for Mars. So, speaking of Mars, it was actually going to space, and nobody took-

Carman Pirie: Tying it all together, Jeff. 

Jeff White: Nobody took a photograph of it. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, and I think to the point as well, trouble aligning those success stories within a consistently told brand narrative, not uncommon if somebody hasn’t been investing in marketing for there to be some brand confusion by the time a marketer shows up. And it’s what can be, I think, really challenging for marketers in that position is now all of a sudden they’re in a position where they’re advocating for ‘spend,’ against something that doesn’t necessarily have immediate bottom-line ROI attached to it. 

Spending on an acquisition campaign to try to get new leads, or to even improve the experience for existing customers, you can get a lot of nods around the C-suite table for that. But when you start saying that the brand’s confusing to people and we don’t even know how to talk about ourselves, sometimes that message isn’t always as easily received. I guess I’m curious, Matt, did you find any difference in the organizational buy-in for the work that you’ve had to do to try to bring some cohesiveness to the brand structure?

Matt Canter: So, you know what’s really interesting, is I have been in roles where that exact scenario is hyper present. For example, I had a CEO ask why social media is important for our brand. This was a B2C brand, and I go on social media and all I see is what my friends ate for breakfast. Why are we investing in this as a business? So, I took about two months and a small amount of budget and I was able to demonstrate to him and to other stakeholders that this is an important channel for brand building, competitor analysis, and acquisition, and what happens when those leads come into our system as it relates to the system through Salesforce, and what does that mean from a purchase point of view, and was able to at the end of that scenario gets more budget for more paid social acquisition. 

Now, coming here to Greenfield, I think one of the really unique things about the company is that the CEO, it’s his family’s company. But he hasn’t been in this business his entire career. He’s from Silicon Valley. He created and worked inside and sold multiple businesses in a variety of different B2C and B2B environments and so not only does he have that understanding and that background of how important the customer story is, but the heads of the BU also have that context, and so interestingly I was mentally prepared to go through a really deep data analysis to show why this kind of stuff is important. Primarily in order to create our USPs, our core unique selling points, and one of our USPs is customer service. And so, being able to articulate what does that mean and give examples of that was something that the leadership team already knew needed to happen, and thankfully while the company, in general, is extremely data-focused, from my point of view I cannot get anything approved if it doesn’t have a strong attribution model attached to it. 

And even for things that are a little bit more challenging to attribute success to, maybe like event marketing, or things like that, or content creation, there is still a general kind of band of flexibility that I’m given in order to test, optimize, and report back, so I think one of the benefits of being a kind of a… Let’s call it a new marketer in the new seat is that we don’t have any benchmark data. I don’t have a whole bunch of information that I can go back to and go, “Okay, in the last five years, this is what the advertising campaigns look like for the life science market. This did well, this didn’t go well. Okay, let’s take this forward and build off of it.” We’re doing everything new, so it’s kind of exciting in a way that when things arise, there’s not a lot of pushback as it relates to testing something. 

As long as I have a strategic lens and I can turn that around and talk to the owners of the business and say we want to do this because this is what we think the potential is gonna be, this is what I think is gonna happen at the end of this activity, this experiment. We’re gonna test, we’re gonna learn, we’re gonna report back, so having constant feedback loops are incredibly important to put a pin in…did this do what we thought it would do? Was it successful? Was it not successful? How much did it cost? And so, we’re kind of building this repertoire as we speak. 

So, luckily I don’t have legacy business leaders that don’t look at that kind of stuff as valuable because today there are so many competitors in our particular space that sell the similar type of products that we sell, so for us, and what we talk about all the time, we just had a leadership call not too long ago with our CEO and it really comes down to being customer partners, being agile, and being just hyper-focused and completely obsessed with the customer experience, and I think having those things on the forefront allows us to keep our customers happy, kind of going back to your point on retention. It’s important. It’s certainly probably not the most important prong in those pillars, but just this last year we did something that we hadn’t seen a lot of competitors do, which we did a customer appreciation month. So, we’re kind of kicking around the idea, you know what? We always do, like so many other companies, you do an end-of-the-year customer appreciation. We’re gonna do it again this year because it’s a good thing to do, and it makes you feel good when you receive something like that, but we wanted to do something in the middle of the year that was a little bit unexpected. 

And so, we put together a program and we gave out some money for our customers to… $500 to give to a charity of their choice and then $500 so that they can do a team lunch, team outing, just something special, something to surprise them and go, “Listen, we know COVID has been challenging. We know this year is different. But we just wanted to say thank you in a different way.” So, finding small opportunities like that really go a long way to kind of coming back to answering the question of why are we different and why are we unique. 

Jeff White: I think anytime that you can show a leadership team that what you’re doing has the customer at its center certainly helps with buy-in with people who might otherwise overlook the power and benefit of marketing. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. I think that’s quite true. Yeah. It’s a language most people can at least understand, I think. 

Jeff White: Yeah. For sure. 

Carman Pirie: As opposed to sometimes I think getting lost in the abstraction of brand or what have you isn’t always as easy a muscle to flex, right? 

Jeff White: Yeah. For sure. 

Matt Canter: Yeah. And you know, a quick example, right? Like asking, for example, when I get asked the question why do we need to clarify the brand of Pharmco and Greenfield, I can simply point back to the report that we created from our internal survey and essentially the story, the summary, is that we have a little bit of confusion internally and also with customers, so right away just having those two key talking points, it allows somebody, no matter their context, or what department they’re in, or where they sit geographically if they hear that, they go, “Oh, huh, so we actually confuse ourselves and sometimes that confuses the customer?” Instantly they go, “Oh, okay. Well, let’s go ahead and fix that. That makes sense. Cool. What are you working on? When’s it gonna be ready? Oh, that sounds really interesting.” 

So, I think the way that I kind of look at it is if we can root it in something strategic, then the conversation, it’s a lot less abstract as to why we’re doing something. 

Carman Pirie: Of course, of course. I think it’s great advice. I’m kind of curious what other advice you would give to yourself as we’re kind of winding down today’s show. I’m just kind of curious. Two years into the role, having some clear successes, expanding the team, if you had to do it all over again, would you do anything differently over those two years and I think one month that you’ve been there? 

Matt Canter: You know, it’s a really interesting question. I think one of the things that if I could go back and kind of pat myself on the shoulder, would probably be to get alignment and get seated a lot faster next to a sales individual and sales teams to understand the business better. And let me give you an example as to why. So, we do have offices, in our warehouses, and our facilities in Kentucky, Connecticut, Ireland, corporate headquarters is in Toronto, and lots of satellite offices, so the marketing team sits at a satellite sales office in Southern California. 

So, I’m not next to the production team, the quality team, or the legal team. My internal stakeholders, my sales leaders, they’re dispersed globally, and so I think one of the challenges was getting up to speed really quickly and trying to create our buyer persona documentation, trying to create this document that we have called our market channel catalogue, which we just recently completed. And what it is, it’s a running repertoire of every single market, who the audience is, what products they buy, what’s our value proposition, who the competitors are, and then all of the industry publications that we’re aware of that would be used for advertising channels. So, I think for me, when I think about successful moments here at Greenfield, I think it’s times when myself and the sales team have been in lockstep next to each other, completely understanding what their problem is, what their pain point is, and then me taking that away, thinking about it, coming up with a plan, presenting it to them, and then us together going, “Yes, this is awesome. This is exactly what we need to solve this problem.” 

So, we’re in a really good cadence now doing that, and doing it remotely presents its own set of challenges. I’ve worked in places, for example, at the brewery, where you get up and you walk downstairs and you talk to production, or you walk across the street and you talk to quality and management, and everybody’s right there. So, having a remote workforce presents challenges in terms of understanding our process better. And so, spending more time on-site with the teams, getting into a better daily cadence with the sales team to spend time becoming a product expert, which is still something I’m striving for today. Myself and my team, sell a lot of different products to a lot of different audiences, and so trying to keep that all organized, I think I would have said you should make that as part of your 120-day plan. Because it took a little bit longer for that cadence to get in a good rhythm and I think that we could have had a couple of extra wins early on if that was accomplished. 

Jeff White: Man, I think that’s great advice. Any marketer should be challenged to spend more time with sales when they first start, and if they haven’t, they should.

Carman Pirie: And as Matt mentioned, kind of program in that regular cadence of interaction, as well. I think that’s great advice. I agree. 

Matt Canter: Yeah. And you know, one last comment to that is like from a sales point of view, they’re busy. They got sales goals. They have phone calls. They have meetings. So, they’re not gonna stop and go, “Hey, Mr. Marketer, come over here and come hang out with me and why don’t I teach you my ways?” You kind of have to be persistent and you kind of have to raise your hand, and that’s something that I… I don’t know if I struggled with it…but I’m always trying to be collegial, and communicative, and if someone says, “Hey, I’m busy.” Okay, gotcha. You’re busy. But sometimes you kind of have to go, “Listen, in order for me to do my job, I have to be in a partner mindset with you. Can we please just carve out some time and go over this stuff?” And then when that happens, then it clicks, and then you’re off and running. So, I think the final piece of advice there would be it’s okay to be persistent because it’s gonna allow you to be successful in your role. 

Jeff White: Yeah. Fantastic advice. I think it’s a great place to leave it. Thanks for joining us, Matt. 

Matt Canter: Thank you. I appreciate it. 

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 kulapartners.com/thekularing. That’s K-U-L-Apartners.com/thekularing.

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Matt Canter

Director of Marketing, Greenfield Global

Matt Canter has approximately 15 years of marketing experience focused on leadership through building teams and people, organizational structure, and executing against business objectives for customer acquisition, retention, and brand experience. These outcomes have come from his background working in agency environments, inside B2C consumer and lifestyle brands, and B2B companies.

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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