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Posted by Todd Hockenberry ● Nov 13, 2018

How to Educate Your Customers and See Sales Rise

This is not your mom and dad’s marketing game.

Marketing has dramatically changed in the past twenty years and this is true even more so within the manufacturing sphere.

Gone are the days of strategizing what ads are going to be in which trade publications.

Instead of pushing ads, companies like McElroy Metal are focusing on customer education. It’s through marketing tactics like end user education and being an authentic partner, manufacturing businesses are building trust and growing sales.

Our guest this week on The Industrial Executive podcast was Ken Gieseke, VP of Marketing at McElroy Metal. Ken has worked at McElroy for more than 20 years and has had front row seats to watch the evolution of marketing and sales within the industry.

Here’s the highlights from our interview with Ken as shared with us how McElroy have adapted to the changing marketing sphere and are watching it drive sales.

Culture Cannot Be Overstated

McElroy Metal is a company full of long-term employees.

People have been there, done that, and liked it so much they’ve stuck around for the long haul. And it hasn’t happened by chance.

While leadership has changed hands over the years, the company has endeavored to create a culture of loyalty and trust through consistency.

And when employees feel valued and empowered to do their job, it’s guaranteed to spill over to their customers. A valued employee, who is treated right, is going to value their customers and do the right thing by their customer, rather than be driven by a toxic and inward-focused environment.

Why Trade Associations are Important to Industry Growth

There is great value in having a unified voice.

When it comes to trade associations, that unity provides benefits up and down the supply chain because you’re promoting an entire industry, not just one particular company.

Even though you are working with competitors, the goal is to grow the market share. As the saying goes, “rising tides raise all ships.”

Consistency again is key. We talk a lot about our culture.” - Ken Gieseke

Don’t be discouraged by larger competitors who don’t participate, but are still benefiting from this share increase. Sticking together, as an association, gives you strength in numbers.

Educating Customers in the Digital Age

It’s no secret that customers and end users are more educated than ever.

It used to be good enough to educate your customers, who would then pass that on their customers, but with everyone having access to information online, marketing to the end user or final decision maker, needs to be commonplace.

For McElroy, they are exploring as many options as they can to make information as easily available as possible--everything from social media to email campaigns, promotions to blogs. Whether it’s a homeowner or commercial building manager, if someone is researching metal roofs, McElroys wants their name and information to be the first thing that pops up.

“There are hundreds of opps to promote your brand. It’s no longer just one or two channels.” - Ken Gieseke

How Digital Marketing is Creating New Manufacturer-Customer Partnerships

Unity and consistency are two key factors that contribute to McElroy’s growth and company culture.

Another key to their success is how they’ve partnered with their customers to not only be their wholesaler, but to also be their partner and promote them, often through social media by ways of links and shares.

When your customers are also your distributors, promotion and partnership creates an ecosystem that makes local businesses bigger than themselves.

Ultimately, when your customers are successful, you are successful, so it’s a clear winning strategy.


Manufacturing, by nature, is ever changing and businesses need to keep seeking out new opportunities and aligning themselves with the latest trends. There are hundreds of opportunities to promote your brand so get creative and engage and educate your customers and end users however works best for your like-minded marketing and sales teams.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Ken Gieseke from McElroy Metal. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Industrial Executive podcast.



Topics: Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing, Industrial Executive