WBSP007: Grow Your Business by Stop by Being the Best Kept Secret w/ Curt Anderson

In this episode, we have our guest Curt Anderson from B2BTail, who touches on why growth extends beyond sales and marketing for custom manufacturers. The revenue needs to be profitable. He shares his personal story of growing his e-commerce business.

Unlike other companies, he has had tremendous success in increasing revenue but struggled to make it profitable. He also breaks down critical terms that finance and operations executives need to better understand marketing and the digital world. If you are a custom manufacturer and curious about growing through e-commerce, this episode is a must-listen for you.

Chapter Markers

  • [0:00] Intro
  • [2:44] Personal journey and current focus
  • [3:47] Perspective on Growth for custom manufacturers
  • [4:34] Challenges in growing profitable custom manufacturers e-commerce sales
  • [6:52] Overview of search ads and SEO
  • [10:25] Importance of owning internet real estate for custom manufacturers
  • [14:59] Why custom manufacturers need to stop being the best-kept secret
  • [18:16] Importance of having a good first webpression for custom manufacturers
  • [24:56] Three learnings from Curt’s book
  • [28:25] Advice for custom manufacturers not to be complicit
  • [32:59] Closing thoughts
  • [34:06] Outro

Key Takeaways

  • Growth and sales don’t always generate profits, but profits can certainly help you generate sales.
  • Whenever you do a search on Google, and you see at you’ll see as a blog post from 2011, 2014, or something completely random, that’s not relevant. It’s telling you that Google is starving for information. They’re begging you. Please give us some content to put on that page.
  • So many custom manufacturers really struggle with that they get caught in that I call it the entrepreneurial curse. We try to be everything to everybody. And what did we end up being? Nothing to nobody. You have to niche down. You have to focus on your core strengths and skills.

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About Curt

Curt Anderson founded an eCommerce company in 1995 that was ranked 3X on the Internet Retailer Magazine Top 1000 eCommerce Companies. Since selling that company, Curt has served as an eCommerce consultant targeting custom manufacturers.

Curt is the author of “Stop Being the Best Kept Secret” and founder of B2Btail.com , an eCommerce resource guide for manufacturers.


  • Connect with Curt
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  • FREE weekly webinar series – Manufacturing eCommerce Success – every Friday at 1:30 ET
    • Go to B2Btail.com to register

Full Transcript

Curt Anderson 0:00

Do you know this company? Yeah, that’s my competition. I didn’t know that they were tech-savvy. I didn’t know they were coming up on Google. I’m like, Are you mad? They’re like, yes, I’m like, good. I want you mad, we got to stop being the best-kept secret. We’ve got to get you in the game.

Intro 0:14

Growing a business requires a holistic approach that extends beyond sales and marketing. This approach needs alignment among people, processes, and technologies.

So if you’re a business owner, operations, or finance leader looking to learn growth strategies from your peers and competitors, you’re tuned into the right podcast. Welcome to the WBS Podcast, where scalable growth using business systems is our number one priority.

Now, here is your host, Sam Gupta.

Sam Gupta 0:50

Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of the WBS podcast. I’m Sam Gupta, your host, and principal consultant at digital transformation consulting firm, ElevateIQ.

The manufacturing community is genuinely gifted, and one of the best-kept secrets that the world of Google needs to know. Manufacturing conversations are typically limited to the four walls of trade shows and have a limited presence on newer marketing channels. The digital world isn’t any different from the physical. There’s only so much digital land you can own before it becomes too expensive and competitive. First movers will have an advantage while the laggards will struggle to grow their businesses.

In today’s episode, we have our guest Curt Anderson from B2BTail, who touches on why growth extends beyond sales and marketing. The revenue needs to be profitable. He shares his personal story of growing his ecommerce business. Unlike other companies, he has had tremendous success and increasing revenue but struggled to make it profitable. He also breaks down critical terms that finance and operations executives need to better understand marketing and the digital world. If you are a custom manufacturer and curious about growing through e-commerce, this episode is a must-listen for you.

Let me introduce Curt to you.

Curt Anderson founded an ecommerce company in 1995 that was ranked 3X on the internet retailer magazine’s top 1000 ecommerce companies. Since selling that company, Curt has served as an ecommerce consultant targeting custom manufacturers, Curt is the author of Stop Being the Best-kept Secret and the founder of b2btail.com, an ecommerce resource guide for custom manufacturers.

With that, let’s get to the conversation.

Hey Curt. Good morning. Welcome to the show.

Curt Anderson 2:37

Sam. Good morning. Thank you What an absolute honor privilege to be with you. This is a thrill. So thank you very much.

Sam Gupta 2:44 – Personal journey and current focus

Okay, I’m super excited to talk to you as well, because obviously, you have a very interesting background. So before we start, let’s talk about your background. And I don’t know if my audience is going to be familiar with you. Some people might not. So would you like to share your journey?

Curt Anderson 3:00

Sure. Boy, we’ll make it short. So, I’m an e-commerce consultant. My firm is called B2BTail. It’s an e-commerce resource guide for custom manufacturers. My story goes, I had a wholesale business in the 90s. And man, I was struggling horribly, and my accountant loves to declare that I was the worst client that she had ever taken on at that time.

And I was running out of options and ideas of how to turn my business around. And then in 1995 this thing, ecommerce came along. And it was a super long road after that, but turn things around. And here I am today. So ecommerce has been a game-changer for me. And I’m just very passionate, and it’s my mission just trying to help companies in particular custom manufacturers on their e-commerce journey.

Sam Gupta 3:47 – Perspective on Growth for custom manufacturers

Okay, so before we get deeper into your journey, would you like to share your perspective on growth? What does growth mean to you?

Curt Anderson 3:55

Yeah, great question. So with that question from my perspective, so again, kind of, you know, I kid around, but man, I was, you know, young, it was easier growing sales, I was not real strong on the profitability.

And once I kind of figured out that whole perspective, and just the powerful elements that ecommerce brings to your business, it really turned things around. So you know, it’s very easy to grow in sales, I would say easy, it is easier to grow and sales before, you know, for entrepreneurs, just focusing on that bottom line, profits creates those growth opportunities.

Growth and sales don’t always generate profits, but profits can certainly help you generate sales.

Sam Gupta 4:34 – Challenges in growing profitable e-commerce sales

Okay, that’s a very interesting perspective, because that is not something I hear from my guests and also from my clients. Typically their challenge is growing sales, obviously. But I mean, I would definitely like to learn a little bit more about why it was easier for you to grow sales, but you found challenges in growing profitability.

Curt Anderson 4:53

Great question. So let’s say so ecommerce, so I, you know, I started doing like, I was doing search ads before Google was even on the market, that’s how long I go back. And again, you know, small, you know, this is back in the, when the internet bubble hit.

And I was spending like, $6,000, a month on search ads, and Yahoo was the main search engine at the time they were fed by was called Overture that was the auction. I don’t want to get too deep. But so yeah, Yahoo was the main search engine, say like 2000-2001.

And I was spending an enormous amount of money. You know, at that time for my small business, my accountant didn’t know what you know, the internet was new e-commerce was new. And he was like, you know, what are you doing spending all this money is what is this thing, Yahoo and search, and so and so forth. So I could spend a ton of money on marketing, I could hire sales reps, or, you know, businesses can grow sales by spending money.

Curt Anderson 5:48

But you know, as we back in the internet bubble or a lot of times you hear about that burn rate when I just when I finally figured out how to stop the burn rate and just have more effective marketing, more efficient marketing, and more impactful marketing.

That’s when the opportunity was to grow profitable sales. So I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t use the word easy. So I don’t want to say sales are ever easy, but unprofitable sales are a heck of a lot easier than profitable sales.

So I had a running joke, I would say, Hey, man, I could sell my dollars for 97 cents better than anybody. So Sam, unless you were selling yours for 96 cents, nobody would beat me at selling my dollars for 97.

Well, I can only sell my dollars for 97 cents for so long, or I’m going to run out of dollars. When I finally figured out going on the other side of highly focused profitable opportunities.

That’s when really the business exploded and had really nice healthy growth and a good balance sheet. Good bottom line. So that was much more refreshing and rewarding than high gross sales that where I was at a high burn rate. So that’s my deal there.

Sam Gupta 6:52 – Overview of search ads and SEO

Yeah, I could not agree more with respect to your, you know, comment about unprofitable sales. And I don’t know how many custom manufacturers really measure that. They might measure, I would say, at the balance sheet level. And they might know the overall picture, but I don’t know if they measure at the channel level.

So that’s a very interesting insight. But before we get there, you know, since my audiences more of the operations and finance folks, and they might not know terms such as search ads, so can you talk a little bit more about what search ads are and how they work? And if somebody is starting in the e-commerce space for the first time, what they need to know about search ads?

Curt Anderson 7:31

Yeah, awesome question, Sam. So So search, as you know, so now in 2020, I, you know, I guess I’ll make the assumption that we all use, you know, Google Google’s a verb Google’s, you know, part of our daily lives for most folks. And so when you do that Google search, and say you’re, you know, we’re looking for shoes, a restaurant, a travel experience, maybe college for you know, yourself, kids, what have you, when you do that search, that page is gonna be populated.

You know, back in the 2000s. Google, as you know, when you did a Google search, it was just text. All you saw were texts. Now Google is facing fierce competition from marketplaces like Amazon, Alibaba, all sorts of social media sites, Pinterest, Instagram, and they are flooded with images.

When we’re so visual. Google now has so many images, videos, content, as you notice, when you do those Google searches, many of those products and many of those images on a Google search now are ads. That’s how Google makes their bazillions of dollars. That’s how Google is a coveted stock to own.

Curt Anderson 8:36

They’re very profitable because of the service that they provide the solution that they solve for you while you’re doing that search. So anytime you do a search, and you see the word ad, that little black in it says ad, that’s how Google makes her money.

And what’s happening is a company wants to be positioned to be found. So again, Sam, if you and I were selling shoes, we wanted to target shoes, very, very broad term, super expensive, again, probably not profitable, we might go broke trying to compete with Nike or Adidas or what have you.

But if you and I were selling pink, running shoes, with purple shoelaces very specific, and we’re targeting that keyword, with an effective strategy for you and I, we would maybe post those images of our pig running shoes with purple shoelaces on Instagram, or Pinterest, or other social media sites and hope that Google grabs that.

Curt Anderson 9:31

So now we would populate in that search. Because it’s a more specific product, we might have better success with our Google advertising. And what it is, it’s called a pay-per-click model. It doesn’t cost you a penny to come to appear on those ads. The Cash Register brings whenever somebody clicks on that ad.

So again, from now on, if that if this whole process is new to you, when you do a Google search, look at what’s going on the page and just look for ad or say Google Ads Folks are bidding to be net position.

If it doesn’t say adword. That’s what when you hear SEO, or those organic keywords, those free words, that’s organic. So just without using a visual, that’s kind of my audio version snapshot of the difference for Google organic posts free ad-free position listings on Google, compared to those paid listings. Was that helpful, Sam?

Sam Gupta 10:25 – Importance of owning internet real estate for custom manufacturers

Yeah, it was very helpful. In fact, see, I actually want to touch a little bit deeper into that, to be honest, related to the competition aspect that you mentioned. And I think I was having this conversation with Joe from Gorilla 76.

He runs the marketing agency, and we were having the conversation about having or owning this piece of the internet real estate. And we felt that custom manufacturers are so behind in terms of owning this piece of internet real estate.

But you mentioned the interesting keyword here, with respect to this intense competition between Amazon and Google, and in my opinion, custom manufacturers don’t own any of that piece of the pie.

So tell us, what does this competition mean to custom manufacturers, and why they should own the piece of pie there?

Curt Anderson 11:14

Yeah, love it, love this question, I kind of geek out on this. And so I do these things called e-commerce opportunity audits with custom manufacturers. And this is exactly what we hit on.

So if you’re dipping your toe into for a shameless plug, my book, The title of my book is Stop Being the Best-kept Secret. And the reason I called it that, and then I started incorporating the book, but every manufacturer I’d call on, you know, it was like early too, like 2010-11-12.

I’m like, Hey, tell me about your business. Tell me about your manufacturing operation. Like, oh, we’re the best-kept secret. We’re the best-kept secret. We’re word of mouth. We go to trade shows. Our sales reps go on the road.

Well, I always felt like a man being the best-kept secrets, not a great marketing strategy. And we would kind of kid around about it.

Curt Anderson 11:56

So I heard it so often, I end up you know, that was the title of the book. So the challenge that I find with so many manufacturers in who I, you have the OEM, the original equipment manufacturer, they have a finished good a proprietary product, who my book and I do a ton of webinars who might my preach that the message I’m trying to deliver is to those custom manufacturers that feels left out of the e-commerce party they like, I don’t have a proprietary product.

I don’t have a finished good. ecommerce isn’t for me, I can’t go on Amazon. What do I do? So that’s my diatribe to get let’s deep dig deep into your question. So many manufacturers do what they bend metal, they cut steel, they 3d print, they fabricate something, they make something for somebody else, particularly those custom manufacturers.

However, what they have is they have a proprietary process. And that’s the sweet spot that I love to talk about with every custom manufacturers, we need to exploit your proprietary process. You’ve been doing it for years, in some cases decades, sometimes for generations. And the problem is you’re still the best-kept secret. So let’s go into that search process.

Curt Anderson 13:06

So if I’m like so many custom manufacturers, you go to their website and their capability, they’ll have their capability page which is super common, you know, say CNC machine, fabricate metal, bend metal, cut steel, da da da.

If I do a search for CNC machine, it’s like you and I trying to target shoes, like it’s just like, you know if I was like Sam, I want to come up the first page on shoes, you’re gonna be like Curt, dude, if you guys could see me I have no hair, you’re gonna be like Curt, you have a better chance of growing hair, then coming up on the first page of Google for shoes.

That’s the exact same thing for CNC machining, fabricating metal, 3d printing, what we have to do we have to talk about, who do you bend metal for? Who do you cut steel for?

Curt Anderson 13:49

So when I talk to custom manufacturers, honest to goodness, you see like the lightbulb go off, because they’re like, Oh, well, we’re aerospace. And we do CNC tooling for turbine engines. Bingo. That’s your key phrase. It’s not CNC machining, it’s CNC machining for turbine engines. That’s your sweet spot. That’s your strike zone.

It’s so now we have a chance to come upon that first page on Google, either, the bids are going to be so much cheaper and the Google ads or you there’s virtually little to no competition. And whenever you do a search on Google, and you see at you’ll see as a blog post from 2011, 2014, or something completely random, that’s not relevant.

It’s telling you that Google is starving for information, they’re begging you please give us some content to put on that page. So what I tell every custom manufacturers dude, we’ve got to do a video. We need to put throw up a blog post. We need to do a post on LinkedIn using that keyword CNC tooling for turbine engines. And now we’re going to stop being the best-kept secret. How does that make sense?

Sam Gupta 14:59 – Why custom manufacturers need to stop being the best-kept secret

It does in fact, To be clear, I love the way you describe these things because that is something, you know, I have not had with my other guests, to be honest. So I’m loving this conversation right now.

And by the way, I mean, since you mentioned your book, and I love the title of your book, two reasons. Number one, it is super catchy. Stop being the best-kept secret, right? It’s catchy. But the best part I love about your title is it’s so real. Yeah. That is the reality of manufacturers. You tell me how many manufacturers are present on Google? How many manufacturers are doing e-commerce? And if they are doing, are they really successful? You tell me, Curt?

Curt Anderson 15:45

Well, you know what? I’m gonna be polite, Sam. So what I when I, when I do my webinars, I call it to play. I’m like, you know what we had, I want to be helpful. We call it we had an online identity crisis that we needed to resolve. And that’s my polite way of saying, Do you really have a really poor presence and what it is it’s either when I do my workshops, I have a three-pronged approach in what it is it starts with, we need to make that great first impression is like a cutesy word, I call it webpression.

How do we make that great first, webpression? You know, we want to Wow, that your want to dig deep into your persona. Okay, that ideal dream customer. And when I do my in my book, and in my workshop, I just to kind of like I try to make things memorable. So I kid around I’m like that ideal dream customer is your soulmate, your bait, your website is basically a matchmaker and we are seeking a soulmate.

Curt Anderson 16:41

So like before we got another call, Sam, you know, one of the first questions like you know, who’s your sweet spot? Who’s your target? You know, I could have said, Sam, you know, who is ElevatIQ’s soulmate, and you give me a really nice description immediately.

So like, now I know exactly who you’re targeting. So many manufacturers really struggle with that they get caught in that I call it the entrepreneurial curse. We try to be everything to everybody. And what did we end up being? Nothing to nobody, you have to niche down, you have to focus on your core strengths and skills. I’m a big baseball fan. So you want to stay in your strike zone.

Curt Anderson 17:17

So we want to make that great. First, webpression. When that soul mate, that ideal buyer lands on your website, does it connect? Does it resonate with that person? Okay, number two, stop being the best-kept secret, we want to dominate and attack the search engines. And we just kind of covered that in our previous spot right there.

And number three, I talked about, okay, let’s get on the offensive. And that’s where I’ve talked about, you know, using LinkedIn, using social media, and most importantly, the marketplaces. I’m very bullish on you know, I know you’ve had some podcasts and you’re very bullish on, you know, work with Amazon, I do a lot of work with Alibaba or any of the other manufacturing marketplaces. There’s I’ve had success with Digikey, Zorro.

So you want to just focus and figure out, you know, where is that soulmate? What problem do they have? How can we solve it as quickly as possible? How can we be found, and just resonate with that great first impression as they land on your website?

Sam Gupta 18:16 – Importance of having a good first webpression for custom manufacturers

Okay, so I love the term webpression. To be honest, I mean, that’s definitely very interesting. It’s memorable, as you mentioned, and I think I can relate to it. Way back, I would say, you know, when I was coming out of school, and I wanted to get some career advice, and they said that you know, what, your first impression is the last impression, okay, so you’ve got to wear a nice dress, you’ve got to show up on time.

And if you do that, then the other things will become automatically easier. So I think he was touching on a similar aspect. Would you like to touch a little bit more on that, why that matters to the manufacturer, why it is so important, and how they can get there with respect to having a good webpression?

Curt Anderson 19:00

Absolutely. And like this conversation is a perfect example, Sam. So you know, you reached out to me, I’m super honored, what a privilege. I look up your LinkedIn profile. And folks, I strongly encourage you, invite you, welcome you. Check out Sam’s LinkedIn profile is that Sam is just so impressive. You’ve had you know, at a young age, you’ve had a really rock star, you know, I know we throw around that word, but you’ve really had a nice career so far.

And that’s the thing is like, people do business with people. You know, we’ll talk B2B, we talk about B2C. But now you’re hitting you know, this isn’t original on my part, you’re hearing more and more, it’s human to human.

So you and I had a nice connection. I went to your profile. I was wowed immediately. I’m like, Man, what an honor and privilege that Sam is circling out to me. I’m dying to have a conversation with you. Now we’re kickstarting off a nice trusting business relationship, that hopefully that we’re going to grow together and bring in you know, maybe work on a project or clients together.

Curt Anderson 20:00

It’s the same thing for that manufacturing. Here’s a great example, and I don’t like to disparage anybody. But I had an I had somebody reach out to me and I and then again I do a little ecommerce audit and so just as I’m doing with you know who’s that ideal dream customer, who’s your soulmate you know, not when I was enjoying having fun so we have a little fun with that soulmate comment.

And they went deep man, they’re describing you know, we make this cutting edge widget, this part it’s in vehicle space, and our persona our soulmate, or like dirt track racing motocross, I’m picturing like, Guys, you know, mud all over the place, the helmets and pads shot, you know, flying overmount, you know, data, we go to their website, and there’s like a Ferrari on the, you know, is their landing page, there’s a Ferrari with no call to action.

Curt Anderson 20:48

And I’m like, man, no disrespect, but I, I have a whole page of you know, I’m old school, I still write, I have a whole page of notes of the persona, your soulmate that you just described to me. And I don’t want to say that people that that ride motocross, but it’s typically a younger age, that they’re not driving Ferraris, or, you know, a couple $100,000 vehicle, but I just don’t see the disconnect with what you just described, to me, it’s, there’s a total disconnect of what you describe, no call to action, so on and so forth.

That’s a perfect example of what manufacturers they, they’re not marketers, they’ve never needed to be marketers. So this is out of their strike zone, it’s out of their wheelhouse. They just need help. And so they just want, they just need a better tool and better strategy of how to communicate when you land on that webpage to make that great first impression of something that speaks to that soulmate with a nice call to action of like, I’m here to help you solve that problem.

Sam Gupta 21:49

Yeah, exactly. And I love the quote that you keep repeating to stay in the strike zone. And in fact, I’m actually gonna go back to the LinkedIn profile, you know that you mentioned, I like to stay to my core. We are ERP, we are digital transformation. We are going to be describing ourselves in just one word. And we are going to be repeating ourselves all the time without getting bored.

Okay, and the same thing goes with you as well. Let me see when you display to yourself, you are ecommerce for manufacturers. That’s who I am. That’s who I’m going to help. And that’s exactly what we need from the manufacturers as well. I don’t know how many manufacturers can display themselves in one word, but that one word is essential for their success in ecommerce. Would you agree with that, Curt?

Curt Anderson 22:36

Absolutely in what’s in the share that so I have a colleague that I work with her name is Allison DeFord, and she has a firm a company called Felt Marketing. And as a matter of fact, we just are rolling out this super exciting Alibaba digital sprint of the e-commerce webinar series. We just launched it yesterday. She’s speaking on next Tuesday, in this Alibaba series. She’s one of the funniest human beings on the planet. And she’s also one of the most powerful speakers. And she’s done. We’ve done a couple of workshops together.

And I just watched the expressions of people. She describes this thing called the we-we syndrome, especially for manufacturers. And what it is when you may not a manufacturer website back to talking about that great first webpression.

There’s the we-we syndrome. And what it is, is you go to the capabilities, and it’s, we deliver on time, we make great products, we are high quality, we’ve been in business since 1920. We do this we do that and she calls it we we we all over ourselves, and then we never once make it about the customer.

Curt Anderson 23:40

And the fact of the matter is whether we like it or not, people really don’t care about us. They’re thinking about themselves all day long. They have problems, they have stress, personal family, we’re in COVID. They want to hear from you. How can I help you? What’s going on in you in your world? What’s going on at your business? If you’re essential? And you’re cranking? Is there a process? Do we have a proprietary process, that we can just knock the ball out of the park with you to help solve your problem?

What can we do for you and that’s a big that’s an I do LinkedIn workshops. And again, you look at LinkedIn profiles. And you know, I always strongly encourage let’s try to avoid or prevent using the word the letter I or me.

And if you’re a manufacturer, let’s stop the “we-we” syndrome, and let’s make it all about them in what value you bring in, in almost short changes. The part that person’s LinkedIn profile or that comp that manufacturer website because they’ve been crushing it for decades, they do amazing things.

And again, it’s just how do you better communicate on the website and it’s really easy, I’m gonna say, you know, again, it’s a potentially simple fix of just making it about the customer.

Sam Gupta 24:56 – Three learnings from Curt’s book

Okay, amazing. So I’m loving this conversation, to be honest. I mean, You know, the way you are describing things and the kind of insight you have, it’s, it’s phenomenal.

So if you want to go back to your book again, and obviously we touched a bit. So let’s say if I’m buying the book, Curt, what are going to be the three learnings that I can expect from the book?

Curt Anderson 25:17

Three learnings? Great question, Sam. So again, what I do so the book, when I do webinars, I break them down into three sections. So but with that question there, I’m going to break it down one step further.

So again, how do we make that great first impression? How do we stop being the best-kept secret and be found and what I call it, we want to dominate search? And when I say dominate search, where is your soulmate?

Now I have a teenage daughter. So if I’m trying, if I’m targeting her, what’s interesting shows her generation is not on Facebook. So if I’m trying to target you and I are selling our pink running shoes with purple shoelaces, we’re not going on Facebook to target teenage girls, we need to go somewhere else, Instagram or what have you. So when I say dominate search, you really need a laser focus, where is your soulmate hanging out, and again, get on the offensive.

Curt Anderson 26:04

But let’s talk about manufacturers one for one second, on the e-commerce side, especially that custom manufacturer, those that feel left out of that e-commerce party and this is what I break down in the book. I went first I go into all the incredible benefits of e-commerce that again, 25 whatever years ago when I got e-commerce that, you know, all sudden people buy 24×7, I always preach, how can we help that customer make a buying decision on a Friday night at midnight, without having to wait for us to open up the doors at seven o’clock.

Warren Buffett always preaches you’ve got to figure out how to make money while you’re sleeping. And if you’re always live, you know, if your only hours, your billable hours are during you know, nine to five, we’re not making money while we’re sleeping. That’s the power of e-commerce.

What I break down in the book for manufacturers run through this quickly is first like have in again, we touched on it that that strong healthy call to action, landing page that great first impression, these big forms that we have to fill out I use an example in my workshops where I’m like, let’s just you know, I do a thing where it’s like submitted drawing, let’s just get the party started. I’m not asking for your firstborn. I’m not asking for your social security number.

Curt Anderson 27:16

I don’t need to know a ton of information submitted, you know, and manufacturers we need a CAD drawing what do you want us to make? Let’s get it going. Number two, in that custom manufacturer space, is how can we convert manufacturer direct ecommerce opportunities when you shorten their supply chain? In magic happens? great opportunities. Number three touched on this earlier I call it how do we scale your proprietary process for that manufacturer.

They have the equipment, the machinery, the skill set, the knowledge, the raw material, they have everything in place, they make this one little widget for one company, one industry and they’re the best-kept secret if we could help them figure out how to break out of that and tell the world that hey, we make this little widget is there anybody else on the planet that can use it?

That’s how we can scale your proprietary process. And then I go into like a little how do we customize your experience. And we’ve created this configurator tool where customers can now build their own product. And it provides them an instant quote. So that’s my diatribe. But that’s kind of the preach that I go through with those custom manufacturers. That’s the message in the book and the workshops that I do.

Sam Gupta 28:25 – Advice for custom manufacturers not to be complicit

Okay, amazing insight there. And I would probably love to go deeper into that. But I think you know, we are running out of time. And I have a couple of questions that I definitely want to cover, you know, as part of this conversation just because you have amazing insight.

So, uh, one question that I like to get everybody’s advice on is, you know, really, I’m playing a manufacturer here, to be honest. So let’s say if I’m a manufacturer, and I am used to going to trade shows, I know that I meet people in person there I have that personal connection. And I get business I may not be able to measure but at least uncomfortable because you know, I know what works for me and what does not.

Now obviously Curt, you are pro when it comes to marketing, e-commerce, doing Google SEO, but as a manufacturer, I have this fear, the fear of uncharted territory, the fear of sort of the comfort zone, I want to stay in my comfort zone because I’m comfortable there. So as a manufacturer, what would be your advice to overcome that?

Curt Anderson 29:31

Yeah, awesome question Sam. And here’s a funny story. So I do these ecommerce opportunity audits and I just did one this week custom manufacturer nice sized company been around for decades, very successful again, you know just what you described it with, with trade shows.

This manufacturer they because of the trade shows are gone. They did it virtually they the trade associate Association did it virtually they did this trade. So the team, their sales team did the virtual tradeshow. This is a great story. Last year, they did X number of sales and it costs them, say x.

This year they went to the exact same tradeshow virtually, they did the exact same amount of sales, it cost them a fifth of x last year, exact same number of leads, it cost them a fifth, 20%. It was an 80% decrease in expense by doing it virtually.

Curt Anderson 30:31

And the sales rep said of their computers, they worked all day when people popped into their little booth. Then they talked to him, then he went back. And so they were more efficient through the whole day. So here’s a case where they were forced to do this, they didn’t have a choice.

What I do with manufacturers, a lot of times and again running out of time, I’ll pull up I’ll do a search. And what really lights a fire is if organically or their competition is paying for an ad. That’s what triggers a fire.

And I’m like, are you Mike, do you know this company? Yeah, that’s my competition. I didn’t know that. They were tech-savvy. I didn’t know they were coming up on Google. I’m like, Are you mad? They’re like, yes, I’m like, good. I want you mad. We got to stop being the best-kept secret. We’ve got to get you in the game.

Sam Gupta 31:13

Yeah, amazing. Again, I would love to go on that conversation. I think we need to meet often, Curt. Okay, I love this conversation. But I mean, we are definitely short on time here. So I would like to know if there is anything that we have not noticed about your book that you would definitely like our listeners to know.

Curt Anderson 31:33

You know, I’ll make this super brief. So 2015, I had a great client manufacturer with 100-200 employees. And they made massive, massive walnuts. A customer found them, we have no idea how and they became my client after this story. the company from Milwaukee came to visit took a tour of the facility was here in New York, totally wowed, they landed a six-figure project.

When a gentleman was walking out the door, he said I almost didn’t come to visit your facility because your website was so bad. If that happened in 2020, and he can’t in that buyer couldn’t come to take a visit or a tour of that facility. He just went somewhere out.

So in 2020, that didn’t happen. I just think if you’d lost a six or seven-figure bid because you chose that what you touched on that fear of like upgrading my website, making that great first impression. And stop being the best-kept secret, though spend a quarter-million half million dollars on a CNC machine or a new piece of machinery, you know, they struggle and have the resistance of spending a few dollars on a Google ad or a new website. So it can be very scary when you look at it from that proposition.

Sam Gupta 32:45 – Closing thoughts

Okay, amazing. So just in closing, Curt, I think the key message that I got from this conversation is going to be, “stay in the strike zone,” and I think that resonates with your book’s theme as well. Do you have any closing comments?

Curt Anderson 32:59

Sam, first off, thanks, man. What an absolute honor privilege I know you and your team at ElevatIQ do amazing work. And so I am thrilled that you and I made a connection I can’t wait to you and I work together. And I just want to share with you your audience. We offer a free webinar series every Friday at 1:30p Eastern time. It’s called manufacturing ecommerce success.

Next Friday we have Brian Beck who wrote the book Billion Dollars B2B E-commerce. He is a rockstar. We have high-level speakers every single week. Totally free. We knock it down for 30 minutes. We have a great time. It’s on LinkedIn live, folks can connect with me on LinkedIn and get information but we’d love to and again, just delivering that value to help the manufacturers get through COVID.

Sam Gupta 33:44

Okay, good. So you know, you call everybody Rockstar, but in my opinion, I think you’re a real rock star and you’re super humble. That’s what I love about you. Well. It’s been super fun. I love this conversation. I thank you for your time, Curt. You have a wonderful day there.

Curt Anderson 34:02

Hey, thank you so much, Sam, what a privilege. Thank you, everybody, have a great day.

Sam Gupta 34:06 – Outro

I cannot thank our guests enough for coming on the show for sharing their knowledge and journey. I always pick up stuff from our guests, and hopefully, you learned something new today. If you want to know further about Curt or B2BTail, head over to b2btail.com and register for the free weekly webinar series manufacturing ecommerce success that they conduct every Friday at 1:30p ET to help the manufacturing community. Links and more information will also be available in the show notes.

If anything in this podcast resonated with you and your business, you might want to check other related episodes including the interview with Chase Clymer from ElectricEye, who brings a unique perspective on DTC from the angle of ecommerce toolset and Shopify. Also, the interview with Michael Begg from AMZ advisers, who touches on D2C from Amazon from a marketing channel standpoint

Also, don’t forget to subscribe and spread the word among folks with similar backgrounds. If you have any questions or comments about the show, please review and rate us on your favorite podcasting platform or DM me on any social channels. I’ll try my best to respond personally, and make sure you get help.

Thank you and I hope to get you on the next episode of the WBS podcast.

Outro 35:20

Thank you for listening to another episode of the WBS podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform so you never miss an episode. For more information on growth strategies for SMBs using ERP and digital transformation, check out our community at wbs.rocks. We’ll see you next time.

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