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Kindred Spirits of Industry Marketing

Allan: Today we’re going to be changing gears just a slight bit here on delivering Perfect Parts Faster. We’re sitting down with Shannon Gregor. She is the marketing specialist at Made-to-Measure. We’re going to dive into some conversation about marketing in the manufacturing space, some of the new trends and ideas when it comes to the benefits of digital marketing, and what it could mean for your business. We’re definitely excited to have her on today.

Shannon, I hope you’re doing well. Why don’t you start off and tell everybody a little bit about yourself and introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about what you do, about where you work and give us a rundown.

Shannon: My name is Shannon Gregor. I’m from Chicago, Illinois, and I’m the marketing specialist for Made-to-Measure. I’ve been doing that for five years, but I’ve been working at the company for nine years this November. I started out measuring parts, just running them on a CMM, and then I went back to school to get my bachelor’s degree in graphic design. My boss man moved me up to marketing and I’ve been there ever since. I make a lot of content on our social media. I do a lot of web development for our website and I work closely with the metrologist to try and create content that people will care about and value.

Allan: Right on, bring as much free information to the world as you can.

Shannon: Yeah, absolutely. I just want to educate people. I feel like Metrology is a very niche market and there’s a lot to be said about it. Absolutely.

Allan: Totally, so what do you guys do over there at Made-to-Measure? What’s the game plan all about over there?

Shannon: We’re a full-service inspection lab. We do everything from FAIs to reverse engineering, to laser scanning, to touch probe scanning. You name it. We do a lot of inspections. We also sell CMM equipment and we do Metrology training for companies all across manufacturing.

Allan: Cool, like Calypso training and things like that?

Shannon: Yeah, we do CMM training. We do blueprint reading, GD&T, and we also certify people in AUKOM. AUKOM is Metrology best practices. It doesn’t focus on machines or software. It just focuses on measuring the part, doing the best job that you can, the influences in Manufacturing that go into the quality. I think it’s really a great class overall. I’ve listened to it quite a few times, because my desk is right next to the training room. So I’ve learned a lot from it myself. I haven’t gotten certified, but I feel like it’s a very in-depth class.

Allan: Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Delivering Perfect Parts Faster, a manufacturing podcast geared around Metrology, for the most part, is used to help to educate the world, bring different concepts, new mindsets, process improvements, technologies, and things like that, to help the world deliver perfect parts faster. Now, I think it’s important for manufacturing companies in today’s world to understand how important marketing is and how important the face of the company, the brand message that you’re selling as the company, the story that you’re telling as a company is going to set you apart. You can’t deliver perfect parts fast if you don’t have customers deliver them to right?

Shannon: Absolutely. Yeah. I think a huge part of marketing for manufacturing is proving your value. I think there’s a lot of us who do the same thing. There’s a lot of people in Metrology. I don’t know if we all know that. It’s a small community, but at the same time it’s there’s a ton of people working in quality right now. If you can set yourself apart and show your value and show that you really care, I feel like that is the top, that’s what people have to strive for. It’s not, oh we can provide the fastest. No. It’s we want to provide the best and the right solution for the right application.

Allan: Totally. Yep, and nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. You have to genuinely care about them.

Shannon: Yes, absolutely. You have to believe in what you do. I feel like you have to have a passion for it. Especially in Metrology and quality, you really have to care about what you’re doing because, at the end of the day, this is the last check before these parts go off onto airplanes and spaceships and God knows what else. Lives are at stake because of this, we saw that with Boeing this year, unfortunately, and I think it’s something that we just have to acknowledge and train our people on. I think it’s really important. Yeah, providing value. I care about people so much, so the quality piece is a lot for me. If you know lives are at stake because of somebody who doesn’t care enough, it’s like wow, it’s that piece.

Allan: So I noticed it was interesting you mentioned. You know, this is the final check, the last check before it goes on to this rocket ship, this airplane, in this race car, whatever the case may be. Are you guys doing or seeing any more in-process inspection-type stuff? Maybe where instead of waiting till it’s an afterthought after the product is made, are people are gathering that data as they go and then reacting and tweaking their process?

Shannon: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like we see a lot of customers that have internal quality labs, and they do a lot of the in-process inspection. We see a lot of the end process inspection, or at the very beginning when they’re doing prototyping or tool-making and they’re adjusting the tools. I think that the front end and the back end or what we really see the most over at Made to Measure but the in-process inspection is absolutely important because if you’re in the process and you see something going wrong, you can stop it before it causes chaos, it causes morale to go down because you know, people are upset about it; people care about their work and every department of manufacturing, not just quality and it makes a big difference when people are on the same page, they’re on the team and they really care about what they’re doing.

Allan: I can agree with that. Absolutely. So how would you describe Marketing right now in the manufacturing industry? What does it look like to you?

Shannon: Marketing is very digital. I’m personally not looking at a lot of hard copy magazines or seeing a lot of handouts lately and I think this is a lot having to do with COVID. I didn’t want to go there, but yeah, I think that the digital pieces that we’re seeing are of more quality now. I think the game has stepped up a little bit. I think we’re seeing a lot more technical pieces and white papers and a lot more quality pieces. I don’t know a better way to put it, but pieces that people actually took a lot of thought and put a lot of time into. I think COVID slowed the world down a little bit and allowed people to do that. Unfortunately.

Allan: Yeah, I think you’re kind of right on that. I’ve noticed that we have larger open rates, people are kind of stuck inside, their stuck not having any visitors so they’re spending more time in front of their computer. So when an email does come across their way, I think more stuff that’s sparking their interest but I think vice versa that too. I’ve used zoom forever, you know, long before it was cool and COVID came and made everybody start using it. I wish I knew it was a public company long ago. I would have been banking right now. I had people, you know, just reps and distributors all the time saying “hey if you want to hop on a Zoom meeting let me know and we can meet up I could give you a training I give you a demo, I can meet you with your customer it can be super easy.” I was like “Yeah man, maybe…” you know, these guys are working out of the trunk of their car. Then COVID came and they couldn’t go into any plants. They couldn’t see anybody in person., they couldn’t do anything, and now it became a, “Huh, hey, you know that Zoom thing? Do you think we can try that out now? Now it’s kind of seeming to be the only way to get in front of people.”

Shannon: Yeah, absolutely. I think the shift to digital was very abrupt. I think the people weren’t ready for it and I think that in manufacturing it was the push we needed. I think that overcoming that digital hump was very difficult for a lot of people. I’m very proud of a lot of people as well, around me, that have overcome this because it is difficult to learn new software, it is difficult to adapt to these new conditions, but I think that was an unfortunate benefit of COVID.

Allan: Yeah. I think it pushes us a little bit closer to the Jetsons right? I think you’re right. It was a good kind of a beneficial push in a way, but it’s kind of an unfortunate situation. I can agree with you. So you see a shift because of COVID or were you seeing a shift prior to COVID at all?

Shannon: I think we were seeing a shift prior to COVID. I think COVID was a catalyst, but I think that a lot of the people have started doing the digital pieces online, whether it’s just going from doing email marketing to creating completely new social media accounts. I think all of it’s just a great benefit to manufacturing in general.

Allan: You think it’ll stick?

Shannon: I think it will. I think once we’ve learned these practices it’s kind of hard to unlearn them. I think there’s a lot of benefits to zoom as well, like connecting with people near and far,  just like this. I know there’s a ton of opportunities that can be had from working remotely and I think that we can really capture them now because people are more understanding of working from home. A lot of graphic design can be done anywhere. You can go to a coffee shop. You can do it anywhere you have Wi-Fi basically, and it doesn’t have to be done in an office. I think we’re getting more creative because of it and I think we’re seeing better content and I think we’re seeing honestly better quality work from all aspects.

Allan: Right. If things are being easier to present across social media and across thousands of eyes, then your quality or your work better be good because people are going to see it in tens of thousands, not just whoever you decide to show it to. Whoever comes into your front office or in your foyer to see what’s in your display case, the internet is now becoming everybody’s display case.

Shannon: Absolutely, and the reach is global.

Allan: Absolutely. Yeah. So do you find that if people reach out to you for a quote or for a question or something like that, because we are living in the electronic age, we can hop right on that and answer them right away, get them the information they’re looking for within minutes? I get customers that will say “Oh my God. Thanks for getting back to me so fast?” What do you guys how do…

Shannon: I value in the quick response piece? I think twenty-four hours is a reasonable time to respond to a customer, especially if you want to give them the best response. I think a really good method is at least responding and saying “hey, you know what? I’m going to look into this. I’ll get back to you” and then go about your day and search for that answer, but definitely get back to them within 24 hours. If it’s Friday afternoon, it can wait till Monday. It’s okay the world still turns. I do believe in the weekend, so it’s super important to me.

Allan: Yeah, I hear you. At least acknowledging the customer. That customer service is also that we all make mistakes, we’re all humans running these ships, you know, sometimes things happen, especially if you’re growing. As long as you tell the customer, “Hey, we screwed up. I made a mistake here. Let me make it right” and you do whatever you can to make it right again, that’s what’s going to matter most. Everybody’s going to forgive you for making a mistake. It’s if you try to shove it under the rug or try to brush it off or try to act like it doesn’t matter is where you get yourself in trouble.

Shannon: Absolutely. I think honesty is the best policy, honestly in all aspects of life but especially in marketing because you’re selling a product or a service, and if you don’t care, there’s that caring piece again, that’s the part where you fall flat on your face if you’re not on it.

Allan: Yeah, that’s right. So with COVID, and maybe prior to COVID, the whole shift going people going more digital understanding and taking advantage of Instagram, LinkedIn, and all these #Instamachinist is huge. They’re taking advantage of these social media platforms. With everybody fighting for visibility, fighting for engagement, fighting for the eyes, what is something that you do to set you apart from everybody else to give you a leg up on the other companies? I mean, I thought forever it was because we just did what we did, but there’s a lot of other people doing it, too.

Shannon: Yeah, there’s a ton of people in the world. There’s a ton of people in Metrology/quality and there’s a ton of people in manufacturing. I think that to get a leg up you need to understand where you’re posting and where your audience is. So whether you’re posting a white paper or you’re posting on social media. You need to know who you’re talking to and you need to be on the right platform for that. I do believe LinkedIn is a really good place to showcase things; whether that be your latest adventure in measuring or what you did over the weekend but, you know, keep it professional and know who you’re talking to. I see a lot of political posts on LinkedIn, and I don’t think that’s a good place for them, personally. So, you just have to be aware of the content and really understand who you’re talking to.

Allan: No, I agree. You think Instagram is the more laid-back? That’s how I look at it. Right, Instagram’s a little bit more laid back. You can post some cool artsy-fartsy stuff, maybe drop an F-bomb here and there, show people the real nature inside the company, right? And then your Facebook is a little bit more professionally polished but also on a real level because it’s kind of the Town Square. Then LinkedIn is your professional image, basically your electronic resume.

Shannon: Yeah, absolutely, better put on your suit and tie for this one because everybody sitting at the table.

Allan: Exactly, exactly. I’ve also noticed LinkedIn getting a little bit more laid back too. People are kind of showing, I don’t want to say true colors, but I mean it is their true colors. They’re showing a little bit more of their kind of relaxed business mindset, which I think is cool in a way. But again, are we getting our we are we going to lose that aspect of what dressing for success is really all about. I love putting the suit on and getting dressed up. Are we losing that?

Shannon: I completely agree. I like putting on a dress and heels every once in a while, but I think that it’s nice to get that real part of people. Where we might see people post their pets or their children or you know, they’re fishing adventure. I think it’s really cool to show the human side of people on LinkedIn and I don’t think we saw that a lot before. I think after people being home and quarantined a little bit, I think that people came out of their shells and got a little more comfortable with posting and I think it’s great. I think it’s awesome that people got more comfortable. I would like to see more people engaged and more people post. I think it’s awesome to share that kind of stuff.

Allan: It’s cool, I think you’re right. Especially now in today is the day and age with social media, we need social media marketers. Sometimes I wish I could hire someone just to sit and just play on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram all day. Just to sit there and just engage with people, find cool stuff, talk to people, hunt people down, post cool things, you know. That would be their one job, they can spend literally spend eighty hours a week just doing that.

So, we were talking about marketing kind of making the shift with COVID and prior to COVID a little bit, but I think a lot of companies are kind of like a barge when it comes to making any shifts, making transitions, making any changes within the space, especially when it comes to marketing. It’s more of a psychology that they don’t quite understand yet, right. So how would you recommend to somebody in a marketing role, if you are working for a company like this, that just doesn’t get it yet? Would you say go work for somebody else? Or is there anything that you could suggest, you know powering up through the middle and trying to change that company or helps shift that company in that direction?

Shannon: Yeah. Well, I would definitely talk money to your bosses and tell them it costs zero dollars to invest in a Facebook. It cost zero dollars to get a Twitter account or a LinkedIn and really it only takes 10 minutes of your time. So if your boss is willing to pay for 10 minutes of your time to do that, I think that’s worth it. If you just start out with one post a week even, I mean you don’t have to do a post every day. I don’t think that you have to start out and take a big bite of the cookie, just nibble off a little bit and see where it takes you. A lot of social media is trial and error and I know that if you could do it for free, what’s the risk at that point?

Allan: What do you think people’s biggest mistakes are when they’re trying out social media for the first time and then they say “That’s not for me, I tried and It didn’t work.” What advice would you give to them on that? Or what do you think they’re doing wrong?

Shannon: I think a lot of people have fear of social media. I feel like they might not understand it and by not understanding they don’t want to try. I think just reading a couple articles here and there about social media, whether it’s the top 10 hashtags to use on Instagram. If you just slowly educate yourself, you don’t necessarily have to have an Instagram to read about Instagram, but you have to know about it because it’s out there and it’s an opportunity for people to meet other people, to market to get out there and show their services, products, and whatnot. It’s a way to increase your audience. I don’t know who would want to say no to that, especially if they were trying to sell something, anything for that matter. If you could reach more people, why would you say no? That’s the question I have for your boss if they’re saying that to you.

Allan: That’s definitely very valid. What do you do specifically on social media to engage with your customers and things?

Shannon: I try and post a lot of questions, a lot of polls, a lot of reasons to respond, as I would like to put it, give a reason for somebody to interact with me, not just me personally, but the company page. I feel like just making an effort to get some feedback from people is a good way to start out. I mean if you just post “Good morning!”, that’s absolutely awesome because you took the first step and posting something. I think a lot of it is encouraging people to get out of their shells and actually try something different. Not every post is going to go viral and that’s okay. If you get one like on your post, congratulations, that’s awesome. Take the win. A lot of people want to get on social media and they want to have a million followers off the bat and gain this great following. I feel like if you have a Twitter account and you have 25 followers that all engage with you, that are all friends of yours or whatnot, that’s a quality of social media account. You don’t have to have the best or the biggest It’s just about having that quality of people, audience, content, everything. It’s a big mix and it’s not just linear. It’s not just one thing. It’s not, oh I can post the same thing every week and people will interact, no every day is a different day.

Allan: What I found too, is that I post every day across all the platforms something fun something cool, something interesting, but beyond that is also the actual engagement part. The part that you’re responding to comments, replying in the comment section, or when someone makes a comment about it, answering them back but not coming at it in a salesy way. You’re not saying oh you like my thing, hey, check out my website. You genuinely answer their question just like you’re having a conversation with the person sitting in the diner.

Shannon: Yeah. I think guiding some of our fellow co-workers and showing the people around us how social media works through word-of-mouth like how our grandparents did it except we’re just doing it digitally right now.

Allan: Now it’s word-of-mouse.

Shannon: Yeah, word-of-mouse. I like that. Yes!

Allan: What do you feel is maybe the next thing coming down the pipeline, as far as where our marketing efforts could go? What do you see as the next big trend that maybe people haven’t latched onto yet? Do you see anything coming down the pipeline like that or any new technologies?

Shannon: I think there’s a lot of new things brewing right now because people have to work and I think that there’s a lot of uncertainty as well. I think that with social media and the content that we could probably see coming up it’s going to be a lot more lighthearted and humorous than it’s been. It was very dark at the beginning of the year, the beginning of 2020. We had a lot of unfortunate situations happen as a global community and I think that we’ve seen it get a lot more positive, at least on my end. I’ve seen a lot more community, people coming together, people showing that we want to help each other out. I think that lightheartedness and that care are going to show through a little more in 2021. In the upcoming months and especially now with the upcoming holidays, I’m hoping we see a lot of warm posts and positive things going on, especially in manufacturing.

Allan: I think your right. Anything specific, any new software, or anything like that that you see? Or that you’ve gained an interest?

Shannon: See, I’m going to go here. I’m going to tell you; I absolutely love TikTok. I encourage everyone to get on TikTok. I know people are against it, but it’s just so fun. There’s so much wholesome content and I absolutely love it.

Allan: Do you see manufacturing taking off in TikTok?

Shannon: I think we should. I think we should get on there. I think we should start dancing with parts and just showing off our best moves. I think it would be so much fun. I wish I had people who wanted to do that kind of stuff with me. Maybe I’ll get on it and try it out.

Allan: I would totally do that! I don’t know anything really about TikTok. Not that I don’t know anything about it but I don’t spend much time on TikTok or do anything on TikTok. Steve, our owner, posted something cool on Instagram, which then cross-posted to a TikTok account. It was just a simple shrink fit of a bushing, where we cool the thing off with liquid nitrogen. It shrunk the metal bushing and we were able to slide it in, as it cooled it expanded and was then in there forever. He posted this 15-second video and the thing went viral on TikTok, like a hundred thousand people in one night. Yeah, so it definitely has the ability. That’s how you know, yes LinkedIn, but Instagram has the #instamachinist cult and whole community that is amazing over there. You find that it’s not quite as big as you think you think there are billions of people in the world, but there are only so many people making really cool parts and taking sweet pictures of them.

Shannon: Yeah. Yeah, and you’re hoping they’re not violating those NDA’s, right?

Allan: Right, lots of fixtures and cool stuff. Yeah. So, with social media and everything growing, popping off, and everybody’s out there, what do you think is going to happen with trade shows in the future?

Shannon: I’m going there, I’m going there. Trade shows are dead. I think maybe they’ll come back in a sort of manner that doesn’t have booths and we don’t sit in the stall for 12 hours a day sometimes. I think that it might come back as something different, but I don’t think we’ll see the company spending all this money on a booth that they’re going to hope that people walk up to anymore, because we have digital marketing and we can see analytics. We can see hard data that shows us where our leads are coming from, where we are getting traffic from, who’s looking at what pages, and when you’re just winging it at a booth, is that worth your dollars?

Allan: Yeah. What do you think about it, as far as the social summit of aspect of it?

Shannon: I think it would be nice to see more of the beginnings of trade shows. At the beginning of a lot of tradeshows, they have public speakers coming to talk and they’ll tell you about where they started, how they got there, and where they are now. You know their whole journey. I’ve listened to many of these and I’ve met many people through these. I think these are awesome, to sit at a little round table with 10 strangers and listen to somebody talk and then when they’re done you have a nice little conversation, maybe breakfast or lunch with these 10 strangers and you make new connections. It’s not always necessarily somebody you’re going to sell to, maybe you’re going to buy from them, maybe they’re going to become your friend, maybe they’ll become an ally in your marketing adventure or whatever aspect you are in.

Allan: Maybe in three months, they’ll come across a cool article that reminds them of you and they’ll send it to you. You’ll read it will change your life and you’ll become a millionaire. You know what it’s that’s what networking is all about right?

Shannon: I’m looking to meet that person still.

Allan: Right, there out there somewhere! Those are the free gifts in today’s modern marketing that I think about people saying, “oh, you know given off free gifts and things like that”, so my follow-ups, my automation for leads, and things like that are just simple emails. Emails of me saying “hey, what’s up, it’s me. I just saw this cool article. It made me think about you. I don’t know if you think about automating your inspection process, but check this out. If you have any questions about it, let me know. I know people that this type of stuff. I’m not trying to sell you my stuff. I’m just trying to show you some cool stuff that’s related to what could make your life better.”

Isn’t that what friends do, when you see a cool article that reminds you of your friend you send it to them like, “Oh my god. This reminded me of you”, or “Oh, hey, I saw this cool post.” or Even just sending somebody a GIF. You know what I mean?

Shannon: Absolutely. I love sending gifs and emojis. I use them in my emails. I feel like you should use them in your emails. Some people find it unprofessional, but I have a lot of customers and even co-workers that we use Emojis with. It’s nice and it shows a lot more emotion.

Allan: I think you’re right. I will use emojis in emails that the customer has already been broken in. You know what I mean?

Shannon: Absolutely. Somebody that you’re nice and friendly with on a good level. They know you’re not trying to sell to them but, that you’re literally just trying to keep up your connection, your friendship with, even if it’s on a business level. I think that’s awesome.

Allan: Totally. What marketing advice would you give to someone young new, trying to come up in the industry, make a name for themselves in manufacturing? Whether they be starting a new company or starting within a new company or just trying to get their name out there? What would you suggest that the route or the path they should take? What rabbit hole should they jump into?

Shannon: If you’re going to jump into a rabbit hole, definitely do LinkedIn for business. I would definitely take advantage of the ability to create connections, even with people you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to add somebody that you don’t know that looks super interesting, that maybe you do want to know. I think that adding strangers is okay. I think that we need to normalize that. A lot of people I’ve talked to said “I will only accept somebody if I’ve met them” and that’s cool and all, but that’s not really what LinkedIn’s about. LinkedIn was about creating connections with people that you don’t know, as well as people that you do know. I think that you can utilize it to connect with people in the industry. You can use it to join groups. Joining groups is something that allows you to can find people in your little niche community, you can find people who have the same interests as you, people in your town, the list goes on. Use those notifications that you get that says “wish this person a happy birthday.” Go ahead and wish them a happy birthday. What is it going to do for you? It takes 2 seconds to click on that button and this person is going to get a happy birthday, and some people don’t like their birthdays some people love their birthdays and that’s fine. Say “happy anniversary”, it says something like “wish this person, you know, congratulations on their nine-year anniversary or whatnot.”

Go ahead and do that. I feel like a lot of people don’t utilize those buttons and they’re afraid to touch these things. They’re unknown.

Allan: Yeah, you think it’s fear?

Shannon: I think a lot of it stems from fear. It’s like “well, okay if I wish this person happy birthday, what are they going to think of me? What are they going to do?” And maybe they’ll just read it and delete it, maybe they’ll say thank you, maybe they’ll reach out and be like, “oh, hey I saw this really cool thing on your profile. Do you mind if I send you some information about my job or whatnot or my business?” Make those connections, you never know who you’re going to meet ever.

Allan: Absolutely. So Six Degrees of Separation, isn’t that right?

Shannon: The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?!

Allan: Yeah, exactly. Think about it, I mean if you want to meet Elon Musk, try to find people that are connected to him on LinkedIn.

Shannon: Absolutely, a hundred percent. Don’t be shy about it, the world is a huge place.

Allan: Absolutely. You find out that the communities you feel like you belong in are much smaller than you think. There’s just a lot of them.

Shannon: Yeah. Well, I think one of the key things is just to always be kind to whoever you meet. Whether it be on the Internet or in real life.

Allan: Be kind and that’s our biggest strength, right?

Shannon: I think so. Absolutely.

Allan: I think you’re right. The more positivity that we can post, the more we can lift each other up and help to empower one another to be better, see the strengths that we have, and leverage those talents. We know that we can bring our genuine value to the world and that’s when you’re going to not even just feel the most successful but literally, find the most success. The universe just finds a way to pay you back for all the genuine things you can do for the world.

Shannon: Absolutely. You’ve got to put out what you want back.

Allan: All right. Well, I thank you so so much for coming on today.

Shannon: Thank you, Allan.

Allan: It definitely was wonderful having you here, a fellow digital marketer and social media marketer. We’re just trying to be different, you know.

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