311: How Manufacturers Can Show Up In The Digital Space - with Gail Robertson

311: How Manufacturers Can Show Up In The Digital Space - with Gail Robertson

Meet Gail


Gail has a Degree in Journalism and Masters in curiosity! She guides clients to success with a marketing strategy centered around telling stories and making the right connections. How? Sign up, suit up, show up. Her resume includes media fundraising, advertising, PR, and owning a b&b. Gail now is a powerhouse connector, strategic brand consultant, and keynote speaker with a focus on manufacturing. She is a Twitter evangelist, a passionate networker, and an avid storyteller. 


As I stated in the bio, but you're calling yourself a chief curiosity officer. Why is curiosity so important to you in the new virtual manufacturing marketing world?


Well, with curiosity, I encourage people to use it. First of all, I use it because that's how I really did the pivot into learning more about this world because I was a journalist, which I covered a lot of different topics. But manufacturing, I did not know much about that, and certainly, I've been doing work in mold-making, which is a very niche world and I use curiosity for me to learn. But then when I'm teaching now and working with clients in that world, I'm encouraging them to be curious about marketing, curious about outreach, curious about how can they make a change from the traditional trade shows. Especially since the pandemic, things have changed, and it's a disruption, not an interruption. So we're not going to go back to the way it was, it forever changed how we're going to be doing things and even if we go back to live, there's still going to be a digital component. So curiosity is like a muscle, if you're not using it, it just won't grow and curiosity is about growing, learning, and exploring the virtual world that for some people may seem overwhelming to them and may even seem a bit scary. So that's why I say number one if you're curious, you can learn so many new things, and become more adept at how to use all these virtual technologies.


Can you share some tips to help salespeople that are in the manufacturing industry that are trying to get away from the trade shows to best understand selling in the digital marketing world?


It is about asking those questions and first doing your research. So I always say before you try to sell to anyone, first learn about who your clients are and what they're looking for. What's happening is those same clients are doing that with you. They're doing research about your company, they're looking at your social media, they're looking at websites, they want to know who you are before they're even gonna think about buying from you. So you need as a salesperson to do the same thing. Dig in, find out who they are as much as possible. There's a lot of information you can find online about someone and some people and I've had some salespeople kind of feel uncomfortable with that they feel like "Well, I'm nosing around." I said, "In this world, if someone posts something publicly, they post it on a social media platform, it is done because they want to share something." So that's one tip is to do your research. The other thing is instead of selling, be generous with your information, share your knowledge, try to be a guide to who you're trying to sell to. So if you're in an engineering role, as a salesperson, you want to share all the intricacies of what goes into everything. Give me some insights, and I mean, give me meaning the person looking at your profile. One of the big stop gaps for a lot of the people in sales that I'm finding manufacturing is they go, "They're gonna know this," or, "If I explain this, most people already know this, I don't want them to think that I don't know it." So I said, "You'd be surprised at what people may want to learn about, and the people that may be doing the research aren't always the people that know about how that tool works, or what machine is on that tool. So be that guide, share information, and also share a bit of information about yourself. So if you have an interest in, for example, I may post something related to cycling, I got into cycling. So you need to focus on what are some of the interests that I have that might relate to even my role. We know when it comes to connecting with people, if you have a common interest it can be beneficial. Now, Lori, I know from your podcast that I know you're into cycling, so that we had a conversation about cycling, and what bike you use and so that's another thing. I make the correlation back to trade shows as well, when they went to a trade show, they would have been having these casual conversations. So it's about taking those casual conversations in real life and bringing them over to the virtual world.


Why do you think there's a resistance to virtual networking especially in the manufacturing space?


This is something I've actually been studying because as I came into this world of working in the manufacturing sector and trying to understand it. When I find resistance, I'm the kind of person I step back and I question why is that, what's happening? So I did a lot of listening, I asked for some feedback and it comes down to one is a lack of understanding of how social media works. So that means we need to do better in how we're explaining that. The other is fear. Fear of the unknown and most people naturally don't like change. It's like those comfortable shoes, right? You get into this comfortable lifestyle and then if someone comes along and says "Let's change," sometimes we resist. Now maybe because I've had some life changes for myself but I think it's also I can roll with things fairly easy and I actually find change exciting. I know not everybody is as excited about changes as I am so it's about trying to find that middle ground that balance and again, that goes back to utilizing curiosity because the more you're learning, the more you're asking questions, without fail, you will overcome some of those fears. It's like anything we fear things we don't know, we don't understand and once we learn about it, it makes it so much easier. So that's the work I'm doing right now is really taking a few steps back and also showing not telling. A lot of it goes back to what I say, "You have to just show up." Step one is just show up and trust in the process and then you can overcome. So in terms of why is there resistance, it goes back to, they've done trade shows before and that's the way they've always done it which worked for them. So there is a resistance to change. So mindset is also big and I've had these talks that if you're not going to have that open mind, then you're probably going to have some difficulties. So you have to make some decisions, and for me, I use the example of I get up at 5:30, I have my cold shower, I do my workout before I start my day because I'm not going to do it at the end of the day. I know I won't so if I'm going to get my workouts in my mindset is that I put my feet on the floor and I begin and I have conversations in my head like, "I don't want to do this." I think of all the excuses, but I just say, "Get going get going," and it's the same thing with networking when it comes to manufacturing. Sometimes you've got to do things you don't want to do as much.


Can you share one of your favorite networking stories with our listeners? 


I have so many and networking has been the foundation of probably everything I've done from my high school days through to now but I'm going to give one that's more recent because it shows the trajectory of where I've come from on Twitter over to even being here today talking to you. So I started using Twitter. Then I was on a Twitter chat with Madalyn Sklar called Twitter Smarter and from there I met Nathalie Gregg, who had a Twitter chat called Lead Loudly. So I was on there and connected somehow with Jen Wagman, who introduced me to the USA Manufacturing Hour Twitter chat, which I did not know about. I'm now involved in that and they had a live networking event where I met Kurt Anderson who then introduces me to Sam Gupta and he also introduced me to you! So through all of this, I have been taking this path, and each of those people I now know and I know I can call them up, I can have a conversation and they have helped open doors for me. So that's my favorite networking because I can almost see this map taking me across all different networks from Twitter to LinkedIn, to zoom, and all of these other different platforms. So I didn't know some of them, but the reason I say just show up is because when I just show up, that's where the magic happens.


How do you stay in front of, invest, and nurture the relationships you're creating?


For me, I would say certain things are like breathing for me. So I do it naturally and  I'm on so many different platforms and it's not that I'm there all the time and I'm not always online, I have a very active life outside of sitting at my computer on my phone. But it's about consistency. For example, in some of the networking groups that I go to, I try to show up regularly, maybe not all the time, but there are certain ones that it's like listening to podcasts, right? I listened to them, I have a system, and I try to just plan it into my day. People often say, "Well, I don't have time to do everything you do, Gail," and I said, "Well, we all have the same 24 hours." The same people sometimes that I hear say, "I have no time," will binge watch something on Netflix, and I'm like, "How do you have time to watch 30 programs on a Saturday, that seems strange to me." But that's because that's not a priority in my life and it's not like I don't watch Netflix shows, but I watch them differently. So to me, building relationships is crucial to my life, to my soul, and it's not just for work either. I do this because I love connecting to people and it just happens to provide phenomenal success to me from a business perspective. That's what I'm trying to work with the salespeople I say, "If you want to have an endless sales funnel, or you want to have an endless supply of people who will come to buy from you, stay connected with people build those relationships," and I very seldom ever really go on when I'm on my social media and promote what I do. In fact, a lot of people actually say, "What do you do exactly?" Because most people come and say that they want to work with me because of the relationships that were built or word of mouth.


What advice would you offer the business professional who's really looking to grow their network?


A lot of times people want to jump into multiple platforms and they get overwhelmed by everything. So I bring it down to the basics of if you are looking to build your business and build your contacts, you really need to start by building those relationships and connecting to people. So there are lots of opportunities now because there are groups, there are Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, there's the Friday webinar series with Kurt Anderson on the Ecommerce for Success and I show up on Fridays because they have phenomenal guests. But there's a chat down the side when the people are speaking, and people drop their LinkedIn and so it's very live in terms of I can be listening to the person speaking but we have side conversations over on the chat. So that's what I encourage people to do and it's about just showing up. So when I show up even if I think that I don't think that guests will apply to me, I still show up and have always felt like it’s worthwhile and have always connected with a new person. So that's the first thing to do. I often tell people don't worry so much about feeling you have to post every day or that you have to send out massive amounts of connections. I'm going to say this anybody listening to is that if you're on LinkedIn, and you decide that you're going to send out all these connections to people, I would say slow down, figure out why you're connecting to people and for sure, do not connect and then send them a sales pitch. I get quite a few of those and I don't even respond. Instead, for example, I may listen to someone on a podcast and I really love what they have to say. So I'll send them a connection, say I heard them on this podcast, tell them what I found interesting or what resonated with them, ask them if they'd be interested in connecting, and I leave it at that. Sometimes I just follow someone first just so I can see their information and sometimes they will send me a connection. So it's about building relationships first and setting aside the selling, don't try to push what you have on to people, instead build those relationships. I say this because manufacturers did this when they went to trade shows. So I often say, "What did you do at a tradeshow? Did you walk up to someone put your hand out said hello, and then say, do you want to buy a tool for me?" I know they didn't do that so I tell them not to do that on social media. So instead, I think I may have heard it, even by one of your guests, it's social media, not social selling. So be social, be engaging, be generous, be kind, I think that you can disagree with someone and not have to always make it a public disagreement. So just find people that you feel you can have a conversation with. 


If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?


This is a really good question because it really makes you think about what would I do. Maybe when I was younger I would answer differently because my life has actually taken a different path than I thought I was going to take from high school. Probably I'd say, to keep doing what I'm doing because I'm now in a place in my life that I actually love what I do, I'm not looking to say, "Hey, when do I get to retire?" I love the people I'm meeting so I probably just say keeping curious and keep showing up even more. Maybe one thing I'd say is to own your power a bit earlier in life. I think I might have thought of ways that instead of shrinking back sometimes, own your power and now I use that as part of my planning and work with clients is own your power.


What is the final word of advice that you'd offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?


First, your mindset, you have to decide this is what you want, and break it down into bite-sized pieces. I use the analogy of when I'm planning out a campaign for a salesperson, sometimes people at the start of the year, they'll say, "I want to do a marathon," for example. Well, you can have that as your goal and it can sit there staring at you for a long time. But if you then break it down and say, "I'm going to start with first walking around the block once a day during week one, week two I'm going to double that, week three I'm going to do a little light jog," so you put it into bite-sized pieces. I say the same thing when it comes to networking so first show up and just listen. and break it down into steps and ask for help, there are people like myself out here willing to help. Listen to podcasts, become educated, I listen to a lot of manufacturing podcasts as well and that's how I've learned. So start somewhere, then show up.


Connect with Gail


Website: https://gailnow.com/ 


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gailrobertsonkeynotespeaker/ 


Twitter: @GailNow


Instagram: @GailNow1

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