Plastics processors have a reputation for marketing themselves poorly. Teresa Schell and her firm, Vive Marketing are exhibiting at NPE for the first time this year, in an effort to reach more companies in need of marketing help.
One of her success stories is injection molder Plastic Components Inc., a Plastics News Processor of the Year.
Schell has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is owner and president of Vive Marketing, which is located Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward neighborhood, in offices with a view of Lake Michigan. She spoke prior to NPE2018.
Q: Companies in the plastics industry have a reputation for doing a poor job of marketing. Is that deserved? What common mistakes do you see?
Schell: True, most companies in the plastics industry are poor to execute on a solid marketing plan, which requires a strategic launch and dedication to tactics on a consistent delivery.
The most common mistakes really begin by not creating a messaging platform, which is crafted from internal and external analysis. A messaging platform assures that a consistent message is utilized throughout all media channels so that parallels are seen and remembered.
Some companies place too much focus on features and benefits of their manufacturing process without truly understanding the expertise that differentiates them. Additionally, the benefit of bringing the customer-driven voice into the organization to better understand why their customer has chosen to do business with them helps to define a unique message platform.
Another mistake is infrequency of touchpoints, which are essential in the strides of business relationships to sustain important connections with the customer base. Making positive, lasting impressions with customers keep a company's brand top of mind so when the customer is ready to buy, he/she knows who's going to be a part of their solution.
Touchpoints are beyond just having a brochure. In an effort to enhance a user experience, touchpoints could include sales tools, blogs, press releases, social media engagements, videos, direct mail, etc., that will remind the customer of your offering why you're the right choice to engage business with.
Q: How many NPEs have you been to? Do you have any memories of your first NPE?
Schell: I've been to four NPEs. In my second, I spoke on the topic of marketing for manufacturers.
Q: What's your main aim in coming to this year's show?
Schell: Educate and encourage business leaders to focus on promoting their business with strategic marketing, effective storytelling and strong communication tools. Many individuals attending NPE are excited about discovering where new investments, that can be touched like machinery and auxiliary equipment, to improve internal efficiencies and manufacturing processes. However, internal communication tools that build brand equity is equally critical in order to grow their business and remain competitive in today's marketplace with differentiating messaging and graphics.
Q: Why is Vive Marketing exhibiting at this year's show, for the first time?
Schell: Truthfully, it was my idea to approach Troy Nix of the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) and suggest the likelihood of a MAPP Pavilion (Booth S31096) at the convention, where MAPP sponsors could participate as exhibitors.
Troy shared conversations with Bill Carteaux [of the Plastics Industry Association], and the idea was quickly adopted. There are 10 MAPP sponsors within the Pavilion, and Vive is one of them.
With a client base strategically devised of plastic processors, plastics service providers and mold builders, Vive is dedicated to making the NPE investment to promote how we can be a resource for other plastic professionals in promoting their business.
Q: What sorts of companies are you trying to reach?
Schell: An ideal client is one that recognizes that marketing is a long-term strategy and not just a one-time tactical completion of a new brochure. We've supported clients with revenues from $2 million to over $300 million. Vive endorses the fact that we are an extension of our client's business, whether small and have no marketing expertise or a large company that requires a multioptic view outside their four walls and can own specific marketing deliverables. Vive currently serves clients throughout the United States and even Canada.
Q: Plastic Components Inc. was one of your early marketing successes in plastics. What did you accomplish there, and how did you do it?
Schell: Indeed! I led the complete rebranding of Plastic Components in identity and messaging, creating a professional roar about who this unique injection molder in Wisconsin is and all the buzz about a lights-out manufacturing model. With my effort, the company maintained a focus on communication sales tools and marketplace position with success that not only got noticed by new customers but competitors, as well as future employees looking to work in a dynamic, progressive manufacturing facility.
Q: Seeing PCI sold must have felt satisfying for you since you played a role in the company's success. How did you feel about that?
Schell: Satisfaction for sure! Although I know I was an integral part to the company's success, I was not the only. The leadership team at PCI was always empowered to make key decisions and has proven, and continues to prove, to be an exemplary group of leaders that never settles for complacency.
Q: You're talking about Zweck analysis. What is that, and how does it differ from SWOT analysis?
Schell: After years of facilitating a SWOT analysis as part of an on-boarding process for new clients, I came to realize that from a marketing perspective, I was only focusing on one category: the strengths. True, the weaknesses, opportunities and threats helped me understand their business more closely, but those categories were not feeding the main purpose of creating a unique messaging platform, which would ultimately feed all the media channels with a consistent message.
Therefore, it was time to refine the facilitated workshop to focus on finding why a company exists beyond the things they manufacture. This is revealed through a newly trademarked Zweck Analysis — a customized, internal deep evaluation into a company's core to find the purpose for being in business, no longer focusing on weaknesses, opportunities and threats, but more on the expertise and values a company delivers to customers and employees.
'Zweck' is, in fact, the German translation for 'purpose.' Vive has always believed in placing strategy before tactics. The Zweck Analysis is no different, as it begins the process of brand storytelling to determine what a company's unique purpose is — their 'why.' The on-site workshop typically includes five to 10 executive leaders where I'll ask specific questions to discover the 'why.' The responses are recorded, and the Vive team then identifies similar categories and begins to process key differentiators. The workshop typically takes 1.5 hours, depending on the group size. I believe that leaders must create a clear vision to the purpose for being in business. Every company has a unique drive that tells their story, and the Zweck Analysis helps us discover.
Q: Some of your clients are at NPE, too. How do you support them at the show?
Schell: Vive assists their marketing approach by first creating a strategic plan for pre-, during, and post-show strategies that will deliver a positive ROI. The tactical deliverables we've supported revolve around a myriad of graphics and messaging whether seen in trade show booths, press releases, ad creations, collateral pieces, website enhancements, video, event invitations, social event planning, social media posts, etc. Following NPE, our strategy continues with supporting sales teams with messaging effective communication tools for follow-up.
Q: You describe your team at Vive as the company's secret sauce. What does that mean?
Schell: I'm truly blessed to have a group of professionals that not only demonstrate their areas of expertise every day, but deliver with passion and true adoration for Vive's success.
Q: What do you think will be the main talking points at NPE this year?
Schell: The main talking points will revolve around smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0. A couple years ago, the topic was just a buzz, but now I've seen manufacturers implement and differentiate their equipment and processes with this technology.
Q: What are you excited about seeing or participating in?
Schell: As large as the plastics industry is, it's a tight group of people committed to the cause; therefore, if you've been in the industry as long as I have, it's a reunion of folks! I thrive on learning from others and their experiences to make this a progressive plastics commerce.
Q: Do you do anything for fun at the show, or is it all work all the time?
Schell: Lots of work — always on your A-game! But thankfully this industry knows how to have fun, too, as there are several social events that Vive has been invited to as well as our own social event Monday, May 7 at Maggiano's, co-hosted with MBS advisers and Routsis Training Inc., also MAPP sponsors.