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45: Unveiling the Power of a Strong Brand- with Scott Seroka
Episode 4521st February 2024 • a BROADcast for Manufacturers • Keystone Click
00:00:00 00:20:40

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Meet Scott Seroka

Scott is the president of Seroka Industrial Branding, providing fractional CMO services to small to medium-sized industrial companies. Scott’s approach to creating effective marketing strategies is centered on building strong, compelling, and well-differentiated brands and activating brands within organizations through organizing and mobilizing continuous improvement cultures. He is a certified brand strategist and also a Six Sigma Lean Black Belt Professional.

Let's talk about brands. What is a brand? I feel like a lot of people assume it's exactly the same as marketing. And I hear a lot of people think branding is just your logo, so let's talk about that. 

It's subjective, like art. If you look it up on Google, I think there are 3 million responses. It really is a unique set of distinctions that you or your company owns that makes a positive and noteworthy difference in the lives of customers.

And I always say not just the external customer that buys products and services, but the internal customer, meaning the people who you employ. So when we think about branding, there's the customer brand and your employer brand. And the employer brand is really coming on the scene with a lot of vigor because so many people are looking for good people.

And with the short supply and high demand of high quality people, how do we attract the kind of personnel we need to deliver upon our brand promise and exceed expectations? And who's going to actually care about us, our customers and our overall growth strategy? So brand has really taken on kind of a split personality in the past 10 or 12 years.

And it's amazing how many companies- unfortunately, mostly in manufacturing- don't have an employer page about the reasons that people should wanna work for your company as well as on the customer side. Why should people buy our products and services with all of our competition?

So it's really the complexity of branding here and it's even getting more complex as time goes on.


What do I need branding for? Why? 

So go back to why you started your business. If you started a business and you knew that it was going to be a price race, or if you knew that it was just gonna be as long as I deliver on time, then why did you take the risk of starting your business?

Go back to why am I doing this.  What void am I filling in the industry? What am I doing better than everybody else? What can I offer? What does my customer service look like? What kind of expertise do I have? What do I bring to the table when people say, “Oh, you have to buy from this company.”


And so much more… 


Connect with Scott!

LinkedIn

Seroka Industrial Branding 

scott@serokaib.com 

Direct line: (414) 628-4547


Connect with the broads!

Connect with Erin on LinkedIn for web-based solutions to your complex business problems!

Connect with Lori on LinkedIn and visit www.keystoneclick.com for your strategic digital marketing needs!  

Connect with Kris on LinkedIn and visit www.genalpha.com for OEM and aftermarket digital solutions!

Transcripts

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[00:01:18] Erin Courtenay: Can you believe that? That's crazy pants.

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[00:01:24] Erin Courtenay: And you know what? You're taller than I thought you were.

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[00:01:27] Erin Courtenay: Okay. And then meanwhile, Kris is exactly the right height.

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[00:01:35] Kris Harrington: Well, you know what's funny is that we did it for a photo shoot, and you could see that we were all a little vulnerable in the beginning. So it was almost the perfect way to meet for the first time. Trying to pose and not knowing how to pose.

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[00:01:51] Erin Courtenay: I think the photographer was a little uncomfortable.

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[00:02:11] Erin Courtenay: I was raving about those Buffalo tofus today. I have to tell you, the response was a little bit skeptical. Those people don't know what they're missing because those were amazing.

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[00:02:22] Erin Courtenay: Yes, it was deep fried, honey. Anything you fry, you know? But I mean, with buffalo sauce, they can even do that with tofu.

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[00:02:31] Lori Highby: Alright, today's guest is Scott Soroka. He's the president of Soroka Industrial Branding, providing fractional CMO services to small to medium sized industrial companies. Scott's approach to creating effective marketing strategies is centered on building strong, compelling and well-differentiated brands and activating brands within organizations through organizing and mobilizing continuous improvement cultures. He's a certified brand strategist and also a six Sigma lean black belt professional.

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[00:03:02] Scott Seroka: That's what my LinkedIn profile says, so we're gonna roll with it.

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[00:03:06] Lori Highby: Yeah, that's interesting. I remember reading about Six Sigma way back in my college days, so it's interesting that you've applied it to branding.

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[00:03:15] Lori Highby: It's definitely heavy manufacturing focus when I was in college. Let's talk about brands. What is a brand? I feel like a lot of people assume it's exactly the same as marketing. And I hear a lot of people think branding is just your logo, so let's talk about that.

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[00:03:32] Scott Seroka: Not all whatever you want it to be.

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[00:03:49] And I always like to say not just the external customer that buys products and services, but the internal customer, meaning the people who you employ. So when we think about branding, there's the customer brand, your employer brand. And the employer brand is really coming on the scene with a lot of vigor because so many people are looking for good people.

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[00:04:36] And it's amazing how many companies, unfortunately, mostly in manufacturing, that they don't have an employer page about the reasons that people should wanna work for your company as well as on the customer side? Why should people buy our products and services with all of our competition?

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[00:05:00] Lori Highby: Yeah, the brand is probably more important today with all the evolution that's happening in marketing, with AI and everything. Everyone's message is totally getting diluted, so more emphasis on your brand and what it stands for is more important today than it's been in many years.

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[00:05:40] Erin Courtenay: You know, Lori, you're talking about how brand has changed and the new pressures that it's under. In my observation, a brand was a box you checked.

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[00:06:13] Scott Seroka: Right. Yes. Brand is like a living, breathing organism. You have to really take care of it, nurture it. And as you hire new people, as you expand, as you think about new ways of growth, how does that all integrate with the brand and all stay aligned. And that's really important.

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[00:07:07] Why is it important for them to know your brand and what it stands for as well? Some people might argue that they don't care, why should they care? So can you tell us a little bit about the importance of that?

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[00:07:27] What they do care about is working for a company that has a vision, a company that's growing. A company that stands for something, a company that has a purpose. They want to know that there's a certain level of security, not only in their job, but they actually have a certain amount of pride in where they work.

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[00:08:01] They come in a little bit earlier. They'll go over above and beyond. I met with a company yesterday, and they told me that somebody was going on extended medical leave. And one of her colleagues donated five days of his PO to this other person so that everything would wash out.

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[00:08:38] So here's a frustration. You know, company of 200 people, they don't have a CRM system, they have spreadsheets. Or the boss prints out edits to a direct mailer or to a newsletter. And instead of just doing the Adobe Acrobat comments, they printed out, they hand write it, they give it back, they don't watch their emails.

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[00:09:13] And I'm not Gen Y or Z. I'm not a boomer. I'm the other one. when I put a project management system, in place. There's people who just resist that. And I'm working with companies right now who are putting in an ERP and there's a lot of resistance. Well, the Gen z Gen, Y, they embrace that technology.

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[00:09:39] Erin Courtenay: Yeah. I like what you're saying about, explain why, because people can be befuddled by many choices.

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[00:10:13] Scott Seroka: So go back to why did you start your business? If you started a business and you know that it was going to be a price race, or if you knew that it was just gonna be as long as I deliver on time, then why did you take the risk of starting your business?

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[00:10:43] Photography is my hobby. There's about three or four top places to get your camera gear. I only buy from one. And there's a reason for that. Or I always say when I give branding presentations, for example, you have Home Depot, you have Lowe's, you have Menards, you have Ace Hardware. Where do you go?

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[00:11:18] It'sa lot of it at that what you're talking about is the chemistry that you build with the customer. And that company I work with right now, they guarantee you call this number, you will get a human being on the phone guaranteed. Well, that's really tough.

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[00:11:51] Or if I have a question, I know there's somebody's there to ask me for a question instead of saying, we'll call the manufacturer.

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[00:12:40] Kris Harrington: Or how about knowing your audience? And maybe some don't wanna pick up the phone and never will.

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[00:13:04] Or where you have a mixed clientele. And there are some that wanna talk on the phone, and others that wanna self-service, which is what a lot of organizations are facing today. And I think it comes back to something you said a little earlier too, is values. As I get older, I continue to have this be so true in both my personal life, my professional life, that your values really matter, and that those values are consistent. Especially within your organization and that your people live by those values too.

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[00:13:52] So I am have zero interest in actually making a purchase from this company, and it's solely based on the brand and what I've heard in the market. So even though you have the best price, it's the brand and the perception that other people have of that. It's an ongoing game, really.

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[00:14:19] Kris Harrington: I'm so glad that Scott brought this up because it was a topic that I had from my I just learned. And I just mentioned that I was at the AEM annual event a couple weeks ago. And I was reading the Deloitte Insights article on the 2024 manufacturing outlook. Skilled labor shortage is top of mind again for manufacturers. So, it's not necessarily something new that I learned, but it is something that I think is important to keep talking about because these challenges are real.

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[00:15:11] Women in manufacturing are still way below half, although we're half of the population. So if there was a more focused effort on attracting women, potentially we could be filling some of those open positions with new people entering manufacturing.

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[00:15:48] So Erin, what did you just learn?

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[00:16:00] Kris Harrington: No.

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[00:16:02] Erin Courtenay: Is that just so on-brand? Talking about branding. That woman has got it down.

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[00:16:11] Kris Harrington: Well it's Times person of the year, right? Lots of people surprised by that I guess. But I think Taylor Swift fans not at all.

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[00:16:33] Lori Highby: I was gonna go one direction, but now I'm gonna go a different direction because I've known Scott for a few years now, and I just learned that he did the improv comedy and, and standup comedy.

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[00:17:00] And I think that was the best way to get over some of my own bumps in the road there.

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[00:17:11] Lori Highby: That'll be the next time we get together for drinks, maybe.

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[00:17:15] Lori Highby: But not, not a podcast recording.

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[00:17:20] Scott Seroka: Well, I just learned that you took an improv course. So, you did it for the same reasons that I did it. It's because I wanted to improve my public speaking skills. So, yeah. So should I share something embarrassing? No.

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[00:17:35] Erin Courtenay: Yes. One too late.

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[00:17:38] Scott Seroka: I was a t a planning retreat a couple weeks ago, and we had to go around the table and talk about something embarrassing in our lives. And I remember the time when I was maybe six. And somebody said that gasoline was not flammable. And I said, no way, it's liquid. You know where this is gonna end up.

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[00:17:56] Scott Seroka: So I poured a little gasoline on the driveway at home and I lit a match and, and poof!

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[00:18:03] Scott Seroka: It wasn't completely out yet. So I took the gasoline can and I dripped a little bit more. It went right up to the nozzle.

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[00:18:10] Scott Seroka: So I dropped it and a small patch of the driveway started on fire, maybe like a four by four foot section. And my dad comes home and he says. Why is it smooth right over there and I don't know. So What did I learn?

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[00:18:36] Erin Courtenay: For the most part. Yeah.

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[00:18:40] If AI's gonna take over the world what do humans do? So. I guess we'll find out in five years.

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[00:18:51] Scott Seroka: Lori, I missed your presentation on AI. I heard that was really good. Well received.

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[00:19:05] To create efficiencies, save us time so we can go back to being more human again. And having face-to-face human to human relationships and step away from the screen. Let's not use it to overwork and push as much dollars out of every single person that we can. Let's get back to being human and creating relationships.

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[00:19:34] Lori Highby: That is very true. It's not a magic wand.

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[00:19:45] Scott Seroka: Yes. Scott at Soroka ib.com, S-E-R-O-K-A, IB for industrialbranding.com. Or my phone number is (414) 628-4547. That's my direct line and I will try to answer the call if you call.

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[00:20:11] So everyone go out connects. Thanks a lot. We'll see you next time.

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[00:20:16] Kris Harrington: Thank you.

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