21 minutes | Jan 24th 2021

Eurokera: Mathias Konne, On the Importance of Brand

This week Mathias Konne of EuroKera discusses the immense need for (and challenges of) building a coherent company brand online. Danny:

Well, you are in for a treat for today’s episode. We have Mathias Konne from EuroKera who’s going to be walking us through their story on branding and why it’s really important and how they came to be. So before we jump into this, Mathias, if you could introduce yourself to the audience, who you are, background, all that good stuff.

Mathias:

Sure, so my name is Mathias. I’ve been working with EuroKera now for about four years. I am French, which will explain my accent in English.

Danny:

Oh, okay.

Mathias:

And I started working for them four years ago. Before that, I studied marketing in Europe. I came over to the US, and I’ve been working with the company for a while now. We manufacture glass-ceramic products. So for glass-ceramic cooking but also fireplaces and all that kind of high-temperature use. So it’s a highly technical glass. We have five factories, so two in France, one in the US, one in Thailand, and one in China. We supply customers all over the world. So that’s pretty much what we do. We have a French origin that we’re very proud of. I’ve been working in marketing since the very start. When I arrived at EuroKera, there was actually nothing there. So it’s been challenging, but we are building our brand, and we’re building pretty much everything from scratch.

Danny:

Sure, yeah. And that never happens. Nobody who’s watching this, probably, or listening, if you’re listening on iTunes, I’m sure that nobody has ever run into that where, hey, we don’t have marketing all of a sudden, we are. But EuroKera’s interesting to me and definitely not an anomaly. It’s very common. When you guys– if I understand; correct me. Do you guys deal directly with distributors? Do you go straight to the other manufacturers? What does that look like, just to set the foundation?

Mathias:

So we deal directly with the manufacturers. So your big brands that you know, that manufacture appliances, for example. We deal directly with them. Our teams go and meet with them directly.

Danny:

Okay, perfect. Alright, so in that sense, you guys did not have a marketing department for years. How old is EuroKera again?

Mathias:

It was born in 1990.

Danny:

Okay, alright, so it’s got some history.

Mathias:

It’s got a decent history.

Danny:

So all of a sudden, they said, hey, you know what? I think we need to do this marketing thing. And then, you came onboard. What did that look like? Why did that decision happen?

Mathias:

So why the decision happened is kind of unclear to me. I don’t know why, after 20 plus years, the company decides to do marketing. I think it’s because we have a great product. It’s very unique. And there’s only a few manufacturers of glass-ceramic in the world. So if you’re manufacturing glass-ceramic well, you’re going to sell it because there’s only so much supply.

Danny:

Right.

Mathias:

And so it’s easy to find customers. They’re big; they’re easy to locate. And I think it’s been very engineering-based so far with just negotiations, of course, but pricing but also the technical side because it’s a very technical product. I think what changed is, now we realize that you have to also educate the consumers to create that demand from the other side, the push-pull strategies. And that really helps with your business as a whole because even if you’re not dealing with them directly, people now with social media, with internet, with all these tools that they can have right at the tip of their fingers, well, they are educated. And they have access to the information way sooner than they used to. So now you can, if you’re in marketing or in sales, you can play with that and use that to your advantage if you do some marketing and if you build your brand around that.

Danny:

So push-pull, that makes a lot of sense. You bring up a really good point, too. Now, with the internet and all the other advances, you can argue home and box stores, the Home Depots and Lowe’s which have been around for a good while. If you really look at the history of your parent company you were talking about earlier, Saint-Gobain–did I pronounce that right?

Mathias:

Saint-Gobain, yeah.

Danny:

Saint-Gobain, alright. Okay, I’ve got to get my inner French going there. Which I am half French-Canadian, just a side note.

[They converse briefly in French]

Mathias:

That’s pretty good. That’s all you need.

Danny:

Perfect, I’m good. They’ve been around for 350 years, and so these big-box retail stores where you go to actually do the DIY was largely not there before. It’s the minority of the time. Now, things have changed, and it’s been expedited, like you said, with the internet. And it’s interesting, too. You’ve got a lot of consumers who otherwise might not care about the product. Now, presumably because they have access to it–the information, that is– they’re a little bit more informed, and they want to know all these different things. That makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense to me. So, interesting, how did you guys, when you came onboard, what were some of those first things that you guys did? You said, hey, we want to do marketing now. I’m assuming there was something that was done beforehand that was marketing-esque, right?

Mathias:

So there was some stuff that were already in place when I started. One of them was a website. So when I got onboard, it was in 2013, 14. It was already a very old website for that time. And so it was basically an online brochure, which I’m sure, it’s not uncommon in our business. I see a lot of companies that still have websites like these. But it was very simple. It was sort of marketing, but it was not going the extra mile. It was not even trying to connect to our customers– no need to say the end-users– no connection there. So this was already in place. We had all kinds of different collaterals, brochures and little spec sheets and all kinds of stuff. You name it, and they were all one thing that’s very, that really hurts your company and your brand. That thing is when you have all these things, and they all have a different visual aspect. We even had different logos. Some of the logos were in different colors. Some things that may sound crazy to some businesses, but I’m sure in the B2B world, it’s not that uncommon for companies to have that kind of issues. So one of the first things that we did was bring cohesion into that and bring a real corporate look, a visual identity. We’re still working on that. It’s taking a tremendous amount of time because when you have a small team and you have a big company, so many countries and so many collaterals, it takes a while to get there. But this is one of the first things that we started doing is create a new website that was matching the image that we wanted the company to convey and also make all the collaterals match the look of the website. So that was the first thing because web is very important. And I always remember, somebody told me that one time, and I thought it was the greatest quote I’ve ever heard for marketing. They said, “Do the basics, but do them brilliantly.”

Danny:

I like that.

Mathias:

And I think that’s something that any B2B marketer should apply to his business because we all have limited resources. We all have a lot of challenges. We all have very specific targets, audiences, and challenges. But I think if you do the basics and you do them brilliantly, then that is the most efficient way that you can do things. So you really have to focus on a set of key things that you want to do.

Danny:

No, I love that. That’s an awesome–we’re definitely going to be using that. That’s definitely a Tweet-able, quotable–I really love that.

Mathias:

It’s not from me, though. I won’t take the credit for it.

Danny:

We’re going to give you all the credit; don’t worry. So one of the interesting questions that I would have with that is that, obviously brand identity is really important. But you mentioned before that you’re dealing with a lot of engineers. Let me ask you this: why is it important to do that? Why having cohesion across all the different marketing collateral and websites and all these different things, why do that? And why is that important?

Mathias:

Because that’s the only way, in my opinion, to build a strong brand. If you have different looks, if you have different colors, if you have different fonts, if you have different images or people using low-res images, at the end, even if you don’t do that intentionally, but you’re hurting the company’s image. Whereas if everybody speaks one voice and everything looks the same, where you build that brand, you build that strength, and then, you attach a message to this brand. You attach a feel to it. And that’s where, I think, the value is added to your products because nowadays there’s tons of brands in the world. There’s new companies setting up every day. And in glass-ceramic, it’s a little bit less true because it’s a very specific, highly technical product. But you still have more and more competition. You have new companies starting in Asia, for example. They may not be good enough today with their products. Their quality may not be the same. It is not the same. It’s not even–it’s not. But you never know what the future holds. And so for me, that’s where marketing, that’s the main mission of marketing is to protect your brand. And you want to protect it in the present, but you also want to protect it in the future. But you have to start that work early and mainly on your brand to build that brand to where your brand is strong enough to add a specific value to your product that is besides quality, pricing, innovation. You want to bring another feel to it. You want people to be able to connect to your brand because that’s going to be a huge difference-maker, I think, when people feel a certain way about buying your products which is one of the missions of marketing in general.

Danny:

Right, yeah.

Mathias:

But I think that that’s very important. It’s just as true for B2B than B2C in a specialized product like glass-ceramic and less specialized products like Starbucks coffee. So I think that’s very important. You just add value to your products by building your brand.

Danny:

Totally makes sense. I mean, really, it’s creating that perception. It’s interesting you mention; you got things that have different fonts and different colors, and everything’s just scattered. It really does have this idea of, man, there’s stuff all over the place. Things aren’t, I don’t know, not going this way. And I think a lot of manufacturers really focus on the quality of their products, as they should. That’s really important, making sure that performance and the function is a high quality there. But I think a lot of times, that branding gets left– well, that’s the frou-frou stuff, whatever over there. This is–we’re focusing on this. And I love how you say that really creates stronger products that image, that perception that these guys have got it going on. They’re high quality. So if you have five different versions of logos on there, it’s kind of like, eh– There is a feeling. It might not be necessarily right there, top of mind, but I guess maybe there’s a feeling, like hmm. And I think we’ve all experienced that before. You see, even just in logo and letterhead development or a website. And you look at it, and you’re like, oh, wow, that looks like they’ve got things put together, versus this looks like this is from 1998.

Mathias:

Yeah, on top of that, it adds a professional look to what you do. So if you’re a very professional, highly technical company, well, you want to show your products in a professional manner so that that adds to that too, definitely.

Danny:

That makes a lot of sense.

Mathias:

To me, it’s just the same. You can take the example of, if you have a million people yelling a million words, different words, you’re not going to understand anything. But now, if you have a million people yelling one word, that’s going to be pretty loud. And then, you can ignore it. So that’s what I think a cohesive brand does. Then, you just have to pick the word you want to—

Danny:

Pick the word, which can be the most difficult.

Mathias:

That is.

Danny:

But I love all those different things. You also mentioned, too, protecting the band– your brand, not your band. But maybe if you have a band, and you need to–yeah, that’s important, too. But making sure that that is, it’s not diluted, especially with the competition coming in. That’s a big thing. I hear we’ve got a lot of manufacturers, they’re saying, hey look, we’re the biggest; we’re the baddest; we’ve always been around. And yet, you’ve got all these competitors that are popping up all over the place in different parts of the world and whatever. It’s important.

Mathias:

It’s very important, and that’s why you need that strong brand because, in the future, you don’t know what’s going to happen. And you need to build the foundations, the basics. You have to build them early to then be ready when you actually need to use them to differentiate yourself or your business from the others.

Danny:

Absolutely. So I want to move on a little bit here. So we talked about, you came in, and the first thing, let’s put some cohesion to our brand. Let’s really start dialing it in. Still working on that; it takes time. It’s not something overnight, and you’re done.

Mathias:

No.

Danny:

But what was next? What was that next thing? Okay, we’ve got this, and we’re working on the next thing. What was that?

Mathias:

So I think the next thing that you have to do once you get to the first stage which is getting things together, then you have to market your marketing department. And that, in the B2B world, is sometimes very complicated because marketing has sort of a bad image. You’re just an expense bucket where people just throw a ton of money, and they never see any return on it. So that’s one thing that you have to be cautious of early, too. And people in the B2B world are, I can talk for EuroKera, it’s very engineering-heavy, so people who actually love numbers, data, and graphics, charts. And that’s where you want to bring them. After a while, once you’re done setting up everything, your website, your social media if you have some, all your collaterals, that’s one thing that I think you then want to do is to bring the measurement. And I think we hear that a lot from everybody now because that’s the big thing. But it’s very important, I think especially more in B2B where people love numbers. And they’re right to love them because you want to see what you get for your money.

Danny:

Right, yeah. It is a business.

Mathias:

It’s a business. After all, we’re all here to make money. So you definitely want to do that, and I think that’s where digital marketing, for me, has completely revolutionized marketing in general because now you can finally measure things that you’re doing. Like I was saying earlier, if you give a brochure, like a paper brochure to somebody, well, he may walk in the corner and put it in the trash. Whereas if you have a website, or if you have social media channels, or if you have a newsletter or a blog or anything like that, you can clearly measure how many visitors you get, how much traffic you get, how many of these convert, the quality of your traffic, the funnels, everything. You can really have a great picture of everything that’s happening, and that’s definitely what I think the executives and all that, that’s what they want to see, I think, after a while because that’s going to help build your reputation and then build the trust that they have in you. And that helps you keeping the momentum going.

Danny:

That makes a lot of sense to me. So it’s just having–I’m, admittedly, I’m half numbers guy. I get it. I totally appreciate it, having that there. But there’s also bringing that element of, making sure you’re building that brand, but then, if you have different areas that you can be able to measure to be able to say, hey look, this is what this is doing. Even if it’s just, hey look, increase web traffic. Ooh, wow, this is great; we’re actually getting something out of that and then, building on that. What else have you guys, what was the next step after that?

Mathias:

After that, I guess it’s kind of a never-ending work. After that, you’ll find out that some things work, and some things don’t. And then, you have to also realize that you’re limited in what you can do and can’t do. And so I think that after that, you’re going to get to a phase to where now you’re mature enough to where you can identify and choose what you’re going to do because I feel like, at first, when I started–and when we start anything, we’re sort of running in every direction trying to do everything. And we thought we could do everything, and now we’ve learned a thing from this and seeing the measurements and everything, getting all the data. Now we’ve learned that there’s only so many things that we can do. And among these things, these work and these don’t. So then you really want to focus on what’s working and also what’s very efficient because I think a lot of companies like EuroKera have limited resources for marketing. And so you really want to focus the efforts of your team on what’s efficient. And also, now with these great tools like automation and all that, you have to also think, well, if you have customers all around the world and so many people to reach, what’s the most efficient way to do this? And how can softwares and automation help me to do this? So that’s also where you can definitely then, when you get to that stage, you can start thinking about all that.

Danny:

Yeah, no, that makes sense. I really enjoyed our conversation on this. Is there anything else you want to add, throw in there? We’ve covered quite a few topics.

Mathias:

Yeah, I think we did. No, I’m fine; nothing to add. Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today.

Danny:

Well, thanks for coming on. If anybody would have any questions, want to reach you afterwards, what’s the best way of getting in touch?

Mathias:

You can reach me through the website. So if you go on www.eurokera.com, there’s a contact form. And you can here put a title, and your name, SageIndustrial, to your contact form, put that as a title, and I’ll get in touch with you.

Danny:

Awesome. That’d be great. And I really love the–what was the phrase you said? “Do…?”

Mathias:

Do the basics, but do them brilliantly.

Danny:

“Do the basics, but do them brilliantly.”

Mathias:

I love this quote. Yeah, somebody–it’s a lady that I had the pleasure to work with who told me that once, and I thought that was the best quote I ever heard, especially when you apply it to B2B marketing.

Danny:

Awesome. Thanks again. This was awesome.

Mathias:

No problem.

Danny:

This was really great. So yeah, another really awesome and great episode here with Mathias here from EuroKera. So a lot of takeaways here. I think the biggest thing is really just, like Mathias mentioned, I’m going to quote, really focus on the basics, but do them brilliantly. I love, love, love that quote. So I think a big challenge we have as marketers is to be able to say, hey, look, we’ve got all of these things we can do, especially in digital marketing. You look at your marketing stack, you’re like, oh, we can do this. We can do this. Before you know it, you’ve got 30 different technologies, and they’re making you scattered all over the place. Focus on the basics, and really do that.

So a lot here, a lot to unpack. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I know I did. If you have any questions, we’d love to answer them. You can send them to us at IndustrialSage.com/questions, and be sure to share this and like this and put this all over the place on the social medias. If you’re listening on iTunes, we’d love a review, if you feel so compelled to do that. And until next time, I’m Danny Gonzales, and this is IndustrialSage.

 

 

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