Connect with Ed Delia: email@example.com
Lisa Ryan: Hey, it's Lisa Ryan. Welcome to the Manufacturers Network podcast. I'm here today with Ed Delia. Ed is president of Delia Associates, a B2B brand growth firm based in White House, New Jersey. As a second generation of the firm founded by his father, Ed and his team of 12 serve a broad range of manufacturers in various market sectors, helping them use brand power to accentuate growth. Delia Associates has received over 50 industry awards for B2B brand marketing effectiveness in the last four years alone. Ed, welcome to the show.
Ed Delia: Thanks much for having me, Lisa. Great to be here.
Lisa Ryan: share a little about your background and what led you to do what you're doing with Delia.
Ed Delia: Sure. Delia Associates was founded in 1964 by my father. Being part of a family and a family business, you grew up around it. I was always. And involved in the family business but never see it as a future occupation. Until shortly after college, I was all set to take a job outside of Philadelphia, and Dad and I had one of those heart-to-heart talks, and he said what do you think about coming into the business?
Learning it from the ground up, and you buy me out and take it over? And it took a weekend to think about it. And said, wow, I'm about to pass up on business ownership. I don't think I should do that hastily. I said, yes, let's do this. And when you're in a good place, when time kind of flies, I looked up, and a year passed by, and I blinked.
I'm like, wow, okay. Things are moving fast. I'm learning a lot. I'm doing a lot. This must be a good fit for me. That's where it all started. And. A few years later, we executed the buyout process, and then some years later, my dad retired, and the ship was mine. It started as a traditional business-to-business advertising and PR firm.
And I always had a real keen interest and passion for brands. After taking over, I started to explore and immerse myself in the power of the brand. I realized at the time there was an unmet need where there were a lot of manufacturers who were our clients. Historically, They've been clients in manufacturing, engineering, processing technologies, and automation.
There was no real clear sensibility of brand the power of a brand. It became my mission to bring that to them and to bring that to that audience and help them understand how powerful a brand could be when its marketing programs were enriched with a brand strategy and intent. So that became my life's work to date.
Lisa Ryan: Okay. And you think of manufacturing, you think of brands with the large manufacturers out there, but when it comes to your small and medium, mid-sized manufacturers, how important is your brand to near and long-term success and growth of the organization, no matter your size?
Ed Delia: It's critical even for the small manufacturers because they all compete. They're competing with companies of the same size, of smaller sizes. And often, they're trying to compete with much bigger entities. For them to have a voice in the mix, they can use brand power to accentuate their reason for being their mission, the value that they bring to we often say to our clients because some of them are small and mid-sized manufacturers, it's not about being the biggest, it's about being positioned as the best.
Because when a buyer sees you as the best possible option, and they have that emotional connection through your brand, they're going to say, we're going to go with this firm. They're the best; they're the best fit for what we need right now. And then that's how we aim to position our clients.
Lisa Ryan: if they, everybody has a brand, whether they've focused on it or not. And especially in the last couple of years when everything has changed. How would a manufacturer know when it's time to either rebrand or rethink its image and position in the marketplace?
Ed Delia: It's a great question, and we often come up against that one. We often say it's time to rebrand, and we see this often when the organization's capabilities have outpaced the image. We'll often hear things from CEOs like we are; we're capable of much more. We're capable of bigger opportunities. We're not getting them. The larger clients or, the bigger engagements aren't seeing our value.
And that's because their capabilities, from a capability standpoint, they're up to the task. They can handle the biggest, the strongest, the most complex requirements. But from a brand standpoint, they're just not being seen that way. Often say to Clarence, it's not; we all know about if we use a phishing metaphor; we all know about the big one that got away.
But I'm more worried about all the fish that circled the bait and never took a bite because they said, no, this is not a good fit for us. They're not up to the task. They can't handle our needs based on how their brand is positioned. Ensuring that the brand is commensurate with the organization's capabilities is critical.
And a lot of times we see that they. The organization has outpaced its identity, and that's when it's time for a refresh. And we see ten other common triggers to rethink or reposition the brand. But that would be a big one.
Lisa Ryan: You think of branding or branding and marketing and all of this stuff, which just sounds expensive. What are some low-cost ideas that can get manufacturers to get started about thinking of their brand and then determining where they want to go if they want to make a larger investment, but take that fear and that, oh boy, I'm going to have to write a massive check to get anything done? What, how can they get started?
Ed Delia: One of the things that we often do as a first step is to start a very focused conversation around growth before we even endeavor to get into discussions around the brand. Because sometimes, if a manufacturing leader doesn't fully understand or can't wrap their head around the brand initially, they most certainly understand growth.
And often, we will work through a bit of a growth model where we help them prioritize the top three to five growth channels for their organization. That is ultimately going to move the lever and the needle. And then, from there, we start to assess whether that growth strategy could be realized with the current brand or if brand revitalization is required.
It's not always necessary, and it's not always the first step. It's just an important step when the company is stalled, has hit a plateau, or is being held back by the brand. And then it's easier to make that value proposition because we're like it's not much what we're paying for, it's what we're losing in terms to competitors or the opportunities we're not getting If we had a stronger brand, we would be growing faster and further.
It's been proven that well-branded companies will outpace their non-branded counterparts by two to one. There is an acceleration there once you do go down the path.
Lisa Ryan: when you talk about growth, that probably means a lot of things to other people. And you said different components of growth. What do you mean by that?
Ed Delia: When we look at a B2B or manufacturing enterprise, there are three primary growth methods. You either get more new customers or extend and expand current relationships with current customers. Or you increase buying frequency.
Those are the three primary growth methods for a B2B organization or a manufacturer. From there, we've modeled that for each of those methods, there are ten growth channels a manufacturer could engage in to create that growth. Now, what you're left with then is 30 growth channels.
That's a lot for anybody to swallow, even a large organization. I never suggest that. What we work with our clients to do is say, what are the top three to five that in the next 15 to 24 months will most readily and rapidly move the needle for this organization? And that's what we prioritize.
And then that's what we encourage them, therefore, facing service and sales teams to prioritize. And then that's what's the prioritization in marketing. We're always working towards a growth strategy that, at the end of a period, we can say, how did we move the needle? Did we, ultimately, affect the change?
And the strategies could range from either expanding a service line or expanding to a new market sector. Or, in adjacent markets, let's say the manufacturer sells into pharmaceuticals, and they see an opportunity to sell into it. Maybe the veterinary or medical device market is an adjacent or somewhat adjacent industry.
Let's look at how to pivot and extend that way. Or it could also be establishing joint ventures or partnerships with other supply chain providers to extend their reach. It could also involve this one that big and large, big and small manufacturers miss asking for referrals and introductions.
It sounds simple. But you would be surprised that even the most accomplished sales professionals don't do that or don't know how to do that well; sometimes it's as simple as that we helped the company almost double in two years just by saying, look at all the relationships you have. Imagine if you went out and smartly asked for introductions, and they did, and the growth was phenomenal.
Lisa Ryan: I think the critical thing to learn from that lesson is a lot of times, we're going to hire a marketing company to come in and do a rebranding, and we want to do everything at once. And as you said, there are 30 different channels that they could choose from, and then just determining from the standpoint of what is the three that we should at least start with and get those going.
Ed Delia: And maybe that baby step is we're going to teach you how to ask for referrals. It's not doing everything all at once. It's doing one thing, getting good at it, then doing the next.
So it's almost like you're getting 1% better with everything you do. Over time, that will lead to big changes, but not getting. It sounds like you're helping them not to be overwhelmed with this whole process by reigning them in a little bit. That is very much, very well stated. We often say it's better to execute with excellence than do too much or too little.
So I would rather see a company do three to five things incredibly well than try to take on 10 or 15 initiatives and fail at all of them. And that's part of the prioritization, which will get them down the path, the best way, the furthest, the fastest, and the best possible way.
And that's where we prioritize. Yeah, it's only sometimes doing it all at once. We also have to consider bandwidth, resources, and what they can do, manage, and afford at a given period. That's commensurate with their organization. That's factored in as well.
So I would never put on the table a massive program for a small niche manufacturer that they could never afford or even undertake doesn't make sense. Let's fix some doable strategies and paths that align with our focus and desire for growth, and let's work on those and execute them well.
Lisa Ryan: aside from the increased visibility we've been discussing with the brand, what do you think are some other benefits people get when portraying a strong brand?
Ed Delia: Interestingly, over the last two to three years, we've been getting more requests for rebranding from the manufacturing community driven by hr.
Be driven, being driven by sales and marketing. And the reason is many manufacturers need help attracting and retaining great talent. Often, they have an employee population starting to age and look to retirement. Those people have a lot of tribal knowledge.
They know a lot, and they can do a lot, but eventually, they're going to, they're going to say, okay, I'm done. It's time to retire. And there's just not that next generation coming up through the ranks that will take on those positions. And many of the emerging workforce generations, mainly the millennials and a little Gen Y, are just not seeing manufacturing as a sexy path.
Although they can do great things in manufacturing, they can make. Some healthy incomes in manufacturing, right? We've been doing a lot of brand development and campaigning around attracting talent versus new customers for our manufacturing clients. That's become a big benefit. And a lot of the leadership and manufacturing are manufacturing realizes we better look the part for this emerging generation; we better showcase as a place that welcomes them is a good place for them too. To come, grow, and develop as our next great employee population.
Lisa Ryan: Wow. Yeah. That's such a good point because I know a lot of times on this show, we talk about the workforce and how hard it is to find people who want to come into manufacturing, and then what do you do to keep them? It sounds like. When you have that strong brand, you are creating a workplace that people are proud to work for because it's known, a brand that's respected, and a brand that people are proud to work for and do business with. It would make attracting people to at least check out the organization easier.
Ed Delia: Yeah. And the emerging workforce, they, they're. They're a little different than maybe a year in my day when we were entering the workforce and just happy to get a job. Exactly. Let's just get that first job. That's all we care about. They want to work for a place that has meaning, contributes to the greater good, has a purpose, and is on a journey where there's growth. They're looking for a lot more out of the experience of working, and The manufacturing leadership needs to be attended to that and can't stick to the old ways of just saying, oh, just be happy to be employed and have a job.
Lots of places and ways for them to do that. And they don't need to be in the manufacturing community to do that. Manufacturers have to work harder, too. I would say the industry at large could be doing a better job at doing some missionary work to showcase that manufacturing is a great career path for the next generation workforce.
Lisa Ryan: Oh. There was much gold in what you just said there, but even showcasing manufacturing, what dawned on me too is the manufacturing day, the first Friday in October, to use that as even a kickoff to your branding to show that this is what we're doing in the community, this is how we're interacting. This is our brand, and. Also, to realize that we are not returning to the good old days. Sometimes in my talk, when I'm talking about keeping your top talent from becoming someone else's, and these people come in, and they have that attitude that nobody wants to work anymore, and I can't pay these people enough, and they're not willing to pay their dues.
Nobody's going to pay their dues anymore. They don't want to do the crap work nobody else wants to do because they can get tenure and build up their way. It's no, it's a different world where you're not coddling your employees, you're treating them with respect, you're listening to their ideas, and you're creating a workplace VI environment that is in this post-pandemic employee-centric marketplace that we are just not going back to. I'm sure you have dealt with prospects, and many of them understand that they have to change. And then other ones say, I don't need to do any of that. We've been doing it this way for 50 years. Those are probably not the ones you're working with.
Ed Delia: No. They and those that may be tried to hold to that. They are quickly changing their tune and realizing that getting people to work for them used to be easier, but now it's not. And now they have to work a lot harder at it. And, some of them are like, do we have to do all that?
And I'm like, if you want great talent, yeah. Yeah. You have to fight for it. And if you're willing to fight for it and you're willing to give them a great experience and a great environment, and they're going to stay and grow, You're going to grow, going to grow. Because great talent drives the bus a lot faster than throwing a body at an assignment that could
Lisa Ryan: And the interesting thing, too, is we used to worry about losing our people to other competitive manufacturers down the street. Now, with all their options, we're not losing them to their manufacturers. We're losing them to Amazon; we're losing them to Uber. We're learning, losing them to DoorDash because people want to have their businesses and do their own thing instead of being disrespected, told what to do, and treated like another cog in the wheel.
So that's the image we need to change with manufacturing, branding, and getting the word out there. We can do that. When you're working, how would you suggest manufacturers develop a realistic growth strategy for their company?
Ed Delia: It starts with prioritization, looking at the three primary growth methods, and then assessing the growth channels and carefully assessing which ones are most relevant to that organization. And those are the ones we can then dig into, focus on, and build a real growth strategy, subsequent marketing planning, and then potentially brand planning around that to build a framework they can start to use and work toward.
So that everybody, all. Everybody's flying in formation in the organization. Everybody understands what the growth priorities are, and everybody's working. Because when you get that momentum behind it, it will happen. It's going to happen. But with that, if there's clarity or people don't know, manufacturing organizations flounder because they need to know the priority, where they're going, or the focus. They need to know that. And that needs to be reinforced and reemphasized on an ongoing basis. It's not a one-and-done, and you're there. You have to keep working at and working at it, and then you get there, and you get that momentum going. And once that momentum going gets going, it's exciting. It's exciting for all.
Lisa Ryan: what have you found to be some of the most effective marketing methods that manufacturing brands can use to reach new audiences?
Ed Delia: there's some new and some old right now, and this is something of a post covid getting together and gathering.
People love returning to trade shows and conferences because they couldn't for long, and it's human nature to want to gather. In the last year or two years, Our clients have all been very aggressive about returning to shows and meeting and greeting in person to re-establish that human...