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Welcome Robert Glass

Head of Marketing
Exel Composites

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Robert Glass
"It's really those smaller agencies, that really have a point to prove; they're aggressive, they want to grow quickly, they want to make a name for themselves."

Robert Glass is the Head of Marketing for a world leading Finnish technology giant, Exel Composites. With ten years of communications experience, Robert has worked hard to centre Exel Composites as a global expert in carbon fiber, fiberglass, and other composite technology solutions. Robert also actively works to expand composite awareness with new audiences and aid general understanding of the innovative manufacturing process.

In order to achieve all this, Robert relies on his relationship with agencies. In this episode, not only does he shed light on how to be successful in the pitch process, but also how to maintain an effective client relationship.

Transcript:

Speaker 1:

This is ClientSide, from Fox Agency.

Nathan Anibaba:

Robert Glass is the Head of Marketing for Exel Composites. They are a Finnish technology giant, and a global expert in carbon fiber fiberglass, hybrid, and other composite technology solutions. Their solutions help customers across a wide range of industries, from transportation, to wind power, from airports to paper machines. He has over 10 years of experience in marketing communications at his previous company, ABB.

Nathan Anibaba:

Robert Glass, welcome to ClientSide.

Robert Glass:

Ah, thank you. It’s nice to be here.

Nathan Anibaba:

You start your career at Northrop Grumman, as a software developer, in 1992. Why software development, and what plan did you have for your career at that point?

Robert Glass:

Honestly, I didn’t have a plan. I know some people have … It’s the truth. I was going where the wind blew, at the time.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

It was one of these, I grew up in the Midwest, in the United States, and just had this wanderlust to go out and see things.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right.

Robert Glass:

Through various experiences, I ended up working with a company that became part of Northrop Grumman.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right.

Robert Glass:

Really, got into software development as I found it really interesting, I was watching some of my colleagues. I didn’t start as a software developer there, but I was watching colleagues doing this, and it was something that intrigued me, at the time. That’s how I ended up into that.

Nathan Anibaba:

Very useful and valuable skill, though. We all live our lives in a digital world, and as Andreessen Horowitz says, “Software is now eating the world.”

Robert Glass:

Yeah, it’s a good background, especially in marketing, from my perspective, to understand when you see something on a screen, what happens behind that screen, what’s needed to make that bit of screen live when you click on it, and interact. There are things behind the scenes, so it’s nice to have that as a part of the toolkit.

Nathan Anibaba:

Definitely, I agree. I think there are a lot of marketers that are quite envious of people that have software development as a background. I think it’s harder to learn that as a secondary skill, than it is to learn marketing first, and then learn software development. That’s really interesting.

Nathan Anibaba:

But, at some point, you decided that you didn’t want to be a software engineer anymore, and you made the decision to move to Finland, from New Jersey, where you were at the time. Why did you do that?

Robert Glass:

Same reason many people move to Finland, my wife is actually from Finland.

Nathan Anibaba:

Ah, okay.

Robert Glass:

We wanted to be able to give our children the opportunity to live both in the United States, and in Finland.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right.

Robert Glass:

So that they could sort out where they wanted to live, after that. But, at the time, I had also gotten my degree in business. In software, doing software development, there comes a time where you, basically, become too expensive, let’s say. There’s younger kids coming in.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right.

Robert Glass:

They’re just as qualified, they’re doing things-

Nathan Anibaba:

Talented, right.

Robert Glass:

So, that forces you to take on additional roles.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

Outside of that area. But, I used the move to Finland as a good way to really get into something that has always been a passion of mine.

Nathan Anibaba:

Quite fascinating. At ABB, you started working in Finland at ABB, you got interested in how people come to buy things. That’s what really got you interested in marketing. What did you learn, and what conclusion have you come to, as to the reason why people buy things?

Robert Glass:

I don’t know if we have enough time to go through that. But, I think the simple answer is people buy things because they have either a perceived value, or a perceived level of trust in the company, or the people providing that particular item or solution. So, brand recognition is always an important aspect of it. We can look at certain brands and go, “Oh, that’s a Swiss brand.” Or, “That’s a Japanese brand.” You have this feeling of, it’s going to be okay, whatever I get there.

Robert Glass:

How do you get to that point? How do you convey that value? What are the aspects of that, that you can squeeze out of who you are as a company, and put those followed to convince people that yes, this is good value, this is what you want.

Robert Glass:

Working with a company like ABB, it’s also a large company, so learning how to navigate, and just work within the company itself is also a pretty valuable skill that comes out from there.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about ABB. They’re a Fortune 500 company in robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment, and automation technology, as we mentioned earlier, at the top of the show. Talk a little bit about what they do, and what’s your role and responsibility at the company?

Robert Glass:

Well, the company itself is enormous, and they really do a lot around power automation, and helping industries, businesses, be more productive, more efficient. Let’s say, before I left the company, my main focus area was really developing a new area of business that the company was going after, and that was in the food and beverage market.

Robert Glass:

The company had decided, as part of their growth strategy a few years before, that they were going to pursue building business in food and beverage. The company’s brand recognition within food and beverage customers, the manufacturers, the people that have the manufacturing plants, and the OEMs, and those businesses, ABB wasn’t a very well known name. So, we had an immediate challenge of getting just some recognition that, hey, we’re here, we have something to offer.

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), quite fascinating. At ABB, you won a global award for Best Integrated B2B Campaign. Why was that campaign so impactful?

Robert Glass:

That campaign, I think, really I would qualify the impact of that campaign as coming down to two key points.

Robert Glass:

One, visually it conveyed a value, just from the graphics, from the visuals that were employed in there for our target audience. It was very easy, without even having to read anything, it conveyed a value in a way that was meaningful to people in food and beverage.

Robert Glass:

Then, the second-

Nathan Anibaba:

Just so we’re clear-

Robert Glass:

Yeah?

Nathan Anibaba:

The target audience was who, sorry?

Robert Glass:

The target audience was, basically, food and beverage manufacturers again, or OEMs also, that are building the machines, building the packaging machines, building the process lines, or running and operating these factories where they’re installed at.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure. Prior to that, you didn’t really have much awareness within that market, or that consideration set?

Robert Glass:

Correct.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right.

Robert Glass:

There was some pretty heavy other industry companies, the Rockwell’s, Schneider, and there are a lot of competitors that were very well ingrained in food and beverage.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

There was also a level of trust and confidence that these companies were providing what was needed. Getting in, and trying to make awareness, and shine some spotlights was quite challenging.

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), really interesting. Then, you talked about the reason why you won the campaign, the resting graphics were a really important part of that. What were the other factors that led to the success?

Robert Glass:

Yeah, the other aspect was just the philosophy of the tag line involved there, was inviting, basically, to open a conversation. Really, more about listening to what they’re trying to achieve, those target audiences were trying to achieve, and opening up a conversation to talk with them, longterm. Not just to sell a product, not just to sling a solution towards them, but to really listen, understand, and grow with them, and work with them along the way, to provide solutions.

Nathan Anibaba:

I understand that you worked with a creative agency and a PR agency, on developing that campaign. Talk about how you selected, chose those agencies? And, how did you work with them, in order to achieve the desired result?

Robert Glass:

Yeah. It’s a big process. Basically, going into that I recognized when we were looking at how we were going to be able to get some visibility that having a good creative agency was a key aspect of what we were trying to go after. The PR agency was also extremely important, from the perspective of starting to get visibility across the trade media.

Robert Glass:

The process, basically, for both was essentially the same, selecting the agencies. So, I like to put together … The first thing I do is I scour the Internet for possible agencies, and then I’ll cold call. I’ll just give them a call, say, “Hey, this is Robert, I’m calling. I just wanted to find out if you guys do this, this, this. Could somebody give me a call back?”

Nathan Anibaba:

Right.

Robert Glass:

So, you get the calls back, and you start talking a little bit about … the goal is to really understand, is this agency someone that has experience in this sector, this is arena that you’re trying to target?

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

To get a certain level of confidence from that agency that they’re one that you would like to take to the second round interview, basically. I did that across a spectrum of agencies, with some initial criteria that I had in mind about what I was looking for, regarding the size. Even aspects like, are they native English speakers?

Robert Glass:

Mainly, when you’re developing a global campaign in English, if that campaign’s developed in another language and translated into English, it’s not always a one-to-one fit. You may lose some impact, or its edge, and that can take time to resolve. I wanted to have an agency that was doing the creative process in English.

Robert Glass:

So, I down selected to a handful of agencies, and I sent each of them the same proposal, under the same criteria. I sent them a PDF, basically outlining for the agency to provide a response to this proposal, and making myself 100% available. So, “Anything you need, I’m free, give me a call, email me.”

Nathan Anibaba:

Right.

Robert Glass:

If they wanted the meeting, whatever they wanted to do, I was there to support them along the way because, from my perspective, that’s when, really, the evaluations began, of the agencies.

Nathan Anibaba:

How many agencies did you down select to, at this point?

Robert Glass:

For the ABB one, I believe it was three or four.

Nathan Anibaba:

Okay.

Robert Glass:

No more than that.

Nathan Anibaba:

Okay.

Robert Glass:

But, it was interesting. Some of the agencies, I didn’t hear from them.

Nathan Anibaba:

Huh.

Robert Glass:

You know, send them that and give everybody the same deadline.

Nathan Anibaba:

Yeah.

Robert Glass:

Same constraints, same opportunities.

Nathan Anibaba:

Yeah.

Robert Glass:

And see. It’s part of the evaluation. How do they take that? It’s also a reflection of that agency’s philosophy or, I don’t know, attitude. We’ve got this, no problem, we can handle this.

Robert Glass:

I made myself available, gave them all, that, and then waited for the replies to come in, and that. That’s the process for getting the proposal submitted to me.

Nathan Anibaba:

Makes complete sense. Then, once you got the proposals, what was your process for evaluating them? Then, selecting the chosen agency?

Robert Glass:

Typically, you get the proposal, and the agency wants to present, or at least have a meeting with you, to go over, which is great. If they want to come and visit, that’s great because they could be … I was in Finland, obviously, and most of these agencies were in the UK. But, basically give them the opportunity to present, and explain, and go through and answer questions.

Robert Glass:

After that’s done with each of them, you also have the cost structures in there. How did they approach your … I would always put a budget limit in there and say, “Within this budget, how would you do this?” It was interesting to see how agencies would then interpret that, and come back with, “Well, you could do that, or we would recommend you do this.” Or, would stick strictly to that criteria. So, it also you get to see a little more about that. Then, obviously, you do break down at some point, price is always … Even in big companies, price is always a consideration.

Robert Glass:

It’s a balance between, has this agency convinced me that they understand me enough to do what I’m asking them to do? Agencies also have personalities. It’s like a dating app.

Nathan Anibaba:

A dating relationship.

Robert Glass:

You’re dating this agency, basically. It’s a date. Do we both like to go … What do we want for dinner, Japanese or steak?

Nathan Anibaba:

Right. What’s your view on kids?

Robert Glass:

Yeah, exactly.

Nathan Anibaba:

Pretty fundamental questions.

Robert Glass:

Do you want two, or do you want 12?

Nathan Anibaba:

Exactly.

Robert Glass:

Exactly. You could tell some of the agencies … You’re going to be working with them closely, so you want to make sure that relationship between both parties feels productive.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

Then, let’s say you get down to the time to make a decision, and at that point everything is weighed. Quite honestly, it’s that have you convinced me? Whose made the best impact, and whose really stuck out? That comes to mind, again and again, that I really like what they said there.

Robert Glass:

It can be something very simple. It can be just a few words on one slide, that have shifted your perspective.

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s really interesting. The challenge from the ClientSide is actually pretty tough. I mean, you’ve down listed to three really good agents, really strong agencies. Presumably, they have really strong creative, and they’ve got a background on doing these sorts of things for similar types of clients. So, they’re all pretty strong, when it gets down to the final two or three.

Nathan Anibaba:

Then, you’re in a situation where you need to choose the winner, assuming that they all have pretty strong or compelling cases. What were the factors that enabled you to choose the winning one? What was it that the winning agency had, over the other two?

Robert Glass:

That’s a good question, a really good question.

Nathan Anibaba:

Yeah. I guess, sometimes it’s hard to isolate that, right? The reason?

Robert Glass:

I think it might be hard. Honestly, I think when you start going into there, you start to build … As much as I try to stay neutral towards the agencies, interactions do matter, though. The way they interact with you, the way, maybe, ask questions, or pose questions. They start to build these subtle, little … I don’t know. It starts to accumulate, and you get a little bit more like, I really have a positive feeling towards this agency.

Nathan Anibaba:

It’s that relationship, again?

Robert Glass:

It’s that relationship, again. Then, you’ve got to jump into it. There comes a time you’ve got to fish, or cut bait. It’s like, “All right, we can speculate.” At that point, too, you solicit the opinion of some of your peers. I remember sitting down with my member at the time, and we went through them. It’s like, “Okay, these three are all good.”

Nathan Anibaba:

So, what do we do?

Robert Glass:

What do we do? Well, then you’ve just got to say, “Well, I have a preference for this one.”

Nathan Anibaba:

Yeah.

Robert Glass:

Okay, let’s go with that one, so we’ll go with that one.

Nathan Anibaba:

What role does the brand of the agency play, in that decision making process? Assuming that, let’s say hypothetically, one out of the three of Ogilvy. Really good reputation, you’ve known of them for a very long time, they’ve written amazing books, Ogilvy, on advertising. The Mad Men era was based on Ogilvy. There’s that strong brand reputation that they have. What role does that play, in the decision making process do you think? Consciously, or even subconsciously?

Robert Glass:

Well, I think for some clients, that’s an important aspect of their choice, to have this bragging right about their agency. They want to flash the agency’s nice name. For me, that was less important because, I think, what I was looking for was more, really, the hunger of an agency. The desire to get noticed. They’re not the Ogilvy.

Robert Glass:

Also, when you’re dealing with the larger agencies like that, a lot of the interaction, a lot of the relationship … I don’t know if they’re going to haunt me, come after me now, because I’m saying something like this. But it, ultimately, is based on your spend with them, on an annual basis.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

If you come to them with a smaller spend than what they would consider a good spend, then you’re almost a waste of time for them.

Robert Glass:

I was working with one larger agency, which I will not name, for a period, also. That was evident, my spend with them was not significant enough for them to justify having anything but a junior team assigned to my account. It showed, the work was sup-par.

Nathan Anibaba:

I see.

Robert Glass:

I got out of that relationship as soon as I could. It was a good eye opener, but it did nothing for me. Again … Yeah?

Nathan Anibaba:

It’s really those smaller agencies, that really have a point to prove, they’re aggressive, they want to grow quickly, they want to make a name for themselves. Those are the ones that go above and beyond, and really make sure that they deliver?

Robert Glass:

Yeah, they have to deliver because each account is more important to their bottom line than the larger companies, who can afford to drop a few accounts. Let’s say, you know it’s not going to matter.

Robert Glass:

Smaller, faster, more hungry agencies, there are a lot of really good … Fox Agency had a great proposal for us when we were choosing the agency, here. That’s why I-

Nathan Anibaba:

We didn’t win, unfortunately.

Robert Glass:

You didn’t win, unfortunately.

Nathan Anibaba:

We were close.

Robert Glass:

Yeah, you were very close, you were in the top three, of receiving the proposals to submit for this work.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

Again, it came down … The agency size is relatively the same, but I didn’t choose any big, big agencies to even go into that process, because it’s just more complex. Then, you have more layers of project managers that get involved, on top of the account managers that get a little bit further from the creative. The more your desires and wishes have to be interpreted through one layer of account manager, to a project manager, to somebody else, to somebody else, then finally to the creative, so you’re really separated from trying to get what you want.

Robert Glass:

When a client picks an agency, it’s a very simple thing that the agency has to deliver, in my view. Basically, what you’re doing is making my job easier.

Nathan Anibaba:

Yeah.

Robert Glass:

When you make my job easier, you’re helping my company because, ultimately, I’m trying to get better visibility for us, as a company. For Exel Composites, I want us to be the first thought of company, when people consider composites.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

So, I have this vision of where I’m trying to get to with the company, and the creative agency helps me get there, and that makes my job easier. Because now, I can also focus on some other things.

Nathan Anibaba:

We’ll talk about Exel Composites in a moment, because you’re working with a fascinating company right now. But just before that, you talked about your selection process for when you were with ABB, and you won the creative awards. What would you have changed about that selection process, with hindsight, knowing what you know now? Would you have done anything differently in that process, in your selection criteria?

Robert Glass:

I’m not sure, because I feel it worked.

Nathan Anibaba:

You won.

Robert Glass:

Well yeah, we won. I feel it worked really well. I was fortunate enough to have the flexibility to do that type of selection, within a big company. It wasn’t too much longer that … Larger companies like that, also, are looking for ways to save costs, and so they do a lot of consolidation. They look across how many agencies are we using, do we need all of these agencies? They do roll ups, and consolidations, and narrow down your supplier capability to a few. That can seriously disrupt what you’re trying to accomplish.

Robert Glass:

Fortunately, I was able to choose the right company, in that sense, resulting in that did win a few nice awards. It was a good campaign. I don’t know if I would change anything specifically with the way that I went about doing it, because it was also, I feel it was fair in the sense that every agency had equal opportunity, or access, in the sense that during the period of time, there was plenty of time. At that point, I think it was even two months to answer the proposal. It wasn’t a one week, come back with something. You had plenty of time to think about it, put together, and ask questions.

Nathan Anibaba:

Considered, yeah.

Robert Glass:

Anything that you need to do, however I can help. That seemed to work pretty well.

Nathan Anibaba:

You now work for Exel Composites, as you mentioned. I think a lot of people are still confused about what composites are, I certainly am, and what the different manufacturing processes actually mean. What are composites, how are they used, and what is your role and remit there, at the company?

Robert Glass:

Yeah. As Head of Marketing, …

Robert Glass:

Well, basically let’s look at, first, what are composites? Composites are an alternative material to metals, or plastics like PVC, or even wood. Technically, a composite is a combination of a reinforcement and a matrix. Those reinforcements are most commonly known as glass fiber, or carbon fibers. There can also be other types, like flax, or bio-composites. Then, they’re combined with a matrix, which is usually a resin, like an epoxy or a polyester resin.

Robert Glass:

We manufacture using processes called pultrusion, and pulwinding. It’s a thermoset process, where the matrix and the reinforcements are, essentially, pulled through a heated die which forms the shape, whether it’s a tube, or a complex window, or a door profile. That product, the end fiberglass or carbon fiber product, is pulled through the process, it’s cut to length, and shipped to our customers.

Robert Glass:

The advantages composites provide … This is something that, growing awareness that composites are an option is one of my key tasks. So, to just grow awareness that, maybe instead of a metal window frame, you want to consider a fiberglass window frame, because fiberglass, it won’t expand like aluminum does, in the sunlight, for example. Fiberglass is a great insulator, that’s why they use it in houses, you see the fiberglass insulation.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

But, fiberglass window frames will also help save energy, they’re resistant to rotting. So unlike wood, they don’t swell, they won’t rot. There’s a lot of advantages, throughout the lifecycle of a product, to use a composite in it.

Robert Glass:

You hear carbon fiber a lot, associated with aerospace technology. You know, aircraft, or satellites, or spacecraft. But, it could also be a window washer that needs a six meter telescopic pole, because they’re working on cleaning windows all day long. That lighter weight pole, with the stiffness and all the characteristics they need, helps them do a better job. A lot of possibilities with composites.

Nathan Anibaba:

Lots of applications.

Robert Glass:

It’s a very exciting area.

Nathan Anibaba:

It really is.

Robert Glass:

Yeah.

Nathan Anibaba:

Lots of applications, from cars, to the Internet, to aerospace, satellites, et cetera.

Robert Glass:

Exactly.

Nathan Anibaba:

They’re endless. Talk a little bit about your role and responsibilities, essentially, around increasing awareness of the capability and the functionality of composites?

Robert Glass:

Yeah. Our company has grown pretty significantly over the past few years, becoming really, a true global supplier of composite solutions.

Robert Glass:

My remit is, essentially, to help increase our market share across the industries we serve. It’s a simple task, but it’s got many aspects to it.

Nathan Anibaba:

It’s simple to say.

Robert Glass:

Yeah. It really covers everything from our corporate brand, who we are, how we’re represented, to how our salespeople are able to go and effectively talk to potential customers. It’s wide ranging, in that sense. Again, covering the globe. We have manufacturing in the United States, across Europe, and in China. We cross cultures, we cross regions. A lot of potential customers, a lot of existing customers, and we have competition that I’m always trying to stay ahead of.

Nathan Anibaba:

Makes complete sense. I assume that you have a number of agencies to help you execute on that task, of increasing market share. Let’s talk a little bit about how you manage agencies. You talked, earlier, about the reason why you would like to work with smaller agencies is because they put their best people on their account, generally. How do we motivate, for maybe those mid-size agencies, or maybe even a larger agency, how can we motivate an agency to put their best people on our account? It may even also be that may also apply to a smaller agency.

Robert Glass:

Yeah, I guess really, it ultimately needs to reside within that agency’s desire to serve the smaller customer. Unfortunately, the smaller customers don’t have the budget that a few of the larger ones … If you can secure a few of the larger, the ABBs, and the bigger customers out there, it’s easier work, less people that you have to talk to. The smaller companies, you’re spread out. I’m in Finland. There are a lot of companies our size doing a lot of different manufacturing, and similar type of situation, where you have companies that could really benefit from creative agencies, and from PR agencies.

Robert Glass:

I think one of the things is just, really, awareness. A lot of times, the structure in companies, especially manufacturing companies, which have grown from small, Mom-and-Pop organizations, into a pretty good size company, they may not have, also, pulled in people along the way, to modernize how their approach to marketing, or branding, or any of that is being done.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

Just as I’m trying to spread the awareness of composites across our industries we serve, agencies could also spread the awareness, if they want, of what they can offer to these types of companies. This is what you can get, have you considered this? How are you approaching this?

Nathan Anibaba:

In your opinion, what’s the best way for agencies to do that? I mean, is that from an outbound perspective? Should they invite you to dinners, or events? Should they send you emails? What have you seen as the best ways that agencies can put that value proposition in front of you, and create opportunities?

Robert Glass:

I think, from my perspective at least, I don’t see any of the agencies being hesitant to contact me.

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s a very nice way to put it.

Robert Glass:

Well, on the one side, it’s always nice to understand who’s doing what.

Nathan Anibaba:

Yeah.

Robert Glass:

From the agency’s perspective, what kind of work are they doing, what kind of talent do they have in-house? What else are they doing? There might be something, in that pitch, that the agencies that you’re working with aren’t doing, or don’t provide, or is outside of something that anybody’s considered. There’s always a good possibility of finding that.

Robert Glass:

When it comes to … There’s another thing between coming in, and introducing your company, it’s great to understand who you are. I’ll take an hour out of my day, and welcome these agencies to come and present themselves. If you’re trying to get my work, you have to beat my agency. That’s your-

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s your challenge.

Robert Glass:

That’s a bigger task.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right.

Robert Glass:

That’s a different task.

Nathan Anibaba:

How have the best ones been able to do that, or demonstrate that they could do that?

Robert Glass:

I haven’t had anybody yet do it.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right. The challenge is set.

Robert Glass:

I think when you consider what it would take to switch the agencies, it’s also the satisfaction that the client has with the agency. I mentioned earlier, I had to use one agency that I was completely dissatisfied with everything they were doing. I would have jumped to anybody, if possible, at that point.

Robert Glass:

There are probably plenty of companies out there using agencies who they’re not fully satisfied with, where change is welcome, or could be welcome if the right agency knocked on the door. Finding those companies, of course, maybe takes a lot of work.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure, that’s the challenge. Really interesting.

Robert Glass:

Again, I think timing has to do with it, if you have fatigue with an agency, or just something, sometimes a change. As long as your agency continues to provide, make your job easier, it’s really hard to swing the thought process to someone else, I think.

Nathan Anibaba:

Well, just on that topic, what are some of the common reasons why agencies lose their clients? As much as agencies would like to hold onto their clients forever, the reality is clients do replace agencies with increasing regularity. What are some of the most common reasons clients leave agencies? And what can agencies do to avoid it?

Robert Glass:

That’s a complex question.

Nathan Anibaba:

We’ve got five more hours, you’re not doing anything else today.

Robert Glass:

Exactly. I think there are, let’s say, reasons that are out of the control of the client, sometimes. For example, again going back to previous, I was working with one agency, but the company I was working for, I won’t mention names at this point.

Nathan Anibaba:

No.

Robert Glass:

Basically, through a consolidation effort said, “You have to use this other agency,” that we can’t use these agencies anymore. Through no fault of the agency, that was purely politics within the company that drove the business away from that one agency.

Robert Glass:

I couldn’t say what are some of the other reasons, I’m not sure. I would say, yeah people changing in the client base. If you get a new person in change of marketing, or person in change or communications, obviously they’re going to want to bring in, or look at who’s being used, and the values. I think it probably has … I would hate to say cost is a huge driver of that, but I’m sure it has an impact on it.

Nathan Anibaba:

I’m sure it’s a factor.

Robert Glass:

Yeah.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting.

Nathan Anibaba:

Let’s talk a little bit about your marketing philosophy, because you say, “Business to business companies are, in reality, more like business to consumer companies, because it’s us, the people who make the decisions. The business doesn’t make the decision, a person actually makes those business decisions. So, the C can be you and me, or an aunt, or a neighbor down the street, and you want to feel confident in your decision. While products and services warm company offers are important, what you’re really doing is looking for the right feeling about the company that you’re doing business with.”

Nathan Anibaba:

So, how do the best brands create that feeling that you’re describing?

Robert Glass:

Yeah, there it really is, again, a lot of the products, especially if you’re in a product business, products become a commodity. Commodities come with a cost. You can take the approach that, “I’m just going to look for the cheapest supplier of this thing I need,” which okay, you can do that.

Robert Glass:

From my perspective, what I would like to do instead is shift that to okay, you need that product today, but let’s look at the next five years. Where are you taking your business? How is that product going to change over the next few years? Or, what is your business going to do over that period of time, that’s going to change the way that you’re looking at that purchasing? What value could you use from a company, to make your job even easier?

Robert Glass:

Again, it’s putting forward the aspects of conveying, I think, you have the company’s brand. For example, our brand that we want to make sure is set within our customers, and our potential customers, that they perceive us as a premier supplier of composite materials for them.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

That brings a level of confidence that they’re going to get good quality products, they’re going to get on time delivery. They’re going to know that, if they pick up the phone and they call either their salesperson, or someone on our R&D team, that they’re going to get an answer, or that we’re going to work with them to give them an answer. It’s not just about delivering product, it’s about the full package of, “We’re here to help you do your job better, by delivering what you need.” Even go so far as suggesting new alternatives.

Robert Glass:

We have a nice article out there, about a customer asking for carbon fiber, and we sell him something cheaper in fiberglass. Because it does what they need them to do, they don’t need the carbon fiber. It’s great to have, it’s great to say, but if you don’t need it, don’t use it.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

Save your money, we’ll sell you something less expensive that does exactly what you need it to do.

Nathan Anibaba:

That intendency is really refreshing.

Robert Glass:

Yeah. That’s what you … We want to have a very clear relationship with our customers, to help them. Because we, quite frankly, love doing what we do, we love engineering composite solutions for the different requirements that our customers have. You could do quite a lot of combinations, between the resins, and the fibers, and the alignments of the fibers, so you come up with some pretty neat solutions.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting. Well, I know I only have you for a few more minutes, so let’s get into our quick fire round. These are questions that I’m going to fire at you, and if you could fire some answers back, that would be great. A little bit of fun questions, I think.

Robert Glass:

All right.

Nathan Anibaba:

Which CMO is doing the best job in marketing right now?

Robert Glass:

Oh, pass.

Nathan Anibaba:

Okay. Who’s got the hardest job in marketing, do you think? Your options are CMO of Facebook, Uber, the Romaine campaign Head of Marketing.

Robert Glass:

Oof. Without getting political, I’m not going to get political.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Robert Glass:

I will say yeah, I don’t know. I think I’m going to have to pass on that one.

Nathan Anibaba:

Okay.

Robert Glass:

Pass.

Nathan Anibaba:

What’s the single most important thing that you love about working with agencies?

Robert Glass:

Surprise ideas in PDFS coming to me, with great things. I love it when an agency comes up with, “Hey, we were thinking about this. What do you think about this?” Boom, that’s adding another layer of value to me, because I’m very open to new ideas, so when I can see that.

Robert Glass:

One of the great things is when I’m having a call, update call with my agency, we’re on either Skype for Business, or Teams, and you get to see the first bits of something come to life. All of the discussion, and all of the talk, and all of the vision ideas, you get to see it. It just resonates, and it hits you.

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s exciting.

Robert Glass:

Yes, that’s exactly what I want.

Nathan Anibaba:

Yeah.

Robert Glass:

Yes.

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s a great feeling.

Robert Glass:

Yeah.

Nathan Anibaba:

Brilliant. What annoys you, or frustrates you, about working with agencies? We haven’t got all day, we’ve only got a few minutes.

Robert Glass:

I know what annoys me, you guys always want money.

Nathan Anibaba:

Well, it’s a business.

Robert Glass:

It’s a business, I know, I know. It’s a good part of the business, and I understand that, and I respect that.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right, right.

Robert Glass:

So that’s good.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure, sure.

Robert Glass:

Yeah.

Nathan Anibaba:

But, we always want money.

Robert Glass:

It’s a mandatory part of the business.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure, sure. If you had your own agency, what would you call it, and why?

Robert Glass:

Oh, wow. If I had my own agency, what would I call it? I’ve always been partial … Not that I’ve been considering anything like this, at all. But, I’ve had this business name in the back of my head for, I don’t know, 20 years. I would go with Glass Light Industries.

Nathan Anibaba:

Oh, I like it.

Robert Glass:

Yeah. I like that, because it incorporates my name, but at the same time, passing some glass light gives you the idea you’re looking through something, to something.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure, the future, speed.

Robert Glass:

Light also conveys the idea of fast, and easy.

Nathan Anibaba:

I like it.

Robert Glass:

Yeah.

Nathan Anibaba:

Okay.

Robert Glass:

Off the top of my head.

Nathan Anibaba:

Not that you’ve been thinking about it, at all.

Robert Glass:

No.

Nathan Anibaba:

What should agencies be thinking about now, to ensure that they can continue to best serve the needs of their clients, both now, and in the future?

Robert Glass:

Yeah, again, develop that relationship over not looking just at the next couple months, but look, where are we going next year already? Thinking about follow on, being willing to talk about and propose follow on. Don’t be shy, talk about what’s on your mind, where you see what other possibilities.

Robert Glass:

I know always upselling, cross selling, are a big part for the agencies’ work. But, bring it on. There’s always something good. Take the time to really understand and develop that relationship with the client, so that everything goes faster, from that perspective. Communication is always important. We’ve started using Microsoft Teams now, with the agency I’m working with, and it’s been fantastic. It consolidates a lot of steps into one area, and it’s just a little bit easier on the day.

Nathan Anibaba:

My final question, Robert. What’s the single biggest thing that you have yet to achieve, that you would still like to achieve in your career?

Robert Glass:

Good question. The single biggest thing that I would like to achieve, that I have yet to achieve in my career?

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Robert Glass:

I’ve got no quick answer to this question.

Nathan Anibaba:

Tough one. Yeah, it requires a little bit more thought, I guess.

Robert Glass:

Yeah, it would require a little more in-depth thought.

Nathan Anibaba:

Maybe it needs another podcast?

Robert Glass:

Yeah, for sure. But, it has nothing to do with my career.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sorry, go ahead.

Robert Glass:

I’ve got some ideas of some things that I would like to do, but they have completely nothing to do with my work, but would be fun to pursue. So, if anybody is out there willing to Independently fund [inaudible 00:47:45].

Nathan Anibaba:

I’ll end with a slightly easier one, then. If you could live or work anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

Robert Glass:

Oh, Japan, hands down.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really?

Robert Glass:

Yeah, yeah.

Nathan Anibaba:

Why?

Robert Glass:

Because it’s a country that’s both absolutely in your face, loud, all sense overload, to complete tranquillity.

Nathan Anibaba:

Zen.

Robert Glass:

And quiet, zen.

Nathan Anibaba:

Interesting.

Robert Glass:

Polite, clean, on time. It’s just fast paced, but yet still really holding onto that traditional, old thought process there too, in that sense that valuing the traditions, and going after the new. So yeah, Japan, hands down.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting. Thank you for doing this Robert, this has been really interesting.

Robert Glass:

Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. Thanks for having me.

Nathan Anibaba:

Thank you so much. If you’d like to share any comments on this episode, or any episode of ClientSide, then find us at Fox.agency. If you’d like to appear on the show, please email Milly@Fox.agency.

Nathan Anibaba:

The people that make this show possible are Milly Bell, our Booker/Researcher, Paul Blanford is our Creative Director, Ben Fox is the Executive Producer. I’m Nathan Anibaba, you’ve been listening to ClientSide from Fox Agency.

Speaker 1:

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