In manufacturing, efficiency is at the top of everyone’s priority list. A production bottleneck or a labor shortage can slow everything down, and that costs money.
For companies that produce carton boxes for your products — and pretty much everything comes in boxes these days — an ever-present challenge is getting these boxes printed, assembled, and shipped as quickly as possible.
That’s why companies turn to IMPACK, a Canadian firm that’s become a world leader in packing equipment. From its Montreal-area facility, IMPACK builds and ships folder-gluer peripheral machines that speed up the packing in hundreds of factories in 27 countries around the world.
For years, IMPACK grew without any real marketing. Everything was referrals, tradeshow inquiries, and partnerships. But in 2019, the business dissolved its partnership with a major player in an adjacent industry. It was ready to grow on its own.
But there would be challenges. For one thing, its buyers came from a variety of industries and spoke dozens of different languages.
For IMPACK to grow its digital footprint and its market share, it would need to market in a way that built trust with potential buyers.
“When we decided to become 100% independent of any other brand in our industry, we had to find a way to market our products our own way,” says Stefan Badertscher, director of revenue, looking back. “Something that fit our values and culture.”
So, they decided to partner with IMPACT — and work with coach Will Schultz — whose approach focused on trust-building content instead of slick marketing gimmicks.
Working together felt like a no-brainer. IMPACT’s education-is-the-new-marketing approach resonated with the IMPACK team.
Mathieu Tremblay, deputy general manager, reflects: “We didn’t need an internal cultural change to adapt to IMPACT’s approach, we were already doing business according to the same general principles.”
It wasn’t just IMPACT’s marketing outlook that was different. The IMPACT staff talked about something other agencies didn’t: Autonomy.
Instead of ongoing contracts and outsourced assets, IMPACT had a different approach: An 18-month training and coaching regiment that would give the IMPACK team everything they needed to run a successful marketing program themselves.
IMPACT wasn’t going to do IMPACK’s marketing — it was going to train IMPACK to market itself.
IMPACK would build an internal team, and IMPACT would provide coaching and training to help them avoid common problems and shorten their runway to success.
Then, after 18 months, IMPACK would ‘graduate’ and never need to rely on a marketing agency in the future.
For an efficiency-minded company, the approach was a perfect fit.
But it wasn’t just about being efficient.
IMPACK knew how important authenticity was in its industry. Content that almost sounded right wasn’t going to cut it. An internal marketing team would be able to craft the message perfectly — without being held back by a limited number of revisions stipulated in a contract.
With a clear idea of exactly what to expect, the IMPACK team was ready.
As the world was hunkered down during the pandemic, IMPACK and IMPACT were ready to take off together.
IMPACK’s sales process has always been customer-focused. When you’re selling half-million-dollar machines, you want your buyers to have every bit of information they need.
IMPACT’s first recommendation was simple: Start with sales enablement. Give your sales team the materials they need to do their job even better. After all, the true goal of marketing is customer education.
The problem was that IMPACK had never hired an internal marketer before. Not a single one.
In fact, it’s often better that way, says Will. As an experienced coach, Will reports that his favorite clients are the ones that don’t have any marketing team in place before working with IMPACT. He says new teams “don’t have any bad habits or fractured relationships we need to repair.” Instead, they can get right to work.
First up, Will and his colleagues helped IMPACK find and hire a new content manager. Soon after, they hired a HubSpot specialist and a videographer.
With IMPACT’s training, this team quickly got up to speed, producing straightforward content geared to customers already in the sales process. If a piece of content could answer a buyer question or address a concern, then a sale would be more likely.
“That was the focus of our first three months together,” remembers Will, “teaching the team how to use content in the sales process.”
Soon, they had a library of content the sales team could use with customers, which helped buyers move more smoothly toward a purchase.
Things started happening.
Sales that used to take up to a year to close began closing faster. The IMPACK team was building momentum.
And they were just getting started.
Once the sales reps were well-stocked with resources, the team turned its attention to building a digital footprint.
This meant optimizing its website for visitors asking the same questions IMPACK’s buyers were.
They ramped up content production focused on industry keywords. As they did, organic traffic started climbing. The IMPACK website went from just a handful of views each month to more than 500. Then more than 1,000. Then more than 2,000.
These numbers were great to see, but would they turn into sales?
Would content marketing work in this kind of B2B niche? Or, to put it another way, were factory owners looking to purchase six-figure machines really going to start off with a Google search?
As the numbers went up, the IMPACK team waited to see if the people reading this content were actually going to become customers.
The answer came from Romania, of all places. After a few months of steady traffic growth, a qualified lead came in from Romania — a place IMPACK had never done any business. He had found the site when looking for information about improving packing efficiency. Stefan remembers that “he had read over 60 pages of the site in a few days, so he came to us very well informed about what we sold.”
The leads kept coming, representing a bigger and bigger slice of IMPACK’s business. By the time they wrapped up their training with IMPACT, this niche B2B manufacturer could trace about 10% of its business to organic traffic — all from 18 months of work.
And these are not unqualified junk leads. In fact, quite the opposite. Organic leads typically enter the sales process after having read dozens of pages on the IMPACK site. They’ve watched videos and read guidebooks. When they reach out, they’re ready to buy. IMPACK’s sales process often takes months, but inbound leads tend to close in a matter of weeks, according to Stefan.
For a company focused on efficiency, this is a huge win.
As one team member put it, “we didn’t think it would grow this fast.”
As the IMPACK team looks back on its success these past few years, they’re struck by something unexpected: Working with IMPACT provided a lot more than just marketing support.
Sure, IMPACK’s built a sizable digital presence — all with an internal team.
Sure, IMPACK has doubled its revenue in two years, nearing CA$10 million for 2022.
And sure, IMPACK no longer has to pay an agency for its marketing assets.
But there’s more to it. Things that don’t make the balance sheet: Far-flung sales reps are using a shared library of resources to educate prospects.
This means a more consistent buying experience. New employees are able to read through IMPACK’s content library to get up to speed in record time, speeding up onboarding and instilling company culture.
The business is all aligned; everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Today, IMPACK has a new problem: They can’t produce machines fast enough. “Our challenge,” says Mathieu, “is building more machines. We need space to build them, we need people to build them.”
With IMPACT’s guidance, they’ve laid the foundation for an exciting future.
“What we’ve done so far,” he continues, “is just scratching the surface. What I see in these next 18 to 24 months is exponential growth in our markets."