This week we’re joined by Bryan Gee, Director of Education and Training at the Tensar International Corporation. His is a new role there, and it was added – as we found out – for a good reason.

1. WHY TENSAR ADDED A DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION

For years, Tensar has invested extensively in R&D, as well as in data collection so as to quantify the ROI of their products. Over time, they noticed a key need in the world of their customers.

Tensar realized that their customers needed to better understand the pros and cons of the different products available in the marketplace.

Bryan’s job is to educate prospects on the benefits of Tensar’s name brand services, as compared to other “off brand” options. Their customers vary – their primary personas are distributors, but some are direct end users.

As we learned in last week’s episode with Tyson Ferraro, training distributors is particularly valuable because they have more marketing assets and can be a great help to Tensar – so Bryan has to be very careful while training them.

2. HOW EDUCATION RELATES TO MARKETING

While education and demos are usually better left to deeper portions of the sales funnel, marketing to engineers means getting a bit more in depth at the start.

Engineering minds naturally want to know more technical facts about how which products function best, rather than how much money they can save by choosing lower-priced ‘generic’ options.

When asked if he considers himself a marketer, Bryan points out that all content marketers are educators, and vice versa.

His is just one aspect of the marketing department, and his goal is the same: to differentiate their role in the market. Differentiation takes education, which is why Bryan is focused on training everyone – even Tensar’s own staff.

“A big part of what we have to do is teach the customer the performance differential, so they recognize knock-offs from the new products so they understand… what they’re giving up by taking the cheaper product.”

One challenge that Bryan faces is the emergence of contractors as more prominent customers in the market. That means that he needs to push some of his more in-depth training further down into the funnel rather than keeping it at the top.

He kept a lot of demos at the top of the funnel for a long time because “we’re a bunch of engineers talking to engineers.” But contractors are harder to find and they’re not as quick to dive into the mechanics of the products at first glance. They do tend to care more about pricing unless given more information about the quality of the service they’re considering.

Regardless of whether Bryans customer is an engineer or a contractor, the challenge of disrupting the market and getting their attention is the same.

“We learn as much as we can about what they’re working on, then we go in and… we try to teach them something new. We have to teach them something new.”

3. EDUCATION’S EFFECT ACROSS MULTIPLE TECHNIQUES

Tensor has experimented with a lot of marketing tools across the country, from face-to-face interactions and content marketing on their website to live seminars and broadcast webinars.

“We find that if we raise the level of technical knowledge in the marketplace, that benefits us because we’ve got the best solution.”

And as always, Bryan tries to avoid leading such conversations by gushing about his own company’s products or services. They focus on solving the challenges of their customers first and foremost.

Paying attention to customer needs is vital because just being synonymous with a product (Tensar is the name brand in geogrids and other site development solutions) isn’t enough anymore.

“Ultimately if we don’t teach [the customer] something new, then we don’t win.”

 

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