Marketing Tech Talk - Jim Scott of Elkay Manufacturing

In the latest episode of Marketing Tech Talk, Matthew Gonnering, Widen CEO sits down with Jim Scott. Jim worked for Elkay Manufacturing for 33 years before retiring. Elkay is an American-owned manufacturer of stainless steel sinks for residential and commercial use. Today, Elkay Plumbing Products delivers world class sinks, faucets, foodservice products, water coolers, drinking fountains and award winning rapid bottle filling stations. Jim’s position as product manager afforded him the ability to oversee more than just marketing operations for Elkay’s plumbing products, but make no mistake about it, he understands the power of marketing, he believes in it, and used it as not only as a tool, but as an overall philosophy to greatly increase sales over his presidency. We noticeably take a break from talking about the “technology” portion of martech in today’s episode, as Jim retired prior to the major boom in martech. But he brings us back home to the basics, including the 4 P’s of marketing. Sometimes you just have to go back a little bit before you look forward. Jim is a great one to learn from. 

At 3:30, Jim gives an overview of his career at Elkay. In his last 10 years, he became president of the plumbing products group and helped grow the business from $190 million to $400 million before his retirement in 2008. After retirement he continued to work in PR and advertising as a consultant, including working with Nielsen Expositions, currently Emerald Expositions, to get KBIS, the largest kitchen and bath trade show, back on track after the housing downturn in 2009.

At 8:54, Jim talks about how he looked for opportunities to change and grow the business. He did not want to maintain the status quo. He identified that “Designers” were the new influencers in the kitchen and bath industry, and Elkay was not talking to them. They were talking to wholesalers. Jim went back to Marketing 101 and adjusted the 4 P’s so Elkay could target these new influencers.

At 25:55, Matthew asks Jim what marketing’s role in this change over. Jim said Initially there was resistance because Elkay was doing “good.” Jim them quotes Jim Collins from his book Good to Great that “Being good is the enemy of being great.” They learned what marketing really was. All marketing starts with a great product…their job was to create great product and then tell the story. Marketing became less of a department, and more of a philosophy for everyone in the company. The entire organization became marketers.

At 36:08, Jim outlines how important it is that everyone in the organization was on the same page with understanding the marketing plan and the overarching marketing philosophy. Before they were on the same page, the manufacturing department didn’t know what they were planning when tooling would arrive and they had no idea what to do with it.

At 40:20, Jim outlines how they reorganized with more of a “product manager” focus, where product managers were responsible for understanding market opportunities. They later on switched to more of a market focus where people were assigned a market, and were responsible for understanding Elkay’s entire product line that applying the best products.

At 43:14, Jim focuses on two of the four P’s of marketing, the Product and Place, and outlines a four quadrant approach to supporting products and markets. Noting that new products in new markets also presented the most risk, Elkay focused their efforts on either taking existing products to new markets, or developing new products for their existing markets.

At 53:00, Matthew asks Jim about he aligned with the new influencers in their industry. Kitchen and bath designers became the big influencers for Elkay. They’re not the direct customer, but they significantly influence the homeowner or remodeler that would become the customer. Jim outlines many of the changes they made to their marketing materials to cater to the kitchen and bath designer vs their old catalogs that catered to wholesalers.

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