“If you’re looking to implement or grow a marketing organization, or even if your marketing team is not working, Chief Outsiders can accelerate your ability to get your marketing plan in place.” Ken Burns, Vice President, Commercial, GKN Additive (Forecast 3D)
A global leader in additive manufacturing, GKN Additive (Forecast 3D) provides enterprise-grade 3D printing and short-run production services. Acquired by GKN in 2020, company leadership sought to build a top-notch strategic marketing organization aligned with sales. Initially engaged for a 6-month fractional CMO and advisory role, Chief Outsiders CMO Dawn Werry transitioned to become a longer-term interim CMO to lead a successful pandemic pivot. As normal manufacturing returned, she rolled up her sleeves to fill organization gaps, implement enhanced strategy and metrics, increase leads and ROI, and build a rockstar marketing team.
3D Printing Firm Acquired
GKN Additive (Forecast 3D) is a 25-year-old . At the start of 2020, the company was acquired by the German firm, GKN. “With that happening, it was a real opportunity for us to focus on marketing,” related Ken Burns, Vice President, Commercial.
Previously, the company had tried a few ideas to boost marketing, including getting staff focused on the right things, hiring more people and then agencies to support them. “What we ended up with was a lot of marketing functions, but not a great plan to align it all,” continued Burns. “And our sales and marketing weren't operating together.”
Unmeasured Random Acts of Marketing
With a limited overall strategy, GKN Additive (Forecast 3D) were engaging in random acts of marketing and capped in their visibility on returns. Tradeshows were, at the time, the primary source of leads and, even before the pandemic, they knew it wasn’t a long-term strategy. The acquisition team agreed that they would benefit from a heightened focus toward improved marketing.
After identifying opportunities, Burns decided that what they needed was a real marketing expert. “And that's where we came across Chief Outsiders,” he related. “Their business model fit where we were—this fly in fly out organization that's with you as long as you need to help build up the things you want.”
When contacted, Chief Outsiders Area Managing Partner, Sharon Spooler, introduced GKN Additive (Forecast 3D) leadership to Fractional CMO, Dawn Werry. With deep experience in manufacturing, GKN Additive (Forecast 3D) initially engaged Werry for a 6-month role.
When the project began, Werry’s goal was to come in, assess, set up the marketing team, establish the strategy and plan, and get them started with execution. As a member of GKN Additive (Forecast 3D)'s leadership team, she met monthly with the organization’s top leaders to discuss strategy in addition to day-to-day interactions. She also met weekly with Burns and Founder, Donovan Weber.
“When we started with Dawn, we found three things that we were able to pivot to well,” reported Burns. “One, digital events; second, on-premise or on-site events, where we have been really successful and with much lower costs; and then the other piece was educational content.”
Lead Generation, Targeting and Content
GKN Additive (Forecast 3D) also tasked Werry with improving lead generation. “Immediately, we did a 30/60/90 and identified some specific quick-win changes,” she explained. “We analyzed the markets to make sure that they were targeting the right ones and the right types of customers.”
For the quick hit 30 days, the goal was to define the type of content they needed to drive the sales process and support the value proposition, and to do some targeted marketing to high value accounts.
Within a few weeks, Werry and company leaders decided to bring in a new marketing team. But because of the acquisition and the pandemic, they had to put a hold on hiring. While waiting to hire, they pivoted, transitioning an internal candidate to marketing coordinator and using several ad hoc suppliers to help them win.
The pandemic did not just change the hiring strategy. GKN Additive (Forecast 3D)’s order volume was impacted because manufacturing was shutting down.
“That's when we decided to pivot very quickly to be part of the solution,” stated Werry. “Rather than keeping with the original plan, we decided to focus on healthcare and how to manufacture important and critical products that were in high demand.”
By April, they stood up an eCommerce site and created a new healthcare division. Marketing materials and press releases promoted three categories of products: nasal swabs, mask accessories, and miscellaneous healthcare items.
“When you hire a Chief Outsiders CMO, you may expect it's like a consulting agreement where everything you outlined is going to go according to plan,” explained Werry. “That's not always the case, and that's okay. When the pandemic happened, we were able to adapt quickly and still get results.”
Back to Original Strategy
Once manufacturing started to return, Werry and Burns transitioned back to the original strategy of establishing the combined companies as the global leader in additive manufacturing.
Hiring over the next quarter, Werry focused on content marketing, webinars, lead generation from media partners, and virtual events to generate leads. She also put metrics in place to track leads, sales resulting from them, and marketing ROI.
Sales and marketing operated as one team with a lot of collaboration to make improvements. “The company founders, Donovan and Cory Weber, were incredibly passionate and love this industry,” stated Werry. “And they were willing to think differently and try new things.”
Pandemic Pivot Replaces Lost Sales
GKN Additive (Forecast 3D)’s pivot, led by Werry, replaced much of the revenue lost during the first months of the pandemic-driven shutdowns.
“We had to turn on a dime, be producing and selling something new,” reported Werry. “Within two months from when we decided to go into healthcare, we had FDA approval and had sold over $1 million in new products.”
26% YoY Lead Growth
Year over year, GKN Additive (Forecast 3D) experienced a 26% increase in new leads coming in. “I can tell you that it’s still growing each month,” related Burns. “The groundwork Dawn laid is continuing on, and with time, we'll see even more value.”
“Getting back to the primary focus, not only did we drive more leads, but we started getting more business from marketing,” added Werry. “In fact, GKN Additive (Forecast 3D)’s biggest new customer of the year came from marketing.”
Rockstar Marketing Team Assembled
Functioning as the Interim CMO for over a year, Werry helped GKN Additive (Forecast 3D) to not only determine what their marketing team should look like but to hire them as well. “We hired a content manager, a brand campaign manager, and then a director who replaced me,” she reported.
“Being very particular, we looked at hundreds of resumes. And because I could stay on and would do everything until they had the right people in place, it gave them the freedom to hire the right team. We have a rockstar team now.”
The campaign, website, sales, and ROI metrics Werry implemented also added accountability and direction to marketing. “We knew by the end of the engagement, what did and what didn't work,” she explained.
“Most importantly, we found that the #1 lead gen tactic, in person trade shows, really weren’t most effective. Chief Outsiders is metrics driven, and we could use that data to focus on the programs that really worked.”
Burns now knows how Chief Outsiders quickly makes a difference. “If you’re looking to implement or grow a marketing organization, or even if your marketing team is not working,” he concluded. “Chief Outsiders can accelerate your ability to get your marketing plan in place.”
“Within two months from when we decided to go into healthcare, we had FDA approval and had sold over $1 million in new products.”
“As we all know, time is money, and the market moves so fast. With Chief Outsiders, you’re not having to spend this lengthy time trying to build a plan. Dawn literally came in and day one was thrown into marketing. That was a great thing and I felt 100% confident.”