#17: How To Market Unique Products That Save Lives – Addie Ventris

On the seventeenth episode of the 1 to 10 podcast, we sat down with Addie Ventris, Marketing Director with Tactical Electronics.

Episode Overview

Marketing in a niche industry?

You may get to the office every day and think, “I’m the only person marketing in this entire industry. I’m a loner.” You probably think of all the interesting marketing campaigns other marketers are running, or maybe you watch TV commercials and think “If only that would work in my industry.”

Addie Ventris had every reason to feel the same way — In 2011, she became a marketing specialist for Tactical Electronics, which sells to a very niche industry: SWAT teams.

Their products help SWAT officers and other tactical law enforcement teams see into situations before approaching. (My favorite device: They have a K9 camera that goes on police dogs!)

In the next few years, she would be continually promoted, until she arrived at her current position as Marketing Director.

She found a way to market to her niche industry. (And she crushed it.)

She came on the 1 to 10 podcast to share what she’s learned:

Everyone’s a Consumer

When you market to a niche industry, it may be tempting to see your buyers as existential entities. But everything boils down to a person (or people) making a decision to buy a product or service. And, they need the same things most consumers need, such as visibility of your company, product and service. Plus, they must trust and like your brand.

Buyers are consumers, just like the rest of us, and all the classical ideas on marketing still apply.

Yes, your industry or company may have highly specific needs. Addie’s certainly does: A major concern is security. (SWAT teams don’t necessarily want all of their equipment and how-to manuals visible to the public.)

Every B2B industry has its own challenges, but most of the ideas she shared still apply:

Consider Your In-House Resources

Likely, the human assets within your own company will be a huge benefit when you decide to develop content.

Depending on your company size and accessibility of personnel, founders and product developers are a tremendous resource for marketers.

Many of these individuals come directly from the industry you’re marketing to. Ask them questions about what problems they had, major concerns, pain points, what platforms they consumed content on, etc.

Here’s how that played out for Addie: Many employees at Tactical are ex-military or ex-SWAT, so, she asked them for insider info whenever she created videos, ebooks, blogs, etc.

In a Pinch? Ask Sales.

Sales teams often understand the industry better than anyone — day in and day out, they hear praises, complaints, objections, hesitations, excitement — they know exactly what buyers are saying.

Ask sales what questions they’re hearing most often, what content will be most beneficial for demos, what would help improve callbacks, etc.

Creative Frequency

If your buyers are consumers, here’s 1 thing they will need, and need in heavy doses:

Creative frequency.

“People need to see us 3-7 times,” said Addie. Yes — it’s classical marketing philosophy, but for some reason, many of us forget this in B2B marketing.

Find where your buyers are hanging out. For Addie, she sees the most ROI in:

  • Trade shows
  • Catalogs
  • Emails
  • Blogs
  • Conference
  • Follow-ups from sales

But she doesn’t stop there. In fact, her secret weapon is an industry-specific creative approach:

She sends her teams on “roadies” where they visit substations with coffee and bagels, and hook up cameras to the officers so they can try them first-hand.

Feedback Is Your BFF:

Feedback is important in every industry.

In Addie’s, small changes to a product or increased product knowledge can literally save an officer’s life.

So, with every piece of feedback, she takes immediate action on feedback:

She has the privilege of walking straight over to an engineer whenever she hears feedback from a customer. If it’s something fixable, the change is implemented immediately.

This may not be possible in every industry, but her next step likely is:

If the issue isn’t the product, but rather product knowledge, she will create additional how-to videos or blog posts explaining how to use the product.

What’s the #1 Thing Someone Can Do to Grow their B2B Tech Company?

We ask every guest on our podcast if they have one grand piece of advice for any growing B2B tech company.

Here was Addie’s response:

Network with other marketing professions, even if they aren’t in your industry. “We tend to think ‘this won’t work in my industry,’ but I always find outside ideas from across industries that could work in ours.”

Thanks Addie!

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This post is based on an interview with Addie Ventris from Tactical Electronics.

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The 1 to 10 Podcast:

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