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Welcome to Renegade Thinkers Unite

May 18, 2018

It’s easy for B2B marketing to skew factual and dry, and it often forgets that on the receiving end of messaging and marketing, there are actual humans with senses of humor and personalities. Alex Reed, Global Marketing Director for Big Ass Fans, knows this well, and has used it to craft funny, innovative B2B marketing and branding that connects with his audience on an emotional level.

In this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Alex and Drew discuss the importance of using humor in marketing, share inventive ways to connect with customers, and examine why being relatable, funny, and approachable is extremely important, even if you’re an industrial-size fan manufacturing company.

This conversation is loaded with helpful insights into creative marketing, click here to listen now!

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What You’ll Learn

Customer Listening Drove Big Ass Fans to Get Creative

Alex shared a story of how the name went from the lackluster “HVLS Fan Company” to “Big Ass Fans”. There was no big secret to the company’s a-ha moment, they simply listened to customers who would call and ask “are you the guys that sell those big-ass fans?”. It was an early lesson for the company: pay attention to what your customers are saying and adjust to fit what they’re looking for can have massive payoffs. Alex also stresses that, in making these creative decisions, it’s important to run everything by his team; if he’s making a joke, it can’t be too uptight otherwise it won’t be funny, and it can’t be too crass otherwise it’ll be poorly received.

How Big Ass Fans Connects with Customers

Humor and creativity need to be ingrained in the company culture; a funny company name can only take a brand so far. “Big Ass Fans” can get a prospect’s attention, but there’s plenty more hard work that goes into landing a sale. Alex Reed and the marketing team committed to taking traditional outreach efforts and twisting them to deliver messages in a way that sets them apart. Rather than physical mailers, they produced a quarterly magazine that avoids being a catalogue and focuses on human interest pieces related to company employees or industries they service. The company used this to build up the ‘Big Ass Fan Club’ from the subscriptions, and now have a robust infrastructure for maintaining positive relationships with the customer base.

The Primary Goal for All Marketers

In reflecting on the lessons he’s learned as CMO of Big Ass Fans as a brand, Alex’s first piece of advice was that a marketer’s number one job is to stand out. Big Ass Fans delivers humor, and shares their company culture with the world, but Alex notes that there are plenty of ways to connect with your audience emotionally, you just have to find them. For more in-depth discussions surrounding marketing and Big Ass Fans, listen to the full episode.

Timeline 

  • [1:17] Drew ponders the use of humor in B2B marketing and introduces Alex as his guest for this episode
  • [4:00] Why Alex uses humor in his communication strategy
  • [8:08] Big Ass Fan’s innovative way of connecting with their customers
  • [15:20] The Big Ass ways of acquiring customers
  • [20:16] Using traditional media in nontraditional ways to connect with customers
  • [27:36] The role humor plays in acquiring customers and hiring top talent
  • [30:32] Alex shares his best lessons for marketing

Connect With Alex:

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Drew

Meet the Guest

With nearly a decade at the company, Alex Reed is one of Big Ass Fans’ longest-serving employees.

As chief marketing officer, he has devised strategies that have yielded a commanding brand recognition in the commercial space. His innovative approach has seen the number of new customers increase nearly 40 percent annually over the past five years. At the same time, customer loyalty has become so strong that repeat business accounts for around half of all orders, and the company’s net promoter score ranks three times higher than the manufacturing industry average.

The world has taken notice, too, as Alex’s public relations strategy has piqued the curiosity of every major media outlet with coverage that included a front-page article in The New York Times.

Beyond marketing, Alex consistently pushes the company’s evolution and oversaw its expansion beyond a B2B strategy to business-to-consumer with the 2012 debut of Haiku, the first Big Ass Fan for homes.

Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in integrated strategic communications from the University of Kentucky and has submitted two patent applications for smart ceiling fan technology.

Quotes from Alex Reed

  • Listen to your customers. Take risks, but first and foremost, do what's right for the customer.
  • Everybody should understand what role each touch point plays in the customer journey and come up with a metric that makes sense. For us we were looking at all things as equal. It was a misunderstanding of what role these touch points played as the customer moved along the journey from awareness to consideration to conversion and ultimately retention.
  • The number one job of marketing is to stand out. Humor is a great way to do that. We all like to laugh, we all love a good joke. It's not the only way to connect with your customers on a more emotional level, but you've got to find a way to stand out.