A HEART FOR STEEL
Interview with Carsten Stodt
SUCCESS THROUGH PASSION
Shoulder to shoulder with SMEs
Carsten Stodt is the Creative Director as well as founder and Managing Director of the agency. In the interview, he talks about what his passion for engineering means to him, what makes stodt an ideal partner particularly for small and mid-sized engineering enterprises and how your company just might benefit from working with stodt.
A passion for engineering – how did it start and how does it show?
Our first contact with a German global market leader in the engineering sector, a company producing highly complex products that were sold around the world, came about in the mid 1990s. At that time, engineering was a completely unattractive field for agencies. Nobody wanted to explain complex machines but preferred to advertise luxury cars or trendy drinks. But as it turns out, the sector was not at all “unsexy” for us. Particularly with regard to communication, engineering poses entirely new challenges in terms of explaining facts.
A piece of iron or steel is honest. And a piece of communication can be just as honest. This was and still is interesting for us because it is about down-to-earth communication that has to explain complex subjects correctly and yet make them easy to understand and – not to be forgotten – present them attractively and appropriately for the target group.
What are the challenges in creating communication for engineering enterprises?
In particular for the DACH region, this is how I see it: there comes a point when labels like “Made in Germany”, “Made in Austria” or “Made in Switzerland” are no longer enough to explain higher prices. Why shouldn’t I buy the cheap but lesser-quality machine from, for instance, the Far East? Once a customer has made such an investment, they are lost for many years. The company can’t simply say “I’ll just return the machine” but has to live with it for many years. This is why it is especially important for manufacturers of high-quality machines with corresponding price tags to practice good marketing. The added value and quality have to be communicated.
What makes stodt an expert when it comes to marketing for the engineering sector?
We know that our customers’ customers cannot be convinced with marketing frills. These customers make huge investments and depend on recovering those costs. So we have to work with real economic and technological arguments and content. Using a nice picture and bright colours is not enough. We need content and smart communication solutions. And this is what we are good at: we have developed a strong instinct for what is going to work on the other end and what isn’t.
“Our strengths lie in strategy and consulting. And that’s what ultimately has lasting impact.”
What exactly can stodt do for engineering enterprises?
Our strengths lie in strategy and consulting. And that’s what ultimately has lasting impact. What makes stodt unique is that, thanks to our many years of experience, we understand from the first analysis what the challenges or problems are. This allows us to create communication strategies together with our customers, and not just for their local business but for global markets as well. But of course, experience isn’t everything. We can’t work the way we did 30 years ago. We continue to be flexible and are familiar with the changes happening in the markets. Also, when it comes to new technologies like virtual or mixed reality, we are always among the first to research and probe new possibilities.
What is important when working with the engineering sector?
One very important aspect is close and trusting cooperation. We have to find out what a company’s strategic goals are. Which market are they focusing on, are they planning to expand, what technologies and competitors are there? “We need a brochure” is not a goal. A goal definition has to be something like: “we want to have the image of a technology leader in the XY sector.” And that can be achieved in months and even years. Talking in terms of years often frightens customers, but it really does take years of working toward such a goal together.
Why is it so important to stodt that customers achieve their goals?
Achieving goals and making customers more successful is important to us because, after all, we have to pay our bills too. Only when our customers are successful can they afford to finance us. So it’s really not a bad thing that we have customers who have worked with us for more than 20 years. There is a reason for that. And what might that reason be? That we are the cheapest? Hardly. It’s much more likely that we worked well together throughout all those years and achieved goals together. This kind of trusting foundation is extremely valuable to us.
What is it that makes stodt so attractive particularly for mid-sized engineering companies?
Our advantage is that we can work on that scale as a lead agency. We can not only provide comprehensive advice but go beyond that and also create the corresponding solutions. That is a huge advantage as it saves companies from having to go agency-hopping. Everything comes from one editorial team and one production team. And the whole thing can be multiplied directly via various channels. Customers can hire us to create a printed brochure and a film or complete website relaunch at the same time.
We act much like an architect for SMEs. It is much more pleasant to have one contact when you build a house. One competent person who plans everything and keeps everything on track. It is not expedient to tell your roofer, mason and electrician separately what they are supposed to do. And if you don’t have a good cooperative relationship with the architect, the house won’t be any good. It’s the same with stodt. Figuratively, we are that architect for mid-sized engineering companies – and at the same time we are also experienced craftsmen.