Alex Meade
By Alex Meade on August 25, 2020
21 minute read

Building Relationships in a Global Marketplace

Alex Meade, VP of Sales and Marketing at Beacons Point, sits down with Terry Arbaugh, the VP of Sales and Marketing at SEACOMP, to discuss how Terry and his team built a global sales organization and how content marketing fueled growth.


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Episode Show Notes

Terry has 20 years of experience in sales and marketing. Terry has helped organizations build and implement sales techniques to drive annual growth. Terry helps their partners deliver on their missions through accelerated hardware product development and electronics manufacturing. He is passionate about supporting innovations that improve the world we live in- whether from established global companies or crowdfunded startups.

Check out Terry's 2 Minutes 2 Launch video series.

Alex began his career in film and TV as a Producer and Associate Producer for Original Productions. During his time, he worked on several of the company’s most popular programs including Discovery Channel’s show “Deadliest Catch.” After hauling his fair share of Alaskan crab home from filming, he spent time working as the Lead A/V Editor and Assistant Producer for advertising heavyweight TBWA\Chiat\Day. There he was responsible for overseeing content and creative portions of campaigns for the likes of Nissan, Gatorade, Pepsi, and more. When Alex is not working on client work, he’s serving as the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce and hanging out with his wife, Mary Beth, and dog, Hank.




Alex Meade 0:01
Welcome to the campfire chats this week we have a special guest, it's Terry Arbaugh. He is the VP of Sales and Marketing at SEACOMP. Terry. Welcome. Thanks, Alex.

So, so I've known you for a couple years, but maybe give everybody a little intro what SEACOMP does and your role there? Sure.

Terry Arbaugh 0:23
Yeah. So we, our core purpose we say is to help innovators deliver awesome. And we do that by designing and manufacturing electronic products, primarily industrial and medical devices, but we manufacturer some consumer products as well. We've got a design engineering team here in San Diego in Carlsbad. So that does a hardware and embedded software, electronics design. We have the Hong Kong office and we own our own factory in mainland China. That's where we do all of our production. So that's who we are. You guys, you guys have a little touch coming

conversations and relationships all over the world that sounds like, yeah, we absolutely do. So, of course, I'm here in the US. And we've got a full team here in the US supporting us and actually, North and South American customers. And then we've got two sales guys located in Europe, one based in London, one based in Hamburg, Germany, then, of course, the Hong Kong crew and the mainland China crew. But yeah, we we manage, and interact with customers all over the world doing all kinds of very different cool products. Yeah. And something just, you know, getting to know you the last couple years, has always kind of struck me is

you know, so we deal most of our customers are all US based. They might have somebody who works in Canada or like reaches into Canada, but it's really, it's really never leaving kind of the continental United States. But you guys, you know, you're you're managing relationships both internally and externally. With you know, you've got your office in Carlsbad down the street from us, then you've got your, you know, a lot of executives

Alex Meade 2:00
Hong Kong, you got a factory in China, you've got people in Europe doing sales? Like how do you how to use kind of the VP of sales and marketing

approach like those conversations and those

kind of relationships?

Terry Arbaugh 2:16
Yeah, it's interesting how, you know, we have a, I'll give you one example, our management team consists there, six of us, and it consists of two of us here in California, one in London, and three in Hong Kong. And we get together every week. So it's usually either a Monday night 9pm to 11pm here, or 6am to 8am here, which makes it either let's see 5am in London, for like two in the afternoon in London for him, or, you know, kind of midday in Hong Kong or late night in Hong Kong. So everybody has to kind of take the, the graveyard shift to be ready for some of those calls. So we try to make sure at least the management team is communicating and that's one

set of relationships we have to manage. Obviously, we're dealing with our customers.

Myself and my team manage primarily the Americas customers. The European guys are more in the timezone where they're handling most of the European group. And our salesperson that's based in Hamburg, Germany is local, native German. So you know, he's dealing in real time in the same language with those customers. But then we also have to manage internal relationships. So right, but as you might imagine, with a lot of companies, the sales and project management teams who are directly interfacing with the customers get a lot of demands put on us, and then we in turn, have to communicate those demands to our China team.

And the sales people sometimes do we get a little, you know, a little aggressive with with the demands and, you know, we're putting a lot on our team to deliver and help execute for our customers. And so, pre COVID days, we'd go to China two or three times a year, and it really helps to sit down and have a meal.

Sit down with meetings face to face or go have a beer. And really make sure that everybody, whether that's internal team, its customers, if it's sales guys, or executives or anything else, any members of our staff the logistics team to right, you want to make sure you're sitting with them face to face and really tell them how much you appreciate what they're doing, how hard they're working, we know that some sometimes be a little tough on you.

But you know, really want to just sit down face to face, like I said, and share beer and and show them that appreciation. But yeah, we're constantly managing relationships kind of in every direction. and culturally to it adds that kind of unique flavor to it as well. Right? Because Americans are, are known not to be so shy. Sometimes we can, we can be a little, you know, a little strong. And so when you can sit there face to face and really share that moment with them. It's really valuable.

Alex Meade 4:49
When you go overseas, or like you go to like Europe or China do do they think all Americans drink Budweiser like Do they think oh, Terry, the Americans here we got to give him a hand. hamburger and a Budweiser.

Terry Arbaugh 5:04
Yeah, I think that is not an uncommon thing. I actually I lived in Japan even way back before then. And where I lived in Japan, I taught English and I was out kind of in the countryside, and you'd get a lot of questions like, Oh, do you have a horse?

Like you, like Americans ride horses, right? Or, like literally, everybody has a gun.

Right? That's what they see on TV. They say, Oh, yeah, how many guns? Yeah, it's like, I literally don't have any. But But yeah, there is some there's some funny misperceptions. And then we've gotten taken to, you know, because you're, you're the foreigner, they don't want to just feed you, you know, the McDonald's or the hamburger. They want to take you to the local, you know, the local cuisine and get the local delicacies. You know, some of the food is just absolutely amazing and incredible, but then there's, you know, certain things that you go, Oh, right, like, yeah, rather, I'd rather not eat that, but I'm going to at least try it out of respect.

You know, for what they're doing the hospitality they're showing. So, yeah, yeah. So I want to I want to jump into your, into your marketing and, and something I've seen you do lately that I want to kind of ask about.

Alex Meade 6:13
And so obviously, I think we both know the value of high value, high quality, impactful, engaging content, not just yeah, posting up just anything. And you've been, you know, each week, I think, doing the two minutes to lunch. And you know, when you watch them and I'm gonna, I'll put a link hopefully somewhere wherever this gets posted to one of those but talk about those because they look, they look high quality, they look well thought out. And once you told me how you make them, I was like, great job you like you did a You did a good job pulling the other resources. So tell me like the thought process behind wanting to create those. Yeah.

Terry Arbaugh 6:54
And thanks for the kind words by the way. Yeah, we get it.

You know, we're in, we're in a technical field, right? So we have component divisions to our business. And so we're interacting with a lot of engineers. And then with doing full contract manufacturing, you know, we're really tackling really big complex, you know, technical projects, and we get a lot of the same questions over and over, right? So, you know, whatever you're making whatever the device is, if it's industrial, medical, or anything else, a lot of the steps are still the same, you know, right. They're still electronics, they're still plastics, there's packaging and certifications you have to go through. So, you know, we're answering a lot of the same questions. And way back in the day, we created a technical forum on our display tech website. So we have kind of a lot where, where those same repeated questions get answered, we post a lot of technical information. So that was kind of the thought of, hey, let me take a minute to try to answer some of the questions that we get very commonly in in a forum that we could just share them and kind of bite sized nuggets and I think I was telling you this, just knowing myself and how much I like to talk

I challenged myself to limit the length of these. And if you call it two minutes to launch, you better be at least pretty cognizant of how much time you're spending. So that's that was kind of the Genesis there. So answering some common questions we get in a, in a unique sort of way. And yeah, that's how I did it. I just do it right here in this home office during COVID.

You know, playroom is right over here off screen

that I'm splitting with my kids. Yeah, just setting up a setting up a camera and a laptop and trying to use my phone to go through slides. You know, kind of it's a it's a one man production and hopefully I hide you know, I had the sausage making pretty well, your videos. No, it's it's it's great in you know, you've been doing it for a couple weeks now. Probably probably two months now. I mean, like even a couple months. Yeah, a little bit. Now.

Alex Meade 8:54
Do you have you had, what some of the reactions you've gotten from those? I mean, obviously you have a very You know, particular customer, and people aren't just like googling every day.

You know, I need displays, you know, like so. So you're you're probably, you know, when you start a relationship, it probably is take six to 12 months before any kind of deal goes into play. So I'm curious to know, you know, from a content marketer, I know that an educated buyer will be more engaged, and they will the, the sales cycle will shorten because they're, they're more educated What's going on? And I see these is part of part of that process is educating your current, you know, prospects, people in your pipeline. So I'm curious to know, who like what kind of reaction you get in from From who?

Yeah, it's great question. Like I said, we, we, our entry point with most of our conversations is, is technical, right? We're dealing with a lot of engineers at startups or even at really large companies, you know, big multi billion dollar multinational companies that are designing their next generation product, right? So it's always a, it's always a technical conversation, I guess that's how we get started. And so what we did with our original websites with all the divisional websites is try to make it for an engineer to be able to help themselves. You go to the web, the front homepage, you know, and within two clicks, you're on the product page. And on that page, you have every bit of technical information you would want about that product, right? You could get data sheets and drawings, you can get a link to the forum, you can get a quote, you know, you can link to our distributors to buy a sample, like everything's available in one in one spot, right? So we try to make it easy to self serve. Yeah, the two the two minutes to launch is really focused more on not the component level, that technical level, but really the big manufacturing process. And it's kind of the same concept as I just described with with the technical components stuff, but geared more at you know, directors of supply chain

Terry Arbaugh 11:00
Or, you know, the the bigger operations type folks that are making the decisions about who their manufacturing partner is going to be. They're not as concerned about, you know, what voltage does it take to drive a 3.5 inch display? Right? They're more concerned about how are you guys gonna manage, you know, any of our supply chain risks? or How can you help with, you know, logistics once you've manufactured the device? You know, there's a lot of really big higher level topics that we come across pretty commonly. And I wanted to gear it that at that customer, yeah. As opposed to the more engineer who's actually designing the product. So that's, that was kind of the concept and we've gotten some really, really good feedback. Like you said, it's an inbound marketing thing. It's, it's something that is a brand new initiative and during these COVID days, and it's not like we're getting, you know, thousands or 10s of thousands of us, and that wasn't the intent. The intent was

Just like kind of the rest of all of our content is, let's make it really valuable and easy to find. And so when we do tell somebody about us, and they come and check us out that they have really easy access to a lot of really valuable content, that's the idea.

Alex Meade 12:15
Yeah, you're, you're reducing the friction that they're experiencing. When when trying to decide who they're going to go with for some sort of contract manufacturer or components, you know, whatever they're coming in for, and by route by, like removing that friction of what's your supply, like, how do you handle supply chain? How do you handle what's your lead times? How do you handle it? You know, all these questions you're answering. It's really questions that that will come up in, you know, like what we would call consideration or like decision stage that you're helping answer before they get there. So when they get there, they already know what to expect. They already know how you do a lot of these things and you've kind of given them that that ammunition like that information so they can make the most informed decision.

Hopefully it saves time on your sales process. So you don't have to go through and answer all these questions. I'm sure you do. Yeah. But, you know, the idea is educate them, you know, reduce friction to buy into purchase, which will then increase the force of your marketing machine, and, you know, spin out more and more valued, you know, leads?

Terry Arbaugh 13:23
Yeah, absolutely. And it's not like, hey, if you want to know how much you know how long it takes to build a product, just give us your email address. And I'll tell you, right, we're not you know, we're not putting it behind anything, either. It's just here lets me share some valuable information. Again, going back to our core purpose, we say helping innovators deliver awesome, and it's not. There's no caveat after that, that says Like, but only if we can make a buck or right. But, but only if there's something in it for us, but only if the margins are right. It's right. Yeah. So that was the that was kind of part of the impetus was, you know, hey, let's, if we can Help, let's help. And we talked to, we can't take on every project. And we've dealt with a number of Kickstarter companies, for example, like early stage startups that just got some money. And we've, we've tried to help them through the process. And sometimes those guys would do much better to use somebody local. Right? So if they're here in the States, or if they're in Europe, and they're using somebody right down the street, a lot of times face to face collaboration, you know, being able to 3d print some parts and looking at them in real time. can speed things up? Yeah. For their development process. So at that stage, we might not be the best partner. Yeah. But they're still going to need to know the things that that we know. Right. And I think part of the challenge with big complex contract manufacturing, you know, we might be in certain cases buying, you know, 500 different components that all have to go in, in a very, very precise way to make a product work. Right. So it's a very complex Yeah, very complex thing.

So we can't take on everybody. Right? The the big value that we have is we know a lot of the things that our customers don't know that they don't know yet. Yeah. Right. And so that's kind of the drive behind the two minutes to launch to is just trying to share some stuff that they might not have even thought about asking yet. Oh, yeah. I should be thinking about that. You need to think about that. Right?

Alex Meade 15:25
Yeah. Yeah, it's that it's that I don't know what I don't know. mantra. Like, I didn't know that I need automated emails as part of my marketing campaign. Like, I didn't know. You know, all those things. I'm sure you could go. You could go extremely deep in all like that. All that marketing stuff where, you know, there's a bunch of customers that don't have that depth of knowledge and just go, Hey, we need a website. We need to do some Google ads. I think that's it, right? Yep. Yep, we're done. Right. That's marketing. Yeah. Digital Marketing.

Right. Something you said.

I want to jump I want to turn, I want to change topics a little bit you mentioned, you know, the two minutes to lunch is definitely a technical video content. And you're speaking to the technical engineer. And you know, we would call that kind of your bio, one of your buyer personas is some sort of technical person who's thinking about how does this connect to this? How does this work? What are the what are the specifications? And then typically, in in engineering or manufacturing, it's often then a procurement or purchasing person who is actually taking the orders and and like negotiating the price and they're like $1 $1 and cents minded engineers are I need this to work I needed to be optimal. I needed to last and then you've got people that are like, no, what's how much this cost? No, it's too much and right. So how do you guys how do you guys navigate? Did you kind of essentially have two buyer personas that you kind of target me with different content cuz those are different challenges.

So curious how you guys handle? And if you do or if it's just purely engineering says we're buying this and they just say okay.

Terry Arbaugh 17:08
It's it's a, it's an interesting question and one of the big challenges we have in our industry because of the components that we sell on the component side, when you're talking a power supply, for example, you know, somebody has a company or a group of engineers have designed a product and they need a charger for it. They generally know exactly what they need, they're going to compare specs, they're going to compare, if it's certified globally, and they're gonna compare costs, they're gonna get some samples and do some testing. And you know, so that person that persona is, it's no nonsense. It's very black and bright, right? It's either you have it or you don't meet our requirements, or it doesn't meet our cost targets or it doesn't. Right, the engineers don't care as much about cost. Although they are the first line of defense and making sure they're not, they're not designing something in for 10 bucks, that should be three. Right? Right. But so we have to have the technical, it has to meet the specs and we have to be able to speak to that very directly. That's very clear. On the manufacturing side, we have a few different entry points. And you mentioned a couple of them, you know, a purchasing person.

For example, their company might already be using a contract manufacturer for a product and they're looking for a cost reduction, or they're looking to set up an alternate or a second supplier for risk mitigation.

Or they're having, you know, quality issues or whatever it is. So, we'll have we'll have those opportunities where we're trying to solve specific pain points.

You know, so we have to deal with that persona. Sometimes we get just from the CEO level.

You know, they they tell their business like, Hey, we're gonna go with these guys. Right? Hey, I've seen I know, like, you know, they might know our CEO or, or they might have gotten a reference from one of our customers and they say, hey, team, downstream engineering, purchasing supply chain, everybody else. Hey, work with SEACOMP. Because

Those are guys. So there's, we have multiple buyer personas, and we have multiple entry points into different projects. And we always have to have conversations and be really strategic about, okay, how do we approach this one? Right? Just because we're doing kind of a similar thing and making electronics, every single case is unique. And yeah, you certainly have to account for that. Yeah.

Alex Meade 19:24
Yeah. So that's I mean, that's, we see that often with with industrial manufacturing, I mean, it seems like you guys have a good process of

Get, get the engineers in the door. And through a process, you know, that you don't have to you don't have to go into but through a process you guys have kind of developed, you make it really compelling for the purchasing team to say, let's see it through with you.

Tell me like when, when did that revelation happen? And like how did that change kind of Because ultimately, you're you're you're using

Do you still have that other persona, but you're kind of taking that buyer that that purchasing persona almost out of the picture? Because you've made it so easy for them to just stay with you through the whole process? Right?

Terry Arbaugh 20:11
I wouldn't say we're taking them out of the picture, we certainly have to bring them in and make sure that whatever, whatever things we're working on with their engineering team, where their supply chain team is going to result in a competitively priced product. Right, so that, you know, we definitely have to keep the purchasing group, you know, involved. How we got there was honestly our own trial and error. Our CEO is American. He lives in Hong Kong now and he moved there. Oh, my gosh, about eight years ago, that he moved. He moved to Hong Kong, which seems like it was just a minute ago. But at that time, we didn't own our own factory. So you know, we had, we had some partners that we used, and we have quality people in engineering and we have a lot of things, but we didn't

Our own factory at that at that time. And so dealing with a bunch of different manufacturers or component vendors or purchase, you know, material people or plastics, injection molders kind of dealing with all those different groups over and over for a long time and display Tech's been around for over 30 years, right. So we have this really long history of dealing with so many different companies, and just getting frustrated. Right. So the our entire business model currently is the result of

Wow, that felt Bob. How do we not how do we not do that? Right? Yeah. How do we not put our customers through weed through what we just went through? And that's, that's really, it's trial and error from our own our own experience, and when the opportunity came up for our owner to buy our own factory. It was just too good to pass up. Yeah, because that that really was the only way we were going to take it the final step of right we've got full

You know, control over our factory our people are planning. If something goes wrong, it's on us. Yeah, we can own it. And we can fix the mistake. And it's not Yeah, something came up. And now we're going to be six weeks late. And we didn't have any notice because the party downstream from us didn't tell us. Yeah, yeah. So that's the long answer to your question that's just trying to try and deliver a better experience to our customers than we've kind of stumbled our way through over the years.

Alex Meade 22:28
Yeah, that's great. I've one last question for you. I'm gonna put you on the spot a little bit. All right.

What would you tell your what would you tell Terry in five years? What would you tell yourself in five years? You right now tell Terry in five years. Future, Terry. Yeah.

Terry Arbaugh 22:48
Tell me about what I don't know. Are we gonna be out of quarantine by then?

That so don't ask. No. Yeah, that's that'd be first question. Like, are we still wearing masks?

Alex Meade 23:00

Terry Arbaugh 23:01
Oh my goodness, future Terry, I would probably just say

I mean, keep, keep doing what we're doing. You know, honestly, I think as a as an organization,

if we're leading with caring for people, and if we're leading with the relationships that we're building, externally with customers internally with our own team, I just don't feel you can go all that wrong, right? If you if you, like I said, if you care about what you're doing, and you do it with energy, and you do it with passion, things always happen. And I think we're doing a good job at that. I mean, there's obviously there's going to be always ways to improve and, you know, constantly look for what can we do better, you know, hey, we had this situation with a customer that, you know, came out, you know, sub optimal. What can we do better there? I think we do a really good job of trying to learn from those lessons and so, it's not a great answer for getting put on the spot. But you know, no, I think I'd say kind of stick stick to what we're doing because relationships and caring for people is what matters most.

Alex Meade 24:02
Now, I mean, I think that's, I think that's a great answer because it means you feel like you're on the right path. It's not like, you feel like you're you and the company are putting in the right, putting the effort in the right spots now, to have long term success. And I think that i think that's kind of the message there is, you know, be human, I think, I know, a lot of people are saying that now it's like, you know, with with COVID, we've all kind of been, we've drawn back in businesses getting back to like a virtual one on one, you know, that it had that, you know, cutting out away from, and we're all carrying a lot more. Yeah, at least the right people are. And I hope that's one thing that carries through is the empathy that people bring, because for so long, maybe you're just my dumb young self. If it's like a co worker when I was working in different jobs like had to leave early because their kid got sick. I was like, Oh, really like they get to leave. Really? Yeah, I'm a little more understanding on some of that stuff. But I think overall, people are way more understanding now than they they were even six months ago. Yeah, I would, I would agree in relation to that could happen.

Terry Arbaugh 25:14
Yeah, I would agree completely. And I, so I love it, you know, cuz I'm always, you know, always thought it's a people business, right? Yes, we might be talking to a buyer or an engineer or somebody who represents this massive company, but they're a person, they have their own goals. they own their own things they're passionate about, they have their own, you know, KPIs, their own careers that they're trying to advance into. So the more we can understand that human human, the better, you know, conversations you can have, the better relationships you can build and all that and to your point.

You know, I think we talked about this. You know, how many kids and dogs have made cameos and during important Zoom meetings, or anything else, and it really is just not a big deal. It's really humanizing. And it's

Actually, you know, pretty funny that you know, you'll be in the middle of some kind of really serious topic conversation and you know, somebody's dog is over their shoulder or, you know, somebody's kids run in and you're all Excuse me. Everybody's just cool with it. It feels like the level of like stress. Yeah. has come down where it is more it is more human. And I absolutely great. Yeah. I hope that does continue. Yeah, that's what that's what this is about. Right? Yeah.

Yeah. I mean, even on even on this, I went on mute once or twice, because I could I could hear a little guy wasn't wasn't happy about something that happened. But I like interrupting Terry, I'm just gonna go on mute real fast. But it's all I mean, you know, like you said, it's part of the, it's part of working from home and I think it's, I think it actually brings that human element back into it. And if it's not if it's not kids, like I was on a video call, and out of nowhere, you just heard the loudest cat meow. And like, read the people on the call. All like turn around because they thought it was there. Yes. Right. It was

Alex Meade 27:00
Like one person's got and it was like that is hilarious because you learn more about people and more than just work. And I think that's when we make real connections. Yeah, so absolutely. But yeah, appreciate your time. You know, we'll definitely have you back on. I think this was I think it was a good conversation and as, as everything changes, you know, there's always new conversations to be had, and you're gonna need updates on your two minutes to launch. I start seeing two minutes to launch that is 10 minutes long. Call me do call me out. I'll call you out. Call me out. We just we just launched a new one today. It just went live just a little while ago. So yeah, I appreciate that. Appreciate the shout out if you put a link in there, that'd be really cool. Yeah. All right. Well,

Published by Alex Meade August 25, 2020
Alex Meade