165. Hero – Wendy Covey, CEO And Co-Founder of Trew Marketing Transcript

00:00 Chris: 

We are very excited to have Wendy Covey join us for another episode of EECO Asks Why. She is an industry hero with a passion for marketing that is unmatched. And you’re going to hear that come through as she tells her story today.

 Speaking of stories, we’re still collecting those industry war stories. We’re looking for the good, the tough and the inspiring. Submissions can be sent as a DM on Instagram or Facebook and check out the link in the show notes. If you have any questions about the war story submission, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on our social media accounts. 

Now it’s time to get some insight into the life of an expert in marketing for engineering companies, cue the music.

Welcome to EECO Asks Why. Today we have a hero conversation and we’re very glad to have with us, Wendy Covey, who is the CEO and founder at Trew Marketing. So welcome Wendy. 

00:54 Wendy: 

Thank you. Happy to be here. 

00:55 Chris: 

How you doing today? 

00:57 Wendy: 

Hey, I’m doing great. It’s a beautiful day in Austin, Texas. 

01:00 Chris: 

It’s a beautiful day in North Carolina too. So I’m excited to do this and meet with you and it just, we love to get these conversations started just by hearing about your personal journey. 

01:10 Wendy: 

All right, where should we start? 

01:12 Chris: 

Wherever you want to go. I mean, you just, you let us, you drive this ship. 

01:18 Wendy: 

Okay. Well, I guess we’ll talk about my professional career. I’m a native Texan grew up here in various parts of this state. And my dad was a professor at Texas A and M and he was an Aggie himself. And so I felt it was going to betray the family if I didn’t attend his Alma mater. So I’m a proud Aggie that’s maybe good or bad depending on your listener. But when I graduated college, she was at a difficult time in the job market. I was a journalism major. It was the mid nineties and it was just a tough market. And, I was looking around for jobs and there was this company and it had kinda cool logo. And I didn’t know what they did, but I knew that my commute would be literally two minutes that they hired me.

And I found this ad in the newspaper. I will age myself. And it was an ad for an events coordinator. And I happened to do a lot of event stuff in college. I was the sorority rush chair and I did a big trade show for student organizations and I thought, wow, wait, someone’s going to pay me to plan events this is like too good to be true, like, right.

Excellent. So that company was National Instruments now known as, NI, and sure enough, I show up to work and yeah, I, you know, was hired to plan events, but it wasn’t quite the events I thought they were going to be. My first year I planned 60 north American trade shows. And then I was responsible for a user’s event called NI week. And there were 500 attendees that year. And my manager said, well, as you can tell, I’m pregnant, I’m about to be out on maternity leave. So it’s your event. Don’t worry. You got this. Like going to be great. So that’s what I was faced with my first year at NI.

03:17 Chris: 

And then that led you to, how did you get to Trew Marketing?

03:21 Wendy: 

Yeah so 12 years later and a few other positions under my belt I had reached a stage where. I was ready for a new challenge. I personally moved out to the country outside of Austin. So my commute went from being two minutes to an hour and a half. And there was a colleague of mine named Rebecca Guyer and she never very close and we would go for runs and happy hours.

And we had a lot of deep conversations about our careers and worked with system integration companies that were partners to national instruments, and we saw how much they struggled with their marketing. They couldn’t necessarily afford a full-time marketing strategist and a team of marketing doers and their websites, quite frankly, we’re atrocious sand we thought we can help them. We know all the different aspects of marketing. We know this target audience and we want to help them and help others too. And so we decided to take that brave leap and leave our cushy, corporate desk jobs and start the agency.

04:25 Chris: 

That’s awesome. That is awesome. And how long ago was that? 

04:29 Wendy: 

It’s been 13 years. 

04:30 Chris: 

Oh, okay. And you got your base there in Texas? 

04:34 Wendy: 

Based here in Texas. Yes. We’re a hundred percent virtual company always have been so when COVID hit, that was another day at work, in a way. So that was nice. And along the way, our agency has evolved. We didn’t always just work with companies in engineering. However we founded the company in 2008 and you may recall in 2009 was the great recession. And so that hit us early on. And that’s when we knew that. We don’t want to diverse client base. We want to really focus in on helping engineering and highly technical companies market to their discerning audiences. And that’s always just been a passion of ours, something we know really well. We’ve hired the right people that also were strong in this area. And I think it’s really set us apart and helped us to serve our customers in a very unique way, in a way that is just solidly informed by this experience. 

05:32 Chris: 

I love it. I love, I just love your passion and your mission and what you guys are doing there. That’s amazing, in some of the people that you’re serving those engineers were where do some of their challenges, what are you hearing from them? 

05:44 Wendy: 

Yeah, well, one of the challenges right now today is this change in the sales methodology. Sales engineers can’t get on a plane. They can’t press flesh with their customers. And this was a very popular style of sales in our industry and still is. And then you compound that with the inability to go to in-person trade shows. And so it’s really taken companies for loop, especially those who hadn’t leaned into digital marketing, that have bad websites that haven’t focused on content are really scrambling, but particularly on the sales side, having to learn how to have sales conversations in zoom, how to learn, how to master social selling. These are real struggles. And I see companies do really well at these and some that are still floundering. 

06:34 Chris: 

Yeah, definitely. Cause that whole experience, as you mentioned is it’s got turned upside down for sure. Yeah. Well, hats off to you for trying to help people bridge that gap. And how about the young listener that may be listening that wants to enter a field like you marketing, serving industry, what advice would you give them?

06:54 Wendy: 

Oh gosh. Great question. I’ve seen right now. So my kids are kind of at that age, they’re in their late teens, early twenties and they too, are setting out in their first jobs. And so my advice to them. Pair yourself with someone more experienced in learn by doing. And don’t be in a position where you’re isolated when you’re a young marketer. So one of the worst positions, I think for instance, would be to be a solo marketer at a technical company when you’re straight out of college, because you don’t know what you don’t know, you need some mentorship.

So that’s one and then two is we look for every single hire to have strong writing skills, because we know that if they do, we can have them not only be in charge of maybe an email marketing campaign or social media, but we can also have them write the content around those things and we can plug them into more places. Yeah. So that’s a really important skill to have as well. 

07:54 Chris: 

So I mean, how about that writing? Where would they pick that up? How did they get better if they want to be a better writer? Any tips? Because I’m sure you’re a fabulous writer, as we know from your book. 

08:05 Wendy: 

Thank you. Well, start a blog and offer to write things for instance my podcast producer on my podcast is also my son and he picked up the skills to do audio production and taught himself. And that’s great, but I’ve told him okay, for you to grow in your career. Now you need to be comfortable communicating as well. So, how about you write a blog about what it takes to produce a podcast, or how about you get in front of the camera and teach people and start to get comfortable and find your own voice and that’ll help him and other young listeners gain confidence, grow in their communication skills, and then imagine how easy that next job interview is when you have these examples of work and you’re used to communicating, 

08:50 Chris: 

Oh yeah. Those reps and those at bats, they’re so important. They really are. And you also mentioned from an advice standpoint, mentors and trying to find somebody to help you. When you look back across your career, does anybody stand out as a mentor that has helped you grow along your way? 

09:07 Wendy: 

Absolutely. So my first manager at NI was a woman named Heidi Baschnagel and she always had a very positive attitude and she was someone who would coach for success and give you as much responsibility as you wanted to take on. And as a young go getter, I just, I really thrived within that because I could go to her for advice, but she would step back and let me give me the space to fail forward. If I needed to give me a safe space to try things out. And it was just a very motivating person. And then on the personal side, she had a wonderful way of balancing family and work that I learned before I started my family.

And so it helped me create good boundaries, healthy boundaries around work-life balance that I’ve taken with me into Trew Marketing and made sure that I provide a workplace that, that gives this to my employees. 

10:08 Chris: 

No doubt. It sounds like she has a wonderful mentor and those boundaries are so important, particularly now with COVID and so many people are working from home. If you don’t have those boundaries established, it can be very difficult. Very cool that have that marketing and well, some people think marketing, they have this perception in their brain and it’s not always good. So if you could, can knock out or debunk something here, what would it be around marketing? 

10:32 Wendy: 

Yeah. Yeah. I’ll get these calls from people that, want to hire Trew Marketing and the conversation will go something like this. Hey, I don’t want to do all that stuff. I just want you to produce a list of names for my salespeople. And it doesn’t work like that right? There isn’t a silver bullet marketing is more complex than that.

And just as, there’s not any one metric to tell you if your marketing is being successful, there’s a host of metrics. You can’t boil it down to any, just one thing. So I was talking in the forward of my book. You’ll see a gentleman named JD Sherman and he was the former COO of hubspot. And, but it used to be a CFO in it at a semiconductor company. So he comes from our space and he thinks like an engineer and he said it best. He goes, think of marketing and content marketing, specifically like a manufacturing plant. Okay. When you start to build that manufacturing plant it isn’t productive and day one, right? You’re not making money. You have to lay the foundation, you have to buy the equipment.

And even when you start creating your widgets from that factory, those widgets are going to increase in value over time. You’re going to get efficiencies over time. So it’s an annuity and it’s great for manufacturing because they can amortize this annuity. And you can’t do that with marketing, unfortunately, but it really is a long-term, but you will get to the point where you are creating so much value that your Salesforce no longer has to prospect. And you’re using salespeople to field inbound leads that are already warmed up for them, and they’re utilizing their time in the best way possible. And you’re utilizing marketing the best way.

12:12 Chris: 

That’s it. That’s wonderful. I love that answer. Now I hear your passion about behind everything you’re talking about here. When are you the happiest, what brings you the most fulfillment? 

12:22 Wendy: 

Oh, gosh, that’s a great question. Well, I’d have to answer it two ways. I enjoy people. I enjoy interacting. I’m a big extrovert. You might be able to tell. So I get energy from storytelling, from hearing people’s stories and their journey and sharing mine and finding ways in which our lives intersect. So that absolutely gives me so much joy. And then the other thing that does is being in the outdoors. I love to fish. I love to hike. I love to just commune with nature, if you will. And not some really important to me.

12:57 Chris: 

Now, if you look back across your career, does anything stand out as a highlight? Like, just like I did this, I was part of this team or whatever it may be that you like to share? 

13:08 Wendy: 

Yeah, starting Trew Marketing is absolutely the biggest highlight. It changed my life. It changed the lives of many others, and I feel like we’re making a real difference in helping people in their journey. And that brings me so much joy fulfillment. 

13:25 Chris: 

Now, I’m going to ask you a question now we’re going to get off the career. We’re going to talk about hobbies and things you enjoy doing. I got your book here. And if I remember for our viewers, that may be able to see this, there’s a picture there of Wendy, and I’m not sure how big that fish is, but it’s almost bigger than you. So I’m guessing a hobbies fishing, and like you mentioned, 

13:47 Wendy: 

It is, you can see have a fish behind me. This isn’t the fish. That’s a little tiny trout in comparison, no I lucked into a five foot long red fish off of the coast of Corpus Christi, Texas. And it’s been a state record for nine years now. 

14:05 Chris: 

Oh, wow. Okay. So state record for nine years now. What else? Anything outdoors? You said you love. 

14:12 Wendy: 

I enjoy, we have, we owned a game ranch with exotic animals and loved to go out there and hunt for sheds and just walk around and look at the animals interact. You never know what you’ll find, there’ll be a Fox pop out of the bushes one time or heaven forbid a skunk comes across your path. I recently came across a, an indigo snake. Are you familiar with indigo’s? Okay. So it was an 18 foot indigo that had swallowed bout a seven, six or seven foot rattlesnake and choked on it. And I came onto the scene. Fortunately, when both snakes had found their maker. Yeah. 

14:57 Chris: 

That’s when Mr. Chris would start walking on water, running away from all that. So I don’t do snakes. 

15:04 Wendy: 

Yeah. So it just love getting out there and every day’s a little bit different. 

15:09 Chris: 

Awesome. That is so awesome. How about your family? What would you like to share with us about your family? 

15:15 Wendy: 

My husband, Randy was in technology sales for 30 years. So if those of you who’ve been around and remember the word Compaq as a company, it was at Compaq before it was HP, and he’s been at VMware, so a lifelong IT salesperson and this past year with before COVID, but around that time, his company was purchased and he decided to make a pretty big career change. And now he’s gone into ranch sales. So land sales in Texas, and that’s been an exciting journey for us because I’m so proud of him for following his passion for the outdoors too. And, taking that sales experience and applying it towards something new.

That’s great. And then I have. 20 year old son who’s my podcast producer and a 17 year old daughter that graduated high school, little bit early because what high schooler wants to go to virtual class everyday right now. And she’ll be off to Colorado State University in the fall to become a psycologist.

16:15 Chris: 

Oh, okay. Colorado State, couldn’t keep her in Texas. Huh? 

16:19 Wendy: 

I tried so hard, but I don’t know if you knew this fact. I just recently figured it out myself, but CSU used to be Aggies. So she’s going to the Aggie school up north. 

16:32 Chris: 

I still got that Aggie tie. I love it. That’s right. But right now it sounds like everybody’s local still in Texas for the moment?

16:40 Wendy: 

All my babies nearby and they come over for food once a week, we have a family dinner and they always request their favorites, which is usually chili. Venison chili and we sit around and tell stories and maybe pitch some washers.

16:55 Chris: 

That’s awesome. Now, how about things you enjoy consuming on your own for a podcast or YouTube, books? Things like that. What do you enjoy?

17:03 Wendy: 

Well, I’m a big reader, but I’m also big into listening to podcasts. And recently I discovered, I’ve heard a Wondery show here and there, but I’ve really gone deep in all the different offerings that Wondery has. I enjoy listening to podcasts for entertainment when I’m working out and, mowing the yard or whatever it is. So I’d suggest checking that out. And then I probably read two fiction books a week. Oh wow. I’m a fast reader.

17:32 Chris: 

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. This has been so much fun getting to know you iWendy and we call itEECO Asks Why and we always wrap up with the while we were talking about the passions that people have. So what is your personal why? 

17:45 Wendy: 

I love helping motivate people and connecting with other people. And I think that drives me in my relationships both at work and at home.

17:55 Chris: 

That’s awesome. Well, for our listeners out there, I’m sure you’ve been blessed just like I’ll have to get to know Wendy and you’ll find in the show notes, all the resources to get connected with her directly. And Wendy, thank you so much for taking the time with us today. 

18:09 Wendy: 

You bet. Thank you.