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Customer-Focused Growth Led by Damien Wilson, the CEO of Røde Microphones

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Content is a word that gets thrown around a lot, and the truth is, today it is easier than ever before to create content. A big reason for that is thanks to companies such as Røde Microphones, which create budget-minded products that constantly push the industry forward. For Røde, innovation is the name of the game and no one knows that better than Damien Wilson, the CEO of Røde Microphones. Damien has been with the company since its early days, growing into his leadership role and scaling the business in a rapid timeframe. But even for him, despite the success, the last decade has been a wild ride.

“I’m a kid from the Western suburbs, which is not necessarily a nice area and I never thought I’d be sitting in New York doing business, or sitting on a couch with Guns and Roses. When I walk into Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard and I see a Røde product, I get excited because I listened to that music of the eighties where Sunset Boulevard was the place to be.”

The transformation of the audio industry has been accelerated because of the way companies such as Rode have democratized audio equipment. It no longer takes a fortune and an entire studio build-out, to get professional-sounding content. On Marketing Trends, Damien took me through how Rode has muscled it to the top to compete with legacy brands within the space. He also touches on the unique hiring challenges that Røde has been facing in Australia during the past 18 months, and how the company has been able to pivot through innovating in their use of manufacturing equipment. He also discusses how Røde handles customer feedback to ideate its product line, and how influencers can push your products further. I’m excited for you to enjoy and hopefully learn from this conversation with Damien up next on Marketing Trends.

Main Takeaways

  • The Secret Sauce: Innovating with Product Manufacturing Equipment: More than ever, supply chain management and sourcing are critical to the success of any business that sells products. Finding the best, most cost-effective tools to build your products might not be created for your industry. You may have to think creatively about what other industries use similar manufacturing equipment that can be modified to build your goods.
  • It Takes Educational Background to Create Great Content: Having an education-focused mindset is a foundational part of good content creation. When you create materials that educate the consumer on products, even if they are not your own, you’re building trust with the consumer. This kind of content helps build a community which helps to further push consumers down the funnel.
  • Where to Look for New Product Inspiration: Assess all the other products, aside from your own, that your customer also uses to see where to expand product offerings. Other tools and tech they use to create their finished product could also be an area for you to cross over into. 

Key Quotes

“One of the things that I brought immediately to the company was that style of video-based education, style marketing. Because one of the things that I thought was the big problem with audio brands, especially anything music-related, you needed to sort of teach people how to use the product and that gave them the ability to purchase.”

“We have a machine that is specked for making parts for watches. Every high-end Swiss watch manufacturer will have one of these machines. It’s the same machine made by Citizen, but we use it to make backplates for the microphones because the precision and the tolerance is so insane. They’re making a hundred thousand dollar Rolex’s, but this is for a $200 microphone. Other mic manufacturers are not thinking in that regard; they’re not thinking about how we can take that machine out of that industry, put it into our version and then create a product around it. That’s really the secret sauce.” 

“One of the things that we did a few years ago was look at our ERP system and look at how we were running the business end-to-end, and sit there and go, ‘Okay, what are the improvements? What process improvements do we need to put in place right now?’ And before we didn’t have a mature supply chain team in house, but we grew that super quick. And it was just at the right time, because then COVID hit [and] we started to see some interruption in supply chains. We had the ability to be able to pivot into making things that were completely available to us onshore in Australia. That meant you needed to have the right amount of raw material and all those bits and pieces, which was a testament to the supply chain team getting an AI pay system up and running quickly.”

“What we’re looking at now is adjacencies that we can move into. We look at our customer and say, ‘What is our customer’s workflow? What are they doing?’ They’re podcasters; they’re content creators. ‘What sort of equipment are they using?’ Oh, they’re wearing headphones, and those headphones don’t say Røde. So maybe we need to work into that adjacency.” 

“Where Røde has risen to the top in terms of customer sentiment has been the fact that we deliver a product and we keep on enhancing it. And it becomes a schedule of, every three months, let’s add something else to this particular product. So the customer goes, ‘Wow, you’ve done it again.’ And it also shows that we’re listening to feedback.”

“I’m a kid from the Western suburbs, which is not necessarily a nice area and I never thought I’d be sitting in New York doing business, or sitting on a couch with Guns and Roses. When I walk into Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard and I see a Røde product, I get excited because I listened to that music of the eighties where Sunset Boulevard was the place to be.”

“When you get big it’s like the mistakes are just amplified, right? In the past, if we made a mistake in a launch and maybe there was a component wrong, or the testing was incorrect, you may be thinking about 5,000 units. Now you’re talking about, you know, 500,000. We can’t afford that. So we need to have everything upstream and downstream sorted. So we know that we’re not going to replicate any of those issues.”

Bio

Damien Wilson is the CEO of The Freedman Group, home to RØDE Microphones, Aphex, Event Electronics, and SoundField. He is a multi-talented senior executive with over 25 years’ experience in advertising, sales, marketing, and business development.

Prior to the Freedman Group, Wilson was Creative Director of boutique advertising agencies The Shop and Peer Group. He joined the Freedman Electronics/RØDE team in 2007 as Marketing Manager and within a year was made Global Sales and Marketing Director. He acted as General Manager of RØDE Microphones, LLC in the USA until 2013 before returning home to Australia as the new CEO of the Freedman Group in 2016.

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Episode 273