How H.C. Starck Solutions is building meaningful relationships by adding a personal touch in the metal manufacturing industry, with Nadine Klabunde

Last year with the onset of the pandemic, our team at Outgage desperately wanted to find a way to bring the B2B marketing community together so we could continue to learn from each other and network through these times. This need to connect brought us to creating our Outgage Round Table Discussions. We invited top B2B marketers to get together throughout several small Zoom rooms to talk about marketing during these times. We had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful, like-minded thought leaders – one of them being Nadine Klabunde.

Nadine is the Head of Global Marketing and Strategy Development at H.C. Starck Solutions – who recently broke off from H.C. Starck as their own division – a leading Global supplier of refractory metal powders, complex fabrications, and additively manufactured parts. Nadine started with H.C. Starck back in 2004 as a student participating in a dual internship through her university in Germany. Since then, Nadine has worked in multiple divisions and marketing roles in both the U.S. and Germany.


Building marketing efforts from the ground up

Being with the company for over 15 years, Nadine has seen the company’s marketing strategies change and improve many times, with her expertise playing a huge role in its successful marketing efforts.

“16 years ago, people didn’t do that much marketing, especially not in my industry. So most of the departments that I came into, they were just building out those processes. It was nice to not just be one of thousands, but a small group of frontrunners that try to really implement the best practices.”

Because of the niche market that H.C. Starck Solutions lives in, marketing strategies don’t stay on the typical path that other industries may follow. Finding the right fit between providing technical detail while also staying relatable to a wider audience can become challenging and requires creative marketing tactics.

“We’re a very very niche player,” she emphasizes. “But I’m fairly certain that everybody has some product that either has some of our metals in it, or was developed using our metals. That always excited me – we enable everything that’s happening in the day-to-day. It’s exciting to see the growth path and (the company’s) journey because I was a part of some of that.”

Rather than continue to wait for customers to come to them and rely on a reactive marketing strategy, Nadine’s team likes to take a more leading approach.


“When we first started marketing 15 years ago, people focused on the reporting and intelligence side of it only. While gathering and analyzing data on markets and competitors is essential to a successful marketing strategy, it was lacking a tactical element to transform the strategies into business growth.  What we are seeing now, especially in my division, is an increase in engagement with the customers and end markets to drive growth – this is more in line with the leading marketing strategy we are taking on going forward.”


Pivoting during the pandemic

The start of the pandemic and onward affected H.C. Starck Solutions’ marketing efforts as much as any other market. Though, it was harder to pivot in such a niche market which relies partially on in-person events. “In our industry, the value of marketing is not yet fully understood. With the onset of the pandemic, we all had to rethink what we were doing, and I wanted to use that chance to be ahead of the game instead of just reacting.”

Trying to find a way to market and stay in front of their audience, Nadine began reaching out to other marketers, which eventually led her to the Outgage Round Tables. “I was unsure how to change marketing strategies. A lot of tactics I had tried so far didn’t bring the results I really wanted, especially in terms of tracking return on my investments. I was looking for something new I could try. So that’s where it started with (the Outgage) Round Tables. It really let me network more, to reach out to more marketers. I always thought different marketers in other industries couldn’t offer advice that was applicable to my very specific situation, but  the discussions and idea exchanges really helped me rethink what I wanted to do and just learn more about what other people are doing.”

Speaking to like-minded, and even not so like-minded, marketers gave Nadine and her team a different perspective on how they could continue to carry out their message. Broadening her network helped to open up new opportunities for marketing, including developing a virtual booth to show off H.C. Starck Solutions’ newest products and developments. “For the virtual environment, it’s basically a booth but not like the virtual events you know. It’s actually 360 degrees, you can walk through it, if we ever go back to virtual reality glasses, you could theoretically stand in it.”

Eventually, Nadine became a regular and fun addition to the Round Table discussions. “Of all of the networking events, the ones that Outgage offered – I always wanted them to go on a little longer. I felt like we are actually talking about things that are relevant to me, and you’re not thrown into a group of 100 people where you don’t know who to talk to.”


From conversation to collaboration

As it goes at Marketing events, speaking on the Round Tables also sparked Nadine’s interest in direct mail as an outreach tactic. “Initially when we talked, I said I probably won’t have the budget, I probably won’t be able to convince our salespeople that it would be anything we wanted to be doing. But with the pandemic lasting so long, we really had to find different ways of doing things, and so that was the key. Once the decision was made, I didn’t even want to look at other companies that may offer the same service because I felt like you really wanted to help me whether or not it would lead to anything in terms of business activity.”



In addition, Outgage’s specific approach to Direct Mail really resonated with what Nadine was trying to achieve. “A big thing that played a role for me was that I wanted to track our marketing efforts. Over time, we’ve gone away from anything that I could measure successfully. That plays nicely into Outgage, because that’s basically what you guys do, it’s very very targeted, but it still allows me to track engagement. To be able to be so flexible and add the postcard, and have just a little bit more – you really do seem to go the extra mile.”

If you’re interested in learning more about H.C. Starck Solutions, you can visit their website or even check out the new virtual booth. If you would like to get in touch with Nadine, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn.


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"I’m fairly certain that everybody has some product that either has some H.C Starck Solution's metals in it, or was developed using our metals. That always excited me – we enable everything that’s happening in the day-to-day. It’s exciting to see the growth path and (the company’s) journey because I was a part of some of that.”

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