Explaining The Value in Google Shopping Ads In the last year and a half, for a majority of industrial businesses, online marketing has become the most-essential part of business to business marketing strategy. While social media has become the dominant…
(Thanks to Reva Russell English of MakeTime “Buy & Sell Machine Tool Time Service Site” for some good thoughts on the state of manufacturing today. Go to their site. As part of the scavenger economy, buying and selling spare machine tool time is a great idea. At least there are no barriers to entry as AirBnB has. Every time I stay at someone’s home, they tell me to say “I’m a friend” if anyone asks. My sister-in-law stopped making $1500 a month because their insurance company wouldn’t insure their home if they continued.)
If all you knew about U.S. manufacturing were gleaned from today’s pundits and presidential candidates, you’d think the entire sector was being fitted for its coffin. While it’s true challenges exist, things are not as grim as they’re made out to be.
No, American manufacturing does not directly employ 20 percent of the country’s labor force like it did during the late 1970s, but it’s output has never been higher. The planet is full of “Made in the USA” products, and if U.S. manufacturers and suppliers play their cards right, it will get fuller still. In order for that to happen in a sustainable way, however, the breakdown of trust between American manufacturers and suppliers must be addressed.
TRUST IS A PRACTICE …
Trust first began to falter between U.S. suppliers and manufacturers during the 1980s when offshoring went mainstream. While American companies had long engaged in foreign direct investment to be closer to foreign markets and materials sources, the ‘80s ushered in offshoring as a cost cutting measure. By outsourcing manufacturing to countries with cheap, unregulated and non-unionized labor, fatter bottom lines were almost immediately achieved.
Back stateside, U.S. machinists and factory line workers lost their jobs. Factories and shops closed. In some instances, whole towns were basically gutted and left for dead. The suppliers still standing funnelled their little remaining power into making the RFQ process even murkier in order to ensure they made as much money as possible when jobs did come their way. The breakdown in trust was well underway, and it would only get worse in the coming decades.
… SO PRACTICE IT WE MUST
Of course, believing U.S. corporations and suppliers should have — or could have — acted otherwise given the circumstances is to misunderstand the nature of business. The pursuit of revenue and the complementary cutting of costs are always a company’s first order of business, regardless of its mission statement or on which side of the manufacturing coin it finds itself.
Instead of expecting CEOs to choose lower profit margins by keeping costly shops and factories open across America’s heartland on principle, manufacturers and suppliers could have joined together to lobby for policies that incentivized the making of U.S. goods in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Instead of expecting shops and factories to willingly price themselves into the basement in order to get jobs they’d only lose money on, manufacturers and suppliers could have worked together to increase overall domestic competitiveness and productivity.
If that sounds like a pipedream, consider how high the costs of offshoring actually are.
Beyond the domestic job loss, as an executive from a large corporation put it in an article for the Harvard Business Review, “I don’t think people realize when they make the offshore decision that it is really a commitment to freeze the product. There is no way to make rapid design changes and product updates at a remote location.”
That’s a quote from 1988.
THE DISTRIBUTED DIFFERENCE
In today’s fractured, fast and just-in-time marketplace, offshoring as a cost cutting measure makes even less sense than it used to. Why cut costs making products in China today if the market you’re serving in the U.S. changes its mind about what it wants to buy tomorrow? From fluctuations in shipping expenses to a regional coup d’etat that disrupts your supply chain, offshoring can actually cost thousands — if not millions — of extra hours, dollars and customer complaints.
With a well-executed distributed manufacturing model that moves beyond the RFQ with visibly aligned prices and costs, both U.S. manufacturers and U.S. suppliers stand to win and win big. Thanks to America’s skilled and highly productive suppliers, manufacturers can bring products to market just-in-time, no matter how fickle the consumer gets. Thanks to that ongoing investment in real dollars and cents, the skills and productivity needed to keep bringing products to market just-in-time will keep being available, too.
At long last, it’s become clear that U.S. manufacturers’ and suppliers’ goals are in alignment. Today’s consumer wants it now, in slate gray or coral —no jade — with 20-inch rims and an already-charged battery. Without a network of suppliers able to handle that kind of quick and granular manufacturing on-demand, manufacturers will lose, and if that happens, they’ll take even more jobs with them.
It’s time to bring more manufacturing jobs home — not because of sentiment, but because it makes good business sense for everyone involved. What’s good for the goose is localized and distributed manufacturing. It also happens to be good for the gander. Finally, everyone is starting to realize it.
MakeTime is a distributed manufacturing platform for U.S. manufacturers and suppliers. To find out how MakeTime can benefit your manufacturing company, contact us today.
Here’s an excerpt from another blog post about one of our clients that have also successfully navigated the tough times in manufacturing.
“Heinz Loosli, CEO of Feintool International Holding discusses the strategic advantage of Feintool in this interview for its customer magazine. In response to a question about the company’s recovery from the automotive industry decline in 2009, he answers, “We brought new, innovative products to market, we have played more to our strengths and in doing so achieved some great successes in the market. We have also improved our ability to complete by implementing measures to increase efficiency. It is important to appreciate that it is not a case of one-off actions but ongoing commitment that will ensure our company has a successful future. The motto is: achieve more with less. We are constantly working on this…” This statement reflects both the company’s equipment’s strategic advantages but also good business practices. Feintool’s metal part-making equipment takes plate steel and produces parts that are assembly ready without post machining. Their machines achieve more with less material and processing — Loosli is using the same analogy for the company’s management practises. You can download the entire Feintool magazine here. For the North American edition, Lohre & Associates wrote two articles, edited and printed the publication here in Cincinnati. We are honored to work with Feintool’s Cincinnati offices and we feel the company’s marketing communications are equal to Deloitte’s.” Read the entire post.
Are you getting the most out of your trade show presence?
By Jim Beckwith, Metalcasting Design & Purchasing
Many metalcasters utilize trade show exhibits as part of their marketing plan. Trade shows are a proven source of tangible ROI in the form of leads, and they continue to grow in popularity. But exhibitors often fail to realize the full potential of trade shows.
Below are some of the key mistakes made by exhibitors at trade shows. See if you recognize any.
Substandard Visual Presence. There’s nothing like the feeling that every other exhibitor simply looks better than you. This isn’t usually an issue at Cast in North America, where there are always one or two booths staffed by one person with only a briefcase full of castings and pamphlets. Don’t be that guy.
No Show-Specific Sales Strategy. Many of us have been to shows where a return visit to the same booth gets us completely different information. This confuses and irritates prospects. Coordinate with booth staff before and during the show to ensure everyone is staying on message.
Too much “Hard Sell”. If your company is indexed thoroughly in all show programs and related materials, potential customers will seek you out. You’re unlikely to pick up business from the kind of customers you want by getting out in the aisle and invading their personal space. Encourage booth staff to be approachable without being overly aggressive.
Wrong ROI Metrics. Leads are the most visible and important measure of ROI for your exhibit at the show, but don’t forget about the intangibles. You’re improving your visibility and branding, as well as providing your sales staff with valuable “face time” so they can fine tune their approach.
Exhibiting in a Vacuum. Shows are an important component of a marketing plan, but they can’t be the only thing you do. Your comprehensive year-round marketing plan feeds into your successful trade show exhibit, and vice versa.
(Non-Exhibitors) Ignoring the Show. If you’ve made the decision not to exhibit this year, don’t simply ignore this year’s show floor. The best way to learn do’s and don’ts for show exhibits is to see what your competitors are doing.
For more tips on how to get the most out of your trade show exhibit, take a look at this excellent article from Entrepreneur Magazine. As a veteran of many relevant industry trade shows, I’m always happy to provide feedback on anything from best practices to comprehensive marketing strategy. If I can be of assistance, feel free to reach out!
How do you break through the clutter? Literally. That’s our problem as we commence a new campaign for mining equipment. Here’a a peek behind the creative process.
Winners of the “Play Ball Raffle” are:
George Mahama, MUC
Dave DiPilla, JWK Technologies
Clark Noland, BarrelMover 5000
Duane Patnode, D-A Lubricant Company
Bill Ganger & Girish Dubey, Star Inc.
Dennis Zeiger, Polydeck Screen
Mark Strader, Phoenix
Rob Dietrich, Halma Holdings
To claim your two tickets please leave a reply or contact Chuck Lohre, cell 513-260-9025, [email protected]. Thanks for playing.
At first, we thought some great photography of their employees would stop everyone on the page. Photos of people are always effective in that respect. Even if the person’s face is no larger than a postage stamp, eye-tracking software proves it makes viewers stop and look. But we’re not the only creatives to note that — it’s why there are (reliably) a dozen or so such ads in every industry pub. Testimonials from customers are better but don’t hold your breath if your under deadline. Photo courtesy Art Dickinson Photography.
(Thanks to Bob for another insightful post. Just last night I did a process equipment marketing review of Chemical Processing’s ads for Readex and reviewed the Emerson ad for “Project Certainty.” Eye catching ad but I can’t believe their claims. What could possibly “look differently” at my rock crushing plant project and replace the 1000 years of experience going into its design. Not to say modern analysis capabilities maybe could help but they are going to have to tell me a little bit more than, “innovate.” Plotting the human mind work flow was impossible just a few years ago. Mainly because what ever idea we came up with was proved wrong by science. Now the science is catching up. Look out, someone’s going to find out that we only work half the time!)
Process Equipment Marketing is more like high level consulting rather than selling a simple industrial product like a fork lift or truck. The cost is usually higher and an ongoing partnership between the customer and the manufacturer needs to be part of the relationship.
One of the challenges I often hear from companies is this: “We know what new business activities we should be doing. We just don’t do them consistently.” Many times a company that knows it’s ideal customer doesn’t have the resources to make the cold calls needed to get through to the manufacturing engineer. This is where the internet can go to work. The internet can be your 24/7 technical sales person.
And that makes a lot of sense. New business involves lots of unglamorous and, frankly, unenjoyable activities. Stuff like: sales meetings, staying in touch with prospects, and applying just the right “nudge” to prospects who are making a buying decision.
In addition to being not a lot of fun, many new business programs are pretty disorganized: leads falling through the cracks, missed hand offs between sales team members and details from prior conversations lost or incomplete. But even if you did have it, trying to touch base exactly when needed (when the chief engineer goes back to researching esoteric keyword phrases to find a solution to a value added problem).
So if new business is unenjoyable and disorganized, is it any surprise that companies aren’t executing their plans consistently?
This post lays out a few ways that companies can build a process for new sales that’s organized and consistent. We can promise that this will make new business your favorite thing to do, it will help you execute and get better results. And that’s pretty fun.
1. Create a Plan
First things first: you need an overarching plan for new business. Before you invest in tactics, content, technology or anything else, create a plan. New business strategy and planning is a blog post all its own and there are lots of great resources out there to help you on this front, so I’m not going to dig into the details on this topic. Typically a plan is, “We need customers we can partner with, ones we can add value to the equation. We don’t want to compete on price.”
When you work with your customers, you help them build a manufacturing strategy and a plan before you start going into system plan and equipment. Your marketing plan is very similar.
In the internet world you need to do new business activities each week, several times per week. The purpose of this is to consciously choose your highest priority leads, opportunities and activities for the week and execute those.
2. Get a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system (and Use It)
Leads: In an average month you probably come across a handful of new potential prospects. For instance, you come across an interesting company when reading an article, or a colleague at a networking event mentions a thought leader who you should get in touch with, or you discover a promising organization while doing a Google search. You need a place to park these leads while you research or reach out to them. Your CRM process should have a central place where you can store new leads while you’re in process of qualifying them.
Contacts: Once you’ve qualified a lead as a good prospect or partner, you need an organized way to keep in touch with them. That may involve “one-to-many” communication like newsletters or nurture campaigns, or “one-to-one” communication like personalized emails or phone calls. For each contact that you’ve qualified it’s important to have them categorized (or “segmented”) based on criteria like their industry, and their quality/potential. You probably have hundreds or thousands of contacts in your database: to create a personalized outreach plan for each is impossible. So we identify a few segments and then create an outreach plan for each. This allows for efficiency and organization.
Opportunities: Opportunities are the active deals that you’re working on. An Opportunity involves a specific piece of work: a project or a concept, and generally goes through a standard set of steps (for instance: initial meeting, proposal, negotiation, and close). A CRM can give you an overview of all the potential business on the table to ensure you’re proactively moving all of them towards wins, and to find trends in process after the fact.
Clients: Do you have a plan for keeping in touch with existing and former customers, and cultivating new business opportunities? Remember, new business doesn’t just mean new customers. A good start for your wear or replacement parts business list but those influencers in the company might not be the new process systems engineer.
Activities: Your CRM should provide you a dashboard of all your current activities. All your new business TODO’s in a single place.
Before you worry about automation, advanced metrics or new technology, get the fundamentals right: a simple system for managing your leads, contacts, opportunities, clients and new business activities.
3. Translate Your Goals Into Simple Metrics
What’s your primary goal for the year?
When you create your new business plan, you’ll of course spend time defining or refining your goals. Another smart technique is to define some simple business metrics to make sure your new business activities are on track to reach those goals.
For example, let’s say your goal is to grow revenue by 5% this year and start working with new OEMs.
The next step would be to answer these questions: How many new customers would you need to increase revenue by 5%? And how many well-qualified prospects do you need to land a new customer?
Let’s say the answer to those two questions are 2 and 10, respectively. Assuming you don’t lose any existing customers, you’ll need about 20 new well-qualified leads to reach your goal. Obviously this isn’t an exact science, but it’s extremely valuable to give you a general benchmark for the number of new prospects (or leads, or opportunities, or whatever) that your new business activities need to be generating.
If your analysis says you need 20 qualified leads to hit your goal, but you’re currently only generating 1 or 2 a year, you’ll need to adjust your new business efforts to achieve your objectives.
4. There’s marketing and there’s customer relationships
There are a few truths about new business: relationships are king, timing is everything, consistency is important, deals don’t close themselves/selling is required. Another key point about new business is this: You can’t keep in touch with everyone.
Sure, you can add as many resources as you like to media, trade shows and internet marketing, but when it comes to the One-to-One high-touch, personalized communications that are critical for new business, there’s a limited number of prospects you can keep in touch with.
Every company should have their “Top-20″ (or Top-12, 15, 18, whatever) list of ideal prospects that they proactively keep in touch with on a monthly (or more frequent) basis. We want to stress the importance of breaking down your overarching priorities into weekly priorities. If your goal is to keep in touch with everyone your Top-20 list once a month, that’s about 5 personalized contacts per week (or one per day). When you build that into your weekly or daily game plan that’s how you develop consistency.
5. Let the odds work in your favor
This decade is about marketing automation.
The purpose of marketing automation is to take work off the plate of the leadership so they can do the new business work that only they can do: building relationships and closing business. It’s a big topic that deserves more space than we can provide here, but there are a few questions you could ask to start thinking about the sales enablement process that you need:
What Is the Work That only I Can Do?: What are the new business activities that only I – the owner – can do effectively? What other new business activities am I doing that marketing automation could do (e.g. assigning tasks, integrating systems, recording notes/ entering data, searching through Sent mail, sending boilerplate emails, etc.)?
What Can I Delegate?: Who else in the company (or outside of the company) could take over the non-required tasks listed above? Is there someone in the company who can be responsible for marketing automation (i.e. a single person who is responsible for making sure the systems work, the data is up to date, the activities are getting done, the process is being followed)? This doesn’t need to be someone’s full time job, and it doesn’t need to be a senior person in the company. For instance, there could a junior sales person who has an interest and aptitude for process/systems work who would be great for the role of managing the CRM and sales enablement.
What Are The Handoffs Between Me and My Team?: Once you know the roles and responsibilities, it’s important to define the process for how people will execute their tasks and communicate. How will lead/prospect/opportunity ownership be assigned among the team? How will tasks be passed between team members? What are the criteria for qualifying a lead? What happens when the lead is qualified? What are the stages of your sales process and how are opportunities moved from one stage to the next? An effective new business process doesn’t just get the company more new business, it also takes work off the company executive’s plate.
New business efforts often fall short because of lack of consistency. It’s the classic story: Company A diligently keeps in touch with a Prospect for a few months, Company A loses track of Prospect for 6 months, Company A gets back in touch with Prospect only to find that Prospect just hired Company B. That’s no fun.
The companies that are able execute their new business program consistently over time have built processes to ensure that activities are planned out, prioritized, organized, delegated and measured. The process doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be clear and followed by everyone at the company. 2016 is just around the corner. Make it the year that you achieve the new business results you know you can.
Overwhelming. If that’s what marketing communications has become — help is on the way!
Gone are the days when a few publications covered your industry and only the accounting department had computers. Now the biggest change is smartphones, it’s practically impossible for a company to afford programming for the small screen. There is a solution, Hubspot. Here’s a list of the advantages:
Lohre & Associates, Inc. is an Industrial Marketing Company, serving local companies and in business since 1934. We know industrial businesses, and we offer quality in-person service for Cincinnati-area industrial businesses.