March 2009 / Volume 61 / Issue 3|
Strong Marketing is Always Critical
By Keith Jennings
During these unpredictable and turbulent economic times, many shops and businesses are moving to cut expenses. Some reductions are obvious and necessary. But when business is slow, advertising, marketing and sales activities are commonly at the top of the “cut” list. However, this is the time to ramp up and increase spending on these activities.
Even if there are fewer workers to handle these responsibilities, it should still be a high priority to sell, market, advertise and otherwise let the marketplace know you want business! Many potential customers aren’t calling or sending quotes because they simply don’t know you’re capable and interested in machining their parts. It sounds like an oversimplification, but why overcomplicate the matter? Even if prospects have heard of your shop, do they really understand your capabilities and why your shop is a great choice? Many times, no.
When times are good and you’re busy cutting chips, spending on sales and marketing is easier to absorb, and expanding these functions seems logical. But that’s also when your competition is marketing, making it even more challenging for your shop to stand out amongst the crowd. In addition, when business is robust, the costs associated with these efforts are usually at a premium. If you’re busy and not desperate for more work, it’s backwards logic to spend lots of money seeking new business when a concentration on customer service and careful job selection makes more sense. The time to get aggressive and market your operation like never before is when things slow down and new work is a must.
The means to accomplish this vary, but finding an effective technique is crucial. Some shops find success advertising in industrial and telephone directories. Others reap benefits from trade shows and trade magazine ads. Others lack funds for any of that and instead conduct guerilla marketing techniques, like personally delivering sales packages and following up until they get a shot.
Of course, many prospects will tell you they’re satisfied with their current suppliers and don’t need any more. So what? Once they realize you’re a viable company, a call could come at any time. Our company has acquired a sizable amount of business over the years only because we marketed to prospects at the same time they had a problem with an existing supplier. When they need you, the approval process is suddenly much faster and you can find yourself with a package of prints to quote, possibly because a previous supplier couldn’t survive turbulent times. Your consistent sales and marketing efforts let them know that your shop is managing the situation and continuing to machine top-quality parts, albeit with fewer people.
Also, companies in the advertising and marketing world need business, too, and may be willing to reduce their prices when times are lean, making it easier for you to experiment and analyze the effectiveness of certain activities. This could include Web site improvements, print and radio advertising packages, industrial directory listings, organization memberships and entertainment venues. Why not find new ways to promote your shop while many competitors are hunkered down and cutting back on the very activities that build awareness? While they’re playing defense, go on offense and tell the world about your shop.
In a down market, advertising, marketing and sales must aggressively continue. Let prospects know you want their business and you may get it. CTE
About the Author: Keith Jennings is president of Crow Corp., Tomball, Texas, a family-owned company focusing on machining, laser cutting, metal fabrication and metal stamping. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com.
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