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Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Myth Busting: Integrated Marketing Plans vs. One-Off Activities

One of the ways companies mistakenly think they are saving money is to allocate marketing budget to one or two activities with the idea that if sales increase they will up their marketing budget. This is false economy for two reasons. First, it often results in money spent on activities that never reach their full potential. Second, it often results in money spent inefficiently.

For the first example, let’s look at a trade show. I’ve lost count of the number of companies that tell me trade shows don’t work. The truth is that some shows don’t work for some companies. Years ago, McGraw-Hill ran an ad that had a mean-looking decision maker sitting in a chair saying: I don’t know you. I don’t know your company. I don’t know your product. Why should I talk to you? Trade shows are networking activity. If you do one or two shows a year and just show up with a pop-up booth and no other prep, a trade show is unlikely to achieve your lead generation goals. Worse, if you a pick a show because someone called and had a last minute corner booth, you may be at the wrong show.

In the second example, let’s look at marketing materials. When marketing materials are done as one-off projects all of the creative activities typically must be repeated for each project. That means a photographer may be brought in for several project-specific shoots instead of one slightly longer shoot designed to provide needed imagery for the next 12 months. Graphic design may not reflect a common theme (particularly if different firms are handling different projects). And, pricing discounts achieved by coordinating all printed collateral at one time may be missed.

An integrated marketing plan is a roadmap that ties everything together. Core messaging strategy is evaluated and the best mix of no/low cost activities is paired with higher cost activities to ensure an effective promotional strategy that aligns with budget. Activities are done on a schedule which helps ensure that periods of high sales activity don’t automatically mean lack of marketing activity. And because a plan normally looks at a 12-18 month schedule, outside service utilization can be planned more efficiently.  However, the best part of this marketing approach is that it helps ensure that full value is achieved from higher cost activities.

Let’s get back to the question of why trade shows don’t work. The main reason is because even when the right show is chosen attendees are often focused on the companies who did the best job of telling them who they are and why it is worth an attendee’s time to learn more before the show. This is where an integrated marketing plan really shines. A person needs to see a message 3-7 times before he/she remembers seeing it. One pre-show mailing may not be enough. An integrated marketing plan that times social media outreach, industry articles, pre-show mailings, conference presentations and/or advertising to align with key shows delivers the message consistency needed to attract qualified attendees. And, most of that promotion effort is low or no cost. It also provides for mindshare maintenance of prospects who come in as leads, but aren’t in a ready-to-buy mode yet. These prospects often get thrown away when marketing is done in an less organized fashion.

This year, in particular, is an important year to look at utilizing an integrated marketing plan because there is uncertainty in U.S. policies toward manufacturing and a lot of decision teams are looking at new options. Electronics industry trade shows traditionally have greater attendance when there is uncertainty in the market. Having consistent and timely messaging being distributed on regular basis is the best way to get more value for the marketing dollars spent in this year’s trade show activity.

Not sure how to implement a good integrated marketing plan? Powell-Mucha Consulting, Inc. can help. Visit us at www.powell-muchaconsulting.com.

 

Is Your EMS Company Differentiating Itself or Saying Me Too?

ems-selling-workbookonsitebackup2013_page_01Some electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies do a great job of differentiating themselves, but many don’t. If your company copied what your nearest competitors have on their websites, touts its equipment as its primary advantage, tells everyone it is the industry’s best kept secret or says it is customer-centric; it is really just screaming me too.

The reality is that within a specific size class most EMS companies have the same equipment and industry-standard processes. What makes a difference is the expertise of the team and the home-grown systems and processes that solve customer problems.

Yes, I used the word problems instead of the nicer euphemism, challenges. Companies rarely outsource manufacturing projects that have perfect design and quality metrics, well-understood demand trends and no surprises. When things run that well, they normally want to keep it in-house. Instead, they either outsource because they don’t want to be in the business of manufacturing or because that product doesn’t fit well into the mix of manufacturing they want to keep in-house. The end result is that EMS companies are in the business of managing controlled chaos. Outsourcing decision teams understand that and are looking for companies most likely to make them look good. When all competitors look the same, their safe choice is to make the decision on price. When one appears to have a better ability to address the issues that keep them up at night (and will get them fired if the contract manufacturer fails), that EMS company will likely get coached into meeting a reasonable target price.

So how do you package the secret sauce that makes your customers think your company is the best but isn’t obvious until they become your customers? There are two key steps. The first is understanding enough about your secret sauce to sell it (and yes, PMCI has tools for doing that), and the second is building a strong team sell. Prospects won’t understand that your team (engineering, production, program management, purchasing) has a superior solution, if they aren’t exposed to your team until after they are customers. Companies that successfully differentiate understand that and selectively engage team members with prospects throughout the sales cycle. Prospects aren’t sold on capabilities, they are exposed to the expertise of team members who discuss how the problems that keep them up at night are going to get solved if they select that EMS provider.

How do you turn your entire staff into that powerful a salesforce secret weapon? PMCI’s EMS Concentric Selling™ one-day onsite seminar can help. The course is designed for sales, program management and key staff members in engineering, manufacturing and purchasing. The goal is to provide a common framework of industry and selling process understanding to the members of your team who interact with customers and prospects. Case study breakout sessions are designed to help team members learn to develop specific account strategies and work together to close the sale. These sessions also help break down the disconnect that often occurs between sales and the technical staff in terms of what ideal projects look like. Request an informational brochure here.

 

The Trump Effect 2 – What it Means for EMS Providers Right Now

As I write this at the beginning of February, President Trump is establishing himself as a man who follows through on campaign promises. Assuming that trend continues and there is a clear path to tax and regulatory reform, there will also be changes in OEM sourcing strategy. It may even be the level of shift seen when China devalued the yuan.

What does this trend mean for US regional electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers? Beyond the immediate benefit of regulatory and tax reforms that has many of the EMS CEOs I know practically dancing in the streets, I think it will open the door to significant opportunities across the board. When OEMs outsource offshore, they tend to bundle all their projects. There are two reasons for this. First, a smaller supply chain is easier to manage at a distance and second, low cost labor markets typically have a higher percentage of “one size fits all” EMS providers. When OEMs outsource in the US, they tend to look more closely at the value of tailoring their outsourcing strategy. Niche projects may go to suppliers better interested in those volumes or technology associated with those projects. There may be interest in keeping new product manufacturing in close proximity to the engineering team. There may also be a desire to keep some manufacturing in-house and source production that is not a fit in close proximity. While these scenarios already exist today, tax and regulatory policies which incentivize re-shoring will ultimately increase the number of available opportunities.

The challenge is that if your company is the EMS world’s best kept secret you may not be on the bid list. So, from a marketing perspective, this is the right time to be developing a marketing strategy that will get your company’s name more widely known. It is also the right time to be reviewing existing accounts and looking for additional business opportunities either within the account or other divisions of that customer. The bottom line is that if the Trump Effect continues companies that weren’t on your company’s radar screen as prospects may be ready to buy your services. But they won’t be talking with you if they don’t know who you are. EMS providers that are upping their networking and marketing activities now, will benefit when those companies start re-evaluating strategy.

Powell-Mucha Consulting, Inc. specializes in helping companies develop marketing strategies that build market mindshare and highlight each client’s unique capabilities. This differentiation can be especially important in attracting OEMs pursuing niche outsourcing strategies.We also offer sales and program management analysis, coaching and training services, which can help your team quickly broaden their focus.  Contact us if you’d like additional information.

One Good Idea

Years ago when I was part of what was then called the IPC EMSI Council, we used to end every meeting by going around the room sharing one good idea from each company. I still include time for that in the IPC EMS Program Management certification courses I teach because it always opens the door to new thoughts among the students. And, occasionally when I come across something I find interesting I do it in my blog.

The one good idea I’m sharing today comes from Concept2. They are an exercise equipment company that makes rowing and ski machines. I bought one of their rowing machines because they were top rated, had almost zero customer bad reviews and actually manufacture their equipment in the US (we can’t keep manufacturing in the US if we don’t make an effort buy US-made products). I discovered after I bought my machine that I wasn’t just getting a product, I was actually buying into a community of rowers. They sponsor global competitions and individual or team “challenges” several times a year. They have even partnered with a third-party software vendor to make it possible for rowers to virtually race each other.

The one good idea comes from their challenge schedule. Their end-of-year holiday challenge is for rowers to either row 100,000 meters or 200,000 meters between black Friday and Christmas Eve. Unlike their other challenges, where the reward is simply a certificate and a listing on an online Honor Roll, they donate money for each of rowers meeting one of the two challenge levels (the amount doubles if you hit the higher goal). So, in addition to motivating exercise during the holidays, folks that hit that goal are helping raise money for three charities. It is impossible to cheat because the rower “reports” your meters to an online log via a phone app or computer link.

I’ve noticed that several of my client companies have wellness programs and do company-sponsored food drives around the holidays for their local food banks–it is a pretty common practice in manufacturing firms. So, the one good idea I’m proposing is that if your company has both a wellness program and a food drive, consider finding a way to link the two by including a company donation tied to wellness program participants meeting set exercise goals. Its a win-win for both efforts. A few tips to make the program count:

  • Make sure the goal achievement payment promises will align with any budgetary constraints (it is demotivating to hear that goal achievement levels exceeded the amount the company is willing to donate)
  • Define the exercises that will qualify for the goal so there is no issue with what participants define as exercise and make it a broad enough list that people without access to exercise machines or a gym can still participate
  • Make sure the metric is easy for everyone to measure (time is a great measurement, since it is easy to check your watch)
  • Make it easy for people to log their hours as they happen in a central place (ideally an online spreadsheet)
  • Celebrate the accomplishment (a lunch, certificates, maybe an honor board).

Done right, employees have motivation to engage in healthy habits during a time when everyone typically overindulges, a local charity gets a little extra support and good “social responsibility” PR is had by all. It doesn’t get much better than that.

What is Your Brand?

As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve started blogging for the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM) at James Madison University. My latest post there relates to Establishing Your Brand as a professional. ICPM has a Certified Manager program aligned with the National Management Association (NMA). Their blog is composed of contributions from CMs on a range of management topics and is definitely a good read.

Branding, Marketing and Selling in EMS

My Circuits Assembly article this month looks at the concepts of branding, marketing and selling. Like my recent Leader vs. Manager post, this is another area where words are used interchangeably to refer to very different concepts. Branding, Marketing and Selling looks at the ways these concepts interrelate and specific ways that electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers can capitalize on well thought out strategy in these areas. Read the full article here.

Leader Vs. Manager: The Value of a Situational Style

I’ve started blogging for the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM) at James Madison University and have attached my first post focused on situational management styles and the differences between a leader and a manager. I’ll be doing posts quarterly. ICPM has a Certified Manager program aligned with the National Management Association (NMA). Their blog is composed of contributions from CMs on a range of management topics and should be continually updating with new material.

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