By Bernard and Company
I attended the GIFA foundry trade show in Duesseldorf, Germany recently and wanted to share some thoughts. Our three clients who exhibited all had great shows and they all sell very high-end equipment or services to the foundry and other industries. Top quality guys, every one. That’s very encouraging. Folks were there from every corner of the planet and many were buying, another good sign that the world economy is rebounding. All three clients sell the world market and I was impressed by the decidedly United Nations feel of their booths. One client brought their agents, even a Russian translator, to the show, so they could speak EVERYBODY’S language. It was the Tower of Babel…and this one worked!
In some cases, these have been the hardest hit clients in the down market, because they simply would not sacrifice the quality and performance they build into their machines and software to sell head-to-head against the cheaper competition, a move we applaud always. Our agency is in exactly that same boat.
Though all relatively new clients, these three companies recently joined the ranks of the world leader in industrial ovens and furnaces (52 years with us), the world leader in rubber/TPE injection molding machines (41 years) and the absolutely best fine/medium pitch gear manufacturer in the solar system (since they have products on Mars at the moment!) at our agency, in business since 1976, though we’ve changed the lineup and the service package a bit, over the years.
See a pattern here? Quality endures, to be blunt. There’s more to the story, of course, but that’s a pretty good foundation!
This occurred to me, as I was sitting in a 450-year-old church in Duesseldorf. Although the church was partially destroyed in WWII, the folks saved the treasures that remained, dug up the old prints and rebuilt an old-looking new church around them. That fact spoke volumes to me.
Anyhow, the show was terrific and the atmospherics of a 5000-year-old industry (metalcasting) reminded me that, faced with adversity, the very best tactic is to figure out what you do that made you successful in the first place and keep doing it. And, of course, keep advertising it, sending PR on it and telling the world your success stories. (OK, that part was a commercial and I think that thought, every hour of every day, even when not walking the banks of the Rhine!)
By Bernard and Company
Several clients have appointed designated hitters for the internet blogs and especially the engineering chat areas of publication websites.
We applaud this action, especially in this economy.
One client said to me, during a meeting where I was encouraging this tactic, “Tim, how can I take a very busy engineer or sales guy away from customers and quoting to play on the internet?”
After I calmed down, I explained to him that:
- It’s not play, especially when problem solving is involved.
- It’s not play, when relationships are being formed with potential customers, even those, scratch that, especially those who don’t know your company.
- It’s not play, when a member of your team is quickly perceived as a go-to guy online by key players in your market and among your peers.
- Even if it IS play, it’s productive play. Didn’t your mother teach you the value of THAT??
Seriously, since very little is new under the sun, this is just the new version of that longtime and revered guy at every company, the one people flocked to see at trade shows.
Two quick examples:
We had a client (sadly passed away) who invented polymer quenchants for commercial heat treating. This ancient industry used water and oil, mostly, as it had for literally centuries. People would come to the trade shows and actually wait in line to see the guy. Then, with almost papal severity, he would lean into them, listen to their quenching problem, ponder it for a moment and then put his finger in their chest and say, “OK, here’s what you do…”
We have a current client who runs what is arguably the finest gear company on the planet. He’s also a world-class fly fisherman. He stands in the aisles and goes “casting for customers,” as he says. When he arrives at a show or conference, you’d think Ghandi had walked into the room…with Mother Teresa on his arm! Talk about drawing a crowd. His theory evokes the old John Kennedy line that a rising tide lifts all boats. He actually shows customers, prospects AND his competitors his operation and his p&l. His company currently exports high-precision gears worldwide, including to China!
The internet guru at your company can be a powerful force for growth and a true agent of change for your business and the industry as a whole. Don’t overlook the possibilities or think that it’s just playtime! When a “social” network has a tangible business upside, that’s a game we’d all like to join!