Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nickel & Diming Yourself Out of Business.

I know you are busy.

Too busy.

I met with the marketing manager of a local manufacturing company recently and he is wearing many, many hats.

He started out in the shop, so he knows how that side of the business works.

But now he is in charge of marketing the family business.

He is also the Purchasing Director.

And the Sales Manager.

And he is in charge of all the internet stuff including social media.

He needs a twin. Or a couple of them to get everything done.

If he was single and only required 8 hours of sleep a week, he could do it all.

But that's not going to happen.

Our current economy has forced multiple changes including having less people and needing to do more.

I know that this situation is repeated over and over and over again in small and medium size business and the pressure on the people to perform increases.

So, it can be easy to take the path of least resistance when certain opportunities occur. Like when an advertising sales person comes to you with an offer to do something that sounds like it might work, and is reasonably affordable, you might say yes, and then jump back to the rest of your multi-tasking.

Without a long term marketing and advertising plan, these types of decisions can nickle and dime you to death. A few hundred here, a couple thousand there and it all adds up to money spent.

This marketing manager/sales manager/purchasing director is smart. He knows what needs to be done. But he is too overwhelmed to get the important things done and instead is focusing on the urgent.

The day to day. Putting out fires. Coping with the changes in buying habits.

Here's what I learned in our meeting:

This started as a family business and didn't have to advertise or do much marketing. Word spread of the quality that they built and their customers sought them out.

With the downturn in the housing market, the environment for their product changed. No longer were home builders using their products, when they could cut costs and go with cheaper versions and save a few bucks (by sacrificing quality).

So they started reaching out to consumers but that only represents 15% of their business. This is where they spent some money recently due to an advertising sales person putting something together that sounded like it might work.

It Didn't Work.

But I'm not surprised.

The thought that ran through my mind was: Can a goldfish feed a family of four?

Silly concept you say, but that was what he was trying to do with the advertising campaign he ran.

He needs to determine if he wants that 15% direct to consumer market to grow to 30% or 45% or even more.

He also needs to determine how to win in the wholesale side that currently is 85% of their business.

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