Can US Precision Machine Manufacturing Survive? – Part 5

business developmentMarket Wrap-up
There is one thing missing from Porter’s strategies and that is a “staying alive strategy”; whereby companies compete harder for sales (even though margins are low) just to make payroll, and keep the doors open. They must also run a lean and mean ship internally, to keep OH low and maximize cash-flow. Companies should consider the effectiveness of employee roles and capabilities in their operations, since employees account for about 50% of cash outflow.

A customers view of PMPI Companies is diffused by the numbing sameness among offerings, and commoditized features, and laundry lists of product benefits. In other words, there is a sea of noise, parity, clutter and dullness that makes customer choice difficult. That is why price, delivery, and service becomes the differentiating choice factors for most PMPI customers.

One thing can be pretty much guaranteed, and that is, if no one has heard of you, your business isn’t going anywhere fast. Given the trifecta of problems facing PMPI companies, they can’t rely on their limited group of previous customers to keep them alive, they must learn how to become more widely known and extend their marketing reach. That is why PMPI companies should not cut marketing from their strategic options in order to lower operating costs.

Let’s summarize the situations (US-PMPI companies face) that we have just discussed:

1.   Off-shoring has essentially removed the opportunity to participate in high volume business
2.   Off-shoring coupled with “The Great Recession” has made ‘survival’ job #1.
3.   The recession has made it difficult to obtain capital, to increase productivity, etc
4.   PMPI companies have been forced into job-shopping for business
5.   PMPI companies now have more competition for business in US markets
6.   Post recovery from the recession, the industry appears to be maturing
7.   The Total Available Market (TAM) has flattened on an annual basis
8.   It is not clear yet if a robust US-GDP will improve PMPI business

Given the cash flow situation that PMPI companies struggle with, the most useful strategies for them to adopt will require 1) Low Cost, 2) Low Risk, 3) Easy to Implement. Plus the expected results from implementing the strategies will be profitable growth.

The best medium for employing strategies with the above requirements is the Internet. Growing web presence and customer awareness, and growing market reach can most effectively be done by first addressing the company’s website. A website is the most important piece of a business’s web presence? A survey of PMPI company websites will show many that are ineffective and out of date

Creating a website requires a good deal of thought; it’s important to plan what information your site will deliver, what the layout is like, and how potential customers will navigate the site. Think of the website as a hub; it’s what people will see when they conduct web searches for your services . More than 90% of all B2B business starts with a web search via Google, or some other search-engine.

The Website
The first step should be to define the goals for your website. Most businesses should have at least three: to create an expansive online presence, to differentiate your business, and to capture leads.

1. Creating an online presence is the most basic reason for building a website. This means building a site that includes What You Do, your Value Proposition and highlights What Makes you Special, and provides potential customers a way to contact you.
2. Making your business stand out is an important strategy. Maintaining a blog that portrays your company’s insights and thinking will help your company stand out and help potential customers better understand what it is you do, and why they should connect with you.
3. A good business website can be used to capture potential leads. As the site grows it should become a community for customers and potential customers. Your website should be your elevator pitch and your connection with your customers, that helps make the sale.

Your site’s homepage will generally be the initial point of contact with your customer. A good homepage will answer the questions “?What do you do?”, “Why should I trust you?” and “What Value will I Derive?” Customers will make a split-second decision on whether they’ll stay in your site to learn more, or go to a competitor. Don’t lose them at the start.

A well written “About” page will further reinforce the trust factor. Explain exactly what your company does, in-depth. What you know; who you are and where you came from: why you do what you do; and what makes you special. This page should make an impact and impress your potential customers.

Finally, create a “Contact” page. This page should clearly explain to your customers how to reach your company’s contact person (telephone, fax, e-mail). Make sure it outlines your physical address, company phone number(s), email address, and any other way someone might reach you. You should include a Google Map with directions to your plant.

These (just outlined) pages create a basic online presence, but not much more. Set your business apart from your competitors, by creating a ‘Company Blog’. Most company business “News” sections are blogs. “Blog” simply defines any continually updated news or significant new story or thought. Make your blog be a content section of your website