There is more marketing in our industry right now than there has ever been before. More companies are spending time, creativity, and money on getting their message out to the market. This is a vast improvement over the way it used to be when people in our industry viewed marketing as some sort of mumbo-jumbo that they didn’t need. In fact, in some cases they viewed marketing as cheating.
It’s true! About twenty years ago one innovative PCB fabricator started sending out post cards that included not only a little promotional information about their company, but also some pricing for single, double-sided, and multilayer boards…egads the gall!
This had never been done before and the other shops were soon yelling “foul”, declaring that the post card sending shop was not playing fair. It was as if there was some kind of secret rule that said it was forbidden to do any kind of advertising, or merchandising , never mind actually mentioning pricing! In our business. These guys were considered nothing if not cheaters.
And of course, as was to be expected, once the other companies saw their prices, their flagrantly exposed prices, they screamed with indignation saying they could not possibly make money at those prices and would soon be out of business.
Well, I am happy to say that this company is not only still in business twenty years later, but is one of the largest, and most profitable, PCB companies in the country today.
But now, more companies are finally getting into the act. All you have to do is look on this publication and you will see numerous PCB fabricators, design services bureaus, contract manufacturers, and their suppliers are advertising here. It’s not only a good thing, but also an integral part of doing business. The rule is simple and by now almost a cliché,
“In order for companies to do business with you, they have to know who you are, what you do, and where to find you.”
But before you advertise you have to find your story. You have to “discover” your story; what your company is all about. What do you specialize in? What kind of customer will want to do business with you, and why and most importantly, what makes your company stand out from your competitors?
I have worked with a lot of companies, helping them develop their brand; and I believe the best way to get started is to find their story. The interesting thing is that it’s always there, you just have to find it. It reminds me of the story of story they tell about Michelangelo who was fond of saying when faced with a huge block of marble, “There is a beautiful statue in there, its just my job to find it.” And the same applies to a company’s story.
I always start with an interview of ten or fifteen questions. These are focused on the company. Here are some of these questions I ask about the company I am working with:
- When was it founded?
- Why was if started?
- Who started it?
- What was their plan?
- What kind of company buys from them?
- Why do they buy from them”
- What kind of product or service are they best at?
- What is their philosophy when it comes to Quality? Delivery? Service? Customers?
- What makes them stand out? Why are they outstanding?
That answer to last question is one of the keys to their story. What makes them outstanding? I insist that my customer answers these questions carefully, thinks about her answers and is thoughtful when answering. If the company does this right, and is honest and open in its answers by the end of the project, by the time the interview is complete, we will have found that beautiful statue, the company’s story. You’ve actually probable seem some of these interviews, because most of them appear in iConnect007.com as Catching up with… articles. What you are seeing when you read one of these, is the first step to my clients’ branding process.
This story, that the interview is relating, becomes the very foundation on which a company’s branding and hence marketing, and advertising program is based. From the story we can build the following:
- The sales strategy. We know from the interview the kind of companies they sell to, so we develop a sales strategy targeting those kinds of companies
- We know what the company does best, and who wants it, hence we can use that information to develop the company’s marketing program
- Once we have the marketing program done, we will know what we want to say in our advertising and start developing the most effective messages to relay in the paid advertising program.
Think about that for a minute. Do you see the process? Do you understand how important it is to know your company’s story before you spend any advertising dollars? Not to get too personal , but this is why I like working closely with the team here at Iconnect. They not only sell advertising, but they join forces with me once I have completed the sales strategy and the marketing strategy for my client and we are ready to spend some money on advertising, Iconnect won’t just sell us ads like other publications. Instead we, as I said, join forces. My company, my client, and the team at Iconnect and we develop the advertising strategy that will be best for my client, and together as a team we work in accord to make the client successful.
In the end it is the client who comes out the winner, with a complete and synergistic and most importantly, effective branding and marketing and publicity package, and that my friends is worth its weight in gold. It’s only common sense