Bernard Martin

What is Rapid Production Marketing?

RPM is a Marketing, Management, Social Media and Business Intelligence Consulting firm.

www.rpmconsultants.us

  • We know about the digital space
  • We use pull interactions
  • We leverage virtual communities
  • We use the tech we recommend
  • We understand consumer behavior
  • We think strategically.
  • We implement tactically
  • We have Branding capabilities
  • We have Creative capabilities
  • We know how to measure success

About

My comments are written from a bit of a different perspective than others because I have a different set of “baggage” than you. Yes, I have worked on different sides of the supply chain; management, sales, marketing and operations and worked in different industry sectors but so have you.

In this “about” section I’m sharing my background so you have an understanding of where I’m coming from and what I’m seeing. We’re all seeing something a bit different.

Education
I graduated with an undergrad degree in Political Science and a concentration in Economics. I completed the bulk of my MBA with the exception of a Political, Econ and 2 classes on writing a strategic plan… which I did promptly and started a company but more about that later.

Management & Sales Consultant
Early in my career I worked as a sales consultant with Ken Launikonis who was closely associated with David Sandler before he started the Sandler Sales Institute. This proved to be an educational experience like no other. Working with a myriad of different industries from car dealerships, copier sales, insurance sales, banks, manufacturers, steel mills, telemarketers and even advertising specialties. It was a day-to day learning, EYE OPENING experience that lead to vast amounts of reading about management theory and history as well as sales systems and history.

Let me tell you, walking into a business owner’s office when your 23 years old, wet behind the ears on a cold call and asking for $3,000 – $5,000 for training from someone who built the company from the ground up and you just met isn’t easy., BUT it’s a tremendous learning experience.

The Start-ups
Back in the late 80’s- early 90’s it made sense to pay attention to developing trends just like it does today. Working with several start-up companies at the same time as a consultant teaches you how to juggle. Home delivery of groceries, importing hot sauce from Jamaica, co-merchandising & marketing with LaBatt’s, dealing with the Defense Logistics Agency on procurement, segmented b-to-b telemarketing, concrete salt storage domes to every county & municipality in the US, and eventually settling in at a Tool & Die maker.

Oh, did I mention selling Cray supercomputer service sales and database development?

Machine Shop to Manufacturer

The manufacting experience is a bit unique in that I was VP of an East Coast Machine Shop that introduced a product to the Metalcutting industry, the Toolex Vise, which gave me some interesting insights into what it took to change, operationally, from a short run machine shop into a manufacturing operation. After you’ve been a consultant for a while you start to wonder why only 5% of what you recommend ever gets implemented and what would happen if more where done.

North American Distribution Channels

As Toolex expanded into a channel marketing matrix, they had made the same mistakes other have made when new to using agents and distributors. They sold direct in some cases and questioned agent and distributor loyalty. It was great to bring the wealth of other industry experience and process to bear on the manufacturing industry. Once we understood how distributors worked, we ended up do very well in the markets farthest away from our location: 500%+ growth!

Global Distribution

As the expansion continued, we started to set up master distributors in other countries…. a rather unique experience learning the nuances of how different areas of the globe utilize different channels programs.

Industrial Distribution

From Toolex I moved to the West Coast and became an Industrial Distributor territory manager for Western Tool & Supply.  It was a tremendous learning experience to find out how other manufacturer’s approached distribution, how they went to market, how they viewed distributor salespeople and managed open, limited and select distribution models. I suspect I asked some questions that where not commonly asked by distributor salespeople.

Manufacturer’s Representative (Agent)

When my son was born, we moved back to Pittsburgh, PA to be near our familes and I started a manufacturer’s rep agency. Being an agent for 8 years brought to light a different perspective.  Starting an agency, pioneering new product lines, transitioning brands from open distribution models to limited models, developing machine tool dealer programs, watching manufacturer’s experience the growing pains of more sales, stock out issues, commissions not paid, commission adjustments, learning that just by looking at a product line card can tell you an awful lot about which agents or manufacturer’s have strong relationships with a distributor, which distributers are technical houses, which are selling on price alone and what motivates individual outside sales people.

Industrial Distributor start-up

Starting an industrial distributor from scratch in an economy like 2009 could be viewed as abit difficult.  Creating logo’s, websites, jackets, line cards, selecting manufacturing vendors based upon who we would compete with, who has long term relationship potential, who can be trusted, who has existing relationships, and then establishing credit, choosing buying groups to join, catalogs to private label, database software to choose, inventory to build, and most importantly, how to break into accounts that have existing and established distributor vendors…. changing buying habits….

ProBono
One of the very best things that you can do is volunteer for a good cause. Especially if doing it not only helps the organization but if it permits you to see inside other industries.

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
For those that don’t know, the PVGP is a 10 day event that gets over 210,000 people on race weekend and it all benefits Autism efforts. As an all volunteer organization it’s one of those places that you can bring your skill sets and further your own education at the same time. As the social media phenomenon has taken hold it has been very educational to be a part of it.

What started as a simple question “Why aren’t there more exotic Italian cars here?” (and the corresponding “Great idea, You’re in charge!”) turned into creating a ning website, a facebook fan page, installing google analytics, a twitter site, a beta site on SpeedTV, dealing with auto manufacturers and absolutely incredible discussions with collectors of fine Italian macchina

Gifted Education
Again, what starts out rather simple can evolve. I became involved in gifted education and how learning actually takes place in the brain. You would really be surprised how this really ties alot of puzzle pieces together. Learning how the brain works, how connections are made, or not made, really gives you a better understanding of what motivates people, self organizing structures, biological systems, business models, organizational structures and yes, social media.

In summary

When you get right down to it, it’s all really about how things work and always asking “what if…” As you read my comments I welcome your feedback.  The perspective I try to provide is based upon my knowledge of the various segments of the supply chain, but also bringing in some information from “other” sources and industries. What that really means is that I can bring you some information but real innovative things will only come to light if you bring “your baggage” and experience.

As I tell my young son, “I learn something new every day, some days I find out something that completely changes my entire view on a subject I’ve read extensively about. So be open to everything new”

Sometimes, what looks to be an ideal “way” falls flat on it’s face because of one small hurdle, one foundation level mistake, one “horseshoe nail”

Please share your insights and let’s learn some things together.

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Do you need a reference list of #Twitter #Hastags for #Mfg?

As more and more people join Twitter and other social media outlets they are finding a rather steep learning curve for all of the nomenclature used.  This is particularly true with regard to #Hashtags.

Short messages on services such as Twitter or identi.ca may be tagged by including one or more hash tags: words or phrases prefixed with a hash symbol (#), with multiple words concatenated… These hash tags also show up in a number of trending topicswebsites, including Twitter’s own front page. One phenomenon specific to the Twitter ecosystem are micro-memes, which are emergent topics for which a hash tag is created, used widely for a few days, then disappears. – Wikipedia

Again, with the massive influx of people from the manufacturing sector entering Twitter, it’s become very hard to search for or decide what the various common hashtags mean. But never fear, there’s an app for that! Well, sort of, it’s actually a website called TagDef.  Short of going there, you can check out the following is a list of commonly used hastags in the twitterverse and, in particular, the manufacturing & metalcutting industry.

Common #hashtags:

#Aero – Topics related to the aerospace & defense industry

#Aerospace – Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space. Aerospace is a very diverse field, with a multitude of commercial, industrial and military applications. This hashtag covers a great many topics. Please see the above hashtag “#aero” which appears to be more manufacturing industry specific.

#AMT – refers to Alternative Minimum Tax which has the most volume.  Although it has been used for The Association For Manufacturing Technology the larger population already on Twitter uses the first definition. Organizations should select Hastags and post their definitions sooner rather than later.

#AMTDA – American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association is a Trade Association dedicated to lead distributors of manufacturing technology. Found at http://www.amtda.org and http://amtdanetwork.org

#AutoMfg – Topics related to the automotive industry as it pertains to design & manufacture of automotive components.
Defined by the following NAICS codes:

  • 336111 Automobile Manufacturing
  • 336112 Light Truck and Utility Vehicle Mfg
  • 336120 Heavy Duty Truck Manufacturing
  • 336211 Motor Vehicle Body Manufacturing
  • 336212 Truck Trailer Manufacturing
  • 336213 Motor Home Manufacturing
  • 336214 Travel Trailer and Camper Manufacturing
  • 336311 Carburetor, Piston, Piston Ring, and Valve
  • 336312 Gasoline Engine and Engine Parts Mfg
  • 336321 Vehicular Lighting Equipment Mfg
  • 336322 Other Motor Vehicle Electrical and Electronic Equipment Manufacturing
  • 336330 Motor Vehicle Steering and Suspension Components (except Spring) Manufacturing
  • 336340 Motor Vehicle Brake System Mfg336350 Motor Vehicle Transmission &Power Train
  • 336360 Motor Vehicle Seating and Interior Trim
  • 336370 Motor Vehicle Metal Stamping
  • 336391 Motor Vehicle Air-Conditioning Mfg
  • 336399 All Other Motor Vehicle Parts Mfg

#cadcam – Topics related to CAD/CAM: Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing. Often associated with Computer-Aided technologies #CAx, Product Lifecycle Management #PLM

#CMTS - Although it does not appear as a hashtag per se, as it often appears in the form #CMTs as an alternative version of #CMT for what appears to be Country Music Television. It does not refer to Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show although, as that show gets closer, the folks  @SocMfgEng should select an appropriate hashtag

#CNC – Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machine tools. CNC-like systems are now used for any process that can be described as a series of movements and operations. These include laser cutting, welding, friction stir welding, ultrasonic welding, flame and plasma cutting, bending, spinning, pinning, gluing, fabric cutting, sewing, tape and fiber placement, routing, picking and placing (PnP), and sawing.

#CTD – Cutting Tool Distributor.

#defense – There is no definition for this category as it encompasses topics from defense in football, defense (#military) policy and economics.  For topics related to defense manufacturing please see the above hashtag #aero

#DOD – Tweets regarding the U.S. Department of Defense carry this tag. This tag is used by various gamers as well

#ERP – Topics about Enterprise Resource Planning, a system that is used to manage and coordinate all the resources, information, and functions of a business

#FB – This tag is used by people who have installed the Selective Twitter Update application on Facebook. Tweets ending in #fb are automatically imported to Facebook, all others are ignored. Just a note, if #fb appears anywhere other than at the end of the tweet, it will not sync with Facebook.

#FF – #ff is the same as (short for) #followfriday: Every friday you can use #followfriday (#FF) to suggest people to follow.

#green – Tweets related to sustainable and environmentally friendly ways of living.

#IMTS – International Manufacturing Technology Show found at http://www.imts.com

#inshoring = “#reshoring” and “#inshoring” may be thought of as the ‘opposite’ of Offshoring. It is the business process outsourcing work domestically within a given country

#ISO – Refers to the International Organization for Standardization http://www.iso.org/iso/home.html

#ISO-P – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining a variety of #steels.

#ISO-M – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining ductile irons, harder steels, stainless steels, and high-temperature alloys.

#ISO-K – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining cast irons.

#ISO-N – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining a variety of Aluminum wrought and Aluminum cast alloys, copper, copper alloys, non metal materials

#ISO-S - An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining a variety heat-resistant alloys like Nickel/Cobalt-base alloys & Titanium alloys

#ISO-H – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining a variety Hard materials such as Hardened steels (>35-45 HRC), chilled castings, hard cast irons

#JIMTOF – Topics related to the Japan International Machine Tool Fair. More details at http://www.jimtof.org

#JobShop – Topics that relate to Job shops which are typically small manufacturing businesses that handle job production, that is, custom/bespoke or semi-custom/bespoke manufacturing processes such as small to medium-size customer orders or batch jobs.

#Lathe – Topics related to lathe: a machine tool which spins the workpiece to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation with tools that are applied to the workpiece to create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation.Lathes are used in woodturning, metalworking, metal spinning, and glassworking.

#Lean – Noun: the name given to the philosophy of delivering maximum value to stakeholders with the least possible waste. Predominantly associated with the Toyota Production System and Toyota Product Development System, derived from the works of Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo amongst others.

#Logistics – Logistics topics are about the management of the flow of the goods, information and other resources in a repair cycle between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet the requirements of customers

#Materials – Topics related to Materials: anything made of matter, constituted of one or more substances. Metal, Wood, cement, etc. Sometimes the term “material” is used more narrowly to refer to substances or components with certain physical properties that are used as inputs to production or manufacturing.

#materialhandling – Topics in Material Handling are about the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the process of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal

#medicaldevice – A medical device is a product which is used for medical purposes in patients, in diagnosis, therapy or surgery.

#Milling – Topics related to milling machines, CNC milling, cutting tools, milling problems, milling products, End Mills, Face Mill, Shell Mills. etc

#Metalcutting – Topics related to the metalcutting manufacturing industry using lathes and mills in the production of components in SIC 33-39, NAICS 31-33

#Metrology – Topics related to the science of measurement.

#MFG – “MFG” is used to reference topics that relate to global manufacturing and the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale. Be aware that an alternative definition is posted from the folks at #NAM (see below)

#Moldmaking – Topics related to moldmaking: Anyone who produces molds for the injection molding (plastics), die casting (e.g. aluminium, magnesium) and ceramics industries.

#MTD – Machine Tool Dealer

#NAM – The NAM – Advocacy for U.S. Manufacturing.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Association_of_Manufacturers The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers create jobs and growth, visit nam.org.  Be aware that the more common usage of the hashtag “#NAM” is by Viet Nam veterans and National Adoption Month.

#Plastics – Topics related to plastic materials is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products

#reshoring – “#reshoring” and “#inshoring” may be thought of as the ‘opposite’ of Offshoring. It is the business process outsourcing work domestically within a given country

#SocialMedia – Social Media is an emerging form of news and information distribution that may soon replace traditional media like newspapers, magazines, tv and radio

#SM – Social Media

#SMD – Social Media Design

#SMI – Social Media Implementation

#SMM – Social Media Monitoring

#SMO – Social Media Optimization

#SMT - Social Media Training

#STEM – Refers to topics related to he acronym S.T.E.M. which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.In many forums (including political/governmental and academic) the strength of the STEM workforce is viewed as an indicator of a nation’s ability to sustain itself.

#subtweet – It’s the shortening of “subliminal tweet” which is directly referring to a particular person without mentioning their name or directly mentioning them and it basically indicates that the tweet in which the hashtag is used is a subliminal tweet.

#sustainability – is in use by several different interest groups. Use at your own risk as it relates to manufacturing.

#USMTC – United States Manufacturing Technology Consumption found at https://www.usmtc.com/Detailed Manufacturing Technology Market DataTimely, Comprehensive, ConfidentialAvailable to Builders and Distributors180 Manufacturing Technology Product CategoriesNational and State Time Series Orders DataGeographic Sales Territory Orders DataMachine Orders by End User Industry

#workforce – Topics related to the workforce: The labour pool in employment. It is generally used to describe those working for a single company or industry, but can also apply to a geographic region like a city, country, state, etc

#Workholding - Broad category of Topics related to workholding and fixturing in lathes & mills in the production of components in SIC 33-39; NIACS 31-33.

#WW – is either Worth Watching, Writing Wednesday, Wine Wednesday or Wedding Wednesday depending upon the context used.  A rather good example of why researching hastags is important in your business, organization or event.

#xmas (#cmas) – short for Christmas

For more definitions on hashtags be sure to visit TagDef

If you know of more hashtags that should be on the list be sure to leave a comment below and I’ll add them.

If you want to learn more about Social Media marketing in the industrial sector please contact us at:

Rapid Production Marketing

www.rpmconsultants.us

bernie@rpmconsultants.us

tel: 412.996.5700


Who leads the charge in Social Media? Marketing, PR, Sales, Customer Service?

Who leads the charge in Social Media? Marketing, PR, Sales, Customer Service?

Customer Service, Sales & Marketing; Who leads?

Social Media is a ‘new’ way to sell.  Selling is, after all, about relationships. People do business with people that they “like” and merely having a website, literature, advertising,etc. isn’t going to generate revenue.
What Social Media is doing is creating a new paradigm.  I know that that sounds cliché. But I believe that it’s creating a new “type” of business.  Traditional marketing adapted, very successfully in the 1980’s thru 1990’s, to creating websites after they had experience in graphics, advert buys, copywriting and literature development. It was a natural evolution.

However, Social Media has created an environment where front line sales and front line customer service people are directly affected.  Frankly, the people who tend to “get it” are the folks in the sales and CRM areas: It makes sense to them. It’s about one-on-one relationships. It’s what they already do.

I’ve spoken to a great deal of sales people who have expressed concerns about their “marketing” departments not “getting it”  Not that that “disconnect” is a new phenomenon, but now they are seeing how it can directly affect their income…. and they want more control so they can make more money, have better relationships and  sell more.

I read an article over twenty years ago that said “Small companies spend years trying to become big companies and big companies are constantly trying to figure out ways to become as responsive, nimble, and aggressive as small companies.”  The reality is that the people who are the best salespeople don’t always make the best managers and the best managers are not generally the best salespeople (Yes, there are always exceptions.)

As companies get bigger they create marketing, customer service and sales departments. Marketing management consults sales management and, in good faith, creates tools for the field.  Sometimes they get it right. Sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes sales management doesn’t always “get what the sales people need. In the new Social Media paradigm, marketing will work more closely with sales and customer service.  Marketing will create the tools and sales and customer service will USE them with and insight role for marketing.  Note, I said “insight” and not “oversight”. That loss of control could take some getting used to, but THAT is what is going to drive ROI.

So, I suspect we are going to see a “blending” of sales PR, CRM and marketing functions.  I also think we are going to see new leaders sprout up within this new paradigm. Their backgrounds could be in marketing, customer service and/or sales.  Social Media converges these traditionally separated business units and skill sets.

I have spoken to a number of traditional marketing people who have approached me to ask a variety of questions about social media.  More often than not I find that there is a certain level of discomfort: “I don’t know these products” “I don’t know these services in that level of detail”  In fact, I sat in on a marketing webinar recently and listened to the moderator say “We’re getting a lot of comments about how people are uncomfortable talking about budgets and ROI. If you’re not comfortable talking about budgets you should take a sales class, we can’t help you with that”  The marketing folks that “get” selling and understand that something has to be sold in this new paradigm will be successful.

Certainly delivering “analytics” is valuable but when it comes down to the brass tacks someone has to sell something and there has to be a demonstrated ROI for social media. You can’t just come in, build it, create graphics and say “Here’s how you measure it”.  You have to “DO IT” and/or

…. you have to train.  Unlike traditional marketing that would create a website and great landing pages, now marketing has to either become much more intimate with the products or services, they have to know how to “sell,” or they need to know how to “train” people how to use the new sales tools… and it is my belief that THAT is what Social Media tools are: Sales Tools.  Marketing need not learn the product or service nuances, they need to teach the right people how to use them…

man’s got to know his limitations Lieutenant Briggs

As a result of Social Media I think we will see marketing, sales, and customer service arrive in the space together, each bringing a “piece” of what they are good at to create something new. I think the tool has finally arrived that can make everyone more responsive, nimble, and aggressive. Now the trick is to get the tools in the right hands and the right leadership in place.

 

Successful implementation of Social Media tools gets everyone working together in the engagement

 

As always, your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.  If you would like to discuss this in more detail feel free to contact us at our website: Rapid Production Marketing

Image 1 from: Battalion Wars n-Europe

Image 2 from: Battalion Wars Gamespy

Battalion Wars is an integrated battle strategy game… You might be surprised what your kids are learning from “gaming”

___________________________

UPDATE: March 7, 2011

Here’s a link to several articles on the same subject:

Social Media’s Little Image Problem (or how to work for fame and glory)

A Day in the Life of Your Friendly Community Manager

The Hectic Schedule of a Social Media Manager

 

 

 

Using Social Media Tools: LinkedIn as a Selling Tool

We’ve covered quite a bit of topics about how to set up Social Media accounts, demographics and details of how they work.

The question that seems to be arising now is “How do I use the tools?”

How to use LinkedIn for selling

Anyone who has been in sales for any amount of time has heard at some point the importance of developing “Rapport” with customers.  Selling, after all, is a process. There are various selling “systems” out there but all of them start with the first step: Rapport

Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of subconscious communication. It is commonality of perspective: being “in sync” with, or being “on the same wavelength” as the person with whom you are talking.

There are a number of techniques that are supposed to be beneficial in building rapport such as: matching your body language (i.e., posturegesture, etc.); maintaining eye contact; and matching breathing rhythm. Some of these techniques are explored in neuro-linguistic programming.

The first time a salesperson has a meeting with a new “prospect” they are looking for things that they might have in common with the person.  This could be a hobby, an interest, or even a discussion about something in the office.  The main idea of building rapport is to demonstrate that you are “human” and not just interested in taking someone’s money. It’s about developing a level of trust.

Often times this step in the selling process is one of the most difficult and can be very time-consuming.  LinkedIn offers a solution.  By inviting a new “prospect” to connect with you on LinkedIn you can accomplish several steps in rapport building all at the same time. IF your profile is complete.

With a complete LinkedIn Profile your new contact can find out more about you, your hobbies, your interests, the books you’ve read, the recommendations you have received, and potentially know some people whom you are already connected to whom they trust.

Sandler Sales Systems Submarine: Rapport is the 1st Step

 

It’s actually pretty simple.

However, that’s why it’s of critical importance to complete your LinkedIn profile.  If you can’t communicate your experience, your background, or don’t have any recommendations, then you’re not going to be able to use this social media tool effectively.

Here’s what you should complete:

  1. Summary - Complete your summary.  It’s really what it sounds like.  Tell everyone your background and skill sets so they know your strengths.
  2. Profile Picture – A picture is worth thousand words.  It’s also helpful if you are meeting someone for the first time.  Now they know what you look like and you’re not saying “I have a blue jacket and wear glasses” Here’s a LINK to an older article about profile pictures LinkedIn that I think you’ll find useful.
  3. Experience – Merely putting down the company name and a your job title isn’t going to cut it.  If  you want to build rapport, you’ll need to add details about your experience.  If you have been in sales for any amount of time you will dread meeting someone for the first time and their expectations and yours about the nature of the conversation are 180 degrees apart.  What you do, what your experience is, is NOT what they are looking for to begin with.
  4. References – At some point in a sales career you will be asked for references.  References and recommendations are sometimes seen as a stall tactic. More often than not, it’s because the salesperson hasn’t developed enough rapport or trust with a prospect.  LinkedIn provides you with a ready-made way to provide references before the meeting.  That’s just one reason why you should be asking your most trusted connections, those whom you have had professional experiences with, for a recommendation.

Essentially, by using LinkedIn as a sales tool you “shorten the cycle.”  That first meeting, whether it be on the phone or in-person, tends to move forward with much more ease as both parties are already familiar with each other, have some rapport built, and can get down to the business at hand quicker. This makes everyone much more efficient in the use of their time.

There are several other items on your LinkedIn profile you want to look at as well, but these were covered in an earlier posting entitled “Social Media 101 For Mfg, part 1: LinkedIn” You may want to take a quick peek at the article if you haven’t already.

As always, your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.  If you would like to discuss this in more detail feel free to contact us at our website: Rapid Production Marketing

 

Industrial Equipment Sales via Social Media

A shorter version of this article appeared in the American Machine Tool Distributor’s AssociationToolTalk” newsletter in October 2010 starting on Page 4

This article on social media is going to be a bit different than previous articles that have appeared in Tool Talk.  We’re going to address some of the core questions that the AMTDA membership has been asking:

  • “Is this just a fad? Should I just wait until the dust settles to get in?”
  • “What are the best Social Media places to be? Where are my customers?”
  • “I don’t have enough time to respond to emails, how am I going to manage these marketing efforts”
  • “How do I know what my ROI is? How do I measure it?”

Flashback 1993:

Q: “What’s your email address?”

A: “We don’t have one. We do everything by fax, That’s too new. We’re going to wait and see if people use it”

Is it a Fad?

Pew Study US Internet Users 2010

Social media is generating the same conversations today.  The big difference is that the “tools” to use and manage social media are expanding exponentially and will continue to expand.  The pace of change in the last 18 months in Social Media would be like moving from NC Tape Machines to full integration of MT Connect in the same time period.

“While social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

  • Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%–from 25% to 47%.
  • During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%–from 13% to 26%.
  • By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%.”

-“Older Adults & Social Media”, Mary Madden, PEW Internet, August 27, 2010

….It’s not a fad.

Should I just wait to “get in?”

Customer: “Ok, So our first new 6 pallet Horizontal CNC hits my floor in 5 days, That’s going to be perfect. We want to move our two families of 10,000 parts/month onto them and ship 20,000 at the end of the month in 15 days before our competitor gets the work”

You already know that that is not realistic.  But that is the same kind of thinking that is taking place in Social Media.

“Hey, we can just set up a Twitter account in a few minutes”

Well, yes you can, but, just like the first time buyer of a machine tool, there’s still an awful lot to learn. The sooner you start learning, the farther in front of your competitors you’ll be.  This is a pro-active approach.  Too many b-to-b companies, particularly exhibitors at IMTS, took a reactive approach. They jumped in and created their “social media brand names” without first having personal accounts so they understood how it works.

So the best way to learn is to set up some social media personal accounts.

Start with your LinkedIn Profile.

  1. Does your profile web link say “My Company”  or contain your actual company name?
  2. Create a Company Page – it’s that little document icon next some people’s company name.

…get in now. Be Sure to read the article Social Media 101 for Mfg, part 1: LinkedIn for more details.

What are the best Social Media places to be as a Machine Tool Distributor?

  1. YouTube – It’s the simplest way to enable your sales force to have all of their product videos in one place.  You don’t need to re-create the wheel or even upload any videos.  You can go in and “favorite” your builder’s videos after you create your own channel.
  2. Twitter “Twitter’s like snack food: it tastes good, it’s fun to eat but there’s no nutritional value” In some sense, the above statement is true.  But with two  BIG caveats: It’s all in what you make of it, and, most importantly, it s FOUNDATION level application.  Without going into a lot of detail about API’s and tech jargon, what you need to know is that Twitter connects to almost everything. It’s like the junction box in an electrical system.
  3. 43% of U.S. companies will be blogging by 2012

    Blog“I don’t know what to write about, I don’t have content” Press releases, news articles, technical information…. Cut and paste.  There is lots of content available. Obviously, clear all of this with the content owners.  Actually a Blog is one of the very best things you can create. Think about this for a moment. When you type a search into Google, you don’t type just “CNC” you type what you are looking for: “cnc swiss screw machine multi axis.” You have learned over the years that by typing more information you are more likely to find exactly what you are looking for in a topic.  This is called a “long tail search.” That’s very important to know because it’s how your customers find out about your company and your products. It becomes even more important because the new algorithms used by search engines are location based.  You’ve probably noticed that when you use a “long tail search” and you’re in Chicago you don’t get listings for many places in Europe.  That’s not because there aren’t places in Europe it’s because they are NOT near Chicago.

  4. Facebook“That’s for kids.” Step back from any preconceived notions and think about this from a business standpoint.  There is a war going on.  Two data collection monoliths, Facebook & Google, are each trying to outdo each other.  In April 2010 Facebook announced at their annual “F8” conference the “Open Graph”: That’s why you are seeing the “LIKE” button appear everywhere. Here’s why that’s important:  If you recall the first time you got a day planner you learned that you should not only put your business appointments down but also soccer games, weddings and personal events. Time management 101. Your life is 24 hours a day. Facebook at it’s core is personal. But your personal life affects your business and vice-versa. Facebook collects personal data and associates it with your interests. If your title is “CNC machinist,” it permits advertisers to target that. Although Google has a massive database, they have not “aggregated” demographics as deep down as Facebook. They are both competing for ad space. If you were at IMTS in Chicago and logged into Facebook, you may have seen some ads running.  But you would have only seen them if you were with in 5 miles of McCormick Place, between 7pm -10pm, were male, between 35-55, and had some keyword in your profile indicating you were in our industry. The “pay-per-click” cost .60 cents each and had a cap on the amount spent by the advertiser. Yes, you can do that level of targeted advertising. Creating a Facebook Page is a way to become “engaged’ and be in front of your customer when they get home from work.  The busiest time on Facebook is Wednesday and Friday evening, but we’ll talk about that more later…

Where are my Customers?

They are “IN” all for the above digital spaces and probably another 1,000 more.

Have you ever purchased something online?  Have you looked down at the product reviews and decided against the purchase of something because of the reviews?  Then, did you think  “Wow, I wonder why that manufacturer isn’t reading that and fixing it? They’re getting really bad press”  The problem is that the manufacturer may not even know about the comments to address them. But B-to-B  consumers ARE researching and engaging each other.

There are a number of free products out there to use to search for who’s talking about what.  I would recommend going to Social Mention and type in your company name and brands and see what appears.  You will find that you can drill down and drill down more and then drill down even more into exactly who is talking about what where.

“How do I manage all of these marketing efforts?”

“There’s an APP for that!”  Well, actually, there are a multitude of application dashboards so that you can see ALL of your social media sites.

Realize that the heavy users of Social Media are NOT online every minute.  They have done several things, which are very important to be aware of, as you ponder social media marketing:

1. They have “wired” their social media sites together.  In all reality you can only be in one place at a time.  Different users will be using different channels at the same moment.  You notice that when you channel surf on TV that you see the same commercials sometimes?  It’s just like that. In order to maximize your exposure you “connect” the sites to each other so you don’t have to post the same thing over and over again.

Remember when I explained that Twitter was a “junction box”? This is how it “connects” Twitter

permits the sharing between sites better than most any other social media site.

Here are a couple of examples of dashboard app’s:

2. They have Pre-programmed “Tweets” and announcements. If you already do a newsletter email or product announcements electronically, you have content to use.

Two very good examples of how this can be done is to take a look at Criterion Machine Works or TechniksUSA Blog sites.  Once a blog is posted it is automatically tweeted, posted on their Facebook page and appears in a number of social media outlets.

………………Automatically

The Blogs can be programmed to post at a given time and, once the switch is flipped on the timer, everything else happens seamlessly.

That however, is not where it ends.  Unlike just sending it out there and hoping people read it, now your customer can interact back with you.

Think of social media like your cell phone. You should check it a couple times a day with your dashboard application and see if you have messages, comments, or questions and then “engage” the customer in some “conversation.”

Measuring ROI

Just as there are a number of dashboard app’s there are an innumerable number of “analytics” to gage and measure success in real time.

In fact, some of the dashboard applications I mentioned earlier have the measurement tools built right into them. Measuring is actually pretty easy.

Without going into a tremendous amount of detail on measurement tools, be aware that the list of measurement tools practically exceeds the number of social media outlets that exist.  Just for Twitter there are sites like Analytic.lyTwifficiency and Twitteranalyzer. Facebook has built-in analysis tools for their Page.  Your ROI is really going to be determined by what you put into the effort.  Just like a salesperson, the more you engage, the more return.  If you sit in the office and just send out emails and don’t follow up to engage into the conversation not much is going to happen.  “Engaging” is the key to ROI and the analysis tool sets are all going to measure this kind of activity and report on it.

Where to Start

“I’ve gotta interpolate down and then ramp into this corner with a ½” tool at an 8 thou chip load and I need a 32 finish. Which is better Linear guides vs. box ways? How’s your look ahead on that?”

Learn by Doing (National Training Laboratories)

The first time you heard that it would have been like a foreign language.  Social Media also has it’s own language:

“I put the hashtag in the summary blog post & the metatag to increase my SEO”

So where do you start?  You can’t arrive in our industry green and expect to know everything. Same thing applies for social media.

Start with a personal account on:

  • Twitter –  Set up Twitter account and follow some people. You can follow @RPMconsultants where we tweet about social media or my personal Twitter account, @bernardtmartin where I tweet about Education, STEM, F1, Economics and Foreign Affairs. You can then check out who we follow, learn some basics, ask some questions.
  • Facebook – Set up a personal account, be sure to set your account settings to “friends only” across all categories and then search for “International Manufacturing Technology Show” or “AMTDA” on Facebook.  Look at whom they have made favorites on their Company page.  Hit the “LIKE” button.

The first step is really about “learning” about how to use these tools for your business.

What NOT to do & Where to begin

  • DON”T go out and set up accounts in YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook for your company right this minute! That’s would be like a customer saying “I want to buy the CNC with the Green Paint, I like that color.”
  • Set up your personal accounts and then go to “Knowem” Search for some available names.  I’ve talked to many machinery distributor owners and employees over the years and heard “Yea, our website name is WAY too long, but it’s what we’re stuck with.”

Unlike registering your web address, your URL, with a service that reports to one central agency for verification, called ICANN, there is no single service registration of your “Social Media Brand name”

Places like Knowem allow you to search for brand names.

You want to use the same Brand name in ALL of your social media spaces.

There are several considerations in the selection of THAT name:

  • Shorter is better. Remember Twitter on permits 140 characters in “tweets” You don’t want to eat up half of it with your company name and be limited on your message.
  • Use the same name in all social media spaces. That bears worth repeating. Remember that long tail search discussion?

Comments and questions are always welcome.  If you would like more information on what we do at Rapid Production Marketing be sure and check out our website or you can drop us an email bernie@rpmconsultants.us



Twitter, QR Codes & Managing your Mobile Sales Force

What’s the next big thing? What should you be thinking about as Social Media explodes into a frenzy of evolution?

QR codes!

Scan the QR Code with your Smart Phone for the message

QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes like the one pictured at the right. It was created in the mid-1990’s by Denso-Wave to track component parts in the Toyota Manufacturing process.  QR codes are now being adapted to the tooling in the manufacturing process to track usage rates and life cycle.

However, with the increasing use of Twitter, several companies have created Twitter support applications that enable users to ‘check-in’ to, typically, retail facilities. These include products like Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt and SCVNGR with more and more coming onto the market rather quickly.  These “location based” applications allow users to send their location, via GPS enabled Smart Phones, out to Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.

It’s been a pretty big hit amongst the 18-25 demographic and has been growing in older demographic segments pretty quickly as well.  Retail chains and restaurants offer promotions like a free cup of coffee, discounts or special promotions to those people that “check-in”

But there’s a small small problem. Let’s pretend that you own a coffee shop and you want to reward the person who “checks-in” at your location the most with a free coffee. In theory, that would mean the person that is the best customer would be rewarded.  However, the problem is that you might never stop at that coffee shop, you and the owner despise each other from when you put his baseball glove in a pile of manure in 4th grade and he married your prom date.  But, every day you drive by his coffee shop, stop at the traffic signal and check in and then later go in and get your free coffee every once in a while and remind the owner that you NEVER spend money there, you just drive on by and check in.

The retailers on the one hand love this alternative method of marketing. But they want to insure that the their customers are actually in their facility.  That’s why you’re starting to see those ‘funny little codes’ show up in retail and on billboards, movie trailers and literally tons of other places.

Once QR codes have wide consumer recognition and acceptance there is going to be some very big management opportunities opening up to get more out of your field sales force, your service people and your customer service people.

Most don’t realize but QR code scanners are available as “Apps” and are even installed as a standard on many smart phones already.

What does all of this have to do with a mobile sales force?

Nothing. Yet. But I just gave you the cut of the final scene of the movie, let’s go back to the beginning.

One of the ongoing problems with managing a field sales force has been a managers ability to balance the need for detailed reporting vs. the need for the sales people to be “in-front-of” the customer. If they are writing reports they are not having face-to face time.  For years, the profession has been plagued by promotions for the people with the prettiest reports who lacked good sales skills thrust upon a talented sales force.  The balancing act has led to shorter call reports in the best cases, or longer call reports in worst cases, but with no real analysis of the data because of the lack of standardization and review: There really isn’t anyone who is doing in-depth data mining and cross referencing of the reams of field data that is available.

Another issue, that has worked itself out to some extent, first with beepers and then with cell phones, is knowing where the sales force is at any given moment to service a customer.  I’ve been in the position and listened to many a phone call from an inside support to a field salesperson that goes something like this:

“Wait a minute! Who Called?  Really! I was just there, when did they call? A hour ago!  I was right down the street and now I’m headed to my next call! I can’t get back to them until next week!  You shoulda called me when you talked to them!”

How to use Twitter & location based services for your sales force

Twitter permits users to set up “locked down” accounts.  That means that you can set up hierarchical private connections. Within Twitter a field salesperson could set up their account and only be connected to their immediate manager. The manager could be connected to all the field sales people within their operational control area.  The next level up could be connected to all below. Again, all on a private Twitter network.

Using a location based service like Foursquare, Gowalla, etc. field salespeople could check-in at an account. Again, within these specific services, they would only connect with people within their team or chain of command.  The check-ins would display for other people who also checked in at that location, but that is no different than looking through a registration log at the reception desk.

Why is this beneficial?

  1. A location and time & date stamp are provided to management
  2. A short 140 character “report” would be submitted. Companies could develop their own ‘shorthand’ for information that they wanted.
  3. Data could then be mined to create various reports and cross-referenced to known customer data.
  4. Customer service could have a “live feed” of where their field sales force is located to provide faster on-site customer support
  5. Since the reporting is done in short 140 character bursts, in real time, there may be no need for deeper reporting, or the data can be harvested to create even more detailed and robust reporting for later use.
  6. A “ticker” screen could be on display within customer support areas at a company’s HQ displaying where the mobile sales force was located at any given moment so that response time could be maximized.

QR Codes & the Future

QR codes have not yet been adopted by large consumer segments. Yet, being the operative word. As QR codes become more widely recognized, as we talked about at the beginning,  this private location based network could gather additional data on equipment, tooling, location, etc.  So a field sales force could literally be walking around scanning codes and inputting data for additional immediate support from the main office. These are all rather “forward-looking statements” but I’m hoping it gives you some things to ponder.

I would love to hear your thoughts or comments.

Social Media Marketing: Getting Started

There’s a big difference between watching Golf and playing Golf at a professional level. Social Media is no different that other professional efforts: Once you become in engaged in it you learn that it’s probably not as simple as you first thought.

In the course of talking to prospective clients I’ve found a mixed bag of comments that all go something like “I got plenty of people who are on Facebook all the time, you can create an account in 5 minutes”

Selecting your Social Media Brand NAME

Social Media Mess

Unlike when you registered your website with a registrar for your unique URL, which was all overseen via ICANN, there is NO single place that you can register all of your SOCIAL MEDIA brand name. The key to words there are “Brand NAME” and not “Brand NAMEs”.  You have to create a profile in each SM space you want to present your brand individually.

As a marketer you already know the importance of using consistent images and names.  It becomes even more important in social media because you want people to find you when they use a search engine.  If you have a mixed bag of names your message may not reach the people you want to reach and, like two ships passing in the night, you will never engage in conversation. One very good service to use to begin the process is Knowem. However, Knowem doesn’t help you establish your brand in your industry specific niche forums.

Read the “Terms of Service” (TOS)

I’ve talked to some very well-known major companies about their Social Media efforts.  When we sit and look at their SM spaces we discover that they’ve “jumped into” social media “Oh yea, we’re there!” But then we dig into it only to find that they have set up their company name as personal account and not created a COMPANY profile at all.  They at risk with not only with the loss of the SM account but also the loss of all of the conversations that they are engaged in already.

Just like entering a new foreign market there are cultural “rules” that should be followed.  By not showing respect for the local culture, and taking the time to understand it in advance, you risk creating a negative brand image that could take years to recover from to get back to zero.  Don’t burn your bridges and not even realize that you’re doing it.  Social Media spaces have their own culture. You are entering a cyber world.  Be sure to have a good understanding of how things work before you make the trip.

Linking your Social Media

Once you have selected a brand NAME in your various spaces, you will need to have a good understanding of how the various “Status Updates”, “Wall Posts”, “Tweets”, “Blog Posts”, etc all connect together.  The people you want to reach may be in one SM space while you’re posting, at that moment, in another. Determining which posts are shared and which are not becomes a very important decision.

There’s quite bit more to think about that I’ve put into the slide show below. Take a peek at it:

The above slideshow presentation should give you an overview of how to start your social media efforts.  It outlines the reach and scope of social media (SM) for those new to the space.

Getting in & Staying IN the Space

Once you have gotten into the new cyber world to market your brand, stay acutely aware that the landscape in social media is changing.  I’ve compared it to the 1849 Gold Rush in San Francisco.  Everyone is new, Everyone is from somewhere else.  What was the “best place” last week is not the “best space” this week.  That’s led some to say “Let’s wait, and not be on the bleeding edge”  The Bleeding Edge was several years ago and it was yesterday. The onslaught of new users hourly entering the social media cyber world is beyond compare.

Here’s an example, when I started using Slideshare as an add-in app on my LinkedIn profile it was NOT a social network.  It was a place to put slideshows to pull up on customer & client computers.  NOW, it’s a social network…. and the added functionality is expanding weekly it seems.  Every social media site is doing the same.  As they grow, they are becoming more and more niche, more and more industry specific, more and more topic specific.  Getting IN is critical at this point so that you, and your company, can establish your brand as a thought leader and engage and develop relationships…. but, you MUST stay engaged and continue to drill down as the individual spaces evolve.

I recently had a conversation with a client about YouTube and how it has evolved.  I showed them Don Fitchett‘s YouTube Channel Business Industrial Network. Don has been in that space (and many many others) for some time. He has over 430,000 upload views, has 1500 subscribers staying current with his latest news and he has over 5,000 friends.  That didn’t happen overnight.  Don is continuously engaged with his clients and potential clients.  Now ask yourself two questions:

  • If I wait for the dust to settle how many customers might my competitors pick up and I won’t know about it?
  • If I jump into the space and don’t understand the culture, or have a plan, what will it cost me?

Conclusion and Take-Aways

The conclusion that should be drawn after reviewing this is that developing a structured Social Media Strategy and Tactical implementation plan is crucial to your company’s success.

Without a plan you may find yourself creating a negative brand image within the space and end up spending more money trying to undo what you created and start over.

I look forward to your comments and questions.

- Special Thanks to @RonDavies for blogging about “Knowem”
- “Social Mess” infographic by Tom Cuniff
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