Posts Tagged ‘ IMTS ’

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 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 and

#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

#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

#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

#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. 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  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 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

tel: 412.996.5700

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.


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

Don’t let attendees at #IMTS think your booth is just a lot of hot air!

What are your goals for the IMTS show?

As IMTS is rapidly approaching many exhibitors are scrambling to be prepared for and caught up in all of that necessary, last-minute minutia that we all tend to forget about. But, take a moment to sit back and think about the big picture of exhibiting at IMTS. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Getting ready for launch: IMTS 2010

    Introduce a New Brand?

  • Introduce a New Product?
  • Meet with key customers?
  • Meet with Key channel partners?
  • Get leads?
  • Get orders?

As you make your final preparations we’ve put together a checklist of things that you may want to think about, and perhaps review with all of the folks working in your booth, to make sure that everyone is on the same page and understands your objectives. Think of this as a pre-game checklist.


It almost goes without saying but, have you planned to use your exhibit to meet your objectives?

  • Based upon your location type (in-line, corner, end, island) and size have you considered which areas will get the most traffic? What will be the first thing attendees see when the see your booth?
  • Do attendees have the ability to “walk
in” your booth or have you created a “wall” of display to keep them out? The best booths don’t create a “wall” that creates the impression of “we” and “them”
  • What are your exhibitor neighbors doing in their booths that could affect traffic in yours? Many exhibitors don’t talk to their new neighbors until they get to the show only to find out that the booth plans that had been made get thrown out the door because the “lay of the land” has changed. It happens at every show and it’s forgotten about immediately after the show.
  • Where is your attendee card reader located? Many times during a pre show set up exhibitors tend to forget the space for the card reader. The last-minute decision is to put the card reader in a heavy traffic area. This leads to bottlenecks in the booth with someone trying to demonstrate a new product while another is pushing through to swipe a card.
  • Have you set up your booth in advance? Do you have so many products on display that it looks like a flea market? Do customers have too many choices?
  • Conversely, have you elected not to display products that have been out for 10 years because “everyone has seen them”? I’ve seen, on several occasions, older products that are completely NEW to a first time attendee. Don’t be afraid to display them and talk about them. What may be old news to you is new news to someone else. You know the saying about “never assume”
  • Are your products glued down or can customers touch them? We’re in a very tactile industry. Attendees want to touch, hold, and use the products. If your concern is about products getting “happy feet” perhaps re-evaluate what your competitors are doing. If you are the attendee, and in one booth you visit the products are all glued down, while in another they are not only available to hold and touch, but the competitors says “Will that work for you? Take it
and try it”. Who do you think gets the business?

PreShow Attendee planning & marketing

Have you been in contact with your channel partners to find out which days they will be attending? Will their customers be joining them?

The best time to make sure you see everyone you would like to is before the show. Create a list of whom you expect to see and when. Make sure that the key contact people are available to meet them. Check the list at different points during the show. If you see that someone has not 
visited when they said then give ’em a call them on their cell, text them, tweet them and tell them
 you’re looking forward to seeing them.


  • How are you going to engage people?
  • What do you say?
  • Have you developed a “talk track” for all booth workers?
  • Does everyone know the “game plan”?
  • Are all of your booth workers fluent in the products?

I’ve been in booth at times when booth workers have arrived at the show and immediately “went to work”. Unfortunately, they had not been trained or given any instructions. This has led to the “not that’s wrong” conversations and, as a result, ruined the momentum of the sales person. They “got egg on their face” and therefore aren’t going to be effective for the rest of the show.

If you have people coming in to be in the booth be sure and have a plan to take the time to review the “why’s & wherefore’s” of you booth, your products and any information that they are going to need to help attendees. Remember one “uninformed” can give the wrong information to 100 people in a matter of hours. Take some time to review your “game plan”.


How quickly are you getting the leads into the field? Do your people take good notes? If
 you have a plan to get out literature do you have a plan to visit the customer?

Remember attendees who have put you on their pre-show planner are stopping by for a reason. If they see something that they like then they have every right to expect literature, and follow-up immediately. They have every right to expect to be treated as your BEST and ONLY customer.

What happens in your booth?

Is there a standard set of guidelines for all booth workers?

  • All the things to make "it" happen

    Are you on the cell phone?

  • Are you on your laptop?
  • Are you sitting in the back of the booth waiting for someone to interrupt you?
  • Does your booth invite people into it?
  • Is it ok to call the factory for information while in the booth?
  • Is it ok to take a call from the factory to answer their questions while you’re in the booth?

What people seem to sometimes forget is that attendees have a limited amount of time to see everything that they would like to see at IMTS. Their time is valuable.

The most important person at your booth may be the one that never asks a question, never makes a comment, but listens. That person is probably the real decision-maker and they are looking at everything but the products. The are making observations about how organized your company is, will they be able to get support, will they be able to base their process and service their customers by using your products.

If your people are sitting down, finishing their conversation and then getting to the questions you are making a brand statement about your company. At different points during the show it’s a good idea to step into the aisle and put yourself in the attendees shoes and ask yourself a simple question: “What’s my initial impression of this company?”

I look forward to any additional comments or insight your might have….

How well do you know your competitors? Do you have the right product mix?

“So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.”
– Sun Tzu

Several years ago all the rage in business books was Sun Tzu’s “The Art of Warfare”

Many read the 18 chapter of the book but few actually delved into a thorough analysis, or, more appropriately knew how to begin an analysis. So let’s talk about several methodologies.

Line-of-Business Analysis

Porter's 5 Forces

In 1979 Michael E. Porter of the Harvard Business School developed a framework for the industry analysis and business strategy development called the “The Five Forces”:
1. The threat of substitute products or services
2. The threat of the entry of new competitors
3. The intensity of competitive rivalry
4. The bargaining power of customers (buyers)
5. The bargaining power of suppliers

Without going into great detail and describing the “marketingspeak b-school” lingo, here’s what it boils down to:
1. What products do you make?
2. Whom do you compete with?
3. How well do you know your competitors?
4. Where is your product positioned relative to them?
5. How do you beat them?

Now, let’s dive into some detail. You manufacture a variety of products that compete with other companies. Let’s pretend that you are an end mill manufacturer.

You make carbide end mills as a primary product and you have an offering of carbide burrs. Is this burrs product group going to be competitive?

My Competitive Burr Manufacturers

Here’s the product you make:

  1. A Style –  Cylinder Flat
  2. C Style – Cylinder Radius
  3. D Style – Cone Pointed
  4. E Style – Cone Radius

Who are your competitors in EACH category?

  • List them all. The first step is to understand who your competitors are.
  • List everyone you can think of and then ask other people within your company, your agents, and your distributors to add to the list. Get the list together.  Remember YOU will not know everyone and you might be surprised what comes out of the woodwork.
  • Break down your competitors by the product categories (in this case, the above 4 listed: A, C, D, E style burrs)
  • Do a SWOT analysis on each category.
  • Now, what else to those competitors make? Do you have the same solutions that they have?

What you might start with may look like something pictured here on the right.

Now if your primary product is making end mills and you “dabble” in making burrs how are you going to compete with someone who makes all of the following:

  1. A Style –  Cylinder Flat
  2. B Style – Ball
  3. C Style – Cylinder Radius
  4. D Style – Cone Pointed
  5. E Style – Cone Radius
  6. F Style – Tree Radius
  7. G Style – Cone Inverted
  8. I Style – Oval/Egg
  9. J Style – Flame
  10. K Style – Flame Large
  11. L Style – Tree Pointed

If you are using a distribution channel, the distributors are going to take the path of least resistance no matter what you do.  You may have a distributor owner telling you “We like you and we want to promote ALL of your products” but in reality, when an inside salesperson get an order from a customer  with A, C, D, E, F and G burrs on his purchase order it’s just easier to place that order with ONE vendor instead of two (and split the order) regardless of what the boss says.

So you’ll have some decisions to make: Do you expand the offering so it is more complete?  Do you just keep the offering where it is at right now and accept the fact that you will lose certain orders at certain distributors within your channel?

At the outset you might not know.  But, that’s not important.  What’s important is that you MAKE A PLAN.  Then take the plan to the field.  See what feedback you get and ADJUST TO MEET THE MARKET NEEDS.

Line of Business Analysis

There’s a great company that does Line-of-Business analysis for you.  It might be worth a few minutes of your time to take a look at their website. They’re called : eCompetitors: Global Industry Dashboard


There are two very good concepts you should understand in your planning process.  OODA Loops and PDCA.  I’ll take a minute and explain the basics:


Observe, Orient, Decide, Act is a concept originally applied to the combat operations process, often at the strategic level in military operations. It is now also often applied to understand commercial operations and learning processes. The concept was developed by USAF  Colonel John Boyd.  In the fast paced world of business competition it’s a good idea to understand how fighter pilots are trained.

Boyd developed the OODA loop concept to explain how to direct one’s energies to defeat an adversary and survive. Boyd emphasized that “the loop” is actually a set of interacting loops that are to be kept in continuous operation during combat. He also indicated that the phase of the battle has an important bearing on the ideal allocation of one’s energies.  Basicially it comes down to this:

When the enemy aircraft comes into radar contact, more direct information about the speed, size, and maneuverability, of the enemy plane becomes available; unfolding circumstances take priority over radio chatter. A first decision is made based on the available information so far: the pilot decides to “get into the sun” above his opponent, and actsby applying control inputs to climb. Back to observation: is the attacker reacting to the change of altitude? Then to orient: is the enemy reacting characteristically, or perhaps acting like a noncombatant? Is his plane exhibiting better-than-expected performance?


Plan, Do, Check, Act is an iterative four-step problem-solving process typically used in business process improvement. It is also known as the Deming cycle

  • PLAN – Establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the expected output. By making the expected output the focus, it differs from other techniques in that the completeness and accuracy of the specification is also part of the improvement.
  • DO – Implement the new processes. Often on a small scale if possible.
  • CHECK – Measure the new processes and compare the results against the expected results to ascertain any differences.
  • ACT – Analyze the differences to determine their cause. Each will be part of either one or more of the P-D-C-A steps. Determine where to apply changes that will include improvement. When a pass through these four steps does not result in the need to improve, refine the scope to which PDCA is applied until there is a plan that involves improvement.

Once again, the most important point in all of this is ADAPTION.

Now put on your thinking cap for a minute. Let’s pretend that you make burrs as a ‘convenience’ to some customers.  You’ve discovered that you’ve really been able to cut down your production cost.  So much so that you make a very healthy margin on the ones you do sell.

You have a competitor who started off making burrs.  It’s their core competency.  It’s where they got where they are and NOW they are is starting to make end mills: your core competency. What do you do?

Use the loops: Do the ACT part!

One possibility is that you offer a low price volume promo to your distributors in certain markets to get them promoting your burrs.  Target THEIR core competency!  Go after them where is hurts. Go after them in their strongest market.  BUT, make it a feint: While they are busy trying to keep marketshare, you can expand your business in your core markets.

Don’t be afraid of any of the processes listed.  I’ve heard manufacturers say “I’m just a small company, that stuff is for big companies”  My response is generally along the lines of “How do you think those companies got to be big companies?”

Finally, take a look at some other process’ that are out there.  If you can use an already created template to do the reviews and analysis then grab them and utilize them.  The Hoshin Strategic Planning process is a good starting point.

Hoshin Strategic Planning
“The hoshin process is, first of all, a systematic planning methodology for defining long-range key entity objectives. These are breakthrough objectives that typically extend two to five years with little change. Second, the hoshin process does not lose sight of the day-to-day “business fundamental” measures required to run the business successfully. This two-pronged approach provides an extended period of time for the organization to focus its breakthrough effort while continuously improving key business processes day to day.”

Final Thoughts

I’ll Leave you with this:

“I have treated this game in great detail because I think it is important for the student to see what he’s up against, and how he ought to go about solving the problem of practical play. You may not be able to play the defense and counterattack this well, but the game sets a worthwhile goal for you to achieve: how to fight back in a position where your opponent has greater mobility and better prospects.” -Fred Reinfeld , The Complete Chess Course