VOL. 9 November ISSUE YEAR 2008

Good Vibrations

in Vol. 9 - November Issue - Year 2008
Exhibition, trade magazine or internet online presence? Marketing strategies for surface finishing companies!

You can see a surface, you can feel a surface, you can analyse a surface. However, to receive a realistic impression of a surface you have to experience it live. So, if a surface finishing specialist wants to present finished parts or brilliant finishing results and procedures he has to show parts and make it possible to experience them real and live. Normally he will join one of the hundreds metal working trade shows taking place all over the world every year.

That is one element among the traditional marketing mix, but at the same time it is the most expensive element. It is more inexpensive to build up an extensive online presence, to print a brochure or to send a flyer to potential customers.

To join an exhibition requires a long-term preparation and a well-stocked bank account. Furthermore it means to engage qualified people for the essential duties and responsibilities before, during and after an exhibition as well as a spending a lot of time and money around the event.

The concept for participation in a fair has to be well thought out and must be consistent with all other marketing activities of an enterprise. Even if a marketing department has done everything excellently before and during the event, frustration can follow if the results are analysed. The performance was extraordinary, the new developments were perfectly presented and the finished parts unbeatably exhibited. But something has been missed: Qualified visitors with technical competence and decision-making authority. Confronted with the increasing information overload the buyer behaviour in many European countries has changed in the last decade. Many of them are not disposed or allowed to leave the office for visiting an exhibition. They are obliged to operate by phone, internet or with the help of field sales engineers visiting them.
What does it mean for a finishing company if the management decides to absent themselves from trade shows? In the first step without having direct contact to a potential new customer the supplier doesn’t have the chance to show something real. He has to show a perfect performance on paper or in his online presence. Does that mean that building up marketing competence in other fields is more and more important? It seems like that! Nowadays the internet performance seems to be almost as important as printed media or participation in a fair. So the virtual presentation of parts is increasingly important (but at the same time difficult). Finished parts have to be perfectly photographed to demonstrate the suppliers` competence and to build up confidence in his ability and performance. But there is the other side of the coin. The philosophy of many engineers and technical decision-makers is: I believe what I see! These people will continue visiting trade fairs to get a first impression of enterprise, products, performance, people and the way of communication. They need direct contact to get an authentic picture of new or unknown suppliers and they need real and live contacts to build up confidence. In this case the personal contact face to face may generate a close and confidential business relationship from the first second on.

In contrast to this personal contacting the online presence allows to investigate "incognito" and with distance. The visitor of an internet page has to distinguish between marketing phrases and the real capability of a company. That may be impossible in most cases because it is easy to pretend competence, productivity and experience. The visitor has to find out the truth later.  

Having ascertained the facts, the following can be declared: The perfect marketing mix for surface finishing companies consisting of print media, trade fair und online presence has to be analysed depending on the industrial sector and the local area. Each module is important. Nothing may be disregarded. To meet the personal demands of the visitor at a trade fair or at the online presence, a surface finishing company has to present a perfect performance at any time and any place. If this can be realized successfully the perfect surface may become second-rank!

Good Vibrations
by Dirk Gather,
Contributing Editor MFN
and General Manager of GZO GmbH

Tel. +49.3301.5232.0 
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