Friday, September 25, 2009

On Elevating Yourself from the Low-Price Fray

Good column over at btobonline: Can low price be beat in today’s b-to-b markets?

It’s been a key question for years, but the current marketplace has made the low-price issue even more urgent.

What to do? We like columnist Kay Plantes’ suggestion that B2B companies refocus on their business model strategy.

That’s exactly what some of the midmarket manufacturers we work with have done. Price is a huge issue in this segment, and the recession has certainly made it difficult to avoid getting sucked into self-destructive pricing wars.

But our clients have been fighting back. They’ve taken a close look at what they do that customers value the most, and they’re actively adjusting their business models accordingly, by zeroing in on a niche or approaching customers with more robust offers.

So you can start there. The key then is to follow through on the new business model by linking it directly to marketing strategy and execution you need to achieve your goals. Don’t drop the ball. You’ve got to take that strategic focus, articulate it clearly and run with it, making it the backbone of all communications and interactions you have with current and prospective customers.

The result should be less emphasis on products and prices, and greater emphasis on the unique value your organization provides to customers through your refined business model strategy.

This is what’s meant by “strategic marketing communications.” It’s based on your goals, it’s well grounded and it really gets you somewhere—out of the low-price game.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Let’s Hear It for U.S. Manufacturing

It’s nice to see someone sticking up for U.S. manufacturing, for a change. Example: Rockwell Automation Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Keith Nosbusch, has been visible and vocal lately advocating for more investment in the sector.

"U.S. manufacturers absolutely must have innovative energy-efficient and productivity-enhancing technology to be competitive," he told a press briefing last week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The good news is that many manufacturers are applying these lean technologies. The not-so-good news: Too few people are aware of this success.

That’s why it’s refreshing to hear an industry leader like Nosbusch speaking out. We’ve talked a lot in this space about the need for manufacturers to market their individual companies with differentiating brands. Today, the need for more powerful communications may be equally important for the manufacturing sector as a whole.

After all, despite the tough times and fierce overseas competition, manufacturing remains a vital backbone of the U.S. economy. This sector deserves and needs support, and manufacturers should not and cannot allow themselves o be overlooked.

Kudos to Nosbusch for putting himself out there on this front. Now, are there any other manufacturing leaders ready to lend their voices?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dear NFL: You’re Doing It Wrong

So, the National Football League is moving to restrict fans’ in-game tweets and other microblogging activity. The justification? The threat posed to the NFL’s exclusive TV contracts by fans giving play-by-play updates and posting video clips.

This attempted crackdown is so misguided we’re not even sure where to start. Maybe here: Are Roger Goodell and the gang really so worried about random, shaky handheld video on Twitter enough to risk alienating hundreds of millions of fans with these heavy-handed, paranoid/defensive tactics?

From a Forbes article on the topic: “The strong-armed tactics demonstrate how worried sports leagues are about the impact of social media on their business. But they also open the NFL up to a potentially ugly legal battle if the league cracks down on fans.”

But it’s a lot more than a litigation nightmare. The NFL has a great community of rabid fans. And even if social media was a slight drain on sports broadcast audiences, this would still be just plain bad PR. Instead of going on the defense, the NFL should play a little offense and leverage social media to channel the enthusiasm of its fan base.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer’s Over (Sort of), but Economy’s Heating Up (a Little Bit)

Most of us consider Labor Day to be the end of summer and all the good vibrations that go with it. Nevertheless, we’re feeling pretty upbeat around here.

And it’s not just because of the coming three-day weekend. It’s also because of the coming economic recovery. There are more positive signs every day:

-- Global economic acceleration

-- Private sector hiring

-- Productivity up

-- Private equity investments increasing

Tell us your thoughts here or over at Positive Breakthroughs, our LinkedIn group sharing economic optimism.

And then be sure to enjoy your long, still-summer weekend.