A lthough most small to midsize injection molding firms have little or no budget for marketing (other than their salespeople's salaries), there are still effective and inexpensive methods of developing a burgeoning list of prospective customers. Through standard practices such as prospecting in regional manufacturing guides and trade journals, you will be able to find more leads. Corresponding with potential customers about your capabilities, your production techniques and your specialties will lay the groundwork for future opportunities.
The key to developing and expanding a customer list is to identify your firm's strengths and future business strategy, then match your criteria with companies that require your current and future level of capabilities. For instance, are you going to continue to mold electronic connectors, or concentrate on medical molding?
If you answer these kinds of questions honestly, you can build your client list based on those factors. Whatever the answer is, you should tailor your lead prospecting to match your strategies.
Another important aspect of a marketing and sales strategy is to maintain non-verbal contact with your leads through newsletters, press releases, direct mail and personalized letters. The cost of producing this type of material has been drastically reduced since the advent of desktop software available with most PCs.
Although you may speak to your lead only once, you can keep your firm's name, and hopefully its capabilities and molding forte, in the back of your contact's mind.
We all know that developing any business today is a difficult task; it takes perseverance, dedication and smarts. The main way to increase your business (other than through acquisition) is to cultivate a new group of potential customers.
Unfortunately new customers don't spring up as quickly as they have in the past, but these methods will help you develop a steady stream of new customers.
I stated that small to midsize companies don't normally have a marketing budget; however, it seems most firms have brochures and facility lists. Unfortunately, all too often those brochures sit in the stock room. Using your brochure as your initial direct-mail salvo and combining that with a customer form letter discussing your capabilities and successes is a cost-effective, powerful direct-mail tool.
Further, ideas such as technical bulletins, or newsletters will keep you in constant contact with your potential customers throughout the year. Also, letting the trade magazines know when you've had a plant expansion or added equipment or hired new people will add to your company's exposure and reinforce the image that you've been building with your lead base.
Once you've begun your lead base building and sending out brochures, it is imperative that you manage your database effectively. Choose a standard software package that will track your leads in any way you want: by market segment, by region, by ZIP code. Using a good database management program will allow you to easily update contact names as well as simplify letter writing and label making.
These techniques may sound simplistic, but the most important aspect of this program is the continuity with which this marketing strategy is followed. This program is for the long term, and requires a slow, steady buildup of your visibility and recognition by your potential customers through your total efforts. This will lead to a strong foundation of new potential customers, and will demonstrate to your existing customers that you are committed to advancing your technology and your capabilities.
Sivieri is president of Molding Concepts, a sales and marketing consulting company in Bridgewater, Mass.