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Time for marketing integration.

Time for Marketing Integration

It is no wonder that foundry managers sometimes must feel like Saint George trying to wrestle a three-headed dragon.

On the one hand, you try to expand and modernize to meet customer demands and reduce costs to keep up with your competition. At the same time, your marketing program must be good enough to assure reasonably high operating rates. And, despite good long-term prospects, you must be able to cope with periods like the present when business turns soft.

One answer to the problem is to place more responsibility on the marketing function, shifting the emphasis within your company from production to marketing. If marketing assumes such normally operating functions as production scheduling, quality control or quality assurance, your production people truly will have to become marketing-oriented, rather than just providing lip service to the marketing concept.

Historically, the primary responsibility of sales and marketing people in our industry has been to generate volume. However, volume in itself frequently does not improve, profits. Many foundry managers, impressed by the strong trend in our industry toward marketing, have gone through the motions of setting up their sales managers as marketing managers or vice presidents in charge of marketing. Foundry managers then sat back, expecting to reap the benefits of integration. Usually, they have been disappointed.

It is a fact that most foundry sales managers are literally bursting at the seams. Since they probably already are overworked, adding more responsibilities to their present load only creates more problems than it solves.

In most cases, the sales manager is charged with every conceivable responsibility concerning marketing: solicitation, advertising, sales promotion, customer service, pricing, market research and sales statistics, forecasting, managing salesmen, sales training, collecting competitive information, handling complaints and a host of other functions. It is no wonder that he has little time to do much in the area of serious market or profit planning.

Against this framework, what is clearly needed in most foundries with sales above $8-10 million is another level of responsibility: the marketing manager. Without adequate staffing, it is unrealistic to contemplate marketing integration or, indeed, an effective marketing program.

Steps for Success

Nearly all successful marketing programs have evolved gradually and are characterized by four phases:

* winning an understanding and acceptance of the importance of the companywide marketing concept, which starts with top management and filters down through middle management and supervision in all departments;

* developing a marketing plan and an adequate organization that will permit the coordination of all marketing-related functions;

* recruiting and training competent marketing people;

* establishing guidelines and controls to monitor the program and enable people to make their maximum contributions.

Marketing authorities say failure in any one of these steps is likely to cause the whole effort to fail. Although they have difficulty agreeing on which are the most important aspects, marketing authorities concur that all four require lots of effort to implement successfully.

Probably the most important and difficult phase will be bringing onboard capable people for key positions. Good marketing people are a scarce commodity in our industry--and very expensive. But, as far as price is concerned, again it is not what it costs that is most important but what you get for what you spend. Low-priced people don't usually turn out to be much of a bargain. Good people are invariably smart enough to know what they are worth and cannot afford to settle for less.

Foundry marketing functions, particularly if they hold the prospect of rapid growth, are bound to attract some sales-people with questionable qualifications. Unless goals and objectives are carefully defined in a detailed marketing plan and effective means of controlling marketing activities are established, you can expect some expensive dissipation of time and money.

So, until your management gains confidence in your marketing program, it will have to be pretty hard-nosed about controlling marketing activities and their related costs.

Integration Marketing Functions

Integrating the various functions of marketing will help narrow your zone of uncertainty. Accomplishing this will usually involve three main phases:

* market research to determine who your customers and best prospects should be, to define your market niche and identify which companies comprise your particular markets;

* develop a marketing plan that defines growth and profit opportunities, organizational needs and a plan to accomplish objectives;

* field sales action, the point at which the whole marketing effort must develop its full power. This is where the marketing investment does or does not pay off.

Unfortunately, the central meaning and practical usefulness of the marketing program is too often buried beneath cumbersome marketing terminology, which often is obscure and confusing. Too many marketing people talk like witch doctors rather than businessmen. Sprinkling some of this marketing jargon on the president's martini does little to cure the sickness of anemic sales, and only hurts credibility.

Good casting marketing is neither a miracle nor a mystery. We can call point to many foundries that have put together successful marketing programs. Surprisingly, the level of marketing sophistication and success in these companies shows little correlation to company size.

Rather, marketing success is the result of how well the foundry has adopted the marketing concept and translated it into an effective action program.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Warden, T. Jerry
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Feb 1, 1990
Words:865
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