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Don't trust logic in casting marketing.

We look for creativity. This is what distinguishes us from computers and other mechanical information processing systems. Sales and marketing, as in few other areas outside of the arts, place a high premium on creative thinking. Without it, there would be far fewer foundries and a much lower level of profitability.

Creating new ideas is one of our unique abilities. If computers could laugh, then they too would be capable of creativity. Computers arrange information in the best manner with reference to a program, but they cannot go beyond the program. In biological systems (like us), there is no program. Therefore, our arrangement of information is usually less effective than that produced mechanically.

This fundamental difference means that, in the imperfect but flexible mind, there can be a spontaneous and complete rearranging of information, leading to entirely new concepts and more effective marketing programs.

But all this doesn't mean that reason is to be discounted completely. Far from it. Without reason, any kind of organization would be impossible. The problem in marketing is that blindly following reason usually leads only to refinements and improvements of accepted premises.

In a creative field like marketing, we want to develop new premises--not just wait until our minds, in some flash of insight, accidentally come up with a new concept or idea. Actually, we should try to nurture our creative abilities and practice lateral thinking, instead of vertical or traditional thinking (which makes marketing people go stale).


The ability to restructure concepts and diverge from traditional thinking distinguishes the successful marketing manager from his plodding peers. If there are more effective techniques for marketing castings, then the search for these techniques will involve a steady progression of restructuring.

For instance, take the now-classic business story about the skyscraper that was built with too few elevators. Soon, the building's tenants became dissatisfied with having to stand around waiting for the elevators, and they began to leave.

The architects and engineers were called back to study the problem. They carefully considered the best way to increase the number of elevators. Driving a new shaft through the floors or adding one alongside the building were both very expensive solutions to the problem.

Finally, operations research people were called in and they came up with a cheaper solution: install mirrors around the entrances to the elevators. The secretaries, typists and others became so interested in their appearance that they forgot to notice how slow the elevators were.

In hindsight, the solution is obvious. But, in practice, no amount of concentration on how to install more elevators would have led to the idea of installing mirrors instead. A shift in point of view, a restructuring, was required.

In the castings industry, many such lateral-thinking marketing concepts have paid off handsomely for forward-thinking foundries: JIT programs; tie-in machining, coating, assembly and other value-added services; prototyping; long-term purchase agreements; guaranteed coating programs; partnering; and other marketing innovations.

In the past, it has been easy for most foundries to just ignore these marketing innovations, labeling them as risky and unnecessary.

Creativity Pays Off

All such programs in our industry have been the result of lateral thinking--seeking new and different ways to more effectively market castings and the services we provide to our customers. But, how do we shift our thinking laterally to become more creative?

Initially, it requires a conscious effort to shake up old concepts and see what happens. It means taking risks and meeting opposition because you will be deviating from the status quo. It also involves taking the time to come up with different answers to a number of major and minor problems every day, until this creative questioning becomes second nature.

Creativity is no longer the exclusive province of the artist, writer or musician. It is fast becoming a requisite for successful sales and marketing people. Historically, ideas have lived longer than people, but this is no longer the case because of improved communication and technology.

In business, and in marketing particularly, our education has focused on establishing certainty and security of ideas. Now we have set aside some of our logic and developed the mental tools for dealing with change in a more effective manner.

So, don't trust logic entirely in developing a more effective marketing program. And don't be afraid to divert the flow of marketing ideas and concepts from natural, high-probability paths to a search for new and different marketing approaches.

Perhaps the greatest attractions of lateral thinking are that it seeks the simplicity of a good marketing concept and that it is open to everyone because creativity doesn't necessarily rely on intelligence or education.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:creativity as a marketing tool
Author:Warden, T. Jerry
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Sep 1, 1992
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