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If at first you don't succeed ...

If you feel frustrated by today's casting market, I am here to tell you that you aren't alone. Whether it is offshore competition, over-demanding customers and/or regulatory burden, these pressures are frustrating every U.S. metalcaster.

The key to surviving this frustration is patience. In addition, metalcasters must realize that brighter times are ahead and efforts must begin to seize the future.

You see, you have the chance--right now--to shape the future of your facility. Forecasts for casting demand are pointing to peak production years--25-year highs--for the U.S. foundry industry from 2007-2009. while all foundries will benefit from this rise in production, those willing to make the extra effort could see exceptional growth beyond the average.

What does this opportunity depend upon? In part, it depends on your firm's ability to market its capabilities.

This editorial page has espoused the virtues of marketing in a down economy on several occasions (for one reason, it keeps your brand in front of the customer when nobody else's is). But now that forecasts are pointing to a brighter future, this idea takes on new meaning.

Two statistics to consider:

* the average person requires five to ten exposures to a brand name or product before he or she will make a commitment to purchase it.

* the average person requires more than 30 exposures to a marketing or sales tool (advertisement, brochure, direct mail, etc.) before they can remember it at will.

Both of these statistics are taught in every marketing 101 class. In fact, without repetition, most marketing campaigns--meaning, for the purposes of this editorial, the act of publicizing your firm's capabilities to current and potential customers--will have little chance for success. While this publicizing is often thought of as advertising, trade shows, telemarketing and direct mail, it can even include face to face communication with your customer on casting designs. The key is the repetition.

This theory became reality for me recently.

During a recent presentation to a class of metalcasters, I became involved in a discussion on casting conversions. I argued that foundries must work with their customers to become involved with cast component design up-front so they can influence the casting design and, more importantly, influence the design of the end product to make both the casting and end-product more efficient and cost-effective. A member of the class responded, "We have done this, but the customer then will take out new design and ship it overseas to an offshore competitor. Why should we help them again or get burned the same way by another customer?"

My response: "Because you have no choice. You must keep trying until someone opens the door to you and keeps it open."

This response was supported by a foundryman in the class who detailed the efforts required by his firm to convince a customer to take a chance on conversions to casting. To summarize his stow, his foundry had the opportunity to walk his customer's floor in search of conversion candidates. Over several months, the foundry worked up redesigns to castings for five different weldments, presenting each individually with a cost savings, weight savings and/or performance improvement.

On the first four redesigns presented, the customer said no. On the fifth, however, the customer accepted the redesign. In addition, once the redesign was approved, the customer said it would re-examine the previous four conversion attempts.

Why the change of heart by the customer? The answer was timing, as the buyer now had time to work with the product engineers to see how the redesigned cast component could benefit the end-product.

Timing is one of the key reasons repetition is critical to any marketing effort. Maybe your customer contacts are having a bad week or they are bombarded by distractions. Repetition with all marketing efforts (even face-to-face communication) ensures timeliness and that your brand is in front of customers at the right time.

Repetition also builds familiarity with your customer contacts, which leads to credibility. Gradually they come to recognize that your company is stable and will eventually start to develop enough trust to start doing business with you.

The simple lesson is that you must put your brand in front of your current and potential customers multiple times each month, using multiple medium with similar images. Following these efforts, it is critical to measure the response from each of the mediums to ensure there is a benefit.

It is time for foundries to wake up from the downturn and repeatedly market their capabilities to their customers. If you have had success with one method, try establishing your brand in new ways. The key is to start because the upswing is on the way and it doesn't pay to be average.
COPYRIGHT 2003 American Foundry Society, Inc.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Editorial; casting market
Comment:If at first you don't succeed ...(Editorial; casting market)
Author:Spada, Alfred T.
Publication:Modern Casting
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Previous Article:What has been the best source of new casting work for your foundry?
Next Article:U.S. Dept. of Defense Metalcasting Research signed into law.

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