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Put your foundry in a box.

Plant tours are a good way to better acquaint customers and key prospects with your foundry Getting them into the plant provides an opportunity to show facilities, capabilities and the kinds of castings that are being produced. Also, plant visits can do a good job of exposing customers and prospects to all levels of your management and your company's objectives and philosophies. In many cases, inspection teams f rom more sophisticated customer companies make a practice of auditing facilities and capabilities of all their foundry sources, looking particularly at quality assurance programs and standards. Plant tours also are an excellent way to do a low-key selling job. Frequently, they will be instrumental in closing the sale. In talking about facility improvements, the significance of how these will contribute to better castings, improved parts or lower machining and end costs should be stressed. Some excellent off-the-shelf film presentations are available on properties, metallurgy, heat treatment, casting design, etc. These can be used to good advantage during customer visits, particularly if engineering people are involved. Such films have proved to be highly useful tools for meetings and presentations to engineers and other buying influences at principal customer plants. Meetings with engineering department people are relatively easy to set up and provide an excellent background for some really creative selling on the advantages and disadvantages of the casting process. An alternative to bringing customers and prospects into your foundry is to take the foundry to your customer in the form of an effective slide film presentation. Demonstrating facilities, capabilities, cost savings, etc, these slide film programs do an adequate job at modest cost. A presentation of about ten minutes can usually be put together for 2000-3000, depending on photographic expense and how much of the scripting can be done internally. A very good one will probably cost three times this much.

Narration,of course, would have to be professional. But this is a minor cost. These presentations are normally either a slide-tape combination of strip film, sound cartridges. And there is a wide range of low cost, desktop equipment on which they can be viewed or projected if the group is larger than just a few people. The big advantage to slides is the ease with which they can be updated or changed to suit the needs and interests of different audiences. Video Tours Another lower cost medium, which in many cases has proved to be even more dramatic and useful, is a videotaped tour of your foundry facilities, including interviews with key management and operating people. This can frequently be done well for much less than the cost of a good slide presentation. Copies are inexpensive to make, and most larger customer plants have either Beta or VHS equipment for viewing. Compact, portable TV-cassette viewing equipment is now on the market at a modest COST.

One disadvantage of videotapes is that they are not adaptable to larger groups, although they can easily be converted to the 16 mm film format for this purpose, if necessary. Videotaped presentations have to be highly useful tools for with buyers, engineers and purchasing influences at principal customer plants. These people usually don't have the option of or the interest in visiting foundries. Most of them, however, have an interest in the process and would welcome viewing an 8-1 0 minute videotape showing facilities and the production of castings-from coremaking through cleaning and inspection. Again, of particular interest will be quality assurance and SPC procedures. Good films or videotapes also can be valuable sales tools for agents, as well as direct sales people. In addition to providing your agents with a useful selling vehicle, a videotape serves as a continuing refresher for them of your facilities and people. in multi-man agencies, sometimes it takes months before everyone sees the foundry. Here, a videotape will fill the gap. if the cost of having a videotape professionally prepared is considered not affordable at the present time, the project probably is important enough to your marketing people that it should move forward on a do-it-Yourself basis. Many of these amateur productions turn out surprisingly well if professionally narrated. To add a more polished appearance, it should be possible to line up someone from a nearby TV station to do the videotaping at a very reasonable cost, using their own equipment on a "moonlighting" basis.

This approach ensures a professional, high quality job at reasonable cost. Another possible way to get a good job at minimum cost would be to contact the audio-visual departments of colleges and universities in your area to see if they would be interested in helping prepare the videotape or taking on the whole project. This would include script preparation, photography, narration and final editing.

Like anyone else who is unfamiliar with our industry, the school people require careful counseling at every stage of production, and lots of guidance. However, well-supervised projects produced at local universities have turned out to be very professional, effective presentations that are developed at moderate cost.

So, if you think you may not be doing the best job of getting the message across to your prospects, customers and agents, consider putting the foundy in a box-a videotaped plant tour. You'll be surprised at the results and at how much you can accomplish with a relatively small marketing investment.
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Title Annotation:foundry plant tour as a marketing tool
Author:Warden, T. Jerry
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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