Enterprise Minnesota Magazine - June 2012
HELPING MANUFACTURERS GROW PROFITABLY
A focused, strategic marketing plan is essential for business growth and profitability.
By Deb Bly
Many manufacturing executives I’ve worked with have told me that their company doesn’t “do” any marketing. You may think the same about your own company. But if you make and sell a product, you are doing marketing. The key to growth is to do it in the most effective way.
Companies have a tendency to focus inward when they develop marketing plans, considering only the attributes of the products they sell. Proactive Marketing is a service Enterprise Minnesota has developed to help manufacturing companies to look outward and use a strategic approach to grow their business. It helps you to define your ideal target market, your competition, and how you can differentiate yourself from that competition to provide the greatest value to your customers.
Much of the program’s value lies in its group format, which gathers representatives from six to seven different companies for four half-day sessions over three months. Similar to Enterprise Peer Councils (http://www.enterpriseminnesota.org/business-growth/ceo-peercouncils.html), company representatives learn from each other by sharing their experiences and challenges with the group. In between each group session, Enterprise Minnesota travels to each individual business to coach them on applying what they learned. In the fourth session, representatives from each company come forward and present a marketing plan around a specific opportunity that they would like to pursue in their business.
The 20 companies that have completed the program within the past year now have a clear vision of what is important to their customers. They understand that while growth can come from new markets or new customers, it can also come from winning more business with existing customers. They focus on delivering value, and they do it by looking at their business from the customer’s point of view.
In today’s global marketplace, where your customers and your competition can be down the street or across the ocean, strategic marketing is crucial for sustainable, profitable growth. If you’re unsure whether Proactive Marketing would be a good fit for your business, ask yourself the following: do you know where your growth is going to come from and how you are going to get there? Are you maintaining your profitability? Do you know who your competition is? Do your customers understand and appreciate why and how you are a better choice than your competition? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may find that Proactive Marketing works to your advantage.
Enterprise Minnesota Business Growth Advisor Deb Bly works with medium size and small manufacturing companies throughout the state to identify and implement marketing strategies to grow business.
Deb has a background in strategic marketing, product marketing, branding, pricing and channel management. She has more than 20 years of experience in identifying new opportunities to grow revenue through new products and markets with in-depth analysis and interpretation of market segments.
Prior to joining Enterprise Minnesota, Deb served as senior marketing manager, new business corporate, for Bloomington-based The Toro Company, where she also served as director of marketing, commercial products. Previously, she worked for Fridley-based Cummins Power Generation as director/general manager of the mobile business group and as director of marketing for the consumer products division.
Deb holds a bachelor’s degree in both business and public administration and a Master’s of Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing and management from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
To learn more about Deb Bly, visit http://www.enterpriseminnesota.org/about-us/enterprise-minnesota-team/debra-bly.html
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