Tag Archives: industrial sector

Industrial Markets Outlook: The Search for the New Normal

D. Mark Douglass, Ph.D. a Sr. Equity Analyst – Industrial Technology at Longbow Research will be our Keynote Speaker for the opening meeting on Wednesday night at the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit.

Dr. Douglass will give us a high-lev

el overview of the macro economy, reviewing the current status and trends in macro indicators of interest to industrial markets. Following the macro view, he will then break down stats and trends in various industrial end markets and, in particular, those which are likely of more interest to automation companies. There will naturally be some references to the stock market (after all, he is a stock analyst!) but these will be kept to a minimum as this is not an investor conference but a sales and marketing summit. The attendees should find this information very useful as they assemble their data in trying to figure out where markets are headed in the next couple years.

About Mark Douglass

Mark Douglass is Vice President, Senior Equity Analyst at Longbow Research, a Cleveland-based independent sell-side research firm serving institutional investors. Mark covers Industrial Technology companies that provide a variety of automation, instrumentation, motion and control products such as Rockwell, Emerson, AMETEK, Roper, and National Instruments.

Prior to joining Longbow, he worked as a senior engineer for both small and large industrial manufacturers, specializing in advanced manufacturing development. Mark is a member of the Laser Institute of America and the American Welding Society and has sat on several industrial standards committees. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois.”

About Longbow Research

Longbow Research was established in 2003 to provide the institutional equity research market with a high quality, independent product, free from the many conflicts of interest that plagued bulge-bracket research at that time.

Initially, the firm consisted only of analysts producing in-depth research on a short list of companies. In 2004, Longbow Research hired its first salespeople and also established an agency-only trading desk to facilitate client payment for the research. While this marked the beginning of their sell-side business model, they have strived to maintain their buy-side stock-picking research culture.

Today, Longbow Research has moved beyond the start-up phase and is growing rapidly. They have recently opened an NYC office and have also expanded their research survey offering to cover a number of important supply channels in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Outperformance is the focal point at Longbow Research. In the highly competitive institutional asset management business, investors have come to rely on Longbow Research for their commitment to success. They provide unique insights and primary data on specific companies, supply channels and industries. These unique insights are gathered in-house through a number of market surveys, supply channel checks, retail polls and an extensive network of industry contacts. Thorough work at this level allows them to identify key trends as well as potential catalysts. Second, from this foundation research come actionable ideas. Their valuation work combined with their sensitivity to catalysts allows the industry analysts to develop and advance an investment thesis on each company they cover. They are looking for mis-priced securities and the catalysts that will trigger a correction to fair value. Third, they endeavor to put this work into their clients hands in a timely manner that allows them maximum flexibility to benefit. Their entire research process is aimed at providing clients with a tactical advantage in their efforts to outperform their peers. Internally, their analysts are compensated primarily on client support and stock-picking. They pride ourselves in having a buy-side stock-picking culture within a sell-side business model. According to Starmine, Longbow Research was ranked 31st among the top 200 firms on Wall Street in 2008 stock-picking.
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No, I don’t want to talk to your sales team

Chris Rand

Chris Rand, Business Marketing Online

This is a guest post written by Chris Rand. Chris leads a UK-based online marketing agency and consultancy, tailored to manufacturers and distributors in the industrial, scientific and wider business sectors.

I’m constantly amazed at the number of websites which think that all they need to offer visitors in order to turn them into real prospects is a “contact the sales team” page. There are two huge flaws in this approach.

(Actually, let’s not call it an “approach”, because that makes it sounds like it was intentional. Most websites which just have a single “contact the sales team” page as the only next step for visitors have this because whoever designed the website didn’t really think about this most critical aspect of the site. So rather than an “approach”, we should probably call it a “lazy cop-out”).

Anyway, there are two huge flaws in this lazy cop-out.

The first is procedural, in that you’re making people go to another page to contact you, and when they get there they find it’s a generic page and they’ve got to tell you what they’re interested in. That, coupled with the fact that most “contact the sales team” forms are unnecessarily complicated, means that a fair proportion of potential prospects will just bail out in horror. There are plenty of other suppliers around, and they certainly weren’t sure you did what they wanted, that was why they were “making an enquiry” rather than ringing you up to buy something straight away. If you can’t put a form on every page, at least transfer the details of the page (and the product it described) to the form.

The second flaw is that plenty of visitors – in fact, the majority, I’m sure – don’t want to “contact the sales team” (and however you dress up the form, that’s what they’ll assume it is). Many visitors are much further back up the “sales funnel”. They might want your stuff in the future; they might just want some literature to see if you’ve got what they need; they might just want to read some testimonials to reassure them before they “contact the sales team”. Don’t let these people go away empty-handed. Give them information which demonstrates you understand their situation. Show them your satisfied customer testimonials. Offer them a free subscription to your newsletter or blog.

Maybe you’ll ask for their contact details in exchange for these. Maybe you won’t. But don’t assume they will all be keen to “contact the sales team” right now. Because they won’t.

You may have come across Chris over the past twenty years if you’re in the UK engineering sector: Chris launched the Engineeringtalk website and weekly newsletter back in 2000, building it to a circulation of over 50,000 and making it the UK’s top online publication for the manufacturing industry, before handing over ownership of the entire Pro-Talk network to Centaur Media in 2006. Before that, Chris was the editor of Industrial Technology magazine, taking it from its 1988 launch to market leadership within five years.

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What is Web 2.0 and Why Should it Change the Way I Do Business?

As a buzz word, you’ve probably heard the term “Web 2.0″ thrown around before. You may even have a good idea about why this is important or how it has helped you engage with B2C companies outside of the workplace. How, then, is this relevant to your business in the industrial sector? You have a company website, isn’t that enough?

Tim O’Reilly first coined the term Web 2.0 at a conference back in 2004. He defined it as a way to ‘harness collective intelligence’ and ‘the wisdom of the crowds’.

Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as:

“A site [which] allows its users to interact with each other as contributors to the website’s content, in contrast to websites where users are limited to the passive viewing of information that is provided to them.”

Web 2.0 technologies enable a new generation of interaction on the Internet. Product reviews, forums, social networking sites, and blogs offer communication and collaboration on a new level not previously afforded to online users.

In a world where what we do, where we do it, and who we do it with is so often influenced by those around us, we can now network with peers around the world without leaving our computer. User-generated content means we can step around corporate sales pitches and draw on the opinions of others to help us make decisions instead.

Chris Jones explains the importance of such meaningful engagement:

“Many still don’t realize that the new internet – call it Web 2.0 – offers a radically different proposition: collaborating with others via an open, multi-party exchange.”

Amazon is a great example of this. Not only does the online shopping giant invite you to review items you’ve purchased through the site, but it also allows you to join relevant communities and create your own lists of recommendations for others to view.

The danger is, in our efforts not to step outside the box, we risk being left behind. Web 2.0 is not going to disappear. The Internet increasingly revolves around users and how they share information. Those online no longer solely rely on brands to feed them the information they need.

Businesses which refuse to acknowledge the Web 2.0 era of Internet technologies risk distancing themselves from those they most want to talk to. By not reaching out and affording people an online platform for their voice, companies could end up sending the message that they simply don’t care about the questions, problems, or opinions of their customers.

Using LinkedIn and Twitter, I asked how Web 2.0 and the new culture of participation have improved peoples’ experiences with businesses as consumers or otherwise. Here are some of the responses I received:

LinkedIn responses

There are lessons here for the B2B sector. Online tools which cultivate an open exchange culture enhance dialogue between companies and customers. Businesses should no longer be pushing their wares onto potentially interested parties. Instead, they must take a step back and offer the tools for people to make their own decisions.

1. Start small

Consider how you could encourage visitors to engage with the information you currently provide online. For example, could you have your website developer implement software to facilitate product reviews?

Alternatively, where are people already talking about you? Could you start a Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook account and join the conversations there?

What about niche industry forums? Don’t jump in and start pushing your product or service. Take the time to ingratiate yourself into the community by offering advice to others instead. Be honest about who you work for.

2. Consider new ways to prompt feedback

Could you start (and maintain) a company blog with comments enabled? What about a forum for your customers to discuss problems or questions? Think outside the box. What are your competitors doing? More importantly, what aren’t they doing? Be innovative.

3. Help, don’t sell

Think in terms of helping people. If you only focus on the bottom line, you’ll miss opportunities to network and engage customers and those who may, one day, become customers.

4. Be prepared for negative feedback

Realize not all the feedback you receive will be positive. Don’t be afraid of this; use it to your advantage. Don’t delete comments from frustrated customers, however tempting. Allow others to see you acknowledge you have room to improve and are doing everything in your power to do so. Be transparent. A good example of this is Domino’s ‘Pizza turnaround’ and how the company used negative feedback to improve both its product and reputation.

5. You can’t stifle the conversation

Don’t forget, whatever you do, people are talking about you anyway. They could be talking about you both offline to their peers, and online – via forums, communities, social networking sites, social bookmarking sites, blogs, and other third party websites. If you can think of ways to embrace these conversations online, you can help position yourself as a trusted source.

The question is: how much do you value what your customers have to say? And are you giving them the tools to say it? Because if you don’t, you can be sure that someone else will.

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