While at the CSIA Executive Conference last week, all attendees had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Alan Beaulieu, principal at ITR Economics, an economic consulting firm. He is considered one of the country’s most informed economists.
Alan’s session has been fan favorite for CSIA members for many years. Being the first time I have had the opportunity to be present in the audience, I can certainly see why. Alan’s presentation was insightful, entertaining, and relevant. His track record for the accuracy of his economic forecast is uncanny – 94.7% accuracy rate. In addition to his spot-on predictions, he gives actionable suggestions to position your business to take advantage of the present and future climate – be it up or down.
What did Alan advise?
He is forecasting an uptick in the economy beginning Q3 2016 and is forecasting it to continue through 2017 and the first half of 2018. The key is to differentiate your company so you are not a commodity. This will allow you to raise your prices to earn more money while the economy is strong. The only way to do that is through creative smart marketing to create a strong competitive advantage. Your key marketing point person – either your Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or your marketing agency partner – must be involved in all strategy meetings and decisions. Marketing should be a key piece of your company strategy, and the entire company must understand your differentiation and value proposition.
Alan advised to budget for the continued, consumer-driven economic growth. The auto industry is doing well and this has a ripple effect on the rest of the country. Manufacturing is increasing. So as the old saying advises – make hay while the sun shines! Your goal is to position yourself for prosperity. Cash will be king as we head into the in age of decline in late 2018. While other businesses are suffering during a recession, you will be in a position to invest and grow your market share.
Investing now in strong, smart marketing to show your differentiation will allow you the ability to raise your prices multiple times during the good economy we are headed into for the next two years. Alan told the audience of control system integrator business owners and executives, “Marketing is not an area where you can afford to skimp.”
In addition to the emphasis on marketing investment, Alan offered additional advice to B2B businesses. Here is a list of just some of those recommendations:
- Make sure your employee training and retention programs are top-notch
- Drive efficiencies with technology
- Hire sales people and leaders
- Lock in cost early in 2016 (i.e. property leases)
- Plan for higher wages
Our clients are control system integrators and industrial automation suppliers. In the case of the Integrators that we have not worked with yet, I often hear the following comments:
“Our business is word-of-mouth; we do not need marketing”
“We are so busy right now, we are booked, we can’t handle more business, so marketing really does not make sense for us right now.”
I certainly understand this viewpoint. But, is it the business you want? What business are you leaving behind by not putting yourself out there? What if that business was higher-profit? Have you differentiated your company?
The ultimate goal of your marketing should be to have customers come to you. Good branding differentiation is what separates your business from your competitors. An effective marketing program will open up new opportunities as potential new customers discover how your company can help them achieve their business goals.
If you are ready to explore how marketing can help your company, we can help. Contact us to learn more about our free initial consultation.