You cannot sell water in the desert unless the local prospectors know that you have it and where to find you.
That was the situation at USTEK Inc. where our business of supplying made-to-print electronic and metal components was growing at an unsatisfactorily slow rate. We needed a way to get our story out to more potential specifying engineers and buyers.
Since founding the company in 1987 we had grown in size and diversity, selling throughout North America, into the Caribbean region, and even exporting to China. The economic crash of 2008/9 had hit us hard and we needed a new approach. We began to seek a marketing strategy that would kick-start interest in our custom-making capability and get us back on a pattern of growth.
We had tried the usual on-line search engines, public speaking engagements, commission sales reps, cold-calling and authoring technical articles. Each of these took a great deal of staff time and added only a bit to the bottom line. None of them kicked us into high gear.
Then our operations manager Amy Holbrook thought to revisit the venerable encyclopedia of industrial products and services, the Thomas Register. We knew it and had used it years before but its most recent incarnation, tailored for the information age, had since been named THOMASNET.com.
At first not everyone at USTEK was on-board with this idea. Could a 120 year old company make such a dramatic change from paper publishing information on 650,000 companies to a user-friendly on-line searchable tool? A source that would cut buyer’s and specifier’s time from days to mere seconds? And would a company like ours fit into their scheme? Some of us thought this to be an unlikely pipe dream.
What convinced all of us to get onboard was the obvious organization, inventiveness, enthusiasm, and personal dedication of the THOMASNET.com team. From the very start they took the time to learn about our business, to measure the effectiveness of our current efforts, and to extract from us exactly the direction in which we wanted to grow.
They put together a layered plan that included features that THOMASNET.com would produce and items that USTEK would need to develop internally. It was a true team effort.
Did the new plan work?
We started to see immediate results with requests for quotation arriving weekly. Within six months we landed a new customer, that had found us through THOMASNET.com, whose business profit paid for the entire annual program cost. A 100% return on investment in less than a half-year.
THOMASNET.com coordinated the initial effort and then stayed with the program, month after month, to ensure that it met and indeed exceeded our expectations. Now two and a half years later they still keep close tabs on our program. They have helped us expand and fine-tune the program and are always available for us to bounce off them some new marketing ideas that we might have. THOMASNET.com has been a very wise investment decision.
The THOMASNET.com view of the relationship is on-line at their site: http://business.thomasnet.com/testimonials/ustek-a-thomasnet.com-case-study .