Marketing to mining: what does your company stand for?

There’s an old Chinese saying that the condition of the road is tested with a single stone.

What does that mean?

Well in the context of marketing quite a lot.

If you want to build a business as a mining supplier or service provider your main goal is to ensure it has a firm foundation.

Without a clear direction, a mission, and a clear set of core values you’re going to struggle – despite your enthusiasm.

Hope in business is not enough.

The question you first need to ask yourself is what do you want to be know for?

Your answer should be no more than a single word or a few words, and here’s a hint. What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of: BHP Billiton? Commonwealth Bank? Telstra? Woolworths? AMP?

Now of course these companies have massive budgets and a long-standing place in the market.

If you’re a start up or a small-to-medium mining supplier or service provider you don’t have massive budgets and a long-standing place in the market.

Therefore, it’s more important to quickly establish a foothold in your target market, have a clear and simple message and that you consistently and repeatedly deliver on your promises.

So without a massive budget and internal or external experts to do the work for you, how do you decide what you want to be known for and how do you build the recognition and credibility which is critical to getting people to buy your stuff?

Answer: you need to position yourself as a THOUGHT LEADER.

But what does that mean?

Well, quite simply becoming a thought leader is a process of communicating to the market the UNIQUE VALUE that you provide.

So how do you go about building a reputation in the market as a THOUGHT LEADER?

Well the first rule is stick to what you know. It’s a no-brainer. Look at your skills, knowledge and experience. Think of the events in your career where you delivered successful outcomes for clients or employers.

The next step is to link your skills and expertise to a specific problem or constant challenge facing end users in mining.

Currently the challenge facing end users in mining is meeting unprecedented levels of production, but with limited resources.

How do you help these end users overcome those problems and challenges?

The key here is to focus and communicate the UNIQUE VALUE that you offer and not broad, sweeping and general same-o lame-o statements as your competitors. BE SPECIFIC!

Thirdly, establish what your prospects are already buying and position your solutions in that same space.

For example, let’s say you supply slurry pumps.

Now slurry pumps are exposed to significant wear and tear due to the highly corrosive environments in which they operate.

End users typically throw these pumps on the scrap heap when they’ve reached their used-by date.

But let’s say you supply slurry pumps with highly wear resistant components AND you also specialise in installing these pumps and systems to optimise efficiency and extend pump life.

HEY PRESTO! As an end user of slurry pumps you’ve got my attention, because your solution could save me massive amounts of money and time in lost production from replacing and servicing my slurry pumps.

The following step is to test your message. This is a critical process that many suppliers and service providers avoid, because it means exposing your solutions to scrutiny.

A good place to start is to run your new messages and principles past friends, close relatives, colleagues, employees, peers, associates and trusted advisors. Does the message make sense? Is there REAL value and TRUTH behind the message?

For example, your proposed message might be Tough pumps and clever know-how for tough applications. Does it ring true? Does it accurately reflect your solutions?

Finally, approach your clients and contacts to test your ideas. Just explain that you want to run some ideas past them.

Most people will be more than happy to oblige. However, if you’re not comfortable with this approach tell them that you’ve come up with some new ideas and you’d like them Devil’s Advocate by highlighting anything you missed.

It’ s a sad but perverse fact that people love to shoot down ideas. However, by contributing in this way your clients and contacts are actually helping you define what you stand for.

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