Author Archives: Ashley Scray

How well do you know your customers?


Do you know:

  • What your customers truly think of you?
  • How they rate you relative to your competitors?
  • What their needs are and which of these needs may be unmet?
  • What the main drivers for their purchasing decisions are?

If you answered no to any of the questions above, it may be because you have not conducted a formal voice of the customer (VOC) study in quite some time…or ever.

Manufacturers should be constantly considering new ways to grow their business, and many do not realize that the solution may be sitting right in front of them. If you are ever uncertain about where to invest, what machinery to buy, which markets to enter, and/or which functions to grow, the answers can usually be found by listening to your current, former, and/or prospective customers through voice of the customer (VOC) research.

VOC research is a process for capturing customers’ wants and needs on an ongoing basis. This research should be conducted in a way which it is repeatable and responses can be benchmarked over time, as customer needs change. Questions focus specifically on what you need to know to grow your business. Some companies choose to conduct this research in-house; however, we have found that by having a third party conduct your VOC research, you are able to illicit more authentic and candid responses. 

Ady Advantage has conducted a broad range of VOC market research for customers, including face-to-face interviews, phone interviews, online surveys and focus groups. We tailor our specific approach to meet the characteristics of your customers and your goals.  We know how to harvest the insights gained from these exercises to craft strategies that will set you apart and on the path to growth.

If you want assistance in getting inside the heads of your customers, contact Ady Advantage at (608)663-9218 to discuss how we can help!

Are you RFI ready?


We recently worked with a client on a site location project that had an extremely short time frame to make a decision. This is not an unrealistic scenario in the world of site selection. EDOs that are able to respond in a timely manner and include all of the requested information will increase their chances of winning projects.

The key to responding to an RFI on short notice is having a standard form, packet or collection of up-to-date data and information that can be tailored to each RFI. It’s our experience that usually upwards of 80% of the content of most RFIs is essentially the same from one project to the next. Why not plan ahead and have this core information ready? (It’s the same type of information that should be on your website and marketing materials, so you have to collect it and be knowledgeable about it anyway.) That being said, your response should also include information tailored specifically to the RFI. This type of information might include wages for specific occupations, relevant workforce/training programs, potential supply chain opportunities, etc. It can be a little tricky to determine what other types of information should be included in the response, but a good starting point is the RFI itself. If the information is requested in the RFI, it is important to the decision and should be included. Believe us when we say that site selectors do not go out of their way to ask EDOs for specific data unless they really need it. This seems obvious, but we have seen numerous RFI responses that do not even provide the information requested in the RFI.

One of the easiest ways to be eliminated is to have gaps in the sites and buildings information you provide with your RFI response. It can create a headache for site selectors when trying to compare buildings and two are missing square footage, one is missing price and one is missing number of dock doors. Having property listing sheets that are completely filled out can put you miles ahead of the competition.

Spending the time to make sure your RFI responses are consistent, clear and complete will give you a better chance of winning projects and help keep you top-of-mind with site selectors when the next project comes around.

Need help determining what information is most important to have on hand when an RFI comes through your door? Ady Advantage can help. Through our site selection work, as well as a number of Mock RFI projects, we can help you make your RFI responses stand out and give you a better chance of winning projects. For more information, contact Janet Ady at 608-663-9218.

How will you grow your business this year?

Diversification and growth are goals of most manufacturers, no matter how big or small, or how successful they are. The question is not whether you want to grow and diversify, but how to do it.

Ady Growth chartIn working with dozens of manufacturers over the past several years, we’ve found it useful to think about growth and diversification using the two-by-two matrix shown here, where growth and diversification can be broken down into four categories:

  1. Sell more of your existing products/services to your existing customers
  2. Determine your existing customers’ needs or the needs of the market as a whole and provide them with new products/services
  3. Use your existing products/services to identify new markets and customers
  4. Develop new products to sell to a new market and new customers

What do all of these options have in common? In each case, you need to identify a need in the marketplace. However, simply identifying a need is not enough. At Ady Advantage, we help you identify unmet needs and then provide the data and rigorous analysis required for you to make the best business decision about which to go after – and how. As the research guru here at Ady Advantage, this is my favorite part.

Recently, we have worked with clients experiencing declining sales due to downturns in their end-user markets, especially agriculture and defense. If you have all of your eggs in one basket, these industry downturns can have extremely detrimental effects on your company. By not diversifying, you’re putting your company’s success – and survival – at risk.

Ady Advantage can not only help analyze opportunities in your current end-user markets, but can identify potential opportunities in end-user markets that you may have little to no experience in. We can help you identify a new market that would be a great fit for your company that you would otherwise be unaware of.

In the past year, we have researched and analyzed over 15 end-user markets on various factors such as size, past growth, projected future growth, concentration ratio of large players in the market, and key trends and drivers in the industry. Using a variety of analyses, we can determine the size of the market opportunity within each end-user market.

The following is a list of end-user markets for which we have collected data over the past year:

  • Aerospace
  • Agriculture and Agricultural Machinery
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Conveyor and Conveying Equipment
  • Defense
  • Foundry
  • Electronic Components
  • Food Processing (over 20 specific subsectors)
  • Hydraulics
  • Machine Shops
  • Material Handling Equipment
  • Metals
  • Mining
  • Oil and Gas
  • Rail

What plans does your company have in place to protect against an unexpected downturn in a critical customer market segment? With the uncertainty in today’s economy, not having a plan for diversification puts your company at risk. Ady Advantage can help you plan for success by identifying potential new markets and using that data to create a strategic plan that will help your company diversify and grow. We can also help you implement those plans by creating customized strategic marketing and branding services designed to help you achieve your goals. Learn more about our market research and marketing and branding services for manufacturers on our website, or contact Janet Ady (608-663-9218) to discuss how we can help your company diversify and grow.