Alan Hitchcox

Probably the best leads for companies come from satisfied customers. If you’re happy with a product, you’ll probably purchase it again. You’re also likely to share your satisfaction with colleagues.

However, companies want to grow, so how do they attract new customers? Perhaps the most important method, of course, is through an effective sales team, especially when local distributors are part of that team. This is a topic unto itself, so aside from the valuable personal contact from sales people, how does a company reach the masses of potential customers? As a consumer, I know that one of the most effective methods is by building name recognition. If you are familiar with a company or product name, you are more likely to at least consider purchasing a product from that company.

Companies have many choices for building name recognition: appearances at trade shows, giving away little trinkets at trade shows, conducting direct mailings or blast e-mails, creating an effective website, and, of course, through publicity and advertising.

Expectations usually are not very high with trade show give-aways, but trade show booths can be quite effective — even though their reach is limited to show attendees. However, just a couple good leads from a show can pay exhibit expenses many times over. Direct mail and email blasts take a shotgun approach. But if you reach enough people, even a small return can make it worthwhile.

Websites continue to capture a lot of attention, but it’s difficult to gauge how much they actually increase sales, assuming they do. And even if a website is well organized with useful information, it doesn’t do the company any good at all unless someone visits it.

Which brings us to advertising and publicity. If we loosely define publicity, we would include product and literature announcements, news releases, and articles. Information like this that has been carefully selected and prepared for inclusion in Hydraulics & Pneumatics is what we take a great deal of pride in. And readers often cite advertisements as containing valuable information, which usually drives readers to a company’s website for even more information. So even though a website may be among the last stops a fluid power professional takes before making a purchase, in-print publicity and advertising may be the driving force that sends them to a website. And when a company gets its name in front of these professionals, it builds name recognition, which also drives information seekers to a website when they recognize a familiar name among the hundreds generated by a search engine.

I bring this all up because of an opportunity for you to help us identify the companies that are doing the best job of building name recognition. We are now in the midst of conducting a Brand Awareness Study, which presents several product categories and asks participants to name a company that offers a product within that category. It’s simple and takes only a few minutes. You might even win a $100 gift card in the process.

To participate in our Brand Awareness Study, just visit tinyurl.com/HPBrandStudy (no www). You’ll first be asked about pneumatic products, and after you’ve completed this section (or indicated that you’re not involved with pneumatics), you’ll then be asked about hydraulic products. So here’s your chance to express your opinion without any ramifications from anyone who might disagree.

Alan Hitchcox
editor
alan.hitchcox@penton.com