Push You, Pull Me

Turning Point

How a metalworking shop researches, finds and selects what and from whom it procures the goods and services to help keep it running efficiently and competitively is a much simpler and faster task today.

The availability of newer, media-based research tools allows shops to dramatically reduce time required to search for a product or service. In many cases, by the time a shop contacts the company it’s interested in, the shop is as well informed as the vendor’s representative. But how do many metalworking shops use the media tools available today and in what percentages?

Ours is a complicated world when it comes to gathering and sorting information on goods and services needed to keep a precision machined parts operation efficient and competitive. I would say in some ways, advancements in the information gathering tools available to your business has helped with the surge in domestic manufacturing we’ve seen in the past few years.

There are new and improved products and services hitting the market frequently, so it’s in a shop’s best interest to keep up. Efficiency and ultimately cost reduction are the primary drivers for new development.   

As a business media provider, Production Machining and our parent company, Gardner Business Media, have reached out through a survey (our fourth) to find out how and to what extent companies use the various media research tools available to gather information to help make an informed purchase decision. We identified several channels available today and learned that our responders use them all in varying degrees.

We thought it might be interesting to share some survey results from peers in the metalworking manufacturing industry regarding how they use the various media to research buying decisions of goods and services needed in the shop. The idea is for you to see how your shop’s research and procurement process compares with others.

For those who have been around a while, the process was once pretty simple: Read a trade magazine, go to a trade show, have information sent (by mail), and then maybe call in a sales person from the companies on your short list. This process took a lot of time.

In marketing terms, these sources such as trade magazines, trade shows and now e-newsletters are called push media. They are still the best means to discover new products and processes that you may not have been aware of.

What has changed is the availability of what marketers call “pull media.” These include search engines, supplier websites, webinars, social networks and blogs.

The push and pull media work in tandem to provide an interested shop with information to make its purchase decision more informed than ever before. Basically, it works like this: Reading a trade magazine, attending a trade show or reading an e-newsletter exposes the reader to new things they weren’t necessarily aware of.

When a product, service or process that piques interest is identified, pull media allows further investigation and information gathering without the need to identify one’s self. Your research remains anonymous until you wish to be identified.

In today’s industry, making the decision quickly is a necessity. Of the almost 3,500 respondents to the survey, 70 percent reported they look for products or services at least once a week.

We also found that search engines are increasingly becoming a popular method of research in our industry. However, using search engines alone can be a shotgun approach. Zeroing in on the product, service or process is a much more efficient use of search engines, and its push media that helps narrow the search field.

We found that mobile device usage remained relatively flat from our last survey. However, 88 percent of respondents carry at least one mobile device with laptops and tablets showing usage growth. 

Our survey shows social media usage increased for the 4th year in a row, with LinkedIn having the highest usage. However, adoption of social media in our industry is still less than 50 percent of our survey participants.

Information is the life’s blood of modern manufacturing, and the number of ways to acquire it has never been so robust. How does your shop’s research process stack up?

To view this survey and other research we have conducted, go to gardnerweb.com/research