Just In Time Marketing. by Gene Muchanski, Editor Dive Industry Professional Welcome to the August Editorial. This month’s blog editorial came to me in the middle of the night. I was tossing and turning over a very unprofessional policy decision that one event director had made a few days ago. A number of exhibitors took issue with the director because he was prohibiting them from advertising or promoting products from a certain, extremely popular and professional company. This company is not only very popular with the other exhibitors and attendees, it’s environmentally friendly products are in-line with the current pro clean-environment issues of the day. Because of his email, he lost a number of exhibitors. He also lost, or will loose a lot of support from the exhibiting community, who doesn’t like being told what they can advertise, promote, or sell in their booths. Especially when the restrictions are not published in the exhibitor’s contract and someone tells you of their “decision” a week before the show. In today’s fragile economy, there are too many options available to exhibiting companies to settle for this type of treatment. But this editorial is not about this event director’s decision. You will be able to read a much longer, in debt story about Your Purpose In Life and Are You True and Honest To Your Beliefs” sometime in the near future. Let’s get back to Just in Time Marketing.” The idea for the editorial came from Just in Time Ordering. In the Retail industry, carrying inventory is very costly. It also takes a lot of pre-planning to anticipate inventory needs for a certain period of time, based on prior sales and future anticipated needs. Retailers have to establish high, low and reorder limits so they are never in an out-of-stock situation. As equipment wholesalers became more sophisticated and computerized, they were able to take on the responsibility of carrying enough finished goods inventory to allow their Dealers to order just what they needed, when they needed it. That was a big relief to small retailers. They were able to carry a much smaller inventory, and only order merchandise when they needed it. Unfortunately, that way of ordering is long gone because of the covid pandemic. The entire supply chain is having raw materials and finished goods shortages, and Retailers have to go back to planning and carrying a sufficient inventory so they always have stock-on-hand when they need it. The advice for today is to order as soon as you can and stock up while supplies are available. Carrying inventory and marketing have a lot in common. Both take an immense amount of planning and of course, computer sophistication. Marketing paves the way for sales and to be successful at it, you have to know the difference between short-term, mid-term and long-term planning. To me, long term planning is 1 year out. With a strong business purpose you should be writing down your long-term goals in your Business Plan and your Marketing Plan. As your projected outcomes get closer to the 6 month mark, your mid-term planning should take over. With a good long-term and mid-term understanding of what you want to accomplish, your short term marketing becomes your Just In Time Marketing Plan. But here is the catch. You can’t activate Just In Time Marketing if you haven’t prepared for it. Let me explain. Part of long-term planning is developing data on the programs, products, and services you sell. That’s all a part of Product Management. Secondly, you have to have your customer databases in order. That’s Customer Management. Are all of your contacts in your database current? Are the mailing addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and fax numbers still valid? Is your marketing software up-to-date and running smoothly? When was the last time you sent out a campaign? What was your bounce rate or return rate? The big question is, do your current customers still know who you are? Long term planning in the international diving community is required to let all Dive Industry Professionals know what you are doing a year from now. It gives everyone a chance to put the event on their calendar and consider whether they should participate or not. If they are going to participate, it gives them ample time to register for the event, book their airfare and hotel and advertise the fact they will be in attendance or exhibiting at the event. As the event draws closer, they can update their customers and/or vendors of their event plans. Your Just In Time Marketing can be a quick reminder of the next few months, weeks, or days. If you have done a good job at long-term and mid-term planning, your Just In Time Marketing efforts can be engaged within hours, if not minutes. Why is this important? Because when we are faced with a difficult situation like “Are we still exhibiting at a show this weekend?” we can tell the other exhibitors, the prospective attendees and the event sponsors if we are or are not participating and supporting the event, and why. Your communication ability improves tremendously when you keep your finger on the pulse of your community. That goes for the supply side and the demand side of your industry sector. The ability to communicate with your community, both Buyers & Sellers, is a very important skill to master, for Marketing Professionals. That is why we wrote the white paper, “Staying in-synch with the Global Diving Community” published in September 2019. It appears now that we have to update this white paper and bring it back to our business community.