June PMI & Beyond: Does The Past Predict The Future?

The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI index reading for May 2011 of 53.5 surprised most analysts, even the pessimistic ones. The general consensus was for a slight downward move from April’s reading of 60.4 to 58. Even the worst of the pessimists only had it bottoming out around 55.

So using history, what does the 53.5 likely mean for June and beyond?

  • The 53.5 reading in May 2011 is the lowest reading of PMI since September 2009
  • The PMI dropped 12.9% from April (60.4) to May (53.5); the 12.9% drop is the biggest percentage drop in PMI in more than 7 years. 
  • The September-October drop in 2008 is the next highest in the past 7 years at 12.3%. I simply stopped looking after 7 years so it might be even farther back (PMI tables are easy to find online if you want to do the exercise yourself).
  • The PMI has dropped 14.4% for the March to May 3-month timeframe. A drop in general is not unusual per se as in the past 6 years (excluding 2011) there has been a tendency of the PMI to decline from March to April in 4 of the past 6 years (a bit of pre-summer correcting perhaps?) but the average decline (excluding 2011) for those 4 years is an average of 3.5% in PMI vs. the 14.4% we’ve seen this year. Thus, 2011 is a 4x steeper decline than we’ve historically seen for this time period. This is a huge drop and beyond typical correction.
  • In the years with declining March to May PMI (those 4 of last 6); 2 of the 4 shrunk again further thru June at an average further decline of 3%; whereas the other two increased only slightly vs. May @ 0.4% and 2.6%, but still stayed below March levels. In short, based on historical performance – it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect June’s PMI (released July 1) to potentially drop again or only modestly tick up…this certainly explains manufacturing supplier hesitancy or uncertainty.
  • If the index drops below 50; expect the dreaded R word to be in rampant use in media…50 or above means growth, below 50 means contraction.

The following article from Industrial Distribution is an interview with the Bradley Holcumb (I list him by his initials – BH) – he is the chair of the ISM (organization behind the PMI) and he speaks to the data in the May report and what it means to those in the manufacturing industry, and whether the decreasing growth should raise concern among manufacturers.

 To me, his comments suggest that most of the market place for manufacturers are exercising a less than optimistic wait and see attitude.

Key excerpts:

ID: It looks like the growth was a little bit slower this month. Is this an indication of an overall lessening of the recovery, or should we be expecting a ‘peaks and valleys’ type situation?

BH: 53.5 as a PMI is clearly off 6.9 points, but it’s still in the growth category, it’s just growing slower. The things that are primarily impacting the PMI are the softening of growth in new orders and production, which are both off around 10 points. But we have to keep in mind that in January, Feb, March, April, all of these important primary metrics were in the 60s, which is really strong. Companies are taking their foot off the accelerator a bit for the month of May. There’s a little bit of a cautionary note, and a little bit of a wait and see.

ID: Are there any other major takeaways for manufacturers and distributors?

BH: I guess our overall sentiment here is continuing growth and cautious optimism, going forward over the next few months. We’re seeing some declines in these metrics for the first time this year, but it’s only one data point. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; let’s wait until next month before we read too much into this.

Full Interview: http://www.inddist.com/Content.aspx?id=1499


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Word Association: To Push or To Pull

It can be a real challenge for a marketer to successfully market online a product or service or solution that hasn’t previously existed before or that nobody knows even exists today. Perhaps you’ve created an innovative new product or taken advantage of an emerging technology or perhaps you’re solving a niche problem for a specialized marketplace through a unique application…how do you get that exciting news into the appropriate hands when people may not be searching for that kind of news or solution – I mean how would they know to search for it let alone how to search for it?

Rather than trying to directly market to a specific type of search, interest or “query” that may not exist yet – you might be more effective simply marketing to the right audience and creating the interest with them to begin with.

This type of campaign is often referred to as “push” marketing as you are attempting to push your message in front of your target market to create interest and demand. The opposite of “push” marketing would be pull marketing – where you are trying to market to someone already looking for a solution, and attempting to pull them towards you as a vendor of choice.

Push marketing messages often have a bit of an education or awareness angle, although they certainly aren’t limited to just this approach. This education can take shape in numerous ways that provide value to potential customers: 

  • Whitepapers
  • Press Clippings (Articles) / PR
  • PDF data sheets or catalog downloads
  • Case Studies or Application Notes
  • Online videos or Webinars
  • Email newsletters
  • Blog postings / Social media commentary

Other online marketing vehicles (like paid search or search optimization) can be creatively employed as well; but take some thought to effectively utilize well in new market / application scenarios.

To promote the availability and accessibility of this kind of news and information; you should give consideration to a combination of E-newsletter campaigns, broadcast banner advertising to a wide, but targeted audience, and direct email campaigns to your target market. Social media is of course another method to use.

To determine whether you should be using “push” media – give some thought to the words you are using (even internally in your own marketing meetings) when describing your “new” product, service or solution and the market you are trying to reach.

For example –

Product Attributes: If you are describing the product, service or solution using words like the below – you should consider “push marketing”: 

  • New
  • Cutting Edge
  • Emerging
  • Innovative
  • Replacement (e.g. it’s the “new”)
  • Alternative
  • Substitution
  • Equivalent
  • Comparative / Compare To
  • Advanced
  • Creative
  • Unique
  • Special

Target Market: If you are describing the target market (e.g. potential customers) using adjectives like the below – you should consider “push” marketing:

  • Niche
  • Special
  • Unique
  • Focused

Marketing Approach: If you are discussing or describing the possible marketing approach or vehicles you plan on using with the following terms – you should consider “push” marketing:

  • Educate / Teach
  • Introduce
  • Inform
  • Create Interest
  • Stimulate
  • Awareness
  • Roll-Out
  • Learn

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November Institute for Supply Management’s PMI – Return to Stability?

The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI for November notched down a modest 0.3 points when compared to October’s index but remained in growth territory at 56.6. A reading above 50.0 indicates the sector is expanding, while a reading below 50.0 indicates it is contracting. Expectations called for a 56.5 reading; so the modest change from October and the lack of disparity between analyst expectations and actual results is a bit of a ‘relief” from the uncertainty and larger index swings that occurred from May through September per the summary below:

Month Actual PMI % Change From Prior Expected PMI Diff. From Expected
Nov-10 56.6 -0.53% 56.5 0.1
Oct-10 56.9 4.60% 54 2.9
Sep-10 54.4** -3.37% 54.8 – 55.1 -0.4 to -0.7
Aug-10 56.3 1.44% 52.9 3.4
Jul-10 55.5 -1.25% 54.2 1.3
Jun-10 56.2 -5.86% 59 0.2
May-10 59.7 -1.16% 59.4 0.3
**September PMI marks lowest index reading in 2010

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Staggering YouTube Statistics

A bit of a short post here; but I happened across the Wikipedia entry for YouTube and I thought it was odd it didn’t mention the total number of videos on the site itself; so I set about on a mission to determine how many were currently hosted – only to trip across some additional metrics along the way that I wanted to share:

YouTube does not publicly disclose how many videos are hosted – but they used to:

As of March of 2008; they had 78.3 Million videos on site(1); a month later they were claming over 80 Million (2), that was over 2 years ago. Using that data, an enterprising individual estimated that as of August 2010 that the current number of hosted videos floats between 141 and 144 Million (due to takedowns etc.) on a daily basis – staggering!! (2)

The average video has been estimated to be between 2.4 and 2.7 minutes long (1,3).

Based on the # of videos and length of these videos; it would take close to 800 years to watch them all (assuming viewing one at a time in sequence)…of course that assumes no new videos get added. The truth is 20-24 HOURS of NEW video are added every 1 MINUTE – that’s the equivalent of 150,000 full length feature films every week (4).

According to their wikipedia entry (5); YouTube was serving more than two billion videos a day, which it described as “nearly double the prime-time audience of all three major US television networks combined.” (5)

1. http://mediatedcultures.net/ksudigg/?p=163

2. http://beerpla.net/2008/08/14/how-to-find-out-the-number-of-videos-on-youtube/

3 http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2007/10/average-internet-user-watches-two-youtube-videos-a-day.html



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August Manufacturing Index Report Summaries – What’s Real?

  The August reports on manufacturing activity regionally, nationally and around the world generally indicate that manufacturing activity remains on the recovery side of the center line; albeit in some cases at the slowest pace in almost a year.

National PMI Report:
The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI for August rose slightly when compared to July; the August PMI registered 56.3%, an increase of 0.8% when compared to July’s reading of 55.5%. This reading surprised most analysts as the consensus view was calling for a significant drop into the 52-53% range. A reading above 50 percent indicates the manufacturing economy is generally in a period of expansion while a reading below 50 indicates a general contraction of the industry. The disparity between analyst forecasts and actual results serves as a bit of a reinforcement to the overall uncertainty in predicting the longer term performance of the manufacturing market sector.

Major Regional Reports:
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Business Outlook Survey (regional snapshot of manufacturing within the Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware area) is released a week in advance of the National PMI. When the index is above 0 it indicates factory-sector growth, and when below 0 it indicates contraction. The survey index dropped to -7.7 in August; marking the first time the index has been in negative territory since July 2009.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) hit 56.7% for August, the lowest mark for this index in 2010; the index was 62.3% in July. A PMI report reading of 50% marks the breakeven line between an expanding and contracting manufacturing sector. This report is released 1-day prior to the national PMI and has a historical 91% correlation with the national ISM; leading most analysts to predict similar trends in the National ISM as reported in the Chicago index; which wasn’t the case in August; once again reinforcing the uncertainty of the marketplace as a whole.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey (covering New York) reported that new orders and shipment indexes both dipped below zero for the first time in more than a year, indicating that orders and shipments declined on balance; the unfilled orders index (backorders) was also negative and the six-month outlook also weakened. This report is issued at the beginning of the calendar month; and is an indication of future sentiment.

Major International Reports:
European Manufacturing slowed to the slowest rate of expansion in seven months with an index reading of 55.1; a reading above 50 percent indicates the manufacturing economy is generally in a period of expansion while a reading below 50 indicates a general contraction of the industry.

China was the lone exception among the major indices to show bigger growth as the China PMI rose to a three-month high of 51.9 in August from 49.4 in July.

The reports, when taken as a whole, indicate at best a continued slow recovery with caution, or at worst, that recovery could stall completely with a return to recession if the National PMI begins to mirror the regional reports.

 Analyst Commentary:

Thomas Simons, economist at Jefferies & Co:
“The strength in this month’s (National PMI) report contrasts with the weakness in nearly every regional manufacturing survey, which makes it difficult to make inferences on the sector going forward…the data today is confusing” – (September 2010 in response to National PMI Report)

Tony Crescenzi, a portfolio manager at PIMCO: “The ISM index is somewhat difficult to reconcile against the regional manufacturing surveys as well as other recent data.” (September 2010)

Ian Shepherdson, economist with High Frequency Economics:
 “We do not expect a double-dip recession, but we do think the ISM (manufacturing index) has further to fall; enjoy this while it lasts.”- (September 2010 in response to National PMI Report)

Zach Pandl, economist at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York: “The report makes clear the economy is not slipping into recession any time but still reasonable to be concerned about where we’re heading over the next three to six  months.” – (September 2010 in response to the National PMI Report)

Tom Porcelli, a senior economist at RBC Capital Markets Corp. in New York: “Manufacturing has completely passed its peak – the once-strong pillar of growth is starting to fade,” – (August 2010 in response to Chicago PMI)

Howard Archer, chief U.K. and European economist at IHS Global Insight: “…the August purchasing managers’ survey is nevertheless disappointing and reinforces suspicion that the first half of the year was as good as it gets for manufacturers” – (August 2010, in response to European Manufacturers Index)   

Despite the positive national index news for August; there remains no overall consensus conversion to optimism amongst analysts; primarily due to the dramatically contradicting regional reports.

It is perceived that the national PMI is perhaps more reflective of large manufacturers while the regional reports provide a more accurate reflection of the small-to medium manufacturer.

The dichotomy of the indices is leading most to continue to view the market as “uncertain”, “unpredictable” and likely to stall in the short term unless the new order sub-indice steps up in the upcoming months.

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Virtual Tradeshows vs. Traditional Tradeshows

Exhibiting at traditional trade shows is one of the most utilized marketing tactics by companies targeting the industrial and manufacturing marketplace. The opportunity for direct engagement with prospects, customers and other vendors who could be potential partners or customers is invaluable and the opportunity to “shake hands” with key clients to thank them for their business is often perceived as priceless. On the flip side, exhibiting also tends to have the highest cost of other marketing alternatives when factoring in space fees, booth setup, storage & shipping costs, associated communications & promotion and travel, meal and lodging expenses. It’s also a challenging media to tangibly and quickly prove return on investment results as exhibitors have very real time and logistic demands from the show that can impact timely attendee follow-up.

It should be no surprise then that the worldwide economic situation has led to many companies having both scaled back budgets and staffs; creating a very real decline in attendance and in exhibitors at many industrial shows. The challenges facing the traditional trade show market due to the economy have only been exacerbated by the additional very real issues of travel woes & hassles due to scaling back nationwide of flight choices, the continued dominance of the web as a primary research vehicle and the explosion of social media options.

These realities have created a ‘perfect storm” opportunity for the emergence of virtual tradeshows or e-Events as a viable alternative or supplement to both attendees and exhibitors alike.

Almost everyone is comfortable interacting online today. People attend webinars and view video presentations, they earn online university degrees or certifications, comment on blogs and rate products, and engage in social networking via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Industrial professionals are no different and they have largely migrated online for work-related purposes. Online events are an emerging online option for these professionals to gain the information and insight they require for their jobs; without many of the downsides associated with the traditional tradeshow.

For attendees, online events:

  • Provide opportunities to interact with suppliers in a comfortable online environment
  • Give quick access to information from multiple related vendors in a centralized manner
  • Avoid the hassle and expense of travel, hotels, meals, and time away from the office
  • Offer a wide array of educational and professional opportunities
  • Enable attendees to easily abandon the event if it’s not meeting their needs or expectations (marketers take note)

 For marketers, online events:

  • Provide you with many of the benefits of location-based events, including branding exposure and lead generation at a fraction of the cost and hassle.
  • Help you reach a targeted, yet broad & global audience
  • Offer the convenience and productivity of allowing you to remain in your office at a computer while hosting and managing an event
  • Generate important and relevant sales lead information on attendees such as their interest area and online activity in a timely and organized fashion.
  • Position you and your company as a thought leader
  • Allow you leave the giveaways behind (no more booth visitors feigning interest just to collect the goodies!)

Online tradeshows can be highly interactive, allowing attendees to visit suppliers’ “booths,” chat with suppliers, ask questions, participate in discussions, and access content such as white papers and collateral. Much like traditional tradeshows, these events provide the opportunity for one-on-one conversations with attendees, and many attendees of virtual events gain a sense of empowerment and comfort in the ability to interact with you the way they prefer—online, from their own desks.

Exhibiting at an online tradeshow is in many ways like a traditional location-based event, complete with multiple vendors showcasing their products and services, branding visibility, and interaction with a target audience. Of course, there are no travel costs and time away from the office—for you, or your attendees.

Are there trade-offs? Sure – a chance to be face-to-face with an existing or potential customer or the opportunity for someone to see your products “in action” are two big ones and virtual experiences will never replace those in person opportunities. However, the economic, time and resource benefits of virtual tradeshows and e-Events are too big to not experience or explore.

Before you exhibit at an online tradeshow, determine what content would be most valuable for attendees, such as white papers, data sheets, and other collateral—just as you would for a location-based event. Also, line up the people in your company who will staff the booth and interact with attendees. Then, be sure to choose a virtual event that offers the following:

  • Targeting of your audience and marketing to attract them to the event.
  • Opportunities to visibly brand your company within the virtual environment.
  • Rich opportunities to engage your audience, such as online chat, real-time Q&As, online panel discussions and more.
  • Tools for attendees to interact with each other.
  • Tracking and reporting of attendees’ online activity in your booth, so you can discover their area of interest.
  • Complete intelligence reports on attendees with full contact information and other relevant data for your sales team to follow-up.

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Best Advertising is Quality Content

Nice blog post from Josh Gordon on a presentation Gordon Borell gave at the Digital Magazine Symposium.

According to Josh’s post – After surveying the financial results from thousands of local media Web operations for the past eight years Borrell concludes there is no direct correlation between large amounts of traffic and large amounts of money. Many of the most profitable websites make money because their content functions like advertising did years ago, as a customer educator for product sales. 

According to Borrell, visitors of these sites are “leaning forward” to read the content while probably ignoring the banner ads.

Read the whole blog here:


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