With President Trump putting a freeze on the EPA, will Energy Star also be held in suspended animation? Since the inception of the Energy Star program, the zone requirements have been updated every few years, making it tougher and tougher to achieve Energy Star compliance. The program’s initial goal was to set the bar such that only 1 in 5 windows on the market would be able to achieve Energy Star status. What ended up happening was that nearly all window companies were able to qualify. In the process, a fair degree of testing costs were passed on to each and every fabricator just so they could be like everybody else.

So what now happens if the Energy Star program goes into a state of suspended animation? Will window companies stay idle as far as progress on energy performance or other aspects of window performance are concerned? Will future improvements be few and far between?

The answer lies in the re-emergence of marketing. I sell components to a broad array of window companies. Some companies buy with performance and extra features being more important and price secondary. These companies tend to have a great marketing department and a budget to go along with it. Others focus on price as the key buying factor. As long as the component meets some minimum standard, the lowest-cost part gets the nod. These companies tend to have no marketing department.

So if Energy Star stays in a state of suspended animation, perhaps it is time to go back to the good old days when product improvements are made not in response to government-based programs, but instead are rooted in strategic marketing plans.

So what do I mean by strategic marketing? BusinessDictionary.com has the most succinct definition: “Identification of one or more sustainable competitive advantages a firm has in the markets it serves (or intends to serve), and allocation of resources to exploit them.”

In a nutshell, it means the leaders of the company do some soul-searching to define what they can do better than their competitors. It is called identifying core competency. If you can do it better, then how can you exploit this strength to out maneuver your competition? If you are not Goliath, then you must define how you are most like David.

The second part of the plan involves the allocation of resources to exploit them. You can have a great game plan, but without execution, you will not succeed. This is basically a plan of who is going to do what and by when. It is called the operational marketing plan, and it is essentially marketing in motion.

As a former marketing manager, I must stress that marketing should drive sales, not the other way around. I have seen too many organizations that get their operational marketing budgets cut early in the fiscal year because sales projections are not where they are supposed to be. So, if the car is running slow and you want to speed it up, why lay off the gas pedal? Let the race play out and perhaps redefine the strategic marketing plan at year end if the desired results are not achieved.

To conclude here, I must point out that I am astounded by the fact that many door and window companies that I call upon do not even have a marketing department. That’s okay if it is a small company. Oftentimes, the owner wears different hats, and he or she has a clear understanding of marketing and knows how to get it done resourcefully. But mid-sized and larger companies should recruit marketing experts, and these people should be a key part of the management team.

I say this because I believe that the road ahead will be marked with fewer road signs controlling the pace of the industry. We will be back to controlling our own destiny by building faster and more road-worthy machines to outpace the competition. Marketing will be more important than ever. So it’s time to put marketing in motion!

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