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Alliance Partner Turns Up the Heat on Sales

Reed Switch Developments Corp. President Debra Berns knew that her company's web site had not tapped the full potential of the Internet. Last summer, amid signs of a weakening economy, she decided it was time to overhaul the company's web site in a bid to generate new customers and sales.

Racine-based Reed Switch manufactures magnetic proximity sensors used in boats, commercial lawn mowers, elevators, escalators, incubators and dialysis machines.

With only 15 employees, the company didn't have the expertise in-house to build a world-class web site. So it turned to WMEP Alliance Partner Don Crowther, president of Breakthrough Consulting, an Internet and marketing consulting firm.

"The first thing we did was to make our web site more user friendly ... easier to navigate and faster to download," says Berns. "One thing we wanted to avoid was all the bells and whistles - if the page takes too long to download people will just leave."

Crowther enhanced Reed Switch's rankings with the major search engines so its site would come up higher when users entered specific search terms. A tracking method was established to determine the number and origin of site visitors. The new site was launched.

"It was really incredible," Berns recalls. "In less than a month I was seeing results." The number of visitors to the site skyrocketed - from a few hundred to 2,000 a month. Reed Switch started getting inquires from new prospect companies, such as John Deere, Arctic Cat and others.

The web site overhaul led to another success - increased sales and an expanded product line. Crowther determined that Reed's web page featuring magnets was popular with site users. Reed sold the magnets - used to activate sensors - as part of a set. The company decided there might be a market for magnets as a solo product. Crowther's efforts to get Reed ranked high on the search engines of people doing "magnet" searches resulted in a surge in demand.

"A whole new market opened up to us," Berns says.

Reed was able to expand its product line as a result of the Internet giving them real world market research, says Crowther.

The website improvement, which was implemented with minimal expense, helped reverse what could have been a lackluster year for Reed. "Our sales are up between six to ten percent for the year, which is unheard of in this economy," Berns said.

Many manufacturers have not fully utilized the web to build business, Crowther said. Statistics show that 98 percent of all web sites get less than 100 visitors a month. "Our goal is to increase site traffic and generate more sales from that traffic," he said. Once that occurs, the company's web site goes from being a cost center to a profit center."

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WMEP provides technical expertise and hands-on implementation assistance to small and midsize manufacturing firms on advanced manufacturing technologies and business practices includinglean manufacturing, ISO, value chain management, and strategic repositioning services for manufacturers and manufacturing facilities located in Wisconsin.

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