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Marketing & Competing

Fortnightly Magazine - October 15 1996

of the supply market is worth fighting for.

b) Ignore the competitor's campaign; just wait and see how many customers bother to switch. After all, this is only an experiment.

c) Send out brochures to the largest-volume residential customers, offering incentives like discounts on appliances.

#4 (em Rebuilding Management

The departure of the previous CEO has left Total Gas with little bench strength in senior management. As you focus on long-term strategy, you need a corps of lieutenants who can assist you and handle day-to-day problems and opportunities. How do you build up the senior management ranks quickly?

a) Don't worry. Run the ship on your own until you pinpoint the kinds of people you need to take the company into the next decade.

b) Quickly identify a tier of executives. Delegate responsibilities that can demonstrate their management prowess and earn one of them the privilege of succeeding you.

c) Create an Office of the Chief Executive that immediately puts those chosen on notice that you're in the market for a clear-cut Number 2.

#5 (em Corporate Image

As a nondescript LDC, Total Gas is not well known outside of its service territory. How do you start building a name for your company? And what, at a minimum, must you do to help your unregulated subsidiary market gas and energy services away from home?

a) Research brand names and choose the one that can help you create a corporate persona separate from the company's name and reputation.

b) Skip the branding gimmicks for now. Until enough customers can choose, no brand will make enough of a difference in the marketplace. Let UtiliCorp's EnergyOne spend the time and money to educate potential buyers.

c) Use "Total Gas" as your brand, because that's how energy buyers in the region know you.

#6 (em Strategic Alliances

You need increased size and more customers, and the best merger partners are going fast. How do you most efficiently and quickly increase your critical mass to compete with the regional and national giants that are emerging?

a) Forge supply contracts with two good-sized utilities in healthy growth regions of the country (em probably the Southeast (em and use the evolving relationships to decide whether they'd be good acquisition candidates.

b) Make your company as attractive to potential suitors as possible, and try to remain independent for another five years (em that's when you could retire early with a lucrative severance package by selling the company to the highest bidder.

c) Find a sizable electric utility in the snow belt that could use a gas capability to deal with lost revenues, and begin talks about a merger of equals.

#7 (em Load Building

The looming deregulation of electricity is sure to reduce the price of electric power enough to take away gas sales in your local market. How do you grow gas consumption?

a) Invest the necessary time and resources to commit as many transportation fleets as possible to natural gas, including metropolitan transit authority buses. Also target commercial fleets, such as service vehicles at airports.

b) Create a