Defense Industry UFOs on the Home Front!

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

With so many deadly conflicts brewing around the globe, it’s easy to lose sight of less spectacular defense news at home. Changes in the defense industry and their impacts on taxpayers are not likely to generate front page headlines with so many air strikes, battles and terrorist strikes filling the daily news reports. But sometimes, the bomb-free battles inside the Beltway can impact our national security more than anything that will ever happen in Syria or Ukraine.

 

Actual photo of Lockheed and Sikorsky in an intimate embrace.

Actual photo of Lockheed and Sikorsky in an intimate embrace.

 

One particular event in the defense industry might generate more impacts then were intended by the defense contractors involved. Lockheed Martin’s pending purchase of Sikorsky Aircraft for nine billion dollars has set off a ripple effect in the US defense community.

Last week, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall stated that in the future, he would seek to deter consolidation of top tier defense contractors. Kendall explained that, “Mergers such as this, combined with significant financial resources of the largest defense companies, strategically position the acquiring companies to dominate large parts of the defense industry.”

I can understand Kendall’s concerns. With the current number of large defense contractors, we are paying high prices for our high-tech military gear. In some cases, we are paying high prices for very low-tech gear, as well. Having fewer contractors might lead to less innovation and higher prices.

Kendall’s comments only surprised me because he was open and frank. In the Pentagon, that can be more dangerous than vacationing in Syria.

I am guessing that Kendall must have reason to believe that the White House shares his concerns. Not surprisingly, his comments generated what we might refer to as Unsourced Flying Opinions. To save space, let’s just call them UFOs.

A variety of “defense analysts” have been responding loudly to anyone who will listen that Kendall is creating “uncertainty” in the defense industry. According to some analysts, since large defense contractors will be uncertain about the viability of future mergers, they will be impaired in doing business.

Perhaps they will, and perhaps that’s a good thing. There has been all too much “certainty” in the defense contracting market. Certainly the manufacturing of complex high-tech defense items such as the F-35 fighter or the Gerald Ford supercarrier require a high degree of certainty once production starts, but the selection process should be an open field where the best ideas and greatest efficiencies can compete for contracts.

As Kendall pointed out, “With size comes power, and the department’s experience with large defense contractors is that they are not hesitant to use this power for corporate advantage. The trend toward fewer and larger prime contractors has the potential to affect innovation, limit the supply base, pose entry barriers to small, medium, and large businesses, and ultimately reduce competition, resulting in higher prices to be paid by the American taxpayer in order to support our war fighters.”

With so much money at stake, taxpayers should expect an increase in UFOs concerning defense spending and any further restrictions on defense contractor mergers. When reading the opinions of defense or national security “think tanks,” it’s a good idea to find out who funds them. You can bet that think tanks that are funded by large defense contractors are not going to think highly of Frank Kendall. As a taxpayer, I am starting to grow fond of him.

So far, the Department of Justice is wisely staying out of the debate on future defense acquisitions. Kendall has indicated that the Pentagon will work with Congress to set new policies governing defense contractors. As much as I agree with Frank Kendall’s intent, I disagree with his optimism for possible congressional action. I can easily imagine the sound of industrial strength shredders in the basement of the Capital building as underpaid staffers work overtime handling all those proposed defense contractor rules. But that doesn’t mean that Kendall’s concerns won’t have a real impact.

Kendall and his cohorts in the Pentagon have one very large ace up their sleeve.

If you want to do business in the defense market, you need happy customers, and the biggest customer of all is the Pentagon. In theory, it is only one customer, but in practice, the Pentagon can block anything involving publicly funded research and technology from sale to foreign customers. That leaves large defense contractors with a very small list of customers.

So what does this quiet and largely unnoticed battle in the Beltway mean?

My best guess is that the Pentagon, with the approval of the White House, is simply saying that it will not allow the US defense market to be too heavily influenced by any single competitor. Getting action for something this complex and this political from Congress is unlikely. Getting a defense contract from an unhappy Pentagon is even less likely. Let’s give kudos to Frank Kendall for standing up for the taxpayers and for national security.

Enlarging Our Twitter Audience: Guest Post by Professional Network Builder Lonny Dunn

Today, I’m honored to welcome Lonny Dunn of ProNetworkBuild. Lonny is an amazing social media networker and the author of How to Use Twitter for Local Business, the only book ever written on how to build a large local following on Twitter and make meaningful, useful connections with Social Media. I’ve personally watched him grow Twitter accounts by over 50k followers within the past year. And they were real people, not just followback teams or bots. Today, Lonny is sharing his wisdom on why Twitter accounts that aren’t actively growing are stagnating.

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Enlarging Our Audience On Twitter

By LONNY DUNN

Twitter suggests we follow people when we open an account.  But, strangely, for various reasons, people stop following.  Maybe they hit a plateau or lose interest? Not following new people on a regular basis means we are not using Twitter properly. The reasons are highlighted in the short film clip above. Our audience is basically dying off faster than we can get new followers. As soon as we get 100 new followers, within a month, only 25 of them may still be active daily users.

We must pick a time to follow new people regularly.  If you are a big fan of FollowFriday, then start following on Wednesday, and again on Thursday.  If you follow 1,000 new people over the course of two days, you can expect at least 250 to follow you back, and about ten of them will say “Thanks for the Follow.” Engage those who reach out. An alternative system may be to follow 200 new people daily, stick with it, and create a pipeline of energy.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone:

Writers tend to be supportive of other writers for example, but we are not exactly enriching the greater world if we are only supporting one another. We need to try following various groups and sample which groups work best. Sometimes I type in “Like My Facebook” into the Twitter Search feature. This means there are people who are crossmarketing on Facebook, and I will tweet to them, asking for the same kindness. Or we could look up “Pinterest” in search. We can use the Search feature to begin writing down names of accounts with like interests. Follow their Followers.

I use Tweepi to follow new people.

It is a free tool available to anyone, and I do not use the “Paid” version. At Tweepi.com you can log on, skip Step 2 and go right to “Follow New Tweeps” button. Also, it is important to click “Columns” and then Number of Followers, and Friends. I also click the Follower Ratio. I never follow anyone over 125% following ratio.

Did you know that your tweets appear at the top of the new follower’s timeline?

What a boost! After following you, your next tweet will pop up on the top of their list. What better form of advertising is that?  People who do not follow regularly don’t even realize this feature exists. It is like an auditorium, or movie theatre which rotates a new audience everyday or at intervals. When networks are expanding, they take on a life of their own. When they are stagnating, they burn out and lose influence.

Learn to Unfollow

This is important, especially when trying to get around Twitter follow limit of 2,000. When you reach this point, you will want to unfollow unproductive people, or those who haven’t tweeted in months to free up space for active tweeps. I use Tweepi for this. An article on this subject is available on my blog, Building An Audience On Twitter.

Pick a Number and Stick with It

Twitter’s daily follow limit is 1,000 which takes about an hour. You might not want to devote this much time to increasing your audience, but that gives you a good standard to work with. Whatever number you set, be disciplined and stick with that number for at least a month. After a day or so, you will see that new people spreading your content for you is far more exciting than older non growth accounts retweeting you.

Engage, Engage, Engage

As new people follow back, some will thank you for following them. Many of these are implying that they have followed you back, a good sign. The more we practice one on one engagement, the better we get at it.  Keep engaging. It is NOT cool to tweet them a link to your blog, and ask them to send it out. We must plant and sow before we harvest.

I will take questions you might have below. Instead of saying “Great Article, Lon” take this chance to ask some questions that you might have of a technical, strategic, or tactical nature. I will be glad to help you as best as I can, and in any way that I can to enlarge your audience.   Do you have a reluctance to grow your account?  Having problems figuring which accounts to follow?  Let me know, and I’ll answer your questions.  Bookmark this page. Maybe you’ll benefit from other people’s questions.

Lonny Dunn

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Lonny Dunn wrote The Thesaurus News online stockpicking newsletter from 1995 to 2001, focusing on Telephony Stocks, and Wireless Infrastructure.  Since then, he has helped small to medium businesses grow their online presence, managed Twitter Accounts for Celebs, and taught people how to use Twitter effectively and properly.  You can upload his latest book, How to Use Twitter for Local Business, using the free Kindle for PC application.

Lonny Dunn tweets at @ProNetworkBuild. Be sure to say hello. He’s one of the finest tweeps in the Twitterverse.

Thank you, Lonny!