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Hey Manufacturing! Stop Whining. Start Marketing.

Posted on | April 7, 2010 | No Comments

Last week U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner met with United Steelworkers and US Steel, and visited a local factory where Allegheny Technologies produces specialty metal plates.  He was trying to point out that heavy industry can succeed in the US even with tough competition from abroad.  Geithner said the sector “will play a critical role in helping to spur our economic recovery and contribute to our long-term prosperity.”

It may be that he’s already preparing for an upcoming April ruling about China’s manipulation of its currency.  US lobbyists and labor unions have been pushing for the Administration to take a tough stance on China’s policies.  Highlighting successful manufacturing companies — instead of failed ones and high stats of unemployment — may be a sign that the government is going to back off.

But whether it does or doesn’t: the real question isn’t what China does or doesn’t do.  Competition is never a level playing ground.  Ask the auto industry:  they’ve won and lost.  And are now crawling back. Even Toyota — with all its recent problems — is seeing sales rise.

How?  It’s all about good marketing.  You can put all the limits you want on manufactured imports, but people aren’t going to buy domestic products unless they’re marketed properly.  Detroit had to figure this out the hard way and now they’re finally making smarter decisions about the cars they manufacture in terms of fuel efficiency, features, and pricing.

US manufacturing needs to stop pulling on the apron strings of Lady Liberty and start learning how to better market and sell to diverse buyers.  Today’s marketplace — even B2B — is crowded and competitive.  No one’s going to pick up the local phone book today and look for your phone number to call in an order.  The world of marketing has changed.  If you haven’t noticed: it’s all about Global Search via Google or Bing or other search engines.  It’s about personalized marketing through email and behaviorially-targeted ad placements.  It’s about knowing your customer and knowing how they want to receive information from you about products you sell or services you offer.

You want to win in the global manufacturing marketplace?  Stop whining.  Start doing better marketing.

For more information about Secretary Geithner’s visit to the Pittsburgh area, click here.

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