Smaller manufacturing firms are still viewing marketing as an expense rather than an investment.
Why do manufacturing firms treat marketing as an afterthought?
Currently, I’m in prospecting mode for new business. Saying good bye to Dallas and hello to Denver has required me to rev-up my prospecting skills and make business contacts in a new region. One of the realities I’m seeing is the lack of urgency or thought that manufacturing firms display toward their own brand.
Let me explain. There are fewer big dog companies in Colorado than there are in Texas. This is due to several factors, including cost of living, strain on natural resources, availability of affordable housing, etc. For comparison, the population of Dallas and Fort Worth is greater than the entire state of Colorado. Most of the business activity in state is spread out along the front range. Some market segments such as healthcare and recreation display some pretty savvy branding chops. However, many of the smaller manufacturing firms are still viewing marketing as an expense rather than an investment.
Case in point:
Several conversations I’ve had with business owners follow along these lines:
- We can’t get the parts we need so why should we spend money on our brand presence?
- We know everybody that needs our service so we don’t need to open up any new markets.
- We have one of our engineers designing our website – it’s really not a priority at this time.
- We sell to OEM’s. We don’t need to market our products.
I’m also seeing a propensity for manufacturers to rely on Marketing Automation Programs (MAPS) as the primary tool driving their marketing efforts. To a certain degree I can see their logic in this – they’re comfortable with the machines that make their product so why not rely on a software platform to manage their marketing efforts?
I view all of this as missed opportunities. Opportunities to promote the brand through packaging that can create a visceral transfer of excitement in their customers’ hands. Opportunities to create an emotional bond with customers through smart collaborative advertising. Opportunities to open new market segments using video/mobile platforms.
Now don’t take these as belittling remarks. I’ve also encountered entrepreneurs that understand the power of marketing and treat their efforts as an investment for the future growth of their companies. Random acts of marketing do little to accomplish business goals. Smart, strategic marketing builds brands and creates customer loyalty.