New way to Market for Manufacturing

Written By: Bruce McDuffee-Founder and Executive Director of Manufacturing Marketing Institute (MMI)

Chapter 13 Overview

The Culture of the Product

“When manufacturing was in its glory days during the post- World War II boom, there was really no need for marketing as we know it today. Marketing activity consisted of some print ads and trade shows. The product was king, and all manufacturing company had to do was invent and/or produce a product and people would buy it if they had the money.”

If a product person or a sales manager decides they wanted to run an ad, it was usually a seat-of-the-pants decision, and the nearest administrator was tasked with putting together an ad based on a sketch on the back of a napkin. There was no strategy or coherent plan in place to move product except for the sales team, an occasional advertisement, and a regular trade show.

It is perfectly natural for a manufacturing company to grow up cultivating a strong product culture. After all, the company exists to make the product and sell it for more than it costs to produce.  The perception is that the product is everything. If that product is no purchased, there is no profit, and if there is no profit, there is no company and ultimately no jobs. The logical conclusion is simply that the product is everything. As the company grows up, all decisions are based on the product. People are hired because of their expertise with some aspect of the product. How could any culture other than a strong product culture exist at manufacturing company? 

If we assume my hypothesis about how and why the culture of the product exists and is so strong within manufacturing companies, we ask the question “How can marketing assert itself as anything more than an administrative function?”

The answer is to be proactive and demonstrate results with a pilot program around a specific tactic that can show the power of a new way strategy. You will likely not get permission from sales or product management to do something different. 

My experience has been consistent with the statements above. When the power centers are sales and/or product management, marketing does not have a chance. If we stipulate that the perception of marketing is that it is an administrative function, why not just do something different then tell your stakeholders about the success?