New way to Market for Manufacturing

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

Chapter 5 Overview

Your Competition Are Laggards

“The definition of the term laggard as listed in the oxford English Dictionary is “A person who makes slow progress and falls behind others.” The assertion that manufactures are laggards with regard to marketing is an interesting phenomenon because manufactures as a group are quite progressive when it comes to production supply, chain management and new product development.”

When it comes to marketing, manufacturing organizations are laggards. Although I do not have any statistics, anecdotally, in speaking with hundreds of manufacturing marketers over the past several years, I’ve found that manufacturing is typically near the end of the line in adopting marketing technology, new marketing strategy and tactics, new marketing ideas, new marketing staff, or anything to do with marketing. This is your opportunity.

Some manufacturing companies will gain a vague understanding of the new way to market but will not quite be able to execute a new, full functioning go-to-market strategy. They will not be able to cease and desist pitching products at the top of the sales funnel. A white paper created by a manufacturing company with only a vague understanding of the strategy will pretend to offer helpful, useful information, but it will be mainly about how the product features will alleviate the pain. These sorts of white papers mention their products over and over as a solution or the best technology. Your audience is very clever, and they’ll see right through this type of faux knowledge marketing. In order to follow the new way, you have to be first and you have to execute the strategy purely. You cannot fake it because your audience will see it. Your competition faking it is your opportunity.

Another way your competition will miss the boat is in not socializing the concept behind the new way. The new way is not a six month campaign. It is a cultural pivot away from product focus and self-centric marketing to freely sharing expertise with everyone in the target audience without pitching the product. Typically, when a manufacturing company does make the pivot and socialize the strategy, it takes twelve to eighteen months to see results on the top line. Many manufacturing firms will give up and write it off as a failed campaign after three to six months. The manufacturing firms that adopt the strategy and stick with it will win.


One firm (maybe your firm) has adopted the new way to go to market as they share knowledge and expertise with their target audience. This one firm has been publishing white papers, how-to notes, webinars, videos, etc. supporting a mission statement of helping people in the target audience be better. None of the material mentions the product. As a prospective customer determines a need and begins to research their pain point, which can be relieved by the information and education offered by the firm, the helpful content shows up at the top of the search results in search after search. The prospective customer downloads white papers, attends webinars, and voraciously consumes a lot of other helpful content offered by only one firm among those companies that manufacture a similar product. Finally, the day comes around and the prospective customer has budge approval and they are ready to buy. The firm that has adopted the new way get the first (and maybe the last) call. The firm has gained TOMA (top of mind awareness) with this buyer. This firm has created an immense amount of credibility in this buyer’s mind. At this late stage, what does the competition have to offer? You got it: all they can offer is a lower price. The buyer is more than willing to pay a little more because credibility equals reliability and reciprocity is a powerful influence.