It can be difficult as a manufacturer to stand out from your competition when you provide very similar services. Even if you cater to a more niche industry – providing highly specialized production methods or materials – it can still be a struggle to attract customers if you don’t distinguish your name or capabilities somehow in the eyes of your potential clients.
Thus, it’s essential when marketing yourself to play up your strengths as a manufacturer. Creating a brand draws upon the aspects of your business that you want to emphasize when a potential customer first hears or reads about you. By choosing what to highlight, you can attract clients that are already looking for your particular services or capabilities, making it that much more likely that they will choose you for their manufacturing needs.
Here are seven areas in which you can stay competitive as an American manufacturer:
1. How You Manufacture
The method used to produce goods is probably the most obvious way you can set yourself apart as a manufacturer. Whether it be the production process itself, the labor utilized, or the source of your materials, a company’s means of production can be a significant advantage or important story for a potential client.
Examples: Unique or staid production methods; skilled/experienced labor force; exclusive or consistent access to raw materials
2. Why You Manufacture
One’s reasons and drive for manufacturing can often be as important as how the goods are made when marketing to designers. Utilizing your brand to expound on why you manufacture can show personal investment in your business, giving customers an understanding of your commitment to the process and reassuring them of your quality.
Examples: Recognizing a hole in other manufacturer’s offerings; desire for/skill at producing goods; strategic location of your facility
3. Environmental/Social Conscientiousness
In an age where the awareness of environmental and social footprints is making serious inroads into everyday life, being a conscientious manufacturer can prove to be a huge boon. Utilizing recycled material, reducing waste, incorporating green technology, and even paying your employees a living wage can all be as significant a selling point for your clients as they are for you.
Examples: Green production; paying fair/living wages; using recycled material; providing employment to undervalued, disabled, or rehabilitated populations; situating production to help revitalize economically-struggling regions
4. History of the Company
A manufacturer’s history can prove to be as meaningful to a potential client as it is to the company itself. The narrative built by a family business, storied facility, or generations-old process is something that can’t be fabricated or duplicated in the modern age, and thus is a particularly unique aspect of a company that many designers like to work into their own brands.
Examples: Storied family history with an industry; significance of a facility to a particular industry; traditional/passed-down production methods
Flexibility from a manufacturer seems to be something of a holy grail in the fashion industry. Speed, versatility, and ability to scale production are essential for brands and designers that frequently alter designs or introduce new lines each year. A manufacturer’s turnaround speed, capacity, or aptitude for custom projects can be indispensable for both small and large companies.
Examples: Turnaround of prototypes and/or production runs; variety of manufacturing capabilities; concurrent production of multiple products
Many brands build their image around the quality and dependability of their products. As a manufacturer, stressing your attention to detail and confidence in your craftsmanship can be a draw for similarly-minded designers looking to create a solid impression of excellence and reliability with their own lines.
Examples: Confidence in goods produced; guarantee of production quality; exchange policy on goods not made to standards
Just as certain designers or brands can be known for a particular style or character, so too can manufacturers set themselves apart in their own industries. From the selection of clients you may already work with, to your business ethos, even to little idiosyncrasies exhibited in your production, uniqueness can go just as far to set you apart in your industry as your manufacturing facility or methods.
Examples: Uniqueness as a company; personality of employees; creativity in production process; notoriety of clients
Utilizing any combination of these traits to bolster your image and define yourself as a manufacturer will not only help to distinguish you from competition within the industry, but also tailor potential clients to the particular capabilities you offer, making them even more likely to work with you.