To truly stand out from the crowd, a contract manufacturer needs to build the sort of brand customers want to identify and associate with. And that involves going back to their roots and rediscovering why they’re in business.
A contract manufacturer is essentially a service business. Its value is in offering its services to business customers that buy into its consistent delivery of products on time, within budget and to the appropriate level of quality.
But does this offer much differentiation?
Many manufacturers satisfy all these conditions, essentially rendering manufacturing a commodity. As a result, manufacturers engage in price-based competition, placing immense pressure on a sector already operating on very tight margins. This tends to play into the hands of a few large competitors with deep pockets and healthy volumes.
Related: How to create a more viable local manufacturing sector
So, what makes some companies, and their products or services, more desirable than others is not simplywhatthey make orhowthey make their products – as in most cases there is just so much similarity out there.
Instead, what makes customers buy from a brand is that brand’s reason for doing (or making) what it does. In short, according to business success guru Simon Sinek, the customer buys into the brand’s ‘WHY’. Find out more at www.startwithwhy.com.
Why they do it
A good manufacturer goes out of its way to deliver consistently high-quality product on time and within budget, seeking innovative solutions to ensure it meets agreed service levels, while also communicating regularly with its customers on progress and timeously alerting customers of any problems standing in the way of delivering their service.
A great manufacturer knows why they are in business. It is so that their customers can focus on meeting their business objectives without worrying about the product build, logistics and manufacturing.
A strong manufacturing partnership allows customers to put all their efforts and focus on understanding and servicing their markets, enhancing their products, developing new ones, and most importantly, on selling their products so that a ‘river’ of demand continues to flow through the manufacturing service business to its customer and on to the end customer, nourishing all the hands it passes through.
Rediscovering your purpose
For many, their purpose may have been lost or forgotten, and as a result needs to be re-activated or reviewed to achieve sustainability and growth. To get started on this journey of rediscovery, manufacturers need to go back to their roots.
There was an initial need which they believed they could satisfy, and that is WHY the business was started. Once that reason became clear and was agreed, all other actions, services and products were aligned to get the business going and keep it going.
Perhaps your reason for being in business was no more than loosely connected with your products or services. Don’t let it stop you – it can nevertheless sit very well with customers.
Related: 3 Ways you can beat the odds in contract manufacturing
In a country where unemployment is rife, manufacturing that makes a difference to citizens’ lives and our national competitiveness can drive significant brand value.
Through skills upliftment and job creation programmes it can uplift a largely unskilled labour force and play an anchoring role in the community and greater society.
On a purely economic level, a manufacturing sector that discovers its social ‘why’, and operates effectively, can strengthen the country’s manufacturing value proposition, justifying government support for the industry and ultimately encourage ‘people’ to think twice before they import.
Do your customers see your vision?
Successful companies share their vision with the world, and back it up with delivery, to attract customers. The ability to share and continually enforce the reason why you and your staff do what you do through action, rather than what or how you do it, engages customers, gains their buy-in and in so doing, over time, fuels their desire to be a part of that vision.
Whether your vision is to bring good design to business, like Invision, or to turn customers into high-performance businesses like Accenture, your customers want to see evidence of it, so corporate communications must re-enforce it, performance must demonstrate it, and staff must live it.
Ultimately, manufacturers must engage and create visibility for themselves, share their ‘WHY’, and prove their commitment to it, in order to be successful. Say it loud, say it proud and walk the talk. Customers will follow, because they want to.