If your sales numbers slumped in August, you're not alone. The Purchasing Managers Index showed the most dramatic dip in U.S. manufacturing sales in years in August, though these numbers rebounded in September.
At the Manufacturing Month Kickoff put on by the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership Tuesday, Gardner Carrick, VP of Strategic Initiatives at the Manufacturing Institute in D.C., and Dr. Jay Walker of Niagara University, discussed the economic outlook for advanced manufacturing in Western New York and nationally.
Carrick confirmed that we are in a "stalling period in manufacturing growth." This slowdown has roots both in global economic conditions and in changes closer to home.
Carrick named two main factors driving exports down worldwide:
- Strengthening of the U.S. dollar, which means your products now cost 20-25% more overseas
- Expiration of the XM Bank charter, which companies like GE and Boeing use to finance overseas deals
The top 3 difficulties facing manufacturers in the U.S., according to Carrick and Walker, are:
- An unfavorable business climate caused by taxes and regulations
- Rising health care costs
- A weakening domestic economy
What Can You Do?
For advanced manufacturers, especially those selling components or equipment to larger, global companies, these challenges make sustainable growth look like an uphill battle. While these factors are outside our immediate control, Steve Davis, CEO of TapeCon, shared some practical sales and marketing advice for manufacturers looking to compete and grow:
- Focus on creating a niche. Understand where you fit in the market and who you’re selling to, and create messages to match. Learn more about market positioning.
- Diversify your customer base to thrive in down markets. Don’t let the success of your business rest on one customer, but at the same time, be smart about which opportunities to pursue. Learn more about analyzing your customer mix.
- Use the small business advantage: be nimble.The web changes the paradigm for small companies – attract the right prospects and generate leads online by promoting your innovation and thought leadership. Learn more about inbound marketing.
Marketing for photonics, optics, instrumentation and other advanced manufacturing sectors we serve will continue to be a challenge, but these strategies can help you create competitive advantage and grow revenue, even in an uncertain global market.
In the short term, consider our Q4 tips to close more business by the end of this year.
Launch Team works every day with small and mid-sized manufacturers looking to grow sales. Contact us for a 30-minute consultation with one of our principals.