Harry Moser: Eight Questions

Domestic manufacturing still dominates the news. Why? Because keeping (or bringing) manufacturing home builds jobs and patriotic, concerned, and business-minded readers still love these feel-good (and enterprising) stories.

But how to tell your story to your audience when growing numbers of companies have joined this vital trend? As part of our storytelling series, Harry Moser, President and Founder of the Reshoring Initiative, a nonprofit helping bring manufacturing home, shares tips and wisdom in this two-part interview.

Growing numbers of US companies now locate some (or all) of their supply chain within the States. How can companies distinguish themselves from others doing the same?

With the growing media interest in reshoring, we’re seeing 1-2 media mentions of our group each day along with regular coverage on companies reshoring. However, you can still take steps to effectively tell your story in a memorable way.

One successful approach: relating your story to the history of the town—and even the building –in which you’re producing things. For example, Shinola, the Detroit-based watch factory makes the rich, manufacturing history of Detroit (once America’s biggest manufacturing hub) a big part of its story. Brooks Brothers, the apparel maker, highlights its factories in Massachusetts, North Carolina and New York where it makes its men’s suits, shirts and neckties through effective video on its website. The company also highlights its near 200-year history, being one of the country’s oldest, remaining manufacturers and the people working within the factories.

Creating an emotional attachment between your story and your brand, also works well. Shinola mentions bringing back American worker pride, for example. Made in USA is nice; however, if someone feels made in USA is vital to our economy, its workers, and has empathy there; it really helps.

You mentioned patriotism, pride and hope. What other emotions can we attach these domestic manufacturing stories to?

I’d add that we can attach the stories to consumer trust and consumer desire for company authenticity. Studies show 88% of consumers will reward a brand for authenticity. An additional 55% will refer a brand to others they trust if they feel the company looks authentic. Meanwhile, 75% of consumers feel companies don’t look transparent and 25% believe companies aren’t authentic.

In what way does the media help tell these stories, and how can we peak those reporters’ interest?

The media picks up on quirky stories with interesting history. When Kangol Hats, which The Bollman Hat Company now produces in Pennsylvania, did an effective PR drive; they gained great visibility in NPR and other outlets by telling their product’s story.

Having a vocal, proactive spokesperson and leader getting consumers excited about buying products providing US jobs helps gather interest, too. WeatherTech’s CEO and Founder, David MacNeil, writes on the company website: If my neighbor doesn’t have a job, sooner or later I won’t have a job either.  The toymaker K-Nex’s president, Michael Harrington, reshored and visited the White House and gained new rounds of publicity after also adding Lincoln Logs to their US-made product line. (The company brought this production from China to the US.) One way to get others to recognize you’re making things in the USA: make it completely here so you can use a big  Made in the USA label.

What unique opportunities do businesses/orgs have when it comes to telling their consumers they are reshoring parts or all of their manufacturing?

Understand that an appetite for US made products still exists.

If I were a company, I’d look through our consumer preference report and see if the target demographics for my product preferred Made in USA . If so, I’d ensure I had a Made in USA product and ensure it’s fully made here vs. assembled/designed here to pass the government’s stringent requirement  of “substantially all”  domestically made to earn that US-made label. (Our free tool (the Total Cost of Ownership Estimator) helps companies calculate whether thismove makes economic sense and can provide fodder for writers, too.)

Big manufacturers/business can also host events. Walmart hosts each year its’ “Made in the USA” Open Call event inviting companies to propose new US-made products. The retailer still maintains its pledge to increase its purchases of U.S. made products by $250 billions , providing US jobs. Walmart effectively promotes these results. It knows many of its consumers prefer US made products because  those products bring jobs to US workers.  Twenty years ago, that strategy may not have worked; but after the great recession, many still fear losing their job. Bringing jobs back brings security back too. Also mention the environmental elements of having operations closer to home.

Our interview continues next week.

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