Summer Survival

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for July 2, 2020

“I love summer. I don’t have to survive it.” – SocialSMktg

On July 2, 2020, Natalie and Kirsten from @DCSCInc along with Jennifer from @SERVICECASTER hosted a special Fourth of July edition of the #USAMfgHour chat around Summer Survival.  

After brief introductions, they kicked off the chat by asking whether participants are still working from home or in the office.  Answers were mixed, as some people are already back in the office, others expect to go back soon, and some are still remote. 

The second question asked participants what the biggest challenges have been (or will be) with returning to the office.  @ObsidianMfg’s Nick said that focus has been a challenge in working from home for some people and @DynamaticOEM said that avoiding falling into the “life as usual” trap has been something they’ve had to keep an eye on. Some companies have had to make modifications to offices and manufacturing floors to help ensure social distancing, such as @CVTPlastics.  

The next few questions asked about summer vacation plans.  Do participants plan to go anywhere or is a staycation on the horizon?  A few people mentioned that they had a driveable vacation planned.  (Yay for the resurgence of the road trip!)  Others, however, planned to stay home.  Why else would you spend quarantine creating a backyard oasis, right?  

Some great local (to our participants) vacation spots mentioned included:

  • @DCSCInc – There are a ton of rivers in Missouri with beautiful spots to hike and camp within a couple hours drive but I love to set up on the Black River and float!
  • @SocialSMktg – We have a lot of national parks where we are at. There’s Yosemite that will take you days to explore.  Then there’s the scenic Pacific Coast Highway.  We are surrounded by wineries too
  • @EastPointeSG – Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania is a quaint, small town and only a little over an hour from home.
  • @DynamaticOEM – There are plenty of “staycation” places within a drivable distance here. We love the outdoors, so we’ll go anywhere, but honestly, our lake home is our favorite staycation place.
  • @CVTPlastics – I just moved and live on a lake now.  There is enough to do there.  We do a lot of swimming, fishing, canoeing, and so on.
  • @ObsidianMfg /  @NickRiv80749632 – can have fun anywhere! Depends on the people I am with more than the location. I just want to smell something tropical everyday!! I will be checking local fun spots!
  • @Paul_Kiesche – Fortunately, our backyard often becomes our staycation oasis with a nice pool to relax in. We typically have a lot of get togethers, but those are on hold. We also love to go for a hike, walk around a town, or go to the shore.
  • @SERVICECASTER – We go to nearby Maryland (Ocean City) but there are some great local places, too.

What are our participant’s best summer survival tips?  @SERVICECASTER and @paul_kiesche said to get out and enjoy the sunshine while @DynamaticOEM said to stay hydrated.  @ObsidianMfg, @CVTPlastics, and @SocialSMktg all encouraged people to enjoy the season and stay positive. 

And, last but not least, the overwhelming favorite summer treat was ice cream.  But honorable mentions went to margaritas and frozen slushy cocktails. Yum.

Don’t forget to join us next week as we get back into the swing of things after the holiday weekend.  The #USAMfgHour chat, held every Thursday from 2-3 PM Eastern is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Innovation and Strategy in Manufacturing

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for June 25, 2020

Be Innovative

What would you do if it never went back to “normal”?  How would you adapt, what would make sense to do anyway? – Justin Spannuth (@JustinUnique)

On June 25, 2020, Justin Spannuth (@JustinUnique), VP/Chief Operations Officer of Unique Pretzels (@UniqueSnacksUSA) hosted the #USAMfgHour Twitter chat and discussed strategy and innovation.

After brief introductions, Justin kicked the chat off by asking participants if they think it is possible to plan during COVID-19.  @JimShockley4 said, “I think it’s possible to plan during Covid but you have to have multiple plans and realize that you most likely will have to switch to alternative plans depending on the changing situation… flexibility is key right now…”, a sentiment that was echoed by all of the other participants.  Justin agreed, but also stated that COVID has been a time accelerant to industries, not a change agent. “If you have had to over-pivot your long-term business plans you should review how you plan. COVID has helped people around me have a clearer picture of the plans already in place.”  

Question two asked, “What are some of the biggest changes happening that we should be listening to? Which ones are short term effects, which ones are long term effects, and which ones affect you the most?”  The top three responses were the e-commerce explosion, social distancing on manufacturing floors and in offices, and supply chain diversification and modification.  Justin noted that shopping methods, meetings, and sanitation are some areas with changes, or, rather, 2-4 year acceleration.  He mentioned Unique Pretzels started focusing on alternate sales channels years ago and the current conditions have enabled the company to take advantage of the investment when the timing was best.  “It’s not too late to plan. As things start to hit normalcy, many of the changes that have happened will take time to revert or what are new ‘habits’ will take a slight step backwards in progress until they become normal in ‘normal’ times.”  

Next, Justin asked how participants find the biggest opportunities for change or growth.  The one common answer was to ASK QUESTIONS.  @DynamaticOEM said, “…We’re trying to get ahead of business by being a bit more proactive than we have been in the past. That means we have to ask questions we’ve never asked before.”  And @NJMEP opined, “Question everything! It’s vital to get out of the mindset of “we’ve always done it that way” and start asking questions. Ask employees where they see opportunities for change or growth. Continue engaging with clients and really listen to their needs.”

The new norm is being able to adapt. If you can’t adapt & be willing to make changes, then you’ll find yourself in a rut. By adapting & LISTENING to customers’ needs you’ll come up with a solution that works for everyone. – @SpaceGuard

Justin went on to answer his question with more questions. “Who’s problems are you trying to solve? Your own, your customers’, the end user?  Knowing who’s problem to solve is where people don’t look far enough. Do you have someone in your company asking these questions?” 

Next, Justin opined that margins are typically a struggle with manufacturers and that capital is the #1 reason a vision can’t be implemented. He asked participants, “Do you have a brand name to sell the trust on? Are you a B/B brand or a B/C brand? The more people that know and buy your brand the harder it is to fail.”  @Paul_Kiesche stated that he often sees companies that gain enough capital to start their vision and produce, but not enough to successfully market, bring awareness and sell.  And @FelixNater shared that trust is a huge factor in sustaining the business model when change necessitates a new direction.  

According to Justin, service, product quality, and trust are the biggest factors, as 42% of consumers will pay more for better customer service. The top 10% of customers will pay 3x more for a brand they trust. He asked, “Are you servicing and branding the best you can or are you in the stone ages?”  Forbes states that customer experience is going to be key as we move forward.  “We were already seeing a refocus on service as online experience has left us cold but again, the world has leaped by 2-4 years. This is a must and quickly.  When you are a manufacturer for other brands it is a hard step to take to become known at consumer level. It is worth the effort because it is much harder to be forgotten. Gimmicky example, Flex Seal has many competitors but everyone knows and trusts the brand,” Justin said.

Justin’s final question asked participants if they have someone in their companies creating connections outside of the company? @SpaceGuard said, “It’s all about who you know. We have constant communication with the outside world, in-person meetings (when allowed), social media, podcasts, emails, ABC Club, being active on different industry boards, you name it we’re there shaking hands & kissing babies.”  And, @DuraTechUS added, “We recently created a Social Media Brand Ambassador Program here.  Our goal is to have our team members who engage on Social Media can also help with building our relationships on Social Media to assist with recruitment and prospecting.”  Every participant mentioned social media and its advantages for establishing connections and building relationships with prospective customers, referral sources, partners, and employees.  However, the level of use, platforms relied upon, and engagement strategies vary. 

Justin mentioned that some of his best opportunities have come from being involved.  Forums, leadership or trade groups, political panels, etc. can all be advantageous.  He also suggested having mentors in many areas of business. “Some of the best mentors come from non-competing industries. They see things differently and people provide them different information that can still be relevant to you.”  Even though you can’t put a rigid value on these things, the returns are there. #karma

Justin closed the chat by saying, “Everyone’s situation is different yet our opportunities to adjust to conditions are the same. Are you doing everything you can? Are you activating your employees to help you create?”  

You can connect with Justin by emailing him at [email protected] or finding him on LinkedIn where he posts about current company announcements, as well as mentorship statements and other visionary thoughts. 

Next week, July 2, 2020, @DCSCInc and @SERVICECASTER will be hosting an informal chat on Summer Survival as we head into the July 4th holiday.  We hope you can join us!

The #USAMfgHour chat, held every Thursday from 2-3 PM Eastern is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Leveraging Competitive Intelligence and Market Research

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for June 18, 2020

“…Information is valuable. Having that information to help guide strategy and business decisions is essential.” – @NJMEP

On June 18, 2020, chat co-founder Jennifer Wegman, Social Media / Communications Manager at Service Caster Corporation (@SERVICECASTER) hosted our #USAMfgHour Twitter chat on our @USAMfgHourChat account and discussed how manufacturers can easily leverage competitive intelligence and market research to inform their marketing, strategy, and operations.

After introductions, Jennifer asked participants, “Have you ever benchmarked your direct competitors to see how you fit with them in the marketplace?”  @ZeroSurge said, “Market research is the foundation of any successful campaign. Understanding who you’re marketing to is essential to securing new customers. We definitely use both of these tools!”  However, a few of the participants said they generally do not do much CI benchmarking because their offerings are niche and/or unique from those of their competitors.  Jennifer’s answer to that was even if you believe “There’s no such thing as competition”, there is.  Being aware of what your competitors are doing and how you stack up gives you significant advantages, specifically with marketing and strategy.  Competitive intelligence (CI) benchmarking can 1) inform your content strategy 2) help determine if there is a hole in the marketplace to be filled, and 3) provide you with early warnings of possible market shifts.  @BIllGarlandSpkr concurred, stating that tracking jobs won vs. jobs lost from a technology, technique and personnel standpoint is a great CI action to be doing as well.  In reply, Jennifer recommended participants check out Ellen Naylor’s book on win/loss analysis as a great resource to inform their customer intelligence.

Next, Jennifer asked participants how many competitors they monitor on social media and other public (often called OSINT, or “open source intelligence”) channels.  Numbers ranged from zero to as high as 13.  A few participants, such as @CVTPlastics, @NJMEP, and @DynamicOEM said they don’t have a lot of direct competitors, so they monitor similar companies to gauge their brands’ social media and other activity.  Jennifer thought that was great, but also mentioned that participants should regularly monitor at least 5-10 of direct competitors, as well as at least 3 indirect competitors.  Benchmarking spreadsheets should include information relevant to what you’re trying to measure.  Social media handles, average likes and comments, frequency of posting, type of content posted, overview of blogs posted, and customer sentiments are some examples of items to monitor, as well as pricing, order avenues, products or services offered, job openings, new products, retired products, and more.  

When asked how often they should update their CI benchmarking data, participants responded with a range of timelines, including monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually, depending on the data they are monitoring.  While Jennifer recommended at least a quarterly update, she encouraged participants to set their own timelines, but not not go out past a year because data can get outdated.  And you can’t make timely, relevant insights for the future of your business based on non-current data.

At the halfway point of the chat, Jennifer switched gears into market research and asked participants what efforts they make in that area in order to help them excel at their businesses.  Everyone who responded said they don’t have anything formal in place for market research or don’t do it at all.  Jennifer explained that continuous #market research enables companies to increase awareness of their standing and advantages in the marketplace.  However, it is more focused on the market itself than on specific companies than CI benchmarking is. Companies who do market research often monitor market forecasts and trends, new entrants, exits, product/service development, influencers and thought leaders, and customers using open source info, databases, and proprietary information.

When asked about great sources for market research information, participants came through in a big way and shared the following great information:

  • @CVTPlastics – We are all custom B2B.  So, we monitor Twitter, LinkedIn , and YouTube. Also, websites.  We sell to other molders so we review their websites as well.
  • @NJMEP – One of our favorite sources are our clients! We focus heavily on building strong, real relationships with clients. Sparking up conversations and recording that data provides valuable insight into our market.
  • @ZeroSurge – We use a lot of internal information that we’ve gathered from our customers. We also keep a close eye on various social media channels to see which way the industry is heading. We’ll definitely keep watching this thread though to learn some new avenues for information!
  • @DynamaticOEM – Our go-to sources for market information include our sales team and clients, social media and websites, trade publications, and news sources that post company updates. 
  • @SERVICECASTER – Generally, I love @EYManufacturing @IndustryWeek @strategyand @stratandbiz @DeloitteUS @mckinsey_mfg @McKinsey for overviews of what’s going on.

Following up on these responses, Jennifer said some useful go-to open sources include social media, industry publications, industry associations, chambers of commerce, big consulting and accounting firms, public companies in the industry (especially their investor presentations), and databases like @IBISWorld.

Finally, Jennifer asked how participants get the most bang for their buck out of their market research efforts.  @DynamaticOEM said, “That’s a bit of a loaded question. The short answer: We keep a close eye on our budget, use analytics (search engine and social media) to find out where we need to be, and monitor engagement consistently.”  

Before closing the chat, Jennifer shared her favorite proprietary methodology for easy market research – P.U.L.S.E., which stands for the following:

  • PLAN: Know your purpose. What do you want to know? Have you done previous research? Create a plan for completion. 
  • UNDERSTAND: Know your audience. Who are you asking? Where will you find them? How will you contact them?
  • LEVERAGE: Search online resources. Actively listen on social media. Perform regular internet searches. Follow influencers and competitors.
  • SURVEY: Ask your audience. Create periodic surveys. Ask single questions regularly. Perform informational interviews 1:1 or in groups.
  • EVOLVE: Act on your findings.  Record data so it is comparable. Analyze findings without emotion. Be willing to make changes. 

Finally, Jennifer reminded participants that CI and #market research only do you good if you ACT upon the information and insights you gather and shared the following Great CI and #market research resources: @SCIP, @AIIP @ToddingtonInt’s free #OSINT resources, and  

Questions about implementing a CI or market research program into your manufacturing business?  DM us at @USAMfgHourChat on Twitter or email [email protected]Don’t forget to download your free CI benchmarking spreadsheet template.

The #USAMfgHour chat, held every Thursday from 2-3 PM Eastern is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Partnering with a Staffing Firm to Recruit Top Talent

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for June 11, 2020

Recruiting – illustration with street sign in front of office building.

Recruiters can save time and money, which could have a massive impact on a businesses bottom line.” @NJMEP

On June 11, 2020, Marie Moser of East Pointe Search Group (@EastPointeSG) hosted our #USAMfgHour Twitter chat and covered how manufacturers can partner with a staffing firm to recruit top talent.  

After introductions, Marie asked participants, “What are the top three attributes on your checklist when partnering with a recruiter?”  The participants who worked with a recruiter said that expertise in their areas, reputability, and candidate evaluation process were all important to them. Marie said that her clients generally look for integrity, proficiency, and respect for their time and investment when they work with her. 

What is the biggest value-added benefit when working with an independent recruiter?  @Paul_Kiesche said you can save time finding candidates and prevent headaches with bad ones, while @NJMEP said recruiters take the lead on finding potential hires while business leaders build the business.  Marie agreed, pointing out that companies recruiting on their own have to spend time and money to create ads, pay for them, review resumes, pre-screen candidates, and respond to all resumes and calls.  So, working with a recruiter can save them a lot of money.

Next Marie stated that “Companies can interest top talent by putting their best foot forward – sharing what makes them unique and why current employees love working for them because money isn’t always the answer.”  That statement was echoed by participants who mentioned culture, work-life balance, benefits, and advancement as other significant considerations.  @NJMEP mentioned that rethinking job descriptions and being creative with them can go a long way to drumming up interest, while @SocialSMktg suggested that practicing a consistent social media presence is helpful.

Communication is the key to keeping top talent interested during the interview process.  Not only should you provide timely updates and next steps as Marie suggested, but nearly everyone on the chat agreed that being honest about the position, a candidate’s fit, and the potential for growth is a must.  This helps to align expectations on both ends and avoid potential costly hiring mistakes.  

Marie closed the chat by asking what hesitations or concerns participants have about working with a recruiter.  Cost, potential waste of time, and losing good candidates who don’t want to go through recruiters were the top concerns.  However, most everyone wanted to know WHEN companies should hire recruiters?  Some reasons Marie provided to answer that question include 1.  Lack of time for managers to hire on their own.  2.  When positions are tough to fill, it helps to have another set of eyes/ears searching.  3.  A Recruiters network goes above and beyond what a business may have available to them.

If you have additional questions regarding hiring, staffing and recruiting, please contact [email protected] or call 610-689-9127.

The #USAMfgHour chat, held every Thursday from 2-3 PM Eastern is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Personal and Team Motivation

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for June 4, 2020

On June 4, 2020, DCSC Inc. (@DCSCInc) hosted our weekly #USAMfgHour Twitter chat and asked participants, “How do you keep moving forward in a positive manner when times get tough?”  Since everyone had such amazing answers to the questions, we included them below for you to read and enjoy.

When you get out of bed in the morning, what do you do to prepare for your work day?

@GraphicProducts – Put on a grateful heart. See how I can help others.

@SpaceGuard – Put on the coffee and then focus on how to be better than yesterday

@FelixNater – Review personal goals and objectives; prayer

@DuraTech – Get the kids squared away

@Paul_Kiesche – Prioritize tasks and emails

Have you ever faced an individual that seemed to hurt your spirit or bring you down, if so what did you do?

@SpaceGuard – Rise above and continue focused on the task at hand

@GraphicProducts – Kill with kindness

@ObsidianMfg – Try to work it out with them

@Paul_Kiesche – Remember it’s about them

@SERVICECASTER – Set boundaries

What is the most important thing to do – to get a project done?

@GraphicProducts – Plan ahead, time balance, and ask for help

@CVTPlastics – Prioritize it and focus on getting done rather than perfection

@EastPointeSG – Break it up into smaller segments

@AxisNJ – Dedicate a set time and collaborate to maximize efficiency

Why do you think some projects fail?

@EastPointeSG – Lack of understanding of project / timeline

@AxisNJ – Overwork, under-organization, or lack of enthusiasm

@SERVICECASTER – lack of support or resources from others

@Duratech – procrastination 

@SpaceGuard – being rushed and “thrown” together; not on same page

What is your favorite motivational quote?

“Do All the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” – John Wesley submitted by @EastPointeSG

“One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day”  Dalai Lama submitted by @DuraTech

Try to eliminate “Should have” and “Could have” from your personal vocabulary. NOW needs to be the focus to move ahead. Submitted by @ObsidianMfg

“Teamwork makes the dream work.” Submitted by @BigelowBethany

What are some ways to motivate an entire team?

@SpaceGuard – Positivity and dependability starts with you

@DuraTech – Servant Leadership training!

@CVTPlastics – Open and honest communication

@Paul_Kiesche – Give them ownership of their responsibilities

@DynamaticOEM – Gratitude messages

The #USAMfgHour chat, held every Thursday from 2-3 PM Eastern is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Employee Wellness Programs in Manufacturing

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for May 14, 2020

It is important to have a goal before starting a [wellness] program like this. It helps provide the direction of the type of activities you want to share with your employees.

– Shannon Simpson, @Duratech

This week, Shannon Simpson, Digital Marketing Specialist at DuraTech Industries (@DuraTech) hosted a #USAMfgHour Twitter chat on employee wellness programs.

After brief introductions, Shannon asked participants whether they have an employee wellness program in place and, if so, what it looks like.  Most everyone said that they do not have any formal programs in place, though they have various informal initiatives like continuing education and professional development and opportunities for staff to get together.  Shannon said that DuraTech offers special events and wellness programs and that both have committees to plan activities that include wellness fairs, biometric screenings, gym discounts, fitness challenges, lunch & learns, newsletters and even an on-site garden.

Next, Shannon asked what the overall goal of a wellness program would be for participants besides employee engagement.  Lower benefit costs? Promote a healthier workplace?   @CVTPlastics said that less sickness and absences through having a healthier workforce would benefit the company overall.  Shannon shared DuraTech’s wellness mission statement,

“To improve the health & well-being of DuraTech employees & their families’ lives through positive education & activities that will support positive lifestyle changes, resulting in improved employee productivity & morale,” which sums up the purpose of a wellness program nicely.

Next, Shannon asked, “How do you communicate with your employees that the wellness program is available to them and get them to engage in behavior change?”  @SocialSMktg said that small companies like hers have this easier, but that bigger companies would have to plan wellness events on a calendar and then integrate them into employee onboarding and communications.  Everyone agreed that communication is key.  Employees need to know they exist and that they will be beneficial.  Messages can be conveyed through internal communications such as email, bulletin board posts, or team meetings to start.  Shannon agreed, stating that @DuraTech talks about the wellness program during orientation and in newsletters and emails.  While all activities are voluntary, they do offer incentives such as a prize or a few hours of PTO.

If a company does not currently offer a wellness program, what steps can be taken internally to contribute to employee wellness?  @NestbitMarketing said, “A great first step is to allocate some time and resources to decide what the program would ideally look and feel like. What resources do you want to provide your staff? How will it improve the employee and the company? Then start planning.”  Shannon agreed and suggested starting small and gauging the response and then going from there.  And, don’t forget that wellness is about mental and financial wellbeing, too! .   

The last questions asked participants what other engagement activities they provide besides wellness.  Do they celebrate Anniversaries and Birthdays?  Nearly every participating company mentioned that they do acknowledge anniversaries and birthdays.  However, @paul_kiesche cautioned that celebrating those milestones are only nice if they are authentic and not repetitive and insincere.

Shannon closed the chat by encouraging participants to remember that no single wellness program is standard.  Each will vary based on company health trends and goals. Some ways to measure the impact of wellness programs include:

  • Utilization by employees
  • Positive feedback from employees
  • Reduction of overall health insurance costs
  • Overall improvement in employee satisfaction
  • Requests for additional programs
  • Employee suggestions for different programs
  • Reduction in sick days and absentees

Does your company have a wellness program?  If so, what does it entail?

Visit to learn more about what @DuraTech does and how it may be able to help you with your custom printing needs such as company prints, custom nameplates and graphic overlays.  Questions about wellness programs?  Feel free to reach out to Shannon at [email protected]

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Customer-Centric Marketing for Manufacturers

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for May 7, 2020

Hand drawing Customer concept with marker on transparent wipe board.

This week, one of our frequent participants, Christopher Nesbit (@NesbitMarketing), hosted a #USAMfgHour Twitter chat on customer-centric marketing for manufacturers.

After introductions, Christopher asked participants what they think customer-centric marketing is.  While many of the participants thought it was marketing using segmented data about your customers, it actually involves marketing that simply puts the customer first by building reciprocity and trust with value rather than self-promotion prior to the customer purchasing products or services. 

“Why is company-centric marketing not as effective as it used to be?”, asked Christopher in the next question.  While a few participants took guesses centered around customers not wanting to be talked “at” by companies and oversaturation in the marketplace, most were eagerly awaiting Christopher’s insight.  The reason company-centric marketing fails, Christopher said, is because marketing focused on company products and services in a self-promotional way sends the message to prospects that “it’s all about us, you are just a sale,” which has become a turn-off in today’s environment where prospects receive countless ads and promotions a day via various channels.

However, customer-centric marketing is much more effective.  Why?  @envmtfilter said,  “Customers feel valued and feel like they are doing business with someone they trust and someone that understands their needs.”  Other participants echoed that sentiment, stating that customer-centric marketing puts the focus on the customer.  When the focus is on the customer, then you’re solving their problems and bringing them value, which makes them feel more connected to your business.  Christopher agreed, stating customer-centric marketing builds a reciprocity balance with the prospect.  People who receive tangible or intangible value from a company feel a subliminal need to reciprocate in some way (ideally in a sale).  Additionally, it establishes a connection, builds “like, know, trust” factor, and promotes expertise that customers will seek out when they need help.

What are some ways companies can pivot towards customer-centric marketing strategies?  Since customer-centric marketing is all about adding value, companies should find something they can share that customers will find useful and actionable but also leave enough room for the company to fill in the gap with a product or service. @paul_kiesche suggested re-working messaging on marketing to address what the customer cares about and then educate, inform, and be helpful in your messaging and outreach.  And, @MfrsNews said, “What’s key is really having a good understanding of your audience and customer base. Who they are, what their needs are, their challenges etc. This is probably the first step in pivoting towards a customer-centric model.”  

Lastly, Christopher asked what things your company could be trying now that would work as a customer-centric marketing campaign?  Re-thinking tweets, email campaigns, social posts, and other digital content is a great first step.  Then you can eventually develop blogs, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, infographics, case studies, customer reviews, interviews, and other materials with a customer-centric focus once you start to gain momentum and have the resources you need.  

Per Christopher, “By pivoting your marketing strategies to a customer-centric stance, you will build higher trust, attract more prospects/leads, and ultimately your leads and prospects will be better vetted/qualified.” 

Learn more about this topic and other marketing topics of importance to manufacturers by following @NesbitMarketing on Twitter and visiting their website.  Next week, Shannon Simpson, Digital Marketing Strategist at DuraTech Industries (@DuraTech) will be hosting a chat all about promoting employee wellness. You won’t want to miss it!

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Inventory and Materials Control

Wide angle photo of a tattered American flag blowing in the wind over a distant city lit by golden sunset light

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for April 30, 2020

This week, one of our founders, DCSC Inc. (@DCSCInc), hosted the #USAMfgHour Twitter chat and discussed inventory and materials control.

The chat started off asking participants about recent online shopping experiences. Have participants been frustrated with online purchasing? If so, how? Responses included delays in delivery, items showing as being in stock that are not, and being unable to reach customer service to voice issues.

Next, DCSC Inc. asked what participants thought “real time” actually means? Most of the participants answered with some version of “live data without delay”. @NJ_MEP responded, “Having the ability to access an immediate update on a status of an order, delivery, or anything else. It’s all about access to information at any time.” DCSC Inc. elaborated on the meaning of “real time” by citing the @APICS Dictionary: “Real-Time is the technique of coordinating data processing with external related physical events as they occur, thereby permitting prompt reporting of conditions.”

Given the benefits of having accurate, real time data, DCSC Inc. shared two main procedures or places that manufacturers start losing control of inventory in its experience: 1.) poor receiving processes and 2.) poor data, especially in a bill of materials.  

Cycle counting is one way to help combat that.

Cycle counting on a regular basis not only increases inventory accuracy but also can identify shrinkage and prevent further loss, according to DCSC Inc. What is cycle counting? According to Inc. magazine, cycle counting is the process of continually validating the accuracy of the inventory in your system by regularly counting a portion of your inventory, on a daily or weekly basis, so that every item in your inventory is counted at least several times a year. Learn more about it here: 

Do you engage in cycle counting? Have you found it helpful for your manufacturing business?

Next week, Christopher Nesbit of @NesbitMarketing will be hosting the chat and sharing about customer-centric marketing campaigns, so be sure to join us.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER. Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Theories of Safety

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for May 27, 2020

On May 27, 2020, Phil (@witzshared) hosted a #USAMfgHour Twitter chat on theories of safety.  

After brief introductions, Phil asked if the participants had ever heard of behavior-based safety?  Unfortunately, most said that they hadn’t heard of it before.  Behavior-based safety focuses on changing the behavior of employees through education to be more aware of their environment and change habits so they don’t make bad decisions.  Dr. Rob Long is the main guru behind behavioral safety and has some great resources at for people looking to learn more about the concept. 

First, Phil asked, “When you look for a safety program do you go with the “easiest to use one size fits all in our budget” program?”  @LiftWisco said, “We use a standardized program as a guideline and then tweak it to what OSHA requirements are in our industry. We have a PT Safety Manager onboard and Safety Asst. to provide documentation & implementation.”  @NJMEP agreed wholeheartedly, saying that safety is not “One Size Fits All” and that implementing safety programs just to implement them isn’t enough.

Phil then asked whether the participant companies were guilty of “heavy-handed set an example punishment to an employee right after an accident or fine for violation and then let the message fade with light punishment until the next accident?”  Everyone who responded said an emphatic “No!” in response with @SERVICECASTER chiming in with, “I’m not sure since I don’t handle that, but it seems like, with anything, consistency would be key.  Having different standards and inconsistent consequences would, in my estimation, send mixed messages to employees.”  Phil agreed, saying, “Everyone is treated the same and consistently otherwise there will never be trust.”

Finally, Phil asked, how participants would want to be treated if they break a safety rule?  Nearly everyone said that they’d want to be treated professionally with their errors explained and then given education on the proper course of action.  While it is understandable that emotions can run high in imminent safety situations, yelling should be kept to a minimum when possible and disciplinary action done behind closed doors.

Phil closed out the chat by saying that when it comes to looking for a safety program, like in life, you should not accept just one way of doing it.  You have to look at all the other alternatives available and then take some from each.  Adapt it to your situation as one size does not fit all.   But the bottom line is and always will be communication between employees and management. 

The #USAMfgHour chat, held every Thursday from 2-3 PM Eastern is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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Adopting Speed in Your Manufacturing Business

SPEED and Businessman drawing Landing Page on blackboard

#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for April 23, 2020

Speed is a major advantage in business.  Faster customer acquisition, innovation, delivery, operations, inventory turns, cash receipt, all contribute to advantages. – @dpistulka

This week, Damon Pistulka (@dpistulka) guest hosted the #USAMfgHour Twitter chat and went over how manufacturers can adopt speed in their businesses.

The first question asked participants to identify measures of speed in their businesses.  Time-related measures were the most mentioned, including lead close times, order processing times, shipping times, and billing cycles.  Nick Rivers of @ObsidianMfg summed up the measurements well with, “How fast can a customer find us? How fast can we respond to an RFQ? How fast can we get them a product? How soon can we get Paid?”  Other measurements included numbers-based ones, such as lead acquisition and closing rates.  Since most manufacturers have significant amounts of cash tied up in their processes, Damon likes to cite order to payment days as a useful measure of speed.

Next, Damon asked which measures the participants routinely review and focus on to assess speed in their businesses.  Lead times were the biggest ones as they relate to many areas, including marketing, lead generation, social media, order processing, and payment.  Damon agreed these are all excellent measures and emphasized that manufacturing companies should focus on speed across the entire business, not just on manufacturing cycles.

The third question of the chat asked what two indicators of speed can help just about any manufacturing business.  @LiftWisco mentioned new, improved technology and streamlined processes.  Others mentioned how long stock is carried and lead generation and production time.  Damon agreed, saying that order to cash days and inventory turns are powerful metrics.  Reducing order to cash days by 50% or increasing inventory turns by 2x provides huge efficiency increase and cash requirement reduction.  

When participants were asked what they could accomplish if they improved their speed measures by 50%, they answered with things like more revenue to purchase equipment and hire staff, as well as increased pipeline capacity. Damon also emphasized positive outcomes of more cash in the bank, reduced space requirements, and better utilization of facilities and personnel.

Speed optimization can often mean millions of dollars worth of improvement in manufacturing businesses.  So how do you get started?  @NesbitMarketing said, “Tracking, tracking, tracking! You can only analyze the data that you have captured. You can only optimize the data that you have analyzed.”  

Damon suggested, in closing, that manufacturers figure out the money tied up in each measure for improvement and quantify time value to understand benefits (to make sure it is worth it before starting) and then map processes and time requirements for each step and work on them like any other manufacturing process.  While inventory turn improvements can require engineering changes, manufacturers should not underestimate the benefits of standardizing.

Be sure to visit Damon’s website to learn more tips on adopting speed in your business. Then join us next week as @DCSCInc hosts the #USAMfgHour chat on a very important topic for manufacturers: inventory and materials control.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @CVTPlastics @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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