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The competitive landscape for manufacturing continues to increase. Thanks to advancements in technology, barriers to entry are falling by the wayside. More and more hungry, competitive entrepreneurs are setting up shop…maybe even in your backyard. Look around. Are there any new competitors in your market? Is your sales team complaining about how tough it is getting out there? Are they talking more about the rise in competition than the rise in opportunities?
This challenge is not going away any time soon. And to win, you’re going to have to start “looking the part”.
There doesn’t appear to be many facts around the exact origin of “looking the part,” but we do know it dates back to the 1800s. And, according to some quick research, it got its start in theater where selling a particular character in advance of the show not only played a huge role in promotion, it was critical to the show delivering on its promise.
An actor that “looked the part,” along with his supporting cast, script, music, and props, all set the stage while prepping audiences in anticipation. The more the theatergoers bought into the pre-show drama and promotion, the more they believed it would deliver.
By this point you might be wondering what the heck theater has to do with manufacturing? Well, when it comes to luring customers away from the competition, “looking the part” just might be your secret weapon.
Stick with me.
When you “look the part,” you look like you can deliver on what you promise. It’s like a ticket past the gatekeeper. When you “look the part,” confidence, trust, and reliability are instilled in your potential customer’s mind. They begin to feel like they can not only trust you but count on you to help their business grow.
If you don’t look the part, you could be setting you and your company up to lose. And lose big! Not just a few orders here and there. We could be talking about not even being at the table for consideration on projects you’ve typically won in the past, resulting in a loss of market share. Think about it…as competition moves into your territory, what is it you are doing to look the part?
How are you promoting your show?
Why do most manufacturers fail to look the part? We’ve watched this closely over the years and found the reasoning typically falls in one of three buckets. Some are completely unaware of the concept where others are aware but don’t believe what’s at stake. The most common reason for not looking the part is a weak brand foundation.
Much like anything you are building, weak foundations create fractures in places you aren’t even aware of, allowing damage to happen with little notice. The same holds true here, and trust me, your prospects aren’t the only ones that see this. Your existing customers and employees are taking notice, as well. If, by now, you find your company falling in this category, it’s time to do the hard work and fix the foundation.
If you lack in even one touchpoint, you risk losing business.
The key to looking the part is to be consistent across all customer touchpoints. That consistency will drive the basis for looking the part while contributing to the brand experience your customer is having. This will come natural to manufacturers with a strong brand foundation as the brand will naturally inform your team’s decision making around any marketing, selling, or service initiative.
Do your customers evangelize your brand? What do you think they say about your company when you are not around? What do you think your prospects think of you? Do you look the part? Do you look like you could deliver on what your brand promises?
If you haven’t done so in a while, take the time to evaluate your own company. Just make sure you do it while walking in the shoes of your customers and prospects. You’ll get a different outcome that way.
Using the list below, rate your company on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being “we don’t look the part” and 5 being “we look the part”) in each of the 15 categories. If you are giving yourself poor marks, imagine what others are experiencing and saying.
How did you do? If you did well, you are way ahead of the game and, most likely, enjoying the benefits as a result. If not so good, don’t get discouraged. You have work to do and a way forward!
There has never been a more important time to drive a stake in the ground and claim what it is that makes you and your company different from your competitors. And, a great way to do that is to start looking the part. Looking the part is a sustainable way to fight back. And, if you do it right, prospects will trust you and customers will evangelize you; which will fend off competitors and pay dividends well into the future.
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