In this edition of our Marketing for manufacturers series, Vanessa Katsanevakis discusses getting to know your brand, building on it, and the benefits that can follow.
Australian Made products are respected around the world for their quality. But our marketing isn’t.
It’s the adage of “a quality product sells itself.” But are we selling ourselves short?
Fourteen years ago, during the global financial crisis, my father had fallen ill. Our family manufacturing business’s revenues declined 40 per cent. After a couple of years permitting his health to come first, Dad passed on. Remaining was a B2B manufacturer with declining sales and a bleak outlook. We had a quality product equal to the world’s best, all manufactured in Melbourne, but not recognised or valued as such.
As the new director it was a privilege to continue my Dad’s lifetime of work. He was a courageous visionary who forged his own path.
My first priority was to understand and then build our brand. That began with key stakeholders. Understanding and getting to know the very core of who our people are. Revealing what makes them stay, why are they passionate about their craft, and what makes us – us. We discovered our core proposition, showing who we really are and not pretending we’re something we’re not.
One outcome was we began building more trust and transparency as a business. In articulating our proposition, many unexpected benefits continued. Recruitment became smoother. More aligned staff and collaborations came onboard.
While our values had always been there, we were finally clearly communicating these to new and existing stakeholders. At the same time, misaligned stakeholders naturally fell away.
We changed our brand and marketing to elevate an everyday object like tapware into a desired household piece. Taking inspiration from fashion and art, we changed the language and the perspective. We boldly expressed that an everyday object could be a work of art. The quality of our product, and everything that goes into manufacturing it, was finally being valued in the marketplace. At that point we had disrupted the traditional branding in our industry, and six years on the industry has caught up, following suit.
I always ask my friends in manufacturing to take a look at their industry. After years of being in the same industry together, competitors can start looking so similar. We stay in our manufacturing business from one decade to the next, but our branding should not. Just as machinery and processes keep evolving, so should marketing.
Our results continue throughout the business with this level of alignment. We are able to streamline decision making, having our company pillars to refer back to. We work with our ideal customers, guided by transparency and shared values.
The end result is growth and sales.
And while it is nice to be in business at a high point, it is again time to invest in branding and marketing. It is time to disrupt our comfortable spot.
It’s no secret it takes passion and courage to run a manufacturing business. That makes us perfect candidates for authentic propositioning.
Soulless businesses manipulate a narrative. But with the richness, heritage, and determination required in manufacturing, our stories make the ultimate communication piece. All of the heart, passion, and talent that goes on in the factory floor gets to shine in a digital world, and create real world value.
Vanessa Katsanevakis is Director of Sussex Taps and Young Manufacturer of The Year at the 2018 Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame Awards.
Subscribe to our free @AuManufacturing newsletter here.