Category Archives: Humor and Satire

Marketing, the ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ of Manufacturing


You may not know Jacob Rodney Cohen, but you probably do know his stage name, Rodney Dangerfield.  There are some days I feel his pain when it comes to manufacturing and marketing.  The lament of Marketing in a manufacturing company is the same as Rodney’s lament, “I don’t get no respect!”  Chances are, if you are a manufacturing marketer, you feel the same way.

Granted, this is probably not true in every manufacturing organization.  B2C manufacturing is likely to respect their marketing team a bit more.  Based on anecdotal experience and evidence, I feel confident in saying that the vast majority of B2B manufacturing companies do not respect their marketing team or marketing as a discipline. All you need to do is look at the marketing activities and advertisements put out by manufacturing companies.  They are usually terrible and you can’t blame the marketers.  The marketers want to be better and want to do better, but the ‘powers’ within the manufacturing organization (sales, product or executive) don’t support marketing with resources and, even worse, force just shitty ideas on the marketing professionals.  Advertisements appear to be either done in-house by someone who has no idea about design or layout fundamentals or they are done by an advertising agency.  Marketing is getting no respect in either case.

Let’s explore the reason why marketing is the Rodney Dangerfield of the manufacturing organization.  When manufacturing was in its glory days during the post World War II boom, there was really no need for marketing.  The product was king and all they had to do was invent or produce a product and people would buy it if they had the money.  If a product person or a sales manager decided they wanted to run an ad, it was usually a seat of the pants decision and the nearest secretary was tasked to ‘put together an ad’ based on a sketch on the back of a napkin.  There was no strategy or coherent plan in place beyond the sales team, an occasional advertisement and the regular trade show.  Surely, how smart do you have to be to put together a trade show was the thinking in the male dominated industry.   So it was a task someone’s assistant took on.  Note how the manufacturing culture is beginning to define the role of marketing during this time.  Marketing was being defined as a service to the sales or product team and it was just not important enough to support with any type of resources.

Cultures don’t change easily.  Even today, in our so called modern era of digital marketing, the culture in most manufacturing companies is dominated by either the sales organization or the product/R&D organization.  Marketing is seen as an admin function, subservient to all other functions.  Marketing is under funded, under appreciated and under utilized.  Marketers in a manufacturing organization “don’t get no respect”.

At this point in my little rant, I think it’s important to delve into the definition of “marketing”.  I see marketing as being divided into 2 areas; strategy and tactics.  Strategic marketing is usually formulated (and I use this term loosely) by the big boys and girls at the leadership table.  Typically, the ‘Marketing’ leader does not belong to this self-proclaimed ‘elite’ group.  So we have a group of executives who know nothing about practical marketing strategy or marketing tactics making decisions which are usually based on the latest sales persons shallow insight or the latest product under development.  They will try to bring their own personal experiences of being ‘marketed to’ into the discussion.  This leadership team will likely include the CEO, CFO, HR, and business segment leaders.  None of whom will have had any practical marketing experience.  (check out my past post, “Help, My CEO knows nothing about marketing”) Strategic marketing will usually be reduced to a few catch phrases like, “we have to be more customer focused” or “we have to use more digital marketing”.  It is from these types of meetings where strategic decisions about social media are born.  It sounds something like this from the CEO, “Hey, my daughter spends all of her time on Facebook.  Did you know there are more than a billion users of Facebook?”  Then the head of HR pipes up and says, “yeah, my son is on Twitter and he loves it.  He’s majoring in marketing at State U this year.  He says social media really boosts a company’s SEO too.”  The CFO says, “What’s SEO?”  They all have a good laugh, assign someone to tell Rita the marketing manager to get the company up on Facebook and Twitter as they move on the the quarterly income statement. Sadly, but alas, typically, that type of conversation serves as the marketing strategy discussion with the leadership team.

In the meantime, the servant class of marketer takes care of the tactical marketing which includes the daily things called marketing such as trade shows, advertisements, email blasts, etc.  Typically these disrespected marketing team members react to the sales team or the product guy.   In many cases, Product Marketing leads the marketing team.  Even worse, in many manufacturing companies, the engineering team leads marketing.  Ask any manufacturing marketer about what engineers think of marketing and you’ll see the marketer’s eyes roll around and their head shake back and forth.

True story, I was working with a large manufacturing company last Fall where the Vice President of Engineering was given the joint title and role as Vice President of Marketing.  In one meeting, he revealed his idea about what was needed from Marketing.  He wanted to see “pizzazz” and “flamboyance” from the marketing team.  He was completely clueless about marketing strategy, tactics or what a marketing team should be doing for a manufacturing organization.  Clearly, there is no respect for Marketing at that firm.

Marketing can and should be a powerful, revenue generating force within all manufacturing companies.  In this day and age, Marketing should be leading the entire revenue team, including sales, marketing, inside sales and product.  A modern, smart, adept marketing leader and organization has much to offer.  Why is it that there is little mention of marketing in most manufacturing professional organizations?  There is plenty of discussion around “lean manufacturing”,  “supply chain”, “Six Sigma”, etc., but very little mention of marketing.  Oh, but there is one place when marketing is talked about and brought into the conversation.  When budget cuts need to be made, invariably someone on the leadership team will say, “We can always cut our marketing spend”.

The upside is that there is a HUGE opportunity for the manufacturing business and its executives who are willing to change this culture of ‘no respect’ for marketing as a discipline and the professional marketers behind the discipline.  Marketing leaders and professionals are ready, willing and able to step up to the demand for growth.  Professional marketers know how to drive engagement, fill the top of the funnel, create TOMA (top of mind awareness) and, most importantly, deliver business.  Most manufacturing leaders embrace innovation and creativity as a cornerstone of their business.   Well it’s time to put up or shut up when it comes to innovation and marketing.  There is no more innovative and creative group of people than the modern marketer.  There is not a more exciting opportunity to innovate than embracing, respecting and creating a revenue driving marketing team.  Yes, I am a professional marketer and I’m proud of my profession.  As marketers, we have the technology, tools and the knowledge to contribute at the leadership table.  We, the professional marketers, are ready to earn the respect of the manufacturing organization.


The Ubiquitous Website – Launched into Obsolescence

Marketing technology is changing so fast, how does anyone keep up?
Dilbert new web site 2-22-2015

How Many Times Has This Happened to You?

Dilbert 2-15-15




Yeah, been there too, but you can’t really hide in these meetings.


The Viral Video Strategy of Hope

I think this happened to me last week.

I think this happened to me last week.


The Vagueness of a Social Media Strategy



No Offense to my Friends in Sales

dilbert 1-25-15

Does Your Content We-We All Over Itself

Me_we_coThe first thing effective content marketers learn is to get over themselves. Effective manufacturing marketers realize the people in their target audience don’t care about their company, their CEO, their sales people or their marketing people. Great manufacturing marketers know the content they create is about the pain or passion in the people who comprise their target audience and not the pain or passion of the people who comprise the executive team, the sales team or the marketing team.

That’s not to say some portion of the content created is not about the offering. It is critically important to include product based content within your content library. What I mean is that even product or service descriptions are not about your firm, content must always be about your audience. All content must answer this one question as if the people who may one day purchase what you offer are screaming it in unison, “What’s in it for me?”

How do you know if your content is ‘we-weing’ all over itself? Just pull up one of your web pages and start reading. Read one of your own brochures (digital or print). Take a look at your last webinar invitation. Are you telling the reader about your company and your webinar or are you inviting them to be better, learn something or improve their own situation. Here are a few all too common phrases you may encounter which are strong indicators you’re writing from your own self-centric perspective as opposed to your audience’s perspective. If you see these types of phrases permeating your content, then you are a ‘we-we’ company:

  1. “Our [insert offering] is better, faster, cheaper, etc.” Instead say ‘[offering] helps you [insert value]’
  2. “Sign up for our newsletter. Instead say “Sign up to receive your weekly newsletter helping you …..”
  3. “We are the global leader in [insert offering].” Remove this type of language completely. Half the readers don’t care and the other half don’t believe you.
  4. “We do this. We are the best. We have this certification. We got this award.” Again, nobody cares. Rephrase the statement so you tell your audience why it matters to them. In the process, you might realize it doesn’t matter to them.
  5. “Sign up for our webinar.” Instead say “Reserve your spot and learn about……”
  6. “[company name ] recognized as blah, blah, blah” See number 4.

The prospective customer doesn’t care about your company, your product, your service, your CEO, etc. They care about themselves. It’s not a bad thing from a survival viewpoint. All humans are self-centered whether they want to admit it or not. It’s an evolutionary trait. Our cave dwelling ancestors who did not focus on themselves did not survive and their non-self-centered genes were not passed along to subsequent generations as a result of their demise. As marketers, it’s natural to bring our egocentric selves along to the job. We want to tell our own story. We want to tell everyone about our products,services and company. Oh, how we love our products. We want to tell everyone about our greatness. We think that by vociferously tooting our own horn, our audience will also start to think we are great. We think (perhaps hope) they will demonstrate their love and admiration by buying the stuff we are selling. We,we, we, we…

Effective marketers of manufactured products know it doesn’t work that way. Effective marketing strategy and tactics help the people in the target audience to be better at something that matters to them. Yes, you want to help them with something related to your firm’s experts and expertise. Why give away all this free help? You give it away because the recipient will want to reciprocate when the day comes around and they need or want to purchase the thing that you offer to the market.

Why is this concept so important? Think about yourself as you ponder a considered purchase. Let’s use the automobile as an example. Do you really care if Toyota is the global leader in factory efficiency? No. You care if it means you get a lower price because of the efficiency. BMW doesn’t talk about its engine, or its braking system, or its ISO 9001 certification. BMW talks about ‘the ultimate driving machine’ because it’s about your driving experience, not about their car. Note, BMW never says “Buy our ultimate driving machine” or “we’re the leader in luxury cars”.

The story you tell must be about how the product or service your firm offers serves the needs, wants, pains or passion of the people in your target audience. If your story is about your product, your company, your CEO, etc. you will not be able to gain meaningful engagement with your audience, again, because they don’t care! (unless you have zillions of dollars to spend on advertising) The marketers and the companies that get this concept and build their marketing strategy around this concept will win in their market space.

Back in the Industrial Age, we-weing all over yourself worked. In those ancient times of the last half of the 20th century, we buyers didn’t have much choice but to listen to companies pontificate, brag and boast about themselves and their products. The messages were few and far between compared to the modern age. Now, we do have a lot of choice about what we listen to and what we filter out. And, guess what, all of the companies still talking about themselves and their products all sound the same. It’s boring. We, the people in the target audience, don’t care. When they all sound the same and we’re bored with their self-centered, egotistical messages, we go to lowest price. Boom. Lowest price means lower profit, fewer employees and a minimal or negative growth trajectory. However, if one of the myriad companies provides me with some information or some content that helps me solve my problem whether I buy from them or not, I consciously or subconsciously place them ahead of the rest because they care about me, the potential customer. I’m even willing to pay a little more because I want to reciprocate.

86% of B2B marketers claim they use content marketing in their marketing mix according to the recently published research at Content Marketing Institute. If you’re one of those 86%, take a moment and look at one of your white papers, infographics, webinars, blog posts, etc. Count the first person pronouns and the company name used in the possessive. Count the second person pronouns. If the first person pronouns outnumber the second person pronouns, chances are good that you are we-weing all over yourself and your content is not engaging with your audience. This is a huge opportunity!

Treat the people in your target audience as the egocentric humans that we all personify. Give them something that matters to their lives. As a marketer, when you create ads, papers, webinars, web pages, etc. check your own self-centered tendencies, thoughts and actions at the door as you enter your work space. Effective content focuses on the pain or passion of the people in your target audience and helps them to relieve the pain or fan the passion. Change your content from we-we to you-you.

Looking for help in developing an audience focused marketing strategy? Let KMI help you get on track to seizing the opportunity for high level audience engagement.

VP Marketing Humor



dilbert 1-17-2015 post

Some clever marketing spin from a  VP Marketing at an unnamed manufacturing company.