Ideas, musings and inspirations.

No region in the world understands the countervailing forces of hope and despair related to the manufacturing economy more viscerally than Southwestern Pennsylvania.

As a young adult, I witnessed first-hand the cataclysmic fall of Big Steel when the region added 124,000 new unemployed people — fathers, mothers, siblings — in a flash of economic destruction between August 1981 and January 1983.

In the 30 years since, the United States remains undecided about the most fundamental questions. Can American workers and companies compete in a global workforce and market? Do our schools and education bureaucracies effectively prepare young people for advanced manufacturing careers? Will companies invest in American workers rather than reflexively seek cheaper labor?

Elliance has seen the power of smart manufacturing marketing to make a difference for companies seeking bigger/better customers globally, and a stable, reliable workforce locally.

We apply many of the same concepts of “right-fit” matching from our work in higher education marketing to the world of manufacturing marketing. In both sectors, the move toward digital marketing — including search engine optimization, inbound PR 2.0/social media campaigns, and conversion-driven websites—came as something of a revelation to our clients.

Our work enabled a three-generation, family-owned welding and machining company in Brookville, PA attract interest and win confidence in a fiercely competitive global market.

Elliance helped Aerotech,  a family-owned motion control company deploy the power of brand, story and design to seize its rightful claim for setting “industry best” standards in product quality and performance.

Sustaining such a claim, eventually, will depend on the quality of people and talent that Aerotech attracts. A visit to the company’s Careers page underscores a cry heard across America’s manufacturing sector — the need for more and better qualified employees.

Major publications such as The New York Times, and Business Week, as well as think tanks such as the Aspen Institute have looked closely at the interplay between job pay, job security, job preparedness and perception that keep good US companies from attracting enough right-fit employees.

While some macro economic forces may be beyond the reach of what a smart manufacturing marketing effort can influence, it’s clear from our experience that the age of purely sales-driven manufacturing has passed. If the United States is to finally and decisively seize its share of a global advanced manufacturing economy, both marketing practice and audience perception must change.

Elliance admires the powerful minority of  firms that have demonstrated the essential role that manufacturers can continue to play in sustaining communities and the country as a whole. And we’re honored to have played our part.

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