What’s Holding US Manufacturing Back?

Today we have a post from Andrea Olsen. Andrea started her career in the tech start-up world, and has brought much of that innovative thinking to her work as the CEO of Prag’madik, an operational strategy consultancy, specializing in the industrial and manufacturing markets. What's Holding US Manufacturing Back? There has been an ongoing national conversation about bringing manufacturing back to the United States. The government, states, educators, and organizations have been pushing a resurgence through, addressing many of the roadblocks facing these organizations, including: lack of skilled labor, decreased sales, advancing lean manufacturing, integrating additive manufacturing, robotics, IoT and Big Data. The middle-market manufacturers - primarily in the Midwest, in the range of $50-$500m in revenues, employing 10-800 people - face a unique set of challenges. While the advancement of things like 3D printing and robotics will undoubtedly change the manufacturing landscape, these manufacturers face much more basic challenges to compete - and more accurately - survive the next 3-5 years. This isn't about the "skills gap," or "robots taking jobs," or "offshoring" or even "regulation burdens." Those challenges are further downstream for these manufacturers. Today's issues are much more fundamental. The advancements in digital technologies, communications platforms, and simply the Internet, have dramatically impacted business operations and overall competitiveness. The "blocking-and-tackling" of things like: embracing change, utilizing technology platforms, digitizing information and fostering an innovative culture, are the true essentials for US middle-manufacturing growth. Here's a short list of those essentials: 12788read more >

Keep Moving Forward

  Today we have a guest blog from Jennifer Murphy, the vice president and COO at NetPlus Alliance. Two years ago at the Industrial Supply Association Product Show and Conference, I was fortunate to attend one of the educational tracks hosted by a former Navy SEAL, Eric Greitans. His presentation related his experiences as a SEAL to the challenges we face in life, both personally and professionally. Greitans served abroad first as a humanitarian, and then on the front lines in Afghanistan post-9/11. His book, The Heart and Fist, has a permanent place on my nightstand and I reread the pages that I’ve dog-eared whenever I need a reminder to keep my head up and continue to move forward. I have many years to go before I am a veteran of this industry. I’ve worked at NetPlus Alliance, a buying group for industrial and contractor supplies distributors, for only seven short years. This pales in comparison to my father, Dan Judge, who’s been around the industry for almost 50. I’ve learned from him, though, about the tough times that our family distribution business, Ward Beals & McCarthy, faced over the years, and how hard it was for him to sell the assets of that business to a bigger company back when I was in college. He kept the corporation intact, and now I am the fifth generation of an industrial business that was started by my great uncles in 1931. During the recession in 2009, we also heard from many of our distributors about the challenges that they faced. Our members that survived fought hard to gain back the ground that was lost, but the road ahead is still uncertain. The challenges many of us face now, although different from what my great uncles faced, are no less frightening than…read more >

B2B Marketing: 9 Ideas for Solving Your Biggest Content Challenges

Today we have a guest post from Michele Linn the Content Development Director of the Content Marketing Institute and a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can read the original post here. Last week, when we published findings from our study, B2B Small Business Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budget, and Trends – North America (sponsored by Outbrain), reader Andy Detweiler posed a great question in our comments section: “Any insight on how small B2B companies plan on solving the problems listed? Would be curious to understand what they see as potential solutions versus a larger enterprise.” Andy’s question inspired us to take a closer look at some of the content marketing challenges faced by North American B2B marketers who work at small businesses (companies with 10 – 99 employees), as compared to their peers at enterprise organizations (companies with more than 1,000 employees). We’ll also share some insights on ways content marketers can address these issues — regardless of the size of the organization they work for. 1. Engagement In general, both groups are similarly challenged with producing the kind of content that engages — and it is the top challenge for enterprise companies. In a way, I think it’s encouraging to see this as a top challenge, as it shows that marketers are focusing on the value of quality over quantity. And, there is good reason why engaging content matters: Customers and prospects who engage with content are more likely to reach out or initiate a relationship with your organization. Ideas: Engaging content means different things to different people, so you’ll need to start out by determining your organization’s definition of “engagement” — and what metric(s) you can use to measure it. For instance, as Joe Pulizzi…read more >