Benefits of Advocating for Manufacturing: How to Make An Impact

It’s been said that manufacturing is the cornerstone of America. In these trying times, manufacturing has been a constant amid a chaotic economic storm. Because manufacturing is an important part of economic wellbeing, there are many benefits to advocating for it. In a recent USA Manufacturing Hour Twitter chat, host, Michael Womack from NJMEP in New Jersey, led a discussion about the benefits of advocating for manufacturing and how to make an impact.

Defining Advocacy


The discussion began with asking participants for their respective definitions of advocacy. They contributed.

robot-human-fist-pump-squareDan Bigger, a US Manufacturing advocate said, “Advocacy is being the light and sharing it with others about something you are passionate about. We are all advocates for US Manufacturing on this chat and that is the light we share with each other and outside of this group everyday.”

Host Womack said, “Absolutely spectacular answer! You are 100% correct. There are few better examples than USA Manufacturing Hour when thinking about advocacy. Sincerely appreciate the thoughtful answer.”

JD from Cleveland Deburring in Ohio said, “Advocacy is looking out for the best interests of the client. Putting the client first and only making recommendations that will lead to your client's success, not just padding your own bottom line.”

Paul Kiesche from Aviate Creative in New Jersey said, “Advocacy is speaking up for, representing, and helping someone or something you believe in.”

Erin Courtney from Earthling Interactive in Wisconsin said, “Advocating = Caring in action”

Host Womack said, “Yes! This is wonderful to hear! I was almost about to give away an answer to a later question, but I'm thrilled to see organizations such as yourself advocating for your industry. Great answer. Couldn't have said it better ourselves.”

Courtenay said, “Ooooh! I'm intrigued. I can't wait to see the upcoming Q/A!”

Ruby Rusine from Social Success Marketing in California said, “Advocacy is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.”

Kati McDermith from Industry Net in Illinois said. “Advocacy to me represents support of a cause. For example, I advocate for US Manufacturing! Loud and proud.”

David Crysler from The Crysler Club said, “Being a promoter and educator. Introducing someone or a group of people to something they may not know about. The charitable work that I support is all about introducing 9th - 12th graders to entrepreneurial thinking including opportunities in the Trades and MFG.”

Dana Engelbert, a Marketer from Mississippi said, “Advocacy is taking a position on a subject/issue, sharing that position, and promoting it to others.”

Ben Nordman from Obsidian Manufacturing Industries in Illinois said, “I like to think of advocacy as taking a stance publicly about a topic. One example I have is advocacy for animal rights.”

Dave Meyer from BizzyWeb in Minnesota said, “Advocacy is about sharing your enthusiasm, helping others to grow and learn, and just helping where possible. We spend a ton of time educating and advocating for the manufacturing industry - and the more we help, the luckier we seem to be.”

Tuffaloy Products in South Carolina said, “We believe that it is the act of supporting and being passionate about the job you do and the people you work with.”

Rebekah Mechtensimer from Empowering Pumps and Equipment in Alabama said, “I think advocacy is about lifting people/businesses/movements up and shining the light on them. We are big advocate marketers, putting a spotlight on our clients, the industry and the people who are doing amazing things.”

VirtuDesk said, “Advocacy is like sharing what you believe in with the objective of influencing others.”

Pavel Stepanov said, “It's like influencing others with your views in life.”

Matt Long from Aviate Creative in New Jersey said, “Advocacy is being publicly supportive of a cause, primarily putting up your personal brand and reputation as ethical equity for something you believe in. Animal welfare groups, or social activist movements would be good examples.”

Gail Robertson from Gail Now in Canada said, “Advocacy is often supporting/ promoting for a person or organization or a cause that needs help to get a message out. It is stepping up to speak up.”

Chase Bodar from Plastics Plus Technology in California said, “Advocacy is a vote of confidence for me. If I’m advocating for someone/ something it’s because I think it will be of value to someone else. For instance, if someone asks for a referral for X service and I have a contact I trust, I would be advocating for them.”

John Buglino from Optessa Inc in New Jersey said, “Shouting from the rooftops about a company, product, tool, etc that you simply cannot do without - so, you share it with everyone!”


Host, Womack contributed, “Advocacy is speaking up publicly about a cause or policy. It is intended to create support for said cause and drive forward-focused (often government) action. “  




Advocacy v. Lobbying


Womack then asked participants their thoughts on the differences between advocacy and lobbying. Participants weighed in.


McDermith inquired, “Is it money? Is lobbying supporting something/someone/cause for something in return (like money?)”

Tuffaloy Products said, “Advocacy is supporting while Lobbying is influencing.”

Meyer said, “Lobbying is generally more assertive, and usually happens at the gov't level.”

Rebecca Prox from DSI/Dynamatic in Wisconsin said, “Something tells me it's money that is the difference.”

Crysler said, “You get paid to lobby... advocacy is done because you believe in the thing you're talking about.”

JD contributed, “I could be wrong here but advocates truly care about the subject they're advocating for. Lobbyists, will lobby for anyone if you pay them enough.”

Host Womack answered, “You touched on an extremely important distinction here, JD. We're glad to be advocates. Let's just say that!”

Kiesche said, “I think of Lobbying as more specific to government. Working to get policies, legislation, laws, etc. passed on behalf of a cause, company or organization. “

Host Womack said, “You'd be surprised how much can be achieved with advocacy. You absolutely nailed it with the government mention. I might be giving away an answer here but 'MADE in New Jersey' manufacturer's advocacy efforts helped create the MFG Caucus.”

Courtenay said, “At the citizen level, advocacy is generating the numbers and support that will give a lobbying effort leverage.”

Bigger said, “My guess is advocacy is promoting something that you are passionate about. Lobbying is doing the same but being paid to do it.”

Robertson said, “Lobbying is political and can get some organizations in trouble! You need to know the difference and likely go with advocacy.”

Womack said, “Great point, Gail! This is one of the main reasons why MEP's can advocate but don't lobby. We are a bi-partisan organization. Our loyalty is to the manufacturing industry.”

Rusine said, “Lobbying is any attempt by individuals or private interest groups to influence the decisions of the government. They act more directly; by giving money.”

Engelbert said, “Advocacy usually evolves out of personal passion and is generally focused on building grassroots influence. Lobbyists, typically paid, generally have the goal to create or eliminate legislation/regulation. Both may wind up with the same results.”

VirtuDesk said, “Advocacy takes action that involves change and we have the freedom to do so, while lobbying is like pinning a person down to do what you say to them.”

Long said, “Advocacy is mostly voluntary and is usually driven by selfless desires to aid others. Lobbying is paid and can be driven by corporate interests as much as by ethics.”

Host Womack outlined the answer to this question.

“Yes-Advocacy and Lobbying have key differences, “he said. “Lobbying seeks to influence a public official or politician on an issue.”


He added, “Lobbying often requires a group to pay an individual or team to actively work on-site to push forward an issue. Advocacy can be done without any direct funding.”   



Benefits to Advocacy


The chat continued with a discussion about how small and medium manufacturing businesses can benefit from advocacy. There were a lot of opinions on this topic.


John Buglino from Optessa Inc in New Jersey said, “Draw attention to yourself and industry educate those around to the value/purpose(s).”

Womack said, “Well said! Manufacturers often overlook how advocacy can be used as a promotional opportunity, too. Great point, John. Really appreciate your input.”

Prox said, “Awareness is always good!”

She continued, “Here are three... - Achieve/align goals - Raise awareness of issues and achievements - Help form relationships among others in manufacturing.”

Tuffaloy Products said, “1. Becoming a 'Thought Leader' 2. Be seen as a partner rather than just another competitor 3. Build long-lasting relationships.”

Engelbert said, “One way they can benefit is by having key stakeholder and influencer support during a crisis or reputational challenge.”

Crysler said, “The best gain you'll receive are the relationships. Beyond the human bond, those relationships will often lead to opportunities to increase revenue and profitability.”

FreightPop in California said, “They can benefit from advocating for themselves and the industry because it will allow them to be more connected within the manufacturing community while finding other manufacturers with similar ideals and beliefs.”

JD said, “Brand awareness by keeping your name circulating. Reputation management by having your brand attached to a positive topic. Lead generation by coming in contact with like-minded individuals to do business with.”

VirtuDesk said, “It raises brand awareness and attracts more customers in the process because you motivate people to promote your brand.”

Courtenay said, “One awesome example is watching an advocate for bringing young people into manufacturing.”

Kiesche said, “Here's a few things a manufacturer could improve by advocating for themselves and the manufacturing industry: • Improve perception of industry • Attract employees • Improve laws/regulations? • Increase re-shoring • Decrease expenses.”

Prox said, “Here are three... - Achieve/align goals - Raise awareness of issues and achievements - Help form relationships among others in manufacturing.”

McDermith said, “I am pretty sure this is exactly what I was going to say.”

Meyer said, “Leadership in the industry, visibility, increasing the chance that you'll be the obvious choice when your prospect thinks of you. Plus, rising tide lifts all boats - manufacturers need to help each other in this environment.”

Mechtensimer said, “They gain connecting with their audience and industry, a loyal following of other advocates, thought leadership, street cred…the list goes on!”

Bigger said, “They can grow, Gain new working relationships, Connect with other similar/yet different companies, Spotlight the industry to show the next generation.”

Stepanov said, “Since brand awareness has been mentioned, I'll just add these: it drives more loyalty to customers and attract new customers to boost your long-term ROI”

Tuffaloy Products said, “Shining new light on how your services, goods, and business can create a greater change in more than just your industry. Teaching others how to evolve and help others grow during difficult times.”

Long said, “It gives them an opportunity to portray themselves as knowledgeable industry leaders, improving brand perception and attracting new customers and brand advocates.”


Host, Womack said, “Advocacy on the local level highlights the presence of an industry, encouraging public officials to create policy to support that specific industry.”

He continued, “Eliminating red tape, unnecessarily or outdated regulations, providing funding, workforce development, and more can all be achieved by advocating for an industry.



 How to Advocate


There are many ways businesses can advocate for themselves and for the manufacturing industry. For the next part of the chat, participants focused on ways businesses can advocate for themselves while still shining a light on the manufacturing industry. Participants weighed in.


Courtenay said, “Join an MEP!!!!”

Host Womack said, “Yes! I wish we can RT this 1000 times! Well said and such a great way to justify the effort needed to effectively advocate.”

Prox said, “YES!! MEP partners are amazing if the MEP is a good one!”

Courtenay added, “Advocacy draws power from numbers. MEPs have manufacturing's best interests in mind and are a great way to connect with other like-minded businesses.”

Prox said, “I'll stick with threes... - build partnerships - tackle challenges in the industry (w/your partners it's even better) - tell your story regularly.”

Stepanov said, “Join online communities, create blogs, and share them. Join Twitter chats as well because you can share your views and ideas on topics they present.”

Meyer said, “Chats like this one are great ways - but stay involved in your local chambers, make your voice heard in local government, help the industry, and support by sharing your best practices. Labor is really tough right now - get school-agers excited about joining our ranks.”

Crysler said, “Educate. Share Resources. Invite people in.”

Buglino said, “Get outside of your comfort zone >> engage in and with your physical and digital communities You have more to offer those around you than you think.”

Kiesche said, “A manufacturer could advocate for themselves and the industry by: • Educating on social media • Networking • Speaking at events • Working with colleges • Voting • Getting involved in organizations and committees • Educate employees.”

Tuffaloy Products said, “Shining new light on how your services, goods, and business can create a greater change in more than just your industry. Teaching others how to evolve and help others grow during difficult times.”

Bigger said, “Join groups. Contact other manufacturing companies to work together. Build relationships. All of these are free.”

Mechtensimer said, “Get involved with organizations/associations within your industry! Being able to have a voice in the meetings where decisions are being made is so important if you’re a manufacturer and to advocate for yourself/business.”

JD said, “Being actively involved and holding Manufacturing Day events. Career days at high schools and trade schools, being a voice at local Town Hall meetings, etc.”

Long said, “Make noise - Get involved in networking groups, write content on their topic of expertise, be active on social media, host a podcast--As long as they are active, and are being exposed to more people.”

Engelbert said, “Be involved in local, regional, state business and industry associations and take an active role. Publish content on web, social that advocates for key issues. Develop media relationships and tell your story.”

VirtuDesk said, “Be involved with communities of the same niche so they can relate and understand the message that you want to convey. This is because they can support you by sharing your points with others and lifting your voice up in the crowd.”

Host, Womack said, “The direct benefits to business cannot be understated! I'm glad you touched on this point. Appreciate your valuable input, VirtuDesk!”

He added, “Developing relationships with chambers of commerce, industry associations, local MEPs, or other trade groups is a great first step. Any public vocalization of support in an organized manner will be effective over time.”   



  Making An Impact




The chat concluded with asking participants their thoughts on the best way to make an impact.


JD said, “Sincerity.”

Buglino said, “Consistency.”

Crysler said, “Tell relevant stories and give specific examples of how the industry has impacted your life.”

Kiesche said, “A tad bit of effort and a hint of courage.”

Bigger said, “Transparency and consistency.”

Courtenay said, “Consistency. Just when you feel like you're beating a dead horse, that's when the critical parties are just starting to listen. It can be a slog, so go back to the well (ie your community of support) often.”

Tuffaloy Products said, “The honest truth of your capabilities and knowledge. With that practice, you can then be able to influence others to do business better by supporting your own values.”

Stepanov said, “Utilize social media -Spread awareness as your main objective -Work with other companies (if you can find a big one, do so).”

Meyer said, “To amplify, you need to use technology and partner up with others. Email newsletters, hashtags, try automation to engage by sharing more of what people really need.”

Prox said, “Honesty and a platform.”

Suzan Bostick from DCSC Inc in Wisconsin said, “Out on a limb here but you need to have an understanding of the industry, a genuine desire to help and not only for selfish needs.”

Mechtensimer said, “Be passionate about what you’re advocating for. If people don’t think you really care, your message won’t be effective. Also, team up with other advocates. Even if your competitors, working together for the greater good shows mad respect.”


Host, Womack said, “The best way to make an impact is to show up in force. Real change can be created by showing up with as many representatives that align with a topic as possible.”

He added, “When a large number of manufacturing businesses are speaking in support of a single topic, there is a higher chance of policymakers to listen and take action.”  



As with any industry, manufacturers need to stand up for the things that have the most impact on their respective businesses and their industry. Representing the industry can drive policy makers to show support as well as make the changes that are needed to continue to strengthen manufacturing. Support can come in many forms but ultimately, coming together as manufacturers to advocate for brands, businesses and for manufacturing will have the most impact on the future of the industry.



About #USAMfgHour

Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.

Are you interested in hosting a #USAMfgHour chat? Contact organizers @DanBiggerUsaMfg, @DCSCinc, @SocialSMktg and @Radwell_Intl



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