If you’re an American machining professional, you know firsthand the frustrations that result from being “occupationally profiled.”
It’s everywhere, isn’t it? It’s there in the lack of government and institutional support for manufacturing training. It’s there in the seemingly lackadaisical response to the shifting and dilution of our indigenous manufacturing base. We see it as our youth generally become nauseated at the prospect of a career in manufacturing.
Generally speaking, U.S. machining artisans and businesses are stereotyped by the masses as mouth-breathing, toothless, unclean Luddites, out of step with modern culture and society.
The challenges that result from these misunderstandings—the difficulty in finding qualified or even motivated employees, the legislative and institutional bigotry —are real, and real stamina and a form of courage are required to overcome them.
The truth is, of course, that modern manufacturing is a miraculous symphony of automation, technology and creativity that is as rewarding as it is challenging —at once abstract in its process options while linear and absolute in its results. But those who perpetuate and feed the negative opinions take little time—if any at all—to observe what really takes place in the industry or on the shop floor. They form opinions based on conjecture and imagination without ever taking into account manufacturing’s actual contributions.
Now, I don’t mean to minimize this very important issue, but let me turn the tables for a moment to make an important point:
You may be showing a similar sort of bias toward your prospects and potential customers with your business’s Web site.
The vast majority of manufacturers I speak with are under the assumption that prospects are coming to their site for simplistic purposes.
But like those who fail to see and appreciate the abstract and linear natures of manufacturing, so too do many manufacturers refuse to look at or think about what motivations actually drive purchasing-minded prospects to engage their companies via the Internet.
Try this exercise: Go to some of the Web’s metalworking-focused forums (you can find a list by visiting www.mmsonline.com/links and selecting “Metalworking Forums”). Spend some time perusing the posts and you’ll find varying mixes of topics, levels of expertise, and, often, stages of maturity.
These forums mimic the same breadth of complex needs your own prospects bring with them to your own Web site. Does your site present satisfactory levels of information about what you can do for them, or does it insult them unintentionally by presenting only equipment lists and contact info?