Domestic-made goods are in high demand. Cash in by putting your products’ origins front and center.
Check out Tony O'Geen’s website and you’ll know one thing straight off: His sports bags, leather products, and embroidery all come from right here in the USA. There’s the red-white-and-blue logo, the Made in America motto, and an animated flag.
"We print it on everything, every bag we make, every hockey glove we sell," says O’Geen, owner of Tony's Canvas & Leather in Massena, New York.
There’s a lot of demand out there for domestic-made products, either from consumers who believe quality runs higher in American goods, or from patriots who simply believe in keeping the money close to home. Either way, Made in the USA can be a selling point—if you get out there and sell it.
1. Don’t be afraid to spend high.
At QMT Windchimes in Manassas Park, Virginia, co-owner Patricia Baisden makes sure every set of hand-tuned wind chimes that goes out the door is emblazed with a Made in the USA sticker. Gift boxes, too, get stickered with national pride. This is not a cheap endeavor. “We buy stickers by the million,” at about 25 cents apiece, Baisden says. The logo denotes quality to some, while others see it as a promise of ready availability and quick delivery. Either way, while the stickers may seem a steep capital investment, they are helping this firm to catch a valuable market niche.
2. Make it visible.
If the domestic-origin pitch is going to be part of your sales effort, make it visible. In some cases, this is obvious: Put it in press releases, display the message prominently in retail stores, and put it on the product, of course, but be sure to put it where people can see it. New Orleans apparel wholesaler Jolie and Elizabeth recently moved its "Made in America" tag from the side seam near the bottom of its dresses to right beneath the label in the back. They've also added a separate hangtag with the motto, so it can be spotted from a distance. "The placement makes a difference in the end result," says Jolie Bensen. "Just as a price tag used to weigh heavily on a consumer’s decision to purchase, a tag clearly stating that the item is Made in America is now the new variable."
3. Go real-world.
While tags and labels are great, some retailers take their patriotism a step further. At PipeMarker.com, management recently displayed its national pride by collecting damaged or retired American flags for proper disposal. The company reached out to the community for the collection, then turned over the flags to local American Legions and VFWs, a project that demonstrated in a tangible way the business’s commitment to not just sourcing in America, but to supporting America in other practical ways.
4. Don’t go half way.
To win consumer support, a product that claims to be Made in America must be made entirely in America. "Manufacturers must always tell the truth because if they are claiming their products are, in fact, Made in the USA, the whole product should be from this country, or the claim will come back to bite them," says Tina Mosetis of New York-based MosetisPR. Before sticking that label on, small business owners need to investigate their entire supply chain to ensure that every component is, in fact, domestic in origin.
5. Put it online.
Tony O'Geen knows that a significant portion of his customers either find him through the web or at least visit his site: Hence the logo and the waving flag. Virtually every small business owner can agree that their website’s homepage gives many would-be customers their first glimpse into an operation. The Made in USA claim deserves a place front and center, highly visible even on a first glimpse at the page. If it’s going to be a selling point, don’t bury it on an inside screen or make people scroll to find it. Wave that flag where it can be seen.