Is “Buy American” in Your Strategic Marketing Plan?


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Developing a good marketing strategy and turning that strategy into a marketing plan requires more than knowing your customer and assembling the four Ps (product, price, place, and promotion). An effective marketing plan also requires a thorough understanding of the external market environment including political, economic, sociocultural, and technological factors. Many marketers refer to this as a PEST Analysis. If it’s been awhile since your last analysis it’s time for an update. Our current economic environment, combined with our government’s involvement via the stimulus bill – which includes a “Buy-American” provision, will provide plenty of PEST discussion points.

Backers of the Buy American provision and point-of-view state a simple argument:

“If we’re going to try to create American jobs, we need to direct stimulus money to American firms.”

I live in Ohio, which currently feels like the belt buckle of the Rust Belt. So, I don’t have to tell you that the statement above resonates in many of our neighborhoods. Does that mean a Buy American marketing campaign should automatically be launched? It is tempting because according to a recent poll, 80% of Americans think it is their patriotic duty to give preference to American-made products. However, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (“The Dangers of Turning Inward”) by Jeffrey E. Garten contained a statement that should at least give you pause during your PEST exercise.

“The point is, economic nationalism, with its implicit autarchic and save-yourself character, embodies exactly the wrong spirit and runs in precisely the wrong direction from the global system that will be necessary to create the future we all want.”

Buy-American is a tough and politically charged subject. I certainly can’t fault a company that is trying to make payroll and keep the lights on for adopting a “save-yourself” attitude. This includes small business owners who don’t lay awake at night trying to figure out how to capture the global market. To be honest, they would be thrilled just to dominate a small part of their zip code.

We have a global audience in this forum. What does your PEST Analysis look like? Are you tempted to protect your own companies and workers from the economic crisis by turning inward?

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Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


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