Every product has its story. In a digitally saturated environment, it’s easy to pass over the origin of material things of use: how they’re made, where they come from, what they’re for. Crafting copy for sales collateral, drafting a single message e-mail for a launch, or generating a headline for a news release forces me to pay attention to just that.
Yet the latest numbers for the Canadian manufacturing sector suggest that such product stories aren’t so much ignored, but aren’t getting told at all. Statistics Canada’s most recent survey indicates, “Manufacturing sales declined 3.1% in December  to $48.0 billion, the largest decline since May 2009.” Commentators received the news with a note of pessimism, along with speculation surrounding this hollowing-out phenomenon. Though a glance beyond Canadian borders shows the hollowing-out isn’t unique, but a long-term trend in most industrialized countries.
One might conclude that such a mood of pessimism is justified; that it’s a prelude to a lament over the gradual disappearance of manufacturing in Canada. But that would be premature. There’s a heap of success stories out there. Which leads me to speculate that a large part of the struggle for manufacturers is in getting their stories told. And that’s a shame, because I can’t help but feel that the client stories here at Mezzanine never cease to be interesting.
Marketing the products that clients manufacture draws me into a weird, unfamiliar world. To disclose that world, to make it known to a market, is a form of storytelling in the broadest sense of the term. The story of Canadian manufacturing has its beginning and its middle. The more stories we generate about its characters will keep at bay the need to write its end.
Let me know what you think below—is Canadian manufacturing gradually disappearing? Do we need to do a better job at telling the success stories?