Trauma-Informed Marketing

Today I started thinking a lot about the fact that the 3D printing industry is “traumatized”. I am not necessarily using this word in a clinical (DSM-5) sense, but rather in the sense that the industry has been through a really hard time. It is hard to imagine more of a rock bottom.

So in this analogy, under the hypothesis that the collective behavior of the industry is influenced by this trauma, what does that mean for marketing?

I intend to write a longer post about this, but for now I will just say that I think it means that the industry is very sensitive to any kind of “salesy” or “hypey” marketing.

Big launches with the Chicago Bulls cheerleaders (actually happened and was as cringe-worthy as it sounds) are not going to work. Neither are the “we’re going to change the world” pitches. Everyone is too f*ing tired for that.

The customers are traumatized by 40 years of false promises. The OEMs are traumatized by the complete evaporation of any investor interest in the industry. The investors are traumatized by the fact that they lost a lot of money. The markets are traumatized by the hostile takeovers and failed merger attempts. The founders are traumatized by their balance sheets. The employees are traumatized by the never-ending re-orgs. (Again, hopefully “lower case t” trauma for most, but still trauma.)

What do we need to do instead?

Build trust and rapport. Be honest. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. Be human.

I think this will ultimately be a good thing for a historically frothy industry. The “fair weather” participants are already gone. I think it will lead to a healthier and more legitimate additive manufacturing sector. I think it will lead to better products. I think it will lead to better companies. I think it will lead to more trust and education between AM companies and engineers.

I’m curious to hear what you think, especially if there are lessons learned from other industries that have been through similar experiences.

We need some therapy for the 3D printing industry.