If your U.S. customers and prospects are buying from overseas manufacturers,
you can take that business back by following three simple steps – FEWER, FASTER, FINER.
"Appear where they cannot go."
The Art of War
A key weakness of overseas manufacturers is their business model's bias toward long production runs of commodity-type products. The concept of Fewer exploits that weakness by emphasizing lower minimum order sizes; the lower a minimum order size, the better. If a product can be customized, even better still.
One client benchmarked their Asian competitor's production lead times, then reduced minimum order sizes by 90%, far below industry standards. How? By investing in new production technology that allowed them to make smaller quantities with lower set up costs. They also lowered set-up charges to remove a significant hurdle to new orders, calculating that they would recoup those costs in repeat orders. Your accountant will fret about the operational costs of those smaller orders, but consider them marketing costs for customer acquisition and retention, not production expenses.
Another company set up a "mini" production line through which smaller, more customized orders were routed. This allowed those smaller orders to be expedited, and kept them from being delayed in the queue of larger production runs.
Start by identifying and focusing on markets that need relatively short runs of more customized product, playing against the strengths of the overseas business model of manufacturing long production runs of commodity products.