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The future of electronics marketing

Posted on | May 16, 2008 | No Comments

I had dinner the other night with Ross Ayotte, who now runs marketing for TechInsights, the former electronics group of CMP Media. Ross and I worked together on EE Times last year. He’s ginning up a plan for a one- or two-day marketing and communications summit probably in the fall. The idea is part educational, part cathartic be-in for the industry (my description, not his). Frankly, it needs it, sooner rather than later. Patrick Mannion at TechOnline painted the most accurate picture of the industry’s malaise recently in a dispatch from Dubai, where hope for electronics is anything but lackluster…unless you’re in the Old Guard. Mannion writes that there is plenty of hand-wringing about the maturation of the industry.

The IC industry has matured, so what? It had to happen sometime. ICs were never what we were all about. We were — and are — all about innovating and engineering. Creating and evolving. ICs are a big result of that, to be sure, but they’re just a side-effect.

Back to marketing. Here’s the deal. Ross needs to schedule this get-together, like, tomorrow, but that won’t happen because we’re perilously close to summer vacation. This thing should be scheduled for the first week after Labor Day. I humbly suggest:

  • Invite Paul Gillin or David Meerman Scott (or both) to keynote. If you can’t hear a pin drop during the presentations, I’ll eat my keyboard.
  • Confiscate everyone’s cell phones when they enter the room but return them for the break-out session on mobile marketing.
  • Pull three panels together with marketing-communications and media people mostly from other industries (not people from Proctor and Gamble or GM–they’re in a different league).
    • One panel will be on digital marketing in 2008 (not 1999, where the wheels seemed to have come off the bus for the industry).
    • The second will be on SEO, measurement and metrics. Have everyone swear a blood oath that they will slap their engineer-CEOs if they insist on treating marketing measurement and metrics today as if it should be like fab yield reports.
    • The third will feature Lou Covey, John Blyler, Kevin Morris and, hell, even John Cooley (although attach electrodes to his nipples to keep him from rambling). Those guys can talk about how they go about building online community and voice, how they use free tools to do what IT departments struggle to deliver in a reasonable amount of time.

Then spend the bulk of the time remaining brainstorming strategies and tactics. Invite in the Reed, Penton and Hearst guys. They’re trying to figure it out just like everybody else.
At the end of the day, marketing passives, converters, memory and logic can be a challenge, but at least it’s marketing something tangible. (Marketing hand lotion can be sexy, given the direct-to-consumers universe of possibilities, but puhleeze, it’s crap you rub into your skin; it’s not magic like semiconductors).
Mannion said the industry needs to get out of its malaise. Its marketers look like deer in the headlights. All they need is a little inspiration and the feeling that they’re in it with everyone else.

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No Responses to “The future of electronics marketing”

  1. lou Covey
    May 16th, 2008 @ 9:08 am

    I’m in.

  2. dark_faust
    May 23rd, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

    Right on the bullseye again, Brian! Such a summit would be a macrocosm of what many of us are doing on a more personal, microcosmic level – namely, working through this “time of transition” with our editorial colleagues as well as friends and associates in marketing, PR and the like. The summit you insightfully propose might help coalesce many of the really good ideas that are starting to take shape within the smaller gatherings.

  3. michele clarke
    May 29th, 2008 @ 4:18 am

    Make sure you bring people in from New York… and maybe a couple from Boston… those of us who were consumed by Silicon Valley for more than a decade but made it out alive have found other industries that could both learn from – but also teach – the tech crowd some things. New York has Fred Wilson, the Silicon Alley Insider crowd (Henry Blodget is rebuilding his reputation blog post by blog post – no joke), and others…

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