When my friend and colleague, Norm MacInnis, asked me to speak to the New England Chapter of the Electronics Representatives Association about “social media”, I almost jumped out of my chair and jogged the three hundred miles to Boston.
Since my days carry the bag for Multek, I’ve been trying to get a company in the electronics manufacturing sector to consider the benefits of using Web 2.0 tools and tactics, so I was pumped to finally be able to test drive some of my ideas, and get some feedback from a group of battle-tested industry pros.
Like many industrial market segments, the electronics industry is accustomed to holding their cards painfully close to the vest, sometimes even between organizations within the same company, where engineering and supply chain management can get pretty turfy when it comes to engaging with and managing their vendors.
In the world of high tech manufacturing, the competitive edge that comes along with a technology advantage is usually joined at the hip with speed-to-market, where the timing of a company’s message is critical to maximizing revenues on the profitable front end of a product’s life cycle. These dynamics have created a culture of secrecy antithetical to the sharing nature of the Social Web.
But I was talking to sales and marketing professionals – people who make their living every day carrying their company’s messages directly to end users, and indirectly through resellers. People who only get paid when they sell something.
Having spent many years in those same trenches, I’m pretty familiar with the resources and methodologies most companies use to prospect for new business, provide customer service, and keep their finger on the pulse of their various target markets, and frankly, with the exception of those who work for the very largest companies, field sales are left to their own devices when it comes to territory development, building rapport and solidifying relationships.
I knew I would be meeting an audience looking for new ways to skin the cat.
A week later, I’m happy to report that initial reactions from the group have been positive.
“Don, you didn’t just hit it out of the ballpark, you hit it out of the parking lot”
— Norm MacInnis, President of the MacInnis Company
“I’ve been to several social media presentations, but this is the one that gave me something real that I can work with in a practical sense.”
— Deb Matulaitis, Business Development at Suntron
There are others, but you get my drift.
I’ve had several requests for copies of the presentation I showed, but without my ranting and digressing, the message is kinda gappy, and probably won’t make much sense to somebody who hasn’t heard my song and dance in person. As a result, I’ve created a downloadable companion guide called Social Media Starters for Industrial Sales and Marketing Applications which you can find by clicking here.
My heartfelt gratitude goes out to Norm MacInnis and the New England chapter of the Electronics Representatives Association for their hospitality. I look forward to working with the ERA again, and the opportunity to use what I’ve learned to help my friends and colleagues in the electronics manufacturing industry get a leg up on the competition in their markets and territories.