Strategic Planning. Training. Market Positioning.

One Good Idea

Back when I used to be a member of what was then called IPC’s Electronics Manufacturing Services Industry (EMSI) Council, we used to end each meeting with a round robin session called “one good idea.” Each member would share something his/her company was doing that had saved time or money or solved a common challenge. When I teach IPC’s EMS Program Management Certification course, I usually include that round robin discussion, as well.

Today, I’d like to try an online version of it. Normally I don’t promote my clients in my blog, but one of them had a good idea that is simply too good not to share. A number of folks over at Screaming Circuits are fans of Nikola Tesla, so much so that they commissioned a t-shirt to commemorate Tesla’s contributions to science and technology. The t-shirt also contributes to the preservation of his history by donating all profits to the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe directly. The t-shirt, designed by Portland, Oregon area artist Kyle Devore, offers supporters of Tesla a way to give back to the organization as well as receive a piece of memorabilia. View more about the t-shirt on the teespring.com website: http://teespring.com/HighVoltageMonth2014.

And, while fundraising for the Tesla Museum (or any museum likely to inspire future engineers and scientists) is a great idea; from my perspective, the really interesting idea was the business model used by Teespring, the crowdfunding site that has created the t-shirt. Its model lets organizations fund raise through t-shirt sales with virtually no financial risk, excess inventory risk or logistics headaches. And, that is a great idea worth sharing.

Got a great idea you’d like to share? Feel free to add it to the comments section.

 

No one goes to college and majors in Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) program management. They are typically either hired for the position as a business major or migrate there from a technical position. In short, they typically learn the basics of their job on the job. Prior experience, cultural differences, degree to which processes are documented and robustness of initial training can all impact a program manager’s performance.

A good program manager grows business while preserving profitability. He or she is also trusted by customers to be a champion for their business within the EMS provider. Developing that skills set often takes time. What are the signs that a program manager needs some coaching to reach that level? Here are two of the most common issues:

  • The Program Manager is reluctant to negotiate with customers – Customer requests are either completely ignored or agreed to, even when the program manager knows they aren’t achievable.
    • Preferred Behavior – Evaluate the request and offer the customer a range of choices if the exact request cannot be fulfilled. For example, while a schedule pull-in for all product might not be possible, it might be possible to pull in the most critical assemblies. Or, the new date could be achieved if the customer was willing to pay expedited freight charges. Let the customer choose the preferred option.
  • The Program Manager is reluctant to give bad news – The customer finds out about a missed delivery, the day it doesn’t show up.
    • Preferred Behavior – Let the customer know as early as possible if a problem has occurred. Provide a range of alternatives for minimizing the issue.

IPC’s EMS Program Manager Certification Program is one way to help coach and grow new program managers. Learn more: http://www.ipc.org/ContentPage.aspx?pageid=EMS-Program-Manager-Certification.

PMCI also offers training and support resources in this area including:

  • EMS Concentric Selling™ – a one-day course focused on the EMS account acquisition and growth process
  • Program Team Assessment Audits and Recommendations
  • Custom Program Management tool development such as Program Management Handbooks and custom training material

Visit www.powell-muchaconsulting.com to learn more.

Don’t miss the session that PMCI co-organizes with Circuits Assembly Magazine at this year’s SMTA International Show

Supply Chain Conflict Minerals Compliance 

Chair: Susan Mucha, Powell-Mucha Consulting, Inc.

Co-Chair: Mike Buetow, UP Media Group

Wednesday, October 1, 4:00pm — 5:30pm Room 51

In the wake of the Dodd-Frank legislation mandating reporting of minerals mined in war-torn regions like the DRC, several initiatives and templates for defining and reporting use of these elements have been developed by worldwide organizations, including the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative, the EICC Conflict-Free Smelter Program, and the IPC Conflict Minerals Due Diligence Guide. This session looks at where these programs intersect, best practices for compliance, and some of the tools for compliance.

  • Contract Manufacturing and Conflict Minerals: Creating a Workable Compliance System

John Sheehan and Allen Abell, SigmaTron International

  • Lessons Learned from AIM’s Participation in the CFTI

David Suraski, AIM

  • Panel Discussion

Aidan Turnbull, Ph.D., ENVIRON International

Chris Nowak, Actio

Conference details are available at: http://www.smta.org/smtai/at_a_glance.cfm.

Electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers have unique challenges when it comes to marketing. First, there is very little difference among providers in a given size class in terms of equipment and core capabilities. Second, it is an educated, technical sell to a decision team who can lose their jobs if the contractor they select doesn’t perform. And, finally, it is a low margin industry with limited marketing budgets. How can you tell if your program is working or not? Here are five signs you should review it:

  • Your Closest Competitor Could Put Their Name on Your Website or Ads and Not Have to Change Anything Else – Your marketing materials should focus on the aspects of your business that make your company unique.
  • Sales is Having Difficulty Scheduling Appointments – A good marketing program helps inform the market about your company’s particular value proposition and attracts attention from prospects needing the solutions you offer. A weak program doesn’t differentiate your company from the competition and prospects see little need to agree to a sales call.
  • Competitors Close Business at Companies Who Told Your Sales Team That They Weren’t Looking – Competition is heavy enough that out of sight is often out of mind. When a prospect goes into ready to buy mode, he or she often only tells the companies who are staying in touch. A good marketing program can help you stay in touch with periodic informational content such as white papers and emails.
  • Trade Shows Get Zero Results – Does the trade show cater to an audience that buys contract manufacturing? Was pre-show publicity done? Did the booth use traffic-building activities to attract attention? Good trade show results are the result of good strategy. If you are simply going to shows and expecting great leads, you will be disappointed.
  • Prospects Only Want to Talk Price – If all competitors look the same, the safest choice for a buyer is to select the lowest priced option. If one company appears to have a superior solution, price will be a secondary factor.

If you are seeing two or more of these situations happen, chances are it is time to review your marketing strategy. Powell-Mucha Consulting, Inc. can help. Visit our website: www.powell-muchaconsulting.com for more information on our services.

Here are the five biggest myths in electronics manufacturing services (EMS) sales and marketing:

Myth 1 – Cold calling works: Years ago a large magazine publisher used to run an ad with an unfriendly buyer and the headline, “I don’t know you. I don’t know your company. I don’t know your product. Now, what are you trying to sell me?” Today that buyer screens phone calls and deletes unsolicited emails. A good marketing campaign that highlights the common problems your company regularly solves can help get through that automated gatekeeping.  Otherwise, cold calling is an inefficient use of sales team time.

Myth 2 – Your website should make it easy for prospects to download all your company information: Outsourcing is a relationship sell. If you make easy for someone to visit your website and download your brochure, equipment list and all other facts about your company, then they don’t need to contact sales and request more information. Meanwhile, your competition’s sales team is building a relationship.

Myth 3 – Marketing is unnecessary: Back in the 80s, most EMS companies did business through engineering networking. Now that the industry is much larger and competition has also grown; getting your company’s name out is important. That doesn’t necessarily have to translate to huge budgets, but you do need a strategy focused messages that are timed to repeat at specific intervals. With no marketing, your competitors will position your company to their advantage.

Myth 4 – Copy the Competition: In the absence of differentiation, prospects focus on price. You want prospects to focus on the specific benefits your company offers.

Myth 5 – Sell the sizzle, not the steak: Ask most successful EMS companies what clenches the deal and they’ll say it is their plant tour. The main reason that is true is because outsourcing decision makers can lose their jobs if the contractor doesn’t perform. Your marketing should sell your competencies and your plant tour should demonstrate how well you walk that talk. Too much focus on sizzle without substance may actually turn buyers off.

For over a decade, Powell-Mucha Consulting, Inc. has helped EMS companies develop marketing strategies that work and fit their budgets. Visit http://www.powell-muchaconsulting.com to learn more.

Circuits Assembly has just redone its website. The new look is great, but they haven’t finished re-indexing all their articles and apparently it will take some time. If you click on one my article links and get a bad page, just contact me and I’ll get you a copy of the article. Once they’ve fixed their site, I’ll re-index my links but their process may take several months. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Electronics manufacturing services (EMS) is an educated sell to a cross-functional team that goes in and out of ready-to-buy mode. What does all that jargon mean? Basically, you need to have a range of messages that are strategically timed to regularly reach your market. With that in mind, here are the top five things your marketing program should do:

#1: Make Every Dollar Count – EMS is a low margin industry and there is a relatively small target market. Programs should be tailored to reach the audience relevant to EMS vs. the world at large.

#2: Create Awareness and Preference for Your Brand of EMS – No one EMS provider is good at all things. What do your customers think your company does well? Every message and image should reflect that brand.

#3: Get the Right Kind of Attention – What keeps your customers up at night? The best programs promote an EMS provider’s ability to solve critical customer challenges. And, since it is a cross-functional decision team, there should be a range of messages that appeal across the team vs. simply to purchasing.

#4: Make the Sales Team More Productive – Advertising won’t close sales, but it can help identify the prospects worth spending time with. Cold calling and sitting in lobbies hoping to catch a decision maker is an inefficient use of sales force time.

#5: Help You Keep Mindshare – How many times has a prospect told you he isn’t looking and then a few months later given business to your competitor? A good program schedules communications at regular intervals to keep in touch. That type of program also reminds prospects who are ready to talk about their challenges that you can solve their needs. A marketing program with good mindshare maintenance activities can force multiply your sales team by identifying prospects who are entering ready-to-buy mode.

If your marketing program isn’t doing those five things, visit http://www.powell-muchaconsulting.com to learn more about our services.

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