Semiconductor marketing outcomes at SEMICON West: Nada or Napa?

For most people, July is a fabulous time of the year…summer is here, America is celebrating its birthday, and baseball season is in full swing. But for me, July is important for other reasons – it’s the month that brings the premiere semiconductor industry event in North America: SEMICON West.

San Francisco

San Francisco

‘West,’ as many simply call it, is the place to learn, meet movers and shakers and make your splash in the big business of semiconductors. I started attending years ago when I worked within the NY Loves Nanotech brand, trying to bring a new fab to Marcy NanoCenter in the Mohawk Valley. I didn’t even miss it in 2008, when my lovely wife and I flew directly from our honeymoon in Ireland to SFO to make the opening of the show.

Semicon West is the ideal place to launch products, make news, meet new customers and build your brand in the semiconductor industry. I’ve seen it work for my clients over the last decade. But as budgets have been squeezed, many semiconductor marketing managers have to be even more focused on metrics and impact of their spend. Brands matter, especially in a B-to-B environment. So that means focusing a tight budget in way to drive brand awareness and key messages.

I have 3 basic marketing rules for West:

  1. If you’re going to West and going to do something, do it big. In the giant crowd of West, if you don’t do something to stand out, you’re wasting time and money. Our approach with semiconductor clients at West always involved a holistic approach that embraces the adage ‘Fortune Favors the Bold.’
  2. Pace yourself. It’s a long week – bring comfortable shoes, drink lots of water, and don’t try to make your year on Tuesday morning. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your brand identity. We try to keep our semiconducotr clients focused on West being a single event that should be in line with the rest of your annual marketing plan.
  3. Do your homework, but be ready to learn and follow up. If you haven’t prepared for West, you’re in trouble. But the preparation doesn’t end when you exit the absurdly-expensive super shuttle from SFO. Go to tech sessions and learn about business trends and advances in semiconductor technology. Also, make sure the business cards you collect are the first step in a follow up pattern, not just a trophy of everyone you met. At Zone 5, we have our calendars full before we leave, and have a plan for follow up before we get on the plane home.
  4. BONUS RULE: San Francisco isn’t warm in July. Bring a coat. And a sweater. Mark Twain said it right, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

For Zone 5, we’ve spent so much time at West, we are on a first name basis with the panhandlers outside the Moscone Center. We’ve helped semiconductor clients make huge impacts and made the industry pay attention. We’ve done that by investing in traditional and digital marketing tools and deploying those tools together for maximum effect.

We advise semiconductor clients that their marketing efforts must be holistic and strategic to be effective. If you’re looking to make a splash at West, it can’t be just a fancy booth, just a hospitality event, or just a press release. We’ve spent a lot of time helping weave these tactics together with comprehensive digital outreach to maximize their impact. For most companies, tight budgets drive decisions to pick one or two of these tactics at the expense of the others. Often times, doing that can result in the dreaded crickets from customers and media. White noise.  Silence. Nada.

If all goes well, we’ll be celebrating a very busy and successful week with a short sojourn to Napa Valley on Friday. And if my experience has taught me anything, I know that Napa is way better than Nada.