ISA Marketing and Sales Summit–Meeting You Half Way

The ISA put together a marketing and sales summit held for the suppliers of process automation to process manufacturers around the world. Now, if you’re a process manufacturer, you’re probably asking yourself whether or not it’s a good thing for us to discuss how we communicate better with you.

Jane Lansing, the vice president of marketing for the whole Emerson Process Management group, kicked off the morning with a keynote address on how we communicate and perhaps should communicate with you. I hope this post stimulates some of your ideas with comments about how we could do this better.

A key idea Jane raises is how we as automation suppliers in our communications don’t do a good job of thinking about engineers beyond their narrow role as engineers. All of us have multiple roles as business professionals, parents, family members, sports enthusiasts, community volunteers, etc. which shapes who we are. This narrow focus leads to thinking of communications in terms of specs, features, and benefits. Also there’s a trend from specialist to generalist among manufacturers with fewer and more time-pressed automation professionals through retirement and reorganization. Much of this expertise has moved to automation suppliers and integrators. Jane describes these trends as creating a situation where suppliers seemingly are marketing to themselves. The language of specs, features and benefits are more meaningful to the experts within the suppliers’ organization than the engineers within the manufacturing organizations.

Jane’s point is that automation suppliers need to try to meet you half way–where we better understand what you are trying to accomplish and the role our automation technologies and expertise can play. This is opposed to throwing a bunch of specs, features and benefits your way and asking you to figure it out (in your spare time of course!)

Looking at automation suppliers collectively, what do you think?

Posted Thursday, September 14th, 2006 under Education.

2 comments

  1. We all want to better understand the people we want to reach. How do you do this without living life in their shoes for a day?
    Is guessing enough?
    Are looking at charts filled with fancy trend statistics enough?
    Is picking up the phone and talking to the people you think you want to reach enough?
    Try a focus group.
    Experiment.
    Don’t just grab for solutions that you think might work by having a board meeting. Create solutions that will work by reaching in an unseen way through a viable interaction with the potention customers themselves.
    Then think in terms of “Who am I in relation to these people I want a relationship with?”
    There’s a field of dreams for every business. But you have to build the field with sweat. -n.l.

  2. Way to go, Jane. Good thoughts. “Specmanship” died some time ago–even in the high tech world. I’d suggest that you go one more step, though. That is to engage both customers and prospects in a conversation, where each side listens as well as talks. See you all in Nashville.

Leave a Reply