Jeff Bier’s Impulse Response—Avoiding Accidental Stealth Mode

Submitted by Jeff Bier on Wed, 06/17/2009 - 16:00

Recently I realized that I hadn’t heard a peep out of a certain embedded processor vendor in quite some time. Usually my colleagues and I at BDTI hear from processor vendors on a regular basis for new product briefings, but it had been almost a year since we’d heard anything from this particular vendor.  The lack of communication made me wonder – what are they up to? Are they still developing new products? I called one of my contacts there to see if I could get a pulse.  It was hard to get a direct answer, but what it boiled down to is this: the company had been spooked by the economic downturn and the associated revenue drop, and had decided to pull in its horns and cut its promotional activities to near zero.

Over the last few years I’ve seen a noticeable decline in the amount of time and money that chip vendors are investing in promotional efforts and public relations.  With the current economy, the remaining investment level seems to be circling the drain.  But in my opinion, skimping on PR is a mistake.

Chip vendors seem to think that, because they are in contact with their customers and are (in some cases) keeping their customers briefed on new developments, they don’t need to spend effort and money on additional outreach.  But if the chip vendor has lots of customers, they probably don’t even know who all their customers are, much less who all their prospective customers are.  Without a broad publicity effort—and without staying in regular contact with magazine editors, market researchers, and industry analysts—they start to lose mindshare.  Potential customers either don’t hear about them in the first place or start to forget about them.  The company ends up being in accidental stealth mode, and that can be a bad thing.

Case in point: BDTI is often called upon by systems companies to help them find suppliers and select chips. We do our best to be thorough, but often we’re under very tight time constraints.  If a prospective supplier (particularly a new one to the market) has a low profile, we may simply not think to include them.  And that’s too bad—for the chip vendor, for us, and for our customers.

I understand the urge to tighten belts, but don’t tighten so much that you cut off all circulation.

Jennifer Eyre White of BDTI contributed to this column.

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