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Friday, February 29, 2008

Continuous Improvement at SEMICON Events—A Global Approach

I periodically get asked, “What are you doing to improve SEMICON events?” Sometimes the question is directed at a particular SEMICON exposition and sometimes it is directed to our portfolio of events. The answer is simple (“…everything”) and complicated (“how much time do you have?”).

Our philosophy is that every aspect of show execution and delivery requires continuous improvement. The common Japanese term for continuous improvement is Kaizen, or "change for the better." It requires exploring deeply and systematically the reasons behind our programs and activities. It requires open-minded exploration of new ideas and continuous monitoring of both the process and results.

SEMI is a non-profit association that manages shows on behalf of our members’ interests. Our activities are overseen by a Board of Directors comprised of SEMI members. Because of the importance of expositions to SEMI members, the Board has established a standing committee that provides guidance and oversight on our exposition business. These are leaders of our industry and very smart people. They expect SEMI to manage shows with the same management tools and techniques as they manage their own business.

Fundamental to our process of continuous improvement is metrics. It is imperative we manage our business and our members’ interests in a rational and systematic way, based upon accurate data and thorough analysis. Our approach to metrics is based on both quantitative and qualitative data (see chart). We use surveys to both exhibitors and attendees to measure what people want, if they were satisfied and other parameters. These are quantitative measures that yield measurable and statistically valid insights into the opinion of large groups.

Qualitative data is simply good information that is not easily or appropriately put in numerical terms. It’s the exhibitor complaint, the great idea, the input and direction from a committee. While qualitative in nature, this kind of information is still vital to putting on a great exposition. It is fundamental to developing keynote selections and technical programs and it’s the best source for new ideas.

SEMI takes continuous improvement very seriously and we use a number of techniques to capture and apply good information to improve our shows. When you see a SEMI survey or get a visit or phone call from SEMI staff, please give us your best advice on how to improve our performance. I promise you that your input will be used.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What Politicians Can Tell Us About Trade Show Marketing

The United States is in the midst of grueling political season with wall-to-wall primaries since early January. The willowing out process for selecting the candidates for the two major parties has more than a few parallels to the decision making process for advanced technology. One similarity that comes to mind is the concept of authenticity.

Authenticity has become of one the most discussed and powerful factors in the presidential race. With conservatives trying to be seen as moderate, moderates as conservatives and liberals as moderates, it’s no wonder that voters might get confused over who stands for what. As politicians struggle articulating positions that seem contrary to what they said in the past, people are paying more attention to style, execution and presentation. They’re looking for clues into a candidate’s honesty and genuineness.

According to one commentator, “The key factor in this race so far: authenticity. On Super Tuesday, voters once again rewarded those candidates who seemed most comfortable playing themselves, and harshly punished the one who came across as a plastic phony.”

Sales people, like politicians, have a habit of telling customers what they want to hear, whether it is thoroughly accurate or not. They can sell price, they can sell performance. They can sell features, they can sell service. Sophisticated customers know how sales people operate. They understand what is happening when they get a barrage of questions from a sales person. They know it’s intended to reveal what is important to the prospect, to uncover hidden objections or opportunities. Sophisticated customers know that sales people are rarely authentic. When evaluating complex purchases, they also look for clues into the authenticity of a position. Is this supplier really focused about lowering total cost of ownership, pushing innovation, providing service? Can they really deliver competitive advantage in yield, productivity, time to market?

For many exhibitors, trade shows enhance authenticity. While customers expect good sales people to compensate for differing customer needs, trade show displays shout out a tangible position, feature or benefit that underscores a choice made by the manufacturer: We believe this is important! This is who we are!

If what you have to sell is really differentiated, there is nothing like a physical, tangible, dimensional, creative expression of that position to achieve valuable authenticity.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

BPA Attendance Audit Confirms SEMICON West Audience Quality, Quantity

Many years ago when I went to work for Motorola, I had to pass a drug test to land the job of my dreams. Now, there was no way I could fail the drug test, impossible, but I was scared. What if the tests got mixed up at the lab or some strange thing I ate the week before generated a false positive? I was so nervous, I spilled my urine sample all over the floor. The nurse had to call the janitor to clean it up.  He laughed so long and so hard I wanted run away and hide. I had to wait 2 hours in the nurse’ office before I could muster enough fluid to fill another cup.

I had some of the same feelings with the BPA Audit we conducted for SEMICON West. SEMI commissioned BPA Worldwide and Event Surveys to audit our visitor data and validate the accuracy of our visitor registration, data collection, and validation process. I knew our processes were solid and BPA would confirm our statistics, but I couldn’t help think something would go wrong.

Fortunately, like my earlier drug test, the BPA Audit came out fine, confirming the quality of our post-show reports and attendee surveys. The audit affirms the overall quality of the audience attending SEMICON West and highlights key demographic information, including:

  • 72% of visitors attending SEMICON West influence buying and product selection;
  • 74% of visitors find attendance at SEMICON West influential in their evaluation, recommendation, or purchase of products and technology;
  • 50% of visitors only attend SEMICON West and no other event during the year;
  • 27% of visitors in 2007 were first-time visitors

These are powerful numbers worthy of any high tech event in the world.  It might have made me a little nervous, but it was well worth it.  For a copy of the report, click here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A New Record!

Sometimes all I hear about is bad news: industry consolidation, tighter margins, declining marketing budgets. With globalization, videoconferencing, interactive websites, and new concepts like “virtual trade shows”, you would the SEMI exposition business would be shrinking.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

SEMI expositions hit a new record last year in the number of booths sold. In fact, the SEMI trade show business has increased about 20% since 2003. SEMICON Korea, Taiwan, and Japan all broke new records. Trade shows aren’t getting less important to the industry; their influence and value has never been greater.

In a mature, consolidating industry, how could this be?

There are number of reasons to explain the continued vitality and importance of trade shows in the semiconductor industry. The first thing that comes to mind is the speed of the industry. Product life cycles are shortening, technology is racing forward. New developments such as high k/metal gate, new packaging innovations, continued productivity demands, advances in nano, EUV, test, and more all keep buyers and specifiers coming back to trade shows. They need to keep abreast of change and nothing does that better than a SEMICON event.

Another reason for continued growth is that our SEMICONS have adapted. Not only have they adapted to the growth of the industry in Asia, they have added new elements to meet the specific needs of each regional market. China has become full industry event with design, fabless, and foundry all participating; Korea has added solid state lighting; PV has become an important component of Europa, West and Taiwan. MEMS, Nano, display, test/packaging, materials, end-use markets such as automotive, wireless, consumer all have different concentrations in each SEMICON, reflecting regional markets and attendee interest.

The final reason for success, in my opinion, is that SEMI is fortunate to have our shows driven by program and exhibitor committees that keep them responsive to the business need. SEMICON shows are designed to serve members; not to maximize profits (i.e. we don’t raise prices for sold out events). I am a blue blood capitalist, but in this case, I think our SEMICON products have fared quite well under a collectivist philosophy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Future of Trade Shows

Remember in the movie “Minority Report” when Tom Cruise walks through a shopping center and the kiosks and billboards instantly “recognize” him and dynamically change their content to meet his specific profile. We recently sat through a presentation on RFID that offered many of the same capabilities. Imagine, walking through a SEMICON show and the show signage and exhibitor displays sensed your presence and delivered you customized information based on your individual needs.

Fish Software, a provider of interactive marketing software used at trade shows and consumer events, uses an ultrawide-band real-time location system that can identify and track event attendees. The RFID tags are integrated into attendee badges. By reading these tags, sensors deployed throughout the trade show floor, and at the entrances to conference session rooms, can track the movements and locations of attendees. The system has an accuracy of less than four inches and can analyze and track the exact location of all tags every second. The data can be used to identify what booth an attendee visited, how long they stayed and what displays or presentations they spent time on. The system even has the ability to identify who they attendee met with by identifying the time spent in proximity to other RFID tags.

Of course, this kind of personal tracking intelligence comes with important privacy concerns. For ethical if not legal considerations, visitors would have to agree in some way to be tracked. Fish overcomes this potential barrier by giving the visitor extra show benefits in exchange for the enhanced information. They integrate “visitor intelligence” and “immersive media” to ensure that the attendee wearing a tag is delivered an enhanced experience that is more beneficial and relevant.

One way they do this is through interactive kiosks and digital sign networks that automatically recognize an attendee when engaged. When an attendee stands in front of a kiosk, a system will display the attendees name and allow the attendee to press a single button (on the touch-screen) to have information sent directly to his/her email address. Other features can include the ability to trigger relevant advertisements (based on interests expressed during the registration process), session information, messages, local attractions and more. Exhibitor displays can also include RFID sensors to customize product information to the visitor. With this solution, a show like SEMICON can offer much more visitor information to exhibitors and a more beneficial trade show experience to attendees.

Unfortunately, the concept hasn’t been deployed in a trade show the size of SEMICON and the applications, kiosks, and interactive media haven’t been developed for deployment. But it is a fascinating vision of where the future may be heading and definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Photo Credit: Wonder Wall: Realization of Interactive Wall in the Movie “Minority Report”
Nobuhiko Nishio, Koji Shuto, Kiyoto Tani, Takamichi Ishihara, Tomonori Morikawa
Ritsumeikan University

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Exhibitor University Jan/Feb

Some interesting facts and opinions from a recent Exhibitor University webinar for SEMICON West (for replays of the webinar, click here):

-76% of exhibitors fail to set objectives for tradeshows. Source: EXHIBITOR magazine
-80% of exhibitors do little or no targeted pre-show marketing. Source: CEIR
- 87% of leads captured are never followed-up. Source: EXHIBIT SURVEYS Tradeshow Trend Study
- 86% have no organized form of post-show measurement. Source: EXHIBITOR magazine

Creating an Effective Experience
-The organizing question: “Who is our ideal booth visitor and what do we want them to experience, remember and do?”
-Is your exhibit static or interactive?
Number one key to exhibit attraction and recall? Demonstrations!
Learn how to bring your product/service to life through interactive demos/presentations.
“The goal of your exhibit is to create or change an opinion”
-Sales meetings in conference rooms reinforce old positions, not create new ones
-Face-to-face marketing is sales--exhibit marketing is immersive
-Effective booths merge information and entertainment

Marketing Your Exhibit
-80% of exhibitors do little or no targeted pre-show marketing
-You cannot just rent space show-up and “hope” the right attendees find your exhibit
-Your goal is to get “in the mind” and “on the agenda” of the right attendees before the doors open
-Targeted pre-show marketing must become a routine practice.

Seven Key Action Items
1. Think in terms of Infinite Possibilities
2. Set exhibiting objectives that support corporate objectives
3. Use targeted pre-show marketing to get “in the mind” and “on the agenda” of the right attendees before the doors open
4. Think very carefully about the message you want to deliver (what opinions to change or create)
5. Positioning – Differentiation - Integrate with other communications (new product announcements)
6. Determine how exhibit design and execution most effectively delivers that message
7. Integrate your trade shows into marketing campaigns that last throughout the year

Infinite Possibilities

The theme for SEMICON expositions worldwide is Infinite Possibilities. It’s a theme that promises the new and that underscores the principal benefit of trade show exhibiting in the semiconductor industry. New technologies are driving continued advances and changes in microelectronics and emerging markets, in turn enabling virtually endless and expanding possibilities and opportunities.

The people and the companies who are making this future possible are at SEMI expositions.

The dynamics of our industry, the Infinite Possibilities it provides to equipment and materials suppliers, are reflected in this recent statement by Justin Rattner, Chief Technology Office at Intel, “Things are changing much faster now, in this current period, than they did for many decades. The pace of change is accelerating because we are approaching a number of physical limits at the same time. We are working overtime to make sure we can continue to follow Moore’s Law.”

The new theme debuted at SEMICON Korea and you will see throughout the year, in various forms, at SEMICON expositions worldwide.

Infinity/infinite theme speaks to the endless possibilities and opportunities made possible by our industry and by the technologies showcased at SEMI expositions. And, the infinity symbol plays off the number eight in 2008 (and the number 8 is recognized throughout Asia as a lucky number).

Monday, February 11, 2008


SEMICON Korea was hugely successful event with new records established in exhibitors, floor space, program attendance, and other parameters. While I have been to Korea many times before (I was responsible for marketing in Korea for Motorola several years ago), this was my first SEMICON Korea.

What struck me most about the event was the strong support it receives from Samsung and Hynix. Not only have they integrated the event into their annual purchasing cycle, they also actively participate in many of the committees that coordinate the technical and business programs. There is great alignment between the programs on lithography, materials, etch, design, CMP and other technical programs and what the top IDMs in Korea are focusing on. Samsung even hosted a fab tour of their 300 mm logic line, prior to the show.

Another interesting component of the program was the ‘supplier search” assistance we provided to Chartered, the Singapore-based foundry. SEMI helped Chartered alert, identify and arrange meetings with many of the exhibitors.

I particularly enjoyed two special Forums on PV and Greenhouse Gas Reduction. With leading FPD manufacturers in the country and a global leadership role in Sustainable Development, I was happy to help report on these on two important topics for SEMI members worldwide.

Exhibit With Purpose

At a recent Exhibitor University Seminar for SEMICON West exhibitors, trade show expert Jefferson Davis said, “The number one key to exhibit attraction and recall is demonstrations. Booths that deliver information and ideas creatively are more effective and memorable.” The Exhibitor Education Program is a series or education webinars and programs designed to help exhibitors utilize best practices in trade show marketing and how to get the most from SEMICON West.

The December online seminar was held to introduce exhibitors to new features of SEMICON West and help them get the most out of their trade show investment. The seminar was hosted by Jefferson Davis from the trade show consulting firm, Competitive Edge. I added some information on who attends SEMICON West and what they want from their trade show experience. The key point we tried to stress for exhibitors is to “Exhibit with Purpose”.

During the seminar, I said, “The goal of your booth is to create or change an opinion. Effective trade show booths do not try to recreate an office sales meeting--you can meet customers anywhere--but your trade show booth must do more than simply enable a conversation. Effective booths immerse the visitor in a compelling message as part of a comprehensive effort to differentiate and position your products. No other marketing medium is as powerful as trade shows. Unlike brochures, videos, websites, even sales people—effective trade show exhibits can change how your company is viewed and compared with competitors.”

Based upon attendee surveys, attendee interviews and discussions with important buyers and specifiers, what attendees want most from SEMICON West are new ideas and information. For exhibitors, they want informative booths that provide meaningful information on important technical and product information. If they can’t see actual equipment, they want to see presentations and demonstrations that are educational and creative. Passive displays that don’t help educate the attendee or help differentiate you from competitors are less memorable and less effective.

During the discussion, it was pointed that out at the recent SEMICON Japan exhibition, the number of formal booth presentations and demonstrations was approximately ten times the amount at SEMICON West. Even in small booths, it was common to see to professional speakers giving a technical presentation with the aid of slide shows, graphics and creativity. Presentations draw crowds and beyond their specific message, reinforce the idea that the companies are leaders in their field with new ideas, good technology and proven solutions. And, focusing on professional presentations and booth demos can be less expensive than many passive booths that are cost more to build, more to ship and more to set-up.

Shakespeare and Marketing

Over the years, I've been asked many times, "what books should I read to be a better marketer?" Sometimes I might point them to a textbook and recommend they learn concepts like the product life cycle, total product concept and market segmentation like religion, but other times I might tell them to read Shakespeare.

So often the real challenges in marketing involve creativity and human nature and what better place to go than Shakespeare to keep sharp on those subjects. In fact, Shakespeare is all about marketing.

About communications:
Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ears?

About planning:
The readiness is all.

About impact and accountability:
Men at some time are the master of their fate

About leadership:
How sweet a thing it is to wear a crown.

Of course, in the events business it's all about business as theatre, of playing the part, about captivating interest, building momentum and reaching an inspired conclusion of your own design. At SEM,I it's also about being organizationally effective, about working with many different kinds of people, learning to win over people, support colleagues.

All the world's a stage.
And all the men merely players,
they have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time has many parts.

To be a great association, to meet member needs, understand their needs and provide meaningful insights into the future, we need to sense trends and marshal them for our purposes.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat.
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

And Shakespeare is often about strategy. About comparing the pro and cons, collecting data, and weighing options.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
Why yet I live to say this thing to do,
Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
To do't.