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Thursday, August 21, 2008

First Time Attendees

For the second year in a row, 27% of SEMICON West visitors were first time attendees. This is an important number for us at SEMI and we work hard to keep it high.

First timers are important because they represent new influences in the buying decisions of traditional SEMICON products and services, and new markets for SEMICON exhibitors. Buying influences in the semiconductor industry are constantly changing because of reorganizations, new engineering staff, and the increase in ‘ad hoc” or temporary buying teams that are assembled to equip a new line or address a specific issue. In its 30+ years, SEMICON has established itself as key milestone in the semiconductor buying cycle in North America and the world. Sustaining that role requires everyone in the buying and specifying process to learn how the event can help with new vendor sourcing, current vendor evaluations and new product investigations.

Another source of new buying influences are fabless companies, packaging and test houses, and system level OEM (HP, Apple, etc.) that increasingly have an impact on equipment and materials buying. This is particularly important with new packaging technologies such as copper wire bonding and TSV, as well as new materials, test, MEMs, inspection and other categories.

In addition to new buying and specifying influences within existing customers, first time attendees also consist of buyers from new and emerging markets. Clearly, PV was a big attraction at this year’s event, attracting thousands of buyer/specifiers from crystalline and thin film based PV cell manufacturers. Other new markets very prevalent at the West was solid state lighting, MEMs companies, fuel cell makers, and bio-chip makers (I’m guessing on that last one).

For SEMI, the challenge is to reach these first time attendees and get them to the show. These folks aren’t usually on our databases and often don’t appear in our extensive 3rd party lists. We have great partnerships and promotional awareness (advertising, email and editorial) through all the major industry magazines, but we spend a lot of time and effort on 3rd tier or fringe publications just to reach these first time attendees. Our awareness among core audiences is nearly 100%, but diminishes as we reach new titles (such as design engineer, software engineer), new markets such as SSL, and up the food chain to system level engineers in consumer electronics, automotive, health and other markets. We need to work and spend more to reach these new titles, job functions and markets and we do.

A critical component in finding and attracting these first time attendees is our exhibitors. They are the ones who are typically first aware of changes in personnel and in the best position to extend an invite. Its another reason why pre-show promotion by exhibitors is so important.

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