3D InCites Podcast

How Do You Market Your Semiconductor Business? A Conversation with Joe Cestari, Kiterocket

May 05, 2021 Joe Cestari, Kiterocket Season 1 Episode 1
3D InCites Podcast
How Do You Market Your Semiconductor Business? A Conversation with Joe Cestari, Kiterocket
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3D InCites Podcast
How Do You Market Your Semiconductor Business? A Conversation with Joe Cestari, Kiterocket
May 05, 2021 Season 1 Episode 1
Joe Cestari, Kiterocket

Welcome to our very first episode! Because podcasting is becoming an essential part of any business’s marketing toolbox, we thought it would be great to kick it off with a basic discussion about ways to market your company in this competitive industry. To do that, we tapped into Joe Cestari, Executive Director of our community member, Kiterocket. Joe has had a successful career as a corporate executive at a number of high-profile semiconductor companies up and down the supply chain including AMD, Applied Materials, Kinetics, and Total Facility Solutions. 

 During our conversation, Joe shared with me his experiences and thoughts about the role a holistic marketing approach can play in developing a team of ambassadors and building your brand’s core message. 

Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to our very first episode! Because podcasting is becoming an essential part of any business’s marketing toolbox, we thought it would be great to kick it off with a basic discussion about ways to market your company in this competitive industry. To do that, we tapped into Joe Cestari, Executive Director of our community member, Kiterocket. Joe has had a successful career as a corporate executive at a number of high-profile semiconductor companies up and down the supply chain including AMD, Applied Materials, Kinetics, and Total Facility Solutions. 

 During our conversation, Joe shared with me his experiences and thoughts about the role a holistic marketing approach can play in developing a team of ambassadors and building your brand’s core message. 

Speaker 1:

Hi there I'm Francoise Von Trapp , and this is the 3d insights podcast. Welcome to our very first episode. We created this podcast as a forum for our community members to discuss all kinds of topics that are important to running a business in the semiconductor industry, from marketing to market trends, important issues, and sharing our success stories because podcasting is becoming an essential part of any business's marketing toolbox. We thought it would be great to kick this one off with a basic discussion about ways to market your company in this competitive industry. So to do that, we tapped into Joseph's story. He's the executive director of our community member kite rocket. Now Joe's had a successful career as corporate executive at a number of high profile semiconductor companies up and down supply chain, including AMD applied materials, kinetics, and total facility solutions. During our conversation, Joe shared with me his experiences and thoughts about the role a holistic marketing approach can play in developing a team of ambassadors and building your brand's core message. So let's dive in. Thanks for joining me today, Joe.

Speaker 2:

Sure. Happy to be here, Francoise. Great to see you and , uh, look forward to our chat.

Speaker 1:

So what do you think the difference is between business to business marketing and business to consumer marketing?

Speaker 2:

Part of the problem or challenge, I think is that historically companies that say they're marketing agencies , um , have been labeled as either PR firms or advertising firms and in the consumer world that still has a lot of applicability presence and visibility and trying to entice somebody to buy product , um, whether it's TV or social media or whatever is a whole different world than when you're in the B2B space and in the B2B space, that perception still exists. And so when you talk to people about marketing, whether it's trying to cold call for a new client, or even trying to help a company that has a marketing department, their mind immediately goes to advertising and PR and those kinds of traditional , um, vehicles. And coupled with that, it's always treated as a diskette discretionary, easy to get rid of when you have , uh, challenges as flow or reduction in business, or just any type of , um, I'll say crisis and your business. One of the, one of the immediate things to look at it as, Oh , we can cut back on marketing. Um , and , um, I think part of that is again, back to what they perceive as market . Uh, and I can sort of see the of, Oh, well, we should cut back on advertising dollars or on , uh, public relations dollars or things like that. But I think it's a huge mistake. One, it's a mistake to not clearly define what marketing is and how it should be utilized to both develop the brand, enhance the brand. And most importantly, do what every business should be doing. And that is find ways to continue to grow , uh, and make money and take care of all their stakeholders, everybody from , uh, a public shareholder to the , uh , the, all the employees in the company. So I think that's where it starts is it really starts with the definition and expectation of what marketing is. Um, and there's two sides of that one. It's the agencies , uh, articulating better what, what marketing is today or should be. And it's also the management , uh, being educated and aware. And open-minded about the power of a good set of marketing tools and assets and agencies , uh, that should be integral to your success,

Speaker 1:

Sales and marketing as often lumped together in a business structure, right? The corporate structure they'll have their sale , their director of sales and marketing sales and marketing are two different things.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. You know , I had this discussion with a CEO yesterday and I've had the discussion with a number of CEOs and I've looked in the mirror of myself as a CEO and said, okay, so you're absolutely right. One of the issues is that people see sales and marketing is one thing, and this is my perspective, so it's not right or wrong. Um , but I think sales is the result of a really well thought out marketing plan and marketing assets and also great product management and business strategy. And what you see often is the inversion of that is that people say, well, I'm in sales and I need to hit this number this quarter. And that means marketing. You need to produce this , uh, asset and that asset and right. And so I think that's the backwards way of looking at things. I , I, I do think you need good voice of the customer and, and great intelligence from a market standpoint, which might come through a sales channel, but sales, in my opinion, should not be , uh , sales should be the result of a great marketing strategy and great marketing material, not the other way around.

Speaker 1:

How do you define marketing the marketing structure of a company? How do you define it as advertising and PR a subset of that? Or is it adjacent into that? Yeah,

Speaker 2:

Similar to me marketing , um, but what , Hey , I've looked at it in my past and running a business is number one. It's a necessary set of tools, skills, and assets to , uh, develop and develop, sustain, and grow your business. Um, and, and I see it broken down into two very distinct, very broad at the top level of broad categories. And one, one is internal marketing and the other is external marketing, and I've always spent more time and effort and ultimately dollars on internal marketing than I did on external marketing. And part of that is because if you think about external marketing being advertising and PR, and all of the things that that , uh, are , are you do to look to get the outside world to look at you or to , to form an opinion of you , um, really what, once you get past 10 or 20 employees in a company, it's a big challenge to even as the greatest CEO or as the greatest functional leader to convey , uh , the values, the vision and everything to every employee on a regular basis, and have them be consistent in their messaging and behavior , um, to the market. So internal marketing starts with recruiting the right talent that is in alignment with your business, the business vision, and passion and what you want to do, right? So if you don't have the right people, it doesn't matter how much training and education you give them. Um , they're still gonna behave in the way that they normally would. So internal marketing is about making it personal. It's about making the company brand and vision and what you stand for, not just a set of words or pictures, but really about , um, who you are and what you, more importantly, what you deliver and how you treat , uh , your customers. Um , because you're , you can have a hundred sales people , but if you have a thousand employees, each one of those, they don't always see themselves as salespeople, but your brand and your reputation and your opportunity is impacted every day by every single employee, they talk to their friends, they're talking to neighbors. So, so as an example, internal marketing is to me, has always been about not putting stock photos with catchy sayings on the wall, but they have actual employees or their family members with real quotes and real meaning. Uh, and so one of the things I did in my past life and impress and kite rocket with part of that is we got rid of every stock photo in our presentations on the wall, everything. And we used actual employees and actual messaging and our safety campaign. We use children , uh, of, of employees to send home a message. And so we made it, we wanted it to be personal intentionally. We wanted it to be something somebody could relate to, nobody can relate to some stock photo of a model that you download from ice stock or wherever. Right. Um, but that can relate to the CEO or the office manager , um, their picture. And so we did that in video. We did that in static material. And so that when I talk about internal marketing, that's one example of tangible collateral that we did for , uh, internal messaging and becoming a unified force that could go out and impact our brand in the market.

Speaker 1:

So let's back up a little bit. What do you think, D do you find resistance , um, for these ideas, when you talk to C-suite executives at companies, what is their initial reactions to , um, a discussion when you open a discussion about Mar marketing, what do you see as resistance and how would you , um, respond to the resistance?

Speaker 2:

Well, it's back to some of the same things. If you just walk into a typical C-suite, you know, and you say, wow , I want to talk about investing in marketing. Um, sometimes they say, well, yeah , as a case, in point in the semiconductor business, Oh, well, our market's getting smaller every day. Everybody knows who we are. We know who everybody is. We don't need to do any marketing. Um , we just need a good website and some data sheets. And , um, again, what, what I've learned as a, as a individual in a company, as a leader of a company, as part of a integrated marketing agency, is if you don't manage your brand, everybody else will. And so even if you don't need quote, unquote, need marketing to sell your product, I believe you need marketing to manage the integrity of your brand. And that is everything from recruiting new employees, to the perception that customers to find the financing. Um, if you're trying to raise money, it does, it is an advantage to have your perception be much better than the competitor that's trying to raise money. So that's what I think people miss out on, or, or it gets lost in translation. When you talk to the C-suite about, especially at the CFO level, well , I want to spend a million dollars this year on marketing. Well , I think you should spend 10 grand , um , cause you can just do a website and we can have , uh , some college students update it once a month, right? So let's be very cheap, but you get what you pay for in anything. And so that's um, to me, some of the resistance you get from a typical C-suite conversation is it's all about dollars rather than, than seeing impact. And part of the challenge is you can't always draw a direct line between the money you spend in marketing. And the result part of it is you have to believe there's is value there and you have to have a way to make it meaningful. Um, so there are two sides to the story. Of course

Speaker 1:

That's the biggest challenge, right? As measured by measuring the return on investment.

Speaker 2:

Um,

Speaker 1:

So you bring up a real , a lot of really good points , um, recruiting new employees, which is a challenge right now for semiconductor companies. So when, when they say, Oh, our market is small, we know our customers, they know who we are, but , um, they also know who your competition is. Right.

Speaker 2:

You know, I was raised as an individual by family to never spend time worrying about the Joneses or keeping up with the gentlemen . Um, and of course in our family, it was the Bianco's and the draw, these and the DeLuca is not the Joneses , but , uh , but , um, but anyway, the point, the point is that. And so you see that and same thing back to the C-suite people think , well , I don't just because somebody else does this, why should I do this? And it's less about keeping up with the Joneses . It's more about being different than the Joneses and it's about being relevant. And so if you're not present consistently present and you're not relevant from a customer's eyes and this, this does apply to individual consumers, as well as be B2B consumers. People expect you to be a leader and you can't be today, especially you have to be visible to be an effective leader and you have to be visible in a consistent way that is relevant to the technology of today, does the market challenges of today , um, and to the integrity of people , uh, if , to me, if you really want to see succeed. So , um, that's a really important thing that gets lost. I think when you , when people started to think about dollars versus impact , um, and I've seen it play out , um, I remember one example where a guy rocket did a social media audit , uh, for an unnamed company that I used to work for. And they were shocked at how many bogus web pages and blogs and all kinds of other crap was out there either started by disgruntled ex employees or suppliers that weren't happy. Um, and so the , the word and the voice of the company was lost in the noise. Um, and that's what became the brand rather than what the real brand was. And so, again, without, without spending time and money on intentionally getting your voice out there as a leader, I want somebody to hear my voice rather than hear a story from somebody else. And they're always going to be made up stories. You can't stop that, but the key is to make your voice louder and raise your signal above the noise. Always not easy. But to me, that's one of the most powerful things you can do with the right partner in a marketing agency and the right strategy and thinking of marketing as a strategic asset, rather than just some pictures or an ad or some social media or Twitter feed or something like that.

Speaker 1:

Would you include building your own content engine as an internal marketing spend? You know, your website is that an internal marketing spend is, is creating , um, you know , um, white papers and videos and stuff that you put on your website for your customers. Would you still consider that part of their internal or is that part of external?

Speaker 2:

No, I think it bridges the gap. I think it's kind of on the fence because it's internally generated, but it's how you present yourself and how you want the , the outside optics to look at you. So that is to me the bridge of , of how you get there. But, but , um, you know, I alluded to it briefly earlier, but a really good internal intranet. Uh, you know, in one case we had actually an app that if people wanted information, they loved it because they could go to the app and figure out what , what they needed in terms of resources, standard templates and forms . But they also got the latest real-time news about what was going on in the company. And so , um, that kind of internal messaging is important, but the same content can be, in fact, we simultaneously posted, you know, you couldn't put all the confidential stuff externally, but we use the same kind of template to post to the internal app, as we did to the website. Um, for external use,

Speaker 1:

We're talking a lot about building the entire building, your ambassador team of ambassadors from your employees. So are we talking, you talking about like, you keep going back saying companies more than 20 people. So we have, I mean, there, there are different size companies with different size marketing budgets. And, but I don't find that big companies are any more willing to , to let go of their money, then all companies, how does a smaller company compete? Um, and, and, you know, with the larger company.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's a great point. And I think two things you said that made me think one, one was the use of the word ambassador. I always talk about evangelist and unfortunately, a lot of people jumped to religion and you say evangelists . So maybe my terminology, but the point is it is evangelism. You want your team to my , and my point about quantity was from my perspective of being frustrated. Cause I, I prided myself on having one-to-one relationships and I wanted to have one room one-to-one relationships with all my employees, with all my suppliers, with all my customers. And I realized, I don't care how good you are, how much you work, you can't, that's unrealistic. So your , your team, your family needs to be carrying forward. The beliefs of not you personally, but of what the company should be. So that it is a good point about terminology, but also use and same thing on quantity. I say that again from my personal perspective, but to your point today, the advantage you have 20 years ago as a small company, it was difficult to look like a big company in terms of visibility and marketing and technology. Good news is today a one person company, maybe not completely, but you can look much bigger than you are. And I think while you don't want to falsely represent to the market, that you're a big company, you do want to be able to play at the same stage in terms of messaging. I also think specifically in the tech market today that the small to midsize companies actually have a big advantage over the large companies, because they can typically be more nimble. They can be more service-oriented and they can look just as professional and technically savvy as the big guys, because Twitter, social media vehicles, aren't the PR the price is pretty much the same for everybody, right? There's not a coming . I know there's always economies to scale everything, but I think it's exciting today to know as a small company and even a startup, you can do some things that you couldn't do 20 years ago,

Speaker 1:

Strategic assets. What would you say beyond what people think of as traditional marketing tools? If you were going to make a list what's in your toolbox,

Speaker 2:

What's in my toolbox. Um, uh , again, I would start with looking at the circle from personal, making it personal and relevant to the employees, to their families and to each other. And that, that is everything from , uh, videos and podcasts from the leadership. It's again, visual reminders around the facility, through to the company, internet , uh, whatever it might be to, you know, just, just reiterating the words of what your value is or your brand promise that doesn't get it. Um, some people remember those words and translate them into action, but what you really want to see is assets that show that visually, most people respond to visual representation. So, so my toolbox has to include a lot of visual representations, video pictures, whatever stories , um,

Speaker 1:

Okay . To educate the internal team. Right,

Speaker 2:

Right. That's inside it all . But similarly externally, and this is, has a community side. Um, you know, I think again, people who say they're , they have a corporate social responsibility program because they have to, it's another thing to really be active in the community and active on impacting , um, where you live and where you work. And so that toolbox also has to include , um, some engagement and some participation to your physical community, but also your industry community. Um, so again, this is where you can use traditional means of advertising and sponsoring not only technical conferences, but forums that have a meaning beyond just your product or service. And so I think in your toolbox, you have to have a well thought out program every year to decide where you are going to be present and how you're going to be present and what your printed material, what your social media messaging is. Um, and that costs money. But that money to me is, has to be part of your investment. Um, and you have to empower your teams to, to invest , uh , in that way too .

Speaker 1:

Okay. So I think this is a really great place to stop. And I think that next time we should focus on corporate social responsibility, because I think that's a conversation all by itself. What do you think, Joe?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. I think it's an interesting topic and certainly one that's relevant to every business today, whether it's a small, independent family business or a large public company. So look forward to having that discussion.

Speaker 1:

Awesome . And I think that people who are listening, you've got some homework to do, and you've got your marketing toolbox check and see if you have everything that you need. And if you don't , um, you should reach out to Joe because he and the kite rocket team can help , um, with your strategy and with your next steps. Um, thanks for joining me today,

Speaker 2:

Joe. Oh, you're welcome. Anytime. Hey , I enjoyed it and look forward to the next one . Yeah , me too . And until then,

Speaker 1:

We'll talk to you soon for those of you listening. If you want to strategize your company's marketing, using a holistic approach that incorporates both your internal and external brand message. You can contact Joe at Jason starry . That's J C E S T a R [email protected] There's lots more to come. So tune in next time on the pretty insights podcast.