Spreading the Word Print E-mail
Written by Susan Mucha   
Thursday, 31 March 2011 19:45

Building an EMS brand means reaching more than prospective customers.

There is a tendency to focus branding primarily on what prospective customers see. While that is an important part of the mix, electronics manufacturing services companies have a wide range of external and internal audiences who also need to understand the brand.

The smaller a company, the more important this wider branding effort may be. The rationale is simple. If you aren’t the biggest, you need to work harder to create awareness and preference. Small companies also have limited budgets for recruiting, training and business expansion efforts. If the community and local officials don’t understand what your company does, hiring well-qualified people and accessing economic development funding can be difficult.

The messages and media to use to reach a few of the external and internal audiences follow.

Employees and prospective employees. Employees are usually easiest to reach because you know where to find them. Communicating regularly with employees helps them feel part of a team. The better employees understand company goals and challenges, the more brainpower you can harness in achieving goals and addressing the challenges. Additionally, when employees feel part of a team in the workplace, they are more likely to say positive things to friends, who may be prospective employees. Another factor to consider in communications is that for many production workers, recognition in the workplace is the most significant recognition they receive. What a manager may see as an insignificant event, a production worker may be celebrating with friends and family. Properly done, good employee communications help focus team effort, boost morale and improve retention. Communications vehicles that help build a brand with employees include company newsletters, web or intranet postings, press releases to local papers, presentations of awards on the production floor or at company meetings, open door management meetings, all-hands management meetings and recognition lunches.

The website, coverage in local media and trade publications, and community word-of-mouth are normally the major sources of information for prospective employees. White papers and articles in technical publications can be a good way to build a brand with technical and managerial employment prospects. Releases in the local media about the company’s charitable activities, expansions or training initiatives can be a good way to reach local employment prospects. Participation in industry technical associations such as SMTA, IEEE or IPC is another way to build the brand with potential technical staff; plus, those efforts also contribute to the industry as a whole.

Prospective rep firms. Many smaller EMS firms use manufacturer’s representatives to expand their internal sales resources. While EMS projects can pay good commissions over a long period of time, there can also be a long labor-intensive sell cycle. As a result, many rep firms avoid EMS companies. Good rep firms are selective about the principals with whom they work. In evaluating potential principals, they analyze how difficult it may be to sell that company’s products or services. From that perspective, an EMS provider that is well-known for having distinct advantages is far more attractive than a company priding themselves on being the region’s “best-kept secret.” Again, articles in trade publications and participation in industry groups are ways to increase visibility with this group. They also look for a well-designed website that clearly presents the company’s key points of differentiation and evidence of good sales materials to support sales efforts.

Key suppliers. Key suppliers can be helpful in referring business opportunities, although these referrals are rarely exclusive. Ways to keep them educated on the brand include supplier portals on the website, annual supplier days, supplier information kits and periodic informative emails or newsletters. Some suppliers have value-added resources that are relevant to EMS providers, such as the ability to provide component lifecycle analysis or updates on trends in their products or related technologies. Don’t be afraid to explore the range of free resources for information exchange that may be available for suppliers. Inviting suppliers to be part of a trends symposium is newsworthy and may also be a good event to share with customers. Don’t forget to include business-related suppliers such as outside accounting or legal firms. These firms often provide nominations for business and top executive award programs. Recognition as a “fastest growing” or “best managed” firm also helps build a strong brand.

Local government agencies. A variety of government agencies offer support to manufacturing businesses. There may be grants to offset the cost of training, tax abatement, workforce recruitment services, business referrals or other benefits available. Make a list of relevant agencies and key contacts. Touch base once or twice a year to determine if opportunities should be tapped. Collections of press releases, articles and white papers may be good additions to applications.

Local universities, colleges and technical schools. Professors and instructors typically know who their best and brightest students are. Make a point of cultivating faculty at local schools who teach courses taken by students who could be prospective employees. Some EMS companies even provide input to schools teaching manufacturing technology courses to ensure that curriculum matches real-world needs. Teaming on a technology or process development project with a local university or community college builds a reputation for corporate good citizenship and may allow your company to tap capabilities or manpower for a fraction of the cost of doing it entirely in-house. Tuition refund programs can help increase employee skills and increase retention. Teaming with local institutions on specific training programs may provide high-quality training at reasonable cost. Providing internships or participating in cooperative education programs can add internal resources at lower cost. While hiring students comes with a learning curve, it also provides the ability to create a solid recruitment process for entry-level engineering personnel.

Taking the time to build your brand within the community pays many dividends. However, don’t simply issue press releases on company events. Carefully define external target audiences and specific message goals.

Susan Mucha is president of Powell-Mucha Consulting Inc. (www.powell-muchaconsulting.com), and author of Find It. Book It. Grow It. A Robust Process for Account Acquisition in Electronics Manufacturing Services; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 March 2011 22:21
 

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