Atmel has been involved in the Maker movement since 2005. An eternity. They design and manufacture of microcontrollers, capacitive touch solutions, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components. The engines behind your imagination. A large company I asked Sander Arts, VP of Marketing how do you get a big company involved in a new marketplace. They will be at Maker Faire this weekend in NYC>
How you move a big company into new areas which have no existing customer base, revenue the profits. The process of being first. What was the opportunity and how could you present the opportunity so that you can get acceptance of the corporate ladder?
Upon accepting this position a few years ago, I decided to take an approach that was different from all other semiconductor companies. I wanted to build a ‘media company that sells semiconductors’, and we did just that. The ‘long tail’ of the semiconductor market represents a large opportunity of approximately $80 billion USD. Digital content marketing, combined with the right ‘analog’ tactics, can help companies like ours be more successful with long tail customers. This works as the space is ‘less crowded,’ and the margins are higher. There is something unique about Atmel that helped tremendously– Atmel is at the heart of all Arduino boards, which are at the heart of many startups. These startups represent the new era of the Internet of Things (IoT), developing the latest smart and connected devices. These are also the same startups that have experienced success in their crowdfunding campaigns by turning to our social channels and content to generate awareness. We have been able to successfully close the loop on these marketing activities. It did not take long for all my colleagues to fully support the activity—as the results are clear. At the same token, I am very thankful for their support, because an effort like this requires full support from all stakeholders.
What did you do what was learned and how many times did you have to go back to the well to get approval? Given the advantages and disadvantages of working in a large business would you do this again and what would you suggest others in a similar situation how to move forward? How did you manage expectations up the corporate ladder?
It helped being part of the C-suite myself, and I have been getting tremendous support from our CEO, Steve Laub. It all started with a pilot program in which we were able to show ROI and highly qualified, new sales leads. The pilot was encouraging enough to continue driving the strategy. We are now at a stage that sales potential has been identified, directly related to the marketing we do. That’s something any executive team and board will appreciate. As big of a stretch as it may have been, there was never a more optimal time to step away from the conventional ways of advertising and embrace a media mindset – something that can now be seen from a number of today’s largest B2C brands. Meaning, little by little corporations are beginning to intrude the territory of traditional publishers, from hiring editorial staffs to producing real-time content in-house. This approach is always ‘a journey’ in which thorough execution and ROI demonstration is required every step of the way, and, of course this is extremely important in order to gain continued support.
Was this done stealth hidden in some other budget item or did you have support from the beginning? How did you manage expectation of something new in an ever increasing quarter to quarter business world? What advice can you give others stuck in corporate America to move forward with similar initiatives?
It starts with a vision and a roadmap. We clearly communicated both and reported back on the milestones achieved. The success of this is also built on the collective realization that, in the day and age of the Internet, the changing dynamics around buying, etc., the approach requires change. We shared a lot of data and facts. Here’s an example of an insight: it’s now acknowledged that in the B2B sector, about 80 percent of the sales cycle is complete before potential buyers ever talk to a sales representative. Research has also shown that B2B companies that blog once to twice a month (not the five to 10 times per day that we’ve managed to steadily produce) generate 70 percent more leads than those that don’t. What’s more, “interesting content” has been cited as one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media, while more than a half say they are more willing to buy another product from a company that provides them with regular content.
It is the discussions around these data points that helped us drive change, with results following. Beyond mere fans and followers, we have garnered millions of impressions, hundreds of thousands of views, as well as countless engagements across all channels – all in a matter of two years. In this time, we’ve been the recipient of several awards and accolades, ranging from top-ranked semiconductor corporation in both blogging and best practices, as well as the #1 partner in ARM’s Connected Community. There is now also a case study done by Stanford on the Atmel marketing program that is being used in their MBA and executive education. Throughout the entire process, we have successfully partnered with many of our distributors and companies powered by Atmel products to create a collaborative content creation strategy that helps these brands go to market. For startups, when this translates into real funding, there is no better example of a direct connection between doing content “right” and paving the way for Makers and startups to flourish. We have now closed the loop on the activities and it is something we are all very proud of.
· Did your success and others in the business to look for similar untapped markets and opportunities?
Several companies have followed our example. We have also been blatantly copied. Being copied is the sincerest form of flattery, so we don’t mind that at all, although it would be great to see innovation and creativity from others as well. It has been great to watch other companies improve by re-inventing themselves. I love this industry and I think it is great to see this change happen. Marketing in technology deserves this and I am applauding all efforts that are going in this direction as it helps the battle for more marketing in this space.
Atmel is at the heart of the Maker Movement and Atmel’s “Maker Space to Market Place” booth this year will feature numerous new demos, projects and makers, and we’d like to invite you to stop by and experience the latest innovative technologies.
Makers and presenters at Atmel’s booth include:
· Arduino, an open-source electronics platform intended for making interactive projects
· Quin Etnyre, CEO at Qtechknow, showcasing his new Qduino Mini board and latest inventions
· Keyboardio, showcasing the Model 01 device that is an heirloom-grade keyboard for serious typists
· Arduboy, showcasing its credit-card-sized game system and how it’s the easiest way to play, make and share 8-bit games (And…it’s powered by Arduino!)
· Modulo, showing a simple, modular solution for building powerful electronic devices.
· Microduino, showcasing its tiny shape Microduino series of modules that dramatically decreases the size and cost of prototyping, while also remarkably improving usability and flexibility of Arduino-compatible boards
· Zippy Robotics, will be demonstrating its new product, Prometheus, a desktop 3-D carver
Atmel’s Wizard of Make / Warp Drive Propulsion Engineer, Bob Martin, and Atmel’s Vice President of Corporate Marketing, Sander Arts will also be at the show all of Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27. The AVR Man will also make a special appearance.
Atmel is a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of microcontrollers, capacitive touch solutions, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components. Atmel has been inspiring the Maker Movement since 2005, when its easy-to-use 8- and 32-bit microcontrollers (MCUs) began powering Arduino’s™ open-source physical computing platform. The original brains of the global maker movement, Atmel AVR 8-bit MCUs and Atmel 32-bit ARM®-based MCUs power a variety of Arduino’s easy-to-use boards including the Arduino Due, Arduino WiFi Shield and Arduino Leonardo.
VP of Marketing, Atmel
Sander Arts is the Vice President of Marketing at Atmel. Previously he was at NXP and Philips. Born and raised in The Netherlands, he combines the unique understanding of creativity, hardware and marketing. In the past 2.5 years, Sander repositioned Atmel at the heart of the IoT and the Maker Community. With the team, he created one of the largest social media footprints in the semiconductor industry and is using that audience to help makers and start-ups go-to-market and be successful. He speaks regularly on the topic of ‘making’ around the world at places such as Stanford University, Maker Faires and industry shows. Follow him: @sander1arts.