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How ready are you to invest “skin in the game”?
Sherry Hess is vice president of marketing at AWR, bringing with her more than 15 years of EDA experience in domestic and international sales, marketing, support, and managerial expertise. For the majority of her career Sherry served in various positions at Ansoft Corporation including director of European operations and later as vice president of marketing. Before joining Ansoft, Sherry spent two years with Intel Corporation, where she worked in the ASIC Group and developed relationships with companies such as Bell Northern Research and Northern Telecom. Sherry holds a BSEE and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. www.awrcorp.com.
To comment or ask Sherry a question, use the comment link at the bottom of the entry.
How ready are you to invest “skin in the game”?
Successful companies know that getting to know your customers’ needs, issues, pain points, strengths and weaknesses results in a long term and growing business relationship. Each side demonstrates a willingness to invest time, money and resources into learning more about one another in order to realize the competitive and monetary gains that come as a result of putting your respective “skin in the game”—combining talents and sharing resources, expertise, knowledge.
I’m oversimplifying but this is how we at AWR feel about our customers. You are our partners. Your success is ultimately our success. We work alongside you to help ensure your success and we are very thankful when you are willing to share it with us and with others in the form of an AWR Customer Success Story, http://web.awrcorp.com/Usa/Success-Stories/ . But this is not what I’m trying to make this week’s blog about. Rather, my intent is to use it to generate a collective nodding of heads before I transfer this thought-thread elsewhere.
Pat Hindle of Microwave Journal Magazine shared this Business Week article, with me just after IMS. The article from June 11th is titled “Companies Willing to Take Risks in a Recession.” I read it and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it but then last week, I got it.
A few lines from the Business Week article, written by Brian Burnsed, that I liked:
1)“In this unstable environment, managers need to strike the right balance between caution and boldness.”
2)“The common thread among successful entrepreneurs is that they’re daring to be aggressive rather defensive amid the weak economy.
3)“Don’t react to what competitors may be doing,” advises Dave McMahon, an associate professor of marketing at Pepperdine University. “Carve your own niche.”
The actual article itself discussed how this economy is presenting some great merger and acquisition opportunities, but the lines I reference above jumped out at me as being universal truisms. Perhaps even more so in an unstable economic environment, we all need to find the right balance between caution and boldness to make sure our firms stay afloat, but why in good times should we lose sight of this edge? Successful companies, and not just entrepreneurs, are those who continually take risks and don’t get too comfortable with their status quo (i.e. market share).
Like customer relationships, marketing partnerships need to find the right balance between caution and boldness. If neither side is willing to invest skin in the game and take on some risk, how in the world are we going to do something unique, different, intriguing for our mutual customer base?? It’s this thought that has me rejigging the last Business Week quote from Pepperdine and making it my own, “Don’t simply copy cat what competitors may be doing, put skin in the game and figure out how to carve your own niche. But don’t stop there, follow through and make it happen!”
Why is it that some company-to-company partnerships shine and others merely fizzle? I say it is the same reason that some customer relationships thrive and others don’t: it takes an equal willingness to invest time, resources, talent, expertise, etc. In other words, it takes an equal willingness to put “skin into the game.”
I love this phrase. I use it internally to describe why some marketing relationships are more fruitful and productive than others. When both partners literally put their “skin or sweat equity” into the relationship, only then will good things materialize. Take for example AWR’s announcement earlier this year about a marketing relationship with Anritsu Corporation.
Long before this press release became public, we were fortunate enough to have two customers attend a standard Microwave Office training course in San Jose last summer. The guys who sat next to one another were bright, energetic engineers—one from Anritsu and one from Marvell. During a break, the customer from Marvell turned to his Anritsu classmate and said, “Hey, you know what would be great?”
The guy from Anritsu said, “No, what?”
Marvell: “Well, I have an Anritsu VNA back at my work lab and Microwave Office software in my cube on my PC.”
Marvell: “So wouldn’t it be ideal if I could have my Microwave Office design software in the lab running on my VNA so I can design and test concurrently, in real time?”
Anritsu: “Yes. Sure. We could probably do it since the Anritsu VNAs are powerful PCs in their own right.”
What happened next was the start of “skin in the game” for AWR and Anritsu. A car full of Anritsu guys (marketers, AEs, management, sales) drove down to LA from San Jose to chat with a room full of AWR folk (marketing, applications, sales, management).
I’ll spare you the details of the relationship building, execution plan, and whatnot, but suffice it to say, neither AWR nor Anritsu were afraid to put their respective skins in the game and strike the right balance between caution and boldness. This bundling of design software within the test equipment operating software is an industry first, and this was certainly the best of both companies carving out a new niche.
If you’ve not paid attention to media coverage on this joint offering, you can find an article here: http://web.awrcorp.com/Anritsu/VectorStar/ .
Or better yet, take a look at this IMS-produced video that shows Anritsu and AWR talking about the advantages of the two company’s products combined, as well as an actual demo of the MWO software running on the Anritsu VectorStar VNA. www.awr.tv (Again, we balanced caution and risk to produce this on the show floor and to even bring it to you on AWR pioneered AWR.TV)
This is just one of many AWR partnership stories I’ve amassed in my storytelling repertoire since joining AWR two years ago. What’s your story for putting skin in the game and doing something unique as a result? While this marketing relationship may not be “engineering” in the sense that you all are used to thinking, it is “engineering” of a relationship/ partnership in order to deliver something new, unique and valuable to our mutual customers.