Strategic Marketing

I started my marketing work as a consultant for a variety of consumer products, including food and shoes, before migrating to high-tech, when I developed the local marketing plan and campaign for the Israeli introduction of Apple Computer’s Mac; this included market/application segmentation, capacity allocation, and distribution channel evaluation.

In my following consulting project I moved into industrial (B2B) marketing, where I spent most of my career. I designed the export strategy for an Israeli producer of fiber-optic devices; my work involved optical fiber market segmentation, targeting and pricing.

A couple of years later, I joined Microsoft as a product manager for applications in the Integrated Office Systems Group. My focus was on studying the marketing and evaluating alternative product value propositions and positioning for a possible Global Macro Language; Microsoft subsequently commercialized the idea as a mix of two key products/capabilities – Visual Basic (VB) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE), today a key element of the Windows architecture.

Later, as a management consultant with Booz Allen & Hamilton, I continued my focus on industrial marketing. For example, I advised on aspects of the Intel-AMD lawsuit — which involved analysis and modeling of demand drivers, market trends, value propositions, competitive positioning, and pricing strategies. I worked extensively on segmentation and pricing in the aerospace industry, and managed “war games” to simulate and plan competitive behavior in that consolidating industry. I also benchmarked best-known product management methodologies for a major computer manufacturer and worked with the client to implement them across the global marketing organization.

Immediately after joining Applied Materials, I flew to Japan to engage with Applied’s leading customers to study their technology and commercial needs, relating to an upcoming shift in semiconductor manufacturing technology—migration to larger, 300mm-diameter silicon substrates. I continued to support Applied’s 300mm transition, directly promoting the Company’s 300mm approach to key U.S. and European customers, and developing segmentation and pricing guidelines. My in-depth analysis of customer productivity and business model helped to define win-win pricing scenarios despite strong customer pressures; see for example in “Economic Challenges and Opportunities in the 300mm Transition.”

I also worked to enhance key strategic marketing frameworks, tools, and methods; and led a cross-functional initiative to redefine value proposition and positioning. To support rapid globalization of our customer base (from the US and Europe to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and mainland China), we planned the deployment of a superior customer support infrastructure. I created new positioning, sizing, and sales tools based on customer needs segmentation—to help Applied plan how to offer more complex and integrated (hardware/process/software/service) products, and enhance its value-add to customers; and also participated in major corporate and product re-branding programs.

During my tenure at Applied’s Corporate Strategy and Development group, The Company solidified its global industry leadership, introduced over 50 new major products, and nearly doubled market share — growing its run rate from $1B to $10B. Just as important, Applied has been able to transform its customers’ factories through novel process, automation, and service solutions (see more on my semiconductor industry work here).

In the following years I shifted my focus to rethinking the marketing of Applied’s fundamental technologies, especially capturing the value of productivity improvements. The proposed move to 450mm called into question the value proposition of the equipment industry. Through engagement with Applied’s key customers and industry players, and some serious factory and market modeling, we determined that such a move would be premature at best; instead, my research indicated that the industry should focus on productivity gains within the existing equipment set — a vision which we called “300mm Prime.”

Our fact-based perspective helped to build alignment across the industry around a vision for boosting innovation and productivity without increasing investment. I co-led several industry trade groups (see for example here) and emerged as a key thought leader on how suppliers can move their value proposition beyond traditional differentiators; and spokesperson for the semiconductor equipment industry in the areas of economics, productivity, and technological change.

As Chief Marketing Officer, I worked to refocus roadmap and brand message for key engineering platforms; and negotiated with partners to set up an OEM channel. As head of the 300mm Prime Program Office, I ran a major global marketing campaign to position a new generation of products; engaging with customers and developers to align product/service roadmaps, positioning, and pricing strategy with market priorities.

Building on my industrial marketing experience, I joined the faculty of Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program, teaching Strategic B2B Marketing; at that time I noticed the dearth of modern course materials covering industrial marketing, and felt there was a need—especially in Silicon Valley—to offer relevant content on a subject which is core to local businesses. Later I offered a popular class on Business Modeling/Decision Analytics—which actually contains rich marketing content, from sizing and forecasting, to pricing and web analytics.

While at Applied, I began dealing with marketing issues in the clean energy space—including demand projection, differentiation/competitive positioning, and business models/pricing in the solar energy and other emerging markets. Later, while at Strat Man Consulting (as an advisor) and the Environmental Business Cluster (as a mentor), I helped clients to commercialize innovation in the clean energy space; I worked with clean tech innovators in renewable energy, energy efficiency, advanced materials, and water technologies on marketing strategies—product priorities, value proposition, partnering, sizing, or pricing.

At Strat Man Consulting I’ve also been going—to some extent—back to my roots in the consumer arena. I worked with B2C clients on eCommerce issues (payment systems and online fulfillment). Later I joined one of my clients, a stealth-mode niche digital media publishing startup, as an interim CEO, successfully transforming the company and helping it to migrate its acquired content to digital platforms. I overhauled strategy and operations, including brand strategy, web presence (site and social media), pricing, social media strategy, SEO, and marketing operations.

And today, as an M&A consultant with Ernst & Young, my client work often takes me into the nuts-and-bolts of advertising and promotion, channel/partner strategy, brand alignment, web presence, and cloud services.

For nearly three decades of marketing work, I’ve had the opportunity to cover a broad cross-section of issues and industries. As an executive, consultant, and teacher, I’ve built expertise in market analysis, competitive strategy, and value positioning/pricing; and successfully identified growth opportunities in new and emerging markets. But I often also got into the trenches of customer engagement, partner negotiations, promotion, and analytics. Over the past decades, the marketing profession has, in some ways, been transformed; in many ways, it’s entirely unchanged. I’m looking forward to seeing how the next decades may reshape the field.