On July 3, 2013, Michael Hickens, the Editor of the Wall Street Journal blog, CIO, published a post on Ford Motor Company, ‘The Morning Download: Ford Test-Drives Software-Driven Manufacturing’. This piece is an example of the power of a combination of content marketing, with an appeal to authority. Early stage technology businesses looking for a marketing communications strategy to either create a groundswell of market sentiment, or a method to shift unfavorable market sentiment will do well to consider this combination of tactics.
Any student of industrial automation and process control systems can see the hyperbole in the title to Mr. Hickens’ post. Certainly Ford Motor Company, and each of its peers in the automotive industry have been using “Software-Driven Manufacturing” since the early 1970s. So what’s really new about the current effort Ford Motor has undertaken? This short post doesn’t delve into the details. Rather, it merely names to each of the prestigious stakeholders in this new technology — Boeing Corporation, the Massachusetss Institute of Technology, and the U. S. Dept. of Energy — and reports the approach is something along the lines of 3D Printing technology. The reader is then left to find out the additional specifics required to put the real news story together.
The title to this short post implies there is something new about all of this. Unsuspecting readers will likely assume the technology is earth-shaking given the stakeholders and the Mr. Hickens’ use of terms.
A lot of online marketing communications follow this same formula. Pick someone with a reputation to write a keyword-rich article on technology familiar to your customers and you’ll likely achieve the change in sentiment objective you’re after. LinkedIn’s Influencer feature is a perfect example of this type of content marketing.
In this article we think Mr. Hickens is making an effort to paint Ford Motor with the colors of a leading technology innovator. Unfortunately those with a knowledge of the history of process control and industrial automation will, in all likelihood, simply look back, with regret at the real era of innovation for this industry back in the early 1970s. Somehow influential media missed it way back then . . .
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