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Time for the New Action CE Industry!

In 1967 I joined the “New Action Army”, not to be confused with the “I Want You!” Army of my predecessors, or the “Today’s Army Wants to Join You” Army, the “Be All You Can Be” Army, the “Army of One” Army, or today’s “Army Strong” Army, all of which came in sequence after my time.

While I don’t know for certain having only been in one version, based on talking with those who were in before and after me, there have always been more similarities than differences in Army life, one era to the next, the evolving recruiting phrases notwithstanding.

Wondering what Army marketing is selling?  Think of each of those phrases as the “vision” upon which the Army builds their recruiting efforts, using ad budgets the last 5 years totaling $1.35 billion selling “Army Strong”.

Or maybe you’re wondering why they don’t just stick with one vision?

Once the draft ended, and arguably before given the need for quality in addition to quantity recruits, they understood they were in competition for the hearts and minds of their “customers”; i.e. young men and women.  And they also knew that what worked in 1967 would not likely work 10, 5, or even 3 years later.  So since the times were a-changin’ the Army did too.

Today when I look around the CE industry at both retail and manufacturers, I am sad to say I see very little “vision” with even fewer changes to what vision I do see.

Other than Apple Stores, no exciting new format brick and mortar store templates that in any way appear all that much different from what was around 10 years ago, even longer.  Big box stores that not only ape their now bankrupt past competition, but actually move into the very locations they once occupied, looking too much like the previous tenant whose similar format no longer worked.

Manufacturers have come up with many wonderful products but with little to no marketing money being spent in support of new technology, the public doesn’t understand 1/10th of what is out there.  “Build it and they will come” might work fine in a baseball movie but not when it comes to selling CE/tech products.

And finally, are websites listing product specs and promises to meet or beat the lowest price, the best the industry that invents and sells all this wonderful technology has to offer?  (How well do you think the Army would do in their recruiting efforts were their vision based on what would be recognized as relative low pay, and training designed to maximize the chance of their recruits surviving their enlistments?)

The Army has always known they must continually evolve their message if they are to successfully compete for the hearts and minds of each new generation of their potential “customers”, and what is true for them is true as well for CE/tech.

William Matthies is the CEO of Coyote Insight ( and can be reached at [email protected] or at (714) 726-2901. Visit Business Wisdom at