Though I was enjoying LFW's Laser Marketplace at Photonics West, furiously taking notes while Allen Nogee revealed the 2018 market forecast and geeking out over photobiomodulation as Praveen Arany shared his research, the final session of the day was a marketer's dream. A panel of highly respected individuals in the industry had been asked the question—"What do bioinstrumentation developers need to know from the photonics industry?"
You may ask, “Why is someone in marketing excited about product development? Don't you simply market whatever the developers come up with?” What many people outside of the industry don't understand is how closely product development and marketing are tied together. Product launch is one of Launch Team's specialties and we serve our clients best when we are involved early enough in the product development process that we can provide relevant research on end-customer needs. The feedback from the Laser Marketplace panel also reinforced some of the messaging that our own research has pointed to over the years. Here are the three most significant takeaways I uncovered in this panel discussion:
Point 1: Ability to Scale is Key—The relationship between suppliers and manufacturers in the biomedical space (and any space where significant regulation impacts sourcing) can be long-lasting. Panelist Dr. Muhammad Al-Qaisi from Alcon described opportunities to hold an account for over 20 years. Launch Team has frequently encouraged clients to emphasize the ability to scale in their marketing. "From Prototype to Production" can communicate a great deal in just a few words. But this message must be repeated over and over again in not only written communication but visual as well. It is crucial that at the same time you are emphasizing your engineering team, you are communicating about your high-volume capabilities. And if you have the ability to hold inventory, communicate that as well. As I will mention later, speed matters in many areas, and if you can help your customer eliminate potential delays in the supply chain, it might be just the icing on the cake they need to make a decision.
Point 2: Customization and Integrated Solutions—In the medical device market, modularity and integrated solutions are becoming more important than ever before, said panelist Dr. Wenyi Feng of Ilumina. This can be a challenge if your photonics company is specifically known for specialization in particular individual components. Increasing awareness of your ability to customize and create systems, rather than just components, requires repeated messaging to the right groups and in the right places. Marketing automation ensures you are sending out the message at the right time. But, as with demonstrating the ability to scale, visual communication is just as important as written communication. It is one thing to say that you have moved into systems, but you must also show it. Developing prototypes, photographing them and incorporating this imagery in places where those who know you just for your components will see it is crucial to getting the message across. In fact, your marketing campaign to build awareness of these capabilities should be structured much like a campaign built around a product launch.
Point 3: Quick Response Matters—Amazon Prime's two-day shipping saves me on a regular basis in my personal life—helping out with a last-minute birthday gift or allowing me to order something I know my household needs even when I'm out of town. But it has also contributed to our increased expectations when it comes to response time and even delivery time. Panelist Dr. Peter Heim of Thor Labs specifically mentioned quick response as part of a long list of factors that matter when it comes to selecting suppliers. However, the importance of response time is one that Launch Team frequently sees overlooked when assessing new clients' business practices. It is also one that is easier to fix than you might imagine. Response time to an initial RFQ can actually make the difference when it comes to winning a bid. Research from InsideSales.com has determined that if you follow up with a web lead within five minutes, you are nine times more likely to convert them. This may sound impossible, but marketing and sales automation tools can change web inquiry response time dramatically.
If you are a component manufacturer looking to move into systems, a company shifting from governemnt contracts to OEM sales or simply someone in the optics and photonics market who believes that his or her company's sales could be higher, let us know. Our senior team would be happy to set up a consultation at your convenience.