The six steps to marketing success in high tech/high ticket markets are simple in concept but can be challenging in implementation. The steps also apply to consumer marketing with some modification, but this paper is focused on high tech/high ticket markets.
Markets for semiconductor capital equipment and materials are examples of high tech/high ticket markets which are technology intensive and have a limited number of prospective customers. Markets for personal computers would be high tech/low ticket consumer markets because they are technology intensive but have large numbers of prospective customers who expect to pay relatively low prices.
The six steps marketing success for high tech/high ticket markets are:
Know Market Requirements
This first step is probably the source of more failures in marketing than any other step. In the high tech/high ticket worlds, an engineering- or technology-driven company may have initial success because the initial technology-based products meet some application requirements very well. With time, market requirements change, and if the company is not market-driven (i.e., focused on current and future market requirements), the factors that led to previous success become obsolete.
It is important to distinguish between Wants and Needs. Multiple customers may well believe that they want some attribute in a high tech/high ticket product that may or may not be essential to their requirements. The product that meets all the essential needs is more likely to be the winner than the product that meets the wants but misses an essential need.
'Wants' are answers to questions that begin with 'What'. 'Needs' are answers to the question 'Why'.
Market Requirements are derived by analyzing future trends. In high tech/high ticket markets, there are usually defined trends that must be met to keep the industry on track to meet their requirements. In semiconductor capital equipment and materials markets, these trends involve device feature size, wafer diameter, chip size, chip complexity, cost/chip, etc. Market requirements are derived from these needs. If your customers cannot meet their technology and economic requirements, they cannot survive.
'Wants' are additional features that some customers may well desire and others do not. To meet many of these 'Wants' in this increasingly complex and custom-driven world, a successful supplier must find means to create custom configurations from standard options. Otherwise, custom engineering requirements will greatly limit opportunity.
Position product and company
Positioning is the act of creating an image in your prospective customer's minds. It starts with a positioning statement that defines your company and/or products with respect to the competition and the market requirements.
Positioning includes creating awareness of your company and products, differentiating your company and products from competitive offerings, and creating preference for your company and products.
This is the step usually considered to be 'Marketing'. It involves creating product literature (brochure, product specification, performance guarantee, quote form with description, delivery, warranty, and terms of sale, and an order entry configurator) and presentation materials. It involves training Sales personnel and interacting with prospective customers under the management of Sales personnel. If you are managing the customer interface, you are not doing Marketing, you are doing Sales. Sometimes that is necessary. Just be sure you know which activity you are doing at the time.
Strong involvement with Sales is essential. They are responsible to create a Sales Forecast, and in a well-run organization, you in Marketing are responsible for turning that Sales Forecast into a accurate Factory Demand Schedule.
Manage Order Entry and assure shipment
Control of product configuration is an essential task for Marketing. That control involves first controlling what is offered for sale by controlling the content, price, and delivery schedule. That control also involves controlling the information flow from the customer's purchase order through to your manufacturing operation. The process is called Order Entry.
Order Entry is usually aided considerably by having an Order Entry Configurator that specifies exactly what is to be built. This control is greatly helped by making sure the original engineering bills-of-materials are organized in the same manner as the quote content and the configurator.
Assuring shipment requires involvement with the manufacturing operation to make sure they have a Factory Demand Schedule from Marketing and that they have a plan in place to meet the market requirements and the shipment schedule.
Assure customer buy-off and payment
Assuring that the customer is satisfied with and pays for the product is also the responsibility of Marketing. Customer Support/Service and Finance are responsible for meeting the requirements, and Marketing is responsible for defining the requirements.
Assure getting the next order
Return to the beginning of the list. Success in Marketing requires repeatedly accomplishing these steps.