There is no unique recipe for success. Here is a proposed set of tools & rules to follow which work, even without having a strategic marketing plan:
Application Notes. As exciting and novel your technology may be – application notes are the most important. Nowadays, customers simply don't have the 'bandwidth' to learn or understand your system from scratch or start to freely experiment on a problem. They want to unpack it, switch it on and immediately begin to solve their analytical problems. This has become the norm everywhere.
Software. Make sure your software is user friendly, intuitive, and works without kinks. The best instrument or assay technology as only as good as its software interface.
Website & Multimedia. Your device or assay should be well documented in an easily navigable website. Application notes and posters should be downloadable, available publications listed with a PubMed reference. Invest upfront to create high qualty videos which document technology and workflow; even if this can easily go into the thousands of $$$, it will help you considerably down the line to present your technology to customers and also train reps & distributors in distant territories.
Social Media. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are becoming increasingly important, particularly among younger scientists. Particularly LinkedIn is a powerful tool to reach out, as it allows pinpointing professionals with a certain skillset, affiliation and geographic area.
Demo units. Demo units facilitate market introduction considerably. It allows customers to 'test drive' their application and obtain results. The ability to offer demos should be a firm cornerstone in your marketing campaign. If your instrument is too heavy being hauled around, consider establishing a demo- or reference lab and offer to analyze customer samples for free. As a rule of thumb, 80% of customers who have attended a successful demo or operated a test unit will purchase your product.
Road shows. A seminar series visiting companies and research labs is a great way to get started in marketing your system. It is always a win-win situation: You are offering new knowledge and technology; your audience appreciates an educational moment and a possible novel solution to their problems. In bringing a new distributor or sales rep along, you can train him (or her) at the same time. A winning seminar builds a lasting relationship. Even if there is no immediate follow up interest, you have opened the door.
Exhibits. People say exhibits at conferences are getting less important in the age of internet and social media. Not so. Exhibits still allow an unbiased, mutual acquaintance in-person and showcasing your device. Consider enhancing your technology display with poster and podium presentations. Customers always look for scientific guidance and will commit much faster if they perceive your scientific & technological competence and leadership. Check out your competitor’s home page and meeting announcement and select key conferences. Prepare a marketing plan and follow the meeting organizer’s deadlines, so you are firmly planted in the conference handouts & website and may receive early registration discounts along with favorable booth locations. Maintain future conference attendance, so customers reconnect with you which builds trust. Note that ‘it always takes money to make money’. You may shun the expenses and time in attending conferences, but bear in mind that cold calling and emailing puts you on a slow and frustrating trail.