Even the best conceived capital equipment products won’t sell themselves. The capital equipment supplier has to develop and deploy a mix of marketing tools and activities that generate demand.
Selecting the best mix of marketing tools and activities to create demand is directly related to the nature of the market.
In industrial markets, such as capital equipment, businesses purchase goods or services in anticipation of using them to generate profit. This is much different from consumer markets where goods and services are merely consumed.
The CapEquip Buying Process
It’s the nature of the customer, rather than the nature of the product, that distinguishes capital equipment marketing from other disciplines. To optimize your capital equipment marketing mix, you must understand the customer’s motivations and expectations. Capital equipment customers:
- Seek to improve profit through the purchase of capital equipment.
- Are relatively few in number.
- Are a single organization where many people work in teams to select, purchase, and implement capital equipment.
- Expect a long-term relationship with their suppliers.
- Depend on their suppliers to develop an on-going stream of technology advancements.
The best way to sum up these attributes is that the capital equipment customer expects a robust relationship with its suppliers. When a customer selects a supplier, they are making a decision that will directly affect the success of their company and likely many careers.
The significance of the purchase decision on the company and individuals drives the selling and buying process to take on these characteristics:
- The sales cycles are long.
- Selling is one-to-one in nature.
- Purchase decisions are typically made by a team rather than an individual.
- The decision process is complex. Product specifications, product quality, company reputation, commercial terms and after-sales service all play into the decision.
Given this environment, the best marketing mix is one geared toward creating and nurturing a healthy, long-term relationship with the customer.
The CapEquip Marketing Mix
To generate demand from buyers in consumer marketing, the emphasis is on promotion and advertising. Consumers typically do not have a formal purchasing process and are usually not making a mission critical decision. In fact, the consumer purchasing decision is often so inconsequential, that advertising alone can be sufficient to close the sale.
This is not the case for capital equipment marketing. Instead of advertising and promotion, the most effective tools are those that generate systematic, direct, one-on-one contact with the customer.
Here is a list of marketing tools used by capital equipment companies to generate demand and create solid customer relationships categorized by effectiveness.
- Joint Development Programs
- User Groups
- Technical Seminars
- Roadmap and Technology Exchanges
- Product Demonstrations
- Application Workshops
- In-Person Sales Presentations
- White Papers
- Speaking at Industry Conferences
- Trade Shows
- Direct Mail
- Public Relations
All these marketing tools have a place in the capital equipment marketing mix, but the focus should be on those in the “most effective” category. Notice that all these tools involve direct contact with the customer. Each creates an exclusive environment where it’s just you and the customer over long periods of time. This is where the bulk of your product marketng effort should go.
As you move down the list through the “somewhat effective” and “least effective” categories you are moving farther away from direct contact with the customer. These tools can help inform the market about a product or reinforce a company’s credibility, but will have minimal impact on a purchasing decision. Therefore, theese should not be the cornerstone of a capital equipment product marketing effort.