What marketing can bring to photonic technologies (English version)

« Facts exist outside the building,
Opinion reside within,
So, get the hell outside the building! »
Steve Blank

Imagine you are appointed for leading the design of the next Ariane Rocket. How are you going to do?

Undoubtedly, with common sense, you will think: “before choosing the diameter of the rocket, the power of its engine, its carrying capacity and so, I need to know what the rocket will have to carry in space.” You will want to estimate how many satellites are to be launched in the coming years, what will be their size, their weight, their functions (scientific, weather, imaging, positioning, defense …). Will it be necessary to launch them one by one, or should the rocket be able to launch several satellites at the same time, like for Galileo ? How much customers are they willing to pay for a launch service ? And of course, what are the strengths and weaknesses of competing rockets?

How are you going to answer all these questions? This is obvious: ask the future customers, those who control and operate satellites. Nobody else can provide this valuable and critical information for designing the future rocket.

Seek to understand the end-users needs in order to define a product, this is the core value of marketing.  Strangely, what seems obvious for the Ariane rocket, is sometimes seen as superfluous when it comes to photonic products.

The added value of marketing

The 3 main missions of Marketing are the following:

  1. Listen future users to define the features of a product; 
  2. Understand the targeted market, its players, its drivers, the trends and the competition in order to build a market access strategy; how to enter the market, be part of the value chain and capture rapid and sustainable margins and revenues.
  3. Develop the strategy and tools for the promotion of the new product and the development of the reputation of the company.

Very often, marketing is reduced into its the 3rd mission. It is true that it is more critical for BtoC products, as in the luxury market, in retail, or automotive.
But for
BtoB technological products, it is completly different. The first two missions are the one that matter most. And this sometimes leads to a misunderstanding about the usefulness of Marketing for Photonics markets.

Marketing for boosting Photonic businesses

In Photonics, the first task is to question the future users to outline the features of the future product, so that it responds more closely to the customer needs. The objective is to produce a functional specifications or a market requirement document.

The second mission of marketing applied to Photonics is to develop an access strategy to become not only a competitive supplier, but also to be regarded by integrators as a reference for designing the components and photonic subsystems of the future.