Marketing of new technologies
Maria Spiring
May, 21 • 5 min read
As opposed to finished products, new technologies call for a different approach in marketing/Inventions or even innovations introduced at one enterprise, are not a finished product, and, as a rule, are not ready to be put into market "as they are".

A consumer, both an individual user or a company, prefers to use established technologies that are part of their business process and their everyday life, which makes it difficult to grasp even initially new approaches to solving problems. For an engineering or any other technological project, marketing begins long before the product itself appears, and determines whether the product will appear at all.

We are talking about invest-marketing, which means forming investors' realization of the need for the new technology and products based on it. The complex of activities related to "pre-sale preparation" of a start-up for an investor includes several necessary tools. Let's pursue them further.
Research into the urgency of the problem the new technology is aimed to solve. Good marketing begins with research. The question that the start-up seeks to answer from the beginning is whether the problem to be solved by the project exists. The answer to this question can forecast future demand for products built on the new technological platform developed by the start-up.

For carrying out such research we use both questioning the targeted audience (e.g. by distributing questionnaires), or special focus groups and interviewing experts.

The future success of the project is determined by the quality of formulating hypotheses and questions, because the answers will include not only confirmation of the urgency of the problem, but also preconditions for the demanded format of future products and the model of the market proposal.
For new technology it is important to be accepted by the expert community and opinion leaders. With this purpose in view, publications in scientific, expert and market related journals are used. These publications give start for beginning professional discussions of the suggested technology and forming the initial circle of scientists and experts loyal to this technology. Their feedback will provide the basis for confirming the fact that the solutions suggested by the start-up are urgent, realistic and promising.

It has to be noted that in solving this marketing problem special market and business publications, as well as special Internet media, have more influence than scientific journals.

For example, for IT development one can use Habrahabr (both Russian and English sites) which forms IT community of specialists of all levels. To describe the introduction of concrete innovations in companies one can use VC.ru, Inc. Russia and rb.ru in Russia and TechCrunch in Europe.

The Expert and Forbes magazines as well as their websites are also in demand.

Depending on the selected development strategy, it is necessary to take into account the language and the geography of publications. Obviously, for promoting to the international market publications should be placed in the European or the US Forbes, rather than in the Russian version of these magazines.

However, the publications themselves are only half the work. It is also needed to organize their expert discussions, to answer comments promptly and professionally. The more active web users are in their comments on and reposts of an article, the broader audience it will acquire.

Besides, this can be used for getting feedback about the application risks of the suggested technology on the market, since the start-up often underestimates the competitors' solutions or is unaware of them. The users offering comments on published articles are a valuable source of information.

For an investor, both an individual and a fund, the presence of publications and a formed professional community around a new technology is an indirect confirmation of the demand for and prospects of this technology and products based on it.
Creating the technology's information field
Forming the founder's personal brand
After Steve Jobs and Elon Mask had founded and developed their companies, no doubts were left that the founder's personal brand has a fundamental function in marketing. Unfortunately the founders of technological startups often belong to the category of technical specialists and inventors, rather than charismatic leaders or entrepreneurs.

Nevertheless special marketing agencies.have learned a long time ago how to solve this problem. The set of activities forming a founder's brand is wide - from the authors' publications to participation in relevant forums, exhibitions and conferences, holding seminars and webinars, taking part in plenary sessions and round table discussions on subjects relevant to the technology and the market, up to publications of the authors' books.

Fame, respect and reputation in professional and business circles are vitally important for attracting investment at all stages of the project, from the start-up to coming out to IPO or sales to strategic partners.
Proof of usefulness and applicability of technology
As has been said technology is no product.It is not enough to publish an article saying that a certain enterprise has solved applied problems in a new way, it is necessary to convince both experts and investors that this technology can be extended to other enterprises and become a marketed product.

Here we understand under "product" a range of parameters - from the presentation package to a business model and pricing.In order to check marketing hypotheses, at this stage are used both focus groups and modelling of the technology application at various enterprises and launching pilot projects.

The presence of such pilots at different stages of implementation is very important for investors, who pay attention to potential customers' interest and proved efficiency of the introduced solutions in various market and organizational conditions.

Apart from implementing the pilots, it is needed to cover the implementation process in relevant media and on websites, such as Youtube. Moreover, apart from stating the facts it is important to think about users' emotions and virus approaches.

There was a case where the inventor of a new mixer was using it to grind non-standard hard objects from glass to iPhone, and posted the video on Youtube. The video got millions of viewers on the Internet, As a result, the product became famous and popular.

At the stage of drawing a business plan and making a presentation for investors the above tasks should have been solved. They will be used as applications for the organizational and financial parts of the document. The opinion that an investor takes financial decisions based on business plan and financial model alone is a delusion.

Equally important are the founder's reputation and the opinions of marketers and experts about the technology and its prospects, as well as the emotional component ,that an investor forms on the basis of publications, the founder's speeches, users' and experts' comments and videos.

These marketing activities can produce a "wow-effect" which will facilitate communicating with investors. All these tasks are better solved with the help of a specialized marketing agency, since they require professional planning and implementation.

If a competent cooperation between the start-up and an agency that understands the peculiarities of marketing new technologies has been established, it becomes much easier to attract investment and to launch the product to the market.
Maria Spiring
Maria is a serial entrepreneur with 15 years of experience in launching, scaling and selling various businesses.