Focus on Customers’ Needs Stimulates Growth
Montana Instruments is a Bozeman, Montana firm that manufactures state-of-the-art optical and cryogenic research equipment.
In the early stages, Montana Instruments’ founder spent months interviewing researchers around the world about how they use their equipment to determine what they wanted and what they needed. He wanted to gain knowledge about how they use cryogenic systems and what could make one better. In a few years, the company had progressed to actively marketing its product and preparing for a steady production rate to not only keep up with demand but also to increase sales.
Design and Marketing Phases
For a technology product, a focus on the customer is critical not only during the design phase but also during the marketing phase. New perspective was needed to see the product’s value through customers’ eyes, by identifying why different features are valuable to them. To reach its niche market effectively the company needed a strategic marketing plan, a clear customer message and support pieces to attract buyers.
Results: The Founder of Montana Instruments Corp projects several million in sales over the next few years. He added 3 employees, created a strategic marketing plan and branding campaign, and increased the company’s online presence.
How Did They Do It?
They tapped into programs with approaches that really work for a small company on a limited budget. These experts helped simplify the message, communicate value and made it concise.
The firm sought expertise from:
1) the B2B Marketing Program, a collaboration of Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC), an MSU College of Engineering outreach center and NIST MEP affiliate, and
2) the Montana Department of Commerce (DOC).
The B2B marketing specialist worked with the company’s Business Development Officer, who had previously been a technology company owner, to bring customer perspectives to marketing and instruction on sales strategy. After defining the product value for customers, the pair collaborated in writing a selling script for cold calling; segmenting potential customers by specialty; identifying a target market; and characterizing the best customer. The Montana Instruments tag line “Cold Science Made Simple,” is an outcome of B2B marketing meetings.
MMEC/DOC B2B taught strategies for trade show setup, promotional ideas, how to engage new customers, and to keep the message simple and clear. The creative ideas for trade show exhibitions have helped attract traffic to the Montana Instruments exhibit booth, visually demonstrating the differences between the Cryostation and competitor products in attention-getting ways.
Montana Instruments’ Momentum
In less than two years from the company’s start, it evolved from an R&D (research and development) project to a company commercializing with seven employees. It now has 10 employees and projections of several million in sales.
(Thanks to USA.gov for the details.)
What outside expertise have you tapped to help market and grow your company?
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Lisa M. Chapman serves her clients as a business and marketing coach, business planning consultant and social media consultant. She helps clients to establish and enhance their online brand, attract their target market, engage them in meaningful social media conversations, and convert online traffic into revenues. Email: Lisa @ LisaChapman.com