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The “art” of marketing can be very mysterious to engineers, accountants, computer specialists, and other technically-oriented people. This is especially true when it comes to the commercialization of a new product or process or the startup of a technically-driven business venture.
Many technically-oriented people think that the key to marketing success is to learn the secret marketing “formulas” They take all the marketing courses at their local business school. They read all the books on marketing. But it still doesn’t happen. The “formulas” aren’t there.
In fact, they aren’t anywhere. Marketing is much more an “art” than a science. It’s simply a mistake to look for scientific formulas in a field of “art”.
Successful commercialization combines the “science” of formulating a winning physical product/process with the “art” of marketing strategy and implementation. In a way, this combination of product science and marketing art emulates the craftsmen of yesteryear who applied crude tools with a system of methods and principles into a skillful performance that could not be learned solely by study.
In today’s high-tech world, most technically-oriented product developers would be well advised to seek out a marketing artist to work with — rather than trying to become the all-in-one craftsman.
The development of xerography is a good example of the combination of product science and marketing art. Chester Carlson, a physicist and patent attorney, obtained a patent on xerography and searched for a way to commercialize it. He happened to be an attorney for a client of Battelle (a research organization in Columbus, OH), and sent a copy of the patent to them for review.
Battelle was interested. For 55% of the patent rights, Battelle agreed to invest in the technology, with Battelle research making three technical improvements. However, it was the little Haloid Company (a market-oriented 100-employee company in Rochester, NY) that figured out how to commercialize this expensive and very-service-intensive machine ($15,000 cost). As a result, in 1963 the Xerox 914 was born.
Joe Wilson, Haloid Company’s president, is given the credit for the marketing “art” that led to the success of xerography — Lease the Xerox 914 copier for only $100 a month, but pay an additional penny per copy made on the machine.
It was Haloid’s addition of marketing “art” to Battelle’s solid product “science” that created a winning product. The marketing-oriented Haloid Company changed its name to Xerox Corporation, and the technically-oriented Battelle received $350 million of Xerox stock.
Don’t underestimate the need for marketing “art” in your own product or business development activities. Find a good marketing “artist” to work with — and do so as early as possible.