Buyer's Guide … the one with the Encyclopedia!

Photonics Marketing – Understanding Buyers of High Value Technology Products Like Lasers

Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta

To be effective, marketers need to understand how buyers work. Particularly important are those buyers who purchase sophisticated and expensive equipment, as is often the case in photonics. For example, lasers, laser beam characterization instruments, or optical spectrum analyzers often cost on the order of 50,000 USD or much more. There are a number of issues that need to be taken into consideration for this type of business that are quite different from those involved in selling mass-market products.

I have just published a blog article for buyers on the best practices required for such purchases. This article is also quite relevant for marketing people. Here are some additional marketing tips.

How do they find the right suppliers?

If someone just wants to buy a cheap laser pointer for group meetings, he or she may do a simple Google search. For more important purchasing decisions, however, due diligence is required, and a critical first step is to ensure that all relevant suppliers are considered. To do this, buyers need to use a good supplier directory; I recommend our RP Photonics Buyer's Guide.

In terms of marketing, you need to make sure that (a) your company is listed in the most relevant buyer's guides, and (b) that you get sufficient visibility in at least the most important one, i.e. the one that generates far more traffic to supplier websites than all the others combined. This happens to be the RP Photonics Buyer's Guide because it is the only one that is associated with a famous and extremely popular encyclopedia.

Further, it is vital to use our advertising package there. Only with that, you can publish your product descriptions:

  • on your company profile page,
  • in the list of suppliers for relevant products (for example, see the one for ultrafast lasers), and even
  • in related encyclopedia articles (like the one on ultrafast lasers).

Note that potential buyers will find many vendors – usually far too many to visit all of their websites. They select some of them, preferably based on short product descriptions they find on our pages. Therefore, most of these suppliers will get a visit to their website for closer inspection. Accordingly, the chances of sales are many times higher. As a supplier, you benefit from the opportunity to show them exactly the information they need in the right place. The exact function of this information is to decide which suppliers should be inspected more closely.

Note that even those purchasers starting out with Google then often find our resources there and continue that way, as finding suppliers is obviously easiest that way. For example, if you search suppliers for ultrafast lasers on Google, you will find our supplier listing at the first position.

A conclusion is that our buyer's guide is indeed essential for your marketing. I profoundly disagree with the sometimes heard opinion that everyone uses Google for everything in these days. You won't buy your next car there, nor some nice jewelry, nor your next laser!

Reaching and Convincing Technical Experts

Marketing people should be aware that they will be communicating directly or indirectly with technical people: important technology purchasing decisions can only be made by those with sufficient knowledge and experience. They must accurately analyze their own needs, which requires a good understanding of the application, then analyze the details of the products offered before considering other qualities of the suppliers.

It may well be the case that some companies leave purchasing to people who are not sufficiently knowledgeable, but as a marketing manager you certainly don't want to live on that alone.

Effective marketing therefore also requires sufficient technical competence to convince these people – or at least important inputs based on such competence. For example, if the product descriptions and laser spec sheets indicate a lack of competence or care, that is not going to help. A marketing manager may not be able to identify and correct all such problems, but he or she can try to find out by asking competent people. Technical questions from potential buyers also need to be answered properly.

Another aspect is that your products need to have good visibility in the places that these technical people use. They will often not be satisfied with just reading trade journals, but will make extensive use of resources such as the RP Photonics Encyclopedia, which has on the order of 100,000 photonics professionals as users per month. By working with our Buyer's Guide, you will also have great visibility in the encyclopedia. Even on those days when the professional is looking for technical information and not for suppliers, some important branding can already be done. This will help on the day of purchase. How exactly does it help? I think it helps most in the step of deciding which suppliers to put on a short list for further consideration.

By the way, I regularly help marketing clients improve their product descriptions. I may not know as much about the details of their products as their internal experts do, but looking at them from a different perspective can help a lot. There are so many details that can affect success, and some are easily overlooked.


The purchasing processes in a sophisticated technology area such as lasers or photonics in general have important characteristics that need to be considered in marketing. You are dealing largely with technical people, and technical competence will be crucial to convince them. You also need to consider the resources that these people use and ensure that you have a good presence there.

This article is a posting of the RP Photonics Marketing News, authored by Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta. You may link to this page, because its location is permanent.

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