If you are a marketing person in the chemical industry, the question of how-to and how-much is never far from your mind.  I’m not talking about selling pesticides or drain cleaner to consumers. I’m referring to B2B chemical sales.  Feedstocks, reagents, catalysts, additives, etc.

Management never likes to pay much for advertising and will always be skeptical of the value of ads. Yet, deep within that black heart most managers know that some advertising is necessary.

Sales to the public is demand that can be fairly easily measured. Sales in the public domain are open and lots of nifty and informative stats and trends can be compiled to help plot marketing strategy.

By contrast, sales of products that are not out in the open, or products that are part of a proprietary process leading to another kind of product are things that are somewhat problematic to understand.  Products that are uncommon or are unique to a few limited circumstances are not products that you necessarily want to promote in the mass media.

If a company makes a bracket that is used to hold a fuel flow sensor on a 1998 Buick, chances are that the product will be useless for just about every other application.  But many components on that same Buick are of a general nature and may be found on many kinds of cars.

In chemical marketing, many products are of a general nature and many are highly specific. The marketing approach for highly specialized products is necessarily more focused than that for chemicals of a more general utility. A specialized product requires that marketing people be like a Dachshund- these dogs were bred to go into burrow hole to pull out the critter that lives in there. Marketing specialty chemicals requires the same sort of proclivity.

Where do I find information about who uses what?  I search patents, SciFinder (to see who is publishing with what materials), Google, and I talk to people about what they are looking for. Purchasing people always have a list of troublesome products. Your company should have a decent customer list to draw upon.

Another approach is to do a patent search starting with a particular company AND a key word. While there is absolutely no assurance that the company is actually practicing the art that they patented, it is possible to collect a list of companies that have used your product at one time.

Finally, there is the Johnny Appleseed approach. You simple plant literature at every fertile site you can find, and you do it several times with multiple media. Brochures, emails, cold calls, websites, conferences, and technical literature.  “Technology Push” is hard work. Especially if the economy has taken a dive. It can take 3 months to 3 years for a potential customer to give you a call when they finally decide to make a query.

The marketing of obscure products is spotty business and hazardous to your wallet if you are on commission. The best circumstance is to have a portfolio of products, or a catalog. If your collection is good enough, something will always be in demand.