Strategic marketing boosts sales of film digitizer in a mature market

December 26, 2001

Array recruits digital-minded x-ray dealerships When Array Corporation U.S.A. won FDA clearance in 1998 for its laser digitizer, it faced a major challenge: how to differentiate this product in a marketplace that many customers

Array recruits digital-minded x-ray dealerships

When Array Corporation U.S.A. won FDA clearance in 1998 for its laser digitizer, it faced a major challenge: how to differentiate this product in a marketplace that many customers consider mature. Company strategists needed an individualized marketing strategy that got the message across to perspective customers that this system truly was different.

The 2905 laser film digitizer was anything but a commodity, sporting a high-performance digitizing engine that generated spot sizes as small as 50 microns and scan times 2.5 times faster than charge-

coupled device (CCD)-based products. Even the chassis was different, made of steel rather than the plastic of many of its competitors. But individual differences would not carry the day.

Rather than targeting primarily OEMs as its competitors had done, the Sparta, N.J.-based firm also sought the help of PACS integrators and film companies. Array put together a direct sales force as well. The key to the strategy, however, was to recruit as outlets for its digitizer independent x-ray dealerships that believed in the future of digital technologies, said Thomas Nardozzi, president of Array.

"We viewed a slowed digitizer market not as a sign of maturity, but as the result of a shift toward digital technologies, which made consumers reluctant to purchase digitizers," Nardozzi said. "They feared they would not be buying the latest technology or they would buy from companies that would not be around to service it."

Nardozzi and colleagues promoted the idea that an increasing emphasis on digital imaging would increase the importance its digitizers to handle the mountain of x-ray films that had long accumulated. Dealers seeking to participate in the digital transformation of radiography, therefore, were deemed crucial to penetrating this market and complementary to OEMs, PACS integrators, film companies, and direct sales channels. Array and its products contributed to the evolution of these dealers.

"These dealerships today are expert in networking, computer technology, DICOM standards, image quality, and the nuances of telecommunications, which go hand-in-hand with providing PACS solutions," Nardozzi said. "They are skilled in educating consumers who might otherwise be unaware of the technological differences in film scanners, who have loyal customer relationships, and who can respond quickly to consumer needs. They offer a support channel with tremendous roots in the medical imaging community."

Sales of the 2905 have exceeded expectations, as the unit has successfully penetrated the market from university-based medical centers to private practices. But the strategy requires continual vigilance and fine-tuning, according to Nardozzi.

"The company's strategic marketing approach is not set in stone," he said. "It requires constant grooming to flourish in what has become a rapidly changing market." n