Building bridges between technology and marketing

Interview with Professor Uwe Kleinkes, leader of the study program "Technical Management and Marketing" at the Hamm-Lippstadt University

Marketing has become an indispensable tool. Who nowadays wants to establish a product on the market has to recognize and implement the interests and needs of the customer. Prof. Uwe Kleinkes leads the study program "Technical Management and Marketing" at the Hamm-Lippstadt University. Here students learn, among other things, to develop ideas, to communicate them and to convince the customer. At MEDICA they present two marketing concepts and try to make contacts with companies.


Photo: Uwe Kleinkes

Prof. Uwe Kleinkes; © Hochschule Hamm-Lippstadt

Prof. Kleinkes spoke with about the projects of his proteges, successful marketing and motivation.

Mr. Kleinkes, you are at MEDICA with some of your students this year. What do you present there?

Uwe Kleinkes: We have two seminars: First, the in-depth module "Technology Marketing" from the study program Technical Management and Marketing (TMM). Here, students have received to market a micro-pump. We also plan to bring an exhibit - an implant, in which this micro-pump also has a function. But they should deal only with this micro-pump and consider which customer groups are relevant and how they can address them. In our campus marketing lab, we can create digital marketing media. Students consider how they set the scene for such a pump effectively, describe what it can do and what the areas of application are. On the other hand we have the marketing seminar from the master's program "Biomedicine Management and Marketing". Here, the task for the students is to market a walker with heated handles.

We would like to present the study programs at the trade fair and speak to companies who want to do more in the area of marketing. We are looking for cooperation partners from the industry, which have the tasks for students or wish for an accompaniment by a professor. We are concerned in particular with the interfaces between technology and marketing. The students have a special access to technology, are interested in the marketing and bring a whole new perspective with them. In other areas such as engineering and automotive, we've been doing this very successfully and I think the medical area is a very important industry in which we definitely want to be active.
Photo: Components of a micropumpe

Students visualize the model of a micropump; ©Hochschule Hamm-Lippstadt

What is important for successful marketing?

Kleinkes: It helps to understand the technologies. What are the advantages and disadvantages? What are the opportunities and risks? What does the technology do anyway? Developing an idea of how the whole can be conveyed from this and how the customer can be convinced is part of a successful marketing. Often customers are interested solely in the benefit. If you have good methods and ways to get closer to the customer, then certainly there are advantages. We often have either engineers who are technology-oriented and think in terms of problems, or business administrators who know everything there is to know about the marketing, but do not understand the technology-oriented industry. Here we want to build a bridge.

What are the worst mistakes that a company can make in marketing?

Kleinkes: If you do not consistently think from the customer’s perspective. Developing a great thing does not help much if the customer does not see that. Instead, exactly the opposite should happen, and that's a part of our program. As a part of their training the students work in the clinic, do seminars there and get to know doctors. It is very important to understand all customer groups. Then marketing can move significantly more than just to think to put something good on the table.
Photo: Secretary Svenja Schulze talks with students

The Students talk with secretary Svenja Schulze about their projekt; ©Hochschule Hamm-Lippstadt

What is the motivation behind your work?

Kleinkes: I have collected a lot of experience in my career that I would like to pass on. In my previous job, I have been visiting COMPAMED for years and was also active in the marketing of products for the medical industry. Passing on my knowledge is very important for me. I have the opinion that we need to invest more into marketing for technology-driven companies in Germany. Here, smaller companies are just at the beginning. It is important that one is able to build a brand. It is not enough to make a great product. The marketing expertise is becoming increasingly important.

How much time did the students have to completet their tasks?

Kleinkes: We have begun the practice project at the end of September. Students have to deliver results under deadline pressure because they should be shown at the trade fair. That is already a big challenge. Most have never had to deal with something like it. Under my guidance, they have now begun to think, to formulate objectives and to generate digital marketing.
Foto: Studierende bei Vorbereitungen für die MEDICA

Endspurt für den Messeauftritt auf der MEDICA. Die Studierenden klären die letzten organisatorischen Punkte für ihren Messeauftritt; © Hochschule Hamm-Lippstadt

Your task at MEDICA is to help students should the need arise?

Kleinkes: Yes exactly, the students are in the foreground. They should gather experiences and communicate what they can do at the trade fair. If this leads to contacts to industrial companies, with which we perhaps can do something at MEDICA next year, this pleases us additionally. We are a practice-oriented university and there is a wide range of cooperation possibilities with us. With students, but also in research. I myself am researching in the field of marketing, but there are also colleagues who for example work in the field of implants. Of course we also want to show this at our stand on the trade fair.

The interview was conducted by Kilian Spelleken.