Echocardiography.org is a multimedia publishing company which was founded in 1998 to meet a consumer demand for education in the field of transesophageal echocardiography. Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is an ultrasound diagnostic technique for obtaining real-time images of the heart and great vessels from a transducer positioned within the esophagus. This technique receives widespread application in the perioperative care of critically ill patients. The company has two divisions, namely, a research unit based in New Haven, Connecticut, and a production and distribution unit based in Silver Spring, Maryland. The company product consists of 6 hours of videotape and a book which describe TEE techniques. The target market consists of physicians who wish to develop or maintain expertise in TEE. Initial company efforts have focused on developing a product, and determining the logistics of test marketing and distributing the product to a market niche of cardiac anesthesiologists, a subset of consumers who would be expected to be particularly receptive to the product. Promotional methods included selective mass mailings, lecture promotion, and Internet marketing. Test marketing of the product resulted in 99 sales of complete videotape sets in 6 months of operations. Most purchases were made by groups of physicians, rather than by individual physicians, a factor which necessitated downward revision of the size of the residual market. This suggested that efforts be made to expand the size of the potential market by also targeting both non-cardiac anesthesiologists and physicians from subspecialties other than anesthesiology. A second focus of test marketing had been to determine an optimal price for the videotapes. Results suggested that price was not a major purchasing variable, and that it would be reasonable to set the price for subsequent marketing at, or above, the price previously demanded. Finally, despite the small number of sales involved, the distribution channel for the videotapes did not function seamlessly, and requires further attention. Projected plans for the future include placing a major emphasis on Internet marketing from established e-commerce sites, both in the US and overseas, and annual release of product upgrades to reflect consumer needs, as determined by feedback from a database of existing consumers, and further development of an existing public service Internet web site, also termed Echocardiography.org.
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