Marketing in the Life Sciences World

Just as marketing is unique to the previous markets/industries we talked about, it is also unique when it comes to the life sciences or scientific arena.  I would bet you, that more companies than not don’t hit that home run when it comes to telling their overall story in this market.  There are those few that do, but for the most part, if you are not intimately involved in the market, you’re likely to get very overwhelmed by the jargon and the wealth of information.  So I decided to search and learn about the best marketing methods, and mistakes, when it comes to marketing to the life sciences market.

What I quickly learned, and agree with, is that often times, a company gets pigeon holed into only being known for its product(s) and not its overall solutions.  That’s all I’ll say about that but I do want to point you in the direction of a fascinating article that has me jotting down notes and wondering if I should rethink the way I’ve been thinking.

The Brand vs. Product Marketing Paradox in the Life Sciences article goes through some of the pitfalls of ineffective marketing:

1. “Truth is, the majority of the marketing resources that scientific companies expend are for product promotions. Very little attention is paid to brand building.

2. Product-marketing leads to company becoming synonymous with a technology, limiting its actual potential.

3. Product-based messages raise the baseline noise.

4. Market forces define the company’s brand.

5. A study published in Harvard Business Review[2] has profound implications about the power of brands to motivate people towards action, and the adverse effects that promotional headlines have on customer behavior. In short, it is actually possible that brands can generate demand with far more efficiency than product marketing activities.

6. Companies don’t actually have to choose between brand-vs-product marketing. They can do both. But it takes more than marcom-level template-enforcing. It takes action.

Companies can build their brands through product marketing, by focusing on the content of their programs and encouraging an experience for their customers, instead of just saying their value proposition.

The first step is to develop a content model and a campaign architecture that engages with scientists and encourages them to experience the value proposition. The Content-Centric Marketing for Science is one such framework.”

Is your mind blown a bit?  Will you rethink your marketing strategy even if you’re not in the life sciences field?

Here is one more nugget from the Content Centric Marketing article:

“Most marketing messages for scientific products and services provide only logical feature/benefit statements, failing to engage the scientist’s emotion or ego. The key is to know when and how to engage either a scientist’s emotion, or his/her logic or ego during the buying journey. This can be approached by mapping how the archetypal scientist consumes information.”
figure6 (1)The goal of marketers should be to develop information that removes any impediments for scientists to move swiftly from stage to stage in their own buying journeys, all the while becoming predisposed to the company’s way of thinking. It is important to remember that scientists need to make their own conclusions at each stage, rather than being told what to think and how to act.”

 

Marketing Thoughts

Today is a big day for me, hence why I’m excited enough to post an extra blog for the week.  I get a bunch of proposals back from various PR and web vendors and get to make the big choice of who fits us best and who gets our vision and won’t be afraid to push us out of our box.

What I’ve said to everyone so far is that we *need* someone to be that voice that tells us what we should be doing, as I won’t pretend to be an expert in the things that I don’t directly work on day to day.  I try to be expert enough that I can have a conversation about all things marketing but you can’t be all things to all people no matter how hard you try.

However, some of the best meetings for me have been when I’ve walked away energized about the prospect of something new and when I feel like I’ve learned something new.  Case in point, yesterday I learned that I’ve been living under a rock and in the meantime there have been some amazing B2B meetings going on and some amazing people have shared very interesting insights into the marketing world.  For example, here are the names and books I urge you to look up as well.  I’ll leave it at that:

* Gary Vaynerchuk, a TED speaker

* Simon Sinek, another TED speaker talks about asking “WHY?” instead of  “WHAT?” when it comes to product

* Jim Stengel has written a book titled GROW. “Grow presents an actionable framework for developing the roots that are necessary to thrive in the new business climate.”

I hope these links have inspired you to get out from under the rock and look around at what has changed in marketing.

What new news can you share with me?

Industrial Marketing

Last week I addressed the various CPG marketing areas but today I wanted to talk about a little known area of B2B marketing that pertains to the industrial & manufacturing market.  The above graph depicts the marketing goals that fall in to this kind of marketing which differ from traditional marketing that is talked about in schools. Typically, you’re talking more about brand awareness and sales and quick buying cycles.  However, although sales is very important, lead generation is right up there on the totem pole.

Why school?  Well, I was looking in to new ways of setting up our marketing strategy, which I hope to share with you, for next year and decided to see what others in the industry are doing.  For the past year I’ve been focusing first and foremost on the various markets we sell in to, and secondly the buying times of those markets.  Based on those two things, we decide what kind of outreach we should focus on when and what topics should be talked about.  In my research, I came across a really great article from mbtmag.com, or Manufacturing Business Technology.  In this article, Industrial Marketing Is Not Consumer Marketing, the author talks about the fact that B2B industrial marketing tactics are not taught in schools and universities.  What are taught, are the glorified B2C scenarios of the infamous Nova case study or most recently the Domino’s reinvention of their pizzas.  I haven’t read the last one, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere, along with these few as well.

The point is, professors in a lot of cases are professors.  What I found in my own studies is that these folks are educators first, or last.  What I mean by that is they perhaps did work in the respective areas of a business that they are teaching, but at this stage in their lives, they are teachers and have been removed from the day to day world.  Or, they have read enough books to put us all to shame about various marketing practices, but haven’t actually put them to the test.

However, the main point that the article I came across talks about is that it’s difficult, and often boring, to teach industrial marketing because you’re talking about manufacturing and buying cycles, and sales people, and budgeting and things that college students don’t comprehend because they haven’t been there yet and haven’t done it.  Hence, a lot of marketers are unprepared for working in this kind of environment.

My suggestion?  Co-op!  It makes a world of difference!  Or field trips to manufacturing companies in the surrounding areas.  Field trips to any company in the surrounding area would help the students see what it is they would actually, potentially, be doing and how different it is from place to place.

Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to be a teacher or professor and I hope to whatever power is out there that I keep the students on the edge of their seats even during the boring lectures.

Not B2B, not B2C, but A/E/C Marketing

What in the *world* is A/E/C marketing?  Well, it has to do with architecture, engineering and contract based firms.  Having worked in a couple engineering firms during my Northeastern Co-op days, most marketing related activities revolved around proposal writing and proofing.  It seems however that some A/E/C companies are beginning to look into bridging the gap between marketing strategy and proposals.

But how does one “market” when it comes to long lead projects?  Do you make sure your business has invested in programs such as REED Construction or other platforms/data bases that allow you to know in advance about projects that will be taking place?  Do you send snail mail flyers to the architects involved in the projects to get your services and products in front of them & keep you top of mind?  The answers could be endless, but the main point is, the proposal writing, submitting, and bidding (and hopefully winning) process should fit somewhere in to the overall marketing mix and vice versa…at least in my mind.

After all, no matter what your product or service, and no matter who your audience, you can’t just go with the mind set of “build it and they will come.”

Here are some helpful articles for those entering this new arena:

6 Ways to Revitalize Your A/E/C Marketing Program
Social Media for A/E/C Marketing –> A quick slide share presentation
3 Common A/E/C Marketing Roadblocks and How to Avoid Them
HelpEverybodyEveryday.com –> A/E/C Marketing Advice, Training and Support Group

Public Relations – What to Expect

I try to be knowledgeable enough in all marketing aspects so I that I can at least speak knowledgeably about the things I’m managing, but also so I can’t be bamboozled.  I’ve recently taken up looking into what kinds of expectations should be set when it comes to, among other things, PR.  I know the basics, or at least what I’ve been exposed to.  I also know that there is a lot more that can be done, if money is no object.

But I did come across a very interesting read that I want to share with all of you, if you’re interested, that goes over some of the basics of a good PR program and should allow you to either be impressed with what you’re current agency might be doing for you, or force you to ask some uncomfortable questions.

In either scenario, someone should always be wondering “what else can be done?” or “what can we do better?”  As to who should be asking those questions, you or the PR agency…I’ll let you decide.

Without further ado: here are the Straight Facts about Public Relations Fees, Service.

“We recommend and use what we call an intermedia mix because regardless of whether you’re using advertising, public relations or marketing/sales support, you’re communicating. And all of your communication has one ultimate objective…to sell something (the company, a product or service) to someone…

Too often public relations activities are thought of in terms of news releases and product announcements. Both of these activities are important to the company’s programs but are relatively minor in terms of the overall efforts and plans.

Public relations and publicity go far beyond the simple news release. If public relations activities are carried out efficiently and effectively for the company there can be some dramatic results.”

So there you have it.  But, don’t just rely on one source for your information.  Here are a couple others:

How Much Does Public Relations Cost? – by Axia Public Relations

What does a Public Relations Agency Do? – by Forbes

Lastly, an article about PR measurement:

Does PR Work? 7 Ways to Measure Its Impact

Setting a Marketing Strategy

Step 1: Visualize where you want to be, and what you want to achieve – more leads, more web traffic, more eyes on the brand

Step 2: Identify the steps you need to take to get there – SEO, PPC, PR, advertising, new collateral, tradeshows

It’s really that simple.  But if it was that simple, marketing professionals wouldn’t constantly be desperately trying to explain why marketing is worth it and why more can’t always be done with less.

 

Back in 2013 Greg Satell wrote an online article for Forbes that talked about the 4 key principles of marketing strategy.  He noted that marketers  are constantly trying to pull customers in.  It’s no longer a features & benefits story line, and who ever has the best features wins.  These days, with all of the information at everyone’s finger tips, it’s about who has the most bang to pull in the customer and make them believe that YOUR brand is the one that will fill their void.  But you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is point number 1 below…

Here are Greg’s tips:
1. Clarify Business Objectives – the mark of a good marketing strategy is not how many gadgets and neologisms are crammed into it, but how effectively it achieves worthy goals. Therefore, how you define your intent will have a profound impact on whether you succeed or fail.

2. Use Innovation Teams to Identify, Evaluate and Activate Emerging Opportunities – it is essential to have a team dedicated to identifying emerging opportunities, meeting with start-ups and running test-and-learn programs to evaluate their true potential. That would certainly be a nice to have…

3. Decouple Strategy and Innovation –  Strategy is fundamentally different from innovation.  As noted above, a good strategy is one that achieves specific objectives.  Innovation, however, focuses on creating something completely new and new things, unfortunately, tend to not work as well as standard solutions (at least at first).

4. Build Open Assets in the Market Place – Successful brands are becoming platforms and need to do more than just drive consumers to a purchase, they have to inspire them to participate.  That means marketers have to think less in terms of USP’s, and GRP’s and more in terms of API’s and SDK’s.

So what do you think?  Is this do-able?  Of course it always comes down to bandwidth and the general situation within your marketing department and the tasks at hand.

My personal hope for 2015 is to have fewer large projects and tasks and make sure to hit the 5-10 heavy hitters for the entire year.  That…and partnering with strategic and forward thinking partners.

P.S. For some more recent news – read about how United’s new safety video is helping turn a page in airline marketing strategy.

B2B vs. B2C, is there really a “versus?”

I currently work in a B2B industrial environment which is a tough market to market for.  Granted, our products sell in to more than just the industrial manufacturing space which does allow for a bit more flair when it comes to some of our outreach.  The tough part has always been to break through the B2B mold & make people realize that at the end of the day, a building does not buy products, actual people buy products.

When I was managing all of our social media platforms, it was very hard to not get down on myself that we didn’t have a whole heck of a lot of interaction from our fans.  It did occur to me that although Facebook & Twitter were good brand building machines, where we needed to be was LinkedIn.  With the help of our PR agency, we created three separate LinkedIn groups that allowed our top thought leaders to talk about their knowledge on various markets.  They were talking to people…not buildings.

This thought that B2B is just a disguised B2C “person” was further confirmed when I read an article in AdAge magazine that talked about the fact that the lines have become so blurred that even the biggest B2C advertising magazine thought it worth while to buy up the biggest B2B magazine.

“The move reflects the growing overlap between b-to-b and consumer strategies as both grow more focused on targeting and engaging specific customer groups…While exceptions abound, the stereotype was always that b-to-b marketing was boring. B-to-b companies did little TV advertising and spent most of their media dollars on trade publications. You had industrial companies selling boring products to other boring companies. All that anyone cared about was price and product features.

Times change. The b-to-b sector accounts for over 50% of the U.S. gross domestic product. As a category, b-to-b makes a huge contribution to the economy, job creation and innovation. Now marketers are just as likely to engage with business customers on personal channels like Facebook and blogs as we are to engage with them in trade publications.”

Here is one more article about bringing B2B marketers in to the social media world. “It would be easy for smaller to midsize B2B companies to ignore the success of the GEs and IBMs, since the pockets are deeper. But the fundamentals are the same — and the new channels to communicate are far more cost-effective today than ever before. To those B2B marketers who say social media isn’t relevant to them, how do you explain the thousands of “likes” for IBM’s Smarter Planet? It’s a matter of incorporating a variety of media into a marketing mix, understanding that people who buy toothpaste also buy industrial engines or technology solutions.”

What do you think? Is B2B merely a front to hide behind?  I’d like to take a deep sleep, pretend like there are no rules, and start fresh with a new mentality of P&S2P, products & services to people, or business to consumer.

Brand Refresh & Guidelines

I just wanted to share some quick things to keep in mind when you are planning a brand refresh/update.

Start with a Brand Analysis/Evaluation to understand where your brand stands in the eyes of your customers & distributors.  From there, you can go in to the Brand Refresh.  There are many things to keep in mind as your go through this whole process, such as:

  • Specific markets you sell in to
  • Different kinds of customers and their buying persona’s
  • Buying times and how long the buying process takes
  • What your product says about your brand!

Let’s dive in…here are some of the things you want to consider covering with your new brand guidelines.

Brand Evolution

  • Defining who we are
  • How we differentiate our brand(s)
  • Brand consistency in messages and graphics
  • Developing brand character with a clear voice

Brand Elements

  • Logos
  • Logo Placement & Positioning
  • Brand Colors
  • Correct & incorrect logo usage
  • Taglines
  • Correct & incorrect usage of imagery to depict products & solutions

Business Communication

  • Letterhead
  • Business Cards
  • Envelopes
  • Email Signatures
  • PowerPoint Presentations

Design Applications

  • Brochures & Catalogs
  • Flyers & Sales Sheets

Product Communication

  • Text Standards
  • Capitalization/Numbers/Bullets/Hyphens/Measurements/Abbreviations/Symbols/Captions/Descriptions

Visual Design Guidelines

  • Industrial Design Attributes
  • Product Badges
  • Color Specification

Future Brand Updates

  • Tradeshow Applications
  • Shirt Applications

Here are some samples of how some familiar brand logos have changed through the years.

 

Oh, and happy birthday to me :)

 

 

Managing a Marketing Budget

I always found it difficult to answer the question of, “are we on budget?”  The reason was, I really wasn’t sure what the budget was or how far below or above it we were.  When I was given the opportunity to become a manager I wanted to change that, as I felt like I couldn’t be the only one that felt like I couldn’t really manage my work without fully understanding the implications of it on the overall marketing budget.

So, I took the numbers, and broke them in to the categories of the types of tasks and initiatives we needed to complete during the year and posted the Excel spreadsheet to our internal portal.  I’ve asked those that are responsible for certain portions of the budget to update it regularly, i.e. on a monthly basis so we are always on top of our budgetary numbers and I can easily look in one place and tell my manager what can be cut, moved around and accomplished within the constraints of our budget.

This has allowed my direct report to feel like she really owns her portion of the marketing pie.

What are you doing to manage you marketing budget and make it easier to keep up to date?