Life science marketing is an interesting thing. It is most often supported by a wide breadth of technical information, and scientists often want a lot of information, but at the same time most of the “standard” rules of marketing still apply. This dichotomy is often at odds with itself, and scientific marketers will frequently end up with marketing messages that are unorganized, contain too little information, contain too much information, or fail to effectively lead customers into the sales process. While it is true that this failure is often at least partially due to marketing functions being performed by marketers who do not sufficiently understand scientists or scientists who are not sufficiently well trained in marketing, it can even more frequently be ascribed to another failure. Life science marketers have an inexplicable tendency to present their marketing messages in the way they think it should be provided as opposed to how their customers are likely to want it.
The solution to this problem is to combine the psychology of the target consumer with the limitations of the given marketing medium. Stop asking yourself what information is important for the customer to know – the answer will center around you and your opinions. Instead, ask what the customer will want to know. What fuels their purchasing decisions? What is the first piece of information that they are going to look for? What will the customers view as the most important differentiators or benefits? Once you answer these questions and other, similar questions you will start to have an understanding of what is likely to be important to the customer (of course, to have a complete understanding you will need to perform some marketing research). This is not to say that the customer will never have unknown unknowns, and there may be information that they would view as highly valuable that they are completely unaware of and should still be presented to them, but such information still has to be assessed from the perspective of customer-perceived value. Once we have an understanding of the customers needs and what is important to them, then we can start to construct a well-crafted marketing message.
Consider the medium by which which your marketing message will be communicated. Print, web, video, and other mediums each have different constraints and will may be viewed under different circumstances, and therefore the marketing message for any given medium should not be a carbon copy of another. While they will probably be similar, marketing messages should be tweaked to make optimal use of the specific medium. Will your marketing be presented to life scientists or will they be going to your marketing? How much of your viewers attention will you have? How much content can you fit and what kind of content is appropriate to the medium? The answers to these kind of questions should be used to refine the marketing message for any given medium in order to make it more effective.
Regardless of the medium, don’t forget to include a compelling call to action! When and where to place them is also something that deserves some degree of consideration. Many marketers automatically put the call to action at the end of the marketing message and leave it at that, but is that really the best place? For example, if most of the compelling content is near the beginning of the marketing message and the later content is mostly supporting information, the end may not be the best place for the call to action. Alternatively, perhaps two would be more appropriate.
Optimal presentation of a scientific marketing message is not a simple thing. It is a balancing act between providing sufficient information and being succinct while taking into account the psychology of the customer, the medium, and other factors which we have not yet discussed. Many small companies fall into the trap of “marketing like scientists” and turning marketing messages into information dumps, but doing so will never maximize results. By escaping that thought pattern and thinking critically about key marketing issues as well as scientific issues, only then can the ROI of life science marketing be maximized.