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Yearly Archives: 2013

Small Steps

For better conversion, allow your customers to take smaller stepsIt’s enticing to try to close every prospect at the first opportunity. You can certainly rationalize doing so – you’re just trying to make the most of every opportunity, ASAP. Attempting to do so, however, can drive away your customers by forcing them to choose before they are ready to buy. While this may seem obvious in theory, life science marketers and salespeople routinely attempt to push their customers through their buying journey.

Your scientist-customers are risk-averse. If a customer isn’t sure that your product or service can perform the job they need it to perform, or if they don’t yet see that it is worth the price, they’ll view the purchase as being a high-risk endeavor. Asking a fresh prospect to make a purchase is a very big step for them – it involves a lot of risk since they are not yet certain about the utility and value of your product. The conversion of such a step would be very, very low.

To improve your conversion, you must allow your prospects to take smaller steps. Break up the buying journey into easily digestible chunks. For instance, a prospect whose email address you received from a conference may be sent an series of emails linked to various pieces of content. They may be invited to view a demo video, then subsequently given a demonstration. Perhaps after that there is a free trial, and only then would they be given the “hard sell”. This is merely an illustrative example, but one in which we have broken up one potentially huge step (visiting a booth at a conference → buying a product) into many smaller, less risky steps.

Marketers can also use these small steps in conjunction with marketing automation, CRM and / or analytics software to gain more insights into the customer. These insights may be subsequently fed to sales and / or used to help score the leads to help ensure that sales resources are deployed effectively.

Any buying journey can be broken up into an infinitesimal amount of steps, but we don’t want to make the buying journey too long by breaking it into an extremely large number of tiny steps – or, even worse, to decrease conversion by providing too many opportunities to drop out of the process. Additionally, not every product has the same amount of risk and will require the same amount of steps. Generally speaking, products which are more novel to the customer, products which are complicated, more expensive products, and products which are more central to the scientists’ research will carry more risk and therefore require more steps. So how do we know how many steps we might need? Consider the informational requirements of the average customer when making a purchasing decision and develop a content roadmap. This well help you determine the appropriate content which should be delivered, and the nature of the content should enlighten you as to the form it should take. Always allow the customer a direct path to purchase and contact high-quality leads directly to nudge them into making a decision.

One final note – the “small steps” notion does not apply only to the actual purchase. Asking a fresh prospect to give up a plethora of personal information right away will also lead to a low conversion. Ensure that you don’t place any obstructively large steps in your customer’s way.

"To put our expertise in demand generation to work for your life science company, contact BioBM. When we couple your great products and services with our expertise in demand generation, we’ll achieve great results."

Leads 101: Part 3

Lead Scoring & Lead Nurture in the Life Sciences.This post is the last in a three-part series. For the first post on lead generation, click here. For the second post on responding to leads, click here.

Lead Scoring

In order to help determine the appropriate course of action for any given lead, such as when it is appropriate to have sales actively pursue a lead, it is important to score these leads. Generally, scoring is performed on two separate levels: profile scoring and engagement scoring. Profile scoring involves determining how closely a lead’s attributes (e.g. company, industry, job title, seniority, job function, etc.) match those of an ideal customer profile. Engagement scoring involves determining how much interest a lead has shown based on their previous actions. These could include downloading an article, visiting a website, attending a webinar, visiting a conference booth, filling out a contact form, etc. Note that both profile scoring and engagement scoring involve set but arbitrary values. It is up to you to decide what is most important and how each factor within each score should be weighted, but take care when doing so as studies have shown disconnects between what companies state their primary marketing targets are, how they allocate their resources, and what qualifications they use for lead scoring. If you find that your own scoring isn’t ideal, change it! It was arbitrary in the first place!

Leads are generally considered qualified if they cross a threshold of scoring, at which point they are pushed to sales for active pursuit of an opportunity. Don’t be too strict with your qualification criteria. According to the marketing automation platform Eloqua, less than 50% of companies have a single “perfect” lead which is in the highest scoring bracket on a profile basis and an engagement basis.

Nurturing Leads

For leads which are not yet qualified, they should be nurtured via a “content drip” – a slow, steady exposure to educational and / or persuasive content designed to advance the leads through the buying journey. At most basic, this could be a series of automated emails. Ideally, if resources allow, this content drip should be based on prior behavior. For instance, if a lead is gained through a piece of educational content, then it may be prudent to first send that lead opportunities to download more educational content in support of the first piece of content, then only if they download another would persuasive content be sent.

For actionable, qualified leads it is critical to assess the value of a customer acquisition and from that point determine the appropriate level of resources to commit to each. According to a study from the United States Travel Association, face-to-face sales close 40% of prospects while inside sales close just 16%, making outside sales 2.5x more effective. However, the costs are widely different. Each contact by an outside sales rep costs about $300 – $500 whereas the average contact from an inside sales rep costs only $25 or $30, according to Mike Moorman of ZS Associates. In some cases, the nature of the product may dictate whether an outside or inside response is most appropriate, and the structure of your sales force can cause the costs of outside sales to vary widely, but don’t simply default to an inside approach because you can. You might be able to sell that $100,000 enterprise software license or that $200,000 research contract over the phone, but it may very well be worthwhile to send someone to the client site to increase the likelihood of closing the deal.

Closing Statements

While there are certainly a number of best practices that all life science marketers should follow, there is no “one-size-fits-all” method to generating and handling leads. In determining the best strategies and tactics, an understanding of your target market and your own situation is of first and foremost importance. It is when this understanding merges with best practices that marketers can achieve truly great results in generating demand for their life science companies.

"BioBM Consulting has been instrumental in growing demand for dozens of companies across the life science tools and services sector. If you have any questions pertaining to demand generation in the life sciences, we welcome you to contact us."

Leads 101: Part 2

Responding to Leads to Maximize Conversion.This post is the second in a three-part series. Last week we discussed lead generation, and you can find that post here: http://biobm.com/2013/11/leads-101-part-1.

Responding to Inquiries

Unless you’re marketing and selling very high-value products to a relatively small audience, be it a niche market or a narrowly defined role, you’re probably relying fairly heavily on inbound marketing to drive lead generation. (If you’re not, you’re probably doing something wrong, such as relying too heavily on distributors to do your marketing for you.) Inbound leads go cold extraordinarily quickly, so it is critical to respond as soon as possible. A study published in Harvard Business Review study found that contacting potential customers within an hour of receiving a inquiry leads to a seven times higher qualification rate than contacting the an hour later and a 60 times higher qualification rate than waiting 24 hours or longer. To state this another way, waiting a day to get around to your inquiries could cost you over 98% of your leads.

So how can we reduce response time and thereby maximize conversion? A Velocify study asked just that question, and the answer was quite clear. 1) Automate your lead distribution to your sales force, 2) “push” your leads to your sales force rather than having them “pull” leads, and 3) send leads out in a “shotgun” fashion – send each lead out to multiple reps and allow the fastest to respond. Companies that did these three things were shown to have a downstream conversion rate 107% higher than those companies that handled their leads manually.

I didn’t imagine I would need to say this until I read about a study on the matter, but don’t forget to contact the people that place inquiries. You might imagine this should be obvious, yet a study of lead response behavior conducted by InsideSales.com which included data from 696 companies showed that 36% of inquiries placed through an online form were not responded to within two weeks! There’s simply no excuse for letter your leads slip through the cracks.

Remember that not every lead requires a response, however. For example, if a prospect is requesting a piece of content then depending on the nature of that content and the prospect’s past behavior it may not be helpful to contact the prospect personally, at least not if you’re delivering the content automatically. Likewise, if a lead is disqualified due to being well outside your target market, then courtesy aside, there is little value in a response. This brings us to our next topic of lead scoring, which we’ll discuss next week.

"The third and final part of this Leads 101 series will be on lead scoring and lead nurture and will be posted next week here: http://biobm.com/2013/12/leads-101-part-3. If you have any questions pertaining to demand generation in the life sciences, feel free to contact us."

LifeSciPR Relaunched

Association of Commercial Professionals – Life Sciences and BioBM Consulting Announce LifeSciPR, A Press Release Service Specifically for Life Science Tools and Contract Research Organizations.

New Press Release Service will Provide Improved and Lower Cost Distribution to Relevant Channels and is Free During the Beta Release.

Boston, Massachusetts, USA, November 25, 2013 – The Association of Commercial Professionals – Life Sciences and BioBM Consulting have jointly announced the launch of LifeSciPR, a press release distribution service specifically for contract research organizations and suppliers of life science tools. This new press release service will provide greatly improved targeting for those companies who wish to target life scientists in academia, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and related industries, while at the same time providing superior value.

Statement from BioBM Consulting Principal Consultant Carlton Hoyt

Prior to LifeSciPR, life science tools and services companies had to either use untargeted press release distribution channels or piggyback on channels meant for the pharmaceutical or biotech industry. These channels are insufficient at reaching the media channels and audiences that our sector wants to reach. As an agency committed to helping life science tools and services sector better reach their desired audiences, it is a pleasure to collaborate with the ACP-LS to provide a press release distribution solution which addresses the specific needs of companies in our sector.



Statement from ACP-LS President Chuck Drucker

The ACP-LS is committed to providing opportunities to assist commercial professionals in the life sciences, and LifeSciPR is a clear extension and manifestation of that goal. We are enthused that we can offer this resource to the life science community such that they can utilize a press release service designed for them instead of one designed for the companies they sell to.



LifeSciPR is currently in open beta release, during which LifeSciPR will be free to all users within the life science tools and services sector. All interested parties are encouraged to sign up at www.LifeSciPR.com.

About the Association of Commercial Professionals – Life Sciences:
ACP-LS is the premier organization of all life science commercial professionals (sales, marketing, business development, client services, commercial operations, technical support, etc.) dedicated to selling and marketing to organizations that discover, develop, and manufacture pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic products and therapies.

About BioBM Consulting:
BioBM Consulting is a highly specialized marketing, distribution, and communications agency serving small and mid-sized life science tools and services companies. BioBM excels at maximizing ROI by combining deep industry knowledge with a broad skill set and keen understanding of the needs of smaller companies, enabling us to provide solutions of unmatched value for our clients.

Leads 101: Part 1

Lead Generation in the Life Sciences.Everyone wants more sales. Everyone wants more demand. Sales can’t come from nowhere and demand has to be realized somehow, and the way we marketers help generate sales and realize demand is, largely, through generating leads. According to a recent Webmarketing123 study, the top objective and the top challenge for B2B marketers (or at least digital B2B marketers) is generating leads. Lead generation has even become more of a focus in content marketing – something which has traditionally been more of a branding activity than a demand generation activity. With how central leads are to most marketers’ missions, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on leads in the life sciences as well as go over some of the myriad information out there and what it means for our industry – for marketers of life science tools and services.

Lead Generation

Let’s start at the top! Lead generation first requires an understanding of how much a lead is worth. Unless you can estimate the value of a standard lead, you won’t be able to determine what is an appropriate amount to spend on generating each lead. Assuming that all leads are created equal (they’re not, but we’ll say so for sake of simplicity) you can approximate the value of a lead by calculating the net present value of your average customer and multiplying by your conversion rate. If this number is very small, you’ll likely want to minimize the cost of lead acquisition. On the other hand if this number is extremely large, it will likely be worth spending more per lead to generate more leads – at least to a point.

Regardless of the value of the customer, the buying journey will be the critical factor in determining how to generate leads for your product or service. Based on the informational needs of the customer during this journey, which can be gathered through market research and validated through testing and analytics, you should be able to create a content roadmap which informs the campaign architecture and directs content creation efforts in support of lead generation.

In most circumstances, lead generation in the life sciences should be supported heavily by scientific content with a low barrier; for example, a white paper that requires only an email address to download. This is especially true if you have any kind of marketing automation in place, since the cost of a nurture campaign for low-quality leads can be incredibly small. The reason content is so important is to establish trust and, thereby, reduce perceived risk. Scientists are trained to be skeptical and will not readily accept the claims in your marketing as fact. Content helps overcome this through educating the audience on your technology, demonstrating your expertise, etc. This provides more confidence that your products / services will fulfill their need, thereby reducing perceived risk and increasing perceived value (a less risky purchase is a more valuable one), making it more likely that a scientist will buy. Additionally, downloading a piece of content in exchange for a small amount of personal information is a far lower barrier than placing an inquiry about a product and thereby requesting a sales call. For all but low-value products, these baby steps towards purchase are often necessary.

Keep in mind that contact forms greatly effect lead generation as well. Each additional field in a contact form leads to approximately a 12.5% decrease in form submissions. Keep forms as short as possible and also make sure they’re accessible without being in the way. You want prospects to be able to contact you easily at any time without feeling that you’re trying to push them into contacting you.

Of course, content and contact forms are all components of inbound lead generation. Inbound methods are great if scientists are looking for what you are selling. If not, you probably need to get your hands dirty and go and create your own leads. This can be done at conferences, via cold calling / cold emailing, or with good old-fashioned advertising. If you’ll be trying to generate leads at conferences, or even just fill up your database with prospect for downstream marketing, remember that conferences are a numbers game and talk to as many people as you can. If you decide to cold call or cold email, remember to be forthright and to the point. If you’ll be advertising to pull in your audience, consider using a content hook rather than a hard call to action about a product to play to scientists’ curiosity.

Next week we’ll be discussing responding to leads, including some best practices which can can lead to massive increases in conversion.

"This post is the first in a three-part series. Next week we will discuss responding to leads. You’ll be able to find that post here: http://biobm.com/2013/11/leads-101-part-2. The third and final part of this Leads 101 series will be on lead scoring and lead nurture and will be posted in approximately two weeks here: http://biobm.com/2013/12/leads-101-part-3. If you have any questions about anything related to demand generation in the life sciences, we welcome you to contact us."

Validate Your Messages!

Life science marketers need to validate the claims in their marketing messages.I think that this point is obvious to the vast majority of life science marketers who may read this – and you should certainly be well aware if you’ve been following this blog or the Marketing of Life Science Tools & Services Group on LinkedIn – but I’ve seen this problem a few times in the past week so I think it’s worth bringing up: When you make a claim, be sure you validate that claim.

Let’s drill down to the core of this discussion and build from there. What is a claim? According to Merriam-Webster, a claim is “a statement saying that something happened a certain way or will happen a certain way : a statement saying that something is true when some people may say it is not true.” For our purposes, we can view a claim to be any statement that may reasonably be disputed.

Of course, the reason that you are making claims is to convey a viewpoint to another person. The whole purpose of marketing communications is to get an audience to adopt a particular point of view; if they can reasonably dispute that point of view and you do not attempt to preemptively address potential points of dispute, then your marketing communications will be ineffective. The nature of these disputes are myriad; they could be anything from simply questioning a factual point or rejecting an opinion to questioning the neutrality of the source or the basis for the claim itself. Resolving these disputes is where validation comes in.

Funny side note, going back to Merriam-Websters, their example usage of the word validation is: “I’m afraid we cannot act on your claim without validation.”

Validation is where you resolve the disputes that the audience may have with regards to your claims. This can involve provision of additional factual information or data, third party opinions, etc. How we do so is not important here; once you identify how your claims are likely to be disputed then the method of solving those disputes is often obvious. What is important is the recognition that what you are communicating is, in fact, a claim (and therefore may be disputed) and, subsequently, how that claim is likely to be disputed. Once those things are identified, you’re well on your way to improving your marketing messages.

Also, when validating your marketing messages, don’t forget that it’s always better to show than to tell.

"Are your marketing communications getting results for your company? Improving your messages and your message validation can do wonders for conversion. Let BioBM show you just how much better your communications can be. Call us and let’s talk."

Easily Improving Retention

Email is the easiest way to improve customer retention - if you do it correctly.Nothing is better for customer retention than great products. As marketers, however, the quality of the product is at least somewhat out of our control. The easiest tactic that the marketer has to improve retention is, ironically, one of the ones that can most easily turn customers off: email.

The occasional newsletter or promotional email will help so long as you don’t overuse it. Simply reminding customers of your brand will have a positive effect. Sending emails with great content will help even more, and is something that provides more value to customers and which fewer life science companies do. However, there is one thing that few companies do and large companies are often particularly bad at…

The surprise personal email. The surprise personal email should be from a person and be highly personalized. (Note that this does not mean it cannot be automated; using email automation for this is fine.) The more information you use about the customer the better; referencing their application is great, but at minimum you should refer to them by name and reference the product which they purchased. This email could be sent soon after a purchase where personal contact would not necessarily be expected (a low-cost consumable, for instance) or months after the purchase of something where follow-up would be expected. Generally, the surprise personal email should inquire about the customer and offer support. You want to show that you care and you’re accessible. Response rates will vary based on the nature of the product and the timing, but response rates as high as 20% are not uncommon so be sure you can take the time to tend to the responses which you may receive. It will be worthwhile; not only will you be helping your customer retention but you’ll also get a lot of useful feedback about your product or service.

Email is often overused in ways that underperform for the life science companies that leverage it. At the same time, it is the easiest way to improve customer retention. By seeking to provide value to the customer, email will better serve that purpose. Ensure that your emails provide value to the customers and demonstrate commitment to them and your scientist-customers will reward you for it.

"As email marketing is becoming less and less effective, it’s important that life science companies update their approach to email marketing in order to realize the greatest returns. Unfortunately, most companies have a difficult time breaking out of their traditional paradigms of email marketing. That’s where BioBM comes in. We can help you meld best practice tactics with world class content strategies to take email from a slowly failing relic to a powerful and effective cornerstone of your marketing. Contact us to learn more."

Customer-Centric Content

Content marketing must be undertaken from a customer-centric viewpointContent marketing is no longer a novel tactic among life science tools and services companies. Truly effective content strategies, however, are still rare. Many life science marketers approach content marketing too superficially, with an “if I write it, they will come” mentality. There are two common problems in most content marketing campaigns that are epidemic to the life science tools industry, although both are usually rooted in lack of a meaningful content strategy.

The most common problem is publishing content that you want the viewers to see rather than content that they would be interested in. This problem most frequently manifests as an excessive amount of company-centric and / or product-centric content. This content is often overtly promotional and may consist largely of new product announcements, sales and other deals, highlights of publications using the company’s products / technologies, company news, events the company will be exhibiting at, and similar content. This content marketing tactic is lazy and self-serving, but most often fails to accomplish the desired effect of increasing demand for its products. Being overtly promotional, the content is not readily trusted and may actually create skepticism among the audience, causing them to disengage from the company’s content and potentially limit the effectiveness of the company’s other marketing efforts.

The other common problem is publishing content that you believe the viewers want to see but which is content that they do not want to get from you. This content is often generic and could be readily obtained elsewhere. It may be easy to take the most interesting and relevant content from Nature News, your favorite scientific journals, and other sources, but the content generally becomes diluted in rewriting / reposting and chances are the scientists already have better sources for such information. You’re probably not going to become the Nature News of your field – at least not without a herculean effort or unless your field is extremely niche.

This begs the question: what kind of content should be published? The content must be customer-centric. It must be content that holds unique value for the audience while adding value to your brand and / or products. To get yourself started in creating a content strategy that meets these criteria, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What content can we create that our audience cannot get elsewhere or could only get from a very limited number of sources?
  • What kind of content would the audience like to see specifically from us?
  • How can we use content to enhance the value of our products / services in a way that is educational and will be appreciated by the audience rather than fueling skepticism?
  • What knowledge do we have that is of value to the audience and can be used to demonstrate leadership in our field?


Remember that scientists are customers of your content – they are “paying” for your content “product” with their time and attention. Your content needs to be sufficiently engaging to be worth their attention, but it also needs to be relevant and valuable enough to reflect positively on your brand.

It’s also worth noting that many companies get into the habit of thinking: we need to make X number of posts per [unit time]. While these time-constrained content goals are good to have, they should serve as guidelines rather than rules. Having something valuable to say is more important than saying something according to a set minimum schedule. If you don’t have something valuable to share, don’t share anything at all. It’s better to consistently have high-value content which is published on an inconsistent basis than to have content of inconsistent value published consistently.

Content marketing is not something to take lightly. If you lack strategy or execution content marketing can be an easy way to waste a whole lot of time and effort. The rush for many life science companies to “start doing content marketing” should be tempered by the need for a coherent strategy in order to create the desired outcomes. Done correctly, content marketing can take your brand and position it as a leader in your field.

"Is your company consistently publishing high-value content? Is your content sufficiently customer-centric? If the answer to either of these questions is no, it’s time to call BioBM. Our life science content marketing experts will help you formulate a content strategy which will build significant value for your brand among your target audience. Contact us to get started."

Marketing Channels

To ensure that your campaigns have reach, focus on the many different channels which scientists may prefer.Many small life science companies have their preferred advertising / marketing channels. This approach, limited and highly focused, works well for demand generation campaigns (and, to a lesser extent, branding initiatives) in which reaching a large proportion of the target market is not necessary; when reaching just a subset of the target market is acceptable. However, when companies want to reach an entire market, it is critical that a wide variety of marketing channels are considered. The concept also applies to dissemination of content – a large amount of content channels need to be targeted if a large amount of the target market is to be reached. This is because people have preferred channels for finding information and consuming content.

As a data-supported example, take consumer behavior for consumption of digital media. As the Harvard Business Review discussed in its October 2012 article “Why Digital Media Require a Strategic Rethink“:

[pullquote_left]Most customers choose their channel before choosing a product, and they’re unlikely to jump channels. […] For example, in December 2007 NBC removed its content from the iTunes Store, causing an 11% increase in piracy the following month—and no increase in DVD sales. Conversely, after ABC added its content to Hulu, in 2009, piracy of its shows dropped by more than 20%, while TV viewership remained essentially unchanged. And in 2010, when a major U.S. publisher stopped providing Kindle editions, it saw no increase in hardcover sales.
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This translates into ways in which people look for information and products as well. For instance, some scientists may use BioCompare almost all the time when looking for a product. Others may not use BioCompare at all. Others may use it only when they are having difficulty finding a product or making a decision. However, very few are likely to migrate between those groups at will. Another example: many scientists do a Google search first when looking for a chemical or reagent, but many others go straight to Sigma and search their site. There are probably very few who randomly do both. When looking for scientific news, some scientists may gravitate to Nature News. Others may go to their favorite journals (either print or digital – but unlikely both).

For those of us that don’t have scientific backgrounds, think about your own searches for information different types of products. You probably have a preferred method and channel(s) to look for various types of products. When you want to read the news, you likely have one or a few preferred websites, newspapers, or periodicals. The way in which scientists look for information or products is not very different.

Because scientists have preferred sources and channels, advertising or publishing content across a single channel or a small number of channels is often an ineffective way of reaching a large proportion of any particular target market. To ensure that your campaigns have reach, focus on the many different channels which scientists may prefer.

"Are you looking to increase your company’s reach? Want to develop promotional strategies to help drive inbound lead generation or improve your company’s brand strength? Contact BioBM. Our team of life science marketing experts will help your company reach more scientists, reel them in, and convert them into profitable sales which drive your company’s growth. For more information, call us at +1 313-312-4626."

List of Lab Manager Surveys

Lab Manager Magazine routinely publishes surveys, often multiple per month, which briefly assess scientists’ utilization and preferences with regards to a particular laboratory technology. These surveys basically amount to free market research. They don’t go terribly in-depth, but if you’re looking for some basic information (such as feature preferences) about a particular type of instrument, they are a wonderful resource. Here at BioBM we archive them for in-house use and have a bookshelf lined with the physical magazines, but we thought this would be a good resource to share with everyone. Since Lab Manager doesn’t have an easily sortable list, we created one for you here. Every Lab Manager product survey from January 2011 to today is included, and we’ll be coming back periodically to update the table.

This resource has moved. You can find it here: http://biobm.com/resources/list-of-lab-manager-surveys/