Some types of offerings can be especially difficult for life science companies to effectively market. Services, in particular, seem to cause companies problems. Services are intangible. Many services are customized and lack a fixed set of features. Because of this, marketers need to be especially careful or else marketing messages can quickly become uncompelling. While the default differentiators for products are their features, services often cannot be defined in such a way. In the hands of a novice marketer, this often causes the message to devolve into little other than benefit claims. The lack of anything tangible causes many companies to give up message validation almost in its entirety. Messages often revolve around the vague and facile claims of a company being “experienced,” “knowledgeable” or “leading” and its services being “valuable” and “effective,” among other claims which offer no comparative advantage and are largely meaningless to a skeptical audience.
So how does one effectively market a service-based life science business? Like any other offering, it starts with a meaningful differentiation. Since the differentiation won’t lie in anything tangible, we need to look at things such as processes, specialization or people along with more obvious things such as proprietary intellectual property. Attribute analyses can be important in helping to identify positioning opportunities, but there will ultimately be a limited amount of meaningful attributes which the scientist-customers truly care about. The life science marketer must ensure that any value propositions are extensively validated to combat the inherent ambiguity (and therefore increased utility risk) of the intangible service. Every time you make a claim, think about how you could best substantiate that claim, then do it. Standard tools such as case studies and testimonials help as well, but more direct validation techniques should be used when possible and applicable. As always, educational content should be a core component of your marketing. In order to trust you to perform a service for them, the scientist-customer will have to accept that you have the requisite knowledge and experience. Unless your brand is very well known to the customer, you should display your knowledge through educational content.
Service companies often have difficult time differentiating their services and validating their messages, and sub-par demand generation is often a direct result of this. By focusing on differentiators and strong validation of claims to reduce the perceived risk in purchasing the service, life science service companies can greatly improve their rate of lead generation.