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Case: Content at a Small CRO

Content is an important sales support tool.It feels like every week I see or learn something that reinforces just how valuable content is to life science companies. For instance, I was recently discussing some sales dilemmas with the founder of a young, small CRO. Let’s call him Greg. Greg’s CRO performs a well-differentiated and valuable research service. However, Greg was lamenting about the “commoditization” of contract research – how his firm can’t seem to compete on quality and all anyone cares about is price.

Knowing what his CRO does, I was a bit disturbed by this. There are such things as commodities, sure, but the whole reason commodities become commoditized is because there is no difference in quality. Even coal fetches different prices based on, among other things, how clean it burns. If someone can mine better coal and get a better price for it, surely his CRO should be able to get a better price for their superior service. … I dug deeper.

Greg used a current problem he was having to illustrate his larger problem. He had drafted a proposal for his contact at a pharma company. That person reviewed his proposal, along with a number of others, then handed it to his boss to make a decision. According to Greg, the boss would then just choose one of the cheap ones.

Now there are times when budgets are tight and price is simply the most important factor, but this was a recurring problem. So what was really the big problem?

Greg’s CRO is young and small. He has built a rapport with his contact. He has not, however, built a rapport with the decision maker, which he does not have access to. So the person making the decision only knows Greg’s CRO from the information that is available about them on their website and with a quick internet search. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but Greg’s CRO has no educational content. Unless the decision maker happens to know Greg or someone on his team, there is no reason for him to believe that they are capable of producing the higher-quality output they claim to be able to. Compared to the more established and lower cost CROs, selecting Greg’s CRO would be a high-risk endeavor!

To lower the perceived risk, and therefore increase the likelihood that their proposal is selected, Greg’s CRO needs to demonstrate their knowledge through content. Content can, at least to some extent, mitigate the inability to demonstrate knowledge through person-to-person content. It could help provide the confidence that may lack if Greg’s CRO cannot provide many reputable customer references. Instead of only knowing Greg’s CRO as a proposal, at least they would be able to build some degree of positive brand image.

Content is an extremely multifunctional marketing tool that can assist organizations in numerous ways. Content can aid in sales support, as with the case of this CRO, it can generate leads, it can help drive inbound search traffic, it can improve your brand. There’s so much that content can do, and it contributes to so many aspects of marketing, that content marketing should really be a default. Especially in knowledge-intensive sectors like contract research and life science tools, content should be a centerpiece of the marketing effort for most companies. Content marketing is simply too valuable, and valuable in too many situations, to ignore.

What do you think?

What would you do if you were Greg? Would you invest in content marketing? Would you take another approach? Join the discussion on LinkedIn and share your thoughts.

Marketing of Life Science Tools & Services

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