Previously on this blog, we discussed why a number of commonly-used claims are meaningless (such as “high-quality” “reliable” “improved” and “consistent”) and also how marketers need to validate their marketing messages in order for them to be effective. However, life science marketers continuously cling to these facile attributes and fail to validate their messages. Many marketers who resort to the use of facile attributes want to make compelling, validated claims but fall into that pitfall anyway. In this post, focus on common reasons why facile attributes get used.
Reason 1: Poorly Differentiated Products / Services
It’s hard to make your marketing stand out if your products or services do not. Even if your products could stand out, if you don’t have a defined positioning it can be a difficult an imprecise process to determine what messages and product attributes to highlight. Without such an understanding, marketers often fall to facile claims. If the product really doesn’t have much going for it, this can be the fault of the product rather than the marketer, as vague claims are often the only ones that can be made in such a circumstance. What can be done? If you have not created a positioning statement for your product or service, do so. This will give you a better idea of how your product creates value and will therefore help you elaborate it. If your product really just lacks meaningful differentiation, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your product line.
Reason 2: Lack of Market Segmentation
Different attributes are often important to different market segments. If your marketing isn’t targeted to distinct groups, or if your product / service tries to be everything to everyone, then marketers often resort to using facile claims as these are the most general and broadly applicable (albeit least effective). What can be done? Cut your market into segments based on application, need, position, etc. – any segmentation that meaningfully effects how they would view your product. Create different marketing messages for each segment. If your product isn’t focused, especially if it is not widely adopted by the market, pick a segment which you can provide superior value to and tailor it to that market first. Use that foothold to expand into ancillary markets.
Reason 3: Marketing Laziness
Sometimes poor marketing is simply the fault of the marketing copywriter. It’s very tempting to fall back to facile attributes. They seem generally appealing (who wouldn’t want a “high quality” product?), do not require much thought, and make the marketer’s job quick and easy. What can be done? Proofread. Look for facile claims and “weasel words”. If you find them, think about how you can be more specific in order to make a more compelling claim.
Reason 4: Lack of Marketing “Ammunition”
It’s difficult to make specific, compelling claims if you don’t have anything to validate your messages with. How can you show that your product yields 40% more protein in 25% less time if you don’t have any data to show for it. How can you reasonably say that you offer the most mouse models of disease of any CRO if you’re not willing or able to discuss the lines? If you’re going to make meaningful, validated claims you need something to validate them with! What can be done? Work with your application scientists, talk to your customers, ask product development to do some testing, or get data any way you can. In addition to hard data, gather testimonials, form case studies, or gather customer feedback however possible. Other types of validation may be optimal depending on the product or service and the situation or claim being made, so determine what “marketing ammunition” you need on a case-by-case basis. In certain situations the gathering of marketing ammunition may seem very difficult, such as when marketing a new service, but rise to the challenge and get creative to validate your messages. If you’re a life science marketer, that’s part of your job.
In order to convey value beyond that of your competitors, your marketing messages need to be differentiated. If you find yourself making non-specific, general claims, figure out the reason why you’re doing so and you’ll be well on your way to fixing the problem and creating compelling, meaningful messages.