I think the concept of emotionally appealing to scientists gets taken to extremes. There are people who think that B2B scientific sales are largely emotionless and that customers in this sector make decisions using reason; therefore, emotional appeals have little merit. On the other hand, there are those that see emotion as underused in life science marketing; a hidden opportunity ripe to exploit.
I fall somewhere in the middle. I think that life science marketers shouldn’t neglect emotion, but that emotion should be built largely through user experience and branding (in other words, through the sum of customer interactions with a company) rather than through the kind of emotionally-charged creative that we see in TV commercials for cars or pharmaceuticals, for instance.
Along these lines, I took interest in the results of a recent poll from Harris Interactive (you can find it summarized here on Wired). I wasn’t so interested by the findings that Amazon is the most respected company in the states, but rather that on a 100-point scale they ranked as having the highest emotional appeal (defined by Harris as trust, admiration and respect). They beat Disney by five points. Keep in mind that Amazon is a company which most people only experience through a website and a number of brown cardboard boxes.
These results speak to the value of user experience in establishing emotional appeal, which in turn creates value through establishing brand preferences and driving customer loyalty. To all those who think you need impassioned communications to create emotional appeal, and also to those who think that life science companies can not be effective at creating emotional appeal, look at what Amazon has done with an e-commerce site and cardboard.