Your life science company could have a stellar new product or a unique new service. It could be wonderfully differentiated and offer your customers a unique value. If you fail to effectively communicate that differentiation and value, however, than your marketing is still going to flop.
As we’ve discussed before, life science marketers often resort to facile claims to describe their products, and in most cases that not only leads to messages that are devoid of real meaning but also leads to messages that are not unique or differentiated. Even when meaningful claims are made, competing products / services tend to describe themselves in the same ways, using similar attributes. Your product may be differentiated, but if your messages are largely the same then how can scientists tell that your product is better than the competition? They can’t, which is why it is so important to not only differentiate your product, but convey a unique positioning in your marketing message as well.
One of the best and easiest ways to make sure that your positioning and value claims are unique is to perform an attribute analysis. An attribute analysis is a market research technique that determines how competing products / services are outwardly positioned* by looking at their marketing communications and seeing how they are defined.
To perform an attribute analysis, first list all the competing products or services and collect references which you will use for the attribute analysis. Webpages and pdf brochures are generally the best options in terms of content and accessibility, however product manuals and other more technical documentation may be used, as may marketing materials that are generally less accessible such as webinars or email blasts. Have at least two references for each product whenever possible, although more is better. Secondly, collect all the attributes that are used for each product. Note that attributes should be counted – you want to know how many times each attribute is used rather than simply if it is used. Attributes can include descriptive terms, features and specifications. The list of attributes can easily become larger than is valuable, so basketing similar terms is recommended (for a basic example, “fast” “rapid” and “quickly” could all be basketed under one attribute, and you could assign ranges for specifications such as “read lengths between 200 and 300 base pairs”) as is ignoring unimportant specifications or features (example: for many products, few people may care about weight). Once attributes are counted, you can group them into categories as well. You then have laid out in front of you a numeric map (or a visual map, if you plot the attributes) of the positioning of competing products and services. The data can be analyzed in various ways.
Having performed the attribute analysis, you will be able to see what claims are commonly used and which are uncommonly used. You can combined this with market knowledge of scientist needs to find positioning opportunities; positions that align with customer needs but which are not used by competitors.
*I use the term “outwardly positioned” because many companies do not have their positioning formalized or do not effectively translate their positioning into effective marketing messages. This erroneously leads to different outward and inward positions, where the company believes the product has a certain positioning but the positioning communicated through its marketing is different. You could also call these externally-facing and internally-facing positions.