Content marketing is no longer a novel tactic among life science tools and services companies. Truly effective content strategies, however, are still rare. Many life science marketers approach content marketing too superficially, with an “if I write it, they will come” mentality. There are two common problems in most content marketing campaigns that are epidemic to the life science tools industry, although both are usually rooted in lack of a meaningful content strategy.
The most common problem is publishing content that you want the viewers to see rather than content that they would be interested in. This problem most frequently manifests as an excessive amount of company-centric and / or product-centric content. This content is often overtly promotional and may consist largely of new product announcements, sales and other deals, highlights of publications using the company’s products / technologies, company news, events the company will be exhibiting at, and similar content. This content marketing tactic is lazy and self-serving, but most often fails to accomplish the desired effect of increasing demand for its products. Being overtly promotional, the content is not readily trusted and may actually create skepticism among the audience, causing them to disengage from the company’s content and potentially limit the effectiveness of the company’s other marketing efforts.
The other common problem is publishing content that you believe the viewers want to see but which is content that they do not want to get from you. This content is often generic and could be readily obtained elsewhere. It may be easy to take the most interesting and relevant content from Nature News, your favorite scientific journals, and other sources, but the content generally becomes diluted in rewriting / reposting and chances are the scientists already have better sources for such information. You’re probably not going to become the Nature News of your field – at least not without a herculean effort or unless your field is extremely niche.
This begs the question: what kind of content should be published? The content must be customer-centric. It must be content that holds unique value for the audience while adding value to your brand and / or products. To get yourself started in creating a content strategy that meets these criteria, ask yourself the following questions:
- What content can we create that our audience cannot get elsewhere or could only get from a very limited number of sources?
- What kind of content would the audience like to see specifically from us?
- How can we use content to enhance the value of our products / services in a way that is educational and will be appreciated by the audience rather than fueling skepticism?
- What knowledge do we have that is of value to the audience and can be used to demonstrate leadership in our field?
Remember that scientists are customers of your content – they are “paying” for your content “product” with their time and attention. Your content needs to be sufficiently engaging to be worth their attention, but it also needs to be relevant and valuable enough to reflect positively on your brand.
It’s also worth noting that many companies get into the habit of thinking: we need to make X number of posts per [unit time]. While these time-constrained content goals are good to have, they should serve as guidelines rather than rules. Having something valuable to say is more important than saying something according to a set minimum schedule. If you don’t have something valuable to share, don’t share anything at all. It’s better to consistently have high-value content which is published on an inconsistent basis than to have content of inconsistent value published consistently.
Content marketing is not something to take lightly. If you lack strategy or execution content marketing can be an easy way to waste a whole lot of time and effort. The rush for many life science companies to “start doing content marketing” should be tempered by the need for a coherent strategy in order to create the desired outcomes. Done correctly, content marketing can take your brand and position it as a leader in your field.