Think about how much money (not to mention effort) goes into disseminating your marketing messages. Think of all the resources spent on advertising, copywriting, conference exhibitions, social media, printed materials, even search marketing. Life science companies spend huge sums trying to reach their audience but many companies don’t spend nearly enough on making sure their messages are effective. Instead, messaging is often based on personal opinion, anecdote, or simply left to whatever the copywriter puts on paper. The result is that most marketing communication efforts are sub-optimal. In other words, you’re throwing away money on every marketing communication you make or disseminate.
To avoid this, companies need to devote just a small amount of their marketing communications budget into optimizing their messages. There are three primary ways in which this can (and should) be performed.
First, start with the competition. Analyze how your competition is positioning and describing their own products by performing an attribute analysis. Just as your products / services need to be differentiated (unless you’re competing on price) your message needs to effectively convey that differentiation. If you’re describing your products the same way that everyone else is, then your audience is going to have a hard time discerning which product is more valuable to them. However, differentiating the message isn’t enough to discern what message is optimal.
That’s where marketing research comes in.
Many companies think they know what is most important to their customers and why, but it’s easy to be wrong. For instance, say your product enables what was a 5-step procedure to be done in three shorter steps. That obviously has value, but what is most important to the customer? Do they perceive the greatest value in the reduced number of steps, or is it that the whole process is shorter? Is it that they are saving time? Is it that the time saved allows them to do other things and thereby accelerate their research? Perhaps, if you’re selling to a manager or PI, they think less time equals less money and that is what’s most important. As you notice, any one feature or attribute may translate into a large number of perceived benefits. In order for your message to be optimally effective, you need to understand where the customer places that importance. Draw out a “web of benefits” to articulate all the reasonably likely perceptions of value, then query your audience as to which benefits they find most valuable. However, sometimes the feedback received in this kind of marketing research differs from how people actually act in a real-life situation.
That’s where A/B testing comes in.
So now you have a short list of what the most important areas of perceived value are to the audience and which messages are the most differentiated. Overlay those and choose a few messages which reflect your differentiation, are distinct from your competitors, and align with the customers’ perceptions of value. Now test them to see which ones actually work best in practice.
None of these things need to be time consuming or complicated, and they’re certainly a lot less costly than wasting a significant chunk of your communications budget.
Just one last tip – no matter what you do, always avoid facile claims. Reliable, high-quality, and industry-leading have lost their meaning long ago. Stick with meaningful claims that can be expressly validated.