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Category : Marketing Communications

Technology & Scientific Sales

Break free from the paradigms created by previous life science sales technologies to fully take advantage of new life science sales technologies.Technology provides scientific salesmen with great tools. Perhaps the best example of this in recent history, at least in terms of visibility and adoption, are salesmen’s use of tablet devices to deliver sales presentations, product information, and other marketing content to prospective customers. Advances in technology, however, are often underutilized, especially in smaller life science companies. While general-purpose adoption is often good, these companies often fail to realize the full potential of such technology.

Too frequently, small life science companies (and sometimes larger ones as well) adopt new sales technologies by retrofitting the last generation of content for it without ever considering what benefits the new technology offers that could be leveraged to actually improve content delivery. In doing so, only a portion of the total potential benefit is realized. Let’s go back to the example of tablets. Sales presentations used to often require binders full of product information, salespeople would have to carry around brochures and other product information to leave with potential customers, and all of this created a lot of bulk that was heavy to carry around and could be clumsy to dig through on the spot. Companies also incurred the costs of printing, storing, and supplying such materials to their sales reps. Furthermore, customers could easily misplace a few pieces of paper and these materials were not readily shared and disseminated with labmates or other colleagues. Tablet computers were seen a way to solve these problems, and many companies and independent reps have adopted this technology. However, few examined how they could further improve their content delivery beyond alleviating these obvious issues. They simply retrofitted their previous content for electronic delivery via tablet (through pdf, powerpoints, word documents, existing web content, etc).

Now think about what could be possible if these companies thought about creating content that took advantage of the improvements in technology. Think about all the ways that various content could interact. Think about how content could potentially be created that is dynamic and allows salespeople to respond to expressed customer needs with specialized information that is more pertinent to those specific needs (the “landing pages” of next-gen content delivery). Think about how content delivery could become both more fluid and functional. These kinds of questions represent some of the forward thinking that needs to be done in order to truly leverage advances in technology to improve life science sales.

Technology is constantly changing, evolving, and improving. In order to maintain a truly up-to-date and highly effective sales force, life science tools companies need to not only adopt these technologies, but escape the paradigms created by previous technologies in order to create new and better ways to perform and support sales.

"Looking for ways to improve your sales practices? Is your life science company creating too few opportunities, or failing to convert the opportunities that it is creating? BioBM Consulting is here to help. With our deep industry experience, we can help you analyze your sales processes and implement methods to increase conversion and drive revenues. Contact us to discuss how BioBM can help your company succeed."

Speaking to Inquisitiveness

Scientists are naturally curious and inquisitive people. You can leverage this curiosity to empower your marketing.Scientists are very analytical people, in general. This is not surprising and is an easy assumption to make, but many novice life science marketers over-interpret this analytical nature. They presume it to mean that life science marketing should be relatively dry and that it should only provide information. While I admit that life scientists are exceptionally good at sniffing out marketing, and greatly prefer information to gimmicks or catch phrases, that’s not to say that your life science marketing communications need to be boring. What they should do is have an understanding of what is important to your audience and the psychology of your audience. Regardless of the market segment that you are targeting, one thing that you can be reasonably certain of when marketing to any type of scientists is that they will be highly curious and inquisitive, and this is something that you can leverage to your advantage.

The challenge, then is piquing that inquisitiveness. How can you use your audience’s natural scientific curiosity to your advantage? Is your technology interesting or complex? Perhaps you can offer to explain it to them and / or show them how it works. Are you claiming that your company / product / service / technology performs better than that of competitors? Perhaps you can show them why. If your market is extremely niche, or there are a limited number of ways to use a product that you are marketing, you can often draw an even closer link to the underlying science and / or methods, and this close connection with the science can be a powerful draw on scientists desire to learn.

Regardless of the specific technique used, so long as the message stays relevant to the interests of your scientific audience, you can captivate your scientific audience while providing them with information that shows off the benefits of your product or service. The curious scientist will then be much more receptive to further marketing and / or information, is more likely to act, and can be more easily engaged.

"Are you looking for new and better ways to get your customers’ attention? Is your life science marketing just not achieving the desired results? Don’t wait and wonder – act now to start improving your ROI and getting more sales. Call BioBM Consulting and we’ll show you how you can enact positive change, develop highly effective marketing communications, and build a marketing strategy that will take your company’s sales to where they should be."

MarCom: Leads vs. Branding

In order to achieve the maximum value from your life science marketing communication efforts, be sure to understand the strengths of each medium.Not all forms of life science marketing communications should be presumed to serve the same purpose and looked at in the same manner. Indeed, the audience themselves have a tendency to view various advertising platforms differently, and treat advertising on each platform according to their views of it. There are also technical considerations which make some platforms more suitable for branding and others for lead generation. By understanding the factors which come into play and how each method is likely to be perceived, we can align our life science marketing communications to be in line with our overall marketing strategy.

Generally, there is a large gap between digital and print advertising. Digital advertising is far more capable of easily promoting immediate action by allowing the process from advertisement viewing to lead generation and capture to be wholly smooth and uninterrupted. At no point do prospective customers ever have to get up from their computers. With print, calls to action are effectively asking customers to actively go and do something, be it make a phone call, go to a website, etc, and therefore are less effective for lead generation due to that additional motivational barrier. There are exceptions to this, however, as well as things that can do to augment any particular platform’s effectiveness at each. Print advertising, for example, can be made far more effective at lead generation by offering captivating promotions that provide additional incentive to take up a call to action. Digital advertising can be made more effective for branding through providing higher-value messages, such as in content marketing, and by increasing the quality of the advertisement itself (think along the lines of “production value” for movies). Social media marketing is an example of an exception to the rule. The rules of social media are different from most digital marketing and SMM is far more based around content, engagement, and other activities which are usually not geared towards short-term lead generation. Indeed, life science social media marketing efforts too heavily focused on traditional marketing and / or advertising are doomed to failure.

This understanding of various marketing platforms and their fit for different marketing purposes must then be reflected in the marketing communications across each platform. If we are looking for short-term revenues then we want to target platforms more amenable to lead generation and capture and design our marketing communications appropriately. For example, such marketing communications should have a strong call-to-action and, when possible, be directly actionable themselves (such as by being hyperlinked). If you are looking to improve your branding, then the marketing communication should make a broader, more generally positive sentiment about the company or product line, or provide value to the customer in ways that compliment and highlight a company’s competencies and products / services.

While not a dichotomy, many marketing platforms can be scaled based on their utility for lead generation or branding. By understanding the unique advantages of various marketing platforms, life science companies can better utilize those platforms to achieve their goals.

"Are your life science marketing communications and advertisements not generating the desired results? Are you looking for a partner who understands all aspects of life science advertising and marketing? Poor marketing communications can stunt sales growth, but BioBM Consulting can help your company conceptualize, create, and deploy high-value marketing communications. We can also revitalize your marketing communications strategy to ensure you’re sending the right messages at the right times to the right people. Call us today to start improving your life science MarCom and growing your sales."

Scientists: Your Best Marketing

You can proactively use the sentiment of satisfied life science customers to improve marketing and sales.We have previously discussed how word-of-mouth marketing (also known as referrals) is limited in a life science environment because of the segregation of customer populations. That doesn’t mean that the opinions of your customer can not or should not be used in marketing. In fact, scientists can provide you with some of your best marketing ammunition. Since word-of-mouth marketing is not sufficient to rapidly grow sales, it becomes your job to spread the sentiment of your brand and product “evangelists”, and there are plenty of tools to do so.

The easiest and most simple ways of leveraging positive customer sentiment is through testimonials. This is a two-part process that bridges marketing communications and customer relationship management. First, customer sentiment needs to be obtained and recorded. This can be done manually by visiting, calling or e-mailing your customers or automatically by using a CRM system with e-mail capability (which most have). Side bonus: proactive engagement of your scientist-customers by your support team to see how they like your products and if they have any feedback or issues frequently improves their opinion of your customer service and support. Praise can then be used in testimonials – most useful on your website, in e-mail marketing, and in social media marketing, but sometimes usable in more traditional digital and print advertising. While the influence of unknown scientists will be less than that of known colleagues, properly used testimonials can still go a long way in earning the trust of life scientists. Feel free to get creative with testimonials as well. Audio and video testimonials, while far more difficult to convince users to send (there are techniques to overcome this), will provide a more tangible and humanized testimonial and have a greater impact.

Another way you can “stretch” word-of-mouth marketing is by using highly satisfied customers as references. If a sale is becoming difficult, having the prospective customer speak directly to a satisfied current customer can be a highly valuable process. Referrals also tend to be self-replicating, as those customers who have requested or been put in touch with a referring customer prior to purchase will very often agree to be used as referrals themselves (so long as they are satisfied with the product, of course).

There are other ways of leveraging customer sentiments in marketing, and even ways of leveraging the sentiment of scientists who aren’t yet customers in order to generate high-value marketing materials. Such non-customer scientists are often wholly impartial, and techniques that generate marketing materials from their sentiment can be some of the most high-value marketing material for a life science company.

While the structure of the life science research landscape often prevents the fluid and open communication necessary for word-of-mouth marketing or scientist-to-scientist referrals to be effective as a stand-alone marketing tool, there are plenty of things a company can do to use positive customer sentiment and product / brand evangelists. Such means can provide a significant boost to marketing efforts across many channels, and customer sentiment should be obtained and used in order to realize this improved marketing effectiveness.

"Is your life science marketing not as effective as you would like? Would you like help capturing and using customer sentiment to improve your marketing materials, marketing ROI, and sales effectiveness? BioBM can implement simple, cost-effective, and rapidly deployed solutions that will have you fully leveraging customer sentiment (for marketing and other uses) and reaping the benefits. Contact us today and we’ll discuss your situation and how we can help."

Avoid Cheap Catch Phrases

I just was on a life science tools company’s website (not a clients’, and the company will remain anonymous) and this company seemed to describe every one of their products as an “industry standard” in the first sentence. This pains me.

Scientists aren’t stupid. Catch phrases like “industry standard” or “market leader” are readily identifiable and dismissed by a generally intelligent and analytically-minded scientific audience. Such statements also don’t provide any of the information that customers are looking for. If your product really is an industry standard or is a market leader, don’t just state it and expect them to take your word for it. Explain it. Say “more researchers use X than any other product for [purpose]”. It’s a stronger, more definitive statement that at least looks like you’re attempting to provide meaningful information. Just stay away from the cheap catch phrases, especially if you can’t back them up.

Why Are You Marketing?

Make sure you've answered all the right questions before you launch an advertising / marketing campaign.One of the worst things that you can do in life science marketing is not fully understand why you’re marketing. In other words, each time you publish an advertisement, change content on your website, post an article on twitter, or do anything else related to marketing communications, it should have a purpose and you should know what that purpose is ahead of time. Your message and marketing content should then be designed to successfully fulfill that purpose.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because of the disjoint between intention and execution that I so often see in life science marketing. I’m certainly not one to say what other people are thinking, but it seems that a lot of marketers get caught up in trying to be creative and / or make the marketing materials look pretty, or simply don’t ask themselves the right questions when designing their marketing. Some of the disjoint may also be ascribed to a lack of understanding of scientist behavior (or consumer behavior in general). Marketers often simply fail to think about how the audience will think of something rather than how they want them to think or what they want them to do. They ask themselves “does this contain the message we want to convey?” and forget to ask if the message as its presented will actually be effective. Simply adding a call to action to a marketing message, while a good idea in most situations, neither gives it purpose nor ensures effectiveness.

You should be able to answer: why is this marketing going to be effective? If you don’t have a concrete answer for that question, then you either didn’t care enough (surprisingly common) or you didn’t ask yourself the right questions (more common). If that is the case, ask yourself some of the following questions then revisit any marketing communications in question:

  • What is the ultimate goal of this marketing communication? What do we want the customer to do or think?
  • What is the message that we are trying to convey? How do we know that is the right message given our target audience?
  • What will the customer be doing when they our marketing message? How will that affect their behavior and perception of the message? Given those things, are they likely to be receptive to this message?
  • Does this marketing material engage the customer? Will it be compelling to them?


This is a small sampling of potential questions that could be asked to help ensure the execution of your marketing communications are in line with your intentions and will actually be effective. If you find a problem area or have difficulty answering one of these questions, let that lead you deeper to more questions until you have a better understanding of how to match purpose with function and / or have a better understanding of your audience. Retaining the lessons learned from asking these questions will help both current and future marketing campaigns, and the improvement in effectiveness and ROI will be well worth it.

As a general rule we don’t do this, but given the breadth of this topic I wanted you to be able to access me personally with any questions you may have. If you want to ask a question and fill out the contact form below it will go to my inbox and you’ll get an answer straight from me.

"Are you looking for ways to improve your marketing ROI? Would you like to send more powerful, more effective marketing messages? Are you simply looking for better ways of targeting potential customers? Not to worry – BioBM is on your side. Our life science marketing and advertising experts can help you design, target, and execute marketing campaigns that improve your ROI, drive more customers into your sales channels, and help you grow your revenues and your business. For access to a full range of marketing services and expertise, contact BioBM. Our professional consultants will help you understand what needs to be done to improve your marketing and what you need to do to get there."

Presenting your Marketing

With online leads, speed is a key factor in conversion.Life science marketing is an interesting thing. It is most often supported by a wide breadth of technical information, and scientists often want a lot of information, but at the same time most of the “standard” rules of marketing still apply. This dichotomy is often at odds with itself, and scientific marketers will frequently end up with marketing messages that are unorganized, contain too little information, contain too much information, or fail to effectively lead customers into the sales process. While it is true that this failure is often at least partially due to marketing functions being performed by marketers who do not sufficiently understand scientists or scientists who are not sufficiently well trained in marketing, it can even more frequently be ascribed to another failure. Life science marketers have an inexplicable tendency to present their marketing messages in the way they think it should be provided as opposed to how their customers are likely to want it.

The solution to this problem is to combine the psychology of the target consumer with the limitations of the given marketing medium. Stop asking yourself what information is important for the customer to know – the answer will center around you and your opinions. Instead, ask what the customer will want to know. What fuels their purchasing decisions? What is the first piece of information that they are going to look for? What will the customers view as the most important differentiators or benefits? Once you answer these questions and other, similar questions you will start to have an understanding of what is likely to be important to the customer (of course, to have a complete understanding you will need to perform some marketing research). This is not to say that the customer will never have unknown unknowns, and there may be information that they would view as highly valuable that they are completely unaware of and should still be presented to them, but such information still has to be assessed from the perspective of customer-perceived value. Once we have an understanding of the customers needs and what is important to them, then we can start to construct a well-crafted marketing message.

Consider the medium by which which your marketing message will be communicated. Print, web, video, and other mediums each have different constraints and will may be viewed under different circumstances, and therefore the marketing message for any given medium should not be a carbon copy of another. While they will probably be similar, marketing messages should be tweaked to make optimal use of the specific medium. Will your marketing be presented to life scientists or will they be going to your marketing? How much of your viewers attention will you have? How much content can you fit and what kind of content is appropriate to the medium? The answers to these kind of questions should be used to refine the marketing message for any given medium in order to make it more effective.

Regardless of the medium, don’t forget to include a compelling call to action! When and where to place them is also something that deserves some degree of consideration. Many marketers automatically put the call to action at the end of the marketing message and leave it at that, but is that really the best place? For example, if most of the compelling content is near the beginning of the marketing message and the later content is mostly supporting information, the end may not be the best place for the call to action. Alternatively, perhaps two would be more appropriate.

Optimal presentation of a scientific marketing message is not a simple thing. It is a balancing act between providing sufficient information and being succinct while taking into account the psychology of the customer, the medium, and other factors which we have not yet discussed. Many small companies fall into the trap of “marketing like scientists” and turning marketing messages into information dumps, but doing so will never maximize results. By escaping that thought pattern and thinking critically about key marketing issues as well as scientific issues, only then can the ROI of life science marketing be maximized.

"If your life science marketing messages are not optimized to maximize lead generation, you could easily be losing 75% or more of your potential marketing returns. Don’t let opportunities pass you by. BioBM Consulting can help you design highly effective marketing materials that draw the customers into the sales process. If you would like to improve your marketing materials, boost sales, and watch your marketing ROI soar, contact BioBM today. Our skilled team of life science marketing consultants are here to help your company achieve greater success through improved marketing."

The Limitations of Referrals

Referral-based marketing works best in environments where there is open and fluid interaction between populations of customers, something that life science research environments lack.While less common in highly technical industries such as life science tools and services, it’s not wholly uncommon for entrepreneurs to “boot-strap” their start-up companies (try to start without external funding and race to become profitable before they run out of cash). Yet more common, even with outside investment, is under-capitalization. In either case, when small companies start to become low on cash, one of the first corners that often gets cut is marketing. Entrepreneurs sometimes think that word-of-mouth or referrals will be a sufficient marketing tactic to grow their business, but that is very rarely the case for life science products and services. Why is this the case? Customer interaction patterns. To illustrate my point, let me give an example of when referral-based marketing can be effective.

Take Twitter as an extreme example on one end. Twitter never advertised. They were established 100% on word-of-mouth marketing and over their short sub-5-year history have ballooned to over 200 million users and are now the ninth most popular site on the internet. You can top that off with an estimated valuation of $8 to $10 billion dollars. Why was twitter able to be so successful at harnessing the power of referrals / word-of-mouth marketing? There are two key factors. The first is that Twitter was something that people were excited about and talked about – obviously you can’t be successful at word-of-mouth marketing if you don’t create something that people want to talk about. That, however, is something that life science companies can replicate. The other factor, however, is something that life science companies cannot replicate, and that is customer interaction patterns. Anyone, anywhere could be a twitter user so long as they had a computer or a cell phone. This meant that in many markets everyone was a potential user, and connections between users and potential users could be drawn seamlessly. Interaction between the groups was very easy and close at hand.

Companies manufacturing life science tools do not have the advantage of everyone being a potential customer. Customers are usually grouped into discrete units with limited interaction – universities, research institutes, pharma / biotech company research centers. If a scientist at university X is very happy with your product, this scientist will tell others around him or her, but the pool of potential customers will often be limited to those within their institute since that is where the relevant connections involving frequent interaction stop. This is especially true in the more restricted-access and secretive environments of pharmaceutical and biotech laboratories.

You can analogize the situation to an infectious virus. If a virus can infect anyone, it will have an easy time spreading. If it can only infect a small subset of the population, however, and those populations are grouped together and quarantined from each other, the virus will have a very difficult time spreading. A similar quarantining happens to word-of-mouth marketing in the life sciences, so don’t rely solely on referrals to grow your market share. There are enough low-cost and effective ways of marketing to provide even cash-strapped bioscience startups high-ROI options to more proactively reach their target audiences.

"Is your company looking for effective, low-cost marketing methods? If so, talk to BioBM Consulting. Our expert life science marketing consultants will help you develop and execute high-efficiency strategies to successfully market your products to a scientific audience."

Be The Expert

Project yourself and your company as life science experts in your field to improve customers perceptions of your brand and company.The life sciences are, almost by definition in being a science, a highly technical field. Most life science products, and certainly life science services, are of a similarly highly technical nature. At the same time, experiments are precious and expensive. In this environment, scientists want to be sure that the products and services they purchase will provide high-quality results, and they are often highly skeptical customers. For many small life science companies which may not have the strong branding or widely adopted products or larger companies, such skepticism can be especially acute. Making customers comfortable enough with your company and products to shake this skepticism can pose a challenge, but there are strategies that small life science companies can leverage to help preempt it. Among the best strategies is to project an image of being an expert in the relevant scientific areas. This requires two things: actually having expert knowledge and understanding, and successfully projecting that knowledge.

Being an expert is often the easier component of the strategy. Chances are if you are creating a product for a particular purpose you already have members on your team who are experts in the the relevant scientific area. There are rare situations where this is not the case, however, and the solution is straightforward – learn. Never will a scientist run from your company faster than if your customer-facing employees don’t know what they’re talking about.

Projecting your expertise is harder. Some customers will contact your company if they have doubts, giving you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and ability to them, however many customers will never contact you in the first place if they question your knowledge and skills in key areas. This requires you to be proactive in projecting your expertise. You need to actively seek out opportunities to show the scientific community that you really are a top-caliber thought leader in your field. How can you do this? There are many ways, and here are a few ideas (this list is nowhere near comprehensive):

  • Discuss new research and ideas in your field on social networks
  • Present at relevant scientific conferences
  • Author or co-author methods papers or other journal articles
  • Make compelling presentations of your technology on your website
  • Draft white papers
  • Maintain a blog where you address current topics in your field
  • Create a website with updated information relevant to your life science field


Scientists want to do business with people and companies that it has faith in, and a large part of that is faith that you have sufficient expertise. By effectively projecting the image of an expert, you will simultaneously improve your brand image earn the trust of scientists, effectively making them more willing to do business with you.

"Does your company want to improve how the scientific community views it? Would you like your company to have a stronger or renewed brand image to encourage more potential customers to choose you? If you want to design and implement successful strategies to improve the way scientists view your company, feel free to contact a BioBM Consultant. We’ll work with you to design custom solutions to assess your needs and solve your company’s problems."

Ion Torrent’s Apple Spoof

So I ran across Ion Torrent’s / Life Technologies’ spoof of Apple’s “I’m a Mac” commercials, where Ion Torrent rips into the Illumina MiSeq a bit … okay, more than just a bit, the Ion Torrent attempts to pretty much tear apart the MiSeq in comparing it to the PGM. If you haven’t seen it, take a look…

UPDATE: As of 4/11, Ion Torrent has made the video private and it is no longer available for viewing. It seems they didn’t appreciate the mixed feedback they were getting. … UPDATE #2: And as of 4/12 it’s back! I guess Life Technologies decided a little bit of controversy might not be such a bad thing after all.

I commend Life Technologies’ marketing team for their guts to start an advertising war. It’s something rarely seen in the conservative world of life science marketing. If they believe they can out-market Illumina, then this tactic should benefit them long-term assuming they actually succeed in doing so.

That being said, there is a problem… Life Technologies just put a whole lot of cards on the table with that ad.

Part of the reason Apple’s strategy was so successful is, beyond the obvious requirement of getting the audience’s attention, it was a rapid-fire assault of consistent marketing messages highlighting various reasons why a Mac is better than a PC. People wanted to see Apple’s ads – most were very unique, some were funny – and Apple kept them coming. They used them in fantastically creative ways, such as on the New York Times homepage. They were about 30 seconds each and mostly focused on one small aspect, such as a positive review, hardware compatibility, bundled software, security, OS stability, etc. They showed their hand slowly which allowed them to sustain the campaign.

Life Technology / Ion Torrent did not do that. In their minute and twelve second ad, they talk about price, run speed and the 6 month delivery time of a MiSeq. There go your three big competitive advantages, all right there in one ad. Now perhaps this was calculated. Perhaps Life Technologies expects Illumina to pull a Microsoft and have a weak, if any, response, but counting on them to do so would seem premature at this point.

If Life Technologies spoofed the ad well and captivate their audience with this ad, which I think they’ll succeed in doing, then they could have drawn a lot more value from turning a single, highly effective ad into a highly effective ad campaign. They could have continued to engage the audience in the future, releasing a series of ads every month or two for a year. While I could see this video going semi-viral in the scientific community (albeit not nearly as successfully as Bio-Rad’s PCR music video), a sustained campaign could multiply that success. As it stands, especially if they continue to play their cards this quickly, I don’t think they’ll be able to turn this ad into such a sustained marketing campaign. If I’m right, they now need to hope that Illumina doesn’t have too many cards up it’s sleeve.

Illumina, in the meanwhile, needs to not pull a Microsoft. It certainly can. The brand image, while perhaps more polished than Ion Torrent’s, certainly isn’t of an old, dated, out-of-touch behemoth. It can strike back very well with a bit of creativity…

"If you’d like to discuss Ion Torrent’s “I’m a PGM” video, other video advertising in the life sciences, or viral marketing with Carlton, feel free to contact us and we’ll be sure to pass along the message to him. More info on BioBM."