How “Resource Marketing” is the Paradigm that Will Deliver Transformational Value to Your Brand
May 2016 | 30 Minutes
Attention is a resource that is inherently limited. Each person only has so many hours in the day. As more companies (and other distractions) vie for their attention, it behaves like any limited resource under increasing demand – the cost goes up.
Content marketers in the life sciences have reached a critical point. The traditional paradigm of content marketing is becoming ineffective. Content marketers have endeavored to create, publish, share, and then repeat this cycle to the point where there is far too much noise. It is becoming ever more difficult to win the battle for attention. Quite simply, content marketing is no longer enough.
We need to shift from a simple content marketing paradigm to a resource marketing paradigm. We need to stop thinking about creating more stuff and start thinking about how to build things of utility that meaningfully help solve our audiences’ problems.
Presented by BioBM and Affinity Biotechnology. Please register below and you will receive the webinar link via email. You may read the transcript without registering.
Transcript of “Beyond Content”
Harrison Wright: Hi everyone, we’ll get started now. This is Harrison Wright, welcome to the webinar “Beyond Content, How Resource Marketing is the Paradigm that will Deliver Transformational Value to your Brand. Joining me today, and the star of the show, is Carlton Hoyt. Thanks all of you for coming, wherever you are in the world. For some of you it’s getting towards the end of your day. For those of you in the western United States on the other hand, it’s 7:00 in the morning, so I especially applaud your dedication to being here today. I hope you’ve got a huge cup of coffee right to hand. Now some of you know Carlton, some of you know me, and to the rest of you we’re both new faces. So a brief background if you will on both of us. Carlton is the founder and principal consultant of BioBM, a life science marketing agency, where he helps highly innovative companies be just as innovative with their marketing. Me personally, I help life science companies around the world build first class sales, marketing, and business development teams. And on the flip side I help world class sales marketing and business development professionals into the teams that are most conducive to their growth and their success.
I invited Carlton to speak today because I could immediately see the value in his work and he could help us all be better at what we do. This resonates with me on a personal level as well. One of the main reasons I founded Affinity biotechnology in the first place is because I firmly believe that engaging prospective customers through providing them with things of value and utility, rather than repeatedly knocking on their door to sell to them is not only a much more effective way of doing business, but also by far the most ethical. At the end of the day, every company’s job, and every individual, is ultimately to solve problems for people. And a firm sales marketing procession would absolutely reflect that. Now, throughout the webinar if you have any questions at all, don’t be shy, you’ll see a chat box in the bottom right hand corner of your screen, just type in your chat box and I’ll field your questions to Carlton throughout the presentation. I can’t stress enough, please don’t be shy, we don’t bite and we’d love to hear from you. So with that said, it’s my pleasure to introduce Carlton Hoyt.
Carlton Hoyt: Thanks Harrison, I appreciate the intro, thanks everybody for showing up and especially anybody on the west coast, I am amazed at your dedication to marketing. I’m not a morning person so I certainly appreciate you being here and I appreciate everybody being here. So as Harrison said, I’m Carlton Hoyt, I’m principal consultant for BioBM. If you’re wondering what’s BioBM, it’s a life science marketing agency, but we’ll talk a little bit more about that later. First I want to present you with a novel idea to completely transform the value that you see from content marketing. Because these ideas may seem a little bit forward thinking, I want to validate a bit that this isn’t something coming out of left field. This is an idea that’s been published and featured by a content marketing institute and there are already examples of brands using this thinking to generate transformational value.
So to start, here we have a nice puppy and he has nothing whatsoever to do with content, but since it’s the first slide I want to start with something pleasant because the next thing I’m going to show you is a book on fire, which is probably a little more discomforting to look at, but this is really representative of exactly what companies need to be doing with their content marketing paradigms. They need to be setting them on fire, figuratively at least. Please don’t actually set anything on fire, I don’t want the blame for that, but this is a good metaphor. The book is really a unit of content and the drive to create more content is the paradigm that we need to start escaping. Let’s keep the book metaphor for a while because it’s a helpful one.
What do you do with a book when you’re done with it? After you finish reading a book, you probably put it on a bookshelf, or if you downloaded it onto your Kindle or something, then you don’t even need to put it on your bookshelf, it’ll sit tucked away as some digital file until you delete it or get a new e¬reader or whatever. In that case, you don’t even have a physical reminder of its presence, it’s just become something you’ve read. Over time, what happens to those books? I already mentioned they might sit on an e reader until they get deleted but if you have a physical copy it will sit on that shelf and get dusty, or it’ll get dusted periodically if you’re like me and loathe dust, but what it probably won’t get is picked up and reread. Sure, maybe the occasional book will get a second read, but that’s going to be the exception. In general, a book isn’t something you’re going to go back to over and over again. You read it and then you’re done.
Imagine you manage to get a piece of content in front of every member of your target market. That’s a dream situation. The best thing that could ever happen to an individual piece of content is that it will get consumed by 100% of your target market. That’s never going to happen, but let’s pretend that it does. Now what? That one piece of content is very unlikely to prime an opportunity all on its own. You need to nurture that audience and continue to persuade them. So in this ideal situation, this piece of content that you created, is consumed by 100% of your target market, you still need more content.
This is where the metaphor diverges a little bit. Books by and large aren’t trying to sell you anything. Us marketers however, are very much trying to sell something with our content, that’s the goal. We can imagine a hypothetical situation in which books are trying to sell you something. What if books were more like content? What attributes would they have? First off, they would be free. You may need to sign up or something but they would be given away with no actual exchange of currency. Secondly, there’s no way they’d be printed. Too expensive. If publishers aren’t making money on the distribution of the content itself, they’ll want to eliminate any variable cost of distribution. They’ll want to blast it out to as many people as possible with virtually no cost. Lastly, publishers would be actively trying to get as many books in front of you as possible. Since it helps them make money and doesn’t cost them anything, they’ll try to fling any and every book they have at you, that they think you might be interested in. That leads us to problem 2.
The most precious and limited resource that life science marketers and salespeople must fight for is undoubtedly money. Everyone is trying to get a piece of those often set in stone lab budgets. However, before that battle is an equally important one. One involving a resource that is almost as scarce and becoming scarcer, and that is the battle for the attention of your audience. We don’t normally think of ourselves, sales and marketers, as the ones doing the buying, but we definitely are. While customers buy products and services from us, we must buy attention from them. Attention is a resource that is inherently limited. Each person only has so many hours in the day. As more companies and other distractions, it’s not just companies, vie for their attention, it behaves like any limited resources under increasing demand. The cost goes up. In other words, because there are so many brands increasing their efforts to fight for the attention of a fixed pool of customers, you need increasingly more valuable content in order to buy their attention. I want to reiterate again that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re not only trying to influence your target market, because you can’t influence someone you don’t have the attention of. You’re first and foremost trying to buy their attention.
Let’s go over where content marketing is today. To start, we have an ever increasing volume of content that’s targeted at a fixed audience. I do recognize that the audience is growing slowly, but compared to the volume of content being targeted to our audiences, that growth rate is negligible, so we can effectively ignore it. For all intents and purposes, it’s a fixed audience. So huge growth in content, fixed audience. Now that means our audiences have an essentially fixed amount of attention, but with increasing competition for that attention. So this increase in demand for attention increases the price that we must pay for that attention. In other words, more valuable content is required to buy that attention. In order to create more valuable content, we have to put more into its creation, it costs us more. The production of successful content is becoming more expensive and this is leading to decreasing content marketing ROI. After all, since competition for the audience’s attention in increasing, we’re not getting more attention with that more valuable content, the same amount of attention is simply costing us more. Econ 101. But at the same time, any piece of content that we create is insufficient to hold the customers’ attention. Again, it’s a book, once you read it you put it down. So the audience needs to be continually engaged which often requires more content. And we get this downward spiral of more content competing for a set of attention, therefore needing to provide more value to effectively compete, and thereby costing more to create a decreasing overall ROI. So we’re getting less for our content, and we’re paying more. The content marketing paradigm is broken. Now that’s not to say that content doesn’t have a place. I don’t want you to think that and nor do I believe that. There are absolutely times in the buying journey where well-constructed content can help propel customers forward and I’m absolutely an advocate of strategic and targeted content marketing. Even done well however, we still run into the same problem. We still exist in the same paradigm of more content creation and we just simply can’t go on forever like this. So we as marketers have to break this paradigm. So what are the leading brands doing to create transformational value? How are they going beyond content?
I want to start with a question to put things in perspective a little bit. What is the most important thing that a company can do for its customers? What elicits the most positive reaction from them? I’m guessing you’re thinking about this too much in depth, I probably would be as well. I’m actually looking for a really simple answer, and that answer is, helping customers solve their problems. Helping customers solve their problems elicits more positive emotions than any other customer interaction. This has been shown in published marketing studies. You probably interact with a bunch of companies all the time that are really good at solving your problems. For instance, Amazon is really good at solving your problems when your problem is an identified need for some product if you’re in front of a computer and think I need X, go to Amazon because they’re really likely to have what you need, it’s really easy to buy from them, etc. Uber is another really good example of getting you from point A to point B without a hassle, they have that locked down. Facebook is really good at letting you keep in touch with your friends. Now, you may not actively realize it, one of the key things these companies have is not only your conscious attention, but your subconscious attention. What that means is that they don’t have to get in front of you every time. They own that space for your mind. However, all those companies that I just mentioned have built loyalty based on prior use. Now we can’t assume we have that luxury. We need to be able to compete before customers engage with us in the form of purchases. So the question we need to ask is, how can we deliver value to customers in a manner in which would hold their attention, get them to repeatedly engage with us and ultimately increase their affinity for our brand so we can own that space in their minds?
To answer this question, let’s think about this question a bit. In a general sense, why are scientists looking to make purchases? Here I have a quick example of a scientist, or more likely in this case, a group of scientists, maybe looking to hire a CRO. Now, that’s a low order need, it only exists because there is a higher order need that it is subordinate to. They may, for example, need to perform an experiment for which they don’t have in house capability. But that’s not the highest order need either. In this example the highest order need would be something like finding the answer to scientific questions. Note that the need to find answers to scientific questions and perform experiments are the higher order needs here. The need to contract a service is a lower order need. It only exists because of those other scientific questions. Note that the need to find answers to scientific questions and perform experiments are the higher order needs here. The need to contract a service is a lower order need which only exists because of those other needs. In other words, the purchase itself isn’t that important. And this is true for most purchases across industries. There are underlying needs which are more important than the need for the product or the service. The purchase and the product are just to facilitate something else. In this case, answering scientific questions. So now we get to the good part. Resources.
Resources can actually help customers fulfill those higher order needs. In fact, that’s exactly what resources are about the same reason that resources are so good at delivering transformational value to brands. Because they deliver value to customers on a higher order than the things that we’re actually selling. So what really differentiates content from resources? It’s important to distinguish this because resources can be constructed from content, and content can be a resource. There can be that overlap. The key and most important difference is that content can address any question, whereas resources specifically ask, what are the needs of our target audience and how can we address them in a way that creates value for our brand? In doing so, they circumvent the problem of limited attention by addressing customer needs that would need to be dealt with anyway. Some other differences are that content only provides information, resources provide solutions to problems. That solution can be through information but it can also be through something else. Content may be superficial. Resources, by virtue of their need to solve problems, must be reasonably comprehensive. Content may be organized haphazardly; resources need a sufficiently coherent organization to effectively solve the audience’s problems. Content tell an audience, “I have things to say, come listen to me.” And this is really helpful when you’re trying to say, am I really designing a true resource or do we just have content here? If you’re saying I have these things to say, please come listen to me, […] the audience, that content does. Resources actually appeal to the audience, they say “we understand you have these problems or needs, let us help you solve them”.
The life sciences tend to be a very conservative industry when it comes to marketing, so there aren’t many good examples of resources out there that don’t exist as standalone entities. But one of the more well-known examples, at least in my opinion, that I can reference, is the New England Biolabs catalog and technical reference. Now that last part is what’s really important here, the “and technical reference”. Many years ago, NEB had the great idea of taking a bunch of common molecular biology protocols and adding them to their catalog, along with some troubleshooting information and tips, etc. So, because of that, labs will often keep around their catalog, specifically for these protocols. So they identified and solved the need, molecular biology protocols with troubleshooting tips, clearly spelled out and compiled into one place. It’s comprehensive enough to be broadly useful to molecular biology researchers and it’s well organized enough that researchers can easily find what they need. They don’t need to expend much effort to realize the value. And it offers help rather than beg for attention. It’s valuable enough that researchers want it. They ask for it. NEB doesn’t need to push this onto their target market. So what’s the result of this? Labs all over the world turn to the NEB catalog for molecular biology protocols and New England BioLabs has grown tremendously competing successfully in growing brand affinity in a space with much larger competitors. Now this is a very good resource, but it is not an ideal resource. NEB stopped short of what an ideal resource should be. An ideal resource would allow brands to truly drive customer affinity. This helps drives customer affinity but not the extent that it really could. Great experiences will help build great value and nascent brand preferences. Further driving customer affinity amplifies these effects. NEB essentially stopped at the point of taking transactors, and in all fairness to them, probably people who are not even transactors, people who never bought anything from them in the first place. They converted these people to be supporters who actively and consciously supported the brand. Now some of them may have gone to promoters as well, in this case, we’re going to assume that they didn’t, there may be some trickle over to promoters, but by and large they probably stopped at the supporter point. To further drive value from resources, what do we need to do? We don’t want to stop at promoters or supporters, we want to get all the way to the 4th level of customer affinity, co¬-creation, where the audiences themselves are actively contributing to solutions. We want them to have skin in the game.
Here’s another example of what innovative fitness brands did when they entered the biometric monitoring space. They went to that 4th level. So not only do brands like Nike and Fitbit allow customers to monitor their own workouts, but they built an entire ecosystem around health. It would have been easier for them to stop at simply tracking and recording biometric data, but they added many community and social elements to their ecosystems. So users can share their progress with friends, they can compete with them, they can view workout information from others to inform their own fitness goals and can contribute in kind. Not only are Nike and Fitbit providing a platform where value is delivered, but their users are active contributors to that value. Note that these brands did not conflate with their own offerings of high level solution. They acted like biometric monitoring was some grand solution to the customers’ problems, but they recognized that such monitoring was actually a low level need. What customers really wanted was improved fitness. The brands realize that and create a solution that goes beyond the purchased product to simultaneously having a greater contribution to the higher order need while driving customer affinity through co¬creation. Again, these are very good examples but they are not ideal. These are really not ideal because in order to experience value from these platforms you need to make a purchase. Therefore, these resources are primarily only helping improve their relationships with current customers. They don’t efficiently create value with prospective customers. Resources, when ideally designed, will allow you to do both.
One other quick example, the Home Depot’s DIY project center. It’s a great example of turning solid content into a solid resource through planning and organization, which is one of the reasons that I want to show you this. There are probably a lot of companies that have a lot of really good content that acts as standalone content but could act as a resource if it was well planned out and well organized. I don’t have the time to go through it with a comb, I would go on their website and poke around and show it to you, feel free to check it out on their website later, you just go to www.homedepot.com and there’s the DIY projects and ideas section. So where Home Depot really nailed it is by focusing on the essentials, the important stuff. And ensuring their information for those critical things is comprehensive. Now on the other hand if you go to Lowe’s website for instance, literally they have thousands of articles just on just about everything under the sun and most of it is pretty superficial, it’s a mess. Home Depot on the other hand wanted to clearly organize their content and insure they had the right content to maximize value for people looking to perform DIY home improvements and repairs. So again, it’s a good example, specifically a very good example of turning content into a resource, but again here there’s no co¬-creation. They’re not driving nearly as much affinity as they could be.
Let’s play a little make ¬believe. As i mentioned before, there aren’t a lot of resources in the life sciences that don’t exist as standalone entities. I wanted to look at some of those standalone entities and get you to imagine what kind of value they could deliver to brands, if brands thought about creating them. For example, we have SEQanswers. SEQanswers, I’m not sure if all of you are familiar with it, but it is a community for researchers performing sequencing and it is used by tens of thousands of researchers every month. It is a very, very active community, the main part of which is simply a forum, nothing crazy complex, but it’s something a lot of people use and a lot of people derive a lot of value from. Imagine if SEQanswers wasn’t a completely independent thing, but imagine if it was started by a brand like Illumina or like BGI? Imagine the affinity for those brands that could have been driven if they had created SEQanswers. Take another example, I’m pretty sure we’re all familiar with PubMed, granted PubMed may not be used as much as it once was, a lot of people are using Google Scholar and other tools, but imagine for a moment that PubMed was started by Nature Publishing Group or Cell Press. Imagine the value that those brands would have realized by giving their customers such a valuable resource.
Creating resources is definitely not easy. It’s a very large comparative effort to the creation of content. The process for creating an individual piece of content is usually quite short, doesn’t have to go through any approvals, or at least very few approvals. Whereas resources are a big effort that normally does have to cross those hurdles of getting senior level buy in. It does have to be done correctly, getting it right is critical or else it can easily be a wasted effort. You need to insure you’ve identified a real problem that your solution is delivering true value to the audience and that you structured it in a manner that continues to deliver value over time such that your audience over time will want to come back and experience that value over and over again. It can’t just be a one and done transactional kind of thing. Because of that it’s also not a set it and forget it kind of solution, even when your resource is designed with co¬creation in mind it will often require a significant amount of priming to get started, and continued improvement over time to ensure that your audience remains engaged. You can’t only plan to build it, you have to plan to maintain it, but the benefits are really enormous. Increasing customer affinity leads to increased perceptions of brand value in the minds of the customers which can then shift brand preferences and allow your brand to become the default. You become the Uber or the Amazon. You become the start of the buying journey and in doing so you no longer need to battle for customers’ attention because you’ve already won it, you own that space.
That’s about all for resources that I wanted to say, I’ll take questions in a moment if you don’t mind sticking around for two minutes, I’d like to tell you a little bit about BioBM. So the reason we started it. Once upon a time a great product could stand its own. If you built it, they would find you. Unfortunately for many companies, that time is long gone. Scientists are facing more demand for their attention than ever and a great company needs a great voice to help it rise above the crowd. BioBM was founded to provide that voice. We’re a full service marketing agency and consultancy that takes a holistic approach to marketing. We generally work with innovative, growth oriented life science companies to do things differently. As you may have noticed we try to be a little bit forward thinking. We don’t believe that companies become and stay leaders simply by following best practices because you’re talking competitors are already doing that. We aim to provide companies with not just what works today but the next generation of marketing strategies, which will not only elevate your services but turn your marketing program into a strategic advantage itself, through things like resources. We’re really laser focused, we really only work with companies that are selling to life scientists. We don’t work with healthcare providers, we don’t work with pharmaceutical companies, no medical device manufacturers. So this intense exclusive focus means we know your market better than most or all of our competitors. Enabling us to provide superior solutions to your marketing challenges. We better understand your company, your needs, your markets and your customers. And we truly believe that understanding is the foundation of great marketing.
If you’d like to learn a little bit more, not only from us but from a lot of other leaders in life science marketing I strongly encourage you to join me and over 1,800 other life science commercial professionals in the marketing of life science tools and services group on Linkedin. It’s pretty easy to find it you hop over to Linkedin and search marketing of life science tools and services, we’re the only one, if you forget that search for life science marketing, we should be near the top. Thank you very much for coming out and your attention and I’m happy to take any questions that you have.
(HW) Thanks Carlton, I really enjoyed having you here today.
(CH) I appreciate it Harrison.
(HW) My pleasure. I haven’t got any questions for now, personally I think that’s because you explained everything so well and so clearly that it wouldn’t leave any room for any. But if anyone does have any more questions or things that are on their mind, feel free to put them into the chat box now, I’ll be happy to field them.
(CH) If anyone has any questions, anything that comes up afterwards, please feel free to email me at email@example.com, I’d be happy to speak with any of you afterwards.
(HW) Great, well personally I saw some really great value in what you have to say today Carlton. I’ve always felt that on a wider note one of the biggest and most common failures in all business is people that do things because that’s just how it’s done, without truly understanding what its relation is to the end goal. What I like is that you have the foresight to sit down and say, what is the end goal here? The end goal is to win business by providing value to our prospective customers. And then it’s a case of asking, well how do we do that? What you’ve really provided here is an answer to that question. Personally i like that a lot.
(CH) Since the beginning of time the only sustainable business model when you come down to it is providing value to customers. At a very fundamental level, that is what’s required to be a successful business. Content marketing was the first step towards making marketing itself valuable to customers. We really sat down and said, what’s the logic extent to this? If we continue it to its logical end where do we end up? And really where we end up is resources. Developing things, the marketing side that provide a value to customers beyond just what the product itself or services can, filling those higher order needs through some kind of sustainable ways that increase customer affinity, that allow us to own the brand space to solve that problem of diminishing attention because you become the first thing the customer thinks of when they are thinking of something in that space. You become that Amazon, that Uber. If I’m going somewhere I don’t think about how I’m going to get there, I just whip my phone out and call an Uber, if I’m not taking public transportation that is. If I need some doo-¬dad I just pop on Amazon like many other people. They’ve really owned that brand space through the provision of transformational value beyond what others are and that’s what resources are designed to do.
(HW) Quite rightly. Well, thanks very much for sharing your thoughts with us today Carlton.
(CH) My pleasure, thanks for having me, I hope everyone enjoyed it.
(HW) Incidentally we have a comment from Richard who said, “thank you, very interesting”.
(CH) Thanks Richard, I appreciate it.
(HW) Well, thank you for being here, I hope you have all found Carlton’s talk to be as thought provoking and valuable as I have. So if you’d like to hear more from Carlton, you can email him as he mentioned at firstname.lastname@example.org, you can follow his blog which you can find via Carlton’s website www.biobm.com, follow him on Twitter at BioBM and also connect with him on Linkedin. If you’d like to get in touch with me, you can reach me on email@example.com or you can also connect with me on Linkedin. So we’re going to sign off now, thank you all again for coming, have a great rest of your day.
(CH) We’re setting you free! Fly away you marketing butterflies, fly away!