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Branding vs. Demand Gen

Advertising Channels: Branding vs. Demand GenerationWhen considering where to advertise, marketers frequently – and rightfully – consider how targeted / relevant the audience is. However, marketers often fail to consider the commercial intent (or “intent to purchase“) of the target audience within that channel. Because of this, you end up with a lot of advertising campaigns that are ineffective, deliver a poor or negative ROI, and are often not tied to results.

A subjective, qualitative measure of commercial intent (which is usually all that is required) can be easily determined by considering the likelihood that a viewer will be considering a purchase at the time of viewing the ad. For instance, someone who has just searched for a product is far more likely to intend to make a purchase than is the average person reading an article on a news website, even if it is a highly relevant, sector-specific one.

We see this mis-targeting most frequently in demand generation campaigns, particularly “awareness” campaigns. Awareness campaigns seek to target as much of the target market as possible in order to, for all effective purposes, tell them your product or service exists. These campaigns are highly ineffective because they neglect the commercial intent of the target audience. (Side note: They also tend to be uncompelling, unoriginal, and unmemorable.) The implied message is: “We have this product / service. Please go buy it.” However, the channels used for awareness campaigns, which are typically print and / or digital display ads through relevant publishers, have a low commercial intent. People who are not in the market for your product / service will forget about your advertisement long before any future recognition of needs develops.

These described channels, which are highly targeted but have low commercial intent, are far better suited for brand-building campaigns. For audiences who may have a need in the future, you want to make a positive, lasting impression such that your brand will be viewed favorably when a need does arise for the customer, therefore making the customer more receptive to your messages and more likely to favor your solutions. (Focusing on creating experiences is one such way to do this.) In other words, with channels having low commercial intent, you need to play the “long game.”

Conversely, for channels with high commercial intent, you want to play the short game. If a customers are imminently considering a purchase, they are actively filtering information for relevance in search of information to guide them through their buying journey. Campaigns designed to build brand value are likely to be filtered out and, even if they are not, may not have time to make enough of a collective impression on the customers to influence their purchasing decisions (the latter point is more true for products with a short sales cycle than those with long ones). For those customers, you want to present a message about their need and / or your solution in order to demonstrate relevance to their buying journey.

The next time you’re developing an advertising campaign, in addition to the relevance of the audience consider commercial intent. Remember the following:
• Channels where the audience has a high intent to purchase are good for demand-generation campaigns.
• Channels where the audience has a low intent to purchase are good for brand-building campaigns.
You’ll end up with more effective campaigns.

"Is your life science company looking to get more from your advertising campaigns? Contact BioBM. Whether you need a solid campaign strategy, great creative, or the tools and experience to execute, BioBM consulting will make your marketing more effective."

Experiences Over Awareness

Your Communications Should Create ExperiencesTake a look around – at the marketing efforts of your company, your competitors, and others in similar life science markets. I’m sure you’ll still find a lot of marketing efforts centered on building awareness. Quite frankly, efforts to simply build awareness are a waste of your audience’s attention. Awareness only imparts one very basic form of knowledge: the knowledge that something exists. You can do so much more with your audience’s attention.

Awareness campaigns are almost inherently neutral. Sure, you may be offering a solution that someone needs, but aside from the facts contained within the communication there is nothing positive or negative about it. Instead of focusing on building awareness, focus on creating experiences. Experiences can be used not only to impart knowledge, but also to build confidence. They leave a positive feeling with your prospective customers that translates into positive brand value for your company.

Experiences can be simple. Focusing on experiences does not necessitate any additional complexity in your communications. To upgrade an awareness communication to an experience, give some thought to the emotion you want to invoke within your scientist-customers and craft your communications with that emotion in mind. Don’t simply focus on what you are doing, but why you are doing it.

Ideally, customer experience will be something which is defined and shaped across all your customer touch points. Any experience is more effective when it is in harmony with the other experiences that your company provides. Considering that your brand is, in effect, the sum of all the experiences that it provides to others, those experiences need to be planned and defined to ensure that they build on each other rather than conflict with each other. In the race to win customers’ hearts and minds, the brand which consistently provides the best experiences will win. The next time you need to create awareness for your company or its products and services, think about how you could instead create an experience for your potential customers. The result will be more effective communications.

"Let’s start crafting great experiences for your customers. Contact BioBM and we’ll help you generate more demand while building positive brand value at the same time."

Why Remarketing Is Critical

Why Remarketing is CriticalIt’s part of my job to be very familiar with the life science tools sector. The need for familiarity commonly drives me to the websites of a number of different manufacturers – this has been especially true recently. However, if you were to ask me how many of those manufacturers presented me with their brand again after leaving their website, there are only a handful. Within that handful, however, I could name 100% of the companies. The rest? Maybe 25% to 50%, off hand, and only that many because I make a note of knowing my market.

This illustrates two key things. 1) Your brand (and product line) is much more likely to be remembered if you present it to your audience repeatedly, and 2) there is a surprising underutilization of remarketing within life science tools. The former is an opportunity. The latter is a problem, but could be an opportunity.

Most buying journeys in the life sciences aren’t completed in a single instance. With the exception of commodity-like items and repeat purchases, most purchasing decisions involve multiple “sessions” of consideration. In other words, scientists by and large don’t just sit down and buy something. They take time to consider and evaluate their needs and their options. A purchasing decision is more likely to last days, weeks or even months than it is minutes or hours. However, most demand generation-focused marketing campaigns are geared towards a customer taking action in a single sitting.

For instance, say a customer finds your company through search. (If a scientist is proactively looking for a product, there’s about a 45% chance that they performed a search as their first action within their buying journey.) Unless that customer is then sufficiently satisfied with where they are in the buying journey to take the next step then and there, they will leave. Without remarketing, that customer is gone. You’re left to sit and hope that the customer remembers you. With remarketing, however, that’s not a problem. You can present your brand, product, and / or message to that potential customer multiple times, reinforcing your brand and message to that prospect. This isn’t only applicable to search, however. The same could be said for any type of marketing or advertising – email, social, print, etc. – where the potential is there for the customer to go to your website, view some information, then walk away never to be seen again. If you think about it, that potential exists for just about any type of campaign.

Does remarketing sound complicated? It’s not. Remarketing does not require any fancy software or tools. Anyone with a basic knowledge of Google Analytics, AdWords, and the ability to paste a few lines of code into their website can set up remarketing. Even video remarketing with YouTube is easy to set up.

As with most forms of advertising, remarketing should be as targeted as possible given the practical considerations of audience segmentation. For instance, ads targeted to specific product lines which a customer viewed will generally more effective than a single, broad message to anyone that’s visited your website.

Most companies are letting a lot of good prospects get away. These are prospects that have shown interest through the activity of going to your website and viewing particular content. These are prospects that can be targeted, but in most cases aren’t because companies don’t know who they are. By leveraging the power of remarketing, life science tools companies can stay in front of scientists who have shown interest in their brand and products, helping to ensure that they stay in consideration during the scientists’ buying journeys and, ultimately, increasing their conversion.

"Do you need BioBM to perform remarketing? I’ll be completely honest – you probably don’t. However, we make your remarketing better. We ensure your ads and messages are effective. We ensure your campaign is efficient. And we utilize all of our collective knowledge, skills, and passion to ensure that your remarketing efforts hit the ground running, to maximal effect. Let’s create value for your company together. Give us a call at +1 313-312-4626 or send us an email. We’re looking forward to sharing our knowledge with you."

Market Where Others Aren’t

Get more from your life science advertising dollars by marketing through underutilized channels and with underutilized methods.Consider this: the life science advertising market is similar in functionality to a stock market or the market for any good or service. People want to maximize the return on their investment. In a perfect market, the ROI of all channels would become equal because those that provided a higher ROI initially would become more expensive and / or more crowded until the ROI dropped, and those providing a lower ROI would lose advertisers and the demand would decrease, thereby lowering prices and competition through that channel and increasing its ROI. In reality that’s not the case. A lot of life science marketers have a tendency to turn to “traditional channels” for ad placement and marketing communications. Even those who consider a broader spectrum of possible channels than those considered “traditional” often limit themselves. This creates an imperfect market, and imperfect markets create opportunity.

How can you take advantage of this imperfect market? Consider marketing where others aren’t.

One approach: Look for the channels that may be underutilized. For example, Quertle, a semantic search engine for scientific journals, was offering a $1 CPC ad rate a while ago. If expected traffic quality was poor this wouldn’t be a big deal, but the opportunity for targeting on Quertle is fantastic. Imagine how many life science tools companies were likely throwing money into Google AdWords haphazardly when they could have received equally good traffic for $1 per click! The imbalance caused by underutilization is most almost entirely due to life science marketers’ lacking sufficient information on all the channels available to them.

Another approach: Look for the marketing methods that may be underutilized. We recently discussed the apparent underutilization of cause marketing. There are certainly other methods for marketing communications that may be useful but are underutilized – guerrilla marketing is likely another such example. There are certainly others, and they create a similar opportunity to increase your life science marketing ROI. In the case of underutilized marketing methods, the imbalance is most often caused by a lack of creativity or aversion to risk.

By marketing where others aren’t, you can decrease the cost of your life science advertising while increasing visibility, thereby greatly increasing your ROI. Look for the opportunities that underutilized channels and methods present, and consider whether they would be effective tools to reach your audience.

UPDATE: Between when this post was written and when it’s being posted, another great example of leveraging an under-utilized marketing medium appeared. Ion Torrent went and built a mobile lab on a bus and they’ll be driving it around to major research centers and conferences. You can see it on their YouTube channel.

"Is your life science tools company looking to get more bang for its marketing buck? BioBM can help. We manage marketing campaigns that reach customers less expensively than “traditional” methods, increasing marketing ROI and allowing you to reach more customers without increasing your budget. Curious what BioBM can do for you? Contact us."

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."

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."

Send the Right Message

Life science marketing research will boost your marketing ROI and ensure you target the right customers with the right messages.Life science marketing can be a difficult task, especially because scientists often don’t like to be marketed to. They are particularly adept at identifying marketing and ignoring it. With the limited chances your company may get to win over life scientists, you need to make sure you send the right messages to the right people using the right mediums. If your sales aren’t where you think they should be, throwing more money at the problem in the form of more marketing or advertising may not be the answer, especially if you have a good sized marketing budget already. Poor marketing ROI can be a symptom of many things – sending the wrong or sub-optimal marketing message, sending the message to the wrong audience, using the wrong medium to convey the marketing message, etc. In order to identify what the cause is you need to take a hard look at your marketing. You need to perform marketing research.

The American Marketing Association defines marketing research as “the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information–information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process.” Simplified, marketing research is the tool that is used to determine the best way for marketing to be performed.

Life science marketing research can answer many questions. Some examples include: What is the best medium to market to a target audience? What is the best message that we should use, and / or what benefits of our life science research tool should we highlight? Are we marketing to our customers enough? Are we marketing to them too much? What can we do to improve our marketing ROI?

Marketing, at its most basic, seems easy. Convey the benefits to the customers and the customers will buy the product, correct? Not necessarily. It’s very easy, and often the case, for a company to have a different viewpoint than the customer or overlook something that is important to the customer. (Some of the most hilarious marketing message gaffes come from mistranslations and would have been readily and easily avoided if the companies spent anything on marketing research. If you’d like some hilarious examples you can read about some here.) Marketing research helps you be on the same page as your customers.

You probably wouldn’t make product development decisions based on a gut feeling, so why make marketing decisions based solely on instinct? If your company is concerned with making sure your marketing is optimized and you’re getting the most from your marketing dollars, then spending a few of those dollars on marketing research can go a long way for you and supercharge your marketing ROI.

"Does your company want to improve the return on your marketing investment? Want to make sure that you are reaching the correct customers in the right way and with the message that they will be most responsive to? <Life science marketing research solutions from BioBM consulting can help you do all that and more. We provide custom marketing research solutions that are right for your company, your needs, and your budget. Don’t waste time and money guessing if your marketing will be effective. Contact us today and start getting more from your marketing campaigns."

New Product? Aim for a Niche.

Be more certain of your life science product launch by utilizing niche marketing.

Small companies often have trouble with gaining traction for their new products. Researchers in the life sciences are notoriously hesitant to change brands or adopt new technologies. Once a lab has a tried and tested method and tried and tested products, good luck getting them to change anything. Furthermore, large life science companies with huge marketing budgets and well-established and trusted brand names add to the difficulty of market entry in many markets. With these factors stacked against you, and compounded by having a limited marketing budget to work with, how can you compete and gain a significant market share? The key to doing so is often not what a business owner or product manager wants to hear, but it often the best way of proceeding – be patient and think small.

The Pitfall of Impatience

Let’s be both frank and realistic for a moment – your marketing budget isn’t unlimited. In fact, if you’re a small life science company entering a new market your budget is very likely far smaller than that of at least some of your competitors. Canvassing a large market or advertising in highly visible, broadly targeted media (by, for example, running print ads in Nature) is very expensive and can quickly drain a limited budget. Even for a product that would have broad appeal and for which that might seem like a reasonable strategy, it is usually less efficient than other methods since in more mainstream media your marketing messages are still effectively trying to go toe-to-toe against those of your entrenched competitors. In short, trying to market your new product to everyone at once is a good way to burn through your marketing dollars with little return. If you do go that route, you better have some extraordinary benefits that you can convey extremely well, or have very deep pockets.

Thinking Small

While you may think of a new product’s lack of market penetration as a curse, you also need to be able to view it as a benefit. You don’t need to protect a vast swathe of the market from competitors and you can pick your battles (read: you can pick the battles that you can win). Think about a certain market that your product would be more suited for than the competition. Does it have a certain set of features that would make it more suited for use in a particular method? Does it more easily integrate with certain equipment or processes? If not, can you design something in that would give in an advantage in a particular niche? Even if your product design has no niche focus, can you draw on the benefits of the product to show how these advantages could be leveraged by a particular audience? The answer to the last question is almost always yes (if it’s no, you’re probably just not giving it enough thought – call me and I’ll help).

Once you’ve determined a target market to focus on, you can market to that audience specifically. This will be more effective since you’ve tailored your marketing (and maybe even your product) to that audience, and will also be a good deal cheaper. Don’t forget to foster the ever-important customer interactions and feedback that any early-stage product needs. Chances are your entrenched competitor will not want to fight it out in the trenches over a niche market, and your product will gain significant market share within that niche. From that niche, your product will then be in a much better position to roll out your product to other segments of the life science research market.

"Unsure of the best way to launch your new product? Unsatisfied by your market penetration? Need help identifying and marketing to niches of life science researchers? BioBM consultants can help you roll out a new product or re-launch a failing product with an efficient, effective, and results-oriented market entry plan. Contact BioBM Consulting and we’ll discuss how we can leverage our knowledge and skills to make your product a great success."