Tag : life science positioning

Find Positioning Opportunities

Attribute analysis can be used to help identify positioning opportunitiesYour life science company could have a stellar new product or a unique new service. It could be wonderfully differentiated and offer your customers a unique value. If you fail to effectively communicate that differentiation and value, however, than your marketing is still going to flop.

As we’ve discussed before, life science marketers often resort to facile claims to describe their products, and in most cases that not only leads to messages that are devoid of real meaning but also leads to messages that are not unique or differentiated. Even when meaningful claims are made, competing products / services tend to describe themselves in the same ways, using similar attributes. Your product may be differentiated, but if your messages are largely the same then how can scientists tell that your product is better than the competition? They can’t, which is why it is so important to not only differentiate your product, but convey a unique positioning in your marketing message as well.

One of the best and easiest ways to make sure that your positioning and value claims are unique is to perform an attribute analysis. An attribute analysis is a market research technique that determines how competing products / services are outwardly positioned* by looking at their marketing communications and seeing how they are defined.

To perform an attribute analysis, first list all the competing products or services and collect references which you will use for the attribute analysis. Webpages and pdf brochures are generally the best options in terms of content and accessibility, however product manuals and other more technical documentation may be used, as may marketing materials that are generally less accessible such as webinars or email blasts. Have at least two references for each product whenever possible, although more is better. Secondly, collect all the attributes that are used for each product. Note that attributes should be counted – you want to know how many times each attribute is used rather than simply if it is used. Attributes can include descriptive terms, features and specifications. The list of attributes can easily become larger than is valuable, so basketing similar terms is recommended (for a basic example, “fast” “rapid” and “quickly” could all be basketed under one attribute, and you could assign ranges for specifications such as “read lengths between 200 and 300 base pairs”) as is ignoring unimportant specifications or features (example: for many products, few people may care about weight). Once attributes are counted, you can group them into categories as well. You then have laid out in front of you a numeric map (or a visual map, if you plot the attributes) of the positioning of competing products and services. The data can be analyzed in various ways.

Having performed the attribute analysis, you will be able to see what claims are commonly used and which are uncommonly used. You can combined this with market knowledge of scientist needs to find positioning opportunities; positions that align with customer needs but which are not used by competitors.

*I use the term “outwardly positioned” because many companies do not have their positioning formalized or do not effectively translate their positioning into effective marketing messages. This erroneously leads to different outward and inward positions, where the company believes the product has a certain positioning but the positioning communicated through its marketing is different. You could also call these externally-facing and internally-facing positions.

"Ever felt like you’re having difficulty communicating the true value of your products to your target market? An ineffective positioning could be the root cause. Combining our demonstrated market research expertise and deep industry knowledge with marketing skill and communications acumen, BioBM can help you define a position and communicate value to your audiences in a way that transforms your demand generation. Contact BioBM, ask us any questions you may have, and set yourself on a path to more successful marketing."

Positioning Statements

Over the 2+ years that BioBM has now been in business, we’ve had the pleasure of working with a wonderful diversity of life science tools companies and contract research organizations. One thing that we’ve been consistently surprised about is how many small life science companies lack positioning statements for their product lines and services. Positioning statements should be central parts of any marketing strategy. Even for the more pragmatic life science marketers who may eschew strategies for every product line, positioning statements should still be central to their marketing. They not only help form the basis of marketing messages, but ensure consistency in the message. Without them, marketing messages often degrade into uncompelling feature / benefit statements.

Such that life science marketers can more effectively create positioning statements, we’re going to give a quick lesson and offer some tips to help make the statement more powerful and help marketers avoid common pitfalls.

How a Position is Stated:

I’ll use a close approximation of Geoffrey Moore’s version from his book Crossing the Chasm (a great read, by the way): For [target customer] who [statement of need], the [product name] is a [product offering] that [statement of key benefit]. Unlike [primary competitive alternative], our product [statement of primary differentiation]. As you notice, there are a number of “variables” in this.

The target customer should be defined specifically. Keep in mind the target customer is NOT a market. “The pharmaceutical industry” or “environmental labs” are not customers. People are your customers. People make purchasing decisions, and you should state what people you need to speak to. There should be at least one noun that represents people (for example: “scientists,” “lab managers,” “analytical chemists,” etc.)

The statement of need cuts through your target customer to get to your customer segment. Of your target customers, what need will identify which will see value in your product? Ensure that you’re realistic. No matter what the situation, you will never achieve 100% market share so don’t pretend that you will. If you define the need too broadly, your targeting will be weak, leading to your messages not reaching the right people (and not being as effective when they do) and therefore decreasing the efficiency of your marketing communications.

The product offering should be a factual description of your product. There’s no place for terms like “revolutionary” or “breakthrough” in your product description. If you have fluff here, you’ll end up with fluff in your marketing messages, so be honest, be specific, and avoid exaggeration and hyperbole.

The statement of key benefit addresses how your product meets the aforementioned need of your customers. This statement should be specific and factual. Descriptors like “best” “reliable” or “high quality” should not be used. Also, benefits and specifications are not always interchangeable. If you use a specification or feature in your statement of key benefit, be sure to ask yourself if the benefit that feature / spec conveys would be obvious from the perspective of your audience. Furthermore, the focus should be on the single most valuable benefit; this is not a laundry list. Choosing one benefit is often not simple, but you either need to make the tough decision or reconcile multiple benefits in order to present them as one unified benefit. Lastly, note that the key benefit does not have to be your primary differentiator. That comes later.

The primary competitive alternative is not necessarily another product or service (although it often is). You want to address how most of your audience with your stated need are currently fulfilling it.

The statement of primary differentiation should summarize how your product or service provides value in ways that no other competitor can claim. It may be related to your statement of key benefit, but does not have to be. Remember: the key benefit is what provides the greatest value to the customer. The primary differentiators are what distinguishes you from other competitors. (Side note: the best differentiator should be determined by market analysis.)

A strong positioning statement is something that life science marketers can and should refer to in order to develop messages that are consistent and on target. To keep your marketing focused and ensure you target the most opportune audiences, have a positioning statement for all your product lines and service categories.

"Positioning is an art, and the best positionings are not simply drawn up arbitrarily but have their basis in information about the product, the customer, and the competitive landscape. If you are launching a new product or service (or recently launched one) and would like to improve your success through positioning, contact BioBM. We’ll help you define a strong positioning that’s based on data and empowers your marketing team to deliver value – both to your customers and for your company."