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Tag : life science

The Sequester & The Life Sciences

Life science tools companies face financial challenges because of government budget problems.It’s no longer big news – the U.S. congressional “supercommittee” tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts in the next 10 years has failed. On November 21st, the committee conceded failure and, barring the miraculous passage of any budget legislation over the next year which would meet those deficit objectives, the sequestration plan goes into effect starting Jan 2, 2013, cutting $1.2 trillion across-the-board. As a life science tools company that sells products in the United States, especially if you make a substantial fair amount of your money in the US and have exposure to academic research institutions, this should rightly scare you.

The sequester would cut 7.8% from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control. That’s a huge cut that equates to over 2,500 less NIH grants and 1,500 less NSF grants in 2013 compared to 2011. While the sequester isn’t a certainty at this point – details could still be revised and a budget agreement could still be reached – President Obama has stated that he would veto any plan that doesn’t meet the deficit reduction goals, making a deal unlikely.

Consider this – the NIH spends over $31.2 billion on life science and medical research annually. To give this some perspective, PhRMA estimates that in 2009 the ENTIRE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY spent $65.3 billion on R&D (although reported data from CapIQ would suggest that number is at least 50% higher). As one can surmise from these numbers, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries are highly unlikely to make up for the loss of R&D spending. If the sequester goes through as currently planned, my estimate would be that life science tools companies can expect a 3% to 4% decrease in their US sales, presuming that their current market shares between industry, academia, etc. are proportional to the respective current R&D spending. Obviously companies that sell a disproportionately large amount to academia and other organizations highly dependent on NIH funding will see a greater decrease in sales. Likewise, companies that sell products which make work in the lab more convenient will likely feel the pain somewhat more than essentials.

With governments across the globe having major budget problems, leaner times for life science funding are extremely likely to become a reality. The companies that will be able to succeed in spite of it will be those that understand their exposure to potential reductions in funding and plan accordingly.

"Is your strategy in order to account for decreases in research spending? How will you remain profitable if things indeed take a turn for the worse? Stop worrying and start planning. BioBM can help you define strategies and create plans that will help ensure your business survives and thrives even in the bad times. Get in touch – we’re looking forward to helping you out."

What Should We Call Ourselves?

I’ve heard our “sub-industry” called many things. So many, in fact, that it seems quite obvious that there isn’t a consensus. I think it’s time to end all that.

What should the industry that manufactures and sells products for use in life science research be called?

Take the poll on LinkedIn!

Contact Forms Affect Leads

About half of all scientists use search engines to find product info before looking anywhere else.Contact forms are increasingly being used by life science companies (and web development companies) as a lead collection tool, but despite this very important function companies often don’t think through the design of contact forms well. For example, I was looking at a life science service company’s website today, and they had an extremely long contact form. There were about 12 fields for contact information – all required. While this is an extreme example, it does highlight the point very well. Contact forms are being misused by life science companies.

You may be thinking “Isn’t this focusing on minutiae? Contact forms aren’t that important.” If so, most people think like you. When designing a contact form they ask what information they would like to collect and that’s about it. That thinking, however, is completely backwards. Why? Contact form submissions, which essentially equate to leads, decrease dramatically the more fields you have. Evidence in a minute.

I’ve heard anecdotally that form submissions decrease between 20% and 50% for each field. That seems a bit exaggerated to me (anecdotes often are), so I looked into it. Thankfully, with creative Googling you can find a study on just about anything. A Chicago-based web dev outfit called Imaginary Landscape did our homework for us. They ran a pilot contact form on their website with 11 fields, then the next month decreased it to 4 fields. The results? They saw a 120% increase in their form submission rate. Conversely, this would mean a 62% decrease in submission rate when increasing from 4 fields to 11, or roughly a 12.5% decrease in submissions per additional field if we actually can apply an exponential mathematical model as the anecdotes would tell us we can.

It stands to reason, however, that as we make it easier to fill out the contact form, that we will lower the quality of the leads. There is almost always a trade-off between lead quality and lead quantity in any given situation in which leads are collected. However, scientists aren’t going to fill out a form and give out their contact info for no reason. We’ll simply get more people contacting us who are “on the fence” – and those are exactly the people that you want your salespeople to get in touch with so that they can sell them on your life science products and / or services.

Because of all these factors, life science companies and life science web designers must be minimalistic in their implementation of contact forms. Do not ask yourself what information you want from your customers, but rather what is the minimum amount of information you need to collect. Let your sales staff get on the phone and collect the rest after you have the lead in hand.

"Is your website getting as many leads or driving as many sales as it could be? Too few companies ask themselves that question, despite the fact that almost 50% of life scientists look to the internet first for product information. BioBM always asks that question, and our analytics services can optimize your website for sales and lead generation. Remember: the best website isn’t the one that’s easiest to navigate or the most visually engaging, but rather it is the one that produces the greatest value for the company. Contact us."

What sells lab products?

Why do scientists buy any given laboratory products? How do they make their purchasing decisions? That’s the magic question that all of us seek to answer. While there is no one answer, and what answers we can attribute are dynamic, there is something that holds true. To sell life science tools and other lab products, there needs to be value, and this value can come from many places, such as:

  • Quality – value that comes from the product itself. The product may be more reliable, easier to use, technically superior to other products, etc. Scientists almost always desire reliable products that work on the first try and product consistent results. Building a great product is a big piece of the value equation.
  • Service & Support – value that comes from your company. This is an ongoing effort to make sure your customers have everything they need to successfully use your product. For best results, your support to the customer should not only be reactive, but should include proactive support as well, especially to customers who are using a particular product or product line for the first time. While perhaps not as important as the quality of the product itself, this is another highly important piece of the value equation for laboratory tools. In a study performed by BioBM, over 60% of scientists reported having refused to order a laboratory product because of a previous experience with the manufacturer or distributor selling it.
  • Marketing – perceived value created in the minds of scientists. The thing about value is that it either has to be experienced or communicated in order to be effective. Marketing is the communicator of that value, and how well you communicate that value will directly effect the perceived value of your products, especially for customers that have never used your products or dealt with your company before. If you haven’t communicated your product’s value, or if someone else hasn’t communicated it for you, scientists won’t recognize the value and therefore won’t buy your product.


If you fall short in one area of value creation, you can sometimes make up for it in another. For example, an imperfect product may be perfectly acceptable to a scientist so long as it is well-supported. Even if your product and support aren’t top-notch, but you make a compelling value proposition in your marketing and communicate it to a wide audience, your value will be understood and you’ll still get sales. (Note that the previous statements referring to lower value products be interpreted as lower value relative to similar products and not in absolute terms. Truly negative impressions of quality or support are difficult to overcome and you cannot be successful long-term if a high percentage of your customers are not satisfied.) The total perceived value is then weighed against the price and the customer’s price sensitivity when making the final purchasing decision.

Value comes from many places, and overall value is ultimately the driver of purchasing decisions made by life scientists. Understanding how to create and communicate value will make your laboratory research products, and your company, more successful.

"Seeking to improve the value of your current products, or build more value into future ones? Looking for the most effective or most efficient ways to communicate value? Contact BioBM Consulting and talk to one of our experienced life science business or marketing consultants. They can help you create desirable products, generate awareness and demand for your products, and much more."

America Invents Act: part 1

"This is an invited post from patent attorney Vadim Gordin of GordinIP, who is not affiliated with BioBM Consulting. This article is intended to be purely educational and cannot take the place of legal counsel. If you have a patent, trademark, or copyright matter to discuss, the author can be reached via the contact form on his practice website at www.GordinIP.com."

Rules of the Game: What every Engineer, Scientist, and Inventor should know about the Patent Reform Bill

On Friday, September 16th, 2011 President Obama signed into law the America Invents Act (hereafter AIA, full text here: pdf of AIA).

The AIA has had no shortage of both backers and detractors that have each said that it would be either the panacea or poison for American innovation. Regardless of where your own opinion falls as to the AIA, the bill and its changes are now set to become a very real part of the technology development landscape in America.

This article will be published in four weekly installments. In each installment, I will examine how the AIA changes four key areas of the patent process for engineers, scientists, and inventors.

Part 1: Patent Filing Dates and Deadlines
• Part 2: What content needs to be included in a Patent Application, New Mechanisms for Challenging Patents
• Part 3: How products protected by patents should be marked, New mechanisms for Enforcing Patents
• Part 4: Changes to Patent Fees

First To File Explained

This is one of the most talked-about and misunderstood provisions of the new law. In order to understand what it means for inventors and companies, we need to first compare the current US patent system to those in other parts of the world.

Before the AIA, standard advice to American inventors was to keep accurate, signed, and dated records of their innovations before patents were filed. The purpose of these records and notebooks was to establish, as clearly as possible, the dates on which inventions and aspects of inventions were conceived. This was because the patent laws of the United States protected the first person to invent a given technology. Further, because of this focus on inventorship, inventors in the United States were given one year from first sale, public use, or printed disclosure of an invention to file for patent protection.

Other parts of the world, notably Europe and Asia, have strict “First to File” systems whose focus is on the act of submitting a patent application to a given patent office. There, any public use, sale, or pubic disclosure of an invention before its submission as a patent applicaiton prevents anyone, including the inventor, from pursuing patent rights.

With the coming of the AIA, the US has shifted from a First to Invent system to a First Inventor to File system. In broad terms, this means that priority of invention is given to the first inventor to file a patent application. While this sounds similar to the pure “First to File” systems in place in other parts of the world, there are several key differences that American inventors, engineers and scientists should be aware of.

• The AIA maintains the US system’s focus on inventorship. Therefore, in order to receive a patent one must have still have been the actual inventor.
• The AIA shifts the date of priority for US patent rights to the date on which the inventor first filed a Patent Application.
• Under the AIA, American inventors no longer have a one year grace period during which to file a patent application after public use or sale of inventions, bringing US laws largely into line with the rest of the world.
• The AIA creates a one year grace period after publication of the invention by the inventor within which he can file for patent protection.

To illustrate the different patent systems and how they would play out in Europe compared to America before and after the AIA, let’s use a fictional example under the following timetable:

    June: David invents a novel device for time travel.
    July: David publishes an article describing the device in the Annuls of Time Travel.
    August: Another inventor, Rob, working independently from David, also invents a similar device for time travel and immediately files for a patent.
    September: David files for patent protection.


So what would happen under the different systems?

    Pure First to File (Europe, Asia, Canada): Both David and Rob are precluded from getting a patent because David published his article before either filing.
    First to Invent (United States before the AIA): Rob’s patent is barred by David’s invention in June.
    First Inventor to File (United States under the AIA): Rob’s patent is barred by David’s publication in July.


So what has changed about how inventors publish, sell, and patent their innovations?

1. When to File

Even before the AIA, American inventors interested in securing rights in Europe, Asia, and South America had to be weary of publishing or selling their inventions before making filings with a respective patent office. This is double true now that America has aligned itself with the rest of the world by barring applications on inventions that were sold, publicly used, or disclosed before an invention’s filing date.

In order to help alleviate the added cost of these filings, the AIA includes new fee guidelines which will be discussed in the fourth installment of this article.

2. When to Publish

As shown in the example above, an inventor’s own publication of the invention gives him one year within which to file for patent protection. While this may seem like a cheaper, quicker way to prevent others from filing patent applications, several considerable caveats apply:
a. Publishing about a Invention before filing an application bars an inventor from pursuing rights in countries with pure first-to-file systems.
b. Publications prepared by non-attorneys often contain enough information to render an invention obvious and therefor bar patentability without having enough detail to secure patent rights. As before the AIA, your best bet is to have an attorney review a publication before it goes out.
c. If you’ve gone so far as to have you publication checked and edited by an attorney, you should be filing a provisional application as it will not preclude rights in the rest of the world.

3. When to Sell or Publicly Use

In the past, many inventors have delayed the patent process in favor of first generating revenue or buzz around a product. Once the AIA comes into effect in 2013, such actions would preclude patent rights.

Even before the AIA comes into effect however, inventors are cautioned that a delay in submitting a patent application will often result in precluding patent rights in Europe, Asia, and Canada.

4. Lab Notebooks and Invention Records

While many have understood the above changes to mean that the days of lab notebooks and invention disclosures are gone, the answer as to how the AIA will affect innovation record-keeping in America is much more nuanced.

While the AIA has largely obviated the question of “when” an invention was conceived for the purposes of patenting, “who” invented, in what order, and under what circumstances remain important inquiries for the patent system, many universities, tort liability, and regulatory bodies like the FDA. Consequently, inventors are strongly advised to continue, as taught, to maintain accurate records of their labors.

While some of the changes covered in later installments take effect immediately, the AIA sections described in this article will take effect in March of 2013.

Next week: What content needs to be included in a Patent Application, New mechanisms for challenging patent validity.

"About the Author: Vadim Gordin is a patent attorney and technology broker licensed to practice law in the State of New Jersey and before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He can be reached via the contact form on his practice website at www.GordinIP.com."

Slowing Global Economy

Image courtesy of ponsulak and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.You see it on the television, you read it in the newspapers – the global economy is slowing. The IMF has cut GDP estimates for the world as a whole to 4.0%, highlights the threat of renewed recession in the US and EU, has curbed estimates on China slightly, and projects a sharp drop-off in India’s economic growth compared to last year. Other economies are projected to show sharply weaker growth as well. Huge public debts also threaten austerity in major economies. All in all, the global economy is in a very precarious position … but what does that mean for you, the manufacturers and distributors of life science research tools?

Overall, the global life sciences research market will likely contract, and we are already seeing supporting evidence of such. The proposed 2012 NIH budget is trimmed by a modest 0.6%. I expect European and Japanese life science R&D spending to be trimmed by a similar amount. While many developed economies are struggling with debt, investments in research don’t seem to be high-priority chopping block items. What about the massive $100bn+ pharmaceutical and biotech research and development budgets? Well, while one may reasonably postulate that people in developed economies are losing their health care along with their jobs and this would lead to falling revenues, that does not seem to be the case. In fact, the largest threat to pharma / biotech seems to be generics, but even then global sales growth is still projected to be positive, albeit diminished. That being the case, don’t expect private-sector R&D to grow, but it shouldn’t shrink either. Overall, we will likely see only a very modest contraction in overall life science R&D spending. That’s good news.

The bad news is that this cuts the “growth” out of the market, although this is worse news if you’re a large company or an established player in your market segment. These companies rely more on growth in the market in order to grow themselves (at least organically), and companies with a high market share or those that have seen their market share plateau are more likely to see a sales contraction from a contraction in global life science R&D funding. Smaller companies that have plateaued will need to assess their technology and competencies in order to develop plans for value-added innovation in current markets and / or expansion into new markets in order to sustain growth, or else they will simply contract with the market. Larger companies with more cash will likely use M&A to achieve growth. Look for them to acquire early-stage companies with very promising high-impact technologies as well as established small-to-mid size companies that have high-quality product lines that are complimentary to their own.

Contrary to general consumer behavior, we are unlikely to see a move to lower-cost products within the research tools market. Less research funding generally means less labs or smaller labs, not across-the-board cuts in funding to all labs. In other words, the dollars spent per researcher will likely be roughly the same, but the overall number of researchers will decrease, spreading the contractile pressure fairly evenly across all laboratory products instead of driving researchers to lower-cost products. Practically speaking, this means that manufacturers and distributors who sell products that compete on price will feel the squeeze just as bad, if not worse since many of these “generic” or “commodity” type manufacturers do not have the technology and R&D capability to expand into new markets. As these companies have thin margins and already focus on efficiency, thereby not leaving much more room to squeeze out additional efficiency, they will feel the pain of any contraction quite acutely if they haven’t been saving cash.

On the other hand, small and mid-size companies that rely more heavily on technology adoption for growth will likely still have strong performance, as companies will still want to put their research dollars into tools that make research faster, better, and easier. These companies don’t rely so much on market growth since they are, in effect, building sub-markets and carving out new space. While their effective “ceiling” may be decreased, this will likely affect them only minimally since they are still in the growth phase and have not come close to reaching their maximum potential. One exception to this could be those companies that manufacture high-value capital equipment that is most often purchased to upgrade from an older instrument and / or technology. Look for sales in these products to decline somewhat as organizations look to decrease their R&D overhead by decreasing funding to core facilities and putting off large, non-critical purchases. With few exceptions, however, scientists will continue to adopt new technologies.

Another way a contraction will affect the life science research tools market is by decreasing marketing ROI. With an overall decrease in spending, there will be more marketing dollars chasing fewer customers, so marketing ROI will likely decrease by a few percentage points, especially since new players in the market will likely continue to enter given its size and comparative stability, and also to seize opportunities created by new technologies. While sales forces can shrink to demand, the channels through which marketers need to reach customers do not shrink, and this puts a fairly strict limit on how much a marketing budget can contract without negatively affecting sales.

A contracting global economy certainly will not effect the research products markets as much as it will the consumer markets, and this is very good news for those in the space and for the future of biomedical research a a whole. Nevertheless, any slowing or contraction presents risks. By understanding the situation and the likelihood of future possibilities and preparing for what may lie ahead, life science companies can plan for and mitigate those risks to help ensure continued success.

"Are you ready for a contraction or other market disruptions? With a troubled global economy, now is as good a time as any to plan for scenarios which may negatively impact your life science business. If you’re not sure of how you can protect yourself from downside risk, ask the experts at BioBM Consulting. Our business consultants can help you develop a strategy and plans-of-action that will cushion your company from macroeconomic hardships beyond your control."

ROI: Marketing meets Sales

Marketing and sales should be considered holistically in order to better measure, and improve, marketing ROI.There is often a disconnect in communication and reporting among the marketing and sales / business development teams in life science companies that makes the calculation of ROI less relevant, or just flat out less correct, than it should be. Each team or division generally focuses largely on what they can control and what their end-goals are. Usually for life sciences marketing teams the metric of choice is leads, and for sales teams the metrics of choice are sales and conversion rate. Considered separately, these metrics do not form a holistic approach that considers the interests of the company.

Primarily at odds when marketing and sales metrics are considered and reported separately is lead quality. As most marketers and practically all salespeople know, poorly designed or poorly targeted marketing communications can often generate large amounts of poor-quality leads. The large volume of leads will look good for marketing, but ultimately will be bad for sales, as few of the leads will convert. Because of this, an overarching reporting structure that considers both leads and sales should be implemented which tracks lead capture and development over the complete cycle. With such an overarching reporting structure, a better understanding of ROI can be gained.

Simply reporting a more holistic measure of ROI is not sufficient, however, as ultimately companies are not interested in reports, but in revenues. Certainly there are many problems that can be identified and subsequently fixed through improved reporting, however there need to be methods of direct contact, information flow, and feedback between marketing and sales teams.

Some products may not require sales teams, and for these products marketing will directly lead to sales without the intermediate step of lead generation. While in these situations it is easy for ROI to be measured, for many products and virtually all services it is not so simple. In these situations marketing and sales must collaborate, and data from one function must be related to data from the other. Only with more holistic approaches can a meaningful measure of ROI be grasped and meaningful strategies developed to increase it.

"Are you looking for new strategies and best practices to improve your life science company’s bottom line? Stop looking and start solving. When you work with BioBM, we work to ensure that your company gets solutions that are tailored specifically to your needs. Outside the box? Always. Out of the box? Never. Contact us today."

Life Science SMM: Forums

Forums provide life science tools and services companies with a platform for much more personal engagement with customers.This post is the fifth and final post in a series of primers on various platforms available for life science social media marketing (SMM). The other primers are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Perhaps the most underutilized life science SMM outlets, yet ones that often provide good opportunities, are forums. Forums and bulletin boards are the “original” online social media platforms, far predating facebook, twitter, etc., and many online science forums are old, well-established, and well-trafficked. Such forums include the Protocol Online BioForum, the Biology Online forum, Molecular Station’s Molecular Biology Forum, the Scientist Solutions forum, and SEQanswers. As you may guess from their names, many have specialized focuses, but some are quite general as well. Most of the above, however, are very popular with tens of thousands of visitors each month. That’s quite the audience.

Before utilizing any forum for social media marketing, be sure to read the rules of the forum. Each forum will have different rules and some may limit their usefulness for social media marketing. For example, some may not allow you to represent yourself as a company. Some may not allow you to promote a company or product in a post or in your forum signature. Some may not allow outbound links until you have a certain number of posts. Regardless, be sure to follow the forum rules. Not doing so will only get your posts deleted, your account banned, and create a bunch of negative feelings towards you, your company, and your brand. If you feel the rules are too restrictive, don’t use the forum.

That said, there are a lot of ways that forums can be used to your advantage. Some forums will allow you to post about new products and services, or will have specific sections for you to do so. These posts can attract hundreds or even thousands of views, so they are often well worth it. Many will allow you to link back to your website in those posts as well. Providing expert answers to questions on topics within your company’s area of expertise can also be a valuable way to grow and promote your brand image. This sort of projection of expertise will garner respect for the knowledge of your company and staff and will also build goodwill among scientists in your target fields. Sometimes a scientist will have an issue for which one of your products would be a good solution. In these cases, it is appropriate to recommend it to them, thereby directly generating potential leads. Occasionally a scientist will post specifically about one of your products, either to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction, or to ask for support on how to use it when a problem is encountered. In these cases it is very often advantageous to respond to the customer, and again a chance to project expertise, guide customer sentiment, and build goodwill.

Forums provide life science tools and services companies with a platform for much more personal engagement with customers. Offering support, advice, and expertise, as well as announcing new products, are excellent ways to leverage forums in order to build product awareness, goodwill, and project your brand image to an already engaged audience.

"To most life science tools companies, social media marketing seems hazy, but BioBM can make it crystal clear. With training, consulting, and outsourcing solutions that can provide you with the expert skills you need to build and maintain a high-impact, cross-platform SMM campaign, BioBM can help you leverage these new and rapidly evolving tools to build your brand, promote your products, and even generate demand and leads. If you want to target customers in the highly influential and rapidly growing social media environments, give us a call. We’ll have a frank and honest discussion about where you are, where you want to be, how to get there, and what will be required to do so."

Life Science SMM: YouTube

YouTube is a great platform for sharing, but know where its usefulness reaches its limit.This post is the fourth in a series of primers on various platforms available for life science social media marketing (SMM). The first SMM primer, about the use of Twitter, is available here. The second, on using Facebook for life science SMM, is available here. The third, on LinkedIn, is available here. Check back next week for the last life science social media marketing primer, which will be on the use of forums.

YouTube has become synonymous with video on the internet. Content is literally added faster than you can watch it, even if you had 2500 monitors. According to YouTube’s own statistics, 8 years worth of video content is uploaded to YouTube every day. More content is uploaded in one month than the three major US television networks have created in 60 years. YouTube videos were played 700 billion times in 2010.

That said, YouTube isn’t your average social network. The average YouTube viewer is there for entertainment or information, not socialization, so there are a lot more silent participants and generally less interaction than on more traditional social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Because of this, YouTube isn’t really a social tool to be used alone, nor is it something that should be tackled separately from other social channels. To get the most from YouTube, it should rather be a part of a greater life science content marketing strategy, and its use should be integrated with your other social platforms.

YouTube is wonderful for content marketing in no small part because it’s so incredibly easy to share. YouTube has its own built-in URL shortening, and viewers can post YouTube content anywhere and embed videos any place that they can post HTML. If your aim is viral and your content is video, YouTube has to be your platform. YouTube is good for more than just viral videos, though. It’s a great place to start or develop engagement with customers. YouTube allows you to link to other content within the video space itself, and you can promote other avenues of social engagement and content as well, such as your twitter account, Facebook page, blog, your YouTube channel, etc. Be sure to make good use of that capability and encourage your audience to interact, share, and connect. Think of this encouragement as the equivalent of what calls-to-action would be in more demand-focused marketing communications. Instead of “buy now”, you’re saying “share”, “follow”, or “subscribe”. Keep your content fresh, and make lots of videos – even if they’re nothing special. Show customers how to use your new products (and encourage them to share their methods via video as well). Introduce your facility or staff. Create “video manuals” for your products. Show your human side, build your brand, make some friends. Get creative, and try to find ways to pique your customers interest. Just don’t waste their time. Videos don’t have to have a high production value (especially for smaller life science companies that aren’t as worried about appearing “finished”), but they should all have a purpose.

Like other social media platforms, there are some things that you definitely should NOT do. Don’t use it as a place to make hard pitches. If you want to use YouTube to lead someone into a sales cycle, lead them to another place first (your website, for example). Also, don’t use too YouTube videos on the static pages of your website (such as your product pages). YouTube videos will show related videos at the end of your video, and this may include competitors’ videos. Also, YouTube is notorious for people “Trolling” – posting inflammatory or degrading remarks in order to elicit a response. Don’t “feed the trolls” by falling into their trap. If someone says something off-topic and / or stupid, just ignore it.

YouTube also allows users to create “Brand Channels“. These channels are homepages for their YouTube content that can be customized with a company’s branding and imagery, and also provides some additional features such as moderation (which shouldn’t be overused!). These are visually nifty, but are not free, so it’s up to you to decide whether a brand channel is worth it.

YouTube is a great place to share your video content and promote engagement with customers. Used in conjunction with other social media platforms, your blog, and other means of providing and distributing content, your life science company can build a powerful tool for engaging researchers.

"Do you like YouTube? We LOVE YouTube! Blending our experience in social media marketing and marketing communications, we can conceptualize high-impact strategies, define winning campaigns, and create awesome videos that leverage YouTube to get your life science tools company more publicity, create a whole lot of interaction with scientists, and help build and project your brand to the world. If you want to combine the powerful tools of video content and social media, then it’s time to call BioBM Consulting. Let’s grow your business, make an impact, and maybe even have a little fun doing it. … And did I mention we love YouTube?"

Life Science SMM: LinkedIn

Using LinkedIn for life science social media marketingThis post is the third in a series of primers on various platforms available for life science social media marketing (SMM). The first SMM primer, about the use of Twitter, is available here. The second, on using Facebook for life science SMM, is available here. Check back for more primers on the use of youtube, forums and other means of life science social media marketing.

LinkedIn is somewhat unique among social media platforms. It is a professional social network. That means that unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other “personal” social platforms, on LinkedIn people are looking to interact on a professional level. While 0.2% of all human-experienced time in the world isn’t spent on LinkedIn (only Facebook can make that claim), it still surpassed 100 million members in March and is a ranked the 13th most popular website (according to Alexa at the time of posting. Perhaps most importantly, LinkedIn provides a unique opportunity to interact with individuals who may otherwise be difficult to reach, influence key opinion leaders, and become a thought leader among a crowd of influential experts.

LinkedIn is also interesting because most of the interaction that your company does on LinkedIn has to be personal – there are very limited ways in which the company, detached from the employee that is performing your SMM, can interact with individuals. Most of your interaction must be done as a person. This in turn requires that LinkedIn be a highly personal endeavor and that employees performing SMM on LinkedIn take ownership of the content that they post. This has pros and cons. On the positive side, your customers will be more receptive to the messages that come from people (rather than companies) and will be more likely to engage with them. On the downside, much of the benefit of developing relationships will be lost if the individual managing your LinkedIn SMM effort changes. In most cases, however, the pros far outweigh the cons.

From a strictly corporate standpoint, LinkedIn does allow you to create a page that provides a brief overview of your company as well as provide a description of your products and / or services. While you should complete your company’s description (it looks more professional), your product and service page will likely be so infrequently viewed that it is unlikely to be worth maintaining unless you have a large amount of resources or your product / service offering is only changed very infrequently. You can also provide a feed of your Twitter and blog, and I recommend doing both since it is a good way to direct viewers to that content as well. These tools, however, are the far smaller component of where value can be realized on LinkedIn.

The overwhelming majority of the value that you can realize on LinkedIn is via groups. LinkedIn groups are places where you can connect and interact person-to-person with people who are very likely to be a) highly networked, b) thought leaders, c) highly targeted to your area of interest. In many cases, the demographic that you want to target will already be congregated into a LinkedIn group. Do you sell products or services to proteomics researchers, for example? There are two groups specifically focusing on proteomics with over 1000 members, and many others that are either somewhat more broadly focused or also highly focused but with memberships in the hundreds. Granted, some of those members probably do not receive group updates and visit the group page only infrequently, but a good portion likely check it occasionally, and perhaps 10% of the members of any given page view it regularly and / or receive daily or weekly e-mail updates. For groups with members in the 1000s, that’s a very good audience ripe for quality content marketing. (Think about it – how much would you love to have hundreds of people attend one of your webinars, etc). If a page for your company’s specialization doesn’t exist, and you think that there may be sufficient interest to sustain a group, then make one! You can gain as much if not more benefit from running your own group, and there are even ways to “brand” the group (via the logo, name, etc.).

Don’t forget that posting on LinkedIn groups, like other forms of SMM, should be approached as content marketing. The benefits to doing so on LinkedIn are even greater, as content that creates discussion is rewarded by placement in the highly visible “most popular discussions” section. Also, since LinkedIn groups all have a moderator, frequent promotional posts may result in censorship or removal from the group. To avoid this, be sure to build some goodwill within the group before you make any pitches.

LinkedIn, while not as popular for life science social media marketing, presents unique opportunities which are potentially higher value than those likely to be created via other social networking platforms. In large part due to the focused communities and personal nature of interaction via LinkedIn, high-value relationships can be built and prospective customers can be more effectively engaged by leveraging an effective social media strategy.

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