logo

Tag : marketing communications

Personalization Can Backfire

Marketers are used to seeing a lot of data showing that improving personalization leads to improved demand generation. The more you tailor your message to the customer, the more relevant that message will be and the more likely the customer will choose your solution. Sounds reasonable, right?

In most cases personalization is great, but what those aforementioned studies and all the “10,000-foot view” data misses is that there are a subset of customers for whom personalization doesn’t help. There are times when personalization can actually hurt you.

When Personalization Backfires

Stressing the points which are most important to an individual works great … when that individual has sole responsibility for the purchasing decision. For large or complex purchases, however, that is often not the case. When different individuals involved in a purchasing decision have different priorities and are receiving different messages tailored to their individual needs, personalization can act as a catalyst for divergence within the group, leading different members to reinforce their own needs and prevent consensus-building.

Marketers are poor at addressing the problems in group purchasing. A CEB study of 5000 B2B purchasers found that the likelihood of any purchase being made decreases dramatically as the size of the group making the decision increases; from an 81% likelihood of purchase for an individual, to just 31% for a group of six.

For group purchases, marketers need to focus less on personalization and more on creating consensus.

Building Consensus for Group Purchases

Personalization reinforces each individual’s perspective. In order to more effectively sell to groups, marketers need to reinforce shared perspectives of the problem and the solution. Highlight areas of common agreement. Use common language. Develop learning experiences which are relevant to the entire group and can be shared among them.

Personalization focuses on convincing individuals that your solution is the best. In order to better build consensus, equip individuals with the tools and information they need to provide perspective about the problem to their group. While most marketers spend their time pushing their solution, the CEB found that the sticking point in most groups is agreeing upon the nature of the solution that should be sought. By providing individuals within the groups who may favor your solution with the ability to frame the nature of the problem to others in their group, you’ll help those who have a nascent desire to advocate for you advocates get past this sticking point and guide the group to be receptive of your type of solution. Having helped them clear that critical barrier, you’ll be better positioned for the fight against solely your direct competitors.

Winning a sale requires more than just understanding the individual. We’ve been trained to believe that personalization is universally good, but that doesn’t align with reality. For group decisions, ensure your marketing isn’t reinforcing the individual, but rather building consensus within the group. Only then can you be reliably successful at not only overcoming competing companies, but overcoming the greatest alternative of all: a decision not to purchase anything.

"Looking to improve how you communicate with your market? There are only so many minutes in the day and effective communications must first successfully fight for those minutes, then deliver a message that resonates. The power to captivate is what will bring you a greater share of attention, and you can only win the customers who are paying attention to you. BioBM is here to help you win – at every step. We ensure that you win market share through winning and maintaining another important share: share of attention. The days of marketing by interruption are fading away. The days of marketing by captivation have arrived. These days can be yours. Seize them."

Wide Nets Don’t Win

The fear of loss is stronger than the desire for gain.

This is a scientific fact. Here’s the first paper that describes it, but there are a lot more which confirm it. It’s known as loss aversion, and it makes both us and our customers irrational.

Loss aversion is, for instance, why challenger marketing works so well. Lots of companies talk about benefits – what customers have to gain by using your product or service – but customers respond better if you can convince them that the way they are currently doing things is wrong. Tell them that they are currently experiencing loss and they’ll more likely act in your favor. (Don’t just take it from me – you can ask the Corporate Executive Board.)

Challenger marketing is underutilized, however. Why? Simple. Loss aversion. Most marketers are scared of being negative. They think – without any proof to support it – that communicating a thought which could be perceived as negative will turn customers off and cause a blowback on their brands. They are afraid of making people upset more than they desire gains. This persists and directs action even in spite of evidence that being negative at times can provide positive results.

An even more critical and fundamental area where loss aversion cripples marketers is in positioning. Marketers, and the corporate honchos that preside over them, love to cast wide nets. They just love to pretend that everyone is a potential customer. When that becomes the default scenario, we find ourselves in a dangerous position. Loss aversion makes us scared to cut out pieces of the market, that’s not what makes positioning an effective tool. Wide nets don’t win.

Positioning is about defining who is and who isn’t a target customer. We want to maximize the chance that we’re going to close opportunities. We do that not by casting the widest net, but by resonating with those our net is designed to catch. Those are the people we should want to sell to – not the masses who will suck up our marketing dollars and sales efforts but have little chance of converting. That requires putting your loss aversion aside and cutting out your true piece of the market – that which you are realistically and effectively able to capture.

Loss aversion is a powerful tool for marketers, but the same thing that makes it so useful can be harmful when it manifests in ourselves. Don’t just understand the psychology of your scientist-customers, but understand your own psychology as well. You’ll make better decisions as a result.

"Have a question for Carlton on life science marketing? Shoot us a message."

Avoiding Skepticism

The scientific buying journey is fraught with skepticism. From the buyer’s perspective, this is a requirement of a good buying journey. The buyer must decide what to believe and what not to believe, determine what is meaningful and what is not, and refine their understanding of their own needs all while being blasted with marketing messages from companies that are all trying to get the scientist’s business. Skepticism is a natural and required component of these efforts. It is also the enemy of the marketer.

Skepticism is what makes overly pushy and overtly bombastic messages fail. It’s also part of the fuel for the rise in content marketing. Marketers are looking for ways to convey their messages in manners that create less skepticism. Rather than immediately jumping to validation, promotion, and flat-out selling, they first attempt to educate in a more subtly guiding manner which conditions the scientists to viewpoints that will be later elaborated on in the more traditional marketing efforts. However, promoting content to scientists is not the same as the scientists discovering content on their own, and the manner in which content is presented will, in part, determine their receptiveness to it. Additionally, taking a “hands off” approach throughout the buying journey such as to avoid skepticism would lead to overall marketing ineffectiveness due to low rates of opportunity development later in the journey.

Educational content is often necessary, but never sufficient. We therefore must consider the nature of messages, as well as how those messages are to be delivered, such that we can avoid skepticism-driven rejection earlier in the buying journey while still creating the desired effect in the later stages of the buying journey: a closed sale.

Illustration of how messages should be adapted to different positions within the buying journey.

Evolving Message Types

Early in the journey, the customer is gathering information and may not even yet realize that they have a need for a product. At this stage, educational content is the way to go. You want to help them learn and discover information that will prime them to your point of view without giving them reason to be skeptical (as promoting a commercial solution would).

As they transition from discovery and exploration to analysis, they know a need exists and start to actively gather and evaluate options. Educational content is still useful, so long as it is focused on the customers’ needs. Basic background information is of little interest to the customer at this point, unless it is something so disruptive to their journey that they need to reconsider its premises. Additionally, we want to start adding validation content – content that demonstrates to them that the solution we are advocating is correct. (For example, case studies are a very common form of validation content.) This type of content will help them understand our offering as a qualified option to solve their need. If the customer has been properly educated to accept our point of view earlier in the buying journey, validation content will not raise skepticism.

As they come to the late stages of analysis and approach their buying decision, educational content should be largely avoided in favor of additional validation as well as promotions – the “hard sell,” as we call it. At this point the opportunity exists; we just need to seize it! Dancing around it with more educational content will not effectively prompt action. More direct calls to action are required.

Message Centricity

Let me lead off with this reminder: life science marketers should always maintain a focus on their scientist-customers. That said, customer-centricity exists on a sliding scale, as most things do, and is not absolute. Changing the centricity of your messages throughout the buying journey is also necessary for optimal performance.

Early in the journey, we should have a nearly exclusive customer focus. Everything should be framed from the perspective of the customer and their needs. We should adopt their perspective as much as possible. As the journey continues, we can shed a little bit of this customer-centricity, giving room to focus more first on the technology, then ultimately on the product. We are not shifting to a product-focus. We are shifting to a customer-centric product focus. We can never focus solely on the product. Why? The product is a lower-order need and our scientist-customers will respond vastly better to higher-order needs (the reason they need your solution in the first place).

Mechanism of Discovery

The manner in which messages are delivered can raise skepticism. However, the mechanisms that raise the least skepticism are not the most effective throughout the buying journey, so shifting mechanisms of message delivery / discovery must be considered as well.

Messages that are naturally found by your audience tend to raise far less skepticism than messages that are pushed upon them. Early in the buying journey, we want to rely on mechanisms that are organic – those which allow the messages or content to be found naturally by your audience or in a manner that feels natural. They should be able to actively choose to interact with it rather than have it pushed upon them. This could include organic search, display or native advertising, and placement within third party media. In general, marketing tactics that are considered inbound would roughly overlap with organic discovery. Regardless, the customer must feel as if they are driving their own discovery.

As the customer has more interaction with your brand and consents to receive marketing, you can begin to transition from pull to push. Even with permission, you should avoid the temptation to get too pushy too quickly, as you can still very easily raise skepticism by doing so. As the customer progresses through the buying journey, you can transition more from customer-driven discovery to a more visibly active role in leading them. This more active role will be necessary; if you were to always wait for the customer to “organically” discover and interact with your content, you could very well lose mindshare to your competitors. Therefore, a careful and evolving balance is required throughout the buying journey.

Transitioning Goals

While the ultimate goal of closing a sale remains the same throughout the buying journey, looking at the interim goals can help to understand both why the aforementioned transitions are necessary and how to execute them. In brief, we transition from:

  • Shifting the scientists’ viewpoint without activating skepticism …
  • … to convincing them that the adopted viewpoint is the correct one …
  • … to persuading them to act on their beliefs and execute a transaction.


We shift from seeking to primarily avoid rejection as the customer remains open to many viewpoints, to seeking acceptance as the customer evaluates and filters their options towards an ultimate decision.

Avoiding skepticism is undeniably important, and raising skepticism with your marketing can shut your brand out of a customers’ buying journey early on. However, the approaches that we use to avoid skepticism do not make for an efficient marketing platform as the buying journey progresses. Many of the mechanisms that create skepticism are needed to close opportunities. By understanding where customers’ are in their buying journeys, and matching our approaches to it to create balance, we simultaneously limit skepticism while increasing the ultimate likelihood of a sale.

"Scientists are complicated. Buying journeys are complicated. Your path to winning them can be easy. BioBM will ensure that your customers’ buying journeys – no matter where they start – end squarely on you. Let’s take your marketing to the next level and dominate the competition. Get started."

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."

Optimize Your Messages

Optimize Your Marketing MessagesThink about how much money (not to mention effort) goes into disseminating your marketing messages. Think of all the resources spent on advertising, copywriting, conference exhibitions, social media, printed materials, even search marketing. Life science companies spend huge sums trying to reach their audience but many companies don’t spend nearly enough on making sure their messages are effective. Instead, messaging is often based on personal opinion, anecdote, or simply left to whatever the copywriter puts on paper. The result is that most marketing communication efforts are sub-optimal. In other words, you’re throwing away money on every marketing communication you make or disseminate.

To avoid this, companies need to devote just a small amount of their marketing communications budget into optimizing their messages. There are three primary ways in which this can (and should) be performed.

First, start with the competition. Analyze how your competition is positioning and describing their own products by performing an attribute analysis. Just as your products / services need to be differentiated (unless you’re competing on price) your message needs to effectively convey that differentiation. If you’re describing your products the same way that everyone else is, then your audience is going to have a hard time discerning which product is more valuable to them. However, differentiating the message isn’t enough to discern what message is optimal.

That’s where marketing research comes in.

Many companies think they know what is most important to their customers and why, but it’s easy to be wrong. For instance, say your product enables what was a 5-step procedure to be done in three shorter steps. That obviously has value, but what is most important to the customer? Do they perceive the greatest value in the reduced number of steps, or is it that the whole process is shorter? Is it that they are saving time? Is it that the time saved allows them to do other things and thereby accelerate their research? Perhaps, if you’re selling to a manager or PI, they think less time equals less money and that is what’s most important. As you notice, any one feature or attribute may translate into a large number of perceived benefits. In order for your message to be optimally effective, you need to understand where the customer places that importance. Draw out a “web of benefits” to articulate all the reasonably likely perceptions of value, then query your audience as to which benefits they find most valuable. However, sometimes the feedback received in this kind of marketing research differs from how people actually act in a real-life situation.

That’s where A/B testing comes in.

So now you have a short list of what the most important areas of perceived value are to the audience and which messages are the most differentiated. Overlay those and choose a few messages which reflect your differentiation, are distinct from your competitors, and align with the customers’ perceptions of value. Now test them to see which ones actually work best in practice.

None of these things need to be time consuming or complicated, and they’re certainly a lot less costly than wasting a significant chunk of your communications budget.

Just one last tip – no matter what you do, always avoid facile claims. Reliable, high-quality, and industry-leading have lost their meaning long ago. Stick with meaningful claims that can be expressly validated.

"Are you looking to get more from your marketing? To ensure that your communications are effective, contact BioBM. We’ll work with you to ensure you’re resonating with your audiences and that your communications are generating leads and creating brand value."

Validate Your Messages!

Life science marketers need to validate the claims in their marketing messages.I think that this point is obvious to the vast majority of life science marketers who may read this – and you should certainly be well aware if you’ve been following this blog or the Marketing of Life Science Tools & Services Group on LinkedIn – but I’ve seen this problem a few times in the past week so I think it’s worth bringing up: When you make a claim, be sure you validate that claim.

Let’s drill down to the core of this discussion and build from there. What is a claim? According to Merriam-Webster, a claim is “a statement saying that something happened a certain way or will happen a certain way : a statement saying that something is true when some people may say it is not true.” For our purposes, we can view a claim to be any statement that may reasonably be disputed.

Of course, the reason that you are making claims is to convey a viewpoint to another person. The whole purpose of marketing communications is to get an audience to adopt a particular point of view; if they can reasonably dispute that point of view and you do not attempt to preemptively address potential points of dispute, then your marketing communications will be ineffective. The nature of these disputes are myriad; they could be anything from simply questioning a factual point or rejecting an opinion to questioning the neutrality of the source or the basis for the claim itself. Resolving these disputes is where validation comes in.

Funny side note, going back to Merriam-Websters, their example usage of the word validation is: “I’m afraid we cannot act on your claim without validation.”

Validation is where you resolve the disputes that the audience may have with regards to your claims. This can involve provision of additional factual information or data, third party opinions, etc. How we do so is not important here; once you identify how your claims are likely to be disputed then the method of solving those disputes is often obvious. What is important is the recognition that what you are communicating is, in fact, a claim (and therefore may be disputed) and, subsequently, how that claim is likely to be disputed. Once those things are identified, you’re well on your way to improving your marketing messages.

Also, when validating your marketing messages, don’t forget that it’s always better to show than to tell.

"Are your marketing communications getting results for your company? Improving your messages and your message validation can do wonders for conversion. Let BioBM show you just how much better your communications can be. Call us and let’s talk."

Marketing Channels

To ensure that your campaigns have reach, focus on the many different channels which scientists may prefer.Many small life science companies have their preferred advertising / marketing channels. This approach, limited and highly focused, works well for demand generation campaigns (and, to a lesser extent, branding initiatives) in which reaching a large proportion of the target market is not necessary; when reaching just a subset of the target market is acceptable. However, when companies want to reach an entire market, it is critical that a wide variety of marketing channels are considered. The concept also applies to dissemination of content – a large amount of content channels need to be targeted if a large amount of the target market is to be reached. This is because people have preferred channels for finding information and consuming content.

As a data-supported example, take consumer behavior for consumption of digital media. As the Harvard Business Review discussed in its October 2012 article “Why Digital Media Require a Strategic Rethink“:

[pullquote_left]Most customers choose their channel before choosing a product, and they’re unlikely to jump channels. […] For example, in December 2007 NBC removed its content from the iTunes Store, causing an 11% increase in piracy the following month—and no increase in DVD sales. Conversely, after ABC added its content to Hulu, in 2009, piracy of its shows dropped by more than 20%, while TV viewership remained essentially unchanged. And in 2010, when a major U.S. publisher stopped providing Kindle editions, it saw no increase in hardcover sales.
[/pullquote_left]

This translates into ways in which people look for information and products as well. For instance, some scientists may use BioCompare almost all the time when looking for a product. Others may not use BioCompare at all. Others may use it only when they are having difficulty finding a product or making a decision. However, very few are likely to migrate between those groups at will. Another example: many scientists do a Google search first when looking for a chemical or reagent, but many others go straight to Sigma and search their site. There are probably very few who randomly do both. When looking for scientific news, some scientists may gravitate to Nature News. Others may go to their favorite journals (either print or digital – but unlikely both).

For those of us that don’t have scientific backgrounds, think about your own searches for information different types of products. You probably have a preferred method and channel(s) to look for various types of products. When you want to read the news, you likely have one or a few preferred websites, newspapers, or periodicals. The way in which scientists look for information or products is not very different.

Because scientists have preferred sources and channels, advertising or publishing content across a single channel or a small number of channels is often an ineffective way of reaching a large proportion of any particular target market. To ensure that your campaigns have reach, focus on the many different channels which scientists may prefer.

"Are you looking to increase your company’s reach? Want to develop promotional strategies to help drive inbound lead generation or improve your company’s brand strength? Contact BioBM. Our team of life science marketing experts will help your company reach more scientists, reel them in, and convert them into profitable sales which drive your company’s growth. For more information, call us at +1 313-312-4626."

A Lesson in Communication

Aristotle's Reason provides three timeless fundamentals of great communicationOne of the most timeless lessons in the art of persuasive communication is about 2350 years old and written by Aristotle. Rhetoric, and particularly the second book of Rhetoric contains fundamentals which every life science marketer with a role in marketing communications should understand and adhere to. In this book, Aristotle discusses what he believes to be the three essential elements of persuasion: ethos, logos, and pathos.

Aristotle takes ethos to comprise wisdom, virtue, and good will, however these can more generally be summed up as credibility. The speaker needs to establish credibility before he can successfully be persuasive. Aristotle’s composition of ethos actually breaks down how marketers can do this quite nicely: we can show our wisdom and have the audience therefore trust in our expertise, and we can show virtue and good will and thereby have the audience believe that we genuinely want to help them and put their best interests first. Life science marketers should aim to do both, although the former is generally an easier sell.

Logos is logic, plain and simple. (Etymologically it’s not so simple – its usage by Aristotle means something more akin to “reasoned discourse” – but that’s not really relevant to this conversation). In order for you to be persuasive, reasons Aristotle, you must think logically and effectively communicate your logic to the audience. Logos is probably the easiest and most direct element for science marketers, however understanding what you need to explain and effectively explaining it are two different beasts. Many still fail at the latter.

Pathos is an appeal to emotion. Aristotle claimed that emotions have specific causes and effects and therefore one can understand how to invoke emotion in the audience and utilize that one can effect how they render their judgments. To be optimally effective, you cannot simply reason with your audience, but you must create an emotional connection that will help drive your desired action. This is often the least straightforward element of persuasion as it pertains to marketing. Many marketers do not even attempt to leverage emotion in their communications, but the most powerful messages almost always inspire emotion.

To create more effective marketing communications, utilize Aristotle’s three elements of persuasion: demonstrate credibility, clearly explain the logic behind your perspective, and appeal to the audience’s emotion. By incorporating all three elements you’ll more effectively persuade your audience to adopt your viewpoint.

"Educating and persuading your audiences requires great communications. To improve the effectiveness of your communications, contact BioBM. We’ll work with you to ensure you’re getting the most impact out of every customer contact."

The Pitfall of Facile Claims

Facile attributes are meaningless and largely ineffective, so why do life science marketers cling to them?Previously on this blog, we discussed why a number of commonly-used claims are meaningless (such as “high-quality” “reliable” “improved” and “consistent”) and also how marketers need to validate their marketing messages in order for them to be effective. However, life science marketers continuously cling to these facile attributes and fail to validate their messages. Many marketers who resort to the use of facile attributes want to make compelling, validated claims but fall into that pitfall anyway. In this post, focus on common reasons why facile attributes get used.

Reason 1: Poorly Differentiated Products / Services

It’s hard to make your marketing stand out if your products or services do not. Even if your products could stand out, if you don’t have a defined positioning it can be a difficult an imprecise process to determine what messages and product attributes to highlight. Without such an understanding, marketers often fall to facile claims. If the product really doesn’t have much going for it, this can be the fault of the product rather than the marketer, as vague claims are often the only ones that can be made in such a circumstance. What can be done? If you have not created a positioning statement for your product or service, do so. This will give you a better idea of how your product creates value and will therefore help you elaborate it. If your product really just lacks meaningful differentiation, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your product line.

Reason 2: Lack of Market Segmentation

Different attributes are often important to different market segments. If your marketing isn’t targeted to distinct groups, or if your product / service tries to be everything to everyone, then marketers often resort to using facile claims as these are the most general and broadly applicable (albeit least effective). What can be done? Cut your market into segments based on application, need, position, etc. – any segmentation that meaningfully effects how they would view your product. Create different marketing messages for each segment. If your product isn’t focused, especially if it is not widely adopted by the market, pick a segment which you can provide superior value to and tailor it to that market first. Use that foothold to expand into ancillary markets.

Reason 3: Marketing Laziness

Sometimes poor marketing is simply the fault of the marketing copywriter. It’s very tempting to fall back to facile attributes. They seem generally appealing (who wouldn’t want a “high quality” product?), do not require much thought, and make the marketer’s job quick and easy. What can be done? Proofread. Look for facile claims and “weasel words”. If you find them, think about how you can be more specific in order to make a more compelling claim.

Reason 4: Lack of Marketing “Ammunition”

It’s difficult to make specific, compelling claims if you don’t have anything to validate your messages with. How can you show that your product yields 40% more protein in 25% less time if you don’t have any data to show for it. How can you reasonably say that you offer the most mouse models of disease of any CRO if you’re not willing or able to discuss the lines? If you’re going to make meaningful, validated claims you need something to validate them with! What can be done? Work with your application scientists, talk to your customers, ask product development to do some testing, or get data any way you can. In addition to hard data, gather testimonials, form case studies, or gather customer feedback however possible. Other types of validation may be optimal depending on the product or service and the situation or claim being made, so determine what “marketing ammunition” you need on a case-by-case basis. In certain situations the gathering of marketing ammunition may seem very difficult, such as when marketing a new service, but rise to the challenge and get creative to validate your messages. If you’re a life science marketer, that’s part of your job.

In order to convey value beyond that of your competitors, your marketing messages need to be differentiated. If you find yourself making non-specific, general claims, figure out the reason why you’re doing so and you’ll be well on your way to fixing the problem and creating compelling, meaningful messages.

"How compelling are your marketing messages? Are they effective at driving conversion or, more generally, moving customers through their purchasing decision? If not, or if you’d like your messages to be more effective, call BioBM. Our expert life science marketing communications team will help you demonstrate value to your audience in order to more efficiently create sales."

The Customer’s Perspective

In most life science companies, marketing and product development work in somewhat close contact. Marketing (as well as sales) frequently relay customer needs to product development and help them to understand those needs and adopt a customer perspective. When it comes to their own craft, however, life science marketers often fail to follow their own advice and adopt that critical customer perspective. Instead, marketers tell the tale of their products, focusing on why the product is great rather than how it fulfills a need.

A while ago, we posted about the end of solution sales; how customers typically will be 60% of the way to completing their purchasing decision before ever contacting a supplier. This means that solution sales are becoming less effective. At 60% of the way through the buying journey, customers know what their problem is, what their needs are, and already have (at least superficially) evaluated a number of options. A sales rep who tries to work through all that all over again with the customer is wasting their time. However, earlier in the decision cycle the customer is far less certain about the nature of their need. In these early stages, customers generally seek information from colleagues or the internet (an unpublished BioBM study showed about 45% of scientists turn to colleagues first when considering a product and about the same number perform an internet search first). Marketers therefore need to engage in a sort of “solution marketing”, helping the customer to frame their own problem and needs and, in the process, showing how their products or services can fulfill those. Simply discussing your product’s technology, features, and benefits does not adequately do that job. Instead, marketers need to take on the perspective of the customer and frame their products and services around their needs.

To help guide you in creating customer-centric communications, ask yourself these questions:
• Does this communication ever address the customer? (with second-person language – “you” “your”)
• Did we clearly address the needs of the customer? Would our statement of this need still be valid if removed from the context of our product / service?
• What do we define first? The product / service or the customer’s problem that we are trying to solve?
• Did we clearly state how our product / service solves the problem? Do we offer specific solutions or simply general ones?

Product-centric marketing leaves a disconnect. The customer has a need, and the product provides a solution, but the customer is left on their own to decipher how (and how well) the product would meet their needs. Customer-centric marketing does that math for them by framing your product or service from the perspective of how it provides value and fills their needs. By adopting the viewpoint of the customer and creating customer-centric marketing communications, life science marketers can generate more demand.

"Is your life science company looking to generate more demand? Contact the life science marketing specialists at BioBM Consulting. We’ll diagnose your current marketing efforts to find areas for improvement in order to grow your market share and your revenues. Give us a call any time."