5 areas where life science marketers lead the way

01 March 2017| by Paul Avery

While we are lucky enough to work with several life science marketing teams that are leveraging truly innovative marketing approaches, we also appreciate that the life science sector in general can sometimes tend to err on the conservative side. As such, there can be a feeling within our industry that marketers are sometimes restricted from launching exciting, ground-breaking campaigns or trying new approaches like life science inbound marketing for a wide range of reasons (including a lack of buy-in from senior leadership, restricted budgets and not enough access to cutting-edge talent). While this can be true in some cases, there are also a number of areas where life science marketers are not only keeping pace with their B2B and B2C peers, they have been leading the way. Here are 5 areas where we feel life science marketers are really setting the standard.


1. Turning complex topics into compelling stories

As life science marketers, we’ve all likely faced one of the following two challenges. Either the technologies behind our products and services are so complex, we wonder how we will ever be able to communicate the benefits they can offer to our customers in a clear, concise and compelling way. At the other end of the spectrum, you may be promoting a technology that is so essential to good laboratory and manufacturing practices that most customers never even consider its importance (until it breaks down that is).

It’s quite likely that overcoming these two challenges has become so fundamental to your marketing efforts that you don’t realise how good at it you are! So, the next time you are trying to figure out how to emphasise the importance of your ‘routine’ lab reagent or trying to explain why your sophisticated analytical tool provides the most accurate and reproducible data, rest assured that you are blazing the trail for all B2B marketers working in technical industries.


2. Leveraging customer-voice in our marketing efforts

By definition, one of the key ways in which life science professionals can get credit for their work is by publishing their data in trade magazines and peer-reviewed journals, as well as via posters and presentations at conferences. As such, they are used to presenting and discussing their work with their colleagues and peers on a frequent basis. Showcasing the technologies that they have used to achieve these results is an inherent part of the process.

Taken a step further, the fact that peer-reviewed papers have a ‘methods’ section provides us with a powerful and rare opportunity compared to other industries; this system effectively means that our customers will be promoting the power of our products whenever they submit a paper for publication. In fact, many companies monitor the outputs of scientific journals and maintain databases of papers published using their products, often using them in their sales process to demonstrate the value they can offer to potential customers.

The most sophisticated life science marketers are building relationships with these customers and including their data, opinions and future predictions in their company’s marketing materials. Often, this involves highlighting the benefits of the promotional process to both parties (i.e. in order to secure customer input), as well as finding creative ways to avoid using the specific names of people, companies or even the biological factors being studied (e.g. new disease targets), when required.

Perhaps the most common (and well-used) example is the application note, which demonstrates how a given technology can be used to conduct interesting, innovative and insightful experiments, and then letting the data speak for itself. The ultimate goal is to introduce prospective customers to the benefits and applications of the technology in a way that sparks them into thinking “What experimental options would this open up in my own lab?!” At the same time, using the voice of other customers to tell this story provides instant credibility.


3. Making effective use of tradeshows and conferences

They may be considered old hat in some industries, but there is no escaping the fact that many scientists, doctors and other life science professionals rely on conferences and tradeshows to stay up-to-date with their field, find new technologies to leverage in their work and connect with peers and colleagues. When we are offering science tradeshow support at life science trade shows and events, we continue to hear positive feedback on how powerful they can be for capturing leads, raising awareness and generally ensuring the sales reps of life science companies get a regular chance to connect with their targets in a cost-effective way. This is especially true for those companies that develop and execute a clear pre- and post-event plan (so they can be sure to get the highest possible return on investment out of their expensive tradeshow spend).


4. Tapping into the expertise of our technical teams to create educational content for our customers

Most life science companies have a wealth of technical expertise at their fingertips. This is usually either because they provide a service that relies on this knowledge (e.g. contract research and/or manufacturing) or because the level of R&D needed to develop effective products requires their team to have a detailed understanding of the laboratory challenges, goals and applications that are important to their customers. Many companies also have technical support staff and application specialists that are always on hand to help their customers with troubleshooting and optimising their experiments.

As such, when it comes to producing content that truly speaks to the needs of our customers, we can interview or chat with our technical staff to help us produce content that will resonate. These team members can provide technical tips, an update on the latest trends in the industry, or even connect us with friendly customers that might be interested in co-publishing content with us.

Life science companies working within the research tools, diagnostics, pharma research and manufacturing, medical devices, food testing, agrichem and biotechnology industries have been doing this for decades, long before this type of content marketing became all the rage.


5. Walking the fine line between technical and commercial content

One of the hardest challenges we face as life science marketers is producing content with enough technical detail to engage and attract the scientific audience, but without overloading them with information and data in the process. On top of that, we also need to deliver commercial value in the piece, without coming across as being too salesy.

The best in our industry are able to quickly identify the key messages underpinning the story or the topic of interest, and bring these to the surface at the expense of some of the detail. A good example is taking a dense scientific presentation or peer-reviewed paper created by a company’s internal specialists, and extracting the key data for an application note, case study or thought-leadership piece (as an example, a good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to three figures).

They are also able to position their products, services and expertise naturally within the content they produce, making the inclusion relevant and important, while also knowing when it’s better to avoid mentioning their offering altogether until later in the buying process to avoid putting their prospects off (after all, scientists are quite possibly the most analytical and potentially cynical target audience we could have chosen to target!).

A number of technical industries face these challenges, but we’ve met many life science professionals who have these difficult skills honed to perfection.


How does your scientific marketing team lead the way?

Here are just a few examples of where we feel that life science marketers, communications experts and public relations professionals are blazing a trail for our peers to follow. But just as importantly, we’d love to hear what cutting-edge marketing approaches your team are using when trailblazing within our industry. Let us know your life science marketing tips and tricks in the comments below.


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