I’m Kenneth Vogt, Commercial Director of Bitesize Bio and founder of Vera Claritas Inc. I play the role of Richard Roeper, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert all rolled into one, reviewing and highlighting the webinars and video presentations found at the Life Science Marketing Society.
Today I’m commenting on the presentation entitled:
It is described this way:
There is often confusion within Life Science organisations about the difference between strategy, branding and marketing. Should organisations be doing all 3 and who should be responsible for each? While strategy has mainly focused on achieving competitive advantage and marketing has concentrated on driving sales, the sources of competitive advantage have shifted, bringing strategy and marketing closer together with a common purpose to better serve the customer.
- How strategy, branding and marketing can complement each other to deliver business success;
- Where strategy ends and marketing begins and why finding common ground is critical;
- The role of strategy in getting branding right;
- The difference between branding and product naming and when to use each.
The presentation is an interview by our very own Harrison Wright with Marina Hop of Viveo Ltd. Marina is a scientist herself as well as a professional marketer, and she zeroes in on the state of marketing in life science today with obvious familiarity and some keen observations on what is working and what could work better in the field today.
My takeaway is you are potentially doing six things wrong in your marketing. They are all fixable but they may require some new thinking on your part and on the part of your managers and C-suite occupants. So what are they?
1) Your company doesn’t have a marketing strategy
It is an undeniable fact that the C-suites of many life science companies are stacked with scientists and engineers. But professionals who rose from the commercial side of the business are less often represented. As a result, many companies have robust strategies for R&D and manufacturing but no real strategy for marketing.
The notion of “build it and they will come” has some real problems when you engage with the outside world. So what ends up happening is that marketing actions are taken (advertising, trade shows, etc.) but there is no overarching strategy to tie it all together or to provide clear objectives to be met.
The solution: get strategic about your marketing. Don’t just do what the next guy seems to be doing, or just do what you have always done. Figure out what you want to accomplish and then work from there. Get buy-in from the top of the company too. It is time for you to become an evangelist for commercial best practices. (More on that later.)
2) Your marketing strategy doesn’t derive from your corporate strategy
No one is questioning the competence and professionalism of those engineers and scientists who floated to the top of your company. So no doubt they have a plan. The corporate strategy they develop sets the direction and scope for your company, and determines how its resources are used over an extended period of time.
An effective marketing strategy applies the corporate strategy in the context of the needs of your customers and communicates to them how your company’s corporate strategy will benefit them.
So now it is up to you. You have to figure out what to say, how to say it, and who to say it to in such a way that it works both for your company and your customers. The very simple test of this marketing strategy will be: Did we improve sales to our preferred customers?
3) Your branding strategy is disconnected from your marketing strategy
Your brand is your promise. It is public. It is what your customers associate with your company, not merely what you push out about your company. It is a living, breathing, changing thing.
If you apply an engineering focus or a scientific focus to your brand that strips out all emotion, you will sterilize it. The brands that are succeeding (and by succeeding I mean are believed by your customers and prospects) are not all buttoned up and tacked down. The are bold, fun and sometimes even irreverent.
Brands need to be memorable in practice, not just in aspiration. They are not just about products and they are certainly not just about features of products. Think more broadly. Can your brand go beyond to things like productivity in the lab, environmental concerns, or even ethics?
4) Your marketing strategy gets lost at the implementation level
So you’ve aligned your marketing strategy with your corporate strategy. You’ve aligned your branding strategy with your marketing strategy. But where the rubber meets the road, are you measuring your results and delivering on your objectives?
Think in terms of a “total product”. Can you take a product that might otherwise be somewhat commoditized and make it unique by adding things like exceptional customer service, helpful apps, distinctive product characteristics like stackability or easier storage, or even standout aesthetics like distinctive shapes or colors?
Customize the experience your customer has when interacting with your company or even your product separate from your company, so when they compare you to your competitors, your competitors look inferior.
5) Product marketing is in charge instead of corporate marketing
One of the impacts of science/engineering focused C-suites is having a product focus instead of an overarching focus that is based on customer needs. When marketing is siloed by product, it leads to splintered marketing budgets, a focus on short term results, and branding weakness.
You can only effectively maintain so many brands. Some companies are buried in individual product brands with no real strength to their corporate brand. Branding is a quality game, not a quantity game. You are better off to fold your product brands together or at least to group them up so you can do an effective overall job that doesn’t “rob Peter to pay Paul” when it comes to your broader brand.
6) Your marketing strategy doesn’t represent best practices
While as an industry life science isn’t doing a great job as marketers, there are notable exceptions who stand out. But there there is no need to stop at the border. Other industries have already done the heavy lifting of figuring out what works when it comes to marketing. It is on you to take advantage of these best practices, from within the industry and beyond.
You know you want to watch the original presentation on which this commentary is based. Find it here:
For more analysis, observation and witty repartee, be sure to check out our podcast with our very own Dr. Nick Oswald and Harrison Wright, plus interesting and exciting guests. Here is the specific episode examining the presentation above.
Photo credit: Toolstotal