Rule number one of marketing communications: have a strategy.
By having a central content hub for your company, you can build a continually appreciating asset and reap ever-increasing rewards from your communications program. All your external outreach can then link back to, feed and grow this hub.
Do you want to build something that stands the test of time, or continually fight and work and produce – just to stay in the same place?
And what are ZEISS, Leica and Andor doing that other life science companies aren’t?
Johannes Amon, the architect behind ZEISS’ famed marcoms success, put it this way:
“Bind existing customers, empower them to become ambassadors/evangelists/influencers for your company/technology/product, and leverage their networks to hunt down new customers.”
In this episode of the Life Science Marketing Society Podcast, we discuss how to do it and where to start.
Introducer: Welcome to the Life Science Marketing Society Podcast, bringing you best practices, advice, and insight from marketing experts from across the life science industry and beyond. To get more insight from the Life Science Marketing Society please visit www.lifesciencemarketingsociety.org and grab your free membership.
Harrison Wright: Hello and welcome to the Life Science Marketing Society Podcast. This is Harrison Wright.
Kenneth Vogt: And this is Kenneth Vogt. Today we’re going to be talking about a great presentation by Dr. Johannes Amon and his topic was Life Science Marketing Beyond Web, SEO, and Newsletters. He had a lot to say, so what did you get out of it Harrison?
Harrison Wright: If I went through everything I got out of it this could be a very, very long podcast indeed. Rather than try and go a little bit into detail on everything, if you want to see everything actually you really have to watch the presentation, but I will pickup on a couple of things that really, really struck me out of everything that Johannes talked about.
One of those was the central to any marketing communications program is having a central hub, Johannes calls it a “content and communications hub.” What some people will do is they think, “Oh we need to be doing marketing.” You know “Let’s do this, let’s do that.” “Oh that’s a great idea for an article we’ll write that” or “We can put this post on social media.” The key point here that he has is making is it’s not enough. You can’t just create something when it comes to mind and expect that to work. That’s not to say an ad hoc bit of content that the idea came to you can’t necessarily be a good thing from time to time, but what’s important is you’ve got to have a plan and you’ve got to have a hub.
The point of this content and communications hub is that it’s a central place or a repository for your pillar content, your key content, a place that you draw all your readers and your audience back to. So it could be a web CMS, it could be a wiki, it could even be a Word Press blog. So you have your central hub or your most important content goes that content hub or you ____ with cause to action to convert your readers into leads. It might even you require some sort of free membership even if it’s a forum community for example.
Then all of your marketing communications that you do everywhere else whether it you distributing your content on LinkedIn or Twitter or you’re leveraging external platforms like Bitsize Buyer or ResearchGate, whatever it is that you’re doing it all leads back to the central content hub. You have all these things you’re putting out into the ether and they’re all drawing an ever growing audience back to your central point.
I thought that was a really important concept and I don’t see it happen that often in terms of what companies actually do. What do you think about that Ken?
Kenneth Vogt: Yeah I think he was making that point pretty strongly that pretty much the price of entry is you’ve got to have a decent website, you’ve got to manage your SEO, you’ve got have newsletters, everybody does that. But many life science companies stop there and best practices start after that point. Having a decent content hub is absolutely critical. And as you pointed out it’s not something that’s going to happen by accident. It’s not going to just sort of build up.
Because what ends up happening if you take a haphazard approach is you will only occasionally produce good content and mostly you’ll produce mediocre content. Then the good content gets lost in the sea of mediocre content.
The one who gets to decide whether it’s good or mediocre is not you, it’s not your boss, it’s not your management, it’s your customers. They get to decide whether or not it’s good content. They’re going to be very unforgiving about that. They will have one measure and one measure only, “Can I make use of this?” Best case scenario is, “Can I make use of this today in my lab? Is it going to help me right now?” If you deliver on that then you have the opportunity for that thing that everybody fantasizes about online to have viral content. That is content that your customer or your prospect wants to share with other people. They see that and “Go wow this is really great. I have to tell my colleagues. I’ve got to tell other people in the company. I got to tell people in the industry and let them know.” That’s where everything comes out roses for you.
Yes of course you want traffic to your website and you want people to sign-up for your newsletters and you want new leads, you will get that as the secondary result, not the primary result. If you make that your primary result you’re not going to achieve your primary result. It’s kind of a Catch-22. You have to get out of your own way and you have to make it so that the people out in the world want to share it.
There’s lots of ways to get great content. He talks about it. Of course you have your own experts in-house, but you can actually get your customers to create content and to be talking about your products and its applications. That is where the real power is. That is where you will multiply your success. It’s the kind of thing that you have to plan for, it doesn’t happen by accident.
If you’re only every once in awhile doing content that’s worth taking note of you’re never going to get traction and people won’t notice when you put out good content, because they’re used to you putting out so-so content and so they don’t pay any more attention. But if they realize that, “Every time I see something from” your company, “hey they give me something valuable” and maybe not every time, you know because sometimes it’s just not valuable to them, it’s valuable but it’s valuable to somebody else. But when they realize no it’s worth taking a look then that really changes the kind of results you get.
You have to take a long-term professional approach to this. He talks about best practices, but these best practices are often found in other industries and are being brought into Life Science Marketing, because it’s something that we have talked before and you will definitely see comment that on the Life Science Marketing Society is for some reason the life science industry is lagging on the commercial side. They are world leaders on the science side and yet they are lagging on the business side of things and you know there are lots of reasons why that might be. But this is how you solve that problem.
The plus side of that is because the industry is lagging you and your company can standout just by following best practices that in other industries are the price of entry that you just have to do that. Now you can do it and actually standout. So there’s a lot to be gained there.
Harrison Wright: It’s certainly a much easier job than trying to build an online business around the fitness industry, everyone’s doing that and doing it well.
You know you’re talking about putting your own ego aside and giving things that your customers really want brings to mind Ken that immortal quotes by Zig Ziglar, “If you can just help enough other people get what you want you can have everything in the world that you want.”
Kenneth Vogt: That’s right. There’s another point that comes out of this. Of course when you listen to Johannes speak obviously he has a German accent and he’s worked with a German company and there’s a lot of American companies of course in life science marketing and there are a lot of companies across Scandinavia and across Asia that you really have to have a global approach and that means you know helping a lot of people and it might mean getting on platforms that aren’t as familiar to those of us in the west, that are more familiar say in China.
He commented too like using LinkedIn is often underutilized because people think of it as more of an HR kind of platform or recruiting platform and not seeing the power of the opportunity to distribute content there that has to do not with hiring somebody, but with just promoting your content out there. So you got to look at what’s the big picture strategy? “How do I reach the whole world?” “How do I reach people in multiple ways and how do I reach them where they want to be reached?”
Yes you’d love people to come to your website, but you know what they may prefer LinkedIn, they may prefer Facebook, they may prefer Twitter. You know that’s a point that he made quite strongly that for some reason in life science Twitter is a big deal. You might be thinking that doesn’t make sense to you, it doesn’t matter if it makes sense to you, it makes sense to your prospects and your customers, so you really want to get it out there.
One other thing come to mind too, that you have your website and your newsletters and that kind of thing to reach your customers, people that already know you. But your marketing has to put its primary focus on your prospects, the people that already know you or don’t know you well enough to be buying from you. That is where you’re investment really starts to payoff is to bring in those new customers, because it’s far harder to land a new customer than it is to sell again to someone who is already a customer. Getting new customers in the pipeline has got to be your primary objective and for that you’re going to have to have a comprehensive global strategy like the one that Johannes lays out and he has a couple case studies that he mentions right in the presentation too so you can see how it’s been done.
Harrison Wright: Absolutely. Something else that springs to mind to me along the same lines is you know some people will point to companies that don’t do any of this stuff or they don’t do it well. You know maybe this company they’re using as an example you know they don’t create any educational use of content at all, they just talk about their products, they just talk about why they’re great. This company that does that they might be highly successful and everyone wants their stuff. Some people might look at that and think, “Well if it works for them it has to work for me.”
But what they miss is in some rare circumstances you can break the rules if you have a product that’s ten times better than something else on the market or suddenly it’s clearly superior in every possible aspect to something else, yeah you can get away with marketing like that. It doesn’t mean it’s optimal and it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to work for you, especially if you’re looking at all of your product categories. You’ve got to be optimal unless you have everything stacked in your favor.
Kenneth Vogt: Exactly and that’s never going to last. Because that’s one thing about this when it comes to R&D and product development this industry is very competitive. So I don’t care what you’re the world’s greatest at today you might not be tomorrow. You can’t rest on your laurels, you can’t count on the fact, “Oh we’re all that,” because we’ve seen big companies do that and think, “Well everybody knows our name.” Then they come out with a new product and everybody pans it, because it’s not that simple. There is serious competition out there in the world. So we constantly have to be looking at what’s the best practices that we can put forward?
Harrison Wright: Absolutely. I got a point I’m going to raise here. Ken what’s your point of view on what’s the difference between spam and inspiring content or compelling content maybe that’s a better term?
Kenneth Vogt: Well compelling content requires a couple of things. One thing we’ve already mentioned that it’s got to be useful to the person who receive it. You also have to put it in a format that is appealing to them or that meets their needs. So there’s some content that really needs pictures and video. It doesn’t matter how good your information if you just put it in an article then. If they really need to see the pictures then you haven’t done it well enough.
Sometimes they just need it to be quick and fast and an article or a post on a blog is the way to do it. You know it’s a nice, simple, bite size thing that they can use and they don’t have to go searching, they don’t have to listen to five minutes of audio, you know they can just do whatever they want to do. And different people want it in different manners.
It’s important that you reach out in every possible way that you can, because spam is in the eye of the beholder. For some people they don’t want to hear about your podcast, but they would love to see your YouTube video. Some people don’t want to see your YouTube video, but they would love to read an article. Some people don’t want to read an article, but they would like to see your visual experiment. There’s all these different ways so you want to reach out to people in a way that appeals to them and pay attention to that.
When you’re contacting people you can see what they’re responding to and you can make more of that. You can make use of this thing. You know if you’ve got a content hub like you originally brought up here well now you have something you can draw on. Well can you use this video to write some articles or some posts on your blog? Can you create a podcast based on information you’ve already produced? Can you stitch together multiple written articles into an e-book? There’s all kinds of things you can do, you want to reuse that content as much as you possibly can.
Harrison Wright: Absolutely. It’s a bit like how we run our content program here at the Life Science Marketing Society. Every webinar generates a podcast and a blog and various other assets.
Kenneth Vogt: Exactly. Here’s the thing too they’re all different. So just because you’ve written an article based on what we saw in a webinar doesn’t mean you won’t want to also watch the webinar. You know you listen to us talk about this podcast and hopefully the podcast itself is useful to you, but you may want to go to watch that webinar video because we’re not talking about everything he said. So you can decide what’s good for you as the recipient of this content. That’s the kind of environment you want to create, where it is so easy for somebody to say, “I have lots of choices. Let me pick what works for me.”
Harrison Wright: Exactly. Then you’ve got this breadth of format, but I think it’s another big point here that I want to emphasize was it’s not just about the breadth of the type of information, but where it is as well. You know ten years ago if you had one marketing campaign using one marketing channel and you drew them all back into the same drip campaign with the same endpoint that might have been cutting edge. But I don’t even know that stats on how much the volume of content is exploding on the internet these days.
But I remember reading something about a million new blog posts in some ridiculously short amount of time on an ongoing basis and it’s only getting more and more so. So people are distracted, they’re used to having too much information. Just because you publish something doesn’t mean they’re going to see it.
If you’re on your website, if you’re e-mailing to your list, if you’re on LinkedIn, you’re on Twitter, you’re on Facebook, you’re on YouTube, you’re on Bitesize Bio, you’re on ResearchGate, you’re on all of these different places, you’ve got a podcast, you know you host it on SoundCloud and iTunes, people might not hear your podcast one day or read your article another day and then say, “Oh I’m going to click this code of action here and I’m going to say, ‘Yes I want more.'” That might not happen that day, in fact it probably won’t. But if they hear you on SoundCloud one day and then they read your article a week later and then they watch your webinar next month and then they end up on your e-mail list and then they see that. Then they remember something and they go and find you someplace else. Eventually all these things are going to lead them back into that funnel, into your ultimate goal much more effectively than just trying to follow a linear sequence.
Kenneth Vogt: Right. There was a time when marketing’s objective was brand awareness just so people recognize our name. But as things have matured it is turning now into what you really have to create is not merely brand awareness, but brand authority. You establish authority by demonstrating in many different ways your competence. That you guys know what you’re talking about and that you have actual solutions for people. People aren’t going to believe that if all you’ve got is a blog, they’re going to need to know you’re everywhere.
You know when we say “everywhere” that can sound kind of intimidating, but it’s not that bad if you follow this format of starting with that content hub and now you can reuse this content, you can spread it out in multiple places and that content hub fed into by experts within your company, by customers that are using our products and in some case you can hire people to create content for you. There’s lots and lots of ways that you can get it in there and then you’ve got lots of ammo to spread out to many places. And once you get the system rolling it’s just a system, it’s just another day at work, it’s no big deal, it’s not overwhelming, you just work the system.
Harrison Wright: So much easier than trying to decide what to do every single day.
Kenneth Vogt: Oh yeah that’s the worst and that’s where people get caught too, where they start creating lousy content because they’re in a panic. It’s like, “On no I have to produce some content now and I don’t have time to come up with a good idea so I’m going to basically do a lightly veiled press release” or “I’m going to tell somebody, ‘Yeah we’re going to be at this show,’ ” which they couldn’t possibly care less about. Or you’re just going to mention a bunch of products that without anything special to say about them, it’s not a new launch, there’s nothing new to say it’s just, “Oh don’t forget you know we still have Frosted Mini-Wheats,” that’s not going to work. That’s the kind of thing that you’d better off not to talk at all. And of course your job is to talk, you’re the marketer for their company and somebody needs to do it because nobody else is doing it you need to be the one.
Harrison Wright: Exactly. You know I’m going off on a fairly major tangent here, but talking about systems this is so important to everything. Okay I’ve recently started planning out my entire week in advance. On a Monday morning I sit down, I take two hours, I look at what do I need to accomplish this week and why do I need, why is that important to me or in a marketing content why is this important to my business? Then I work out exactly all the actions that I’m going to need to take that week to accomplish those goals. Then I break it into little chunks. Then each day I pullout various sections from things that I need to accomplish over the course of the entire week so that everything gets attended to.
Each day you’re not thinking, “Oh what am I going to do now” or “I need to get this piece of information” or “I need to figure out that.” It’s just all I have to do is work the system. At the end of every week or on the Monday morning before I start actually planning I look at okay or how much of this did I get done this week? Did it accomplish the goals like I wanted it to and so on and what can I learn about this or how to plan this next week? It just simplifies everything and frees you up spending your productive hours being productive. It’s much ______ [crosstalk].
Kenneth Vogt: Right, yeah and it will allow you to do the right things too, because what end’s up happening when you don’t have a plan and you’re just confronted with, “Oh I need to do something,” what are you going to do? You’re going to do the next easiest thing, not the next most productive thing, not the next most you know positive return on investment thing, you’re just going to do what’s easy. Easy is not a good measure of what you should do next.
What you should do next is what’s going to get you the best bang for your buck, what’s going to give you the most return for your time or your investment or your leverage. That’s not the kind of thing that happens by accident, you’ve got to plan for it.
Harrison Wright: It’s also about the perception of urgency I think as well, because if you’ve got this pressured calendar and you’re under deadlines and you know the urge is I find always to fight the fires, it’s to do the things that need to be done now, but the problem is especially in marketing any truly exceptional marketing takes time. You can always run an e-mail campaign now, you can always do these short-term transactional things right now and if you’re under pressure then those are likely going to be what you turn to to do, but succeeding at this you know this is a project that takes years and you need to be allocating this time every week to work on things that aren’t going to pay off now, they’re going to payoff years down the line but they need to be done. And if you’re using systems you can make sure that they get done and you get all your urgent things done as well.
Kenneth Vogt: Yes. If anybody is listening to that and getting intimidated thinking, “Oh my goodness I’ve to do these things that take years?” Aren’t you expecting to be working for years? You’re already going to do that. So why not do it in such a way that you’re making an investment that will pay off instead of doing these transactional things that you know they’re good for today and then they’re gone and tomorrow you start from scratch all over again? Whereas if you can build yourself a base doing this and you can keep layering on and layering on and layering on and that’s why you see some great things like Johannes mentioned that ZEISS or that Leica has some really impressive platforms because they bothered. You know what they did it just coming to work every day, they didn’t move heaven and earth, it was just making good use of their time.
Harrison Wright: I could bring up the old allegory of the tortoise and the hare but I’ll resist.
Kenneth Vogt: Yes indeed.
Harrison Wright: I think we’ve pretty much said what we have to say.
Kenneth Vogt: I think so.
Harrison Wright: But there’s one thing that I personally wanted to close with and this is a quote by Johannes where he summarizes it by saying, “Bind existing customers, empower them to become ambassadors, evangelists, and influencers for your company, technology, and/or product and then leverage their networks to hunt down new customers.” I think that sums it up.
Kenneth Vogt: You read my mind. I literally paused the webinar there so that I could comment on that at the end and you just did it, so that’s perfect.
So if you want to hear the entire presentation see the webinar that Dr. Amon did. You can go to bit.ly/LSMS.johannes, that’s J-O-H-A-N-N-E-S and that will get you directly into that program. You can sign-up to receive content from the Life Science Marketing Society there, it’s a free signup. There’s a lot more than just this presentation so it will be worth your time and effort to see.
Harrison Wright: So we’ll signoff there. This is Harrison Wright.
Kenneth Vogt: And this is Kenneth Vogt and thank you for listening to our presentation today.
Harrison Wright: See you next time.
Introducer: To get more insight from the Life Science Marketing Society please visit www.lifesciencemarketingsociety.org and grab your free membership.
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Photo Credit: Ginny