In late June, the New England CRO/CMO Council, a non-profit trade organization made up of contract research organizations (CROs) and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) that serve the life science community, held a session about marketing. Entitled “Warning: You're Losing Money by Not Marketing Effectively,” the session was hosted by Rebecca Repucci, director of marketing communications at Cell Signaling Technology (CST) and Olga Torres, director of marketing at Averica Discovery Services.
The council sponsored the session to provide an opportunity for members and others to have a discussion about what works when it comes to marketing CROs and CMOs. While most of the topics we blog about are very technical, we thought it useful to identify some of the more important lessons.
- Always start a marketing project by writing a brief. The reason, Repucci said, is to “pressure test your ideas” and to make sure what you set to do is not the product of groupthink. According to Repucci, “a marketing campaign is like dating,” and for biotechs that means defining your objectives, understanding who you’re interested in (and how well do you understand them), what sets you apart from others, etc. One important consideration: is how and where are you going to reach potential customers? Unlike dating, biotechs need to consider a range of ways to get the word out – digital, print, online, broadcast, email, advertising, PR. But, again like dating, one thing to keep in mind is that extensive white papers requires the reader to make a significant commitment to reading about you and your expertise. In some case, Repucci noted, a flyer might be more effective because it doesn’t require as much time as a whitepaper, and customers make a decision more quickly about whether they want to progress further into the relationship. Ask “why do they want to read your brochure” or other materials, and make sure your content addresses their needs,” Repucci added.
- Think like a robot. Digital marketing is important but is always changing. When writing content for your website, keep in mind that your customers are not the only one reading your site. Google regularly evaluates your site for keywords, readability, “trust,” uniqueness to determine relevance and search rank, Torres said. “You should have measureable goals, and evaluate the results,” she added, “and include links to everything. Everything has to be searchable.” Biotechs need to ask themselves, “What keywords do we naturally show up on – because SEO is important. And think about what you click when you’re online – clickbait titles are effective because it takes only a few seconds to read,” Torres said. “You might not like cats but you still click on cat videos. Doing so gets you thinking in a looser, more creative way that can help you be effective.”
- Know when to appeal to the emotional. In other words, there are times when you need to think beyond the robots. Both Repucci and Torres said that although scientists are skeptical, it’s still important go beyond your technical expertise. You have very little time to reach prospects so while you have to have the science, you also need to find ways to trigger an emotional appeal. Offer up reasons why your customers need your service. And keep in mind that the person working in a lab in New Jersey may require different information and have different pain points they’re looking to address. One other thing is that millennials may seek out and require information that’s presented in a way different from the way boomers do. Make this part of your strategy – to understand your customers and how they want to be communicated to.
- Cast a wide net isn’t so important. Sometimes, getting 500 more qualified people is much better than 5000 who are not a good match. “It's about the quality not the quantity,” Repucci said. “How many names do you need? What titles do you need to target?” With that in mind, Torres said, it’s important to keep in mind that some common acronyms are bad choices for SEO keywords. TSA, API, CMO are industry terms that may get confused with consumer terms – so that all the traffic coming to your website may be the wrong audiences. “And don't use #cancer hashtag because every cancer charity will reach out to you, Repucci said.
- Marketing tools are important but make sure you’ve got the right ones. Marketing tools are useful to automate and amplify efforts. The challenge is that there are lots of tools. Sometimes you need to build up before taking on the “Cadillac” of marketing tools, which may be too complicated and expensive to meet your needs. Keep in mind that there are lots of good, free tools like Google Analytics. Some tools provide dashboards to help track your results. That’s why it’s important to tag your data and images so you can get a better understanding of what resonates with customer. Marketing tools can help you disseminate content in different ways and different times. Especially with timeline-driven social media, it’s important to repeat some of your postings because if you post something on Twitter on a Tuesday at 2pm, and your customers check out Twitter on Wednesday at 9am, they may miss your post. “You can reuse a lot but don't do it too close to each other,” Torres suggested. “It's about providing content, a sense of personality to flesh out our brands.”
- Video is becoming increasingly important. Video is becoming increasingly important as a marketing tool. Good video needs to be short – perhaps in 30-second segments – because just as people see reading an extensive whitepaper to be a commitment, the same holds for video longer than 90 seconds. With the significant popularity of YouTube, which is now the second most popular search engine, people now search either for images or video. CROs and CMOs need to produce more video content, and to optimize that content. “We include the narration as text so that Google can track keywords,” Torres said, and “we tag lots of images so that when people look for Averica, our images and videos come up.”
- Understand the new marketing and sales funnel. Sales used to be the major part of the funnel but now, much of that – like awareness, interest, consideration, intent, and evaluation – is driven by marketing. Social media doesn’t correlate to sales but it is an important part of awareness and an important source for driving traffic to your site. People don't buy at the end of the funnel using a cellphone but they do use different technologies to access information and content throughout the day. So you need to make sure your content can be accessed across the Apple Watch, smartphones and tables of various sizes as well as PCs and Macs.
Perhaps the most important attribute for success is to find champions within the organization. To be successful requires a lot of experimentation to find what works. Companies that are members of the NE CRO/CMO Council tend to be run by scientists – but many are risk averse when it comes to marketing. This session provided some good insight into ways to enhance your marketing. But achieving success in marketing will take champions in your organization along with a sense of experimentation to find what works.Perhaps the most important attribute for success is to find champions within the organization. To be successful requires a lot of experimentation to find what works. Companies that are members of the NE CRO/CMO Council tend to be run by scientists – but many are risk averse when it comes to marketing. This session provided some good insight into ways to enhance your marketing. But achieving success in marketing will take champions in your organization along with a sense of experimentation to find what works.