Treating the cause brings longer lasting relief than treating the symptoms. In medicine and in marketing, treating symptoms can bring temporary relief, but it doesn’t address the root cause of the condition.

Nowhere is this more clearly delineated than in marketing for the life sciences. Just as in human health, a single root cause might give rise to a whole host of symptoms. In marketing, these symptoms might be a lack of sales leads, pressure on pricing, increased competition, confusion about what you stand for among your audience, etc.

While there can be many symptoms, pervasive marketing problems (that is, problems that show up in more than one area of a life science company’s marketing efforts) are typically due to only a small handful of causes, such as these that are related to poor positioning:

  • a lack of clear differentiation in your positioning (that is, a lack of uniqueness)
  • messages that change and shift too often (a lack of sustainability)
  • claims that are “too good to be true” (a lack of credibility)
  • an inability to clearly articulate your messages (a lack of clarity)
  • addressing the wrong audience (a lack of relevance)
  • promising what can’t be delivered effectively (a lack of authenticity).

There are other significant causes besides the ones I’ve listed, of course, but the total list isn’t very long – and is much shorter than the list of symptoms.

When dealing with your marketing challenges, stop for just a second and ask yourself if your actions will be addressing your symptoms or your causes. Treating symptoms can be valuable in the short run, but in the long run, the only way to eliminate the symptoms is to address the causes head on.