Running a Life Science Social Media Channel

In the age of high-speed Internet, constant contact is considered normal. With a smart phone in almost every pocket, customers expect answers at the push of a button. Social media is a great way to communicate with customers quickly. According to Hubspot, 72% of adult Internet users use Facebook, 25% of adult Internet users use [...]

Tips for a Sucessful Trade Show

For companies large or small, trade shows are effective marketing and sales tools. According to CEIR, meeting a prospect at a trade show versus in the field saves an organization an average of $943. So how can you make sure that your trade show attendance is producing impressive results for your company? Here are some tips to [...]

Archetypes in life science marketing: pay attention to the dark side

Let’s explore the dark side of archetypes a bit and look at how we can use our awareness of an archetype’s “shadow” to help us stay out of trouble. We’ll begin by looking at two consumer brands not in the life sciences, but with clear archetypes: Volkswagen, the Child, and Dyson, the (idealistic) Innovator. As [...]

What smart people know about life science content marketing

Are you smarter than all the best knowledge on Google? Smart people in the life sciences know the answer to that question: "No." But apparently there's a substantial number of people that think they're smarter than all of Google. Their actions tell me so. They don't have any thought leadership on their site and they're [...]

For Life Science Marketing, what matters is what’s inside (the can)

Polar bears relaxing on the ice around a campfire, gazing at the stars and drinking a… Anyone who’s watched TV at all over the last decade or so, knows they’re drinking a Coke. It’s easy to see and understand archetypes when looking at big consumer brands like Coke and Pepsi — they have [...]

Talking Turkey

Does anyone else feel bad for Thanksgiving? That’s right... I feel bad for a holiday. Despite being the only holiday that most organizations give you two days off for, Thanksgiving is almost completely passed over. Think about it... stores barely wait for Halloween to be over before they become a winter wonderland. Personally, any holiday that [...]

The science behind switching out your closet

As we are now in November, temperatures have dropped below freezing a night or two.  I, like many others enjoy a pumpkin flavored anything, but for me the real joy of fall is rotating out my closet. For me it is a time of reinvigoration and reinvention. The idea of rotation is not new. In fact, historians [...]

To Be a B-Corp… or Not?

As Forma Life Science Marketing continues to entrench itself within the Agricultural Sector and understand the issues unique to that sector it’s only natural that we ask ourselves if we are doing our part. As the saying goes, “If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem” so at Forma [...]

Waiting for Joaquin: Ruminating on genetics and flood resistant crops

The last few days in North Carolina most people have been paying very close attention to weather forecasts. The North Carolina coast could receive a direct hit from Hurricane Joaquin. The troubling news is even if Joaquin stays out at sea and misses us we could receive up to another 12 inches of rain, flooding [...]


In my last blog I mentioned that I recently had my sister and her two adorable twin boys stay with us. As I have been sinking my teeth into making Forma Life Science Marketing a major player in Ag-Bio marketing I remembered another very interesting insight from my family’s visit. My sister is an amazing [...]

It’s all about the “But” in Life Science Marketing

– Third, and final, in a series – In the first post in this series I talked about how most life science marketing stinks due to the scientists’ need for Clarity and completeness. I also introduced the idea that most effective communication in life science marketing can be boiled down to living somewhere on the Clarity [...]

Putting the Mystery in Life Science Marketing

  – Second in a series – In my previous post, I talked about how most life science marketing is less than adequate (stinks), due primarily to the scientist’s need for Clarity and completeness. I introduced three key characteristics that, much like a funnel, make scientists want to become scientists: The search for answers The [...]

David Chapin talks about marketing for life science and biotech professionals at MAGI 2015 East on May 17

Forma Life Science Marketing CEO David Chapin will co-present to life science and biotech researchers and other professionals about effective marketing, presentations, and stage presence at the MAGI 2015 East Clinical Research Conference in Arlington, VA on Sunday, May 17.  Click here for details and some presentation outtakes.

Archetypes: ‘The next trend in high-performance B2B marketing’

The recent webinar, Using archetypes in life science marketing to increase sales and margins, included an interactive discussion led by David Chapin that shed new light on how life science organizations can set themselves apart from the competition and better engage their audiences in a crowded, highly regulated marketplace. In so doing, such organizations will benefit [...]

To empower employees, let them sink or swim

I recently made a 48-hour whirlwind trip to the West Coast for a series of client presentations when I made a grim discovery: I had forgotten my phone charger. My colleague and I zipped into a convenience store, where I quickly spotted my prize on a rack near the counter. I reached for the charger, [...]

You don’t have to break the Internet to stay on brand

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at Regardless of how you feel about Kim Kardashian, she is consistent in her quest to stay relevant. In life science marketing, we would never recommend that our clients pose in the buff, but we insist that they are consistent across all of their touch points – [...]

Visional Missionableness Strategery for Life Science Marketing and the World

Mission statement. Strategy statement. Vision statement. Value statement. Internal language. External language. And while we’re at it, is ours a platform or a product? A product platform? A productized platform service? Besides the financial statement or maybe the research statement, does any of this matter? Mostly no. And it almost never matters to your audience(s). Those who [...]

There’s no room for egos or status quo in life science marketing

Steve Jobs was famous for a lot of things, not the least of which was being tough, opinionated and sometimes difficult to work with. Like most creative people, he had lots of ideas about lots of things and usually thought his ideas were best. Unlike many creative people, he had also attained the skills and [...]

‘Why don’t you call someone who cares?’

'Why don’t you call someone who cares?' Definitely not the nicest thing you can say to someone but not the worst idea when it comes to user research. One of the most versatile and therefore commonly used methodologies in user research is the individual interview. The individual interview is just as the name implies -- a [...]

Getting it right even before you start

"Perfect" is an emotion commonly felt when a researcher finishes crafting a question. The question is clear, the answer choices provided inclusive and mutually independent, there is no way this question will not return invaluable data! Unfortunately, this is sometimes just not the case. It is for this reason pretesting is an incredibly important, and surprisingly [...]

Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

It is a moment met with many emotions. Excitement. Nervousness. Fear even. You have just received a final data set, now you will learn if the hours you spent discussing, crafting, programming and checking the survey instrument were worth it. For many researchers this can be a moment of analysis paralysis. There is just so [...]

Differentiate or Die

A recent deal between Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Ely Lilly shows where the life science industry is headed: Specialization. Novartis is moving exclusively to Oncology drugs, GSK to vaccines and Lilly to animal drugs. Differentiating yourself from your competition is how to grow sales and market share. Specializing is one way to differentiate. But what if [...]

3 things Life Science Marketers can learn about effective presentations by watching Joe Smith wash his hands

Four and a half minutes. That’s all it took Joe Smith to effectively change how I wash and dry my hands. Many in the health and life science marketing space could learn a lot about making effective presentations from Joe. Here are three key points: No Powerpoint necessary Get the audience involved Leave them wanting [...]

Just a Commodity

CROs need to differentiate themselves, or their offering is just a commodity. The easiest way to do this is through specialization.

Differentiating a CRO or CRM

Differentiating a CRO or CRM: The problem with horizontal specialization is that it’s tough to get hired for end-to-end solutions.

Horizontal Specialization

How do you differentiate a CRO or CRM? Horizontal specialization is one possible answer: proprietary software, a special process, etc.

Vertical Specialization

Differentiating a CRO/CRM: The problem with vertical specialization is that growing beyond your therapeutically specialized niche requires a quantum (therapeutic) leap.

How do you differentiate a CRO or CRM?

How do you differentiate a CRO or CRM? Vertical specialization is one answer, e.g., a therapeutic area expertise or a particular dosage form. Is your company a CRO, one that provides support to pharmaceutical, and medical device industries by research services outsourced on a contract to contract basis.

Marketing Is Replacing Sales

Marketing is replacing sales as the provider of information to early prospects; a big part of your marketing should be focused on education.

Influence and Educate

If buyers can learn about your offering anonymously, then you have to give away information if you want to influence what they learn. Don't require them to identify themselves; you'll lose the chance to influence and educate them.

Decide and move on.

When it comes to making marketing decisions, making a bad (or only an OK) one is a lot better than never making any.

Provable Metrics

Claiming that your quality or your people are better than your competitors doesn’t help unless you have provable metrics. So stop, already.

Reason #18

Keep biotech marketing communications short. Reason #18. You don’t need long to introduce a single thought – a good enough goal.

Reason #15

Keep biotech marketing communications short. Reason #15 More (short) messages = more chances to hit the target = better chance of reception.

Reason #14

Keep biotech marketing communications short. Reason #14. Longer messages ask MORE from the audience – straining their capacity to understand.

Confusing activity with progress

If you think of your life science marketing as a journey, then your strategy gives you a clear idea of the direction you will be taking. In other words, your marketing strategy is your map. In contrast, tactics are the motive forces that power your journey. Your tactics – the tools and techniques you use [...]

Credibility on the Web

B.J. Fogg and his associates at Stanford are looking at how you can make computer experiences more persuasive. Out of these efforts come principles for making your web site more credible. Just one good take-away out of many: Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site's credibility more than most people imagine. So one of [...]

Despite predictions, print isn’t dead.

The internet has drastically reduced production and distribution costs. So much so that many newsletters or magazines have gone out of business or abandoned the business of distributing their content via ink on paper. Internet distribution of content is all the rage. But in a classic case of the pendulum swinging back again, I predict [...]

Marketing Checklist: Social Media

If you were going to create a checklist of important items, what items are so important that they would appear on your life science marketing checklist? One item that would be on my marketing checklist is this: Use social media, appropriately. There is a lot of hype about social media. Social media is NOT the [...]

Marketing Checklist: Consistency

If you were going to create a checklist of important items, what items are so important that they would appear on your life science marketing checklist? One item that would be on my marketing checklist is this: Ensure the consistency of your messages, your tone and your image. Consistency is crucial in marketing. Why? Because [...]

Marketing Checklist: Ask the Right Questions

What items are so important from a marketing perspective that they should appear on a checklist? The next item on my marketing checklist is this: When performing market research, ask the right questions. I am amazed how few firms do market research. I’m even more amazed how few firms do market research correctly. Marketing is [...]

Marketing Checklist: Ask the Right People

I’ve been thinking about life science marketing checklists and wondering: What items are so important from a marketing perspective that they should appear on a checklist? One item that would be on my marketing checklist is this: Ask your actual prospects and your customers for their opinions. I am amazed how few firms do market [...]

Marketing Checklist: Thought Leadership

I’ve been thinking about life science marketing checklists and wondering: What items are so important from a marketing perspective that they should never be forgotten, but are so simple that they are sometimes overlooked? I’d like to propose another item for our imaginary marketing checklist. Promote your thought leadership at every opportunity. Thought leadership (a.k.a.: [...]

Marketing Checklist: Understand Your Competitors

I’ve been thinking about life science marketing checklists and wondering: What items are so important from a marketing perspective that they should appear on a checklist? One item that would be on my marketing checklist is this: Keep track of your competitors on a periodic basis. There is a school of thought in business that [...]

Marketing Checklist: Segment Your Audience

I’ve been thinking about life science marketing checklists and wondering: What items are so important from a marketing perspective that they should appear on a checklist? My goal is not to reduce a situation that calls for a high amount of tailored specificity (such as marketing in the life sciences) to a rote activity, because [...]

What’s on YOUR Marketing Checklist?

Checklists are incredibly useful and a couple of recent books make a strong case for checklists in healthcare. In Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals: How One Doctor's Checklist Can Help Us Change Health Care from the Inside Out, authors Peter Pronovost and Eric Vohr discuss how a simple checklist helped reduce infection rates at Johns Hopkins [...]

Interruption Marketing is Dying

Interruption marketing is dying. The history of the aptly named “commercial break”) which breaks into your attention stream), is a prime example of escalating sophistication. Despite the growing sophistication of marketers, the rules have changed, the power struggle between buyers and sellers has changed and the buyers are now winning the battle. Let me explain. [...]

Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms.

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 [...]

The Marketing Mechanism of Action

Benchmarks for Marketing Performance

There aren’t a lot of benchmarks in life science marketing. For example, no one (that I know of) has researched the average bounce rate for (to pick just one business sector in the life sciences) all formulation companies by measuring the statistics for all the home pages in that one sector. Or measured the conversion [...]

Why Consistency is Important in Marketing

In every textbook for Marketing 101 courses, you’ll find a section on the importance of consistency. Why is consistency important? First, consistency in your message helps cut through the clutter. Purchasers of life science products and services are barraged by information, and reinforcing the message increases the chances of the message getting through. This is [...]

Why Market Research is Like a Clinical Trial

Two factors are important if you want to get clear answers out of a clinical trial. The first is proper enrollment – getting the right numbers of the right patients to participate. The second is asking the right questions in the right way – that is, determining what effects to look for, and how to [...]

When Free Isn’t Free: Thought Leadership and Thought Extortion

There are times when free isn’t free. I went to download a supposedly “free” white paper off of the internet recently, and I was asked for the following information: First Name Last Name E-mail Phone Company Web site Country State/Province Department/Function Job Title Primary Objective Industry That’s a lot of information. Asking for that information [...]

What is the Relationship Between Thought Leadership and the Psychology of Persuasion?

The basic premise of content marketing is that giving away information that an audience finds useful and relevant will encourage them to respond with trust and give you the opportunity to engage them in dialog. But why does giving away thought leadership influence people? Social science has some answers. One of the pioneers in this [...]

Failing Fast

Business runs in cycles, both in economic cycles and in the cycle of ideas. Back when I was working in product development, a hot trend was the idea of making correctible decisions, rather than perfect decisions. This morphed into “making your mistakes early,” so you could learn from them during the beginning of the development [...]

Warm Coffee and Bright Smiles: We Have the Best Service!!!

Service firms in the drug development chain too often try to differentiate themselves on service levels. Unless you can prove that your service is somehow superior (through the use of an independent metric that is verifiable before purchase) this won’t really help. Making an unsubstantiated claim that your service is superior typically just devolves into [...]

A Difficult Test

Here is an interesting test; one on which most life science companies won’t perform very well. Gather all your branded marketing material in one room. This includes everything, your printed material, online material, ads, blog posts, pictures of your trade show booth, direct mail, email blasts, white papers, etc. Then read it, all of it. [...]

The Value of the Diagnostic Process is the Same in Marketing and Medicine

When you go to a doctor, the most important thing that happens is the first thing: the diagnostic process. Questions get asked, your patient history gets taken, tests are run and results are examined. Only then can the treatment begin, because only then does your team of medical specialists know enough to recommend and implement [...]

Referrals in the Life Science Sector

When we ask clients how they get new business, some life science firms respond: “We get most of our customers from word of mouth and referrals.” The implication is: “We are getting high quality clients and saving money on sales costs; isn’t that great?” This may be great in the short run, but in the [...]

Authentic Complexity

Authentic complexity (for example, a subject with lots of moving parts, lots of interactions, and lots of variables) can’t be made arbitrarily simple. Authentic complexity can’t be made arbitrarily simple – but it can be made digestible. In the life sciences, where we help companies tell their stories to drive profit and sales, we often [...]

A Key Diagnostic Question for Life Science Brands

When diagnosing your own marketing ills, it is hard to know how to differentiate the urgent symptoms from the important ones, and the important ones from the unimportant ones. Even trained professionals, like doctors, don’t diagnose themselves. Yet, everyone believes it is OK to diagnose themselves for marketing issues. I am not arguing that everyone [...]

The Demise of the Blockbuster Model in the Life Sciences

Lately there has been a lot of press expressing concern about the fact that the pharmaceutical industry runs on a blockbuster model. The stock prices of the major pharmaceuticals are taking hits because of the looming patent cliff. There is a great deal of pressure for pharmaceutical companies to amend the model… Depending upon who [...]

When “Quality” Is A Commodity

Crisis and opportunity in the life science sector. Service providers in the life sciences (e.g., CROs, CRMs, core labs, firms offering preclinical services such as formulation, etc) work in a sector that is changing and changing rapidly. The Big Recession tore a big swath out of Big Pharma, leaving opportunities for smaller firms to come [...]

Ensuring Repeat Business in Life Science Companies

Repeat business is a key to many life science companies’ success. When people are thinking about buying again, what controls their decision? One factor is this: Was the experience enjoyable enough to repeat? But this brings up another question: What exactly do you remember about your experiences, and how does this color your decisions about [...]

The Basic Steps of Marketing

Let’s face it, the basic tenets of marketing have remained the same, even though the technology we use to deliver it has changed. The basic steps are simple: Identifying what makes your offering both important to your prospects and different from the competition. Articulating your message and brand character in a way that is seen [...]

Who Can You Trust in Life Science Marketing?

Who can you trust? Apparently not your friends, at least not your online friends. “According to Edelman's latest Trust Barometer, the number of people who view their friends and peers as credible sources of information about a company dropped by almost half, from 45% to 25%, since 2008.” That quote from Advertising Age tells you [...]

Building an Effective Editorial List

Content marketing is the hot new trend in marketing, specifically life sciences marketing, and for good reason. Effective content marketing can help to position one in the space they strive to own, provide increased exposure, build brand awareness, establish and/or increase one’s reputation by generating thought leadership and help one achieve expert status in the [...]

What is Compelling?

At Forma, we work with companies in the life sciences to Make the Complex Compelling. In this sector, there is lots of subject matter that is complex. The borders of knowledge have been pushed back quite far, so the questions being addressed are often very complex. And the audience is often technically sophisticated. They have [...]

To Lower Health Care Costs, Ban DTC

The old saying: “50% of my advertising works, I just don’t know which half” is actually overly optimistic. When it comes to drug advertising to consumers the real figure may be a lot closer to zero. Another recent study has found that DTC advertising does little to boost sales. The drug being studied was clopidogrel [...]

When Tighter Regulatory Scrutiny Leads to Better Lifescience Marketing, Something is Seriously Wrong

When the FDA monitors marketing claims VERY closely (for example, when marketing a pill, potion or med device) the result can be some very effective marketing (e.g, Advair, Viagra, etc.). On the other hand, there are cases in which the FDA is concerned not with marketing claims but only with the work product (e.g., labs, [...]

What are the Goals of Marketing?

What are the goals of marketing? Ask any marketer this question, and you’ll get dozens of answers: build brand awareness, increase referrals, drive web site traffic, motivate response, creating customer loyalty, etc. In the end, all these goals stem from one thing: getting your audience to self-select. That is, to get those who are interested [...]

Words you Should Never use on Your Website

In the current edition of IMPACT magazine, David Chapin, CEO, details the importance of developing a unique positioning by what you say about your company on your website. Words you should never use on your website   by David Chapin What you say about your company on your website can reveal whether or not you [...]

The Bubble Rap

Well we’re from Forma and we’re here to say We’re down with Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. It’s a holiday that sidesteps all those elves And lets us draw attention to ourselves. Hey, that’s what marketing is all about – It’s what we’re good at, have no doubt. And what’s not to like about this air-filled [...]

Who Should be in Charge of Your Positioning?

If you don’t have a clear positioning for your bioscience company, your services or your products, the following people will be very happy to develop one for you, free of charge: Your customers, Your prospects, Your competitors, The media, Your mom. The Big Question: What are the chances that the positioning they attribute to you [...]

Complex Science Doesn’t Make You Special

All bioscience today is complex. To understand the questions that are being asked, much less to tease out significant answers, the level of education required is considerably higher today than it was 150 years ago, when Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. Complexity carries with it very little commercial value, other than the [...]

Genetic Engineering of Your Firm’s Marketing DNA

I’ve written elsewhere that for life science companies, positioning is the DNA of marketing. Just as DNA guides protein expression and thereby controls much (if not all) cell activity, so positioning guides marketing activities. Just as DNA is tucked inside the nucleus, and therefore ‘invisible’ to the rest of the cell, the definition of a [...]

We Couldn’t Have Said It Better…

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.” Charles Mingus (American jazz bassist and composer, 1922 – 1979) This is as true in marketing and the life sciences as it is in music. This quote resonates with us; our goal is to make the complex compelling.

The Importance of Hierarchy in Marketing Life Science Products and Services

I have often heard scientists say that they are “immune” to marketing. We disagree. Scientists are people just like everyone else. They absorb information through the same senses, and the neurons they use to understand new concepts work the same way, no matter what discipline they studied or where they got their doctorate. Some scientists [...]

Why You Shop vs Why You Buy

Think for a moment about your best supplier – the one your bioscience company wouldn’t leave, even for a cheaper price, because your loyalty is so strong. If you are like most, the reason you started talking to them is different than the reason you eventually chose them, and that is different than the reason [...]

One Word You Should Never Use in Your Life Science Marketing

If your company is involved in providing products or services to the ‘drug development chain,’ that is, the chain of companies devoted to discovering, developing, and testing new pharmaceutical compounds and medical devices, you should never use the word Partner on your website or in your marketing materials (e.g., “We will partner with you to [...]

When Should You Ignore Your Competitors?

In discussions with a bioscience client the other day, we noted that many firms in the life science service sector are concerned about a very narrow aspect of their competitors’ marketing: the feature list. “If ‘those guys’ have a list on their web site, we better have a list too.” It is easy to see [...]

Forma CEO Shares Secret-Recipe for Radial Tire Chocolate Dessert

Forma CEO, Chief Strategist and award winning baker, David Chapin, was recently recognized by AIGA in their Membership Spotlight where he sheds light on how the life science industry is on the cusp of change and how that will affect Forma over the next five years. In addition, as an award-winning baker, he displays some [...]

Envisioning an Understandable Future, by Looking at a Confusing Past

The design process successively envisions the future, focusing on and forecasting a finer level of detail with each iteration. Sometimes, though, it is easier to envision the future if you look to the successes and failures of the past. A recent discussion with a client reminded us of this. He wanted to fill out the [...]

Is DTC Worth the Trouble?

US pharmaceutical companies spent an estimated $3 billion on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising in 2005. A recent study shows that the DTC’s effects on sales are negligible. Did the industry flush $3 billion down the drain? If you know much about advertising, you know that measuring ROI in advertising is extremely difficult. The study is a [...]

The Origin of Branding in the Life Sciences

There is a lot of discussion about branding among marketers. The word branding originally referred to pressing red hot metal into the flesh of cows. It took a lot of work to wrestle the cow to the ground. The whole process smelled bad, and the result was permanent. Once branded, there was no way to [...]

Two Trends in Web Sites for Life Science Companies

There are two trends in web sites for life science companies – one bad, one good. The first (bad) trend is to “say it all.” Scientists in particular want to say it all, thinking that if they could only describe the science completely, people would be sure to buy. But the tendency to “say it [...]

Hype Cycle

I originally saw a similar “Hype Cycle” diagram referencing emerging technology in the IT sector; the source was the Gartner Group. I have adapted their diagram for technology in the Life Sciences.

A Periodic Table of Visual Communication, a Reference Tool for Life Science Marketers

If you are involved in life science marketing and design, as we are, and if you are interested in communicating and clarifying by using diagrams and data (and who isn’t?), you need to know about this web site: A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. This site depicts lots of different visual organization techniques. While it [...]

Predicting the Future in the Life Sciences

I was at a conference last week, and one of the speakers noted that the promise of genomics in drug development had not yet been realized. The implication was one of disappointment. That brought to mind the sayings of futurist Paul Saffo. “Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.” He refers to the [...]

Google Sidewiki and Life Science Marketing

Google has developed Sidewiki as a way to allow users to comment on ANY web page. Like all new technology, this could have some benefits. Seeing what others are saying about "museums in NYC" could be useful if you are planning a trip to NY city. But the real possibility exists that someone could put [...]

The Need for Clarity in Marketing

Clarity is needed now more than ever. Bringing technology out of the lab successfully means finding ways to have meaningful conversations about very sophisticated issues with non-scientists. The American Medical Association and Medco Health Solutions (a pharmacy benefits manager) recently surveyed more than 10,000 US physicians. A few of the results: the number of doctors [...]