All marketing can be encapsulated in 5 simple (but profound) questions
We’ve been supporting the marketing and sales efforts of life science companies since 1987, and we’ve identified 5 key questions that every organization should be asking.
These questions are deeply significant. The answers don’t come easy. Asking and answering them requires courage, clarity, and creativity. If you feel these attributes are in short supply in your marketing department, we’re here to help.
Each of these questions links to one of the aspects of the Marketing Mechanism of Action. To learn more about the power of uniqueness in the life sciences, check out our featured whitepaper by Forma CEO, David Chapin.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the questions.
Most marketers have a general sense of the answer to this question. But they often rely only on this general sense, whereas there is real power in a deeper understanding. This is why research and a strong feedback mechanism from your sales team are so important.
This question doesn’t always have a straightforward answer, and will require a fair amount of research, curiosity, and insight to reach a consensus. But before you figure out what your audience needs, you need to do your homework first. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Begin by identifying your audience. This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many life science organizations struggle with who their specific buyers are.
What are their pain points? Are they struggling to achieve their sales goals? Is their organization suffering from poor internal alignment? Every member of your audience is seeking a solution for their problems, and the sooner you can discern what those problems are, the faster you can deliver value to them.
They’re probably already trying to fix their problems. Very few companies are oblivious enough to simply ignore their pain points. It’s your job to supplement their efforts and elevate their marketing initiatives so that you both find success.
Understanding the market environment is just as important as understanding your audience. The life sciences can be particularly tricky due to the strict regulation of the industry, but that doesn’t mean that every single brand needs to look, act, and feel the same.
Start by looking at your competitors. What makes them unique? How are they articulating their claims? How are they spreading the word? These questions will be fleshed out soon, but it’s important to always keep them top-of-mind.
Examine what forces in the environment can affect all of the above. Whether it’s the advent of new technology or a global pandemic that disrupts business across the world, you need to identify and anticipate these dynamic changes to the marketing environment. If you’re slow to adapt, you can almost guarantee that your audience will pass right by you and into your more-agile competitor’s arms.
See your competitors as they are, not as you think they are. If you’re immersed in the sales and marketing process, it can be difficult to see your competitors with fresh eyes (this is sometimes called a “Beginner’s Mind”). However, remaining objective is a crucial part of tapping into your audience’s psyche.
This is the most important question on this list. How is your life science brand standing out from your competitors? This question (and your subsequent answers) are all grounded in how unique your organization is. Most marketers don’t do a good job with this question. Frankly, because regulatory oversight makes it difficult to be truly unique, many marketers give up too soon. This hurts their sales efforts. If your organization doesn’t have an answer to this question that is 1) written, 2) widely-shared, and 3) serves as the “commander’s intent” for all marketing efforts, then you don’t really have an answer to this question.
Are you unique? The truth is that many life science companies present themselves as “pretty much the same”. The problem with not differentiating your business is that you become a commodity, and commodities have no pricing power.
Your offering needs to have 5 essential components to be successful. Your services and products need to be:
- Important – Does your offering provide significant and relevant value to your audience?
- Believable – Does your audience trust your claims?
- Compelling – Does it engage the audience to take further action?
- Authentic – Is your offering indisputably yours?
- Sustainable – Can you continue to support your audience over time?
These are the 3 core ingredients needed in order to create a truly differentiated offering.
Is your offering clear (to you)? Sometimes, a life science organization’s offerings may be so fragmented that only certain departments grasp what they truly are. This is often a problem with internal alignment within the company. The truth is that if you’re going to have complete mastery over your brand, it needs to be crystal-clear to you and your customers what your offering is. If you can’t succinctly describe the value you provide to your audience, it’s definitely time to reassess your positioning and messaging.
If your life science company is struggling with internal misalignment or an undifferentiated position in the market, you’re not alone. Forma has over 30 years of helping life science businesses reach their sales and marketing goals by implementing data-driven strategies that are proven to to elevate your brand above your competition. Reach out today to learn more.
One thing to keep in mind: it’s okay not to have all the answers to these questions. There are very few organizations in the life sciences that are perfectly aligned with dynamic, unique positioning. As long as you’re continually striving to uncover the answers, you’re doing the right thing.
How your brand story is articulated is a critical part of communicating with your audience. By making your story consistent and acceptable, you make it easy for your audience to engage with your brand. There are two things to keep in mind here:
Your articulation needs to be reinforced on multiple levels. Both the visual and verbal elements of your brand need to be consistent. Most marketers don’t realize how important this is and the role it plays in making your brand unique.
Your articulation needs to be self-reinforcing. Does your brand name augment your story, or distract from it? Is your content using a consistent tone of voice across all channels? By focusing on creating self-reinforcing articulation, you’re safeguarding your brand against misalignment and poor positioning.
As with all communication, how you say something is just as important as what you are saying. You could be telling the most inspiring story of all time, but nobody will care if you do it in a boring or ineffective way. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding on a communication strategy:
Choose a focused selection of tactics. And no, don’t choose “all of them”. Most marketers tend to start with this question (“How do we get the word out?”). This is because marketing tactics are the most visible component of your marketing efforts. But visibility does not equal importance. And, most marketers don’t have the conviction to stay consistent in their tactics, driving consistency throughout all touchpoints, and across months and years.
These tactics need to accomplish 2 things;
- Your tactics need to reinforce your brand positioning
- Your tactics need to support the Buyer’s Journey
The answers to these marketing questions won’t come easy. It’ll take a significant amount of courage, research, and honesty. But by taking the time to develop concrete answers, you will be making a massive stride towards true differentiation for your life science brand.