Generic life science brand video
The music is upbeat and driving.
But not too ethnic.
Footage of a beating heart
represents the dynamism
of our approach.
Which is focused on people.
These teeming masses
in some densely populated country,
They sure look busy, don’t they?
It’s all about people.
And this wrinkled old woman, talking with a nurse.
Could she be sick?
If she is, we want you to believe
we can make her all better, so
here is footage of doctors and patients
all over the world.
The stuff we do helps people care for people
because we care.
But let’s not forget our focus on science.
Here’s some cells dividing
and doing other cellular-like stuff.
Doesn’t that make you think of biology
and the complexity of life?
And now, zoom in.
Here is some really expensive animation:
a strand of DNA getting replicated.
Wow, that’s complex.
Our understanding must be really advanced.
Scientists. We’ve got some!
Wearing starched lab coats and safety goggles
putting petri dishes under a microscope,
or staring together at a computer monitor
In a lab with spotless lab benches
and no lab notebooks
See, one of them points at something
with a pen. She must be the smart one.
Where did this jet liner come from?
Or this high speed train?
We must believe in progress.
Yep, we sure do,
because the word “Progress” just appeared.
And “Innovation” and “Focus” and “Passion.”
And don’t forget “Quality.”
That word is bigger than all the others.
Quality is what separates us
from our competitors,
(even though we can’t really define“Quality,”
and we don’t have any metrics for it.)
But even so, we’re dedicated to Quality
and our employees are committed to Quality
and we are solely and completely focused on Quality…
…except when we’ve got Innovation on our minds.
As exemplified by someone writing backwards on a piece of glass…
Here’s a bicycle racer crossing the finish line in triumph…
Those traders on the stock exchange yell a lot, don’t they…
Here’s a pair of old people.
See how his wrinkled hand brushes her cheek?
They must have been married a long time.
Speaking of marriage, here’s a wedding with all sorts of people in it.
It must be in some other country
look at all the colorful outfits.
And all the skin colors and ethnicities.
We’re just like you, each and every one of you.
There’s a baby, toddling around.
The future rests with the children,
and we’re solely and completely focused on the future.
Which brings us back to the sick woman
talking with the nurse.
She smiles and stands up.
She must have been cured… by Quality.
Ineffective life science marketing is easy to spot
So much marketing for so many life science companies is just like this generic parody, isn’t it? Full of sound, colorful images and expensive animation.
But just what does it signify, really? Typically, not much.
Which is funny – except if it hits too close to home. Go gather up all your marketing materials. Not just any videos you may have, but your web site, your brochures, your email blasts and your trade show booth.
Imagine you could wave a magic wand and replace your logo and tagline in these materials with the logo and tagline of one of your competitors. Would someone familiar with your sector even notice the difference? Be honest. For many life science companies, the answer is, “No, they wouldn’t.”
I’m not talking about the fact that some viewers won’t remember your logo out of a sea of logos. I’m talking about the fact that most organizations don’t stand for anything unique or authentic, so of course the logo on the marketing materials can be switched.
This is a marketing problem. If you can replace a logo and your viewers don’t notice, than you don’t have a brand, you don’t have effective marketing, and you don’t have a connection with your audience.
In contrast, if you took the logo for Apple and put it on the Dell web site, you’d know something was wrong. And vice-versa, the Dell logo on the Apple web site would be incongruous. Because there are authentic differences that have been communicated clearly to us. Apple, in particular, has a compelling brand, believable marketing and an authentic connection with the audience.
How are you different? This is the first question life science marketing must answer
Let’s face it; what really separates you from your competitors? Is it your Dedication, your Innovation, your Passion or your Focus? I doubt it. Your competitors have Dedication, and Innovation, and Passion, and Focus. In fact, they’re completely Dedicated to an Innovative, Passionate Focus on…Quality.
Just like you.
But wait, I hear some of you protesting, we really are better than our competitors.
Maybe that’s true. Maybe you are more dedicated or passionate. But even if it is true, saying so will rarely be effective. Because claims of passion and focus and quality are not differentiating – not in any way that a prospect can determine is authentic before they buy from you. (Which is part of the reason—along with their ubiquity—that they are so easy to ignore.)
Marketing, if it does nothing else, must draw distinctions. It must differentiate you before purchase. Which is why the video above is so utterly, horribly wrong: it’s not differentiating. And because it could be about anyone, it’s not authentic.
Putting tactics first in life science marketing is a common mistake
Differentiation is at the heart of high-performance, effective life science marketing. Those who haven’t done the hard work to identify their real differentiators often try to connect with their audiences with a surfeit of flashy tactics. But differentiation doesn’t spring from tactics. Clever tactics, no matter how expensive or flashy, won’t cover up a lack of strategy. You can’t animate your way to authenticity. But if you have an authentic, compelling story, that can be animated—to great effect.
Differentiation doesn’t come from your tactics—effective tactics must spring from a strategy based on differentiation that’s first concisely defined (through a unique value proposition) and then clearly articulated (through a compelling brand-story).
So force your team to dig deeper. Go beyond the obvious. Identify what makes you and your offering truly unique. Do the research to determine what your audience needs from you, and don’t settle for the trite answer: “Faster, Better, Cheaper.” You can’t just parrot what you think everyone wants to hear.
The three steps you must take to create high-performance marketing in the life sciences
Many people are skeptical of marketing. Marketers haven’t done themselves any favors in this regard, with an emphasis on flashy and expensive tactics that (in the words of Macbeth) are “a tale are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
If you want your marketing to be effective, it must be underpinned with rigor. To accomplish this, there are three steps you must follow.
First, you have to have a position that meets the seven requirements for effectiveness: clear, unique, authentic, sustainable, important, believable, and compelling.
And third, you must express this brand-story consistently across all the entire ladder of lead generation.
Making the rationale rational in life science marketing
“Flashy” isn’t necessarily bad and it isn’t necessarily good. It’s just flashy. This flash can be attention-getting and attention-keeping, both of which can serve strategic goals. But being flashy by itself is not a strategic goal. It’s a tactic.
You can have flashy tactics that don’t have any logical rationale behind them, or you can have flashy tactics that express a clear strategy and are underpinned with rigor.
There’s another huge benefit to the strategy-first approach: if you have a rigorous underpinning for your marketing, your strategies and tactics become easier to explain to internal audiences. The rationale behind your efforts will be easier to articulate and explain.
And it will be easier to understand. With increased comprehension among your internal audiences, you’ll have an easier time explaining (and defending) your choices. So your internal audiences will become less skeptical, because your rationale is actually rational.
And with this rigor comes a consistency in your marketing efforts that help your external audiences understand your messages.
Which is the goal of high performance life science marketing: communicating effectively with internal and external audiences.
It starts with sound strategy. You must begin with understanding your audiences, choose a unique, authentic position, articulate this in a compelling brand-story and then express it consistently through a variety of touchpoints.
If you’ve done that, your fancy video won’t be wasted money.
Note: the video description at the top of this article is based on a fabulous piece by Kendra Eash, published in McSweeneys earlier this year entitled: This is a Generic Brand Video . It’s worth the time to read it, and to watch the actual video made by a purveyor of generic stock footage.
To read more:
Want to read more about creating high-performance marketing in the life sciences? These links will guide you to additional whitepapers:
The marketing mechanism of action: How do the components of marketing (e.g., your position, your brand-story, and your touchpoints work together to create an image in the minds of the audience?
Positioning and UVP: This is the core of an effective marketing strategy.
Brand-story: Your brand-story is the public articulation of your private position.
Archetypes: Archetypes are a powerful method to manage the meaning your audiences attach to your brand-story.
Inbound Marketing: Creating an effective inbound marketing engine requires looking at both the large picture and the smaller details.
Touchpoints: Your brand-story should be expressed consistently across the entire ladder of lead generation.
Vol 2 No 10: Marketing-based lead generation in the biological sciences
Buying behavior: How to effect change among buyers
Content marketing: Scientists invented content marketing three centuries ago—they call it peer review publishing. But there are some key differences between peer-review publishing and content marketing that you must understand if you are going to harness the power of content marketing in the life sciences effectively.
Vol 2 No 5: Creating Compelling Content
Vol 2 No 6: The Content Marketing Life Cycle