Implementing Your Archetype In Your Life Science Marketing Tactics.

If you’ve followed this series of white papers on archetypes in life science marketing, you’ve now chosen an archetype for your own organization. Just like the dog chasing a car, it’s time to ask the question, “Now that I’ve caught it, what do I do with it?”

Once you’ve chosen your archetype, you’re ready to harness its power. Let’s assume that your archetype has been carefully selected, tested with the audience, and that you have a toolkit of words and phrases to use that express your archetype. If not, refer to my last white paper for a step-by-step process for considering and selecting an archetype. Like choosing an effective position, choosing an archetype is not a trivial exercise. But once you’ve chosen your archetype, you’re ready to harness its power. I’m here to help, by giving you guidance on how to implement an archetype in your life science marketing efforts.

First Things First: How Do I Express My Archetype Clearly In My Life Science Marketing Efforts?

There are four important aspects in the successful expression of any archetype: 1) the extent to which you can differentiate yourself with your archetype, 2) the clarity with which you use your archetypes to express the voice and “personality” of your brand-story, 3) the extent to which you can stay consistent across all your touchpoints (where your audiences and your brand-story touch), and 4) the resonance between your marketing expressions and your life science audience.

These four are related: Without clarity and consistency, you won’t have any chance of creating a differentiated image that resonates in the minds of your audience. And without differentiation that’s clearly stated and that resonates with your audience, it won’t matter how consistent you are; your life science marketing messages won’t matter.

Remembering that these four are related, let’s start with clarity. Your marketing voice must be clear for it to be understood, and “clarity of voice” is one of the big benefits I’ve seen Forma’s clients realize from their use of archetypes. So: How do you express your archetype clearly?

“What would (insert your archetype here) do?” is a powerful question, useful for guiding your use of archetypes. One practical approach is to ask a simple question, over and over: What would the (insert your archetype here) do? If your archetype is the Companion, ask “What would the Companion do?” or “How would the Companion make this marketing decision?” or “How would the Companion write this white paper?” This question is easily applied to all marketing decisions: what touchpoints to employ, what language to use, what content to create, and so on and so on.

How should we structure our new series of webinars—what would the Companion do? Should we buy an ad in this tradeshow journal—what would the Companion do? Should we expand our series of case studies used by our sales people—what would the Companion do? What tradeshow giveaway should we choose—what would the Companion do? This is a good time to look back at the list of attributes that characterizes the behavior of your archetype. Use these to help guide your decisions. For example, some of the attributes of the Companion include: loyal, helpful, detail oriented, patient and practical. How would someone with these attributes structure a new series of webinars. In other words, what would the Companion do?

This simple question helps focus your marketing decisions. It clarifies your voice. It will help you adopt the personality and the tone of your archetype. It will help you make marketing decisions. And it all springs from that simple question, “What would the (your archetype) do?

How Do I Begin Using My Archetype In My Life Science Marketing Efforts?

The best way to begin is to produce a single piece that represents your entire (new) brand-story. This might be a brochure, a sales presentation, or a downloadable PDF.

The best way to begin using your archetype is to produce a single touchpoint that represents your new brand-story. I mention these tactics in particular because you want to choose a project with significant content – which email blasts, for example, don’t have. Producing a single piece will force you to deal with all the questions that invariably arise in translating theory (“Hey, we’re the Guardian.”) into practice (“How would the Guardian structure and deliver a sales presentation?”).

If you haven’t already done so, discuss with your marketing and design team the archetype you are using. They’ll have good ideas about how to implement and then extend the expressions of your archetype. Once you produce this first piece, you’ll be able to borrow elements from it to use in other touchpoints. And having a single piece that represents your new story will be very valuable in explaining and selling your archetype to your many internal audiences (the C-suite and the sales force, for example).

Should I Change Every Touchpoint At Once, Or Can I Introduce My Archetype Gradually?

Eventually, all your life science marketing efforts will need to be redone in the voice of your new archetype. But where to start? First, consider how different your new brand-story will be from your existing brand-story. Will the changes you implement result in a few minor modifications, or will your marketing touchpoints look, sound and feel completely different? If the answer is “completely different,” you’ll need to introduce your new archetypal expressions all at once, because the old and the new brand-story won’t be able to coexist. If the answer is “not that different,” then they can coexist, and you’ve got more flexibility in the pace of introduction.

Archetypes are most valuable when they appear everywhere, infusing each and every touchpoint, from your tradeshow booth to your sales presentation, from a downloadable e-book to a video. This is the kind of consistency that will drive the creation of a clear and differentiated image in the minds of your life science audience.

How Should I Spread My Archetype Across All Marketing Touchpoints?

Your organization’s touchpoints are organized in a Ladder of Lead Generation. Eventually you want your archetype to be expressed clearly and consistently throughout your entire Ladder. How should you proceed to spread your archetype across all your touchpoints? Well, once you’ve got a single piece that represents your new archetypal expression, begin with the touchpoints that you’re already working on. Do you have a trade show coming up—are you about to redesign your booth graphics? Incorporate your archetype into this. Is your sales presentation in need of a refresh to update your case studies? Go ahead and redo these with your archetype in mind.

How Should I Climb The Ladder Of Lead Generation?

Next, consider your entire Ladder of Lead Generation, that is, all the touchpoints you use to communicate with your audiences. Divide them according to their impact on the sales process. This will be different for every organization. In some cases the web site (and all its content) will significantly affect the sale process; in other cases, it might be your podcasts, or a sales video.

When implementing your archetype, start with your high-impact touchpoints.

Start with the high-impact touchpoints and incorporate your archetype, remembering to ask: What would the (insert your archetype here) do?

How Consistent Should I Be In Using My Archetype In My Life Science Marketing Efforts?

Consistency is the foundation of all marketing. Your audiences will misunderstand you if you speak in the voice of the Jester one minute and the voice of the Caregiver the next. Just as they would if you spoke Russian one minute, and then wrote mathematical equations the next.

It is important to remember that Marks and Pearson (the authors of The Hero and the Outlaw—the seed from which our work on archetypes has grown) found that profit was higher for brands that stayed true to a single archetype. And one of the values of using archetypes is that they make it easier to stay consistent across your entire Ladder of Lead Generation.

In the last issue, I discussed how you can build a toolkit of words — the language your archetype would naturally employ. Incorporating these words into all your marketing touchpoints will convey a consistent tone of voice to your audiences.

So What Do I Do If A Competitor Begins To Copy Me, Trying To “Steal” My Archetype?

The use of archetypes is still nascent in life science marketing, so it may be that someone is copying you inadvertently. They may have created a one-off ad, or adopted a theme for a trade show that sounds like you, but isn’t really connected to (or consistent with) their other marketing messages. It is highly unlikely that someone with a clear and effective knowledge of archetypes would deliberately choose an archetype that is identical to a competitor—so if they’re copying you, the odds are that they don’t understand archetypes completely. Which means they’re ripe for being taught a lesson.

How would you out-explore the ExplorerThere is room in every sector for more than one expression of a particular archetype, so the first piece of advice I’d give you is to “crank it up a notch” and focus on outperforming your would-be usurper. You should not allow others to casually chase you away from your carefully chosen position or archetype. Ask yourself how you can “one-up” your competitor; in other words, how would you out-explore the Explorer? This is where it is useful to have examples of other great brands that use your chosen archetype. For example, Starbucks® and Red-Bull® are great examples of Explorer brands. Can you learn something from their approach or their tactics that you can apply in your own situation?

How Important Are My Internal Audiences For My Efforts With Archetypes?

You’re internal life science audiences are crucial to the successful launch of your archetype. As with any other message disseminated by your company, if the people inside can’t communicate clearly and consistently with people outside, audiences will be left with a picture that is muddy (at best) or inaccurate (at worst). And remember that these internal audiences extend beyond employees with direct client or customer contact. It’s easy to envision why your sales team needs to know that you are going to market as the “Athlete,” for example. But in this day of LinkedIn and Facebook, every employee has the chance to communicate to your larger, external audiences. So every employee needs to know how you are going to market.

Because you have internal audiences, you also have internal touchpoints. What touchpoints will be most effective in reaching your internal audiences? For most life science organizations, internal audiences won’t pay much attention to an externally facing website or to any thought leadership—the touchpoints that are typically the most effective in reaching external audiences. Instead, internal audiences will be most attuned to specific, internally-facing touchpoints, such as an employee newsletter, or the employee intranet.

In my experience the most effective, and common, touchpoint is found at the base of the Ladder of Lead Generation—personal interactions. I recently heard a story of a worldwide tour designed to spread just such a message—what is on-brand, and what is off-brand—conducted by the VP of marketing along with other marketing staff. This tour was aimed only at internal audiences. In this case, enlisting the C-suite in spreading the core messages paid off handsomely through greater employee buy-in and empowerment.

When communicating to internal audiences, it is more important to communicate your archetypes attributes then the name of your archetype. As you communicate to your internal audiences, it is less important to communicate the title of your archetype than it is to teach them the attributes that describe your archetype’s behavior. For example, communicating to an employee that your organization’s voice and behavior should be caring, focused on the customer, and helpful is much more useful to them than is the fact that you are using an archetype known as the Caretaker.

In Closing: Archetypes And Resonance In Life Science Marketing

Marketing has always been a key way of influencing the buying process. And now that power is shifting from sellers to buyers — due in part to the anonymity the internet affords shoppers (See Commitment No 7: We Will Stop Selling in the Marketing Manifesto) — marketing is becoming even more essential.

This importance underscores the need for resonance between your marketing communications and your audiences. Archetypes can help build this resonance. Why? Your audiences actually help “unpack” your archetype for you. That is, if you show them a portion of a set of attributes, they will tend to complete the set, and assign to you the characteristics that will complete the set of attributes. This happens because humans seek to find meaning, even where it may not exist (see the discussion of apophenia and pareidolia here). This act of seeking to understand your meaning implies that your audience will be completing your marketing messages for you. And if the archetype you’ve chosen is meaningful to your audience, and authentic to your organization’s other behaviors and characteristics, your audience will find great significance and resonance.

This resonance, this connection, is at the heart of effective, high-performance marketing in the life sciences.


Archetypes are useful in creating differentiation, providing clarity to your voice, driving consistency, and establishing resonance. But to be used successfully, they must be carefully applied. When this is done, the use of archetypes leads to greater life science marketing performance. I wish you all the best in your exploration of this fascinating new avenue for creating resonance with your audiences. Please let us know how your efforts pay off by reaching out to us at