When it comes to marketing, pharma usually targets patients and the healthcare community. What about contract manufacturing organizations who market their services to other businesses?
Elliott Berger |
Marketing articles in this publication usually discuss pharma marketing tactics, but what about the tactics of contract manufacturing organizations? Rather than marketing to the healthcare community, we have to market to pharma businesses – and we need advice too. The marketing field is full of fads and myths – and B2B marketing is no different. Every new technology, app or trend is a “must have” and must be the focus for every contract research, development and manufacturing organization that wants to market its services. I’d like to combat that fad by using another fad: the currently ubiquitous ‘top 10 list’ of anything and everything. Personally, I like this fad the most because it’s short, scannable and easy to ignore if you’re not interested… Here, I present the top 10 myths in marketing.
Myth 10: B2B marketing is just like B2C marketing these days. In a way, this is partly true given that savvy B2B buyers go through a large part of their buying journey online. However, large ticket B2B marketing remains very different. There is almost always a formal process involving extensive face-to-face meetings, multiple decision makers, and seemingly endless lawyers. Remember, the main objective for real B2B marketing is to find the best prospects and guide them down the funnel from awareness and brand preference, to face-to-face engagement of personal sales.
Myth 9: B2B marketing is fundamentally different vs B2C marketing. The art and science of marketing at its basic level is indeed the same regardless of audience. The fundamentals of branding, segmentation, value propositions, balancing rational and emotional appeal, campaign management and creative development, as well as tactical excellence across all channels and customer touch points, remain vital to all marketers.
Myth 8: Print and event marketing are for oldies. Is it all digital these days? No. The vast majority of buyers and influencers in a number of science, pharmaceutical and other big B2B industries continue to spend a lot of time reading obscure trade titles, and each attending two to four major trade events each year. A marketing truth is always the same: go where your customers are and engage with them in a compelling manner on each occasion.
Myth 7: Long term media partnerships are dead – it’s the auction now! Search and digital placements might well be, but thoughtful partnerships with media outlets continue to be great marketing vehicles. They must be customized, and also bring benefits beyond media and are especially good for helping to generate interesting, high level multi-media content. Know what you want, engage in deep discussions, narrow down to a few vendors you can spend decent money with, tailor your deals and negotiate hard.
Myth 6:Content marketing should be focused on great in-depth information about our products. Think of the customer profile and interests first – what content would your typical buyer find very interesting as they browse their usual channels? Start there and get them to engage and identify themselves by registering. Usually, big industry issues and pain points (preferably that your product can address) are a fertile ground, as are relevant industry news and personalities, new technical discoveries and applications. Don’t promote your stuff too soon and get a good independent outside expert to author.
Myth 5: Banners are dead; it’s all search and social. Search is great to capture buyers when they are just starting out, or know what they want. Social is good for engagement and content marketing. However, often even the simplest banners placed in the right place (at the right price), using the right behavioral, contextual, or even account specific tactics, can be a very efficient and cost effective tool to drive broader engagement, fuel website visits directly to the right sub-sections, as well as promote key content and products.
Myth 4: Extensive video marketing is for B2C. As I have to periodically double check with my R&D friends – even scientists are human. And humans like videos and different types of engaging content. A variety of educational, entertainment, or most likely infotainment videos, preferably in different formats can be a great tool. Animation, CGI, real life examples, TED style talks and personality interviews are great formats to consider. And don’t just put it on your site, try a YouTube Channel (and promote it) or other outlets.
Myth 3: Marketing ROI is essential. Marketing ROI is very hard to calculate for a good reason: if you do your job well, it should be very hard to attribute proper ROI to one tactic – it’s all about a multi-touch, multi-channel journey including expensive and even harder to track “foundational infrastructure” type investments, such as technology, brand building and top-of-mind awareness. And in large scale B2B – it is a very long cycle sale. You must measure which tactics achieve their specific objectives so you can evaluate, tailor, adjust and allocate accordingly – but it’s not always about ROI.
Myth 2: Social media is the most important marketing element these days! Social is important, but in large ticket B2B marketing, it’s usually not the most important. Using social media for prospecting, ongoing prospect engagement, content and event marketing, as well as top of mind awareness, can be successful. LinkedIn and Twitter in particular provide great opportunities with good ROI. They are also great listening tools.
Myth 1: THIS is a MUST HAVE! At this point, we end up back where we started – substitute whatever trend, technology or fad that’s the latest splash online for “this” and you have heard it this week, if not yesterday. Many of these new opportunities may become important, a few may become “must have” – but none are likely to be become “the only thing”. The longer I do marketing, the more I believe a proper mix of tactics and proper attention to fundamentals is always important. We need to always evaluate new options, often test the most relevant, always strive to lead in marketing innovation, but only after we measure, adapt and properly integrate the new shiny thing into our marketing mix, hitting the key strategic objective we have – otherwise it’s just there to try to look cool and waste a bit of money.
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