Getting started with your life sciences marketing plan…
Stage 1: Fundamentals and Foundation work
If you’re in the early stages of formulating your B2B biotech, or life sciences marketing plan, or alternatively need some pointers to get started, you’ve come to the right place. Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing a series of short articles and infographics to help with key steps. They’ll be based on our direct and extensive experience of marketing in the life sciences and biotech industry. Additionally, we plan to cover key marketing channels, goals and how to measure success.
Our first article covers key background work that is needed in advance, before you formulate any effective life sciences marketing strategy. It’s important that you take time to ensure you have these fundamentals as a solid foundation to direct you — on both inbound and outbound aspects of your marketing. Dedicate some time in advance before outlining all the specifics plan details, including marketing channels and scheduling.
1. Customers and Personas
You need to have a clear insight into your current customer base, and specifically what qualifies them as leads for your products. Ensure you know what lead qualification data you hold and where the gaps are — e.g email, job titles, location, life science research or technology areas of interest, sector (academia, Pharma etc.,), purchasing history, to name a few. Note that the latter should be captured through active opt-in from subscribers to comply with your country’s data laws. Ask yourself — can you split them into different personas, demographic groups? Do they need a different marketing approach and campaign? Who makes the purchasing decision? How do you keep in touch with your customer base and inform them about your products? What is the current approach used to retain customers and make them loyal to you?
2. Products, market positioning and price
If you’re responsible for a specific product or product portfolio, you need to have a clear vision of the product USP. Which stage of the product life cycle is it at — introduction, growth, maturity or decline? Different approaches are needed for each stage. It’s common for a product that’s developed in-house to be preceded by a lab to launch stage. After initial feasibility and idea generation, considerable time and money may be invested for research and development, testing, QC and compliance. Alternatively, an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) model may be used, where a product or technology is bought and sourced from a smaller supplier and rebranded to be sold to your customer base.
If you’re offering a unique product that you’ve developed in-house, you have an advantage in the market. However, you may also need to recoup considerable development costs with your pricing.
A rebranded OEM product can have smaller margins but you forfeit development costs. Market positioning could be very different to an in-house product. Especially, if your competitors are doing the same thing or the OEM manufacturer is selling the product to customers directly as well.
How do you differentiate your product to the customer? Critical to success are your brand reputation in the area and a better reach to the target market of customers. Other ideas include further in-house testing, more expedient delivery, and better support to help your re-branded product get ahead. What’s more, this advantage will need to be clearly communicated in your marketing messages.
You should be aware of product pipeline for the upcoming year, including any planned new product releases prior to starting your annual marketing plan.
3. Competitor Analysis
You need to have a clear idea of the position you occupy in the market with your products, before you embark on marketing activities. This also feeds into determining your USP. Hence, a competitor analysis is a fundamental part of your marketing plan. You need to identify your competitors and evaluate their strategies to have a thorough understanding of their strength and weaknesses, relative to your offering.
4. Your sales growth targets
Annual projections for growth for product offerings need to be established to help prioritise your marketing activities and relative allocation of time and budget. Depending on your company structure, this may be the remit of the sales team. It’s important you have a clear understanding for the basis of sales projections. They may be based on year on year growth trends from previous performance (so-called bottom up), a company priority designated by the executive board or revenue required to recoup R&D costs of a new product. This will help direct your strategy. For example, in some cases the latter two reasons may require more initial time and effort allocation than the former — a product already in a sustained growth phase.
5. Available Budgets
You need to have an idea of your allocated fiscal marketing budget. If you have a joint budget pool for your team, it’s common to have to submit a plan as justification for the budget you receive.
Doing your ground work is essential to provide direction and a solid foundation for your marketing plan. As your first quarter progresses, you may need to modify to account for changes. These could include unseen market factors, a new offering from a competitor for example, and sales performance. Indeed, adaptability is a key skill for marketers who suceed. However, researching thoroughly at the planning stage provides you with clear justification for the strategies adopted.