A winning commercial growth strategy for life sciences companies has changed. Yet many companies don’t realize it. Executive leadership is still blaming sales for missed quotas or marketing for not generating enough PR coverage. The life sciences industry has set sail from the traditional model of being a sales-driven, relationship-based organization.
Let’s take a quick look at the current landscape:
Regulations are evolving and increasing around the globe.
Economic conditions are worsening, which could impact what some thought was a “recession-proof” industry.
Pricing and reimbursement pressures from CMS and private payers are significant and are not going away.
New policies, innovation, and competition are accelerating the migration of care delivery to ambulatory settings, into homes, and onto digital platforms.
COVID continues to impact hospitals and providers with a workforce and supply chain crisis that's creating a backlog of care that cannot be addressed in a timely manner, which is predicted to drive a spike in hospital bankruptcies.
To succeed in 2023, changes to your business strategy must be made. But what exactly should be added or adjusted to stack the cards in your favor?
Instead of taking cues from what competitors are doing, identify what your customers and target audience are looking for—and where and how.
Here are six ways companies can build trust, demonstrate expertise, and improve business performance.
Achieve Sales and Marketing Alignment
Entrepreneur and VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk says, “There is no sale without the story; no knockout without the setup.” Sales and marketing aren’t meant to be isolated. In fact, it is crucial that these business functions work in tandem. Businesses with strong sales and marketing alignment are 67% more effective at closing deals and can generate 209% more revenue. But currently, 62% of buyers say it feels like they are communicating with separate departments, not a unified company. Sales and marketing should marry up to serve as your revenue growth engine.
One of the fastest ways to do this is to collaborate on a Market Conditioning Strategy. Start by analyzing who your ideal target customers are and what they’re really buying. It’s not your product. It’s an outcome. Figure out what that is—saving OR time, reducing missed diagnoses, minimizing friction with prior authorizations, etc. Once you know your ideal audience and their ideal outcome, the focus shifts to remapping the customer journey to amplify your brand narrative, condition the market to see the world the way you see it, and create the buzz necessary to build momentum for your solution.
A real-world example of this? With Grey Matter’s help, a medical device company was able to redefine its customer journey by developing targeted marketing content to effectively capture and nurture leads at each stage of the sales funnel. By mapping the funnel process to the emotional and rational barriers that exist at each stage, the company met targets where they were and increased conversions at each stage, reducing their cycle time and increasing their conversion rate. Year-over-year device shipments in North America increased by 150% in the first year.
- Ride the PR Resurgence
The digital advertising market is surging. By 2024, US B2B display ad spending on LinkedIn is expected to total $4.5 billion, and the platform will account for nearly half of all B2B ad spend in the country. At the same time, the cost of digital ads across channels has been steadily increasing since the pandemic began. So sure, buying leads is one way to build your sales funnel, but is it the right way? Maybe not for many life sciences companies.
With the rising cost of paid media and the shift to blocking third-party cookies, organic PR efforts like media pitching, award nominations, and organic article placement are seeing a resurgence. In fact, 69% of marketers say they saw the greatest ROI for PR over the past year. That’s because organic PR supports all other marketing and sales efforts. B2B PR can amplify brands and build trust, and there’s less emphasis on pushing products than in B2C PR. B2B PR focuses on priming the target audience for when they are ready to buy and advancing industry thought leadership of life sciences executives.
But you can’t just snap your fingers and enjoy earned media on demand. To stand out, you must ensure you have a unique perspective about the market landscape, a new way to solve a problem, and a new way you unlock a desired outcome. This is harder to do if you have not completed Category Design, a business discipline that allows companies to develop a unique brand with an unrivaled product or service and a competitive advantage in an entirely new category.The long-term benefits of earned media are well worth it. After completing Grey Matter’s Category Design process and conditioning the market with a proactive PR campaign, a surgical robotics company received key trade media coverage with more than 300 million media impressions and almost 240% in revenue growth!
- Increase Digital Engagement
It’s been harder and harder to be a sales rep and gain access to your clinicians. This access trend has been rapidly declining for a decade. Research from 2019 shows remote communication, such as email or phone, was reportedly used by only 12% of physicians. Things became more dismal when COVID hit and disrupted sales reps’ traditional means of engagement with clinicians, who mostly preferred in-person interaction before the pandemic, but rapidly shifted to email and other digital channels by November 2020.The “old way” will never return, so let’s be honest about the implications for your company’s business strategy.
The good news is that the overwhelming majority (95%) of physicians recently surveyed are interested in learning about new trials, treatments or procedures, and insurance coverage that could help improve their patient outcomes. With busy clinical schedules and an abundance of information to keep up with, the importance of digital, mobile-friendly content continues to grow among this key audience. Eighty-five percent of physicians report conducting “most” or “all” of their engagement with medical news or educational information online, including via smartphone. While the value of in-person communication still endures, sales and marketing efforts need to become omnichannel, meeting physicians across the many digital avenues they use as well.
Avalon Healthcare Solutions connects with its customers and industry professionals through educational webinars on hot topics in the lab testing ecosystem, and the company saw the average number of attendees double in a one-year period. Asensus Surgical, a surgical experience company pioneering a new era of Performance-Guided Surgery, executed an engaging (and organic) LinkedIn strategy that has increased its page followers by 32% YTD, leading to an all-time post engagement high so far this year.
- Be Authentic with Brand Positioning
While other trends may come and go, authenticity will always be in style and plays a central role in your business strategy. A brand is defined as authentic when it consistently presents itself as real and genuine. It’s mission-driven. It’s transparent and shares its stories—good and bad. It listens to customers. It apologizes for errors. It has consistent messaging and actions that match the words.
Why should these things matter to you as a life sciences executive? Customers believe tech, health and wellness, and pharma are among the top five most important industries for a brand to be authentic. And 77% of customers would be likely to purchase from a more expensive brand that is genuine over a direct competitor.
Authenticity needs to be at the heart of the process of creating and defining your brand, well before actually marketing it. By undergoing Category Design and getting crystal clear on the problems at hand and what sets your company apart in solving them, you’ll be equipped to convey your unique brand story and values to customers. Business growth will naturally follow.
Add AI in Marketing
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful tool that can increase the speed, efficiency, and effectiveness of global health systems. As such, it’s no surprise that AI-enabled solutions are accelerating the digital transformation of healthcare technology in more and more ways. From AI-enabled imaging interpretation to evaluating surgeons’ performance, from predicting patient response to drugs to designing clinical trials that ensure health equity . . . the list goes on. But you don’t have to be an AI company to benefit from AI in your commercial growth strategy.
AI can influence and inform marketing efforts and is being used to better define customer behavior, leading to improved leads and conversions. AI has a growing number of marketing functions, including writing articles that maximize SEO and performing tasks like note taking during meetings.
Chatbots are a prime example of AI deployment in life sciences marketing. When pharma company Novo Nordisk was developing its chatbot tool, it used data indicating late-night activity spikes to inform the bot’s timely, relevant responses and provide a more human experience. The AI-based chatbot helped the company’s sales and marketing teams meet customers where they were and engage in a more personalized way based on the health information customers were seeking.
- Ensure Inclusive Marketing
A survey from Adobe found that 61% of US customers say diversity in marketing campaigns is important. At the same time, the healthcare space must do better in terms of inclusion and representation. According to a Healthline Media study, only 22% of people of color feel that health and wellness sites do a good job of understanding the needs of people from their background. And there is still a need for greater diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation within healthcare marketing itself.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have an added level of significance in healthcare and life sciences due to the impact of various social determinants of health on patient diagnosis, care, and outcomes. Acknowledging these differences and creating research-backed marketing content that depicts diverse patient experiences with a certain illness or disease is a big step towards true inclusion.
AstraZeneca, for example, created a DTC campaign for its lupus medication that aims to show the personal ways patients identify with their disease in everyday life and offers the sense that the brand understands their experience.
Inclusive marketing presents various identities, differences, and backgrounds, while also highlighting our similarities. Inclusive marketing considers the impact of representing diverse stories, not just the intent.
Want to elevate your business approach for 2023?
A new year and an ever-changing industry landscape calls for a new life sciences business approach. Do you want to develop a winning 2023 strategy that clearly aligns with corporate growth goals while establishing your business as the leader in a category of its own? Grey Matter Marketing is the first and only life sciences Category Design firm. Contact us to learn how we can help you take your company to the next level.