A lot has been written about marketing and about the fact that marketing life science products defies all the rules. Scientists, the story goes, are different, they are driven by logic, not emotion. Therefore, they tend to be a bit resistant when it comes to marketing. Still, life science tools companies spend money on marketing in the hopes of securing a bigger piece of that estimated $58 billion life science tools and reagent market.
The question all companies need to answer is: how do I make my marketing dollars count and avoid wasting them? The coolest videos, the best written white papers, the most heartfelt testimonials are for nothing if they don’t reach and resonate with the right audience for your business.
At Monocl, we work closely with marketing executives in both large and established life science companies as well as some of the most successful startups in the industry. Often, we see one big difference between the thriving leaders and struggling businesses, it boils down to three letters: S-T-P. That’s right, it refers to the three-based STP marketing framework:
Step 1: Segment your market
Step 2: Target your best customers
Step 3: Position your offering
To penetrate the market through key messages in today’s competitive landscape, companies must better understand their markets, identify unmet needs and segments where they can win and position their products and services to properly address them. This simple model helps you build a rock-solid strategic foundation that will enable you to successfully execute your tactical plan.
Segment you market
The first step to identify your target audience is to first segment your market. This means deconstructing your entire market into different identifiable groups with common characteristics and needs. The key here is to segment your market by the most relevant variables for your customer and your business, make sure to choose variables where you can compete successfully and dominate.
For an instrument company selling to researchers, such could be:
- Primary area of research
- Academia vs. Industry
- Complementary technologies or equipment used in research
- Junior/Senior research profile
The output from this exercise should be to:
- Establish the criteria to segment the market and segment the marketing into different groups.
- Understand the size, $-value, growth rate and dynamics of the different segments.
- Really get to know what is important to each segment – what do they value and find important, what are their pain points.
- Understand your competitors – map up your competitors and place them in each segment. Thoroughly understand their strengths and weaknesses, this will help you know how to position your value proposition in relation them.
Target your best buyers
Once you have broken down your market, it’s time to identify the most attractive segments with unmet needs that you can serve – you can rarely satisfy all segments with the same offering and messaging. Consider the following criteria:
- Market size and growth potential play an important role: big is good, but staying focused is key, especially for smaller companies. As a rule of thumb, the more mature the market, the greater your focus should be.
- Is the target segment really underserved by what’s already on the market? And more importantly, is the pain point big enough that people will be willing to pay for a solution? If you identify a problem that your products can solve in a clearly defined sizeable market you just hit the bulls-eye. If not, keep looking.
- Would it be easy for your competitors to pivot into the market segment? And can you build up sustainable competitive advantages?
This strategic exercise can be tedious but doing it half-heartedly or, worse, replacing it with a “gut feeling analysis” is the most consequential, fundamental and costly mistake you can make. Selling ice to an eskimo is not a winning strategy, regardless of the quality of your ice and the size of your marketing budget.
Using tools tailored for the purpose to get ahold of proprietary data, automate parts of the work and ensure an objective approach will dramatically help you in the process. That is why we have developed Monocl – to help life science professionals in marketing and sales get an increased understanding of their key segment, what their ideal customers look like as well as where & who they are and how to best reach out to them.
Position your offering
The goal of this last step is to identify how you want to position your product to your target segment.
Create buyer personas to help you in the process of developing a detailed positioning statement for your target segment that features a clear reason to buy/value proposition for that specific audience. Craft it in a way that makes you stand out in the noise. According to Professor Doug Stayman at the Cornell University a positioning statement should:
- Be simple, memorable, and tailored to the target market.
- Provide an unmistakable and easily understood picture of your brand that differentiates it from your competitors.
- Credible, and your brand can deliver on its promise.
- Your brand can be the sole occupier of this particular position in the market. You can “own” it.
- Help you evaluate whether or not marketing decisions are consistent with and supportive of your brand.
- Leave room for growth.
As a marketing professional, this day and age offers a unique chance to talk to your customers in a personalized way that scale across many different channels. But if you target the wrong audience with the wrong message, you might as well throw your marketing budget down the drain. Think smart, act smarter.