Marketing in the healthcare and life sciences spaces can be tricky. Between government and industry regulations, a wide range of players in the space, and intense competition – including from some very large companies – it can be downright intimidating, particularly for smaller firms without the resources to go head-to-head with national or multinational competitors.
Among the many challenges to marketing products or services in the healthcare and life sciences markets are multiple market segments, a wide range of end users, lots of competition, tight marketing budgets, resistance to change, and more. Tight budgets create a need to do more with less, which isn’t ideal in crowded, competitive spaces like these, and a high level of market segmentation can make it challenging to reach a specific target audience. So how can your company stand out within these competitive markets?
The most common theme among effective strategies is creativity. It’s not enough to simply follow what other companies in other markets have done; you have to carve out your own voice, messaging, and strategy to stand out in what is often a crowded market. Based on our experience, and in keeping with the theme of thinking outside the box, there are a number of healthcare marketing strategies that work for those seeking to improve their marketing and grow their businesses. Below are four examples of strategies you can use to make a bigger impact and potentially grow your business within these industries.
For every company, whether you offer products, services, or a little of both, there is likely a “sweet spot” in the market that has become your specialty- one where you have traction, great customer/client stories, and high differentiation. From a marketing standpoint, you should absolutely cover the full breadth of your solutions on places like the website, but focusing campaigns on specific areas can pay dividends. Isolating this focus or “best bet” should be approached objectively. Take an unbiased hard look at your business metrics and talk with your customers to find out where you shine. Once you’ve keyed in on those sweet spots, it’s time to double down on them from a marketing standpoint.
For example, maybe your company has found success in providing launch and commercialization services, an area where many life sciences companies need targeting help – fast. This is your sweet spot, and your marketing strategy should be built around those services and your strength in delivering them. Keyword research and competitive analysis are great tools for informing these efforts. Armed with insights gleaned from these methods, you can develop and leverage effective messaging across content, SEO, and consistent social media (most notably LinkedIn) campaigns to generate both awareness and leads – the steady drumbeat that’s essential to all marketing campaigns. Among the content types that have been effective are case studies, how-to guides, and thought leadership, all of which can focus on topics related to the products or services within your sweet spots.
Often, the cornerstone of a successful healthcare marketing strategy is simply getting in front of the right audiences when your individual ‘reach’ only goes so far. You’ve no doubt identified who you want to reach with your marketing efforts, now how do you reach them with your message? This isn’t always clear, and it can seem like a daunting task, but you don’t always have to go it alone. Instead, it can be helpful to look to partnerships and thought leadership to open the door.
Partnering with others who market to healthcare and life sciences but are not direct competitors (law firms, think tanks, and industry associations come to mind) in a co-marketing relationship can pay dividends and alleviate the marketing spend. Partners’ channels can function as a megaphone, amplifying your message to a broader audience, particularly if your partners are well-known in your space and beyond.
Who you partner with matters, as was the case with a client who partnered with Nasdaq on a webinar, which instantly elevated the company’s profile and built awareness among a much wider audience. In a case like this, sharing the webinar on social media, particularly LinkedIn, was tremendously successful because of the partner’s name recognition.
Equally important is who you choose to participate and the topics they will cover. When you have great speakers or well-known presenters, you’ll see greater attendance from your promotion on social media. In some cases, it may even make sense to pay a “name” to participate in your webinar. As for content, rule number one is: a webinar is not a sales pitch. Make it interesting and provide attendees with information that will help them do their jobs better – with or without your product or service.
An added benefit is that partnerships often lead to direct referrals, which anyone who works in sales or operates a business knows are valuable. However, partnerships have to be mutually beneficial to work. While you reap the benefits of referrals for your products or services, it’s important to keep an ear out for opportunities that might benefit from a referral from you.
For a couple of years, in-person meetings were either a huge question mark or were completely out of the question due to the COVID pandemic. As the world has reopened, opportunities to meet with customers and potential customers in person has become “normal” again – and people are clamoring for more face-to-face interactions. This has created opportunities for deeper connections with prospects through meetings, trade shows, and speaking engagements and can and should extend to digital interactions too. And that is a very good thing for marketing in the healthcare segment, where a personal touch can go a long way in fostering connections and trust.
With our healthcare marketing clients, we have found that speaking engagements have paid off tremendously for making the high-level connections that are so important in growing their businesses. If your company is a startup or a smaller company with little or no brand awareness, augmenting these speaking opportunities with geo-targeting can make you seem larger and appear to be “everywhere.” Geo-targeting is a method of using location data to deliver messages, usually via social media, allowing you to reach specific audiences within a specific location. Geo-targeting tends to be more common with consumer-based companies like restaurants, but in this case, the client used it for b2b, targeting their messages to the locations where their speaking engagements were taking place.
Forget what you want to share with your audience. Instead, home in on what will speak to them by helping them succeed in their job or their company. This should be the number-one rule for any healthcare marketing strategy.
Webinars built around engaging topics and hot-button issues for your audience can be remarkably successful. In addition to strong content, it’s also important to make sure your speakers are equally engaging and can share their expertise in their field. The value of Q&A sessions at the end cannot be understated. It gives people an opportunity to focus in on topics that are important to them (market research) and gives your speakers and/or your company an opportunity to address that issue (thought leadership, sales). Again, these webinars should not be sales pitches but should instead focus in on a topic or issue that resonates with your audience. Don’t know where to start? Try asking some current customers or prospects.
Along the same lines as webinars, video is another great tool that allows you to do something a little different. In fact, people expect something different from a video they watch online. Video provides an opportunity to engage with your audience on a one-to-one basis from a distance, and allows you to be more creative, infusing a little (or a lot of) humor into your marketing. For example, one client whose audience is caregivers created a video series about the trials and tribulations that segment faces on a daily basis. It was very funny and helped them stand out in a highly competitive space.
However, that’s not to say humor is a panacea for all marketing goals. It has to be done well, and it has to address a need. In this case, the client did their homework and found their audience’s true pain points, then produced a lighthearted look at those pain points. The subtle message was that this particular company could help alleviate those challenges. The end result was completely different from what any of their competitors were doing, and highly successful and helped them stand out in a competitive space.
These are just four examples of healthcare marketing strategies that have worked for our clients – and continue to deliver results today. If you take nothing else away from this advice, remember that creativity is key. And no matter what tactics you choose for marketing to healthcare and life sciences companies, whether thought leadership, video, webinars, or something else, the tone and content of your messaging is critical.
However tempting it may be to make these pieces about your company, your products, or your services, don’t do it. People don’t want to read or watch anything that is too “salesy.” They want information that will educate them and provide valuable information that can help them succeed in their job, their business, or their industry. Talk to customers to find their pain points and then share solutions with them, taking advantage of the partnerships you’ve forged along the way. This will build trust and, by extension, generate leads and increase sales.
Given the complexities of marketing to these industries, it can be helpful to work with a healthcare marketing agency who can help navigate these and other challenges and ensure that marketing strategies and efforts are most effective. As a provider of B2B healthcare marketing services, Magnetude Consulting has extensive experience in helping our clients navigate this often-complicated space. We can help cove the full breadth of marketing, from strategies for targeting potential customers through hands-on execution of these strategies that can help grow their business. To find out how we can help your company succeed, contact us today.