5 Essential Parts to Your Business (And How They Work Together)
Every business sector shares the paradigmatic imperatives of innovation, value creation, marketing, sales conversion, customer service, and sound long-term finance. This is just as true of high-tech companies as it is of supermarkets. In this respect, the life sciences industry is no different from any other. But in the detail of its specific pressures, demands and opportunities, it is entirely unique.
When considering the complex inter-disciplinary matrix involved in the management of a biotech company, it is possible to break it down into five clearly defined but interdependent areas. This analysis applies to a startup as much as it does to a scaleup. It will be helpful to examine each of these in turn as they relate specifically to the life sciences sector.
This is the foundation stone of business success: offering a product or service that is either new or greatly improved and therefore indispensable to your target market. These are remarkable times for biotech companies with the happy collision of scientific progress, disruptive technology and innovation in clinical practice. The creation of long-term value and therefore growth depends on harnessing these developments, with particular emphasis on digital and analytics.
Some companies are already enjoying the benefits of shifting from discrete projects to a holistic approach in which the power of data is applied to the entire business system, from concept through trials to commercialisation. By focusing on analytics, AI, robotics and automation, companies can improve disease understanding, inspire disruptive design, generate clinical evidence, address unmet medical needs, reduce trial times, deliver personalised content and streamline manufacturing and supply chains. These are priceless advantages that offer genuinely new value to practitioners and patients alike.
Maintaining visibility and keeping your offer relevant and accessible are both essential. Rather than simply promoting an idea or a product, the key to success is to market your entire enterprise through traditional methods of advertising as well as strengthening customer relationships through the creation of digital content and personalised experiences.
Of the many tactics available to any biotech company, perhaps the most obvious are those which engage directly with customers by analysing data from Google searches and adapting websites to address visitors’ concerns more closely. You’re not selling a luxury product so you can afford to concentrate on being informative rather than exciting – that’s what users are looking for. They will expect you to be authoritative, clear and responsive. They will also be highly motivated to give you valuable feedback. Much of this could be termed conversational marketing, which allows you to make direct connections and build lasting commercial relationships of trust. Aim to develop as much interactive online content as you can: it is effective and it is appreciated.
Projecting sales has always been a science but with today’s considerable developments in analytics, whereby vast volumes of data can be collated and processed using AI and automation, it can now be handled more precisely than ever before. In the past, speculation was an important part of the process but now there are far more realistic ways of determining the size of your audience and the likely level of sell-through. Instead of projecting sales in terms of revenue, you can focus on unit sales and numbers of customers.
This in turn makes your sales operation more efficient, reducing waste, over-production and inefficient distribution. Where previously you may have had to make do with broad definitions of market segments, you can now identify much more specifically and in quantifiable numbers the scientists most likely to engage, the labs where they work and the projects in which they are involved. The same facility applies to patients and consumers. Refining your customer base does not mean limiting your market – quite the reverse, it allows you to maximise ROI by increasing the conversion rate of sales leads.
Inevitably, your marketing and sales operations will work closely and there is a fruitful exchange of data to be had between the two, which has the benefit of further improving the effectiveness of both.
Customer service is another of the building blocks of business success and the explosion of digital potential in recent years is transforming virtually every branch of commerce and service, from music streaming to court procedures. The expectation of digital delivery is now entrenched in customer, patient and consumer thinking.
Modern marketing techniques enable businesses to convey comprehensive messages and promises to their customers so it is essential that the speed and accuracy of delivery live up to those promises. You can connect simultaneously with practitioners, health authorities and patients, developing a unified thread that runs through all your marketing and sales channels as well as customer-facing platforms such as websites and social media accounts. Strong customer experience starts with this engagement and can be sustained throughout single transactions and long-term relationships.
You need to keep your eye on the finances. Maintaining healthy sales revenue is essential of course but particularly in the life sciences sector, this may not always be enough, largely because the costs of research and development are uniquely high. Add to those the necessity to conduct expensive trials, not only for the sake of safety but in order to meet regulatory and compliance obligations and it is clear that exceptional funding is likely to be needed intermittently if not regularly.
Fortunately, in the UK, the investment value of the life sciences is widely understood by venture capital funds, angel investors, charities and other corporate bodies. The speed and success of the covid-19 vaccines has undoubtedly helped, but there is no sign that interest is flagging. If investors now appreciate that developments in the life sciences can take time and money, they also see that the returns can be phenomenal. A serious research plan accompanied by an innovative marketing strategy has a much greater chance of attracting essential funding than used to be the case: ready availability of finance is the final piece of the picture.