7 Strategies for Effectively Marketing Your Life Science Startup
All new businesses face a series of immense challenges but we need new entrants to rejuvenate the lifeblood of their individual industries. Apart from securing venture capital funding, perhaps the greatest mountain to climb is that of effective marketing. This is true of any B2C or B2B enterprise, but the difficulties facing a startup or scaleup in the field of biotech are particularly acute because the market demographic is inherently more complex and even resistant. A new life sciences company is not selling a consumer product but offering healthcare and medical innovation that could change lives if it delivers on the founders’ expectations.
The challenge for early stage European biotech companies is considerable but not insurmountable and we have explored seven strategies which could make a world of difference to the way you convey your message and convince the market.
You can’t effectively market a product or process to a limited or non-existent audience. This is fundamental not only to your marketing but to the core objectives of your startup. You need to research the level of need for your product and the likely receptiveness of the health sector bodies to which you will be selling. You might begin by thinking your market is healthcare professionals and businesses but you may realise that there are also significant opportunities for marketing to end consumers. Research may take time and cost money, but it will form the basis of your entire marketing programme.
This is one of the building blocks of any marketing strategy. In life sciences, most companies tend to have particular specialisms which means rather than taking an overview of your competitors in the broadest sense, it will be more fruitful to focus on businesses that directly compete in the sub-sector you have targeted. Once you have identified the prime competitors, you need to carry out thorough research into the marketing methods they use.
Look at their use of social media, dissect their website to learn how it is constructed and what kind of content it features, find out if they use email marketing. AI tools exist which can help you analyse all of this and discover not only where they are succeeding but also where they are failing. Away from the digital world, it’s also worth finding out what offline marketing they use, such as promotional partnerships with pharmacies and clinics. The aim is not to mimic their tactics but to gain knowledge from the experience of others which you can use to your own benefit.
It’s no coincidence that successful businesses are associated with and identified by images and phrases that become embedded in the consciousness of customers. Although it’s true that brand identity creates visibility, even to the extent that enables Nike to drop their name from their advertising and use only their famous swoosh, there is more to this than simple recognition. Creating a corporate brand is essential in building consumer trust and promoting the qualities and priorities of your firm.
The brand is not a replacement, it is a signifier: when customers instantly recognise your brand, all of your value accompanies it and helps them choose your products and services because they believe in their efficacy and reliability. Neither is branding solely about imagery, logo or colour schemes. Those symbols will come to embody your corporate identity, but you need to promote your unique strengths in combination with your visual representation.
It barely needs saying but a website is no longer simply a functional necessity. People frequently judge businesses on the quality, inventiveness and navigability of their website. But more than that, it is a reflection of your professionalism and innovation. It is the one place where you have total control over what potential customers see and read about you so not only should you offer a genuine insight into your business, but you should find ways to add value for visitors in the form of blogs, articles and FAQs that dispense useful knowledge and experience. Site visitors tend to respond very positively when they come across a site that is open and willing to share its intellectual resources.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Strong SEO is essential. Done properly it will give you the visibility you need to reach the right audience. This is a large and rapidly growing area, which is also constantly evolving. There isn’t enough space here to cover it in any detail but the most important thing to remember is that there is no longer one simple way of attracting the search engines. Instead, there are many techniques to consider, including the placement of keywords, keyword clusters, backlinks, unique content, site structure, meta tags and original images.
Whether you love it, hate it or feel a profound indifference towards it, the phenomenon of social media is an unbottled genie which is now a vital part of any marketing strategy. Different platforms serve different demographics, of course, and you may feel that the more lightweight, image-orientated channels such as TikTok and Instagram are not obvious choices for a biotech business. You’re probably right, but one way of harnessing the power of social media is to thread connections throughout every platform and back to your website. Certainly it will be LinkedIn, Meta and Twitter which speak most directly to your market but creating links that guide visitors through a choice of platforms, experiences, messages and news can only enhance your presence.
While social media marketing is free at the point of delivery, paid marketing has a quantifiable cost but innovations including pay-per-click advertising, sponsored search ads and ads on Facebook and LinkedIn are extremely cost-effective and controllable ways of spending even a limited budget.
Life sciences is a unique industry in many respects, but modern marketing methods can be just as effective in promoting its products and services as they are in selling high-priced smoothies, designer headphones or celebrity-branded trainers.