Last updated: April 15, 2021
Life science marketing challenges reared their ugly head in 2020. No one has ever accused life science companies of being early adopters of technology or the industry to watch for technological advancements. But last year, they had to be.
So many companies had product launches planned, yet they had to send all of their employees home. It forced them to decide whether to delay the launch or figure out how to do it differently. Some delayed, but most got creative, embraced and cursed technology, adapted, and launched.
Gone are the days of hearing, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” COVID created conversations with more questions than statements, increased curiosity and less rigidity, and a greater understanding of the possibilities rather than skepticism. Even Mark Cuban got curious and started a pharmaceutical company.
Life science marketing teams have historically relied on in-person communication to get their product to market. 2020 had an alternative plan. KOLs attended online training, sales reps and managers met via Zoom, and doctors wanted more information about financial assistance and less information about product benefits.
Since drug manufacturers, doctors, and agencies understand what is possible, it is not likely to go back to the way it used to be. Let’s explore what we can expect in the new normal of life science marketing.
Especially in the life science marketing space, taking a more personalized approach can be highly beneficial. For example, when medical patients have questions regarding their symptoms or have other medical needs, they look to Google for answers. But wouldn’t it be far more beneficial for patients to look towards the pharmaceutical manufacturer or doctor for the trusted responses they need? You may want to look into chatbots for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to engage your audience better.
Patients want to know you understand them, and so do HCPs. Brands have so much data about their audience, but it is a waste unless used to power customized AI experiences. If you have data that an HCP engages with content about your package insert, it would be great if all communications with that doctor reference the latest content about your PI.
If your product helps people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), why not produce a series of videos on what the patient can expect during their journey? It’s even better if they can sign up to receive updates about the videos monthly. Take it a step further and ask your agency of record to use web push notifications on your site.
Everyone logged on to COVID websites over the past year, whether to identify where you could get a coronavirus test or a vaccination. It was frustrating because the user experience was clunky and difficult to navigate. We forgave this because we understood there simply was not adequate time to test these new websites properly before launching.
We have been in this for over a year now, and clunky won’t cut it when you’re virtual. Last year was the time to test, but now you must impress.
It’s not a big deal in small virtual meetings to see everyone’s face on the screen. For conferences, product launches, and KOL training, life science marketers must hire a virtual production company to maximize audience engagement. These companies will manage timing and details down to the minute, coordinate all technology, and find unique ways to entertain and engage your audience.
It’s best to hire a company that specializes in virtual production. You don’t want agencies beta testing on you. Good virtual production companies will seamlessly integrate with your internal team and external agency partners.
Your audience put up with long didactic presentations in the past because they did not know the possibilities. Even if it’s not at work, they have seen virtual done well. You need to wow them if you expect them to remember details from the meeting.
A good tip for life science marketers is to create a stronger bond with your organization’s L&D team. These colleagues understand the science behind learning and the best approaches to increase knowledge retention. Meet with them and ask their opinions. You might be amazed at the value they can provide, especially in today’s digital world.
Unfortunately, many organizations think they can just have a simple website built, and the customers will follow. A better approach focuses on the quality of what’s on your website. Does your content make your audience feel like you are talking to them or at them? Is the content relevant to them? Is it consistently showing the personality of your brand?
These are the questions you should be asking yourself as you’re designing or revamping your website. Eisai won the 2020 Web Marketing Association’s award for outstanding achievement in website development. They created the ultimate experience for Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) families, a severe form of epilepsy.
Ella the jellyfish is engaging, informative, and playful. Imagine you are a parent to a child with LGS. This site would make you feel like somebody hears you and understands your struggle. And it includes a variety of content, including Q&As, videos, and information about LGS. Changing up the type of content makes you relatable to more members of your audience.
Luckily, there are many ways to mix things up with interactive content. One of the more trending options in the world today is video content. Consumers love video. You can get creative with it. Try shooting interviews, testimonials, or something very informative and valuable for the audience. You can have your agency, or someone on your team, edit it to look more professional than a simple iPhone video.
As you develop more interactive content, remember that COVID forced companies to get creative with their marketing efforts. As a result, content is better and more engaging than ever. Yours needs to be too. Make sure to invest in an agency that has proven experience in this area.
Influencer marketing has been around for a while but continues to be a growing marketing trend in the world today. In the past, pharmaceutical companies would spend millions on Hollywood celebrities being a spokes model for their brand. Some still do. Now it’s easy to find a millennial YouTube or Instagram influencer who can expose your brand to the world.
If you’re new to influencer marketing, it involves social media users promoting products to their followers, some of which have millions of followers. An organization will pay that person or “influencer” to promote products or services via a social media post, usually a video.
Millennials and Gen Z represent most current influencers, and these two generations are much more likely to share personal information, like illnesses and diagnoses, on social media. You can find thousands of influencer videos across social media platforms talking about their experience with autism, ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, HIV, and more.
In the world of life science, patients are very interested in experiences from others. If they suffer from the same illness as a social media influencer, they’re likely to be in their audience. Life science marketers can partner with influencers to share their experience with your brand, but they must do diligent research to choose the right partner.
There are risks to influencer marketing. It’s beneficial to check out some influencer marketing fails to avoid them if you are interested in utilizing this marketing mix strategy. One recommendation is to check out Wego’s Pharmaceutical Grade Influencer Marketing. Wego knows life sciences, and they know influencer marketing. They can bulletproof your influencer marketing strategy.
Life science professionals face many legal and compliance departments’ restrictions regarding what they say and how they can communicate online. 2020 generated more questions for life science marketers about other channels that they can use to talk to patients and doctors. Podcasting was one answer for many life sciences companies. Here are a few of the companies going all-in on life science podcasts.
The Elixir Factor, Lilly’s podcast hosted by Joe Kim, senior advisor of clinical operations and data registry, explores the factors that inspire bold advances in science, innovation, and the resilience required to change history. Tune in to hear how the Lilly research and development (R&D) team collaborates with partners in advocacy, technology, academia, and policy to seek cures or solutions for some of the most challenging diseases.
Diverse Perspectives is a series of short, one-to-one interviews with thought leaders who are pioneering change across various industries. From applying simplicity principles at work to deliver medicines by drone, host Angela Hwang of Pfizer invites guests to share their ‘innovation mindset’ and what motivates them to create positive change in the world.
From research on cancer vaccines to why we feel pain, scientists are tackling some of the most significant human biology challenges. Want to find out what they’re working on? Pull up a stool for “Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar.”
The percentage of American adults reporting anxiety symptoms increased from 11% to 41% during the pandemic. These numbers are even worse for our at-risk groups like people of color, the elderly, and children. Life science companies can influence change in a big way. Let’s explore what brands should do more of:
Healthcare brands are focused mainly on creating resources for doctors and patients that speak directly about their brand. Today that is not enough. If mental health does not affect the doctor or patient, it is likely a family member, or caregiver is.
They need more resources that make their lives easy. Think patient support groups, caregiver support groups, social media pages for patients and communication that a second grader could understand.
Marketing a healthcare brand cannot be one-size-fits-all. It needs to be customized based on your audience. Baby Boomers are the second-largest living generation and the least fluent in technology. Having a lot of online resources for this group may not be as helpful as you thought.
Communities of color do not have access to the same resources that an affluent community does. Spend more time to engage these communities and understand how you can serve them best. For every campaign, ask yourself what you are doing to make sure your brand is inclusive.
For children, you must speak to the child and the parent or caregiver. That means developing more content which is more expensive. If a parent has a child with autism, think of how beneficial it would be for them to see you understand their struggles.
Identify with your audience by talking about the struggles you know they face. You will appear tone-deaf if you sound like you are constantly promoting your brand. By flipping the script and talking about the challenges, it builds an emotional connection with your brand.
When you invest your audience, they talk to you like a friend. You want more of this. Patient focus groups are powerful, but more powerful are the patients talking to you, not a moderator.
More than ever, we see life science professionals sharing posts from their companies and creating their posts to talk about their work. But we should see far more of this. We know how nervous this makes legal departments, but employees are the most under-used resource life science marketers have.
Almost every employee has multiple personal social media channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Now Life Science Leaders are Joining Clubhouse.
Clubhouse launched as an invitation-only audio-chat app in 2020. It offers rooms for discussions between two or more speakers about topics ranging from diversity and inclusion to digital health. It’s like listening to a live podcast recording.
Life science marketing teams need to have a social media strategy for their employees. It should include critical dates they should post, example text they can use that PRC approved, graphic images to include in the post, and any links. Don’t forget to include the relevant hashtags you want them to use.
If you want to take it to the next level, do a survey and find out the channels where your employees are most active. Those active on Facebook should only receive content relevant to that platform. Send your Instagram users visually appealing graphic content they will be proud to share. Twitter users should get an image with a caption that is 280 characters or fewer.
The pandemic is not over, anxiety is at its highest, and access to resources and tools is not equal across our communities. Life science marketing teams have a tremendous opportunity to be a resource, not a task. Be a part of the solution by using part of your marketing budget to solve these challenges.
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