2020 life science marketing trends
Our friends at SCORR Marketing recently conducted their seventh annual survey assessing marketing trends in the life sciences industry. Here is our summary of what we think are the most interesting findings.
1. Marketing budgets vary widely: about one-quarter (26%) of respondents allocate 1% or less of their annual revenue to marketing budgets, while a little more than one-fifth (21%) earmark 5% or more.
It is often the case that marketing budget is allocated based on precedents or unscientific estimates. In our experience, the organisations that get the most out of their marketing resources spend time (and budget) on strategic marketing planning – ideally, in partnership with their agency. This enables the combined agency/client team to create clear, results-focused marketing plans that lay out the value and ROI potential for budget holders to analyse. Those who stick to a previous budget and try to do what they can, rather than focusing on what they should be doing, are less likely to succeed.
2. Planning is not prioritised: only 45% of respondents say that they develop annual communications plans.
This is not surprising to us, but should be an alarming statistic to the industry. Often, vague communications goals or requirements are put out to the market, leaving potential communications suppliers limited to tactical, transactional proposals. We work with clients and prospects to develop robust business and marketing strategies and plans which form the basis of their communications plans. Any good agency should insist on guiding you through the process – however, this high value activity requires expertise, time and skill. Agencies should always be appropriately recompensed for this valuable work.
3. Marketing automation still has a way to go: only 45% of respondents use marketing automation.
A well-established tool in b2c industries, marketing automation is still finding its feet in life science. This is quite surprising given that the technology now available to enable this efficient process is user-friendly and inexpensive (we use and endorse HubSpot). Some of the challenges to adoption are likely to be things like: IT limitations / restrictions, lack of skills in-house, lack of content for fuelling marketing automation and dispersed, ineffective or unclean CRMs. When done well, marketing automation can literally transform a marketing organisation and result in major efficiencies and higher conversion of leads to customers. It’s a win-win and we expect adoption in life science to really take off in the coming months and years.
4. Expertise trumps price: when selecting an agency, life science organisations say that they prioritise marketing expertise and life science experience over price.
It would be rare that a company would be exactly comparing like with like when selecting an agency, so we are encouraged that marketing and sector expertise are the primary decision drivers. When a prospect asks (early on) for a price list, it’s a common frustration for agencies. Our services and programmes are highly tailored and until we know prospective clients relatively well, it’s very difficult for us to make recommendations, or suggest pricing. Having said that, we understand that prospects want an idea of what they might need to spend before going too far with discussions. We tend to be as open as possible with prospects and truly appreciate it when they are also as open as they can be with us.
5. Copywriting is key: for content and creative development services, life science organisations are least satisfied with their agencies’ scientific technical writing. An average score of 3.09 out of 5 was given (with 5 being very satisfied).
The skill of taking highly scientific or technical content and making it engaging and suitable for different audiences and marketing tools is indeed rare and highly sought after. Scientists sometimes lack the commercial insight to tell a compelling story, whereas expert storytellers may struggle to grasp highly technical concepts or data. Our copywriting team includes a mixture of scientists and marketing / PR experts. Together, they work collaboratively on content that resonates with target audiences. All of our copy goes through a rigorous internal review process and our teams make it their business to immerse themselves in our clients’ markets and sectors to provide truly insightful copy. Our guide ‘storytelling with science’ includes some useful examples and tips.
Survey participants were recruited from SCORR’s own database as well as from industry databases. 73% of respondents work at CROs and other pharma services companies; the remaining 27% are from sponsor companies.
For the full report, go to www.scorrmarketing.com/resources/2019-marketing-trends-in-the-life-sciences-industry/.
To find out how we can help your life science organisation to improve your marketing effectiveness, contact us.