How to influence the purchasing decision of scientists: A guide for life science marketers

Life scientists are trained to think logically and make rational evaluations and decisions on a daily basis. Because of this, it is often assumed that they base their purchasing decisions on hard logic, meaning the best approach to life science marketing is to provide data-rich informational content to prospective buyers.

But scientists are human beings first and scientific thinkers second. Underneath all of that trained and honed rationality, they are consumers, driven and restrained by the same psychological, emotional and social triggers as the rest of the population. 

This means that before you can outline your rational pitch to a life science professional, you have to overcome their irrational barriers. That means doing the necessary spadework to gain their awareness, trust and respect for your brand, otherwise, your marketing efforts will fall at the first barrier. 

As a life science marketer, this is an important realisation because it underlines the fact that data and reason are necessary but not sufficient to reach scientists with your product or service. Not understanding this is why so much of life science marketing underperforms.

So, how do you build a digital marketing campaign that will connect with life scientists to break down the emotional barriers and let you talk data and reason with them? 

How to make friends and influence life scientists

In some respects, this is the Holy Grail of life science marketing, but the short answer is: help and support them. A large portion of a researcher’s work is spent learning about, troubleshooting and gaining hands-on experience of the techniques they need to use in the lab. And therein lies a golden opportunity to earn a scientist’s trust and respect.

This is where your expertise in the field of your product or service can genuinely help scientists, science in general, and your company by consistently capturing and sharing your company’s hard-won technical experience with the life science researchers you are targeting.

In doing this, you will help them move up the experience curve faster and with less pain. And this will help your company become their trusted advisor and thought leader in your technical niche. 

In practical terms, what you need to put in place to achieve this is an integrated content marketing strategy.

Life Science Marketing  – One Important Question

What content is useful for life scientists? As simple as this question is, it is crucial that marketing teams of life science companies consider it, as it changes the focus from what we want to say, to what our target audience wishes to hear.

The backbone of an integrated content marketing approach is an ongoing stream of genuinely useful educational material that is specific to your technical niche and is evergreen. Each of these characteristics is crucial in successful content creation strategies.

Ongoing content: This is essential because a consistent stream of content is required to gain attention, establish trust, build authority and maintain influence. Each piece of material is a touchpoint. Each touchpoint builds on the last to reinforce and maintain the perception of your company as the expert, and trusted advisor. 

Genuinely useful educational content: Having this as a focus can stop you from falling into one of the major traps in content marketing: writing about what your company wants to talk about rather than what the scientists in your niche need you to talk about. What your company wants to talk about is its products, their features and how to buy them. What the audience in your niche need you to talk about is the insight, expertise and experience you can offer to help them improve their understanding, skills and troubleshooting abilities in the technical niche you are targeting. 

Specifically targeted content:  It is vital to create material that is specifically targeted to your niche because what you target is what you get. For example, if you want to target scientists who are using CRISPR but you write articles for them about the general application of CRISPR in society, that wide targeting will bring in lots of people who are interested in CRISPR but they won’t be the scientists you are looking for. Instead, you need to get “under the skin” of the technique and talk about the nuts and bolts of how to get it to work in the lab, for example.

Evergreen content strategy: This refers to content that is designed to be just as relevant in 5 years’ time as it is now. You need this for three reasons: 1) it saves you from having to write so much new content month on month; 2) it enables your content to attract vital long-tail organic traffic, and 3) it helps you avoid the “news” trap.

Companies often fall into the trap of writing news when they should be writing evergreen content because news is easy to write. The trap is that news is not useful educational content, it does not influence or nurture scientists in your niche and it loses all value after a couple of months. 

Some examples of great educational content created by Bitesize Bio for companies like yours can be found below:

Integrating your content into a structure that delivers results

Now you understand the sort of content you need for an integrated content marketing campaign. Regularly publishing content that meets these criteria will deliver what you really want – brand awareness, influence, leads and sales – but only if you integrate it into a structure that enables this. 

An effective integrated content marketing strategy needs to: 

  • Deliver your content to the right life science professionals

Regardless of how good your content is, it can offer benefits only if it reaches the right scientists. If you have an established website that ranks well in search engines and is frequented by your prospective customers, then you are in a strong position. This is especially true if your website has strong organic search authority, as the most common way for researchers to seek out answers to technical questions is organic search.

If you don’t have a suitable website or high brand awareness, you can take a long-term strategy to execute a content program that will earn organic search authority and website visitors, or you can use an established third-party platform (like BitesizeBio.com) that offers organic reach. Our digital marketing formula offers a number of benefits.

  • Reach the same scientists again and again

Reaching a scientist once and delivering the technical advice they need, when they need it, is good. Doing this, again and again, is better, much better in fact because the influence generated compounds with each touchpoint. 

The best way to facilitate multiple touchpoints is to encourage the consumers of your content to subscribe to receive more content from you. Your subscription rates can be vastly improved by offering subscribers access to enhanced content (an eBook, video library, etc.).

Once a scientist is in your email database, you can then offer them additional content in the coming weeks and months to build your influence gradually.

  • Enable you to layer in product messaging

As you establish brand awareness and influence in the minds of the scientists who subscribe to receive your content, you can then layer in-product messaging to begin to pitch the rationale for them to use your products (or services). This is best done gradually; it’s very important not to flood the educational content stream with product messaging as this sets those emotional barriers rising again. We find that a ratio of 10:1 for educational vs product messaging works well.

The beauty of an integrated content marketing campaign like this is that, using a CRM, you can accurately track which subscribers are engaging with your educational and product messaging. This enables you to score subscribers based on the interest they are showing, and prioritise high-scoring subscribers for lower-funnel actions such as an invitation for a call or to attend a small-group workshop. 

This final step connects the altruistic beginnings of your integrated content marketing campaign with the hard-numbers sales goals that your company needs to achieve. A life science marketing strategy that follows the principles outlined will have a greater chance of successfully connecting with your target audience.