We don’t need to tell you that marketing has changed. Nowadays, we all thoroughly research our purchases online before making contact with potential suppliers (and most of us really dislike cold calls). While we are researching, we are making up our minds about what we need and whom the best supplier is. When businesses share content that helps us understand our problems and how to solve them, it increases the likelihood that a company will reach our shortlist. With each additional piece of content we consume, we become more and more engaged, until either we call that company or we are actually ready for them to call us.
Modern marketers take advantage of this shift in buyer’s behaviour to use content to attract, nurture and close customers. We call this inbound marketing, others call it a form of content marketing. Regardless, the approach involves becoming a publisher and using your website as your main sales tool; after all, it’s the first thing modern prospects visit when they learn about you and it’s ‘always on’, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s an exciting time for marketers, as we now have more power to effect real change and drive business success by attracting, nurturing and helping to qualify leads. The great news for life science companies is that scientists love to discover, learn and improve, which is why inbound is a perfect approach for life science marketing.
To help you get started, we’ve assembled ten quick tips for making your content marketing as effective as possible (and if you really want to hit the ground running, download our free “Life Science Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing” ebook).
Hopefully you can use these ten tips as a speedy refresher about some of the central concepts, or perhaps they’ll spark off new ideas for your content marketing plan.
1. Know yourself
You can’t make progress if you haven’t defined a starting point. Take the time to be clear about your vision, your mission and your offering. Are these all unique and of value? Do they solve a real problem, fitting nicely in a vacant niche in the market? Building a brand model or platform can help.
2. Know your audience
Content marketing relies on you generating useful content to pull an audience to you. To do that, you need to know your customers, their needs, problems, challenges and constraints through market research (see tip 6), and then use this data to develop buyer personas (see tip 3).
3. Build buyer personas
Buyer personas help you define exactly who you are targeting and how you can demonstrate the value of your offering. They typically include sections on their individual goals, challenges and pain points, as well as ideas on how your products/services can help. Buyer personas can also be a good place to start compiling information designed to nurture prospects through the sales process e.g. a list of proof points you have available in order to overcome common sales objections.
4. Map your current content to the buyer’s journey and avoid reinventing the wheel
To be successful at content marketing, you need to think strategically. You need to target your buyer personas with content that will nurture them along the buyer’s journey. You need to match your content to your customers’ stage in the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration and decision. If you are offering customers in-depth vendor comparisons and case studies when they are in the ‘awareness’ stage and haven’t even worked out the problem they need to address, you are wasting everyone’s time. Content marketing is all about developing personalised content that resonates with your buyers at each stage of their journey. Chances are that you already have much of the content you need, at least for some stages of the buyer’s journey, so don’t feel that you need to redevelop everything from scratch – for now, just create content to fill the gaps.
5. Get your social media on
Scientists are all over social media now. This is your chance not only to share your content far and wide, but also to engage in meaningful conversations with your target audience. Scientists will start to view you as a thought leader if you can show you have valid contributions to make and social media can be an effective way to reach them.
6. Become a research ninja
When it comes to gathering insight about your audiences you need to use all of the tools at your disposal – just checking Twitter isn’t enough! Make use of internal and external audits; set up interviews and focus groups; visits labs and institutes; scour the many great market research websites, databases and blogs out there. Also, don’t forget to check out other social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to get a feel for you audience’s communication activities.
7. Learn to curate
Back to those pull tactics now. More and more people are losing interest in promotional material. Instead, people are turning to unbiased, high-value content that isn’t pushing an agenda. You can help feed this by curating interesting and relevant content from the web to share, rather than just pushing your own content towards people.
8. Be versatile
Not everyone wants to read long, drawn out pieces of plain copy anymore (especially if they are browsing on their mobile device while filling a spare few minutes of downtime). The web has enabled us to access many different forms of content. Make the most of that. Rather than solely focusing on written pieces, take the time to show your versatility and think about other forms of content you could develop e.g. infographics, videos, podcasts, and even games. This can highlight both your own skills and your understanding of what people want to see.
9. Educate, inspire, entertain and convince
Ultimately, great content marketing relies on great content. You should aim to always teach, convince or inspire others, and of course if you can be entertaining along the way, then that definitely helps!
If you want to be able see which tactics work, make the effort required to quantify your content marketing activities. Like any good scientist, you should be developing hypotheses (if I blog on this topic and share it via the right channels I will attract more visitors to my website) and testing them by collecting data (did we get more visits and were they the right people?). There are metric analysis platforms abound at the moment, so calculating engagement and ROI can help to define your tactics for the future. Keep doing what works and discard what doesn’t.
11. Bonus: make content marketing a part of your overall marketing programme
Content marketing is not just about producing any old content and pushing it out into the void. It needs to function as part of your overall marketing plan. To learn how to get the two to dovetail nicely, download our free guide: “Your 7 Stage Guide to Developing an Effective Life Science Marketing & Communications Plan”.