Anybody that works with The Scott Partnership on sales and marketing strategy and scientific communication will know that we have a bee in our bonnets about marketing being seen as a separate function to sales. The two should be integrated together so that marketing does a lot of the work to identify and qualify names that are then passed to the sales team to nurture into leads and then sales. It is not about deploying new tactics that nobody has ever heard of – it is more about using existing marketing tactics in a more strategic way. Good content is at the heart of this process – and this is especially true in the scientific world.
So how does good content help companies to generate leads as part of a scientific communication strategy? We will use a typical example of the challenges that we deal with on a daily basis:
- Brief: to generate leads from lab directors who work in life science research with purchasing authority over FT-IR spectroscopy instruments
- Imperatives: our client must be able to engage with the names identified so that trust is established. A lot of the work has to be done by ‘marketing’ before being passed to sales to convert
- Solution: employ a funnel approach that allows the names to self qualify according to interest and relevance. A multi-stage content marketing strategy was developed that had great scientific content at the heart in order to provide value to the audience in a format that is relevant and engaging. We recommended that most effort was put into the content development and that where possible, the process was automated for simplicity
- Stage 1: develop an industry survey on trends in life science research that is promoted via key industry publications to generate as many names as possible
- Stage 2: develop findings of the survey into engaging scientific content (in-depth industry report, infographics, media materials etc). Host the content on a dedicated website where shorter content is available for download, and that links to registration page. This will enable additional names of those interested in life science research to be generated. Use media relations and direct mail to drive people to website to download the content. All content must employ an active key word strategy
- Stage 3: invite all names generated in stage 1 and 2 to join a dedicated LinkedIn group for nurture
- Stage 4: develop scientific content that is only relevant to those with an interest in FT-IR spectroscopy. We now know that those who registered to download this content have both an interest in life science research and FT-IR spectroscopy
- Stage 5: design content that provides advice on achieving successful grant funding. We now know that those who download this content have both an interest in life science research and a role in securing funding (and by inference, allocating that funding)
- Stage 6: analyse the data generated and group into: hot leads (those that downloaded all three pieces of content) which are then passed to sales as high priority; qualified leads (those that downloaded two pieces of content); and names (those that have an interest in life science research and may turn into leads following further nurturing).
- Stage 7: re-use the content developed in a multi-channel scientific marketing strategy including online media and websites to drive traffic and build SEO
It is clear from this example that marketing and sales can be and should be inextricably linked. When used strategically, marketing can reduce the burden from the sales team of identifying and qualifying names, leaving them the time to focus on the more important activity of converting hot leads into sales.