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Lofaso discusses strategies that biotech companies can take once its time to make the big push.
Pharmaceutical Executive: How can an early-stage biotech company effectively transition from stealth mode to a robust marketing strategy without compromising sensitive intellectual property or competitive advantages?
Daniel Lofaso: Focus on crafting messaging that highlights the biotech's vision, mission, and the broad potential impact of its product, without divulging specific scientific or proprietary information that could be exploited by competitors. Share the credentials and expertise of the leadership team and key scientific personnel without revealing all the intricate details of their research. Demonstrating a talented and experienced team can inspire confidence in investors and stakeholders.
PE: What key elements should be included in a comprehensive marketing plan to attract potential investors, strategic partners, and end users once the biotech is ready to emerge from stealth mode?
Lofaso: First off, identify and understand the specific target audience for the biotech's product. Segment potential investors, strategic partners, and end users based on their needs, interests, and decision-making criteria. This buyer persona intelligence allows biotechs to cater their messaging to the right audience at the right place.
That initial research will dictate the breadth of your marketing efforts as well as the investment the biotech will likely have to make. For example, if the end goal is to get acquired—a popular goal given the commercialization road—strategic partners at bigger pharma or biotech companies would likely be the primary buyer persona. Understanding that these individuals are concerned with the size of your biotech market, the competition, and the novelty of your science, might pave the way for a highly interactive website combined with a robust public relations campaign.1
Should the company have actual products or services to sell (rather than an acquisition goal), the need for marketing strategies2 that included content marketing, SEO, or paid media would come into play.
PE: What role does social media play in the marketing strategy for a biotech company once it’s time to make a big push?
Lofaso: The effectiveness of a social media campaign hinges on the specific target audience. For biotech companies seeking to enroll patients in clinical trials, social media platforms can serve as a powerful tool to engage with healthcare professionals (HCPs) who may refer patients to these trials.Survey data suggests that around 90% of physicians use some form of social media, and approximately 65% utilize social media for professional reasons.
For the biotechs with actual products to sell, social media would play a huge role in getting the word out, collaborating with influencers, or creating lots of brand awareness. This social presence could in turn translate into press mentions as well as links to the website, therefore helping with SEO efforts.
PE: What are the risks associated with not investing in marketing?
Lofaso: I think the risks of not marketing are the same for biotechs as they are for any tech company, both of whom experience a 90% failure rate. If the goal is to get acquired, commercialize, or get patients for clinical trials, your target demographic will be less likely to find you if you are not consistently in front of them.
It makes sense to utilize the loudest microphone you can to reach as many prospects as possible.
PE: What digital marketing channels and tactics have proven to be most effective for early stage biotechs in reaching their target audience and generating meaningful engagement?
Lofaso: A biotech’s website is still one of the most effective engagement channels available. The sites that focus on showing the novelty of their science, speaking to the total addressable market, a strategy towards profitability, and the leadership team in place often can make a big impact on visitors. Where possible, I always recommend an investment in scientific illustrations or animations to help communicate difficult concepts more quickly and efficiently (as opposed to text alone).
Public relations also plays an extremely important role for biotechs in their early stages as it gives them a much larger platform to showcase their companies than their website, search engine traffic, or social media. There is an inherent trust of a company that arises when it’s covered favorably by a major media publication, and that lends credibility and brand awareness that other marketing channels can’t often match.
In-person conferences will never lose their luster, and the business cards gathered can be used for email marketing campaigns to help keep your biotech top of mind.
PE: In an industry with complex scientific concepts, how can biotechs ensure their marketing messages are clear, concise, and resonate with both scientific experts and non-expert stakeholders?
Lofaso: Graphic design. Utilizing a professional graphic design or a scientific illustration team can take complex science and distill it down into attractive, digestible chunks of information.
Whether on a biotech’s website or at conferences, professionally designed assets such as infographics, 2D or 3D animations, or medical illustrations combined with subtle textual elements can help keep audiences engaged in a day and age where attention spans are short, even amongst a scientific community.
PE: What aspects of a biotech’s website do you consider to be the most important?
Lofaso: The homepage, the science or technology page, and the leadership page. The homepage serves as a redundant portal to what lies throughout the rest of the website and should provide a teaser of all of its content. The science or technology page is really where investors or partners will spend the bulk of their time in an effort to understand a biotech company. Finally, a leadership page is where visitors can review the accolades of the existing team as many will look at this to gain some insight to previous successes.
PE: What are the key takeaways for biotechs who are considering an initial marketing push?
Lofaso: There are three takeaways: