Ask Us Anything In Clinical Research – 2021 Life Sciences Business Development & Marketing Strategies
On January 21st, we held our first Ask Us Anything in Clinical Research Virtual networking meeting for the new year!
Heather and I were joined by our guest speaker, Pearl Mensah of Pilatus Comparator Solutions for this exciting meeting. We’ve had 10 months of experience marketing and selling remotely. We’ve seen what worked, and what’s failed! With another 10-12 months of this ahead of us, we thought it would be great to meet and share our tips and advice with one another on how to prosper under these circumstances.
We had a record number of attendees in this session partly due to the growing popularity of the series, but also due to the interest in this topic as we have another year ahead of us under these challenging circumstances.
We’ve highlighted some of the most interesting tips and strategies we discussed in the meeting below, but to get all of them we encourage you to watch the full session!
Summary of Tips and Strategies From January’s Networking Event
- Ordering virtual coffee, lunch or dinner for your sales prospects. Pearl Mensah has put this technique to good use. In advance her meeting, Pearl finds out what her guest would like and she either orders for them or sends them a link in Uber Eats that allows them to order on her account. This strategy is so effective because it creates a very strong “lock in” resulting in 100% of the meetings being kept. We can wait to try this strategy ourselves!
- Exhibiting at Virtual Industry Meetings. The challenge we’ve seen with “exhibiting” at virtual industry meetings is the value proposition – the cost vs return on the meeting. Organizers last year had a very short period of time to pivot to virtual meetings. The results in 2020 were mixed to say the least, causing many vendors to stop “exhibiting” at virtual meetings entirely and switch to attending only, or being a cosponsor to improve the value. For 2021 many event organizers have improved their offerings and developed additional opportunities for vendors to get in front of attendees. Here are some tips to consider if you want to exhibit at an event:
– Confirm with the organizers that you will receive the contact information for attendees who interact with your brand. Some are not opting all attendees into contact sharing.
– Give great consideration to purchasing as many additional marketing opportunities – games, product showcases, panel presentations etc.
– Be prepared to have some video content to embed in your virtual booth.
– Be prepared to do a lot of pre-show marketing and outreach to schedule one on one meetings well in advance.
– Connect your staff into the event platform as soon as it’s available – start early!
– Test out the one on one meeting software (often it is built into the virtual meeting platform) and verify everyone knows how to use it. Not all of them support green screens so be prepared for that. Don’t be afraid to schedule these meetings in your own Zoom or Teams accounts.
– Be sure to leverage the platform post-show, as most organizers are leaving the events open for several months afterward, allowing you to retrieve contacts and conversations later on.
- Look your best on camera! When we realized back in March of 2020 that we would not be traveling for a long time, we immediately invested in good quality web cameras, microphones, LED lighting, and green screens for our public facing team members. We developed a set of branded virtual backgrounds as well. The goal was to represent as good virtually, as we would when meeting in person.
- Have questions in advance of your next event? Drop us a connection on LinkedIn (Chris or Heather) or message us on Twitter (TrialStat Solutions) and we’d be happy to share some additional details!
- Start producing video content! We also learned to easily record and produce video content on our own without using an agency. Video content has become a regular component of our marketing strategy as it is often used in our virtual booths as well. With a $150 web cam, $80 microphone, a $50 green screen, with some extra lighting you can easily being producing some great video content. We also began using OBS Studio and Stream Labs to superimpose our camera feeds over our slide decks to create a very engaging user experience.
- Create opportunities to connect with people. We were missing the informal, and often most productive, face time with colleagues at the cocktail receptions and after-hours events at industry meetings. Our colleagues confirmed they were missing out on that as well, so we started our own recurring meeting series which we’ve called Ask Us Anything in Clinical Research. It’s a casual gathering of industry professionals to talk and network. We record the meeting and the publish it on YouTube and here on our website. Not ready to jump in and start up your own events? No problem, there are many great networking groups out there and we’d be happy to share some of our favourites with you.
- Host your own webinars. XTalks and similar services are great, if you really need the technical help. However, they are generally expensive programs. We decided to host our own using Zoom’s Webinar capabilities. The “technical” side of setting up the webinar was not difficult at all. Rather, we invested the bulk of our time preparing the content, inviting guests, practicing with our guest speakers, and reminding people of the upcoming events. We also recorded the webinars for publication in our YouTube channel, and of course on our blog. Like with all industry meetings, the value is determined by the results – did it generate qualified leads for the sales team? Post event follow up is critical so marketing needs to make sure sales is fully engaged with all opportunities produced from the event.
- Get serious about your social media. I’m sure we’re all used to using LinkedIn now as part of our prospecting efforts. However, not all of us are getting into the conversations and building new relationships within not so obvious channels. We have seen great success by engaging in industry groups within LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and industry associations as well. Since we’re unable to meet people in person for coffee, we need to “pivot” and move those conversations to social media platforms.
- Increase the number and types of blog posts. With all of us working remotely and with next to no traveling, we are consuming more and more digital media content in general. We increased our blog post frequency from once a week to 2-3 times per day with a focus on COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic developments. This increase in content and focus on COVID research has been well received and greatly increasing the amount of qualified traffic to our website and in turn generating an increase of inbound leads.
- Start a newsletter, or increase your efforts with your existing newsletter. In order to say connected with all of our contacts we publish a monthly newsletter sharing announcements as well as a summary of the top content we’ve shared through our blog. We did not increase the rate at which we send our newsletter, but changed the focus to feature more COVID research. Another company we heard from went all in and started a daily newsletter with great results. That seems very risky but for them it worked!
- Invest in digital advertising. In July of 2020, after the shock of realizing we would not be traveling all year, or exhibiting at industry events we decided to take a portion of those advertising dollars and push them into paid advertisements in LinkedIn, Google Pay Per Click, and industry websites and newsletters. We also expanded the reach of these campaigns to also focus on Europe where we have seen an increase in new business as a result.
- Increase your co-marketing activities with business partners. In order to generate maximum value from all of our marketing efforts we often involve our partners. We work together to develop the content for a webinar, or Virtual Meeting, and work together to invite prospects and guests. Together we’re able to create more compelling content for our guests while increasing the number of new prospects we are exposed to. It also enables us to continue developing a deep understanding of our partners services, making it easier for our teams to generate referrals for them. Don’t go it alone – work with your partners to share the load and the rewards!
- Invest in your personal workspace and take more frequent breaks. Don’t forget to take care of yourself! Some of us are already use to working from home, but for others it’s an entirely new experience. Without proper discipline you can easily extend your working hours in the morning and well into the evening. We recommend sticking to your traditional routine as though you were still going into the office. Be sure to take frequent breaks, and if need be invest in a good chair and associated equipment (maybe even a new plant or fun décor item) to make your work space as comfortable as possible!
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