From contract research organizations to preclinical biotechs, the biopharma industry is rampant with IPOs and acquisitions.
Take a minute to think about how many mergers or acquisitions you’ve heard about in the industry in the last year… quite a few right?
Those of us on the business side of the industry (meaning sales and marketing focused, not research and development) are here to make our companies strong investment or acquisition targets, and maximize the equity value of everyone involved.
In a push for an IPO, acquisition, or higher share price, there are two metrics that investors focus on:
It’s about the money coming in the door, and the potential for more money to come in the door. Notice that profitability has become less important in these situations. Business structure can be optimized later. Maximizing equity value comes from your ability to drive revenue, and doing it in a way that proves potential for continued growth into the future.
Traditionally teams did this by building large sales forces using the logic “if we can train 10 people to sell well we can train 100 people and sell 10 times as much”.
But these days employee attribution, training costs, and business overheads are increasing. And market landscapes are shifting fast, so by the time you’ve spent a year training a new sales recruit, the rate or method of sales success has changed.
Building large sales forces can be a way to drive payroll expenses, without guaranteeing proportional revenue.
You need a way to drive revenue in a repeatable fashion that can be scaled without needing to drastically increase the human input. Digital marketing is just that, for the other two reasons in this list.
When something is done in a digital environment, data can be collected each step of the way to optimize the process.
As an example look at how EDC (electronic data capture) has changed the way clinical trials are performed. Clinical operations teams understand that by implementing easier and more frequent information collection, they can find out about or predict adverse events earlier in a trial, and focus on where success is happening. By doing this, patients receive better care, sponsors prevent costly inefficiencies and CROs plan operations with more confidence. Now when conducting a clinical trial, when given the option, is a sponsor going to conduct a clinical trial with the use of EDC? Definitely.
In the same way, those of us in sales and marketing functions in the industry need to conduct activities that can be measured. As a result, we’ll be able to invest in what works best, prevent wasted budgets, and bring plans to our executive teams with more confidence.
When executed correctly, a digital marketing program will provide this measurability throughout the entire sales and marketing process.
We can track who has engaged with us on social media, which website pages they have visited, if they have talked to a sales person, and how long that sales process took to close a deal.
We can measure which pages on our websites have influenced the most sales deals, which traffic sources have produced the most sales opportunities, and how much revenue a digital marketing channel is producing.
When the entire process is measurable, we can optimize it to maximize revenue growth.
Two pillars of any digital marketing program are:
With both channels, success is proportional to the amount of time content production has taken place.
In social media, there is a phenomenon known as “social proof”, where users are more likely to follow your brand if they can see you already have a strong following. In other words, a brand with 1,000 followers is more likely to get new followers than a brand with 100 followers. This means the number of people who will follow your social media content grows exponentially over time.
Search engines, such as Google and Bing, prefer to serve content from websites that have been routinely producing content over a longer period of time. Therefore when two brands are competing for similar keywords, it's often the brand who has been executing an SEO strategy for the longest that receives more clicks. The search engines track these clicks and are more likely to serve up this brand’s content for other searches. Exponential traffic growth follows.
In either of these examples, a brand that has been executing digital marketing best practices for the longest wins. When a brand ranks the highest on specific keywords or is the authority on a subject on social media, it becomes very difficult to unseat them. This correlates to the brand capturing market share that is difficult for others to capture back.
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