One of the things I have heard from people in bioscience companies is this: “OK, we’ve got the product developed and ready to launch. Now, we need marketing.” This is a misconception about marketing held by people in different departments at almost any sized company. Marketing does not equal advertising. According to wikipedia, marketing is defined as “the process of creating or directing an organization to be successful in selling a product or service that people not only desire, but are willing to buy.”
In truly market driven companies, marketing comes in at the very beginning of product development, and very little R&D effort is done towards projects that marketing has not been involved with. The “formality” of who does the marketing differs in many companies (and may differ in an individual company at any given time). Product ideas can (and should) come from anywhere, but the key is determining whether there are customers that will buy it.
It is easy to understand how biotechnology companies often find themselves in a situation where marketing is misunderstood. The evolution of a bioscience company, and marketing within it, often happens like this:
- A scientist or entrepreneur has an idea for a product, or group of products, and decides to form a company. This person is likely someone who could have used this product, and thus s/he knows what potential customers want.
- The company hires a handful of employees who all “buy into” the proposed product, sometimes relying on scientists who just came from the academic bench (after all, who else would get so excited about stock options?).
- The product(s) launch and the market responds, and if positively, the company is still afloat!
- The company gets mired in the details of producing a product, responding to customers, and eventually dealing with competition for the product. The company grows and starts hiring R&D specialists, etc., to grow the product line. Bioscience products are highly technical, so the company is likely still highly technology-driven at this point.
- The company needs to decide what the next product or product line should be . . . but most of the staff is no longer familiar with the research customers, as they haven’t been one for a few years.
This is a critical point in the growth of a company, where marketing should be brought in to develop new products and ensure that existing products are managed properly. There will likely be tension between R&D and marketing, as a good marketing department will push R&D out of its “comfort zone” to produce innovative products. This is a good thing! The challenge in the bioscience industry is having people in your marketing group that understand the science enough to drive product development. Also, the management must ensure everybody buys into the market-driven model, where time is not spent on products that the marketing group does not approve of. There can be finger pointing and blame, as to whether the problem is with the product itself or the marketing being done for it, but ultimately the marketing group should bear the burden of both driving the process and taking responsibility when sales are down.
How do you use marketing to drive your bioscience business towards continued growth? That’s what we can help you with, both in our Marketing 101™ series and by working with you. Stay tuned, sign up for updates, and contact us for a free consultation and a Marketing 101™ seminar. This post is part of Comprendia’s Marketing 101 Blog Series, designed to help you grow your business by developing marketing strategies and tactics that work for biotechnology.