5 Lessons Life Science Marketers Can Learn From Presidential Campaigns

I watched President Obama’s speech last night and was amazed by his presence and vision, and since 2008 I’ve been following him through various channels such as email, Twitter, and Facebook. Indeed, his 2008 campaign strategy was covered in Seth Godin’s ‘Tribes’ book and is a great example of using digital media to engage and enlist followers. Regardless of the outcome of the 2012 election, the activities of both candidates are worth studying with an eye towards life science marketing, and we review the most important lessons here.

  1. Messaging is important. By now you all know three words that the Obama campaign have used to brand their last two campaigns: Hope, Change, and Forward. Hmmmm, what are the messages of the other candidates? I can’t remember them. Identifying succinct messaging is vital for branding your company and products to your customer, helping all employees communicate a consistent message.
  2. Read twice, publish once. Mitt Romney’s campaign was lampooned for having 3 copy editing errors in a space of a few weeks. Obviously, these mistakes reflect negatively on the campaign, especially when the opposition gets wind of them. While your biggest competitor is unlikely to point out your errors, it still affects your brand. Perhaps a decrease in the quality of marketing copy can be understood because digital marketing can be more difficult to put through a proper editing cycle, but you should put new procedures in place to make sure these errors are minimized.
  3. Images drive home messages. Personally, being on the left side of the fence (can you tell?) I see Obama campaign imagery more in my social feed, and it moves me. In my Facebook feed, I see what I would call ‘infographic light’ images which show a fact and a photo. These images, along with the more artistic Shepard Fairey image which inspired the image for this post, are powerful and infinitely shareable. We see some life science companies using images powerfully online and see much more opportunity in this space.
  4. The personal touch. The emails I get from the Obama campaign seem as though they are personal messages from an individual. Last night I received two messages which appeared to be from the President about his speech, before and after. On other occasions, the email appears to be directly from someone else I admire, and I actually get excited when I see them in my inbox! Do you know your life science customers well enough to send ‘personal’ emails to them, resulting in improving your brand and getting more feedback from them? Working with personas and achieving a high level of engagement are good places to start.
  5. Flexible engagement. I had signed up with different emails to receive updates from the Obama campaign and wanted to unsubscribe one of them. Again, I was impressed–they offered me the option to get fewer emails and gave the page a personal touch. I recently started receiving more email from BioSpace than I wanted and clicked on the unsubscribe link on the email, which disappointed me because it only gave one option to unsubscribe. I wanted to keep receiving some of the emails, but as a result I had to unsubscribe completely. Oddly, the unsubscribe page I found from a search on the website gives many more options. Again, check on these types of details in your marketing materials and follow the second BioSpace example. It would also be beneficial to include links to allow people to follow on social media, which means you should be already set up well on these channels to engage with customers. These changes are completely trivial for you to make to your unsubscribe page and will help you to stay engaged with more customers.

You may not be running a campaign to be the leader of the free world, but you can solve problems for life scientists and grow your business by following these examples.

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