By now you likely know that I am a big fan of Seth Godin. Seth started talking about the principles of ‘Permission Marketing‘ ten years ago, before the rest of us caught on, and he continues to lead and give us great food for thought. In his book Meatball Sundae, he describes the current marketplace as one where large organizations, or ‘gatekeepers,’ no longer control what we see and do. For example, the ‘big three’ US TV networks can no longer dictate what we watch every night–there are myriad choices on cable TV and the internet. To stand out, your product needs to be remarkable in order to be noticed and remembered in this marketplace.
To me, a good analogy is that great burger that you’re thinking about right now. You remember it because the restaurant took the necessary steps to make it taste better than the average burger, to make it remarkable (your mouth is watering right now, isn’t it?). Perhaps they even took a risk to make you remember it–there’s a local joint that serves a burger with peanut butter and bacon, and it is good and certainly memorable (from what I remember, I’m a vegetarian now ;).
Don’t get me wrong, restaurants and other companies have always tried to make great products that are differentiated. Now, however, it’s not as easy for the bigger companies to retain customers with the same old, same old, simply relying on distribution channels and branding to succeed. In addition, this means that smaller companies can now have a greater reach by using new tools and having remarkable products.
How is this relevant to biotech and the life sciences? I’ve seen a few larger life sciences companies rely on the fact that they have the resources and the distribution channels to reach customers. Why be remarkable? However, even 5 years ago, these companies started to see the effect of the smaller, internet-savvy companies, who could sell research tools directly to scientific customers, eating into their market share.
How have the big life science companies responded? As with other industries, mergers and acquisitions appear to be the current focus, and I have not heard much buzz about a particular product or technology lately (feel free to prove me wrong by leaving a comment below). However, in the biotech/life sciences news category, there is something remarkable: new entrant Xconomy, who consistently provide insightful news focused on the biotech/tech clusters.
To compete in this new marketplace, I would challenge you to consistently ask this single question throughout product development: Is It Remarkable? What qualities does the product have that will make customers remember it and even talk to their colleagues about it? Does it save them loads of time? Give them clearer results? Give them information they couldn’t access before? All are ways to be remarkable in the life sciences.
Of course, as with anything else that will yield great results, it takes more time and creativity, but you’ll find that a remarkable product pays you back many times over, as it becomes something that your company is known, sought out, and remembered for. I was recently at a talk in which the introduction of Topo cloning products, which were truly remarkable, was presented as a major milestone for Invitrogen/Life Technologies, even though this happened more than 10 years ago. For life science companies, being remarkable often requires acquiring unique technologies from small companies or universities, and with the slow economy, the time may be right to get some gems.
Need help determining whether your products are remarkable? With years of life science experience, we can help you determine that, and help you to acquire the new technologies you need to create and position your products in this new, more competitive landscape. Sign up for a free consultation, and start being remarkable!