For biotechs in stealth mode, keeping a low profile is the name of the game. But once they enter the next stage of growth, companies must shed the cloak of secrecy to attract investor attention. And in the competitive biotech market, developing a strong marketing strategy can be critical to garner needed support and advance R&D.
“If you don't have any marketing, then nobody is going to know about you and you're going to have to rely on your board of directors’ and CEO’s relationships,” said Daniel Lofaso, CEO and founder of the biotech marketing agency Digital Elevator. “Good science alone is not going to get you to that next step.”
But raising awareness while coming out of stealth doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here, Lofaso provides tips for how companies can set themselves apart and increase their chances for exposure early on.
Develop a buyer persona
Before companies begin to develop marketing materials, they should understand the “who, what and why” of their business — who the audience is, what makes their technology novel and why people should care.
Once they can create a story around these questions, the rest of the communication strategy tends to “fall into place,” Lofaso said.
“[Investors are] looking at dozens of companies a week and need to be able to glean information quickly."
CEO, founder, Digital Elevator
And to stay competitive in the current climate, he noted, it’s especially important to build a narrative around how a company’s science works and the professional accomplishments of its leadership.
“Those things are what a lot of these investors are looking at when these biotechs get in front of them,” he said. “Scientists and founders don't like to brag about themselves, but we're not bragging. We're just telling the truth,” he said.
Design an engaging website
Outlining the story is only half the battle. Next, Lofaso said he often recommends companies build visual-heavy websites that distill information into easily comprehensible blurbs.
As a company grows, the website acts as the hub where all stakeholders, from investors to payers and patients, can go for in-depth information about what they’re all about and making it easy to skim is vital to holding people’s interest.
“[Investors are] looking at dozens of companies a week and need to be able to glean information quickly,” Lofaso explained.
Visuals, like 3D animations that show how a drug functions, are among the best ways to describe the science and keep viewers engaged.
And while companies “don’t have to go crazy with $150,000 websites,” the typical recommendation is that they spend 8-10% of their budgets on marketing, Lofaso said.
Get the word out
Once the stage is set, companies can attract attention through earned media campaigns and SEO-driven content marketing, Lofaso said.
To kick-start these efforts, he recommended that biotechs create a public relations plan and pitch timely stories about their technology to industry publications frequently read by investors.
They should also consider creating a blog with keyword-heavy articles highlighting the problems they’re attempting to solve to attract web traffic and build an audience over time.
Ultimately, though, Lofaso said the best marketing campaigns are the simplest.
“Identify who you're talking to, and then how you're going to hit them,” he said. “Everybody thinks they have to do some super technical marketing campaign these days, because it sounds exciting. But traditional marketing works really well.”