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CDMOs: Stop Campaigning, Start Helping.

Have you ever heard of a buyer’s campaign? It’s a rhetorical question. Why?

Pharma companies make purchasing and partnering decisions based on their timeline and their needs – not based on when CDMOs schedule a marketing campaign.

A buyer’s journey doesn’t follow your quarterly marketing campaign calendar, yet many marketers base their strategy around short campaigns. And that is not a sound marketing strategy.

“Today, buyers are in control; they have the steering wheel and the throttle. They choose how they move through the journey. They choose where and how fast. They choose when. They choose how.” So says the Weidert Group’s “Mapping Your B2B Buyer’s Journey For Inbound Marketing.”

Imagine the founder of an emerging biotech driving down the highway on a buyer’s journey to select a CDMO to help with a groundbreaking oncology drug. Your marketing campaign is a blur of a billboard that exec just zoomed by on the way to partnering with a big-name competitor. There is no slowing down to consider your message.

That biotech founder only cares about the final destination – a partner that will make it easier/faster/cheaper/better to bring that oncology drug to market. That final destination doesn’t involve a detour just because you have a great marketing campaign up your sleeve for next quarter. Your competitors are already on the map, and waiting for that next trade show certainly won't delay that biotech founder's journey.

Why Are CDMOs Fixated On Short-Term Marketing Campaigns?

The decision-making group at biopharma buyers are not sitting in a conference room saying, “We need to outsource this product/service/solution, so let’s wait and see if CDMO "A," CDMO "B," or CDMO "C" has the best marketing campaign before we decide which one to partner with.”

If that were the case, your buyers would be on a seller’s journey, not a buyer’s journey.

In reality, your buyers purchase what they need to purchase when they need to purchase it (not when you decide to run a campaign). But we hear from CDMOs over and over and over again that they structure almost everything they do around campaigns.

In many cases, CDMOs build a marketing calendar that is entirely reliant on trade shows. Marketing "ramps up" by flooding mostly-ignored RSS feeds with press releases and blasting out spammy promotional "newsletters" right before these in-person events.

But many campaigns are too late to have any real influence on pharma company decision-makers. A scientific breakthrough or a new round of funding can come at any time, and that time isn't dependent on your next webinar or trade show. Marketing strategies that are anything less than continuous, year-round efforts will inevitably target these pharma companies long after they’ve set their criteria and started evaluating outsourcing partners.

If pharma companies (buyers) don't choose CDMOs (sellers) based on campaigns, then why do so many marketers structure their entire professional livelihoods around campaigns?

Honestly, we’re not sure. There isn’t a bulletproof answer to that question. Maybe it’s because:

  • Your budget is based on campaigns instead of broader outcomes.

  • Your new facility is about to open, and you want to hyper-focus efforts around raising awareness for that facility.

  • The division of labor within your marketing team is based on executing campaigns, not based on helping your buyers, and it would be too much of a hassle to rip and replace the org chart.

  • You have a trade show 30 days from now and want to drive traffic to that very expensive booth.

  • It’s easier to execute a webinar campaign for the next 90 days than it is to develop a long-term road map for how you’re going to help your customers for the next 10 years.

  • You bought an expensive suite of software solutions to create, automate, and track campaign activity, so now you have to use that software in order to get ROI from it.

Some of these “why we still use marketing campaign” excuses might work just fine in the B2C world. You can bet Apple runs some pretty expensive and successful campaigns immediately before and after a new product release. But, in B2B buying - and especially in the life sciences space - a sales cycle measured in months or years isn’t going to happen any faster thanks to a 60-day digital marketing campaign with its email onslaught and banner ad blitz.

Stop Campaigning, Start Helping.

Maybe CDMO marketers still love marketing campaigns because someone read somewhere online that campaigns, especially the “highly-targeted” and the “innovative multi-channel” ones, are so great.

For example, it's easy to find reports stating things like, “Marketers who proactively plan campaigns are 356% more likely to report success” (that’s according to this 2019 State of Marketing Strategy report)? Let’s not give campaigns too much credit here. That same report says marketers are 397% more likely to report success if they are “organized,” 376% more likely to report success if they do “goal-setting,” and are 313% more likely to report success if they have a “documented strategy.”

The truth is, campaigns are what marketers have always done. That’s worth repeating: marketing campaigns are what marketers have always done. What marketers have not always done is to follow their buyers. Campaigns do not help a pharma company accomplish an outcome of getting a drug to market faster. Instead, campaigns are designed to sell a pharma company on your services. And your buyers don’t want to be sold. They want to be helped.

Following your buyer means putting the buyer first in every facet of your marketing. It means there is no such thing as a truly effective short-term campaign. Let’s eliminate “campaign” from our marketing vocabulary and instead double down on delivering helpful content to pharma companies at each stage of their buyer’s journey.

The buyer’s journey takes more time and is more complex than any single marketing campaign can tackle on its own. Keep that buyer - the biotech founder, the CMC consultant, the VP of outsourcing - in mind before you plan your next campaign.

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At Life Science Connect, our mission is to help you meet the decision makers developing life-improving, life-extending, and life-saving therapies and devices.

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