I have long held the belief that you never want to state your value proposition; you want to demonstrate it. This makes intuitive, almost axiomatic sense. So why do so many life science marketing campaigns sport messages of superiority? Why do so many claims of value fail to persuade scientists?
The answer: bias.
Scientists are trained to evaluate information from an objective frame of reference in order to learn and create truth. As such, they subjectively filter out any information that they perceive as being biased, regardless of the actual credibility of the information. Making claims and trying to persuade scientists to subscribe to your way of thinking through words only heighten a scientist’s sense of skepticism and create a further credibility gap. The more effective approach is to demonstrate your value proposition.
There are several levers that you can pull to demonstrate your value without saying it; Your point of view; your engagement in the scientific communities where your audiences live, your corporate posture; your digital “body language”, and especially your brand all affect the scientists.
In a recent study reported in a Harvard Business Review article entitled Why Customers Rebel Against Slogans, researchers found that company brands were far more persuasive in getting retail shoppers to buy more than marketing messages (slogans). In this study, the investigators found that predisposing shoppers to brands associated with luxury would result in shoppers spending 26% more than when they were predisposed to neutral brands (the control group). Intuitive, you might conclude. But here is where the story becomes more interesting.
Marketing messages had the opposite effect: Messages about luxury actually reduced the shopper’s bills by 26% compared to neutral messages. The researchers posit that this adverse effect on marketing messages are due primarily to the fact that consumers detect bias and do not want to be manipulated. Whereas brands transmit messages subconsciously, marketing messages are far more overt and subject to the consumers’ filters.
As the life science industry is becoming increasingly excited about the prospects of demand generation and adopting powerful marketing automation to increase short-term revenue, I caution that they may be, inadvertently creating barriers to their own success. Barriers that create subconscious meanings, and are far more difficult to reverse.