The essence of marketing is differentiation

Whether you sell contract research services, drug product manufacturing services or software or technology, if your customers can’t see a clear distinction between what you and your competitors offer, they have no incentive to choose your company over any other. As a result, your sales, market share and profits often suffer.

Getting to that distinction — your brand identity — is a process requiring market intelligence, strategy and a healthy dose of creativity, and it begins with achieving a clear, objective understanding of your brand position in the market.

Your brand position is how people think of you compared to your competitors. In your group of competing companies, are you thought of as the low-price leader, as high science but pricey, as being the easiest to collaborate with, or as the best choice for solutions to complex problems? For many companies, this position evolves over years without strategic thought. If this sounds like your company, then you will benefit from strategic realignment to take you from your brand position today to your brand ambition goal.

Start with market intelligence

While it’s vital to survey the top management of your company on their perceptions of your market position, the best way to learn how you are perceived is to also survey end users of the product or service. In this way, you learn not only how the broad market perceives your company versus your competitors, but also what your market perceives as key criteria for making a buying decision. This information helps you develop your buyer’s personas and map out the buyer’s journey to ensure your marketing messaging is highly targeted and seen at the right place, at the right time.

The best marketing in any field has an emotional core that customers can relate to.

Another important aspect to consider with market intelligence is the utilization of a third party to survey your own clients. By being objective, this research is more likely to reveal truthful, and therefore more useful, responses that uncover flaws or weaknesses your clients may be reluctant to share with you directly. 

A strategic plan to change positions

Once your market research is complete, you can begin the process of developing a strategic marketing action plan that serves as a road map for your integrated marketing program to get you from where you are today to where you aspire to be.

Translating a strategic message from data into a creative execution — that may include a corporate identity with a logo, tagline and business tools such as sales support materials, trade show exhibits and advertising — is going to take more than just a refresh of the same old same old. It’s going to take a Big Idea.

Getting a Big Idea

A Big Idea is the verbalization and visualization of your marketing strategy. It includes the core brand messaging as well as the visual elements from the basic layout to the colors, fonts and illustrative style.

Just because your product or service isn’t aimed at consumers doesn’t mean it should be without personality or emotion. The best marketing in any field, from sneakers to spectrometers, has an emotional core that customers can relate to. Connecting with customers on an emotional level is what makes a message eye-catching, persuasive and memorable.

Go for total integration

The most successful branding looks at your company holistically and presents a consistent message to all audiences — including customers, vendors, investors, media and, just as importantly, employees. It’s vital to get buy-in of your brand identity from your employees for many reasons, not least because the brand will be expressed through them. If the brand position you adopt rests on exceptional customer service and your employees fail to provide it, the result is actually worse than if you had no branding at all.

Creating a differentiated position for your company in the health science industry where products, services and capabilities are similar requires a clear and objective marketing strategy that can be followed consistently for every audience and in every medium.

The vigilance needed to remove any disconnect between what you say about your company and your performance is no easy job. But after a thorough analysis of your position and the execution of a well-conceived strategic plan, you can make the changes that allow you to stand out in your field and improve your sales, market share and, ultimately, your ROI.

About the Authors

Krystle Buntemeyer

Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

Krystle Buntemeyer

Krystle has been with SCORR since nearly the beginning. She has a specialized client focus in drug development services and has been the strategic force behind many of SCORR’s successful brand launches within the global health sciences space. Today, she leads all client initiatives through the client services team, ensuring all projects are strategically on point. She uses training and ingrained processes that deliver successful, on-budget, on-time and defect-free initiatives. Her team facilitates strategic marketing plans and annual marketing budgets and executes integrated marketing programs flawlessly.

Ben Rowe

Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer

Ben has shaped hundreds of brand campaigns within the drug development services and health care industries. He leads the creative team’s efforts across SCORR’s entire suite of services and ensures all projects are completed on strategy. Ben specializes in internal and external branding and has garnered numerous awards for SCORR's creative work. Throughout his career, Ben has developed brands focused on accomplishing diverse objectives and is renowned for his ability to seamlessly synchronize strategy and creative.