“In these unprecedented times, organizations need to get creative in their client outreach.”

At a time when all conferences are getting cancelled or indefinitely postponed, SpeakPharma interviewed Lea LaFerla, vice president of marketing services and business development at SCORR Marketing, a leading full-service marketing and communications firm in the health sciences space. SCORR Marketing partners with PharmaCompass in its Pipeline Prospector Tool, a database of current global drug development deals. LaFerla is of the view that in these unprecedented times, when the global economy is locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, health sciences organizations needs to be creative in their marketing tactics and repurpose content to stand out from competition. Excerpts.

The health science industry is facing an unprecedented business environment. What recommendations do you have for your clients at this time, when most trade shows have either been canceled or postponed? And how do you combat the tendency to cancel or postpone trade-show-related initiatives?

While some trade shows are shifting to a virtual format, few are thinking about how to replicate the immersive, interactive nature of the exhibit floor and booth experience. Participating through trade show platforms and by having a virtual trade show booth is a real opportunity to highlight your company’s creativity, agility, and market leadership at a time when those assets are more highly valued by potential clients than ever.

One undeniable effect of Covid-19 has been a surge in online activity, and a significant increase in the consumption of social media. How does this sudden shift impact your view of suggested strategies?

Right now, social and digital marketing are the primary channels through which clients are going to learn about your service and solutions, so they deserve additional emphasis. Marketing plans, however, should be living documents, designed with the understanding that changing goals and priorities, trends, and competitive realities will require you to be agile. SCORR’s holistic strategy has long embraced integrated marketing, inclusive of social and digital efforts. Messaging is more important than ever as it is your first touch point with potential clients and will differentiate you in their minds.

Currently, the only thing that seems certain is constant uncertainty. During a period of such rapid change, how valuable is it for drug development companies to showcase core competencies and definitive results? How can such a strategy help companies in the long run?

This is an unprecedented time, and companies that have survived other challenging events and have a history of delivering during times of adversity are at an advantage. More than ever, sponsors will be less likely to take a chance on a partner that is unproven. Regardless, focus on the things you can control — your internal execution, your standards, your communications, etc.

Make it clear that in an environment where instability and lack of clarity are the rule, your business is solid, steadfast, and unwavering in its dedication to providing consistent results for its clients. Communicate early and often, and don’t be afraid to lead.

What would you say to companies that are adopting a more passive, “wait it out and then figure it out” stance right now?

The instinct to pull back and hunker down during times of uncertainty is understandable. It can be uncomfortable to proactively engage with your market when you know you don’t have all the answers you usually do, but it’s important to remember that like you, no one has the answers right now. And that’s okay.

At the moment, “waiting it out” may send a message to potential clients that “we are unprepared to proactively respond to unforeseen business challenges.”

In our view, these unprecedented times present a unique opportunity for organizations to get creative and step outside the box. Clients will increasingly gravitate toward those who demonstrate such leadership. These lasting relationships are being formed now, and they will generate revenue for many years to come.

If you could give a single piece of advice to a health science firm that feels stuck in a “freeze” mode right now, one that the company could enact today to get back on track, what would it be?

I would tell firms to get creative. There are so many strategies currently available to health sciences companies. For instance, you could focus on improving your inbound by repurposing the content originally intended for in-person conferences that have been cancelled and employ webinars, podcasts, live forums, etc.

Second, companies need to understand that in order to build out their inside sales efforts and outbound strategies, they have to adjust their sales playbook. More of the same isn’t enough.

Third, health science firms need to virtualize their conferences. The show must go on.

Fourth, they need to reallocate their marketing budget by utilizing the decrease in their overall trade show spend to increase digital media and social media spend. In fact, I would say even within traditional channels, stand out from competitors by sending out 3D mailers, micro-videos, and other content.

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About the Author

Lea LaFerla

Vice President of Marketing Services & Business Development

Lea, who manages the client services and business development teams across North America and Europe, goes the distance to make sure SCORR exceeds clients’ expectations. She applies her industry knowledge and experience to develop results-oriented integrated marketing programs that help clients achieve their goals. In her two decades within the industry, she has led numerous international marketing and sales teams while developing customer and market strategies and translating customer needs into tangible solutions.