I am thrilled to announce the return of the Talk Life Science Marketing Analysis podcast for our first episode back since the beginning of the pandemic. And there is no one better suited to helping me talk through the changes faced by marketers than Michael Allen, VP of Marketing at Metrohm. Due to Michael’s efforts, Metrohm was recognized at the Scientists’ Choice Awards during Pittcon 2020 as the Reviewer’s Choice for Analytical Science Company of the Year.
Figuring Out the Next Normal
Michael and I begin our discussion by talking through the major, immediate changes that we have seen, and are continuing to see, in a post-pandemic world where all our assumptions about the best practices for engaging prospective customers have to be re-thought. Even our relationships within our own companies have shifted, as there is now even greater curiosity about, and oversight into, the marketing process.
Michael explains how his process has shifted to focus more on short-term predictions rather than the long-term. The marketplace moves so quickly that analysis can only give you an educated guess into the next quarter, rather than the next year.
But paradoxically, this also means that we need to be more patient than ever with our campaigns. Increasingly, we need to make longer term investments with shorter-term knowledge of how the future might play out. This results in the aforementioned increase in oversight and curiosity, as marketers have to make bold, daring choices that also may take longer to come to fruition. This results in both exciting innovation and risks that end in failure.
Content and Connections
As the pandemic landscape continues to shift, a variety of new and traditional marketing approaches and techniques have to be utilized.
With in-person events still a risky proposition, online content has seen a huge boom in both quantity and importance. And because we are continuing to operate in unprecedented times, that affords us the opportunity to experiment with processes and change approaches in ways we might not have had the ability to in the past.
But as Michael states in our interview, “Content doesn’t replace connections.” No matter how much material you provide for your website and other online channels, that does not mitigate the importance of human-to-human communication that is at the heart of our industry.
How to take chances while putting yourself in the best position for success while mitigating the chance for failure? For that, Michael and I decide to dig into data.
The Scientific Method
Michael is kind enough to get into the nitty-gritty details of his data utilization process with me. For context, he discusses his own background in science and breaks down how his own marketing team is split between those with a background in science and those with a background in marketing. That division of perspectives is at the heart of the successes that Michael and his team have experienced.
Michael and his team intensely study various parts of the sales process, including impressions, engagements, and the qualification processes as they relate to the qualifying of official leads. It can be difficult at times to parse the correct correlation between these numbers and the results, as the money a company spends in marketing one year may not pay off until the following year (i.e., a webinar in November 2021 may not result in any new sales until sometime in 2022).
For this analysis, Michael and his team utilize Microsoft Dynamics as a CRM. It allows them to connect their customer base into whatever the marketing team is currently doing. Everything moves through the Click Dimensions platform, and the data is shared among the entire team.
I wanted to know how Michael’s team evaluates and responds to the data once it is all collected, broken down, and analyzed. How does a marketing team in 2022 make sure that they are being agile enough in how they react to and implement what their customers are and are not responding to?
Michael explains that the key is to set appropriate goals and expectations for what they expect to achieve with a given investment. Having clear goals enables the marketer to create a clear marketing measurement framework around what was achieved, which betters allows marketing to determine what worked, what didn’t, what can be improved, and what should be refuted for future projects. Michael also points out that there is now should be an expectation that the time frame for results will be longer than it has been in the past.
Throughout the episode, Michael returns to a recurring message for the post-COVID market: Sometimes your guesses will be wrong. Sometimes your risks will not pay off. You can be strident in the data you collect, and strategic in how you use that data, and even so there is no guarantee that your efforts will pay off the way you think they should.
Michael admits that this is a hard lesson for both scientists and marketers to accept, but he also underlines that these missteps are better thought of as opportunities for improvement and growth. Every failure is a chance to do better next time.
To finish off the episode, Michael answers the question left behind by my last guest, Kristen Garvey, Vice President Corporate Communications at Waters Corporation.
Kristen asked what role modern technologies are playing in the current landscape. Michael touches on virtual demos and webinars in his response, while also reminding us that we are in the very early days of these technologies becoming de rigueur across a wide swathe of industries. The goal is to get to a status where customers are totally comfortable using the various technologies made available to them, without necessitating Michael and his team having to drop in on-site and make personal installations.
And for his part, Michael asks a question that everyone in marketing should consider answering: What is the next big change for the scientific industry in establishing a personal connection with customers?
This is the challenge and opportunity that Michael and I have been digging into for the entire episode. There has never been a greater time for uncertainty, but there has also never been a time of greater opportunity.
All this and more can be heard in this terrific episode. Take a listen!
More articles on marketing measurement from Covalent Bonds:
Covalent Bonds Gives Up the Advice We Need Right Now, Interview with Laura Browne for C&EN Media Group, May 2020.