Paul is a Sector Marketing Director at Malvern Panalytical, but he actually started out as a technical specialist, with a PhD in physical chemistry. How he transitioned from one career path to the other gets to the very heart of our discussion about the purpose of marketing.
As someone with a pronounced dislike of needles, Paul was dazzled when he went to a conference and saw a presentation about an inhalation drug delivery system, removing needles entirely from the equation. Paul was so enthusiastic about this breakthrough that his superiors noticed and gave him the opportunity to become a part of the project management for these products.
For Paul, this crystallizes his approach to the various products that Malvern produces and sells. It is not a question of trying to cajole customers into buying, but identifying what people actually need, and then finding the best way to communicate with them.
Those methods of communication have changed, especially with the recent pandemic. Paul and his team have had to pivot into all new methods of communication, especially digital methods like webinars in order to continue engaging with their customers and prospective customers.
These changes have taken some getting used to, disrupting the face-to-face connections that are at the heart of both sales and marketing. As Paul describes, often it is during casual, unstructured discussion that customers can reveal the most important things about themselves and their needs.
These shifts have also led to the prioritization of online resources as a means of gathering data. Paul and his team have to strike a careful balance with their questionnaires: They have to be specific enough to gather useful, actionable data, but if the questions are too numerous and too exacting, people will simply decline to answer.
This undertaking involves numerous teams within Malvern Panalytical, which is one of the reasons why Paul dislikes silos where each team is off on their own, sequestered away from other teams. Open communication and free exchanges of information are, in his experience, the way to get the best results possible.
What Data Does and Does Not Say
For all that online functions and automated services are now intrinsically important to the gathering and classification of data, Paul does not anticipate technology ever getting to the point where it fully replaces the human element of analysis and then implementation.
“Data does not always give you definitive answers,” he explains to me. “It gives you signposts.”
Indeed, Paul is someone who trusts his gut and his instinctual responses, and acknowledges that he works best when he has more analytical thinkers keeping him in check. But by the same token, without risk-takers there would be no innovation, no bold swings, or grand steps forward. It is the push and pull between careful analytical planning and emotional, instinctual drives that creates the greatest level of success, no matter what industry is under discussion.
Emotion can never be factored out of the decision-making process. Yes, even for scientists! There will always be personal motivations behind how people act and react. Because of this, automation and AI programs will never be able to fully replicate or anticipate the human mind, and there will always be a need for human interpretation of data.
What Comes Next?
To conclude our conversation, Paul addresses the question posed by Michael Allen in his recent guest appearance on this show. Michael wanted to know what my next guest thought would be the next big change for the scientific industry in establishing personal connections with customers.
Paul believes that the next change will be figuring out the proper balance between face-to-face and remote interactions. He does not believe we will ever get return to the pre-pandemic norm, and so marketing needs to ask how do we get those casual, informal interactions that are so critical and so much harder to discover during rigidly formatted online meetings. He admits to not knowing what those answers are yet, but expects that to be a major question as marketing continues to evolve.
For his question for my next guest, Paul wants to know how they communicate real achievement and deeper motivations behind their companies and products? Everyone likes to claim that their company is going to make the world a better place, but how do you convey true sincerity to a customer?
Hear all this and more in the latest episode of the Talk Life Sciences podcast!