Posted on Tue, Oct 09, 2012

Expiring patents for best-selling cardiovascular drugs, including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi's anti-clotting drug Plavix and Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering treatment Lipitor, have left drug makers scrambling for next-generation replacements.  The patent losses could reduce sales of cardiovascular drugs to $60 billion by 2017 from $83 billion in 2011, according to analysts' forecasts.  In Reuter's article "Big bets aim to jolt heart drug sales back to life", it was reported that "big pharma" hopes a new generation of drugs can replace the cardiovascular drugs that are coming off patent.  Recent product launches have achieved less than expected results and new heart medicines still in clinical testing represent some of the biggest gambles ever made by these industry leading companies.

"Big pharma" companies have all been turning to outsourcing as a strategic option to help them solve this R&D crisis; however, there seems to be more of a sense of urgency now than a few years ago.  If you are one of these pharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO's) or a clinical research organization (CRO's), you know you have the services that can help big pharma out of this crisis, but how do you (let them know)do it effectively?  These big pharma companies are huge enterprises with many divisions and many potential points of contact to sell your services to.

As a contract services provider, large or small, it is very difficult, time consuming and expensive to try to reach your potential customers effectively and in a timely manner.  How do you target?  Where are they located?  Who do you know already that can help introduce you to the decision-makers that matter?  What projects do you have that you can help them with?  These are all questions that don't seem to have complete answers.  Just when you are feeling good about the contacts you have in one of these companies and you think you have direct access to the departments and decision-makers that matter, you find out that there are three other groups in the same facility you had no idea existed.  Worse, your current contacts may not even know anyone in these other groups, so getting an introduction from them may not be an option.  Do these other groups even need your services?  What do they need?  It's very difficult to make an assessment and determine what the potential ROI is for pursuing any of these other groups

The solution: a closed-loop marketing strategy using inbound marketing techniques.  What is inbound marketing?  Inbound marketing contrasts with traditional "outbound" marketing, in which businesses push their messages at consumers. With techniques that include direct mail, telemarketing and trade shows, outbound marketing has become less effective over time as buyers have behaviorally and technologically tuned these interruptive campaigns out, using methods such as PVR, spam filters, and ‘do-not-call’ lists.  Today, these techniques are not as effective as they used to be. With the proliferation of junk paper mail, who bothers even reading anything that comes in through our postal system?

Inbound marketing instead focuses on getting permission from your audience for you to communicate with them.  Today, 93% of B2B buyers start with a search engine query. With so many other duties to perform in a day, today's buyers are asking the question "What's in it for me?" (Who can solve my problem?)  If a supplier - even a current approved supplier - can't answer that question, the buyer quickly moves on to find the solution they specifically need.  This is why inbound marketing is growing in importance so much - even in the pharmaceutical industry.  If you think you are only marketing to the 7% of buyers that do not start with a search engine query, think again!

Here are 3 ways adopting inbound marketing strategies as part of traditional marketing mix can help you reach a targeted audience that wants to interact with you for the services you particularly offer:

1. Optimizing your website through Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It is important that you make sure all of your website pages are optimize with the right targeted keywords that focus on your service offerings. Everything from page text to page titles and meta descriptions are refined with the relevant keywords so that it gives you the best chance possible of being found by your target audience instead of your competitors.  In addition, these keywords must be embedded in the content you provide on your website.

Another important tactic here is to maximize your inbound links.  Sign up for every relevant industry directory you can.  The more reach you can achieve through inbound links, the more opportunity you have of increasing traffic to your website from an audience that may be looking for your specific outsourcing capabilities.

Did you know?

  • 60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic search results

  • 89% of internet users search online before they make a purchase, even when the purchase is made at a local business

2. Start Blogging

This is the single most important element of inbound marketing.  If you don't have a blog, start one right away.  This is a great place to embed your keywords.  Start promoting your specific technical capabilities and educate your audience on how it can help them improve their R&D and accelerate their efforts to move away from the pharmaceutical patent cliff.  With over 1,200 competitors all offering undifferentiated services, educating your marketplace on how to do what you do very well will certainly differentiate you from the crowd.  This can really be a game changer.

Inbound Marketing Blog

Did you know?

  • companies who create, optimize and promote their blogs get 55% more traffic and 70% more leads than those who don’t

  • 65% of daily internet users read a blog?

It could be YOUR blog if you make it easy for them to find it.

3.  Get Social!

Social media is like being at a giant networking event 24/7, 365 days a year.  Let's face it, pharmaceutical contracting trade shows, where a lot of networking has historically taken place, are not what they use to be.  Trade show attendance has decreased over the last 10Get Social on Inbound Marketing years or so and the quality of leads generated are not as consistently good as they used to be.  There are a number of factors for this: travel budgets at the big pharma companies have been cut (patent cliff being one factor); buyers no longer need events where they can go to one place to find out what pharma services are available.  They can simply go online and find everything they need without stepping outside their offices - remember, 93% start with searching online.

Having LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts are so important, for so many reasons.  The primary ones are that you can increase the reach of your blog articles and other content by sharing them in the different social media outlets and create a continuous dialog with your potential audience.  This will also give your readers and followers the opportunity to share your great content with others their networks.

Did your know?

  • Companies that use Twitter average 2x more leads than those who don't

  • 72% of Twitter users are more likely to recommend the brands they follow

  • Nearly 2/3 of internet users regularly use a social network

  • More than ½ of active Twitter users follow companies, brands or products on social networks

  • 93% of adult internet users are on Facebook?

  • 44% of B2B companies believe they have generated leads from a LinkedIn presence

By implementing an inbound marketing plan as part of your overall marketing mix, you can:

  • Gain cost-effective access to big pharma clients

  • Generate more leads and achieve traffic to lead conversion rates of up to 8%

  • Reduce your cost per lead by up to 60%

  • Increase new business revenue by efficiently converting more leads to customers 

  • Diversify your customer base and markets you serve

  • Reduce your overall marketing budget by decreasing reliance on expensive outbound marketing programs

  • Create a community of followers on social media through Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook


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Tags: Closed Loop Marketing, Online Marketing, Inbound Marketing