Well shoo, probably not even done with all your follow up for 2018 and here’s 2019 already! New plans need to be made, budgets to be approved and micro managing bosses to be kept satisfied.
So what are your plans? In case you didn’t actually do anything yet: copy-paste this list into your company templates and he or she will love it. I hope so for you anyway..
1. Content strategy
For years, content has been identified as the main driver for SEO / traffic to your website/positioning as a trusted advisor. But, still, most life sciences companies that I know of still don’t blog regularly, post blogs that are basically promo pieces, and are thusly: missing out!
The major pitfalls I heard are the lack of time, no inspiration for topics, not being able to write well. I’m truly convinced that any company can deliver a blog every 2 or 3 weeks easily if they get planned well in advance and the commitment is present. For myself, I work with SMEs / consultants who are always pressured for time- and deadlines and we made it work. Never force people to write blogs though, always show the value first and go from there.
Tip: Get some visual content in there. Google it if you doubt it, but video is up and coming. Think about explanimations or a well-executed video to connect to your audience.
2. Event calendar
The conferences you’re going to attend can make all the difference for 2019. In my opinion, there are a lot of conferences out there that are very costly but have little added value. There are good ones too though which have a decent show up, a partnering program and/or an exhibition floor that’s actually visited. Beware of the conferences that come in a dozen and are similarly named like the so-manieth summit of something, generally named conferences that attract a public so diverse you’ll never spot a lead, and especially roundtables for executive decision makers which would probably cost you anywhere between 10 and 15 k (pounds usually).
Personally, for instance in biotech, I love the BIO Europe. I’ve been attending with our company for a while now and the success has actually been increasing (and we’re a service provider too). On a more regional level, we’ve got Innovation for Health in the Netherlands and Knowledge for Growth in Belgium. Because of their national character, these latter have the benefit that basically all life sciences companies make use of the occasion to network there. Every country or group of usually has something like it: Nordic Life Sciences Days, Baltic Life Sciences Days, Swiss Biotech day, German Biotech Days, etc.
So, go and find yours on Google!
The previously mentioned ones all have a high-level character for the life sciences sector, which is good but not enough to fill up a proper conference calendar. Also, identify some conferences that rely on their content. This will benefit you because you’re more likely to find like-minded professionals looking for similar information. Put the membership on your calendar as well. You’re paying for it through your membership anyway and they’re always good for networking.
So, the actual calendar should show all events your company is going to attend and it should also be accessible to everyone to view and possibly add new information (new conferences to be considered). Here’s an example of what it could look like: Download here (XLS).
3. Target list optimization
New year, new chances and, probably some new companies too! Make some time to review to target lists you’ve come up with so far.
Some of your targets can be removed, some can be added and while you’re at it, try to optimize them a bit. Depending on your ‘sales’ capacity make sure you prioritize important accounts and don’t be overly confident 1 person will contact a 1000 relations by him or herself. If you have several people on BD, segmentation on a specific industry, disease indication(s), geography, and company size can help you set clear goals for individuals. It will also allow you to see in which segments you perform well.
Finally, make sure and keep track of how you’re progressing throughout the year by setting monthly targets. If you don’t have one yet, get a CRM system and, no, it’s not necessarily expensive. Try HubSpot.
4. Looking back
What was it that made 2018 such a success? What service were you able to offer a lot? Which product was your top seller? Who responded positively to your investment pitches? You want to know these things if you want to optimize your strategy before pulling out the same shotgun you used for 2018.
If you had any client project you are particularly proud of turn them into a case study for the new so you can show it around instead of saying you’re really good; turning words into evidence.
Try to estimate if a client would be eligible for up-selling or, even better, cross-selling. They know you already so this makes it significantly easier than new business generation.
Start the conversation with some of your good relations to find out exactly why they chose you and use this info to build on your 2019 success.
5. Have a peak a what the competition did
Best one yet! There will always be competition and every once in a while they will do something better than you. So, steal it!
Ok, maybe not steal it but don’t be afraid to have a little sneak-peak at their booth, gimmicks, brochures, presentations, and website. Use it to improve upon your own instead of being a plain old copycat, no one will love you for that.
Eventually, this is the way we all define our best practices and it’s part of a healthy capitalistic system. And probably also the reason why I see so many ‘sneaky’ subscriptions to company newsletters I’ve set up!
6. Multi-channel marketing
Multi-what? Being everywhere your customer is and making sure this customer receives a consistent experience across all these channels. Multichannel marketing is one of those hip terms for 2019 but it does comply with common sense. Customers are more in control of what they want to know then ever and have access to all kinds of channels to receive information.
As a small or medium sized company, I wouldn’t bother with setting up an elaborate multichannel strategy that involves gathering all sorts of data gathering, campaign management, advanced analytics and execution, and response attribution. Let’s leave those fun things to big pharma who have agencies to spend their entire budget on.
As far as multichannel goes for SMEs, just start with using your traditional channels and involve newer ones like the mobile web, email, video, and LinkedIn. Set these up properly, sustainably, and make sure you present yourself consistently to the people who interact with you(r brand).
7. SEO improvement
Get a guy or read up on it yourself but it’s important to make sure your website checks all the marks of a proper website. It needs to be solid from a technical perspective, meaning it should be user friendly clear interfaces and fast loading), optimized for mobile, and easily indexed by search engines.
The content itself can also be reviewed to suit user satisfaction. As you may have noticed, Google’s Search Engine Results Pages now also show Featured Snippets, Knowledge Graphs, Google News, and People Also Ask, etc. These are all meant for the user’s need for answers to their question. To facilitate optimal indexing of your content, be sure structure it well and keep in mind that high-quality content is still an important for authority as well.
If you’d like to know more: these guys seem to have a good story on the topic.
8. Brand consistency
Brands tend to develop over time, just like you do. During your career you refine and improve upon yourself hopefully and with these skills you also try to grow your company and change the brand for the better. Eventually, after improving for a while, you might find that the brand has evolved so much that it’s necessary to have a look at your entire arsenal to see if it all still meets the standards of your brand book.
So, take some time to check and remediate and brand deviations from verbiage and visuals, for instance.
9. Automated marketing
This is really good stuff for the lazy ones. Platforms like mailchimp offer the kind of automation that when a new subscriber is added to a list they opt-in to, they get a lovely little welcome email, and every blog you’ve ever written in the sequence and periodicity you’d like it to.
If you set this up right, all you have to do set up a few templates and segments within the program and it basically does all the work for you. Leaving you with increases exposure for all of 2019 and the years after, for that matter.
10. Do what you did last year but with new targets!
Although I’m sure you did awesome last year, try to create some new targets for yourself, your team, and your entire company. It will keep you on your feet and keep people excited. Make it a combination of quantifiable and qualitative targets which are challenging but within reason.
If you set up blogging last year, add two whitepapers or 12 case studies for 2019.
If you’ve grown to the point where you need to keep track of your sales funnel last year, make it a target to implement a CRM in 2019.
If you set up a LinkedIn company page last year, start posting your content there and get a 1000 followers.
If you made first-contact with 500 people last year, re-connect to a 100 this year.
If you’ve gathered 2000 email addresses last year, engage with them fully from now on.
If you were just playing around with marketing until now, create your own marketing strategy!