What is Demand Generation and Why Does My Life Science Company Need It?

Welcome the new Biotech Networks content series for life science marketing and business development professionals, look and bookmark here for future/all posts. We’ll share tips and trends we’ve learned through our experience helping more than 250 life science companies grow and thrive. We don’t have a catchy name yet, stay tuned!

Biotech Networks and our sister life science marketing company Comprendia have helped  more than 250 companies with their marketing, advertising and sales initiatives in our 16-year history. We’ve worked with companies of all sizes, from the major brands to startups, focused on companies that provide products, services and software for the life science industry (as opposed to biopharma companies that market products to consumers). Sometimes we have needed to help our clients better understand the marketing concept of “demand generation,” an admittedly poor name for a very important concept. What exactly is demand generation? Here is what Hubspot’s marketing resources have to say about demand generation:

“The ultimate goal of B2B demand generation is remaining top of mind while your potential customers are not in a buying cycle — so that whenever the need arises, your product or service is immediately considered for purchase.”

Hubspot goes on to say that this type of marketing can be more educational, such as content marketing. Content marketing aims to give general resources for potential customers,  while not being overtly selling. Some may re-label this type of demand generation as “brand awareness.”

However, demand generation is broader than just brand awareness, it can truly create demand in potential customers so that they truly realize their need for a new technology, product or service. One of the most compelling examples of this is the launch of the iPhone in 2007. Those of us born  in the last century (!) may remember in the early 2000’s how much we loved our flip phones, electronic or paper organizers/calendars/contact lists, and iPods, and we did not realize we “needed” a smart phone until it was launched and popularized by Apple. Of course, the fact that Apple had incredible brand reputation and awareness accelerated the product’s adoption. The Blackberry device was actually launched in 1999 targeted to professionals, but I would argue that the iPhone launch truly created the demand in the general public.

One of my favorite books about life science marketing is Hamid Ghanadan’s “Persuading Scientists” where he talks about demand generation and the different types of content needed at each stage. Ghanadan points out that 10’s of thousands of potential customers may need to be aware of your brand and product line to result in measurable sales.

Biotech Networks experiences the effect of the brand awareness “flavor” of demand generation on lead generation on a daily basis as we review metrics of our 12 hubs’ web and social media impressions. Our 12 geographic hubs aggregate news and jobs from each region using our proprietary Life Science Content Engine™, and have many similarities with regards to their websites and social media presence. Each month Google Search Console sends us a report for each website, see images below. While the San Diego Biotech Networks (SDBN) website was launched in 2008 and has a very strong brand awareness, the Boston Cambridge Biotech Networks (BCBN) hub was launched in 2021 and the brand is still growing.

Caption: Google Search Console Summary of San Diego Biotech Networks’ March 2024 Performance. SDBN and BCBN have roughly the same number of content/pages with first impressions (in red circle), however SDBN has 11X more clicks (blue circle) and 38X  more impressions (green circle) compared to BCBN. Caption: Google Search Console Summary of Boston Cambridge Biotech Networks’ March 2024 Performance.

Comparing the Google search performance of each website illustrates the need for demand generation or brand awareness. The SDBN and BCBN websites have the same format and the content feeds are from the same sources, but specific to the region. By reviewing the reports in the images above, it can be seen that SDBN and BCBN have roughly the same number of content/pages with first impressions (in red circle), however SDBN has 11X more clicks (blue circle) and 38X more impressions (green circle) compared to BCBN. While we don’t (yet) have a “formula” to translate these increases to lead generation, we do get more inquiries and business on the US West Coast.

This dramatic increase between the SDBN and BCBN Google search results is the result of two synergistic causes. The first is that the SDBN website is an established web resource and thus its search engine optimization (SEO) is, well, optimized (!) and Google ranks the content as closer to the top of search results. The second reason is that more web users are familiar with the SDBN brand and click on links when they see the SDBN brand in search results. This in turn leads to Google showing SDBN’s content more favorably in search results.

By all accounts, the Boston/Cambridge region is a larger biotech hub than San Diego, with more news, jobs, and associated life scientists, so we expect the BCBN brand to out perform SDBN eventually. We are already seeing faster growth of the new, larger hubs, as there is further synergies between the hubs and the branding strategy we’ve chosen for expansion, which we will cover in a future post. The bottom line for these Google Analytics results is that SDBN gets great SEO results due to its many years of successful demand generation.

In other words, SDBN has generated a demand for geographically-based life science news, jobs and events by consistently providing it to life science professionals over many years. More people are following SDBN on social media, are subscribed to our newsletters, and have our website bookmarked, which is also a tangible measurement of our brand equity. We have measured the overall growth of Biotech Networks subscribers and followers at 5% per month, which translates to a yearly expansion of 1.6-fold across the 12 hubs, which is truly exciting for us.

How can your life science organization leverage demand generation to increase interest in your company’s offerings? While you may not have a direct comparison between two brands to compare, as we have with SDBN and BCBN, you can still analyze your Google analytics data with an eye towards brand recognition. Keep track of searches for your brand, direct web traffic (i.e., users typing in your URL directly) and overall growth of your online presence and email subscribers, and actively grow these numbers. Provide more content marketing resources, reaching out to not just current leads, but those who may need your products in the future. Include questions on forms such as “how did you hear about us” to track which tactics are working best to spread awareness about your brand, and look for trends.

Biotech Networks uses what it has learned from our experiences to help life science marketers who purchase products from our media kit. We can help you understand which tactics are best for demand or lead generation, and can help you develop campaigns that not help in both areas. In addition, our event sponsorships help your company leverage tactics which will lead to increased brand awareness (e.g., email blasts) as well as lead generation (e.g., event registrant list).

We aim to help your life science organization whether you’re ready now, or may be ready in the future. You may have gotten a “deja vu” moment reading this post, when you realized that we’re providing useful content for you, so Biotech Networks will be top of mind when you need us 😁.

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