By Tom Crosby, Marketing Manager, LSN
In our increasingly connected world, the Internet has become not only the new marketplace of ideas, but in a very real sense, it is the new marketplace – where the majority of business is conducted every day, all over the globe.
This is not news to anyone with an Internet connection, but even the most successful and intelligent people in their respective industries can have trouble keeping up with the ever-changing environment, and often times fail to recognize how critically important it is for their own businesses. To the chagrin of traditionalists everywhere, web presence has become a vital piece of your company’s image or brand, and helps to deliver your message. In other words, it is too important to treat as an afterthought, especially when it comes to fundraising – if you don’t have web presence, you don’t exist. Worse yet, if you have a poor web presence, you are publicly out of touch, and sending the message that you do not “get it.” Investors are savvy, and it takes only a few seconds to see if you are brand-aware, and your message is on point.
Web presence takes careful planning and professional execution. For those attempting to raise funds in the life science arena, this often means using a specialized third party to execute this piece. The development (and subsequent marketing) of your products, creating dialogue with prospective investors & maintaining investor relationships, and your on-line branding all at once are too much for an executive to focus on, and will likely yield poor results. This is not to say that it can’t be done by the right individual with enough time, effort, and funding. However, the most cost-effective route long-term is the one that brings in capital the fastest and promotes a quicker path to market.
In order to raise funds efficiently today, a strong web presence is of pinnacle importance. This is something that is too often overlooked by industry leaders, whether they would like to admit it or not. Many life science firms will pay an uninformed third party – lacking any sort of industry-specific insight – what amounts to a nominal fee to establish their entire online identity, and leave it there. This is where having a dedicated team in place to establish your web operations can easily put you ahead of your competition for precious investor dollars. This can be done in-house, or by a team of industry-specific consultants, but either way, it is not an area in which you should underspend or cut corners.
Although your initial returns may be slower than outsourcing the work to the most affordable third party, having a dedicated, contextualized team presents your firm with many advantages that are worth the extra investment, not the least of which is a higher overall quality. First, your team will be in charge of shaping the performance of your brand, and therefore, will be personally invested in its success. Furthermore, by having constant, informed dialogue with your team, changes and updates to your web presence will take place quickly and fluidly. Finally, a team with specific understanding of the industry will be able to perform tasks surrounding your firm’s Internet identity that can’t necessarily be outsourced, or are better done by an individual in direct context with your goals.
One aspect that makes marketing a life science firm difficult is that there is often a disconnect between scientists and investors; the desire to do business is all there, but ideas are frequently lost in translation. This is even more so today, as life science VCs wane and new investors fill the void. Of course, any serious investor will quickly bring in a scientist to ultimately vet the technology. There are the cases of the scientist-turned-investor, or the business person who speaks biotech, but the message here is, plan for both, make sure your messaging is at least generally understandable, and save the deep-dive tech-talk for the scientists. Any vetting scientist will have to understand the value of your product, and from there, the businessperson will be able to value the market.
To effectively market any idea, simplicity is key. And it can be tempting for a drug developer in phase II to highlight the complexities of their work, touting novel pharmacological action and unique pathways. To the scientific community, this information is understandable, and even engaging. However, to an investor, this could very well be the obstacle standing between your firm and an allocation. Confidence is a huge factor in investing, and a coherent, easily understood message goes a long way towards creating investor confidence.
If you bring the messaging of your web presence in-house, or go through a consulting team that understands how to translate fluidly between the languages of science and business, you can effectively turn your product into an idea. Of course, your product is what lands your firm the allocation to push through to distribution, but unless it also exists as a single, digestible idea, getting your product to market becomes harder than it already is. An uninformed third-party can get your website up and running, but without some degree of outside understanding, you run the risk of being obscure and unattainable. The impact of a simplified, streamlined web presence cannot be underestimated, and, in a word, is a crucial factor in garnering investor confidence. Creating a brand and having your team all reciting the same message has a big impact when you are being evaluated as a firm who “gets it.”