How to write for the world’s most skeptical audiences – scientists, engineers, doctors and other technical specialists
You know that content marketing is a highly effective way to get the attention of potential customers as more traditional tactics such as advertising, public relations and search engine marketing fail to stand out in a world full of distractions.
But when you are in a science-related industry – pharma, medical devices, software, aerospace, engineering and the like – developing high quality content can be daunting.
People with scientific backgrounds are inherently curious but also wary of ideas that have not been validated.
Anything that smacks of the promotional will kill your credibility.
So what are the secrets of writing for the world’s most skeptical audiences?
1. Understand how your audience thinks – Prospects who have been trained in the sciences have a disciplined way of assessing new information.
Just like anybody else, they want to be intrigued and inspired. But more than with other audiences, you need to back up any assertions with hard data and evidence.
To connect with them, your content needs to mirror the scientific process itself. Propose an interesting hypothesis then provide concrete proof.
For example, highlight a stubborn problem in your field then show how your product or service can help solve it. Back it up with data about results. If you don’t have solid evidence, do not try to finesse it. That will backfire on you with the geek squad.
2. Leverage the advantages of content marketing – Because of the rigor of their disciplines, science-minded people tend to be resistant to traditional sales tactics. So content marketing is an ideal vehicle to engage them.
- Provide content and tools that are supremely useful and educational to strengthen your brand in a subtle way.
- Share research, how-to videos, user-generated product reviews, technical slideshares and blog posts that highlight the hot debates in their field.
- Engage in dialogue about concepts and issues (not products and brands) via social media.
As you build your sales funnel, understand that your lead nurturing may unfold more slowly than in other industries and do not rush the process.
3. Strike the right balance – Have a thoughtful conversation within your organization about where you should fall on the spectrum between highly technical and highly accessible content.
The decisions you make represent tradeoffs between expanding the size of your potential audience and establishing the authority of your science.
You may decide you need to address multiple audiences, with some content aimed at non-scientists and some geared for tech specialists.
That sort of segmentation can help you avoid diluting or muddying your brand within the science community.
If you are in a field such as pharmaceuticals, you are probably already doing this because of the need to speak to doctors as well as consumers.
4. Build your authority – Technical experts, before they trust you, need to be convinced that:
You know what you are talking about and you operate with scientific integrity.
Your content marketing should be founded on demonstrating your expertise (in a non-promotional way) and the reliability of the information you provide
Do this often and it will have a cumulative effect of increasing your clout.
- Take advantage of your staff scientists and researchers and present them as subject matter experts and thought leaders.
- Carefully vet all your content for accuracy and only share material after you have thoroughly checked it for precision and dependability.
- Be conservative with your claims, flag any gaps in knowledge or areas that need more research to be verified.
- If you are unsure of anything, discuss with your staff experts before publishing.
Content marketing is highly effective for reaching technical experts
The arguments behind B2B content marketing are sound: When you provide high quality content, you help potential buyers gather information and solve problems, and you demonstrate your expertise and the value of your solutions.
In addition to being more effective than other marketing strategies, content marketing represents a big opportunity for science companies to be more efficient and save money.
A survey by the Linus Group found that the biggest slice of science companies’ marketing budgets, 26 percent, is spent on trade shows, and we all know how time-consuming and resource intensive those are.
Only 4 percent went towards developing content, which many experts believe has far higher ROI than tradeshows. (This analysis, while a little dated, put the cost per lead at $21.31 for online marketing vs $116 for tradeshows.)
Of course, your content program needs to be customized for your niche and your audience. If you have questions about planning your editorial calendar or how to pick white paper and case study topics that resonate in your science industry, drop me a line here.