By Perry Rearick, Chief Editor, Follow Your Buyer
Complex, long-term B2B relationships require more than the adequate delivery of goods and services. Healthy, productive relationships that lead to growth for both customers and solution providers are built on shared values and have a cultural fit at their core.1
Do you know there are guides designed to help marketers choose appealing words to describe company culture in their marketing messages? These words and phrases may not actually describe one’s culture, but they sound attractive. And they get plugged into headers and taglines all based on their appeal to a target audience, and therein lies the problem!
There are few industries that view the importance of cultural fit more critically than life sciences, specifically, when drug sponsors are seeking outsourcing partnerships to advance their therapies.2 Therefore, it is important that solution providers communicate who they are in a way that helps buyers determine a good cultural fit. As a matter of fact, a perceived lack of cultural fit is often knockout criteria for buyers.
So, how does one go about communicating culture to prospects? It’s far more impactful and effective to show them rather than tell them. Here are two great examples of how to do that.
August Bioservices - Customer Centered and Transparent
Several times a year I get to host the Outsourced Pharma Capacity Update, which is an opportunity to experience 15-20 presentations by solution providers over a period of three days. August Bioservices, a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) serving the pharmaceutical industry, participates regularly in this event. Their presentation is especially interesting and generates a lot of engagement from attendees because it is centered on their customers. Even when communicating their capabilities, they focus on how their clients are impacted.
During the last event Ryan Downey, Director of Customer Operations and Commercial Development at August, began by asking the audience a question. It wasn’t the usual, “do you have an active project” question. Rather, he asked his audience to share their most significant challenges when working with CDMOs so that August can better align their capabilities with what they need. If they are willing to partner with attendees during a presentation to help shape their future capabilities, imagine what it’s like to work with them as a client.
I’ve sat through many presentations by solution providers, and most are organized around their internal capabilities. August certainly covers their capabilities, but structures their messaging around issues, or a series of themes, that are most important to their clients and prospects. They speak in detail about how they streamline project lead time, bring the right people to initial meetings to fully understand client needs, how they use that information to develop a scope of work, and how they communicate transparently with clients during projects.
The valuable impact of August’s customer-centered messaging cannot be overstated. Target audiences can visualize what it would be like to work with them and begin to answer important questions on whether August is a good cultural fit for their own organization.
Pharmatech Associates-Culture of Quality
Pharmatech Associates, a USP Company, is a consultancy for the life sciences industry, and they help organizations that are seeking to advance drug therapies from discovery through full-scale manufacturing and distribution. A critical component at the center of bringing lifesaving therapies to patients is quality. For drug sponsors seeking partnerships and solution providers, a culture of quality is a must. Any perceived issue related to quality eliminates any potential partnership from the buyer’s perspective.
The team at Pharmatech has been producing thought leadership content for decades. The strategy long used by Bikash Chatterjee, Chief Scientific Officer, and Janette Buechler, Executive Director of Marketing and Sales, is to share their knowledge and expertise freely. Each member of the team is a subject matter expert and prolific author and they are encouraged to share what they know.
Pharmatech’s quality expert in residence is managing director, Stephanie Gaulding. She is well-respected across the pharmaceutical industry, is called upon to write for numerous publications and has more invitations to speak at conferences than she has time for. How did they achieve this? By creating deep, rich content on the culture of quality in the pharmaceutical industry.
Solution providers in the life sciences industry understand the importance of a positive quality reputation. Most will have some portion of their website and content library dedicated to quality. But far too many give it a passing mention with some quality related headers here and there.
Pharmatech, spearheaded by Stephanie, has used their content marketing strategy to define quality culture for the industry. Stephanie has spoken and written about the six key organizational characteristics that leaders should embrace to create a quality culture, from a clear and complete organizational understanding of the patient, tracking leading and lagging indicators of quality health, to using scientific knowledge to drive down risk. The impact of freely sharing Stephanie’s knowledge is that Pharmatech is sought by many across the industry because they are clear subject matter experts on the culture of quality and demonstrate it in their marketing material.
Effectively Communicating Your Company Culture and Values
Here are three tips to effectively communicate your company’s culture when it matters to your target audience.
Determine what matters to your customers and prospects. Four-day work weeks and monthly off-site activities may be appealing to potential employees but may not attract the attention of someone trying to quickly advance a life saving therapy to terminally ill patients.
Once you identify the issues your target audience cares about, build your messaging themes around them rather than you. Forget about the million square feet of office space with the nicely manicured landscaping. However, you may want to explain the flexibility of your manufacturing space that enables the rapid adaptability to the changing needs of your clients’ projects.
Show, don’t simply tell! Move beyond the soundbites, SEO-infused headers, and catchy taglines. If you have a quality culture and are transparent with customers, demonstrate it with content authored by your subject matter experts with whom your customers will be working.
- Almquist, E., Cleghorn, J., Sherer, L., (2018 March-April) The B2B elements of value, Harvard Business Review What B2B Buyers Really Care About (hbr.org)
- Gaulding, S. (2023 March) Create the correct checklist to land the best CDMO, Life Science Leader CDMO Leadership Awards 2023 Create The Correct Checklist To Land The Best CDMO (lifescienceleader.com)