“If your offering isn’t remarkable, it’s invisible.” – Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow.

Seth Godin is a man of wise words. Every brand needs to be noticed in an increasingly cluttered, chaotic world. Ironically, many brands that aspire to be perceived as thought leaders follow the same common behaviors. If they want to be considered a thought leader, they cannot follow. Thought leaders are trailblazers; they innovate, take risks, and grab opportunities. They do the unexpected to get the attention of their target audience.

Most pharma and biotech marketers want to convey their company’s quality, trustworthiness, innovation, and scientific thought leadership. Unfortunately, in doing so, they end up projecting the same messages, often with the same visuals, in the same channels. In a world where attention spans shrink year-on-year, the pharma and biotech markets need to go a lot further to not only be seen and heard, but to stand out from the crowd and differentiate from competitors. Now, more than ever, they must re-evaluate how “remarkable” they really are. They must ask themselves: Do we differentiate ourselves from competitors? Do we stand out from the crowd?

Below, are five key ways that explain how the contract services space can differentiate their brand and stand out more to get noticed as a thought leader in their space, but it’s also good a advice for any brand looking to grab more attention.

1. Get Personal with Your Prospects

Your brand has to uniquely appeal to your customers, as well as a talent pool that is increasingly difficult to attract. It sounds basic, but do the research to honestly and transparently know the personas of prospective customers and employees better than the competition. This involves fully understanding what matters to them, the competitors they are likely considering and what they are being held accountable for. Listen intensively. Look at them as people, with a million distractions and many options. One size does not fit all, so dig for the different ways they can feel you truly understand them.

2. Defend Your Turf

In other words, define your unique proposition and stop falling back on clichés. As an example, many contract development and manufacturing companies (CDMOs) own the same place in the hearts and minds of customers, based on rational considerations such as experience, size, equipment, or capacity. However, a market position that synthesizes something compelling from elements such as your unique value offering, customer needs, and pulse of the industry is critical to making a unique space for yourself in the marketplace. Making your position relevant to that customer with strong evidence or, what we call, “reasons to believe”—like your track record, your points of difference, or investments—makes a big difference. We all naturally categorize services or products when considering our options, whether we think we are making the “safe choice”, the “popular choice”, the “maverick choice”, etc. Customers will do this automatically if we don’t direct them and support our position with evidence.

3. Grab Them by the Eyes

Know and understand what your customer is seeing from competitors so you can be the remarkable “purple cow.” Be that unique visual identity that can easily and effortlessly be recognized in a sea of sameness. Getting seen is imperative to being found and being considered.

4. Don’t Be Afraid of Provocative Messages

Thought leaders do not say the same things that everyone else is saying. Messages of contract research organizations (CROs) and CDMOs can all converge around the common themes I addressed earlier. By being provocative and bold in an area that is relevant to your customers, you can demonstrate how you can add value to current thinking, especially for clients seeking a different or new approach. Know what messages amplify your value and make your company and brand different. Double down on that and reinforce it with reasons to believe.

5. Go for a Larger Share of Voice in Media Channels

Whispering in a crowded room will not get you noticed. What will get you noticed is making noise in quiet places. You should seek novel approaches within cluttered media channels. At the same time, experiment, test, and learn with non-traditional channels that are not being used by your competitors, but where your target audience spends time. They might listen to podcasts where the content is likely to be less cluttered by competitors, for instance, or enjoy social media. Think of the places your audience might go where it’s less noisy, allowing you to stand out and have a more intimate connection with them. This kind of channel approach will differentiate you from the pack and you’ll no longer be following what everyone else is doing.

Lastly, remain unique to the customers you have. Don’t take them for granted. There is no substitute for having delivered a service with excellence and being considered for projects based on a prospect’s past experience with your brand. Evidencing this to deepen existing relationships and remain remarkable will not only streamline your business development efforts, but can also yield some impressive success in customer retention for future sales prospects to believe in.

Dare to be different. It really works.

  • Jeff Sternstein

    Jeff Sternstein is Head of Marketing Strategy at ramarketing. Jeff brings a wide range of strategic contributions to clients of ramarketing, helping them make more durable and rewarding connections with their target audience. This is built on over 30 years of experience leading healthcare marketing teams, healthcare advertising agency teams, and independently consulting healthcare startups.