Advertising to Scientists

I’d like to kick off the next series of posts which will focus on print advertising in the scientific market…

Despite the tens (hundreds?) of millions of dollars spent each year by life science vendors on print advertising, few marketing executives can point to a quantifiable return on investment.  In general, print ads seem to be far more effective in generating awareness than they are in selling specific products.  Thus, the challenge for marketers is to produce memorable advertisements and place them in publications where they will have the greatest impact.

In order to do this, it’s essential that the advertising effort be driven by the company’s overall brand and positioning strategy.  This will help ensure the message being conveyed is not only effective in its own right (e.g., product benefits and features), but also in keeping with the image you want to project.  But unfortunately when pre-testing advertisements to groups of scientists it’s common for ad agencies to measure the degree to which an ad can be recalled.  Not only does recall have nothing to do with how effectively the ad conveys your brand’s promise – it’s not a very good measure of performance.

Our research, in fact, indicates that simple recall may be less important as a predictor of advertising success, than whether or not the ad was “liked” or “disliked” by the scientists who viewed it.  This could have important ramifications in a market where the consumers claim to want ads that convey detailed technical information – interestingly these aren’t the kinds of ads scientists remember.  In fact, scientists tell us that it’s Invitrogen, Bio-Rad and Sigma-Aldrich that routinely publish print ads that capture their attention.