Catalogs in the Marketing Mix

Well, I had hoped to add some images to my post today but apparently I haven’t yet evolved to that level of blogger sophistication.  Next time.  Maybe.

Every year we ask scientists what are the most common ways they learn about vendors and their products.  As in past years, catalogs were cited by the 62% of scientists surveyed as the #1 answer.

We’ve done extensive research on the effectiveness of catalog marketing.  And even in the Internet Age life science marketing remains centered on the print catalog.  We’ve found that researchers don’t normally browse a catalog in idle search of products they might consider purchasing, in the way one would “skim” a consumer-products catalog.  More often, the researcher will be looking for a specific product based on the recommendation of a colleague or one that is required by a protocol.  It’s therefore important that you design your catalog to support the ways in which it is most often used.

Another example…by including extensive technical information and protocols your catalog reinforces your message as a “partner in science.” Whether a seasoned researcher is considering the use of a cutting edge product, or a new researcher is undertaking a simple protocol for the first time, both look to the catalog as a source of basic experimental information.  Ideally, your catalog will be used as the lab reference of choice, even when a particular activity doesn’t involve your products. (One of the best examples, of course is the New England Biolabs catalog).

Catalogs make a statement about your company and should reflect your chosen market position (e.g., innovation, quality, concern, scientific stature, economy, etc.)  Minimize promotional information about your company — such information is seen to be self-serving and detracts from the goal of positioning your catalog as a “standard” reference tool.  Capitalize on the scientist’s desire to visualize the product to be purchased by including numerous photographs, and clearly display the numerous ways in which new product information can be obtained.

Of course, the publication of a catalog alone won’t guarantee your success in the market — you’ve got to support and reinforce it with other media to build brand awareness and loyalty.  In particular, scientists point scientific meetings (58%) and recommendations from colleagues (58%) and as the second and third most important way they become aware of the products and services available to them.

The recommendation of peers shows the importance of your reputation in the life science market and suggests that marketing communications across media be used to highlight the successful use of your products by other end-users.  Exhibiting at scientific meetings is also an effective media because it appeals to the curiosity of scientists and coincides with the educational mission of the conference.