Curious and Skeptical
To understand how to market to food safety scientists, engage their curiosity and skepticism with results-based communication. By their very nature, scientists are both curious and skeptical. Their curiosity is what guided them to choose science as a profession.
Skepticism is part of scientists’ DNA as well because if they weren’t skeptical, they would take everything at face value, and there would be no need for hypothesizing, proposing theorizing, and testing. As Hamid Ghanadan noted in his book, Catalytic Experiences, “Studying science trains a person’s mind to dynamically move between curiosity and skepticism.”
The Scientific Process Shapes the Persona
Consider that every scientific discovery has to be proven, validated, and reproducible. Testing methods have to be statistically confirmed. Results using those scientific methods are open to debate until validated. The scientific community is focused on facts, figures, and the disambiguation of any data. Their emotions are engaged based on the relationship between the interaction of their own professional goals and the value they place on information.
The job of a scientist is to discover and test, guided by scientific principles, using their knowledge and experience, and relying on analytical instruments and testing kits. The job of a marketer representing a company selling into this community is to establish trust and develop a collaborative relationship with the scientist.
Marketing to scientists is not an easy task because the aforementioned skepticism also applies to manufacturers or vendors. Another consideration is that while scientific products are typically complex, at their essence, they are simply tools. It’s the scientist that gets the results, not the equipment.
Use Results to Build a B2S Relationship
To the scientist, it’s the story of the results and their significance that matter, and there are a number of variables to contend with which can impact the results of testing. Specific to food safety testing, the variables would include the food product being tested (in scientific vernacular, the matrix).
Since the matrix is heterogeneous and has chemicals, compounds, or organisms that can interfere with the analysis of the toxin or analyte you are looking for, matrix effects have to be filtered out somehow. The test has to be specific to the analyte you are looking for.
Time, temperature, storage conditions, and sample preparation must be strictly controlled and follow the prescribed testing method to produce valid testing results. If instrumentation is involved, it must be calibrated and validated for the method.
In order to establish a trusting B2S (business to science) relationship, the marketer or salesperson has to know enough about the methods, matrices, and testing products to communicate intelligently and in an engaging way to the scientist.
In many companies, you will find that their salesforce consists of scientists which have been trained in sales, as opposed to salespeople who have been trained in science. (For some reason, this doesn’t apply to most marketing departments.) Perhaps marketing’s abstract nature makes it more difficult to teach scientists. But it’s definitely more difficult to teach marketers science.
Appeal to Curiosity, Satisfy Skepticism
From a marketing perspective, we are dealing with complex products and complex messages meant for a skeptical audience. A good place to start is with the value proposition of the products. Whether its analytical instruments or test kits, scientists are not buying the product, per se. They are buying the results. Look beyond instrument or kit performance, and focus on software and methodology which get them the results. To address curiosity and skepticism, consider innovation, creativity, and collaboration in your content and communications in order to build a trusting relationship with your scientific audience.
If you need help with creating engaging technical content marketing strategies for scientists, contact us for a 30-minute consultation.