Biotechnology and healthcare organizations are facing a trust crisis in America.
According to the New York Times, only 33 percent of Americans have great confidence in the medical profession, compared to more than three-quarter of the population in 1966. Today, people are skipping flu shots and forgoing measles vaccines for their children because they don’t trust them.
It sounds medieval, but trustworthiness is hard to come by in general these days. The same report says only 14 percent trust the federal government to do what’s right—which, y’know, is understandable.
Unlike the current administration, biotechnology and healthcare firms have a distinct advantage. They employ people with specialized knowledge of complex subject matters, otherwise known as Subject Matter Experts, or SMEs.
To combat distrust, biotechnology and healthcare companies can leverage their SMEs, who have unique perspectives and depth of insight, to build thought leadership, which can then regrow credibility, repair reputations, and rehabilitate customer trust.
By publishing content produced by SMEs that clearly and scientifically addresses pain points on a consistent basis, consumers and B2B buyers will cultivate a familiarity that can then lead to innovation.
Consider the multiple pain points facing the biotech and life sciences field today which are in desperate need of solutions:
- The gap between physicians, hospitals, their patients, and the availability of experimental treatment in clinical drug trials.
- The lack of trust in the healthcare system along racial lines.
- Clinics and hospitals in need of identifying and hiring qualified talent to combat the shortage of physicians and nurses.
- The complex supply chain challenges between chemical ingredients and pharmaceutical labs—around 80 percent of ingredients and 40 percent of finished product are shipped from overseas.
- The emergence of blockchain technology for record-keeping, payment, drug abuse tracking, and a variety of other healthcare purposes.
- AI and machine learning that can help in HIV drug research, breast cancer screenings, medical diagnosis, figuring out the exact dosage for cancer patients, and accurate tumor detection.
- The difficulties cannabis studies have navigating regulatory requirements and legislation.
These are all challenges biotech and life science SMEs can solve through effective thought leadership campaigns.
But first, it’s important to identify your internal SMEs and then establish the organizational processes and structures that will make it possible for SMEs to have their original research and their original voices heard, seen, or read.
Place someone (or a team of someone’s) in charge to create a blueprint that aligns with each respective department, from legal to engineering to sales, to make the process as painless as possible.
Once the process is in place, SMEs need to be a key component in the content creation process. Building thought leadership requires a continuous stream of relevant information and solutions that solve buyer pain points.
That stream could include:
- Original research reports and case studies
- Podcast interviews
- Shareable infographics and educational short videos
- Engaging with followers on social media
- Assisting with digital marketing assets
- Speaking at in-person events and gatherings
Have them comment on:
- Current news topics
- Their own unique viewpoints regarding your industry niche
- How the work their brand accomplishes differs from competitors
However, engaging with SMEs to help spread their wealth of knowledge is a time-intensive process and can take away from their regular responsibilities. Remember, they don’t have to be the front-and-center end-all, be-all protagonist in your content marketing campaign. To borrow a gaming term, think of them as your Champion, a paladin who charges in to lead the ranks for a while before withdrawing to recharge.
In other words, when it comes to SMEs focus on quality, not quantity. Besides, your content team shouldn’t take that much of an SME’s time. A 15-minute sit-down or phone call every month or two should suffice.
Once your blog articles, videos, and white papers are published on your content hub, it’s important to make it easy to find. Amplify your content through the appropriate channels. Over time, your authority will be established, and customer loyalty will begin to take root.
SMEs can continue to discuss pressing issues and challenges tackling the biotechnology industry, whether that’s bringing new drugs to market (only 22 drugs were approved in 2016 compared to 44 in 2015) or safety concerns regarding nanoparticles. Their compelling and educational content will help build thought leadership, trust, and establish your brand as reliable and authoritative.
Other possible outcomes of an SME-led thought leadership program include brand awareness, increased engagement with customers and word-of-mouth, shares, increased referrals, leads, and sales.
Another side effect of leveraging internal SMEs: It humanizes your brand and puts a face to the name. When biotech and health organizations are considered dishonest, it’s time to show a more relatable human side.
As you can see, leveraging your internal SMEs is a multi-tiered process that involves making thought leadership part of the culture of your organization. It can’t be a flash in the pan; it’s got to be a commitment requiring management, multiple departments, SMEs, and team members operating on the same page. Once that’s done however, that SME-led content will bridge gaps between buyers and sellers, physicians and hospitals, and pharmaceuticals and manufacturers—and break trust barriers.
Trust us to build your thought leadership? Then contact S&G today and let’s put your SMEs to (just a little bit more) work.