If you are in the business of influencing another organisation to adopt a new process or technology, you’ll know face to face meetings with potential customers or partners are increasingly hard to secure.

In fact, back in 2007 it took an average of 3.68 attempts to make contact and today it takes 8.  That’s why organisations like IBioIC and their ability to connect supply chains and make introductions are so valuable.  But what if your business model means you can’t solely rely on this to achieve your ambitions?  What if you need to increase your presence in the market beyond your existing network?  And is it wise to invest in sales teams given it’s so much harder to get in the door?
To begin to answer these questions, we need to understand what your potential business customers are doing to make decisions about major purchases and collaborations.

Most of the decision-making process is carried out online
A recent study carried out on 1500 business decision-makers across ten different industries (including the science and technology sectors) found that between 50% and 70% of an organisation’s decision-making process for a major contract is carried out online – before engaging with a potential supplier or partner.  In fact, an average of 12 online searches will be carried out before visiting any supplier websites. That’s because decision makers and influencers of a major business purchase are educating themselves and forming their own opinions online.  This puts them more in control of the buying process than ever before.
Nearly all processes begin with a number of Google searches but there is an increasing role for social media in finding the most recent insights; 75% use their LinkedIn networks and 41% now claim they use Twitter to find the latest business articles.  Individual company websites typically come into the process much later on when the reader has a list of bespoke criteria against which potential suppliers can be shortlisted or eliminated.  And evidence suggests the reader will give a website between three and six seconds to find the information they are looking for.

This presents an opportunity for small and medium sized enterprises
The use of online platforms in the decision-making process presents an opportunity to engage much earlier than you could previously and to a much larger audience - but only if you do it right.  Not only that, but in just the last two years Google and, to a certain extent, the social media platforms have become sophisticated at recognising the websites that are doing it right - regardless of the size of the organisation and their promotional budget.  This means small businesses can punch well above their weight online.  For those enterprises that do get it right, business decision makers are five times more likely to engage and, on average, three times as many leads are generated even though it costs less than traditional marketing methods.  This enables those organisations to better deploy their customer-facing team and technical experts in a more focused way to high quality leads so they can do what they do best – create customers. 

Factors Critical to Success
At IBioIC19 I’ll be sharing with you my six critical success factors for grasping this opportunity; the most important guiding principles I’ve learnt and experienced over the last 15 years leading UK marketing strategies in the biopharmaceutical industry and creating online strategies for SMEs in biotechnology and life sciences.  The opportunity for SMEs in industrial biotechnology to increase their presence in the market in a way that makes the best use of their budget and expertise is a significant one.  It’s my job to show you how you can grasp that opportunity in the right way and I’ll be introducing this concept at the members showcase session on the afternoon of January 31st.

Specialising in biotechnology and life sciences, Alix Mackay MRSC shows business and academic leaders how to increase their presence in the market and build their thought leadership.  Based in Glasgow, Alix is a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, an associate member of IBioIC and co-leads the Marketing and Communications workstream for Life Sciences Scotland.