Company: Novinity Corporation
Contact: Jake Cook, Marketing Manager
Location: Bozeman, Mont.
Industry: B2B software manufacturer specializing in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology
Annual revenue: $11,000,000
Number of employees: 18
A software company in rural Montana was able to acquire major pharmaceutical company accounts and increase tradeshow traffic 300% by developing and promoting the educational content that its target industry craved.
When traditional print ads and some of its email marketing efforts proved unproductive, the Novinity Corporation, makers of the PATtoolkit software program, tried new tactics:
- Developing an educational e-book explaining a new FDA initiative
- Printing stickers with a unique URL for downloading the e-book and placing them on business cards and brochures to distribute at tradeshows
- Conducting email blasts promoting the e-book
Roughly 73% of drug recalls in the U.S. are due to defects that occur during the manufacturing process, according to a KPMG analyst report. Aiming to drastically reduce such errors, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently introduced an initiative requiring that drug manufacturers employ the most up-to-date technology and science to check for quality during production (as opposed to postproduction). The initiative's name is Process Analytical Technology, or PAT for short.
Novinity developed software, called PATtoolkit, to help pharmaceutical companies satisfy the requirements of this initiative. However, the pharmaceutical industry was not initially receptive, for several reasons:
- It tends to be a conservative industry. Technical professionals such as engineers and scientists are slow to adopt new methods of communication.
- There was significant confusion in the marketplace about the PAT initiative. To add to the confusion, many suppliers used the letters "PAT" in their marketing collateral, making it difficult for the PATtoolkit to break through.
- Although print is still fairly strong in this market, Novinity had a very limited marketing budget. What's more, the company lacked a fully developed brand identity.
- Novinity, a small company headquartered in Bozeman, Mont., had to contend with market skepticism about its credibility.
- Email marketing campaigns faced an uphill battle because the pharmaceutical industry is particularly plagued by spam.
Novinity first tried a few print ads to drive people to its Web site for a 15-minute online demo. The company also attempted email marketing using lists segmented by geographic area, but simply announcing attendance at a tradeshow or offering a trinket resulted in poor booth traffic and even poorer leads.
Step #1: Analyze site traffic
The company decided to take a closer look at its Web site traffic. What this look revealed was that the link to a simple explanation of the FDA initiative had the second-highest levels of clickthrough.
Although the trade press covered the PAT initiative extensively, says Cook, "there was no single document or repository to get up to speed on what was going on." Prospective customers, hungry to learn, seemed to prefer the information that the Novinity site provided—which was expressed in layman's terms—rather than what they could find in trade journals that were largely targeted toward PhDs in analytical chemistry.
Step #2: Create an e-book
Partnering with a Swedish software supplier, Novinity produced a professionally designed, cobranded e-book about the FDA's new initiative. The aim was to build, simultaneously, understanding of the PAT initiative and trust in Novinity's PATtoolkit product.
Step #3: Cleverly promote the e-book
The company printed stickers with a unique URL from which the e-book could be downloaded, and applied them to the back of business cards and brochures the Novinity team distributed at tradeshows. Novinity also sent email blasts to its 12,000-name-strong house list promoting the e-book.
- Almost three-and-a-half weeks after one email blast, the company was still receiving requests to download the e-book.
"To date, the total number of leads from just one email campaign is over 20 times what we have experienced in the past," says Cook.
- Traffic at a tradeshow in early November 2006 was up more than 300% compared with previous shows, and remained steady over all three days. Many people stopped by specifically to ask for the e-book.
- Using the e-book as an educational tool to start the conversation has laid the groundwork for access to associate directors at Fortune 100 pharmaceutical companies. As a result, Novinity has been able to attract the attention of key decision makers, a fact that its research shows can shorten sales cycles—currently running 9–18 months long—by 40% to 60%.
Cook says having a well-known partner to cobrand with was crucial in giving his company credibility, but there was some initial miscommunication. He learned that planning early and communicating often was very important.
"One thing I would do differently is make sure that we clearly outline our contributions and the length of each piece," Cook says. "Our partner provided us with two chapters from a textbook they publish. This was sandwiched against our shorter chapters and made it look a bit lopsided. Our original goal was to have it be easy short chunks for people to read."
Cook says they'll refine the e-book based on feedback. "We see this is a dynamic document and hope to put out updated versions in the coming years," he says. He's also working on current clients to allow the company to use their names for case studies.