While some startups and early stage companies struggle with getting their messages out, others thrive. Erik Clausen and I do a deep dive into what you can do to get some exposure and PR. Erik is a managing partner for CG Life, a marketing agency specializing in the biotech and life sciences industry and share stories about his clients as well as the office “labs” —- and I mean the furry kind with 4 legs.
- Who is Erik Klausen and the story behind the labs [2:33]
- History of CG Life [4:56]
- Value bombs you can learn from Erik [6:47]
- Content delivery strategy for a diverse audience [10:10]
- What is content marketing and why you need it [11:05]
- The most common mistake [17:32]
- Tactical results vs strategic results [18:22]
- Advertising campaigns – how to use them effectively? [18:58]
- Tip for shoestring budget media buys [21:28]
Recorder: Are you ready to master the waves of medical device product development? Well wax up your surfboard because you are listening to inspired by Imua. Here is your medical device product development expert that Hawaiian hearted hostess who will help you hang ten. Meghan Alonso.
Meghan: E komo mai and aloha! You’re listening to inspired by Imua, where we help you master the waves of medical product development. Each week we interview guest that educate, guide and inspire to give you and your product the skills you need to hang ten. If this is your first time listening, Imua is spelled I-M-U-A and it’s a Hawaiian word. It means to advance forward with passion despite rough waves. There are plenty of those in the medical device development but keep listening because we’ve got you covered.
Meghan: So my next guest today I’ve known him for quite some while and he has really cool company that’s expanded out into a few branches and just helps people in the life science industry get notice so get found get notice get a bunch of awesome PR and help them with their website so it’s definitely a guy who want to have in your back pocket and by the way they have dogs in their office too and they throw amazing parties so if you’re in the San Diego area stop by CG life and talk with Erik Clausen and meet all the labs in the office and we’ll get in to what that is. So without any further due Erik are you ready to hang ten?
Erik: I sure am thanks Meghan:
Meghan: Alright, tell us all the labs you have in your office.
Erik: You bet I think for years you know a number of us in the agency in CG life are dog owners, dog fans, friends of dogs I guess and just by coincidence a lot of us have labs my lab is named Lucky because he was born on Saint Patricks day but a number of us bring our dogs to work from time to time and as you can imagine working like sciences and everybody owning labs that resulted a lot of laboratory related so it adds a bit of – of life.
Meghan: I gave you a little into give me some back rounds of your personal backround how you ended up into this industry and also the history of CG life and you guys went through rebranding recently so tell us about that too.
Erik: Sure so you know I’ve been in communications and PR work primarily within life sciences and health care for coming up in 20 years and it’s interesting I kinda stumbled into a space. I have a science degree but it’s entirely different field it’s in environmental science and I was living and working in Boston and going to law school with a grand plan of eventually becoming a – of some environmental shoes with a science degree kicker and I also discover the world of PR and communications and realize that things that I really want to do is to help advance science through communications and the art of influence and I can do that through lobby and I can also do that through PR and communication so at the time I was working in politics I was working for Senator Massachusetts and realize if I was going to do that for a career I needed to home my skills so I went to the agents side and where I’ve been ever since and very early on agents side I really focus on scientific companies and organization and primarily life science and health care companies hoping to craft their story and communicate of audience that matter to them so I live and work in Boston for a while had a good fortune to work in San Francisco past almost 7 years I’ve been working beautiful city of San Diego doing the same work I’ve been fortunate to work in major life science during that time.
Meghan: That’s great and I forgot to mention in the intro so if you guys listen in the few episodes back I went over this survival guide for JP Morgan and Erik and his team put that together. We were supposed to be podcasting together about this but for several reasons I actually didn’t end up happening so that’s why he’s on today.
Erik: You know all too well, JP Morgan get’s really busy and crazy and I’m glad we get together and talk a bit.
Meghan: So give us the history of CG Life.
Erik: Sure, so CG Life is a new brand our agents were formed in 2003 and for most of the times since then we have been competitive and a lot of folks who are in the industry know that we are a competitive group. We went through a rebranding to I guess more accurately start a brand reflect where the agency is and the industry is today going back for much of that time that we’ve been around doing this. There is kinda have convergent that’s been happening between life science and health care as tools and technology companies are now getting much closer to a patient and their tools and technology are becoming clinical tools. Researchers not just academic anymore it’s becoming clinical research and on the other side we have work with the device companies, diagnostic companies that are – in the world of health care and so as these convergences has become more dramatic over I say the last 3 to 5 years we looked into ourselves and realize we better reflect that our roots for chemistry back in 2003 and called chempetitive group.
Meghan: And I love it for you guys listening who are not familiar with the brand it’s not competitive group it’s chempetitive group like chemistry so I love that.
Erik: Thanks for pointing that we love to merge around here. You have to have fun with it you have to bring life to the work that we do so yes today we are CG Life and we’re excited about bringing life to communications and marketing for life science and health care.
Meghan: Good so that’s what you guys do every day so you help a lot of clients big or small. Give me some of your expertise here what can listeners take away from you this kinda like picking a brand so anything on strategy or digital marketing you guys do lot of content marketing for companies or just getting PR maybe help narrowing down what the target audience is or maybe some mistakes what can you give our audience today?
Erik: Sure we can work through a lot of those different topics I think for starters one of the things that we found really exciting is we are completely in a graded marketing communications agency and because we are focus in space and that does couple of things for us. We have our disposal in every different tactic or auction that we have with the marketing inspector so with that enables us to do is really look at what our clients challenges are and their problems and decide all of the things that we can do what should we do that really enable us to that rather than we just deliver one service well that might be the solution to every problem so we like to step back and take a look at the challenge first that we’re trying to work through our client and from there define what the right path forward is so for many of our client that first step trying to decide ok where do our costumers wants us to be and that means really looking at the costumer the costumer profile understanding their needs and the reality of the costumer situation you have to become a little bit pathetic and really look at the costumer and decide what do they want you need to look internally to ourselves and gather what are thinking is clarify what our aspirations are and align those too and sometimes this is a really painful step this is before you run out the gate in terms of developing a campaign or strategy this is objectively accepting who we are today and look at where we want to go and that’s sometimes difficult for organizations but you have to kinda go through to the entire bucket that I described as you know market insights. Understanding the situation around us and the costumer and understand yourself entire before moving forward. It’s kinda like you have to objectively look at the world around yourself before you can take this step forward or you might go to the wrong direction. Beyond that we really once we gone that process it’s about developing the right strategy sticking market positions saying this is who were going to be with our brand with all our content and better to find the audiences that we are trying to reach so then we can figure out we can reach and set goals that are measurable figure out okay as we implement the strategy what does success look like what are the milestones where we can go yep we’re moving in the right direction towards of influencing or persuading people to think of our brand in a certain way and developing a plan to achieve the goals. All of that is simply said as sometimes not simply done for organizations all of that is the pre work before you get to roll up your sleeves and do the fun things like media planning creative and digital content PR and all of the other fun stuff that very visible stuff.
Meghan: So for those people listening out there I know some people listening their target costumers are lab user like they’re using equipments in the lab or sometimes it’s I’m selling to health care providers or selling to over the counter products so selling direct to people that use it at home they buy like a CVS or – so are there some differences of how you’re delivering your content depending on your clients particular audience like that?
Erik: Definitely I think that first step you know looking at content marketing for instance cause that’s really very active means of marketing today.
Meghan: Maybe we should define what exactly you’re talking about like what is content marketing and why do we need to be doing it.
Erik: It’s a great question so content marketing is developing content and it could be a lot of different forms it could even be a podcast but it’s developing interesting content that engages the desired audience to listen and participate in a discussion or content versus being marketed at so an advertisement in billboard is not content marketing because it’s awareness building perhaps but it’s not delivering content in the right context for the audience so the audience in content marketing typically is self selecting you’re seeking out that content and engage it so podcast is a good example for that email newsletters and blogs and places where there is a point of view that shared all kind of fall over under the umbrella of content marketing. Video is a another good example of that but in developing content marketing for be to be or be to see audiences if you’re trying to reach that research in the lab it’s understanding first you have to go back and understand what your needs are or what their wants are and their like particular topics they may like to receive contents in a certain way at a certain time and so being able to get into that and understanding their persona and again empathize what they want you can shape what you want to say in a way it’s going to be delivering that will be meaningful for them rather than just saying well this is our message and this is what we want to say just put it out there and cross your fingers and hope somebody comes back.
Meghan: Exactly speaking of content marketing your survival guide episode has lots of hints people – that content.
Erik: That’s great and again using that as an example we listen to our audience we’ve been going to the JP Morgan forever so we have a lot of learning but people kept asking us for advice oh I’m going to the JP Morgan this year for the first time where do I go what do I do so people kept asking us for recommendation and I said maybe we should put this together in a form that they can use so we put together the survival guide for JP Morgan.
Meghan: So my next question actually that was an example cause I was gonna ask you to tell us a story of that about content marketing or PR that someone took advantage of it what it did for them so you clearly spelled that out but let’s tell a story of one of your clients that you’ve helped and then how your services made a differences for them.
Erik: There are a lot of different examples like – from I think you know one that we would always be excited and proud about some works that we did for – clients and this begin a few years back and just came to us with a challenge that was they were really looking a way to accelerate a process of partnering with academic researchers to be able to look at new therapeutic candidates and be able to accelerate that process cause the process of looking it candidates and the process of working technology transfer with – it’s a linked process so what we did was we develop a campaign called discovery fast track and we’re working directly with the – discovery partnerships and – group in the GSK charged with developing these relationships and the campaign was really focused on the academic researcher and trying to advance their science so it goes back I guess to the concept within research of who you want to succeed or fail quickly you know spending years trying to go to discovery doesn’t serve anyone so we want to accelerate two things we want to help researchers accelerate their research we also want to accelerate the process of understanding whether not going to make cents of partnership in the first place so discovery fast track was a campaign and essentially a competition that we created first in North America and then it’s extended to Europe for GSK to encourage researchers to submit their entries in a really distilled – application that was in the relatively shorter of time and what it’s resulted in and there are a lot of different components to this there are certainly public relations involve in this there was a lot of content marketing there is a website that have to be built to be able to handle the submission eventually there are a lot of advertising marketing so this is a very – campaign stepping from the creative concept that we develop but the great thing that we are really proud about is on the other side there have been candidates that have receive the pack funding and partnerships and candidates that are coming through in the discovery process so it’s actually generated results things that might taking years to get to because of all this steps involve they been able to get to time.
Meghan: It’s great and it’s in their best interest to I have this new virtual pre accelerator program so something kind of similar but when I launched it as a beta version I had marketing campaigns out there urging people to apply I gave away 10 free scholarships and they had to apply and I got these applications back and what I did is I strategically placed the questions in there cause I was gathering information about my persona as I was doing that and looking at what their struggling with and I build the program to answer to that and the great thing is to you to get not only to help you with your business you get those lead you have those lead but you were right. It really is making difference and innovation in pushing things forward and that’s the main objecting but then you have all these other perks on the side.
Erik: That’s fantastic very programmed and be able to build it that way and accelerate in engagement.
Meghan: That is amazing example what are some or common mistake that you guys see?
Erik: I think the most common mistake and again this is sort of the flipside of what I talked about before about looking at audience and really doing some of that respective work before going out to the market place is not stopping to ask the simplest and sometimes most complex question of all “WHY” are we doing this? Who is it that we’re trying to reach and what do we want them to do so often these organizations are just thinking about we need to have more awareness we need to have more of this more of that but it’s not tied back to a strategy there is not thought given to tie it back what where actually trying to make happen as an outcome with that results there are a lot of tactics that might feel good moment and you get tactical results but you don’t get strategic results it’s not moving towards a business outcome and so I would say that is the most common and largest challenge that we are into and ultimately resolves and restarts of campaigns or people invest a lot of resources they go down the path incorrectly and then have to correct for that and they become caused with both from a times and point and from dollars.
Meghan: So with dollars you’re making me think to I just was at a conference the other day and we’re talking about advertising and social media and what are your thought do you guys help people with advertising campaigns?
Erik: We do in fact we are proud over the last 2 or 3 years we really become more sophisticating with our media planning strategy and by practices implementing there are a lot of great tools and technology to automate that so that’s actually a large portion of our business is helping our clients being able to make smart decisions about where they’re bind media and to make sure they’re not either competing or cannibalizing their marketing across the product or in some cases integrating in negotiating in a better rates so that paid me in the world we play.
Meghan: What sections of that do you do more of these social media advertising or traditional hey let’s buy you a conference speaking slot or an airing on the radio or TV, billboards like you said.
Erik: You know it’s real mix I think when be to be like science and health care a majority of what we do in the point tends to be current online and social media there’s still some very fordable spots to be able to do paid media, paid advertising or media advertisement and social media without doing buying really expensive keywords on Google. Within social media there’s some great media bust that tends to be still tradition print for life science still very influential we do some paid and even some earned media spots in terms of conference so we might be helping a client pay for the trade – advertisements around the conference even the paid speaking slots but also in many cases using their content earned media coverage in the same publication or earn a speaking spot at a conference so we try to look at it – we try to be very integrated about our approach and look at how we can kinda bring different approach together with benefit.
Meghan: So a big company like GSK that’s media buying as one thing first a scratchy little start up that is on shoe string budget what’s a tip for them to help them plan their media buyers?
Erik: That’s a great question and even though we do work with some major brands like the GSK or work with – some of these large organizations. We also work with start ups we love working with start ups because they’re so much innovation coming from them and we always maintained is that the greatest asset that the greatest have is speed and flexibility they can be nimble and they might be able in a position where they’re competitors or larger can out expand them but what they have going for them is they make – quickly and move very quickly and so if you’re looking at a much smaller marketing budget and trying to figure out where are the right places for them to dive in you know certainly content marketing building out a data base of your core audience is that you’re trying to reach there are very fordable tools out there for being you know being able to manage the CRM and implementing different CMS systems to be able to manage the content and distribute it actively. First recommendation I typically make for a start client is okay you need a blog you need to start developing a content strategy understanding again your audiences but then pick the things that you know about where developing a content will not be difficult because it is what you know and what your audience want to hear about. Developing a content will not be difficult because it is what you know and what your audience what to learn about and then start generating those contents in a blog is typically easiest and most effective way for start ups to start doing that.
Meghan: Or you can just cheat like I’ve done it. I’m not an expert then I interview the experts and now I’m covering the topics.
Erik: That’s ok you’re an expert in some areas and the next best thing is no other expert.
Meghan: Tell us about your location I know you guys have a few locations and that way makes it easy for different people to connect with you.
Erik: CG Life started in Chicago as I set back in 2003 since then we have expanded we have folks about 45 peoples spread across San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston and all of the major science life markets but Chicago was our root and the is our head quarter today.
Meghan: Good and our listeners wanna get in touch with you and what’s the best way to do that and besides that JP Morgan survival guides. Now they have to wait another year to go to JP Morgan what else can they get from you guys?
Erik: The best way to get in touch with us is visit cglife.com where you can follow a lot of the content typically daily we’re trying to share a lot of these insights and how trying to produce useful content that our costumers in the industry in life science and health care can use it do for themselves or for some cases come to us for advice we also tend a lot of the major conferences and as you mentioned earlier we love to throw a vents and parties and that’s probably the best way to get to know us to attend one of our events and yeah visit cglife.com and follow us on instagram, facebook, linkedin and on twitter.
Meghan: And by the parties I meant at least I’ve been to the ones in San Diego. They have a great facility with this roll up doors and so it’s kinda like an indoor outdoor party all different kinds of games they’ve got corn holes – and lots tasty food and some adult beverages. Keep in touch with them maybe get on their newsletter so that way you know when is fun events are happening and we’ll see you there.
Erik: That’s great and I hope to see you Meghan on our next event.
Meghan: Yeah hopefully make it back on time with that. Alright well thank you so much.
Erik: Thanks for having me Meghan I appreciate it.
Meghan: Guys thanks for listening I hope you take away some great point with that and know you don’t need a huge budget to get started with marketing a lot of it is just finding your audience connecting with people whether it’s in person or online and giving them some information that’s really relevant to them so they’re gonna start paying attention to you. If you are interested if you’re working on your own medical device earlier I mention that I have my pre accelerator program called Invention Idea of Profitable Product so you can check that out. The easiest way to find out the information on that is to text the word INVENTION to the number 44222 so if you get out your phone just type in 44222 and then just like you are texting me something just text the word INVENTION or you can check on the info back on IMUA-SERVICES.COM so till the next episode, IMUA!
Recorder: Mahalo for joining us. If you’re new to riding the waves of medical device product development, or if you’ve been in development for a while already, Inspired by Imua is here to surf with you. Want to be a master of the waves? Text hang ten that’s all one word HANGTEN to 44222. We’ll send you the most common wipe outs companies make in product development so you can avoid them and reach master wave status. Again, that’s HANGTEN to 44222. We publish a new episode every Tuesday, so catch us at Inspiredbyimua.com. Imua!