The need for digital science marketing can no longer be debated. Internationally, there is great pressure on research organizations. The competition is getting better, and the research competition is increasing. This becomes particularly clear when there are no research contracts from industry, and the national competition for funding becomes fiercer. All of a sudden, institutes from a research organization become competitors – even departments of an institute or groups of different departments no longer indulge themselves.
The employees must cushion the pressure of competition in the research and development sector. Employees increasingly have to write project applications and acquire industrial orders.
The effort for the project applications increases. Working groups from institutes rush to the calls from the federal government like a bear on honey. But you can be easily found.
Concepts from the area of online marketing can help scientists in innovation-oriented research and development to acquire projects, orders and new customers from the economy.
What is digital science marketing?
Digital science marketing includes all aspects, sub-areas, strategies and measures that are necessary for the target customer-oriented marketing of scientific results on the Internet. The implementation of a digital science marketing strategy is subject to fundamental conditions.
Internet science marketing is a network of science communication, visualization, PR and Internet marketing. Certain aspects of these sub-areas are combined in such a way that the measures on the one hand act as an effectiveness multiplier and the other hand, take into account the needs and interests of all those involved.
Advantages of Internet Science Marketing
If all aspects are taken into account, a tool is created which:
- sustainable and future-oriented taking into account the needs of science, business and the federal government,
- Scientists and developers are relieved of project and order acquisition,
- improves the working conditions of scientists and developers and
It makes sense to do marketing whenever a company or research company is doing particularly well. That is why the representatives from government, research and business speak of the need to react to increasing research competition .
Actionism does not create a solution
Need creates actionism and actionism is an indication of a lack of concepts. The federal government invests a lot of money in measures to increase the transfer of technology and knowledge from research to the economy. There are many measures to improve the competitiveness of German research organizations and societies. But the question arises: “Are these measures still up-to-date, sustainable and adapted to modern communication methods?”
The marketing of technologies, prototypes and competencies is not implemented promptly. Sustainability, benefits, practicability and target customer orientation are too seldom a core issue in the search for solutions. The digital change and the force of the fast pace of the Internet have put us in a “digital” state of shock. All attempts to present yourself in a new way on the Internet and in the new media are already out of date when they are implemented. But science marketing and the Internet play a key role in the international research competition.
The one who holds up the largest sign writes his skills on it with large, colourful words and attracts attention – that is, calls the loudest and arouses the interest of the target customers … – will get the job.
The sign is “Digital Marketing” and the platform to attract attention is “Google”.
Marketing goals for science
The aim of digital science marketing is the increased customer-oriented visualization of the results of scientific work (Ewa) for interested parties from business/industry. Results of scientific work can be papers, patents, demonstrators, prototypes, technologies, products and, in some cases, projects. However, rejected project applications, events and competencies are also used for acquisition on the Internet.
Science organizations have the task of quickly making innovations visible for the European economy. In this way, the acquisition of industrial projects is promoted, and technologies can be found quickly. Science marketing must increase the intersection of information exchange between business and research.
Projects and results protected by confidentiality agreements (NDA) are just as interesting for digital marketing as technology from a joint scientific project. The protected content can be presented as competencies, for example, to avoid a conflict with the client. Competence marketing, however, requires rapid implementation.
Existing prototypes and technologies often disappear on the shelves of the institutes. Once a project has ended, EwAs are presented at trade fairs or events such as customer events. The result is attached (if it comes into question for the follow-up project acquisition ) on a webpage, in the depths of an institute website.
Developments that are necessary for the proper functioning of technology, such as electronic assemblies, coupling concepts or software solutions, end up in the “archives” of institutes and companies. But it is precisely these things that are often sought. A quick Google search for a component is often unsuccessful. Hardly anyone will look for a “self-sufficient and mobile spectro-optical fluorescence measuring system for detecting the quality of meat” when they need a rotten meat scanner … Companies and institutes often develop new functional components because existing ones cannot be found.
The digital science marketing has prepared target groups, the scientific information of interest, and to place exactly where they produce exactly for potential project partners and customers at the right time attention, interest and trust. To make this possible, different requirements have to be considered.
Requirements for digital science marketing
The conditions for digital science marketing (also called digital research marketing) are defined by need. Something will only change if individual benefits from it in some way.
In plain language: To use digital science marketing to secure the future and acquire orders, the strategies and measures must be chosen in such a way that everyone involved benefits:
- Scientists have to be relieved of the project acquisition.
- Working groups must generate compatible projects and assignments that fit the technological or scientific roadmap.
- Departments must benefit from a higher industry quota.
- Research organizations generate license income through increased spin-offs and from national and international technology transfer.
- Interested parties receive relevant information quickly, uniquely and entertainingly.
Needs of scientists
The needs of scientists are clear—more time for research and development or more time for project work.
For the creation of science marketing strategies, I asked about the needs of 65 scientists in several large research organizations. These include the Fraunhofer Society, Max Planck Society, Leibnitz Association and the Helmholtz Association. The result of the needs assessment for the optimal online acquisition strategy was 85% the same for one question, “What is fundamentally bothering you in your academic work?”.
- Increasing pressure in project acquisition and the time-consuming search for the right project partners (competencies).
From the perspective of Internet science marketing, a result can be defined! Employees who are responsible for project acquisition, project partner acquisition and industrial project acquisition provide tools that automate acquisition activities, increase success, have a sustainable, contemporary and relieving effect.
Raising awareness and training employees.
The awareness-raising and training concern the executives, WiMa and PR. PR and the scientists themselves have to implement the measures of a cross-institutional science marketing strategy. You only do that if you recognize a benefit or generate success.
Internet marketing is very fast-moving. What is a trend today can be replaced by more convenient communication channels tomorrow. The effort to stay up to date at the point is too time-consuming. Also, there is the fact that many scientists associate Internet communication with big data. Internet platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are mostly viewed with scepticism. The benefit is unclear, and permanent use is perceived as an additional burden. Without training that provides an overview and shows that the industrial project acquisition works differently than the personal use of these platforms, something will only change slowly and partially.
Facebook is very unpopular in science. Maintaining the account is time-consuming. The success and the scrambling for followers are demotivating. Constant posts of news and content tend to be perceived as useless and stressful. Right! That’s how it is when you approach it that way. But customer acquisition works the other way around. You look at the channels, groups and activities of the desired customers and companies. Post about your topics and activities and draw attention to yourself and your skills.
Science marketing training courses and online acquisition workshops for senior executives (LA) and scientists have a different focus. The focus of the LA is more in the planning and strategic area (interpretation of the Internet marketing strategy on the technological roadmap, editorial plan, etc.). The WiMa need the basics to implement the techniques (WordPress, SEO tips and rules for scientists and developers, basics of target group-oriented science communication, etc. …).
Management and scientists must be aware of the possibilities of getting to know techniques, measures and tools with which digital science marketing and automatic acquisition can be implemented on the Internet.
To make matters worse, the scientist will quickly discover in a conventional online marketing training course that many measures cannot be implemented at all. I already have this experience behind me and can give the all-clear right away. There are digital science marketing training courses and online acquisition workshops that are designed to be feasible in research organizations and to meet the needs of scientists and developers. They were conceived by former scientists who specialize in online marketing for research organizations.
- Measures must be chosen so that they can be implemented quickly and easily.
- Training and sensitization of the LA and WiMa
Integration of the internet strategy in research organizations and companies
Now that the needs of the scientists are clear and the scientists and executives know the techniques, measures and possibilities, the top level of research organizations is now in demand. Marketing is a matter for the boss and particularly affects board members.
The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft reacted to this and in 2014 added a new member to the board. Technology marketing and business models are now subject to Prof. Dr Alexander Verl. His task is, among other things, the visualization and acquisition of joint projects. It should increasingly offer companies system solutions with a high level of originality.
(The first thing to do is to solve internal communication problems. In the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the left office doesn’t know what the right one is doing. In this way, problems are constantly being solved that have already been translated by colleagues, and things are developed that are already on the shelf. )
The individual institutes need a common core focus. Ideally, one takes the key technology areas defined by the federal government. The executive board can only specify the external presentation of the entire research organization and the safeguarding of the research segments in the international arena.
The federal government and the government also have an interest in the research organizations taking part in the international research competition. They will certainly finance the additional expenditure if the long-desired breakdown of the digital shock has finally been achieved and goals are clearly defined as well as an implementation concept present.
The board is therefore responsible for an entire internet strategy for all institutes within a research organization. The board members are already aware that the Internet battle cannot be won with a business card website alone. But what do you do? Very often, I find that there is an awareness of information technology.
- What is the strategy? > Define clear goals
- Who is responsible for sustainable implementation and who will have to be involved?
- Where do we start? > Step-by-step implementation and implementation in the company structure or organizational structure
- What costs do we have to face and who can finance them?
- When is the ROI (Return of Invest) applied?
These are the questions whose answers are necessary for an implementation-oriented and employee-friendly Internet strategy.
- Board members and managing directors must define clear goals for a future-oriented, sustainable, implementation-oriented and employee-friendly Internet strategy and create an implementation concept.
- Gradual implementation of the science marketing strategy.
- Starting with a “pilot institute” and innovation-oriented projects that are exposed to high international competition.
The competitive situation at home and abroad
The competitive situation is a guideline for the minimum effort. Since future orientation is a requirement in digital science marketing, internet marketing trends and the competitive position must be included in the web strategy for research organizations. At least one thing more has to be implemented than with the competition. Everything else can be weighed up using a cost/benefit analysis.
Also, the strategic orientation of future research partnerships must be taken into account. Suppose a research company wants to cooperate with increasingly, for example, the USA. In that case, the Internet strategies should also be oriented in such a way that the Americans lose out when it comes to the visibility of research activities and securing key technology areas on the Internet.
- Prepare competitor analyzes with an eye on future partnerships to secure research segments internationally and future-oriented.
- Pay attention to digital marketing trends and react in advance.
The four sub-areas of digital science marketing
The four sub-areas of science marketing are science PR, science communication, science visualization and the transfer of know-how and technologies. To introduce effective Internet marketing, the subregions have another function.
Science PR is an interface between science and the public and society. Science PR partly organizes the external presentation. Popular science documentation, trade fair appearances, events, conferences are on the portfolio of a PR department in an institute.
Internet science marketing needs the results in the form of images, text, and, most importantly, video recordings. If the PR activities are documented, they act as a multiplier in digital science marketing.
Science communication takes on the part of preparing scientific results. The triangular relationship between business, the public and independent “autonomous” science is taken into account. Also, there is a focus on target customers, the selection of topics and the selection of communication channels.
Science marketing uses this “communication bandpass filter” to disseminate information in a cross-channel strategy. The resulting content in science communication is taken into account in many places and used for acquisition on the Internet.
Science visualization will not only become an experience for future customers and partners. The scientists themselves also benefit from a visualization that is far away from measurement setups and demonstrators. Images as well as 2D and 3D animations, make research and development understandable. Future customers can quickly get an idea of what is meant. They are barrier-free and will “soon” be automatically translated into all languages.
From a marketing perspective, this is the future and the gateway to a successful science marketing strategy.
Also, there is the focus in science marketing on mobile marketing. More and more people are using a mobile device to access the Internet. Hardly any research company has optimized its website for responsive design. That makes rummaging through mobile devices on institute websites adventurous. You can never be sure how many links have just been tapped in page navigation. This is particularly annoying when you want to get a spontaneous overview of the institute’s offers at a trade fair or event.
Based on this thought, people who visit a page with mobile devices are usually short and don’t want to read much. EwA’s and competencies are understood very quickly via images, videos or animations.
Recommendations for action
- Convert institute pages to responsive design.
- Visualize the content of projects (key technology areas) and technologies.
Technology transfer and knowledge transfer
Technology transfer is part of a science marketing strategy on the Internet. It is the usual way for developers to first ask Google before dealing with technology transfer networks or clusters. Once a technology is found, they are happy to cooperate with the groups.
Technologies from institutes have to jump in front of developers, managing directors and investors when they are looking for service providers or products. In other words: If I’m ready to invest in a research contract for a hand-held scanner that analyzes gasoline for its quality or purity at the push of a button … I’m happy when I find a rotten meat scanner that you have to upgrade so that it can be used for the quality measurement of gasoline can be used.
Recommendations for action
- Match existing technologies to trending topics and carefully prepare keyword research.
- Expand technology marketing on the Internet> Outsource technologies on your websites (acquisition pages)!
Strategies in digital science marketing
The strategies in digital science marketing are unlimited. There is no generally applicable procedure, no instruction, and the scientific method cannot contribute anything.
The science marketing strategies are based on the experiences of the sub-areas and internet marketing (online marketing, digital marketing, web marketing). The results are measurable so that an adaptation to changing conditions and control of the science marketing strategy is possible.
Each strategy consists of a different arrangement of online marketing measures and its sub-areas.
The institute marketing is responsible for the marketing of an institute or a company that sees its core business in research and development. Core competencies are recorded, processed and disseminated across channels following the purpose of acquisition. Image changes and the formation of big brands are possible.
Panel marketing addresses project panels. In projects consisting of institutes and companies, new requirements arise. The industrial partners develop products. Product release and sale are prepared in the product development phase. The needs of the customers are constantly included, and the work is adapted to the conditions. To make this possible, a science marketing team is integrated into a project committee.
Laboratory marketing includes all measures that lead to know-how and equipment for customers from business and industry being noticed. At this point, a build-up of trust for later collaborations or customer acquisition for laboratory services is planned.
Events, in particular, have a very high reach. The scientific events are of high quality and devour an enormous amount of money. At customer events, for example, scientists present their results and skills that are needed by the business. However, the number of participants is limited, and business representatives are sometimes not available at this time. At these events, content is created that is intended for the exploitation of competencies in the industry and the formation of interests of partners, customers and interested parties.
Project proposal marketing
Project proposal marketing uses rejected project proposals to acquire industrial projects. Writing project proposals takes up most of the time in scientific project acquisition. The search for suitable project partners and the formulation of the solution to a problem corresponds almost to the development of a business plan. Far too often, they are rejected, and the effort goes unrewarded. Project proposal marketing uses virtual products and ideas to acquire industrial customers.
Patent Marketing uses patents to underline competencies and especially core competencies. The scientist alone does not have to be in the foreground here. WiMa patents for the marketing of a working group are tools for project partner acquisition. They generate attention, interest and trust in the abilities of a research group.
In project marketing, special projects are marketed. 100% funded projects with a financial volume greater than one million euros have the potential to be sold to a particularly high degree. Many institutions and companies are involved. The partner network is strengthened, and all interests are included. Just as with panel marketing, a science marketing team is applied as a project partner.
Competence marketing takes into account the interests of institutes and scientists at the same time. All competencies are tailored to the target groups. The focus is on core competencies and not on the skills and competencies that are required to support the core competencies.
Technology marketing takes care of finding customers for technology. Many institutes have a large number of technologies in their portfolio. These technologies can be used to acquire customers or if marketed correctly, generate license income and development contracts.
Prototype marketing primarily increases the awareness of prototypes. Institutes and project participants also benefit. The interests of all partners involved in the development are taken into account. With prototype marketing, new product development orders can be acquired, and competencies visualized.
The preparatory stage of product marketing is called demonstrator marketing. Here the interests of the customers are evaluated and incorporated into the product development. Using demonstrators, assumptions are checked, and product functions are simulated. Great and lasting success is achieved when the demonstrator and its operation are illustrated or visualized. The advantage is that NDA agreements do not apply here and parts of the work can be used to disseminate core competencies of the institutes.
The product marketing visualized the product and communicated to the customer benefits and unique features of the product. Many institutes have their products such as the Ferdinand Braun Institute with its laser modules. The products are adapted to the required requirements in projects and serve the collective to develop a product-oriented prototype.
In a perfect world – full of selfless research organizations interested only in science – the previous model is sustainable. Then came the Internet. A marginal issue suddenly becomes an important future issue to maintain the competitiveness of research companies.
But strong competition has built up, which a European scientist does not primarily affect. On closer inspection, it is precisely the scientist who is involved. Less passion of the scientists and developers, more acquisition activities, faster processing of projects for industrial orders – these are the consequences of the international science competition.
Marketing, especially on the Internet, has to be implemented by the scientists themselves. It is easier to understand the language of the people than the language of science. The board members, however, need a far-reaching internet strategy that works outside the box and takes into account communication methods of the present and the future.
Due to the increasing experience and the mass of data of Internet technologies, modular concepts can be determined, and future forecasts can be derived. They are no more messing around when it comes to such an important topic as research transfer and innovation.
For an optimal science marketing strategy, the feasibility must be guaranteed within the hierarchical levels of research organizations and companies. Step-by-step implementation of the measures, beginning with “large” joint projects, prestige projects in key technology areas with high to very high international competition and projects for business-oriented research and development are necessary.
Many things will change in the future. In addition to classic PR, a giant called> Online Marketing <is emerging. In the end, acquisition in every institute will primarily be carried out via the Internet. Technology transfer will be able to do without the many transfer points. A change in the science system will not be necessary. The use of modern communication methods, multi-channel marketing and the preparation of information especially for relevant target groups, however, do.