Core labs play a critical role in scientific discovery and development. These centralized laboratories offer state-of-the-art facilities, programs and highly skilled scientific staff to advance research programs, primarily at academic institutions. In many ways, these labs function as contract research labs, offering capacity to support peer-reviewed research and help commercialization efforts. However, managing these labs is no small feat. Administrators not only determine what technologies to invest in, they need to ensure that researchers are properly trained in all facets of the techniques and their benefits. These day-to-day complexities of running a lab also present core lab marketing challenges and opportunities.
CG Life and Stratocore sponsored the inaugural “Cores on Tap” event at the CG Life office in Chicago. The event had an attendance of more than 70 employees from the core facilities from the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University. These three institutions take part in the Chicago Biomedical Consortium’s Open Access Initiative, which promotes the shared use of core lab resources. This initiative expands individual university resources and allows for greater scientific collaboration.
During the event at CG Life, participants took part in breakout sessions throughout the building and came up with solutions in a collaborative environment to questions such as: “how do we streamline billing across institutions?” and “now that the University of Chicago purchased the first Cryo-EM instrument, how can we help them run it smoothly?”
One of the biggest questions the core labs face is how do we create broader and informed awareness? According to Dr. Phil Hockberger Associate VP for Research at Northwestern University: “Only about 40% of individual research programs pay for and use core lab services.” This indicates that the lack of awareness is directly contributing to under-utilization of cutting-edge technology and resources, which can ultimately impact the pace of discovery. Essentially, core labs are facing a business—and marketing—challenge.
To provide core lab administrators with the knowledge to increase the awareness of their offering, CG Life and The Connell Group co-presented a talk on brand strategy and marketing. The presentation provided core lab researchers with tips for improving the marketing of their specific services within their institutions as well as other universities or companies. The central theme of the presentation was the importance of understanding your audience and their specific needs and challenges. After establishing a solid knowledge base, labs can position themselves accordingly and market consistently.
“Having worked at the University of Chicago core lab, I can tell you from first-hand the importance to promote our facilities and capabilities,” said Todd Kuna, Senior Account Director at CG Life. “From our perspective, it wasn’t only to optimize our resources, our goal was to foster collaboration amongst a larger group of researchers. I’m thrilled that we were able to host this meeting and provide best practices on how to overcome these business and marketing challenges. At the end of the day, just because you built it, doesn’t necessarily mean they will come.
Read more about how to understand and create content intended to reach a science researcher audience.