The SARS-CoV-2 pathogen has scrambled literally everything around the world, including financial markets and the world economy. At the same time, the biotech and pharmaceutical industries are in the spotlight as never before as nations and companies push programs to try to develop vaccines and therapeutics for the virus faster than drugs have ever been created before. The health of the world literally hangs in the balance of ongoing research on COVID-19. And to compound the difficulty of conducting and sharing scientific research, the pandemic has caused delays in many clinical trials and in-person conferences and meetings have been shelved across the board, to be replaced, if at all, with virtual gatherings.
Given this brave new world, the stakes have never been higher for companies in need of capital and strategic partners to move their innovative products through development and into the market. Regardless of whether your research portfolio is directly concerned with COVID-19, the pandemic may well impose dislocations on your corporate strategy. Does your company need capital to further a proof-of-concept trial, or to fund your pivotal trials and commercialization strategy? Do you need to engage meaningfully with potential strategic business partners? You should assume you will need to reach them virtually – and to ensure your message is well received, you will need to refine your communication strategy, and your presentation materials, to be laser-focused on achieving your goals.
Although the economic fallout from the pandemic has caused major economies to fall by historic margins, the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors are currently benefitting from soaring investor confidence signaled by major IPOs. As Jason Mast, Associate Editor at Endpoints News reports, “The boom appears to be at least in part a product of the pandemic, as investors weary of the other corners of a stunted economy have poured money into companies developing Covid-19 drugs and allowed private biotechs to go public at soaring rates…The last two weeks alone have seen more large raises for preclinical biotechs than the last three years combined.”[i] Firms seeking capital or strategic business investments appear to have a window of opportunity right now if they can make very persuasive cases for their companies.
In a virtual business world, your corporate presentation is really your most significant vehicle to raise awareness, visibility – and capital. Based on over two decades of offering integrated investor and communications counsel to life sciences firms, we offer here five best practices to heighten the impact of your corporate presentation.
- Sell your category – Why is your category a better investment than others? Investors absolutely care about health science innovation in this age of the pandemic, but nevertheless you are competing for dollars with other high-profile categories, such as renewable energy, AI or high-tech platforms. You need to make the case for healthcare as opposed to other worthy investments. If you are speaking with general healthcare investors, add a slide that speaks to the strength of your part of the life sciences sector (vaccine development, gene and cell therapy, specialty pharmaceutical, medical device, life science services, diagnostics etc.) as well as what you are doing that is different, innovative and important.
- Sell your industry sector – How is your therapy/product going to shake up the status quo? You have the opportunity to showcase your industry/therapeutic area. If you are fortunate enough to have an innovative, breakthrough product that satisfies a previously unmet patient need – as may be the case with vaccine development or cell, gene or genomic therapies – you are likely to gain investor interest and will mainly need to help them clearly understand your technology and approach. Even if you have a me-too drug in a crowded disease space, you need to identify a point of differentiation that shows how your product will improve patients’ clinical experiences or outcomes, or offer an improvement to doctors in their clinical practice.
- Be number one in your market – How are you unique? You need to quantify the market opportunity and be the number one or two company. If you can’t be number one in a broad market, you should define a market niche where you can be the number one or two company.
- Promote your management team – What are their accomplishments? In these uncertain and chaotic times, it is important to showcase experienced team members who have successfully brought an important product through development or launched a company, product or technology. Their industry and business experience will go a long way towards reassuring potential investors or business partners about your stability and viability. Capitalize on the strengths of your team by highlighting their accomplishments in your area.
- Demonstrate a clear commercialization or exit strategy – Do you have a specific road map to commercial success? Investors and potential strategic partners want to know what they are getting into if they engage with you. The stress of the pandemic only heightens the importance of this. So, showing a potential investor how your financial plans or your commercialization strategy will get you across the goal line and into the market and profitability may help to bring them along.
For more ideas on our recommended communications strategies, visit the LaVoieHealthScience YouTube channel, where you can find our valuable guidance on:
- Fine-tuning your public speaking and presentation strategy
- Crafting your elevator pitch
- Creating a powerful 15-slide corporate presentation
If you review and adjust your corporate presentation in light of these best practices, you will be better positioned to ride the wave of market turmoil we face today. By framing your presentation as recommended here to address your audiences’ underlying concerns, your story will be ready to persuade potential investors and business partners.
LaVoieHealthScience offers integrated communications in life sciences, with specializations in strategy consulting, investor relations and corporate communications, and public relations and marketing.
 Jason Mast, “The biotech IPOs keep coming at chart-topping levels — with no slowdown in sight,” Endpoints News, June 23, 2020.