COBE Global Capitalism speaker tells how to market to scientists

Geeky. Nerdy. Smarter than you!

Those are a few of the words Hamid Ghanadan displayed on a screen as he asked a group of Radford University students on Friday, April 5, what words pop into their minds when they think of scientists.

Ghanadan, a biochemist by trade, is founder and president of the Linus Group marketing agency. He spoke to students, faculty—including some from science disciplines—and other members of the RU community about how to sell to scientists, or, as the title of his talk stated, "Marketing to the World’s Most Skeptical Audience."

His morning presentation in the Hurlburt Student Center auditorium was part of RU’s College of Business and Economics (COBE) Global Capitalism Lecture Series, sponsored by BB&T. The ongoing collaboration between COBE and BB&T is designed to stimulate thought and discussion about capitalism, the tenets of free enterprise and the best practices of successful organizations.

Ghanadan explained how a scientific mind might approach the matter of, say, making a purchasing decision. "Scientists are well trained to go back and forth between curiosity and skepticism as well as objectivity and subjectivity," he said. The key to marketing to them successfully is to overcome their skepticism.

His talk was followed by a luncheon for invited guests at the COBE building. Among those attending both events was Matthew B. Crisp ’04, a member of the RU Board of Visitors. Crisp, who was instrumental in bringing Ghanadan to campus, said the topic of the day meshed well with COBE’s focus on innovation and analytics. "These, I think, come under the umbrella of strategic marketing. Understanding how people make decisions is not what you intuit, it's how you survey the landscape and how you translate that into some kind of action."

Crisp said Ghanadan's perspective has particular relevance to marketing students. "He's the best in the business, in a different league. He, as a strategist, is, in my strong opinion, one of the great thought leaders in this business."

RU President Penelope W. Kyle and other top university administrators were among guests at the luncheon, at which COBE Dean Faye Gilbert introduced Ghanadan for a brief reprise of his morning presentation to students.

"I love this event," the dean confided, "because it brings to the Radford University campus a blend of people from our community in an academic setting. We all learn something."

Hamid Ghanadan

COBE Dean Faye Gilbert (left), Hamid Ghanadan, RU President Penelope W. Kyle and Board of Visitors Member Matthew B Crisp '04 at the April 5 Global Capitalism luncheon

Among COBE students at the luncheon was Geena McDaniel, a junior marketing major from McLean. The lecture opened her eyes to the intricacies of marketing to science professionals, she said. "I'm an analytics student, and I had never thought about marketing specifically to scientists." McDaniel, president of the RU chapter of the American Marketing Association, added, "This definitely opened my mind to that market."

Junior marketing major Robert Connors of Fairfax said, "I never thought about marketing to scientists and how different it would be. The traditional way of persuading people can actually work against you when trying to persuade scientists."

The Linus Group, based in Emeryville, Calif., is a marketing firm that collaborates with science companies on the successful commercialization of scientific products.

Ghanadan is the author of "Persuading Scientists: Marketing to the World's Most Skeptical Audience." In the book, he frames how scientists make decisions, how they consume information and how marketers can positively influence these decisions through development and management of the right information, delivered at the right time. According to Ghanadan, the model is applicable for marketing and communication with any highly technical audience.

Ghanadan has worked with more than 50 companies in 16 years with the Linus Group. He is also the editor and author of "Linus Report," a publication focused on current trends in science marketing.

Previous BB&T-COBE speakers in the series have included Mary Rose Carosia and Theresa Werner of S&P Capital IQ; Kevin Daley, a past vice president at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency and founder of Communispond; former BB&T Chair and Chief Executive Officer John Allison; Jason Bingham, vice president, Central Territory of North America, for Ingersoll Rand; and Keith Shields, senior statistician and analytic development lead for Marketing Associates in Detroit.

Apr 6, 2013
Chad Osborne
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