A key opinion leader can be a valuable asset to any marketing strategy. They can help support your brand’s reputation and assist in the creation of enticing and targeting content for prospective customers. However, securing an expert in both the field and your product can be challenging.
What is a Key Opinion Leader and what do they do?
A Key Opinion Leader, or KOL, is an expert or group of experts within a specific niche that has the power to influence their audience’s views and behaviors. Unlike an influencer, a KOL has a more targeted audience.
How can a Key Opinion Leader be vital to your webinar’s success?
A KOL may have a particular niche audience that you want to target and getting the KOL on board will help you gain access to said audience. People are more likely to sign up for webinars that feature a KOL, and their participation can be interpreted as an endorsement.
Ensuring good quality content for webinar attendees
The purpose of a webinar can be to educate or provide thought leadership. Therefore, do not limit KOLs to those who have used your company’s products or services. For example, consider recruiting a panel of KOLs who can discuss recent and upcoming technologies and advancements. Then, you can end the webinar with a speaker from your company who discusses relevant products or services. This approach will provide real value to you prospective customers and enable your message to reach the niche audience attracted by the KOL.
Boost webinar attendance
Your recruited KOL will most likely share the webinar details within their network. Therefore, when promoting your webinar on social media platforms, tag the KOL, so they can share or retweet (Twitter) the post from their account. Doing this enables you to directly reach a specific audience, which can be more cost-effective than running traditional ad campaigns.
How do you find and reach out to Key Opinion Leaders?
Here are a few methods that your company can try to recruit KOLs. Of course, the most effective ones may vary between different niches.
Look for authors who were recently published
Recently published authors are more likely to agree to an opportunity to promote and share their new findings. Authors who recently published using your services or technologies are obvious potential KOLs. But remember, webinars can be broader and more educational. So, look for authors within your general field.
Look for keynote speakers from relevant conferences
Keynote speakers at popular conferences are keynote speakers for a reason. Take advantage of the work these conferences put into finding relevant speakers within the field.
Look at members of the editorial board of a relevant journal
Most editorial board members are experts in their field with varying levels of experience and prestige. Editorial board members should have extensive research experience, strong publication records, and niche networks.
Search the clinical trial database
Search for studies by topic and disease type on the ClinicalTrials.gov database. The names of the principal investigators are provided along with the publication of the completed study. A KOL who completed a recent study in one of your target disease areas is likely to draw other researchers and clinicians in that field.
Search relevant hashtags to see which Key Opinion Leaders are using them
Many KOLs are active on social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Searching relevant hashtags can direct you to your desired KOLs.
Look within your network or company
Sometimes you do not have to look far to find what you need. Search within your own company and network for someone who may be suited to be a KOL or can refer one.
How do you get the Key Opinion Leader to agree to the webinar?
Keep your pitch short and relevant. Entice a busy KOL to agree to your webinar by keeping their commitment low. Suggest that the KOL can have another speaker (e.g., a postdoctoral fellow or graduate student). The other speaker will be responsible for the majority of the presentation. Although, the KOL may not speak for most of the webinar, you still will extend your company’s reach into their niche audience.
Another option is to gather multiple KOLs to speak on a panel, which will split the responsibility among multiple speakers. Doing this will also provide a networking opportunity for your KOLs.
Examples of Key Opinion Leaders
Dr. David Sinclair, Professor in the Department of Genetics & Co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at Harvard Medical School
Dr. Sinclair served as a KOL for a webinar hosted by Dovetail Genomics as part of their Inspired Science webinar series. This webinar had 1,899 registrants and 475 attendees. Which equated to 1,108 new highly-qualified leads.
Dr. Katarzyna Ellsworth, Senior Director of Clinical Operations at Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine
Dr. Ellsworth served as a KOL for a webinar hosted by Fabric Genomics where she discussed the use of Fabrics’ AI-based software for pediatric NGS applications.
Dr. Josef Coresh, Professor of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Medicine at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Dr. Coresh served as a KOL for a webinar hosted by SomaLogic where he shared his research using the company’s SomaScan® Assay.
Key Opinion Leaders ensure good quality content for your webinar and boost attendance in a very cost-effective way. There are many ways to find KOLs and there isn’t one best method as it can vary between niches. Webinars also provide opportunities for related marketing content, such as whitepapers or blogs. Webinars can be transcribed and shared in these and other formats along with specific data provided by the Key Opinion Leader.
Need some assistance with your KOL strategy?
Glory Bui is a scientific marketing intern at Samba Scientific and a Graduate Student Researcher at the University of California, Davis. When she isn’t writing creative social content, she is researching the effect of probiotics and milk on gut health. You can find out more on LinkedIn.