Posted by on Oct 22, 2018 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Science & Social Media: Does it Work?

Wheels create power and movement – and you definitely want to have movement in your marketing! So far, in recent blog posts we’ve talked about all of the sections of the Brandwidth Solutions marketing wheel except for one – social media.

Sometimes I hear, “Well, scientists don’t use social media.”

But that’s just not true.

Scientists & Social Media

Social media not only works in the B2B space but also in our science-based world. Our clients are talking to (and want to talk to) decision makers in pharma, healthcare, life science, and in the energy sector. They’re interacting with lab directors and managers, bench scientists, doctors, practice managers, I.T. administrators, C-level execs and others.

Scientists are just like the rest of the population.

They behave the same way we do when we’re searching for information. They all have smartphones, tablets and laptops, and they use them when they’re looking for the tools they need. They search the web for information – and they also search social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

That means they are looking at white papers, case studies, blog posts, conversations – all of which can be found online.

Social Media and Science-based Marketing

When I talk to potential customers about social media, I use this analogy because I think it helps science-based marketers understand how social media will fit in their marketing mix – and how it works.

Think about social media as a tree. You have the tree trunk, you have the branches and you have the leaves. For me, the tree trunk is the blog. That’s where all of your information resides – it’s your knowledge center. The branches are all of your social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and the leaves are your customers who over time, through engagement with your brand, convert into leads.

The Blog Content Feedback Loop

Using analytics, you get ongoing feedback on the content you create. The more people who read certain posts and certain types of posts – whether it’s channel choice or content type – the more likely you will be to post that kind of material and continue the conversation.

Many brands want to push the conversations they are interested in promoting, rather than learning what the customer wants to know. But the analytics rarely lie, and the implications are clear: don’t post things people won’t read or share.

Here’s how that social media tree fits into your marketing mix.

Say you’ve created all of your marketing collateral about your product or service – your whitepapers, your case studies, your sales sheets, etc. You’ve done a press release about the new product or service, you’ve attended a trade show, set-up your e-marketing, and started doing digital and print advertising.

The key to making it all work is telling your story cohesively across all the marketing channels your customer is using to learn about your company. You need to provide information through your blog and social media that ties in all of your other content marketing elements, from white papers to press releases to awards to what you’re sending out on e-marketing as you’re generating leads. (Another bonus of a blog? Continually updating your website can improve your organic SEO!)

If you miss a marketing channel (on the ‘branches’ we talked about earlier) your customers are using to gather information, you risk ceasing to exist – and you won’t be part of the conversation when your buyer gets ready to make a decision about the product or service you offer.

All of this information needs to link back to your website. That’s where your customers are going to go before they even talk to you – especially scientists, since they always research their questions before they talk to a sales rep. It’s just their way.

Social Media Works

In the science and healthcare worlds, the sales process isn’t 24 hours.

We’re not selling a pen – we’re selling a $300,000 bit of kit or a $600,000 that’s an enterprise software platform. In some cases (outsourced drug manufacturing, for example) you may be selling a long-term relationship.

Sales cycles can run 6 – 18 months, and that means you need to nurture your leads.

If you’ve got that long of a sales cycle, you want to remind potential customers that you’re still there. You don’t need to talk to them every day (that’s not good), but you’ve got to stay in front of them and nurture them with useful information. It might let them do their job better, educate them, or provide them key information to make better business decisions. But you need to give them a reason to keep your company in their sights before they make a decision.

This is where your blog and social media excels – long-term lead nurturing and ongoing brand awareness.

For one major analytical equipment firm, a number of competitors had seized the online & social space and were driving the conversation in key markets. Several competitors had established blogs which were attracting hundreds of repeat visitors each month in search of relevant content. We implemented a social media program designed to (among other things):

  • Increase their visibility to analytical equipment decision makers in the life science industry
  • Establish thought leadership
  • Educate scientists and decision makers on new technologies
  • Increase reach in the life science industry.

We integrated the social media program with their overall marketing program. Via in-depth research, we identified the key content topics of particular interest to prospects.

In the first year, we increased their online reach to 100,000+ prospects each month, grew LinkedIn referrals to website from 0 to 300+ a month, increased social media referrals to the website 40-fold, and saw blog visitors expand to 1,000 per month.

The company established a dominant presence in the online space in fairly short order – all due to the use of targeted, well-researched content that appealed to readers. Scientists like information, so the use of the blog as a content anchor turned out to be a key success factor – giving the company the ability to expand the discussion beyond the short-form content common to social media.

The goal of marketing is to help drive sales.

It doesn’t mean you don’t need a sales force – you do. But marketing should partner and integrate with the sales team to increase brand awareness, identify & convert leads and grow revenue. Given the role social media plays in our lives today, it is a key tool in furthering these objectives – especially when your competitors are already there.

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Posted by on Sep 18, 2018 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Advertising: Print vs. Digital

 

What Works? Print or Digital Advertising?

A lot of people talk about advertising, and about print versus digital. I frequently hear “Oh, digital is much better because I can show ROI.”

Well, here’s a news flash – if you do print advertising right – you can show ROI for print too. ‘How’ is actually pretty simple. We use a vanity URL that drives to a specific landing page on a company’s website, e-marketing platform or automated platform, so the customer can track all of the traffic and where it comes from.

But what have we found?

The data we’ve generated shows that when you only do digital ads and you don’t do print ads, you don’t get as many hits. When you run both print and digital advertising campaigns, you receive far more leads.

 

 

Print Advertising

For science-based organizations, you do need to place some print advertising. You don’t have to do as much print as you used to, but you need to do some. The reason is: we (your audience) need to see messages six to eight times before it registers in our brains.

Imagine – if your customer is only seeing your ads digitally, then you are missing key opportunities elsewhere to deliver your ad message. Think about your customer – they’ll likely also be thumbing through a science magazine, or reading a trade publication (especially when that issue covers a topic specific to your market space).

The sweet spot for generating the most interest in a print ad is placing your ad right in the middle of a trade journal – with relevant copy that combines the editorial topics with what you do and what what you sell. When we work with clients to develop advertising campaigns and programs, we research editorial calendars to choose the most appropriate trade journals and where to place a customer’s ad.

 

 

What Advertising Doesn’t Work Well?

One ad. One time. Whether it’s digital or print, I don’t believe one-off ads work. (A one-off is when a company chooses to do only one ad and never does any other kind of advertisement in a publication or on a digital platform.)

I think it’s a mistake to run one ad and stop. What would your audience think? They see you once (maybe – since it takes six to eight times to register a message) and then even though they continue to engage with the channel where the ad appeared, they never see your company again. Did you discontinue your product or service? Did you go out of business? What happened to you? The likelihood of them becoming a customer pretty much disappears!

But, if we do agree to run an ad one time, we laser target it based on the editorial content running on the chosen platform. If that editorial content matches what you’re selling and what your market is, then that’s the place we want to be.

 

 

Digital Advertising – A Winner for Science Organizations

Digital ads are available virtually everywhere. The key to choosing the right digital spaces on which to advertise is traffic. For instance, does the identified trade publication receive enough traffic on their digital platform to justify the ad placement?

A quick word about traffic: you shouldn’t be simply looking for the highest level of traffic (say 100,000 viewers). You need to look at the quality of traffic – is it the right targeted niche audience? You don’t need 100,000 viewers if only 3,000 of those viewers are your target audience. If I can run ads on a website where all 3,000 of its viewers are my audience, well then – that is the best place for my customer’s ad.

 

 

Google Ads: AdWords and Display Ads

Which should you choose, Google AdWords (now Google Ads)  or Google Display Ads?

What gives you the most “bang for the buck”? We’ve been working with clients, and in quite a few instances we’ve moved them away from Google AdWords and into Display Ads.

Let me explain why.

When you build a program for Google Ads, you have to build with key phrases. We used to say ‘key words,’ but since people ask search engines questions it’s not single words anymore … we now use key phrases. And when we build an Google Ads program, we also build it with negative phrases – meaning your ad is not shown to anyone who searches for one of the negative phrases.

Brandwidth Solutions had a client that did Vitamin D testing in patients. When we built their campaign, we created the negative phrase ‘milk vitamin D testing.’ The client’s audience was not people who wanted to test their milk for vitamin D, or measure the levels of vitamin D in their milk. Using a negative phrase allowed us to prevent ‘milk testers’ from seeing the Google Ad.

The reason we moved to Display Ads is because the costs per click in the Adwords auctions have risen too high to be a cost-effective advertising option. In some industries, prices have soared as high as $25 per click, and many marketing departments don’t have budgets for that level of spending.

Google Display Ads function somewhat similar to Google Ads in that you define key terms and phrases, and also create negative key terms and phrases. But, in this case, it’s for people who have already searched for your type of product. It’s all about relevancy.

When an individual who has searched for your product is playing solitaire, a display ad pops up for something in which they are interested. It might be an ad for a trade show, since they have searched for related products or services.

The cool thing about Display Ads? The cost per click is user selected. That means you can choose a fee as low as five cents per click. You should know that a per click cost that low will affect not only where your ad appears but also the time of day it appears. But with a display ad campaign you get clicks and impressions – but you only pay for clicks.

So, let me give you an example.

One software client had traditionally used Google AdWords. We expanded their program to encompass both Google Display Ads as well as their AdWords program. In a one-week period, they had 77 clicks for AdWords ads. In less than one-third that time – 48 hours – they experienced 111 clicks using a Google Display Ad. The Google Ad was priced at $2.83 per click, while the Google Display Ad was 50 cents. So, in less than 1/3 the time, they grew clicks by 30+% for about a quarter of the cost.

But there is a trick to Google Display Ads (and Google in general!) Google makes changes in their ad requirements and in the way those ads must be created all the time. You need to stay up to date with Google changes and the format they are looking for. Currently you need to build your ad in Google’s internal tool unless you have been approved to build them outside their platform in HTML5.

 

 

Making Your Advertising Work

For advertising to work – to produce leads and show real ROI – you need to do more than produce a pretty ad with good copy and a phone number.

You need to have a full system set up to support the ad and an automation process to gather those leads. It’s all part of the wheel that keeps your marketing moving forward.

When we develop ad campaigns for clients – whether digital or print or both – we make certain that the ad is linked to a customized landing page created specifically for that campaign which tells the potential customer what to do next.

We don’t just provide a link to the customer’s website. If you drop people on the homepage your website, you have created two problems which ensure that your ad campaign won’t return a good ROI:

  1. You haven’t finished your marketing message; and
  2. You haven’t told your potential customer what you want them to do next.

You want your ad campaign to generate leads. That customized landing page is the mechanism by which you do that. In the best case scenario, we’ll develop a landing page that allows your potential customer to download a white paper. This gives your potential client valuable information they are clearly interested in AND it gives you a name and contact information for your sales team to use for follow up.

One quick thought, ask for a name, company name and email address. Don’t ask for 20 different pieces of information – no new lead will give you that much information. You’ll lose them.

Ask yourself: “Is my job to encourage them, so they keep looking at us? Or is my job only to get a few leads?” If you ask for lots of personal information, you won’t get very many leads.

Once you have those leads in your system, you’ve thanked them for registering and they have access to your white paper, you’ve completed your first step in nurturing that new lead.

Developing an ad campaign with a full marketing support system behind it is the best way to ensure that your advertising works and returns an ROI you can justify.

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Posted by on Jul 28, 2017 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

Raise Your Profile with Public Relations

public relations, PR, marketing

Public relations

Have you ever wonder how your competitors get those great article opportunities? Or why they are always mentioned in the press about their product/ service? It’s because somewhere they discovered the use of public relations.

Are you your industry’s best-kept secret? Or are you trying to break into a new market? Do you want to share your company’s expertise with industry journals?

What is PR?

Wikipedia defines public relations as:

pub·lic re·la·tions ˈpəblik rəˈlāSHənz/

Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public.[1] Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.[2] This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications. Public relations is the idea of creating coverage for clients for free, rather than marketing or advertising. An example of good public relations would be generating an article featuring a client, rather than paying for the client to be advertised next to the article.[3]

 

There are a few important threads in this definition:

  • Managing the spread of information
  • Exposure to audiences
  • Different from paid advertising

Public relations comes in two main formats – press releases and article opportunities. There is an art to press releases and we have discussed them in these three previous blog posts:

  1. Why Editors Don’t Read Your Press Releases
  2. 4 Key Essentials of a Press Release That Gets You Noticed
  3. Why You Shouldn’t Talk About Your Product or Service

 

Why Use Public Relations

The purpose of public relations is to inform your audience that you do something. The goal is to develop a PR strategy that keeps your news flow consistent and provides information on what your customers need to know (which would be how your product or service solves their challenges.)

 

What Should Your PR Program Contain?

Your public relations platform should include press releases and articles- thought leadership articles. Most importantly, it should also have articles from your customers about how your product or service enabled them to do their job or solved a task they couldn’t solve without you.

Press releases need to inform publication editors not only about your company but how your company enables their readership. It can’t just be about your latest new widget – it has to tell them why this widget helps their readers. They can’t translate information to their audience if you don’t help them.

Thought leadership articles prove to readers that you understand what they do and how they do it. Articles like these show potential customers that you have experience in their industry and can help them get their job done. A great example of a valuable article is one that features a client. By having your customer tell their story you validate your understanding of your customers’ needs.

Public relations is the second stop on your journey to mastering the MarCom wheel. Learn to raise your profile as a thought leader here.

 

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Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

Why You Still Need Marketing Collateral

marketing collateral, Brochures, White papers, Case studies, Sell Sheets, FAQs

Marketing Collateral, Brochures, White papers, Case studies, Sell Sheets, FAQs

I’m often asked- are brochures still a thing to do? Or are they passé?

My answer to my marketing clients is this:

Customers are on a journey. Your marketing needs to provide signposts along the way, steering prospects down the path to your products and solutions. Collateral, like brochures, is the beginning step in telling a story about your product or service. In marketing collateral like brochures you don’t just want to tell your feature/benefit story, you want show the value that your product or service will bring to your customers.

Types of Marketing Collateral

Marketing collateral should be your platform to tell your story. This platform can come in many different forms:

  • Brochures
  • White Papers
  • Case Studies
  • Sell Sheets
  • FAQs (which are very helpful for a disruptive technology)
  • Tailored pieces for a specific application- letting customers know you know what their challenges are.

See Your Collateral through Your Customers’ Eyes

We are often so focused on our newest feature or benefit we forget to look at collateral from our customers’ point of view. Try looking at your latest brochure with these questions in mind.

  • Have you left enough white space so their eye gets a rest?
  • Did you deliver the “What Is In It For Me” in the first paragraph?
  • Did you forget to use great graphics that enable them to understand what you’re explaining?
  • Are you telling them why they want to look at your product/ service?
  • Have you mentioned what your product or service will add to their daily routine or how will it make their job/ task easier?
  • Did you tell them what the net return will be for their company?

How to Use Marketing Collateral

The next question I hear a lot is: “How do I use these tools?” Here are some ideas:

  • As follow-up to conferences/tradeshows or sales calls – use not just a piece of literature but a white paper and or case study as well.
  • Use public relations to let the press and community know that you have a unique application note or white paper.
  • Use eMarketing to develop a longer conversation with customers through a lead nurturing program.
  • Use your collateral assets in both print and digital advertising
  • Use it to update your website.
  • Incorporate it into your social media

Collateral should always be used as part of an integrated approach. We often tend to get siloed on a specific task and we forget to integrate into our overall marketing what we develop for that task. Using marketing materials will help your customers understand what your value is. They’ll see it in different formats that fit your brand and remind them why they should consider your product or service. And they’ll be reminded what value you bring to them.

Do you have questions about what marketing collateral you need and how to use it? Visit us here and learn more about how we can help you.

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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

4 Key Essentials of a Press Release That Gets You Noticed

Get Attention PRPR is important, but it’s even more important that it’s done correctly. When your press release doesn’t include these five key elements you won’t get that key editor to take notice of your company, and your public relations’ efforts will fail. The next time you’re called on to produce a press release, keep these five things in mind.

 

Is There Industry Interest?

Like it or not, a press release needs to interest an editor in the first paragraph or it won’t make the cut. It’s the same advice given to job applicants about their resume attracting the attention of time-crunched human resources managers.

Editors often see 50 or more press releases each day. That means you have only a couple of minutes to make an impression and pique their interest in your story. And your story needs to be important and of interest to your industry – it can’t be simply a marketing message or company celebration. (You may want to read my prior post about what makes an editor take notice of your story.)

How Strong Is Your Headline & Lede?

Every good press release starts with a strong headline. In many cases there is also a subhead that provides a bit more information. These two key items are followed by a compelling opening lead paragraph. That means clear, concise language without errors – and a message that gets right to the point.

For instance, if your company is launching a new product – with a breakthrough technology that has significant performance advantages over other competing technologies – the editors should know that by the time they have read the first sentence of your press release. It’s even better if they know this from just reading the headline and subheading.

Yes, it does seem elementary, but you’d be surprised how many press releases “bury the lede” – the main reason for the story. Instead of getting right to the point, they begin with a rose-colored recap of the 20 years of innovation at the company, followed by a pointless quote from the CEO about how proud they are of their storied history.

Editors won’t spend time searching for a story in your press release. Spending time on what amounts to fluff from the beginning is a sure-fire way to prevent an editor from learning about your big news.

 

Good Writing Counts

If your press release gets straight to the point, that’s a good first step. But you need to make sure the release itself is well written and devoid of grammatical and spelling errors. Like it or not, the people you are presenting your story to write and edit similar content every day. Most have very high standards when it comes to the written word, so be sure you don’t distract them from your story with poor writing and typos.

While you might make the first cut by putting the important stuff first, your news still needs to compete with other press releases to make the final cut. Make sure the writing throughout is clear, factual and devoid of careless little mistakes. Details matter to editors. They want to know when they call to request an interview that details matter to you, as well. Industry editors want to know you will get them the information they need for their story.

 

Help the Editor Serve Their Readership

To interest an editor in your story, it’s vital you understand what good editors consider the most important part of their job – serving their readers. In the trade publishing world, good editors are keenly attuned to their readers.

Editors know exactly who their readers are and what their jobs are. They talk to readers regularly to get feedback and to better understand their business challenges. Using this information, editors select which stories to cover based on how interested their readers will be in the topic, and whether it affects them in ways that may have an impact on their job or business.

As an editor for more than 20 years, I’ve often fielded calls from companies who have sent me a press release and acted like it was my job to serve them. The implication was that the best way for me to do that would be to publish whatever information they happen to send me. While it is true you can find so-called news outlets out there who will publish anything (often for a price), the best coverage you can get for your company’s news is in the pages of publications that people in your industry read regularly. Trade publication information is presented clearly, objectively and is of real importance to the industry.

 

Getting the Editorial Green Light

Trade and industry publications and their editors should be your prize. Peppering their inboxes with trivial press releases or poorly-written press releases that don’t get to the point quickly almost always ensures they will eventually treat all your press releases like email spam. Delete!

However, if you consistently provide industry editors with good, solid press releases that are well-written – even if only a few times each year – you will gain their trust and significantly increase your chances of getting regular coverage for your company.

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Posted by on Apr 18, 2016 in Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

Why Editors Don’t Read Your Press Releases

Press Releases

Press Releases

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – trade and business publication editors aren’t reading your press releases.

Yes, I know you spend good money to get your press releases published in the trade press in your industry, so this may come as a shock. But let’s be clear, while they aren’t reading your press release, they still read plenty of others that land in their email inbox each day. Some of those press releases even get editors assigned to do a more in-depth story.

So how come editors aren’t reading your press releases, but they are giving time to your competition’s information?

Well, it’s probably because you wasted the editors’ time in the past – likely on more than one occasion – and as a result they have come to expect nothing of value in PR from your company.

But how do you make sure that you’re not wasting their time? Ask yourself if your press release contains solid news.

 

The No-News Press Release

The biggest mistake companies make with distribution of press releases is failing to differentiate between what is a marketing message and what is news. Press releases should contain solid news and never be a substitute for marketing.

I’ve been a B2B editor for more than 20 years and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a press release, started to read it, and then deleted it 15 seconds later – all the while thinking “they should just buy an ad.”

What type of press release elicits the ‘delete’ response?

Well, it’s usually the ones that describe an existing product’s features and goes on to describe how their product is better than their competitor’s similar product. Is that something your company should be proud of? Certainly. Is it news? Is it something a thick-skinned editor who sees 50 press releases a day is likely to send along to a reporter to dig into? No, absolutely not.

 

Company Celebrations Are Not News

Another example of information that is not a good fit for a press release is any company celebration. If it sounds like you are patting yourself on the back, it’s not what an editor wants to cover in their trade publication.

This includes events like celebrating your 5th anniversary in business or a ribbon-cutting ceremony on a newly-expanded warehouse. Yes, I know you bought cake and brought in employees from satellite offices. So go ahead and share that cake with your employees and celebrate. But don’t expect editors to care. They don’t.

And they don’t care for one very simple reason – these events don’t have an impact on the industry as a whole. They don’t change the competitive balance, they don’t bring a new class of product or service to the market that fills an existing void, they don’t represent moving into new geographic market, etc. In short, they are not the kind of information that might cause a reader to consider changing with whom or how they do business, or the way they do their job.

 

The Information Editors Do Want

Editors want information that is important to their readers. It has to matter to the industry. News should be game-changing – filling market gaps, introducing disruptive technologies and giving the industry a reason to question how they do business, or who they might want to do business with in the future.

If you have questions about your press releases, give Brandwidth Solutions a call. We’d be happy to help you sort out your PR.

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