Posted by on Sep 14, 2016 in Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why You Shouldn’t Talk About Your Product or Service

Are you always talking about your product or service in your marketing materials and PR? You do have a great product (or service) and of course, you need to market it. In fact, we just wrote about how to get an editor’s attention in these two posts, here and here, to improve the usefulness of your press releases.

That being said, I must point out that you may not be the best person to be speaking to your product or service.

 

Should You or Your Customer Speak?

The short answer? Your customer, whenever possible.

The press really has heard it all before. But nothing gets an editor’s attention faster than the ability to speak to an actual customer using that great new product of yours. Your customers can make the press understand the value of your product better than you can.

Customers provide perspective for editors. They show:

  • Who buys your products or services
  • How well your product performed compared to your competitors
  • The current and future applications for the product
  • The value it has given them

Keep in mind that it isn’t just editors that find a customer testimonial about a new product valuable.

One of the true strengths of a customer’s story is in the value it gives your prospective customers.

When you release a new product and you also provide a success story of how a customer has used the same product, that customer has just validated everything you’ve said in your marketing materials about the product. These stories provide your prospects a way to appreciate how that product is used in the lab. They present a way for potential new customers to understand how the product will work in their own labs.

 

A BWS Customer Story

A great example of a company that does this well is Bruker Daltonics. Each year at ASMS they hold a press event to speak about their products and how they work. And each year, they have their customers speak to how their products work.

This gives the press the chance to ask questions and understand how these new products work in an actual lab environment. Bruker’s customers are right there, and can talk about how the product fits into their research or lab. They can also provide the press with a perspective on where they see the future of the technology. (If you happen to be a publically-traded company, this is important because the information reaches investors who also attend the press events.)

These press events go well beyond the print journals you might be envisioning. Most publications have moved into digital channels in addition to print – or they may be web only. The flexibility of channels means that your information may reach further than you imagine, as publications can now provide video as well as editor’s content and press release coverage.

For instance, Select Science, a digital-only publication, covered the Bruker press event and found Bruker’s new timsTOF™ of particular interest all because of the fact that they had a customer on-site talking about how it works, what they see as they value of the equipment and where they see using it in the future.

So while Select Science covered the press event and published the press release, they also had an editor interview Bruker’s customer which they published as an online video. See the video here.

What was the overall value of a customer story to the company? The leads it generated.

Once the video was published on the Select Science website, it was viewed 176 times, with 28 click-throughs and 17 leads between the show in June and August.

The real trick is developing your relationship with industry editors so that when their reporters are writing about topics, they immediately think about your company (your brand), and your product or service.

If you’re wondering how to develop those relationships, give us a call. We’re happy to point you in the right direction.

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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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Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How Important Are Case Studies?

Do you read reviews before heading out to a new restaurant? Or how about the last time you bought a TV or computer – did you hit up Amazon or CNET to check out what others had to say about the product you were considering? If they were positive, you came to believe the experience with that restaurant or product would be positive for you too. Those reviews are mini case studies.

Case studies are an integral part of your marketing collateral. They are a great way to showcase your company’s products and/or services without simply listing what you do. They also provide support by demonstrating a proven track record.

How Do Case Studies Work?

Case studies work in an indirect fashion to sell your services by:

  • Telling stories
  • Focusing on customer issues
  • Illustrating successful solutions

 

Storytelling

Our brains remember things better when they are engaged. Stories that illustrate problems and successful solutions are more memorable because they engage the reader in an emotional way. For scientific evidence on this you might want to venture over here.

Using a storytelling format for case studies is a good way to change the way you explain your products and services. Think of it this way, a story that relates to your personal situation is far easier to remember than a bulleted shopping list.

Tip: Don’t forget storytelling is an important part of your social media as well. You might want to “share” some case studies on your social media platforms.

 

Customer Issues Solved!

Don’t take our word for it, though! Case studies are about you—but only indirectly. They are built from the perspective of your clients—what their problems were and how those problems were solved by your company. Yes, they explain your products and/or services, but they are more about your clients.

Brandwidth Solutions has found that prospective clients react very well to case studies, because they have typically encountered similar obstacles. Case studies help prospects see similarities to themselves, and how they can get similar positive results.

 

Successful Solutions

Sure, you can talk until you are blue in the face about how great your product or service is, but isn’t reality more persuasive than just talk? Case studies show prospects how your product/service can be implemented, and how success was achieved. Real results are much more powerful than abstract theories. Demonstrating success helps your credibility.

Case Studies also illustrate problem-solving skills. It’s all in the math:

Problem X + Solution Y = Success

How can you argue with that?

 

The bottom line is case studies are an inexpensive, but highly powerful way to:

  • Communicate what your company does
  • Show why a prospect should invest in your product/service
  • Demonstrate how you have achieved success for other clients

Wondering how to write a successful case study, here is some more information to help you out.

We’re curious, how have case studies helped your sales?


 

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Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Marketing Budget Season Has Arrived!

Business Hand Clicking Budget Button On Touch ScreenIt’s that time of year when every marketing manager has to look into their crystal ball and determine what the marketing communications spend will be for the next year. It can be a very daunting task to try to figure out how you will spend your precious marketing dollars – and also show your boss how this year’s spend produced quantifiable results!

How to Define Your Marketing Budget

You need to start with the Assessment. My first suggestion is to take a very deep breath and review what you did during this last year. Dig into what marketing tools and channels worked and find out what could have worked better. This yearly marketing assessment process will lead you to discover the even more important answers to what did our company not do that we should have?” to produce better results

Here are a few marketing assessment questions to get you started:

Assess

  • What was last year’s budget and where did we spend it?
  • What were the core and key components to last year’s spend?
      • How did we measure them?
      • Did we course-correct when our measurements showed steps weren’t as productive as we wanted?
      • How would we have done things differently?
  • What works best?
      • How will we know
  • What tools did we use in the MarCom Elements Wheel?
  • Where is our audience going for their information?
  • Are we moving with them?
  • Can we show direct lead to sales, and what were the sales amounts?

It’s only after you’ve assessed the performance of your marketing success throughout the past year that you can truly create a realistic marketing budget for the next year.

What You Need to Develop Next Year’s Marketing Budget

To develop the overall plan for next year, you’ll need to start thinking about the big things such as the channels you need to use. After that, you’ll need to look at company planned events, refine your channels and fill in the details. One of the key ingredients to any MarCom budget is showing what worked based on your measurements matrices’. These measurements enable you to prove what worked, what didn’t and how you will adjust your spend.

Here are some questions to think about as you develop your budget:

  • What elements do we think we will need? Choose from broad stroke categories like:
      • Website updates or development
      • Public Relations
      • Conferences
      • Collateral
      • Social Media
      • Advertising
      • eMarketing
  • What are our objectives and matrix for measurement for each component?
  • What is the cost per element?
  • Can we course-correct if needed?
  • Are there any big product/service introductions for next year? What is the launch budget?
  • What MarCom elements will we use for this launch and what is the cost per element?
  • How will we measure success?

Marketing Is Constantly Changing

We all know that marketing is changing, and you need to determine how you’ll handle it going forward. That’s why doing the assessment is so important. You’ll also need to remember that social media will likely play a big role in your plans because that is one way people learn about products/services. Social Media doesn’t preclude using the other elements at all. It’s those other elements that help feed your social media.

The best part of developing next year’s budget is you get to find out what worked and what didn’t. Once you have that 20/20 look-back, you can plan for the future. It also enables you to show that – while marketing is considered an expense category for accounting – you can drive leads that sales people use to close business. With the right tracking tools you may even be able to show actual sales based on leads you brought in.

What is your biggest challenge in creating your marketing budget?

For over two decades Debra Harrsch has been providing marketing expertise to Fortune 500 and other companies and contributing to brand recognition and profit growth, even in a declining economy. Serving in executive, directorship, and consulting positions in healthcare, life science, biotech, energy, and chemical industries, Debra has structured research, marketing and PR plans, and online and print media advertising campaigns.

As CEO of Brandwidth Solutions, LLC, Debra provides marketing and brand management expertise to domestic and international companies, often driving paradigm shifts that contribute to significant and unanticipated growth.


 

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