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.
One of the top questions clients ask us about digital marketing campaigns is how to turn leads into sales.
But what they really want is to understand how to knit together all of their marketing & digital tools and resources – the CRM, website, email marketing, social media accounts, PR, events, tradeshows and other marketing efforts – in order to maximize lead conversion. How do you make it all work?
Digital marketing – also referred to as eMarketing and online marketing – is typically campaign-driven. Effective e-campaign development includes clearly defining your target niche, your messaging, the content and its delivery.
Developing an e-campaign that nurtures a lead and initiates or continues the conversation with the prospect is part art and part science. Here are 4 Tips for an Effective Digital Marketing Campaign:
- Exhibiting at an Event? Get an Early Start
Brands spend a great deal of money exhibiting and attending shows, and efforts should focus on beginning the conversation long before the show or conference begins. Why? Because lead nurturing works best when it starts pre-show.
At many shows, exhibitors can purchase a list of registered attendees before the show. Too often, these are overlooked – or resources aren’t available to mine the lists. But they are a gold mine for digital campaigns.
Use the pre-show period to establish brand awareness and thought leadership. With eMarketing and automation platforms, these potential leads can be nurtured early, providing valuable data to the sales team tasked with touching these leads.
- Develop a Pipeline of Customer-Driven Content
Content makes the world – or, at least the internet – go round. The best sales content, of course, is something the prospect not only wants to read, but urgently needs to read. It grabs their attention and moves them further along the sales process.
The content chosen for an eMarketing campaign can vary widely. Its selection can depend on the channels being used (e.g., email marketing, print or digital advertising, social media) and the types of content favored by the target audience (e.g., video, case studies or white papers, newsletters, long-form).
The content pipeline should be as deep, rich and varied as possible. Too many campaigns fail when the have a limited amount of content to share or use the wrong type of content for the audience (e.g., a podcast instead of a video, or a newsletter instead of a case study).
- Feed & Track the Lead
Once upon a time, tracking a lead through the sales process – especially a B2B lead – was a hit or miss proposition. With CRMs such as Salesforce, Hubspot and others, those days are largely over. Marketing and sales teams can easily identify what people are clicking on and downloading, what they are reading, where they are spending their time, and how they are progressing through the sales funnel
With some client campaigns, we employ cloned landing pages or UTMs. These feature (or link to) the same content, but each boasts a unique web address used in a specific ad – print or digital – in order to track the effectiveness of ad buys, content, sources and more.
In digital advertising, social media and email marketing campaigns, it is important to make full use of tagged links (UTMs) to track where a lead arrived from, where they’re going, and what they’re doing.
- Analyze Results – and Act on Them
With today’s automation, not only will you be able to track the lead’s progress through your sales funnel, but you can also understand exactly what it is about your brand that has caught their interest – whether a brochure, case study, landing page, video testimonial or some other piece of content relevant to them.
More data lets you tweak the digital campaign to improve outcomes. And – just as important – it allows you to track ROI and determine the value of sales and marketing resources.
A well-thought-out digital marketing campaign coupled with a sales automation platform is one of the most effective tools for improving qualified B2B lead gen efforts.
Want to learn more about developing winning digital marketing campaigns? Contact Brandwidth Solutions today.
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.
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:
- You haven’t finished your marketing message; and
- 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.
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. 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. 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.
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:
- Why Editors Don’t Read Your Press Releases
- 4 Key Essentials of a Press Release That Gets You Noticed
- 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.
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:
- 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.
This year’s AACC Meeting July 31st to August 4th in Philadelphia was by all accounts a great success.
The AACC does an excellent job in bringing together leaders from laboratories, manufacturers, regulatory bodies, and academia, not just to impart their knowledge, but also to develop relationships and gain well-rounded perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the diagnostics industry. Headliners this year included CEO Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos who introduced to a standing-room-only crowd preliminary validation data for MiniLab, a cartridge‐based testing system. (Have you seen the Vanity Fair article on the post-presentation takeaways of Dr. Stephen Master, co-moderator of the AACC presentation with Ms. Holmes? It’s worth a read here)
Brandwidth Solutions was a proud AACC exhibitor this year, sharing booth space together with Kaon Interactive, to discuss how holistic brand communications– along with interactive sales applications– can simplify complex technologies in powerful ways.
As a strategic communications services provider to the diagnostics community, the Brandwidth Solutions team had many, many visitors at the booth who wanted to discuss how the marketing strategies and solutions that we’ve developed over the years delivered results. We were happy to share the ways we have broken down internal and external barriers and helped our clients implement better ways to globally communicate across all forms of media.
As we heard at AACC, reducing testing costs while ensuring better patient outcomes are universal challenges for those marketing diagnostic tests— no matter the type of instrument nor type of test. Laboratorians and administrators what to know how these testing solutions deliver on their pressing operational and clinical challenges in a simple, engaging, and informative way.
With that, now more than ever, it’s essential to work with a strategic partner who can help you get the most from your communications investment with high-impact campaigns that deliver real results.
We hope to see you in San Diego for AACC 2016. If you’d like to talk sooner, please let me know!