Posted by on Mar 26, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Tradeshows, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Marketing in Uncertain Times: Should You Do It?

For Ideas from Brandwidth Solutions on marketing during coronavirus or a crisis, read on.

by Deb Harrsch

The coronavirus COVID-19 has thrown all of us off course seemingly overnight. Every marketing department has been stuck in crisis mode for almost a month now (depending on your industry and global location). We’ve had trade shows cancelled or postponed until Q3. We’ve had marketing campaigns planned and ready to execute which no longer make sense. Fear, confusion, and paralysis about what to do next is the order of the day in our remote offices.

That was okay – initially. We all need to adjust to new realities.

Now, however, it’s time to ask: “How am I going to make up for the leads I’m not going to get at the trade show?”

A lot of audiences, especially in the pharma and the healthcare world, don’t want you in their offices. Many have sent their employees home. In healthcare settings, they don’t want you coming into their offices for sales calls. In the B2B space, we miss out when we don’t have the face-to-face meeting.

Right now, the marketing field is level. Your competitors are dealing with the exact same situation. They are also not able to walk into hospitals or pharma companies for sales calls either. You’re all in the same boat. It’s not like your competitor can get a leg up on you because they’re not travelling either.

Don’t be afraid.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen the following quote from JFK a lot – on social media, in articles and newsletters:

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

It’s a great quote and perfect for the times in which we find ourselves now. This is when you need to move from the scary part of the crisis to the opportunity side of the crisis. Your marketing department needs to reframe this crisis as an opportunity.

Marketing During a Crisis: Shifting Mindsets

We need to shift our mindset from panic to opportunity. Doing something differently always feels dangerous somehow – even if it’s not.

The first step is to take a deep breath, step back, and survey your marketing landscape. You need to assess what you had scheduled in your marketing plan. I know you already started implementing it in January – before you knew about this crisis – and before you knew all your trade shows were going to be cancelled.

But, guess what? Your competitors are also stepping back and figuring out a way around the hand we’ve been dealt. Your job is to do it sooner and spend less time in crisis mode.

You aren’t alone, though. You can work with your agency to figure it all out. It’s time to prioritize what you’ve got to deal with immediately and what still works from your plan. Then you need to make a new plan for the rest of the year. That’s when you can go to your boss with a solid plan.

Part of that “taking a step back and taking a breath” is shifting your marketing mindset from crisis reaction to opportunity. This is where you can show-off your marketing skills and try new tools and tactics. Doing something new is fun and exciting – and can potentially pay big dividends.

What to do first? Asset Audits and Internal Relationships

First up is an asset audit. What marketing tools do you have? What content assets do you have? Part of that asset audit needs to be conversations with your new best friends – your sales team. Who better to tell you what your prospects need than the folks who talk to them all the time?

Now that those trade shows and onsite meetings are cancelled for the next few months, your sales team has some idle time on their hands. Yes, they’ll be making phone calls instead, but they will have time to talk to you.

So talk with your sales team. They may be able to tell you what you’re missing in your marketing toolbox, what literature they need, what case studies they need, what white papers they’re looking for, and what application notes they need. They can tell you all of that.

The other key activity your sales team has time for now is the CRM (customer relationship management) system.

Yup, it’s time to update the big scary CRM! But, you need to frame the need properly with sales. Don’t just say, “Oh, you haven’t updated the CRM in the last few months.”

You’ve got to explain why. Say: “Because we are now in a position where we can’t meet our customers at trade shows, we need our CRM to be complete. We need to know what people are interested in and the last time you talked to them. Please use this time so we can leverage it from a marketing perspective to help you.” Let them know that their efforts in updating the CRM can help you build lead generation and nurturing campaigns to both your customers and your prospects.

This is a golden opportunity to forge new relationships and solid partnerships between sales and marketing departments (for more on why they should be best friends, check out this post).

Questions to Develop a New Marketing Plan

Since the marketing plan you developed and budgeted for last year isn’t 100% viable any longer, you need to ask yourself some questions. The key question is: “How am I going to help my sales team – who can’t get on a plane – reach their audience?”

The next question is: “What tools do I have that I can use to make up those leads?” This is a time that gives you an opportunity to assess new tools to add to your marketing toolbox.

You also need to look at whether you can find your sales team tools to help them communicate, such as conferencing methods or virtual meetings. We have clients who hold user group meetings. If they can’t switch the date, and it can’t be held live – we need to look at switching over to a virtual model and stream it.

As you figure out how you’re going to make up those leads and what tools you’re going to use, you’re likely going to find that you’ll need more collateral. You’re going to need more assets to share and you’re going to need more conversation.

Now, how are you going to fund tool and collateral development? That might, for once, actually be the easiest part.

Repurposing Your Marketing Budget

Are you asking how you’re going to fund the changes in your marketing tactics? Well, there’s one spot where you’ve got quite a lot of marketing dollars that aren’t going to be used – trade shows, travel, and the related activities.

If your trade shows have been cancelled, there are a couple of areas where you can find budget. For instance, if you hadn’t finished paying for the trade show, there’s some money there. Then there is the travel, the promotion, the ads and you had email marketing scheduled, PR – all of that is now “found budget” you can repurpose to fund your new marketing tactics.

So repurpose those funds, use those blasts for a different campaign, and have dialogues with publications on how you can reach their audiences.

What Can You Do Differently?

If you’re not used to being able to think outside the box, here are a few tactics you can use.

  • B2B Social Media: You’re going to have to rely on social media to keep conversations going, but you’re going to need assets to do it. So all of those collateral pieces your sales team told you about in your asset audit? The case studies, white papers, application notes, and literature – you’ll need to start creating all of that in order to use it for social media, email, and advertising.
  • Digital and Print Advertising with Downloads: It’s not advertising as usual anymore. Whenever you run an ad, whether it’s print or digital, make sure you’ve got an engaging landing page – and make sure the prospect can download something valuable to their buying journey.
  • Comprehensive Email Marketing: Start building your own list. Don’t just rely on list rentals. Then build email campaigns using your new assets. After webinars (see below), follow-up with lead nurturing campaigns. And when trade shows come back (and they will), use your email list to promote, follow-up, and nurture.
  • Webinars: Use webinars more. Or start using webinars. It’s basically a trade show in a box!

But, when you’re doing a webinar, make sure it’s not a hard sales pitch with only your company doing the talking. We’ve found the most successful way of running a webinar is for the host company to speak for a very short time, with one of their customers doing the bulk of the presentation. You will always have more interest and registrations if your webinar shows people what your company can do from a customer’s point of view.

And Finally, a Note of Encouragement

We can’t forget that we are in a global crisis and we need to be sensitive to what our customers and prospects are dealing with, but this is a perfect opportunity to develop your sales and marketing organizations. At the end of this – as hard as this is – you are going to have a stronger marketing department.

And remember, during the Great Depression, the companies that marketed through it were stronger on the other end. Now, we’re not in a depression (at least not yet), but globally – just like the Great Depression – we are all in it together.

Don’t back away. Don’t be frightened of it, and don’t let anybody keep you stuck in crisis mode. There are some things you’re going to have to do that are pretty critical now, but take a breath and make a plan.

Don’t let the coronavirus quarantine your marketing efforts. Whether you need help assessing how the coronavirus could impact your upcoming marketing campaigns or guidance on what opportunities your marketing department can take advantage of, let’s connect and talk about how we can help.

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, energy, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

Read More

Posted by on Mar 10, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why White Papers Are Important and How to Use them

Why White Papers Are Important and How to Use them - From Brandwidth Solutions

by Deb Harrsch

“I want to put out a white paper, but I don’t have anything to talk about.”

Believe it or not, that is a real statement – and I’ve heard it from more than one client over the course of the past fifteen years.

I am always amazed when clients tell me they have nothing to talk about. Of course, you do!

I usually say, “Have you ever done a poster at a trade show?” The response is inevitably, “Well, yeah.”

Guess what? We can use that as the basis for a white paper!

What is a White Paper?

Let’s take a quick step back for a second and start with what is a white paper? Why are they important?

A white paper tends to be a focused, technical document which delivers information around a complex topic, and provides a company’s solution or viewpoint. It’s designed to help readers understand the topic and potential resolutions.

It’s not typically an overly-formal document, but it’s not casual like a blog, either. It usually delivers information around a process, a product, or an application. A white paper could also be based on an application note or a poster you presented at a conference.

But, it doesn’t necessarily have to be about a product or a service. Sometimes white papers are about big, broad topics and cover an industry like digital transformation, pharma 4.0 or AI. An example might be a white paper on AI and how it’s impacting markets.

Why Are White Papers Important?

This section is arguably the most important part of this blog post. This is why you want to use white papers in your marketing. They:

  • Educate not only your prospects, but also your sales team and the media
  • Provide decision-makers with relevant information when considering purchases
  • Produce qualified leads
  • Develop your reputation as a thought leader

And isn’t this what you really want from your marketing efforts?

White papers allow you to talk to your prospects about topics which are important to them. They explain your intellectual property via technical, process-driven content. While we obviously don’t give away your trade secrets, we do dive deep into your subject matter, demonstrating the processes you use to solve key issues for your customers.

Eccolo Media’s 2014 B2B Technology Content Survey reports that “white papers rank as the most frequently consumed content type (49%) when decision-makers consider a technology purchase.” With that many decision-makers consuming your whitepapers, it’s clear that they are an excellent lead gen tool for your marketing efforts.

While you shouldn’t “gate” or require a registration for your case studies or other literature or marketing collateral, your white papers are another story. Because the level of information and detail is more comprehensive, you can – and should – have a ‘register to download’ form gating your white papers. This gives your sales team an ongoing stream of qualified leads.

How Do You Structure a White Paper?

White papers are at least two to three pages in length – and more typically around four pages – or approximately 2,000 words. I always say that a white paper should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words. You don’t want to make them more than that, because people aren’t going to have time to read it. If you do have more information than comfortably fits into this format, you may want to consider breaking it up into several white papers focused on narrower sub-topics.

Great! So now we know how long a white paper should be – but how should you structure it?

When you think of putting together a white paper, especially a technical white paper, it will be focused in much the same way as you would approach a poster. Our typical formula for creating a white paper starts with a short abstract, which is essentially a lead into the conversation. We move on to providing information on all the elements that our client brought together to achieve the product or the service they developed. We then describe the process which created the product or solution and wrap-up with the results.

It’s very technical, and ultimately reads like a thought leadership piece.

An interesting way of adding support for the info in the white paper is to include one or more abbreviated case studies. This provides not only reinforcement of the topic and shows how your customers are using your product, but this tactic also provides a good entrance for those who are hesitating to register for the white paper.

How to Use a White Paper in Your Marketing

While people won’t give up their email and register for a case study, they are more likely to do so for a white paper, because it contains technical expertise. As I discussed earlier, white papers are a great download deliverable for lead generation. You can also use your white paper as a deliverable for gated content on third-party sites.

You should be using your white paper in your advertising as well. Whether you’re doing print or digital ads – be sure to develop a great landing page that finishes the marketing message from your ads. Once you’ve created the infrastructure, you can use the white paper in any ad you do – from trade journals to Google display ads. This gives the audience an opportunity to learn about a topic from you.

Caution! The topic of the white paper you use in advertising must match the ad or it won’t work. You can’t do a white paper on topic A and run an ad about topic Z.

By using a white paper in your advertising, you put your company in a thought leadership role. We’ve seen many situations where a prospect was not familiar with a particular company, but through advertising and white paper exposure chose to go with that company because they had discussed the topic before.

Other ways to use your white paper in your integrated marketing efforts include:

  • Social media – Because your prospects and customers are likely following you on your social channels, you should promote your white papers on your social channels along with a link to the landing page.
  • Blogs – You can re-purpose some of the white paper content into a blog post, which also pushes to the landing page where visitors can download the full white paper.
  • Press Releases – If you’re doing a press release about a certain topic and your white paper addresses that topic, you can include it as a possible download in a press release.
  • Trade Show Follow-up – You do send out mails after a trade show is over, right? In a simple “thank you for stopping by our booth” email, you can include a link to the download form for the white paper.
  • Email Newsletters – In your e-newsletters you have another opportunity to provide your customers and prospects with a link to your white paper.
  • Lead Nurturing and eMarketing Campaigns – White papers are a perfect tool to use when nurturing leads. Whether it’s a lead you met through a show, social media, or a sales call, sending a white paper as part of an ongoing lead nurturing program delivers key information to prospects when you aren’t there.

When you think about it, one single white paper can provide an ongoing abundance of qualified leads for your sales team. Every download delivers a solid reference point. “This person downloaded my white paper, so they are really interested in learning more about this particular process or thought leadership piece.” It gives your team a warm lead to follow.

Are you ready to put white papers to work? Call us today and get started.

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, energy, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

Read More