Posted by on May 1, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When to Use a Case Study in Your Marketing

Brandwidth Solutions: When to Use a Case Study in Your Marketing

by Deb Harrsch

Have you ever met anyone who said case studies don’t work? I sure haven’t.

Using case studies in your marketing is a no-brainer. In fact, we previously explored how important case studies are and how they work.

But, the question is: When should you use them in your marketing?

If you’re creating case studies, publishing them on your website, and then calling it a day, then you’re not getting maximum value from your work.

A Quick Case Study Refresh

Case studies are deceptively simple, and they get right to the point. They enable you to do a bit of storytelling (which is a great marketing tool) and focus on a specific challenge, solution, and result. They are also fairly short – typically around 1,000 words.

The biggest challenge for the marketing department when creating case studies is being able to name the customer. Every B2B industry experiences this issue, so if you’re thinking, “Well, I can’t do any case studies because I’m not allowed to talk about my customers,” you’d be wrong.

It’s okay if you can’t name your client. It’s okay to create a case study with a story and not a name. If your company isn’t allowed to talk about a customer project in detail, think about what you can say. It’s possible there is enough of a story to tell about a challenge and solution, even if you eliminate all of the identifying features.

There are several creative ways you can protect your client’s confidentiality, while also demonstrating your accomplishments. If you can name the who, great! If you can’t name the customer, well that’s okay, too.

What Prospects Want to Know

Case studies are an opportunity for you to show customers that you know who they are, what some of their challenges are, and how you help solve those challenges.

How? Think about it from their perspective.

Your prospect really wants to understand your product or service and how you work with customers. A case study gives them a perfect example from beginning to end: “Here is where we started, this was our solution, and here are the results our customer experienced.” Whether you cut time out of a process, you did it better than they were able to previously, or you were able to deliver some other benefit, you’ve now got results no one else could get. Case studies are great stories that demonstrate how efficient and innovative you are when you’re working with your customers.

When to Use Case Studies

Right, so you’ve created your case study and you’ve published it on your website. Now what? I’ve already told you that isn’t the only way to use them – but it is a valuable use.

What do you think are the most downloaded items on your website – white papers or case studies?

It’s actually the case studies. You see, they aren’t something your prospect needs to register for, so that’s what they’ll download when researching your company. The case study gives them key information and gets them thinking, “Gee, this company has tackled problems similar to what I’m experiencing and they’ve come up with elegant solutions and had great results. I should talk with them.”

But, to truly get full value from your case studies, you’ll also want to use them for your:

  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Print collateral at trade shows
  • Social media content
  • White paper supporting evidence
  • Video stories

Curious about case studies we’ve done for clients and how we’ve used them? Give us a call and let’s talk!

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.

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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 Nov 6, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

How to Improve Your Ad ROI with Landing Pages

by Deb Harrsch

Do you remember when every ad pointed to a company’s home page on their website? It wasn’t all that long ago either – especially for B2B companies in the life sciences and software industries.

Did you ever experience that? When you clicked on a web address listed in an ad and landed on a home page, did you feel lost and left wondering what on earth you were supposed to do next?

That particular use of an ad spend always frustrated me and left me asking customers, “What do you want visitors to do?” The response I used to receive was typically, “What do you mean, what do I want them to do?”

Yikes!

If you expect to show an ROI for your ad spend, you’ve got to do more than drop an interested visitor on a random web page with no instructions.

What you’ve got to do is ‘marry’ the ad to a landing page. That landing page needs to:

  • Look the same as the ad your potential customers viewed
  • Finish your marketing message from your ad
  • Tell the visitor what they should do next

It’s only by helping your visitor finish their journey that you’ll produce a measurable ROI from your ad spend.

What is a Landing Page?

Let’s begin with some basics. A landing page is a web page built specifically for an ad campaign. It is the spot on your website where someone lands (hence “landing” page) after they have clicked on the link in your ad. It has one goal – to deliver the call-to-action (CTA) of your ad campaign.

Whether your ad is a print ad, Google display ad, a digital ad from a trade publication or a LinkedIn ad, in every single case it will drive to a specific landing page to finish your marketing message and deliver your CTA.

The call-to-action is almost always a form for potential customers to download an asset that will provide them with information they need. Assets include white papers and/or case studies – these are the deliverables for any kind of advertising campaign. The trick is this: you cannot ask people to register for a case study, it would be like asking people to register for a brochure. The best practice is to provide both. Remember, at the end of the day it is about lead generation.

Every single ad should drive to a landing page. In this time of COVID marketing, the landing page has become so much more important than ever before.

There is no option, you’ve got to use them.

Why You Need a Landing Page

Your print or digital ads can’t just drop a prospect onto your website home page – or even a product page. If they do, your prospect will be lost. They won’t know what they are supposed to do next and you won’t capture their information. Your lead generation opportunity will be lost – and also the ROI on your ad spend.

A landing page does the heavy lifting in guiding ad prospects through the journey from your ad to your lead generation tool to your website and its content. It does three things for you remarkably well:

  • One, it finishes your marketing message
  • Two, it guides your customer and prospect on their journey
  • And three, it’s rich in SEO

Here’s what I mean: the prospect clicks on the link in your digital ad or types in a vanity URL and travels to your landing page. The copy on your landing page finishes your message to the prospect and tells them what to do next (e.g. fill out the download form for your white paper). They’ll receive the white paper, and you’ll receive their contact information for follow-up. They’ll then follow the marketing path you set up within your website for them to explore.

In addition, search engines see every display ad or digital ad. And when they touch that ad, they follow the link that goes to your landing page. When search engines get to the landing page, they then follow the links on the landing page to the next step. For instance, if you’re sending them to a case study, it takes them there. If you’re taking them to a blog post, it takes them there. It’s a very rich source of organic SEO.

Where Do You Build a Landing Page?

There are two places where you can create your landing pages. One is inside your marketing automation platform. The other is inside your website.

The easiest – and most comprehensive way is through a marketing platform such as Marketo, Eloqua, HubSpot or SharpSpring. Some of our clients have marketing automation tools and we build landing pages in their specific platforms. But, we also have some clients that don’t have a marketing automation tool and we can use their website to help them meet their goals.

Most marketing automation platforms interface with your CRM systems and can track exactly who submits their information on the landing page’s download form. This gives you the ability to log and follow all these interested parties and allows your sales team to follow-up with the people who downloaded your content. You can also use this data to create an email marketing campaign which offers another related piece of content or even create an ongoing drip campaign. In addition, you can see real-time how your ad is doing without waiting for the publication to let you know weeks after the ad ran.

Many companies don’t have a marketing automation platform. While we do recommend one – and there are many reasonably priced ones available now – if a customer does not have one and doesn’t wish to use one, the default is to build the landing page on their website. If your website is developed using a content management system, like WordPress, this is a good substitute and it worked well for one of our clients.

One of our pharma clients didn’t have an automation platform, but did have a WordPress website. We were running an extensive ad campaign for them and needed a landing page. Our goal was to take prospects on a journey and focus the marketing message while ensuring we captured valuable leads. Because their website was WordPress, we had the flexibility to build the landing page right inside their site. The WordPress content management platform allowed us to create and publish a page that was only available to visitors through a unique URL or by clicking on a link in a digital ad.

There is one challenge to building landing pages within a website. It’s more difficult to create what we call ‘clones.’ Essentially, we create one landing page for the ad campaign and make copies of that page – each with a unique URL. Each cloned page with its unique address is assigned to individual ads. While this is more easily managed in a marketing automation platform, it still helps your website’s SEO and finishes your marketing message. It’s also a way to keep costs down.

3 Reasons Why You Need a Separate Landing Page for Each Ad

Why do you want to clone the same landing page? Doesn’t that get messy? Why would you want that many versions of the same page?

Well, no – it’s actually not messy and the reason behind why you want that many versions of the same page speaks to tracking and measurement. You do want to know exactly how each ad performs, don’t you?

I know that when I run ad campaigns for our clients, I want to know – and so do they!

Whether you’re placing print ads or digital ads, you should always create a landing with a specific URL for each ad placement. If you have the same ad in multiple places, but a different URL for each one, you’ll be able to tell which ad placement performed best.

This unique-URL-by-ad-placement approach also serves to measure any A/B testing of ads you do. Say you create two versions of an ad in your campaign and those two ads are placed in the same publication – but you use the same landing page for both. How do you know which performed better?

You won’t.

The only way to differentiate the A version from the B version’s performance is by using a different landing page.

Another reason you want to create specific landing pages is because publications can only tell you what your open rate was and that you received a certain number of click-throughs. (If you are running a gated white paper promotion, the publication will also provide you with a spreadsheet of names.)

Having individual landing pages is smart marketing and you get immediate monthly confirmation of what’s happening, what’s working, and what’s not working. By having your own landing pages, you receive far more data on your campaign, faster. With specific landing pages, you’ll be able to tell exactly who downloaded which asset from the landing page.

One of our clients is a software company with a product that helps labs dealing with COVID-19 research and testing. We placed several ads targeting different audiences. For our first one, we placed a digital publication ad which targeted researchers struggling to find good solutions to help them with the increases in COVID testing. The landing page had a custom URL specific to the ad placement and had 30 downloads. Another ad targeted professionals grappling with how to test their employees for COVID. This was also a digital publication ad with a different publication. This landing page also had a unique URL and had 22 downloads. That same client ran a promotion where the publication created and hosted a landing page for our client. That landing page produced 27 downloads. Having individual landing pages provides instantaneous data on our ads – and how each one is performing at any given time.

What Do You Need to Build an Ad Campaign that Delivers?

As I mentioned, in addition to targeted ad copy and proper ad placement, you’ll need landing pages and assets to deliver measurable ROI on your ad campaign.

But, what are some of the key things you need to do when you create your landing page?

  • Landing page content should be tailored to your ad placement.

You’ll want to be sure you customize the copy and download offering to match the audience of each ad. For example, don’t create copy on the landing page focused on what software needs a researcher wants if the landing page is linked to an ad targeting non-research people (such as an HR professional).

  • Match your download asset to the ad and make it exclusive!

The topic of your downloadable asset (like a white paper) should match what the landing page copy is talking about and offer exclusivity. For example, your download should be created from original content produced by your company that the prospect wouldn’t be able to get by going to your competitor. You can use your company’s mined data to create a white paper and prospects wouldn’t be able to get that information anywhere else.

  • Update your landing pages.

The beauty of landing pages is that they can be updated at any time. As your campaign progresses and you learn more about what works, you can update landing pages to reflect that learning.

Still have questions about landing pages and ads? Give us a call!

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.

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Posted by on Oct 2, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

10 Tips for Getting Results from Your Life Science Ad Spend

by Deb Harrsch

The year 2020 has introduced us to a whole new situation where the only way to generate leads is through digital media. Because of COVID, advertising has become even more important. In fact, I would say that social media and advertising are the two most important digital channels right now. And both of those are supported by useful and creative content on your website.

After all, where else are you going to get leads from?

That’s why advertising is important to have in multiple formats, from print and digital to publication websites and search engine marketing. Your prospects need to see you in multiple places. If they do, you can generate leads in several ways.

It’s important to put all of the ad puzzle pieces together in a way that makes sense. Your puzzle is your budget for producing leads. Your job is to figure out which pieces fit together to achieve the best results in the most cost-efficient way.

And all of the normal rules are out the window.

There are lots of moving pieces when it comes to developing advertising that delivers solid results. It starts with knowing your audience and developing your ad plan. Because it never hurts to have some useful tips to help you choose your puzzle pieces wisely, here are ten points you’ll want to dig into.

  1. Maximize your publication ad spend

Should you be in every publication your audience reads? Well, sure – if you have an unlimited budget. But, who does? I can’t say that I’ve met anyone with one!

The point here is that you need to choose publications wisely. You also need to understand the audience demographics for each publication – and match that with what you’re trying to deliver. For example, publication A has an audience of 13,000 readers. A solid audience number for sure. But, say publication B has a larger audience – and reaches the same 13,000 person audience as publication A. Which publication do you choose?

Well, if I have a limited budget, I’m not going to run my ad in both. Unless there is something spectacular happening in publication A, I’m going to choose publication B since it has a larger audience for the same market. With a limited budget, instead of spreading your budget across five publications, think about choosing the three which cover your audience best.

Another aspect of maximizing your ad spend is the value you receive. You can stretch your budget by negotiating with publications. For instance, if you run a print ad, you may be able to negotiate a free digital ad – or perhaps a free podcast sponsorship.

We work hard to negotiate with publications on behalf of our clients and publications really do try to help clients achieve their end goal. While our clients pay the publication directly for advertising, we try to make sure that they also get some free value-adds as well.  Many times, publications are able to discount an ad product or provide a free opportunity if we build an advertising package of products with them. While you can’t always make it happen, we try to deliver the value-add. A good place to start is with your ad rep.

  1. Put ads in the right places in publications

Once you’ve got your publication list nailed down, choosing where in those publications to place your ads becomes critical. It’s always optimal to have a mix of both digital and print ads. But, how can you get the most out of print ads?

Editorial calendars are the key.

While editorial content isn’t as important for digital ads, it is extremely important for a print ad. Think about it. If a print article focuses on something your company offers, isn’t that the very best place to insert an ad?

We only ever place print ads where the editorial reflects what our client does. For example, if a publication is running a piece on selecting API suppliers, we’ll run a print ad for one of our API manufacturing clients. We always try to get those ad insertions placed in the feature story itself.

We know that clients have limited budgets and you can’t always do a full-page ad buy. In those cases, our strategy is to do what are called half-page island ads. The reason we choose the half-page island ad is because there won’t be other ads on the page competing for a reader’s attention. The only copy on the page other than the ad is the article copy. You really can’t ask for a more targeted ad placement than that!

As I said, it is optimal to have both print and digital ads running. The best mix is when you place print ads in editorial content specific to your company and balance those with digital ad placements in multiple publications in that market segment. Of course, this strategy depends on the publications that serve your audience.

  1. Make your digital ad buy do double duty

Digital ads in publications have a particular advantage – they are extremely flexible. Once a print ad is published, there’s nothing more you can do until you run another insertion. But, a digital ad can be updated quickly or you can rotate two ads within one ad buy. This is called a split run, and makes your ad dollars work harder for you.

For digital ads, we typically run a three- or six-month campaign with a publication. This ad block usually consists of multiple ad sizes. For example, a large block ad down to a small mobile ad. (This helps us control the look of the ad everywhere.) During this ad buy, our marketing plan may call for promoting multiple products or services to the same audience. When this happens, we’ll start running the digital ads with our first set of creative and then at any time during the run we can swap the initial ads out with new creative.

For example, we are working with a life science software client. They have a product which helps companies manage COVID-19 research. They also have a product that helps employers get staff back to work safely. The publication we identified has a pharma audience – and it tends to be the managerial C-suite. This group of folks has not only the responsibility of getting their employees back to work, but they also have the responsibility of doing research. Both products answer this audience’s needs. Therefore, we are running separate digital ads for both products on this publication’s website. The publication is rotating the ads for us in our ad slot.

Even if you don’t have multiple products, the important thing to remember is that your ad buy can be updated for almost any reason. If you’ve got a new white paper coming out and you’re promoting it, or if you’re going to a trade show (when we can do that again!) and want to drive booth visitors, all of these can be reasons to create another set of ad creative and request the publication rotate them in your ad buy. You won’t even need to tell them when – they’ll automatically arrange it.

  1. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Ads

Don’t forget about search engine ads. But, what type of SEM ads work best? Should you dive into Google Ads and the complex bidding and building process for search ads? Or is there another option?

I am an advocate of Google Display ads. When budget is tight, I’m able to spend less money for a wider audience than I can achieve using search ads. We find that display ads perform very well for our clients – and they are far less expensive.

The reason? Display ads target people who have already searched for something similar to your product. Remember that pillow you searched for a couple of weeks ago? Well, that’s why you see nothing but ads for bedding – everywhere!

The purpose of display ads is to provide you with content that is relevant to your needs. This serves up a niche audience who is already pre-qualified for your ad. Additionally, because display ads rotate, the user doesn’t get tired of seeing the same ad and doesn’t start ignoring it.

Search advertising can be complicated, so it’s important that you work with someone who is Google-certified. You must know what you’re doing to avoid wasting budget. Never forget to measure your ads to see what is working and what needs changing (see number 10 below!)

  1. Animated versus static ad results

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to digital ads. One of those choices is whether to run a static ad or an animated ad. A static ad means the ad doesn’t move or change while it’s on the screen. An animated ad has movement and changes messaging.

You might think that since video is a key content choice today that animated ads perform better than static ones. That’s not actually the case in practice. We’ve found that clickthrough rates are the same. There’s no need to develop flashy animated content for display ads.

If you think about it, how long are you going to wait for an ad to animate on your phone? Not long enough.

People are scanning faster; they are using mobile more and aren’t sitting around waiting for the ad to rotate through its content. And that’s not just for mobile users. They may not even give it that amount of time at their desktops anymore either.

There is another challenge with animated ads. Some publication websites have tight restrictions on the size of the file which limits your ability to put more information in an ad.

We focus our efforts on static ads. There’s no negative to an ad being stationary, because the truth is most of the display ads from Google are, in fact, static – which means users are used to them.

You need to remember, too, that when you run ads in newsletters, Outlook does not accommodate rotating banner ads. In addition to static ads, we mix up the allocation with text ads, making sure we monitor and measure what works best.

  1. Improve performance with A/B testing

This is one area that is continually forgotten in the rush to deliver results. But, A/B testing can mean the difference between an ad spend that didn’t work at all and a successful ad spend.

When we create a digital ad for a customer, we sometimes run two different versions – an A and a B version. It’s a great way to test your ad copy – especially headlines and your call-to-action (CTA). The key to digital ads is a strong headline and a strong CTA. A/B testing allows you to experiment with all areas of your ad to achieve the best results.

More importantly, it gives viewers something new to look at when they’re on that web page – and when they re-visit that page.

  1. Deliver value and receive leads via ads

What good is an ad without giving the audience something of value? It turns out – not much.

We’ve learned that digital ads with deliverables (such as white papers or case studies) perform far better than ads without them. Our secret sauce is an ad that drives to a landing page, which finishes the marketing message begun in the ad. That landing page allows the audience to download (usually) a case study or white paper, giving them real information that helps them understand more about:

  • your product or service
  • how it works
  • how you work
  • what it’s like to work with you
  • results customers like them have achieved.

Another option for you is having a publication run a gated promotion of your white paper. In many cases, this is the better choice for lead generation, because people are more willing to give their information to a publication than they are to a company’s direct landing page. In this case, the publication will gate your white paper and provide you with a spreadsheet of the names and contact information for the people who downloaded it.

  1. Think outside the box with sponsorships

Sponsorships are another advertising opportunity. A webinar or podcast sponsorship is an excellent way to put your company in front of a targeted audience. But, it can’t be just any webinar or podcast topic.

The first step is to always – always – make sure that the content being delivered matches what your company does. For example, we found a webinar was being offered on COVID-19 and research. Well, we have a client with a COVID-19 software product. Our client doesn’t do COVID-19 research, but their product supports it, so they sponsored the webinar. That produced a list of leads for companies doing COVID-19 research, which were perfect targets for the salesforce.

  1. Publication sponsored email campaigns target hard-to-reach audiences

Another product available from publications is the sponsored email. With certain client bases, our only option to reach them is via an email campaign. It’s extremely important to only use this advertising method when you have something newsworthy to promote – such as a whitepaper about a new product offering. With sponsored email, you need to have some solid information or offer with a strong CTA – a new brochure won’t cut it!

  1. Monitor and measure

The key to successful advertising is monitoring what’s happening and measuring your results. Don’t throw money at something without measuring it. We measure social media, we measure email, and we measure advertising. We constantly look at what’s working and what’s not working. If it’s working, we don’t need to change it. If it’s not working, it’s time to change it.

Again, ad buys get snapped up fast, so you’ve got to be on your game. Create your ad plan and make sure that the puzzle pieces fit together. Always be sure you have all the assets in place to deliver measurable results.

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.

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Posted by on Sep 4, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How to Develop Your Ad Plan

by Deb Harrsch

Today sales and marketing departments are adapting to a new method of prospecting and selling. Since we’re not traveling to trade shows or prospects’ labs and offices, we have to find creative ways to generate leads and deliver content.

Last month we discussed the importance of digital marketing, like social media and digital advertising. We also explored the new lead generation products available from life science and trade publications. Today, we’re going to share how to develop an ad plan that delivers leads to your sales team.

Smart advertising is all about making the right choices – placing ads in the right spots at the right times, and strategically spending your ad budget.

But, how do you do that successfully?

Ad Budget

We always need to start with the budget. Some customers will ask, “How much should we spend?” While other customers say, “We have X amount of dollars.” But, in the end, everybody’s got limited budgets so you’ve got to be smart about how you spend it.

Your budget determines the kind of advertising you’ll be able to do. You may do print ads or you may do digital ads, or you may be able to do a mix of both.

We often recommend a mix if you have the budget for it. (The reason for this: in some markets your audience is still reading print publications. They don’t fully engage with the digital version of the publication.)

Identify Your Audience and Research How to Reach Them

Once you’ve decided what your budget is, and you know one of your goals is to generate leads for the sales force, you’ve got to decide who your target audience is. Then you need to figure out what publications fit that target audience. And what publications overlap.

Above all, you need to understand your market and know how your customers consume their media. For example, in the pharma and contract pharma space there are still many who prefer print publications. There is one publication with a readership of 60,000 and they’ve told with us that one third of the readership only consumes print.

When you are researching publications, you need to do your homework on the demographics they reach – and whether the reach is in print or digital. Don’t let the reps sell you! You’ve got to dig deep and figure out what the best product is for you to reach your client, to get them from A to B and meet your objective of generating leads.

Now that you’ve decided what your goal is, what you have for a budget, and who your target is, you can develop your ad mix and identify what assets you’ll need for delivery.

Advertising Mix

There is a surprising amount of choice when it comes to life science advertising from publications and from search engine marketing. As you develop your ad plan, you’ll be working with the following ad mix:

  • Google Ads and Google Display Ads. For more information on these two options, see this blog post.
  • Print Ads
  • Digital Ads
  • Text Ads
  • Webinars
  • Webinar sponsorships
  • Podcast sponsorships
  • Publication website advertising
  • Targeted newsletter sponsorship to specific audiences
  • Promotional gated content
  • Ad retargeting
  • Email blasts

What you need to remember, however, is that creating a successful lead gen ad is more than a pretty graphic and punchy copy. You do need that, yes, but you also need the lead capture landing page and a case study or white paper to make it all worth the prospect’s time and effort. We’ll talk more about getting the most from your ad spend next month.

Flexibility in Digital Publication Ads

When you are designing your ad mix you should keep in mind a particularly unique feature of digital ads through publications: flexibility.

Typically, in B2B publications, you pay by the month. That’s not true of search engine ads. But it is with digital publication ads. This means you’ve purchased that ad space and you aren’t limited to just one ad. You can use it for more than one ad.

Digital ads can be updated quickly. If you have more than one service or a product that answers audience needs in the same publication, you can start with one set of creative for a specific product or service. Then, at any time during your three or six month run, you can provide new creative for a different product or service and the publication will digitally swap them out – allowing you to rotate your ad.

Once you’ve identified your publications and negotiated with the ad reps to maximize your spend with them, the next thing you have to do is develop the actual ad plan.

Developing Your Ad Plan

The ad plan is what we use to make sure all of the ads get placed throughout the year at the right time for each publication. This spreadsheet gives you the ability to know exactly what ads are running, where, and during which month.

When you’re creating your plan, there are two ways you can lay it out. One, you can lay it out by vertical market, or two, you can create a schedule by month and publication. This allows you to see quickly details such as:

  • What type of ad it is (e.g., print, digital, promotion, email)
  • What size it is
  • The demographics
  • The audience
  • A short description of the copy

TIP: You might consider an internal ad plan as well. Your production people (graphics and copywriters) will thank you for it! This internal plan provides your team with exactly what is due and when. It lays out everything required, the landing page requirements, and what the deliverable is.

When you build your ad plan, keep in mind that old rule on brand touches – that your audience needs to see things seven times before they remember it. Be sure to mix your ads in a way that’s smart. For example, if you do the right print advertising (if your audience is more print-based), and do enough digital to support that print, your audience is going to recognize you. Just to be clear, even if your audience is print-focused, I can promise you they still access the web for research and for fun – so digital ads do make sense.

You’ve got to balance your ad mix, not only in terms of the product choices you make, but also in terms of the deliverables you offer through the ads. Be sure you sprinkle in some gated white papers because they will give you the leads you need. And remember that the audience will always download a case study before they will register for a white paper.

When to Buy Ad Space

Design your ad plan on an annual basis. Let me say that again. Your ad plan MUST be annual.

We have clients that say, “Is it okay if we go month-to-month?”

The answer? No. You won’t ever see an ad.

Don’t think you can do it month-by-month? Most of the ad inventory will be already bought out and you will have nothing. And that is not where you want to be when your sales team is counting on you to deliver leads.

There’s only so much advertising inventory that’s available. So you’ve just got to be smart. As soon as you get your ad budget approval, you’ve got to lock in your ad spend because the digital spots sell out.

If you try a month-to-month approach, you’ll find yourself in an extremely stressful situation. You’ll end up spending more time recreating that ad plan each month and losing opportunities left and right. You’ve got to develop a plan for the entire year. This way, you’ll get the ad space and positioning you want – and you’ll be eligible for any free value-adds offered – as well as the best price from the publications or associations.

This is a challenge for those companies whose fiscal year starts in April or June. We do have some clients whose fiscal years start in April and it’s a challenge because most of the ad inventory is bought out in Q1. It’s critically important to create your ad calendar right at the end of Q3 or Q4.

Questions on creating an ad plan? Give us a call! Tune in next month when we talk more about how to maximize your ad spend.

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.

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