Posted by on Jul 6, 2021 in Advertising, Digital Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media | 0 comments

How to Sell More Through Distributors with Blog Content and Social Media

How to Sell More Through Distributors with Blog Content and Social Media

by Debra Harrsch

I read a fascinating report from AZO recently about the state of scientific purchasing in 2021. What they found matches the experiences of our clients who work with channel partners to increase sales of their products and services. This post will explore why a blog and social media amplification can be powerful tools for increasing sales through your distributors.

Many life science manufacturers rely on distributors or channel partners to help sell their products. While external sales organizations can sell your products more easily in different regions or countries, there are also some challenges that come with using a partner.

One of these challenges is how to educate customers who buy from distributors about your products. You likely already use advertising and a trade show presence (when available!) to educate your end-users. However, in today’s digitally focused environment, using only those two channels isn’t enough to create the sales you want.

Let me ask you, do your distributors create marketing content about your products? Do they rely on the content you’ve created for them? Or do they use your content and build upon that base to meet the needs of their specific audience?

Even if your channel partner does create marketing content, I’m guessing it’s not a deep, rich pool of searchable educational content – and it may not even communicate product benefits or the challenges your product solves beyond the simple specs. So, if they aren’t producing educational and sales and marketing information, how will potential customers know your product exists – let alone understand why they should buy it?

Life Science Manufacturers Still Need to Market

While you may have a great channel partner or distributor, this doesn’t mean you no longer need to market your products. One key marketing technique to help your distributors get the word out about your product offerings is through content marketing on your own website.

Which brings us back to the survey I mentioned earlier. AZO Network’s Scientific Purchasing Survey 2021 makes it very clear why scientific manufacturers must rethink how their websites are designed and what they should contain. Of those surveyed:

  • 90% said that a manufacturer’s website had an influence on their buying decision.
  • 81% said pages found through search engines had an influence on their buying decision.
  • 67% said that the distributor’s website had an influence on their buying decision.

Why Does a Manufacturer Need a Blog?

Perhaps you have web pages for each of your products. Good, that’s a start. But, content marketing goes much deeper than a product page with just the basic facts on the product.

The AZO survey states that the quality of the content provided, thought leadership, and the vendor’s website user experience all weighed heavily as important vendor traits.

One way to increase your website’s SEO – and its ability to educate your customers – is through a blog. If you don’t have one and your competitor does, you’re missing out on some major search engine mojo. Customers search and use a variety of digital media to understand products they are interested in.

Let’s review: 81% of those surveyed in AZO’s report stated that pages they found through search engines had an influence on their buying decision – 81%! And let’s not forget that search engines are no longer limited to Google or Bing. Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn have also become major search engines, in addition to their social component. If that 81% of buyers isn’t seeing your blog content or hearing your voice on social channels, your product or service will not show up on their radar as they move through the customer journey – and their ultimate buying decision.

Many science-based companies use blogs as a way to increase brand awareness in the market. Blogs are an easy, cost-effective way to publish relevant content on your website to support your distributors’ marketing efforts.

They are an excellent way to share information about your product, discuss trends in the industry, and demonstrate thought leadership in your market space. You can update your blog regularly with new posts that address your end customer’s needs (which, if done right, will help you increase sales through partners while providing a stream of new content for search engines). For more in-depth information on how a blog can transform your marketing efforts, check out this blog.

Science-based Manufacturers Must Promote Content

A word of caution: having a blog on your website is only one piece of the content marketing puzzle. The days of “if you build it, they will come” are long gone. Blog posts do need to be promoted. In fact, that step is critical to your marketing efforts.

One important way to share your content is through social media. This next statement may come as a surprise, but think about it. As our scientists skew younger in age, social media is growing in importance. In 2015, Leadspace stated that 84% of B2B execs use social media for information to make buying decisions – and that was in 2015!

The AZO Network Survey reported that 34% of those surveyed said social media had an impact on their buying decision. While that seems like a low number, there is more to unpack here, and it has to do with age group distribution – and the fact that social media has a subconscious effect on decision making.

How can you amplify your content using social media? Three ways are:

  1. Leveraging your relationship with your distributors to help share your blog content with their social audience.
  2. Sharing your blog content in snippets on your company’s social channels to drive readers back to your website.
  3. Employee advocacy – getting your employees involved in sharing your company content on their own

As we’ve mentioned in the past, social media is a key tactic your company can use to create brand awareness of the products sold through your partners.

While your social channels won’t grow as fast as a celebrity’s, keep in mind that many scientists have a personal following on social media. And their followers are likely interested in the same content they are. When they share your content, awareness of your products grows – and sales are likely to follow.

As a manufacturer, your content and marketing work sets the stage for product demand.

If you want to develop your blog and amplify your content with social media, but don’t have the time to devote, give us a call!

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, 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 May 28, 2021 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy | 0 comments

Storytelling in Science Marketing

Storytelling in Science Marketing

by Debra Harrsch

Remember when we were children? We were told stories, weren’t we? We’ve all experienced someone reading “Once upon a time…” to us. Some of those stories had morals. Others didn’t. Some were just nice, fun stories, while others were cautionary tales. But, any time we heard a story it usually made us feel uplifted. It engaged us.

Listening to stories has been ingrained in us from childhood. They never fail to elicit a response. So why wouldn’t you translate that into a conversation with your customer? Why not use that tool in your customer’s buying journey?

Storytelling in Science Marketing

There is a reason you read books to a child. It not only helps their mind develop, but it also helps them visualize what’s happening. It helps them see you. And that’s exactly what you need to do when marketing your company’s offerings.

You need to tell stories to your customers. While I don’t think you should be starting your B2B stories with “once upon a time,” stories are important to your marketing. (But, you never know – there may be a fun opportunity to do that!)

Stories for Scientific Marketing

For those of you who are used to straight scientific marketing, you’d be surprised at how successfully you can use stories. The whole point of storytelling is to engage your audience and help them along the customer journey.

Your job is to tell customers the story around why you have this product or service, why you are the company they need, and how you engage with your customers. What this does for your customers is this: it allows them to get to know you – and understand how your products/services can help them.

Actually, you’ve already started telling stories on your website. You tell your company story through the history of your company. You tell stories of how your product works on the main pages of your website and through case studies. It’s from those key pages that customers really get engaged and move forward.

How We Tell Stories

As marketers, we started telling stories a long time ago. Over this past year, with the lack of trade shows we’ve moved into a more strongly focused digital marketing world, making storytelling an even more important tool in your marketing toolbox.

Here are two ways we’ve helped science marketers tell their stories in the past year.

Explainer Videos

One word: YouTube.

How many times have you needed to know how to do something, and your first thought is “Oh let me go to YouTube?” All the time, right?

Well, it’s the same for your customers. They are used to learning through short videos. This is a perfect opportunity to use short explainer videos to tell a story about your products or services. Explainer videos can be made in a variety of ways.

For one of our technology customers, we created two different explainer videos. The first video focused on the product. This video featured a voice-over narrator walking the customer through their Analytics product, what it does, and how it improves a customer’s business.

The second explainer video we made for this client – while it does focus on a product – talks more about what the value of the product is. In this case, what a validated SaaS product means for a regulated industry and how it helps companies. This video features a combination of voice-over narration along with the friendly face of the VP of sales and marketing telling the story of how this service will benefit the customer.

Virtual Tour Videos

Customers are also used to exploring lengthy topics through video as well. One of our clients wanted to tell their story through a 360-degree tour of their pharmaceutical plant.  A tour is going to be far longer than an explainer video. At around ten minutes long, it provides a way for them to tell their story about what they do and how well they do it.

During the pandemic, pharma plants are locked tight. (And pandemic aside, pharma companies don’t really want anyone in their plants at any time.) Since outsiders could not be allowed onsite to film a video, we needed to get creative.

Using remote video capture via an iPhone and a lavalier mic, they took their customers on a tour of their facility – through multiple labs, instrumentation, and warehouses. We added B-roll to their facility video to create a way for our client to tell a complete story to their customers.

Enhance the Journey

It’s important to tell a story – and it’s even more important to tell stories that meet the needs of your customers along their buying journey. But, don’t forget to enhance their journey with supplemental marketing assets.

Be sure you include why they should buy your product – and show them the value of your product. Show them what it will mean for them at the end of the day. Make sure that the story you tell is engaging and that the customer can see themselves using your product.

Yes, our world is very scientific, but when people go to your website they need to know that you understand who they are and the challenges they face. Storytelling enables you to do that.

If you need help telling your stories, give us a call!

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, 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 Jul 8, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

How to Create Marketing Campaigns Using Your Buyer Personas

How to Create Marketing Campaigns Using Your Buyer Personas from Brandwidth Solutions

by Deb Harrsch

Last month, we looked at how to refresh (or create) your post-COVID-19 buyer personas. This month, we’ll look at how to use them to create marketing campaigns that make sense in our new sales environment.

Mapping the Customer Journey

The whole point of a buyer persona is to create targeted social media and marketing campaigns with the content your prospects want. Having built your customer personas based on actual conversations your sales team has held with buyers, you can confidently drive your prospective customer through the customer journey.

Keeping it simple, there are three objectives in the buyer’s journey: awareness, convert, and close. There are a lot of other steps in there, but these are the main stops on the journey.

  1. First, you want to attract prospects and create awareness.
  2. Next, you want to convert them, to make them consider your product or service.
  3. The final goal is to close the sale.

But, the question is, how do you get them to go from awareness to consideration to purchase?

It’s a really important journey. And you don’t want to lose them along the way.

The personas you build dictate everything. They dictate how your website functions and navigates. They dictate the kind of collateral you need and how you’re going to take a buyer from awareness to purchase. How you get them from point A to point B to point C is what persona marketing is all about.

Sales teams understand the journey. This is one reason why marketing needs to work closely with sales. A brochure is not a journey. That’s a factoid. There’s nothing of value in that brochure that’s going to get somebody from awareness to consideration to a purchase. You need more support than that.

The journey needs to make prospective buyers think: “This the best service or product for me.” Your job is to build content and collateral around that journey.

Different Buying Needs

In each company there can be multiple buyers, right? So when you’re looking at your marketing material you have to look at it from each of those personas, because their buying needs and decision-making processes are different.

Our clients typically have several levels of buying personas. For instance, a software client has personas for:

  • The user – the person that will use the software in the lab.
  • Their boss – who will make the buying decision.
  • The IT person who must implement it.

When we’re creating content, whether it’s for the website or marketing collateral, we have to consider those individual personas. Other life science clients can have four or more buyer personas for products or services. In every situation, we need to build content that addresses their individual needs because each of them will be very different.

Think about it – maybe the conversation starts with an influencer, then it moves to the gatekeeper, and then it goes to a decision-maker. In the above case of software, the IT guy may say, “We only want SaaS, we don’t want anything on a server.” The buying person may ask, “How am I spending this money and is it going to deliver ROI for me?” Both of those people are going to need content and value propositions that address their specific needs.

Designing Persona-Based Marketing Campaigns

Using customer personas not only allows you to choose and create material that addresses the pain points and values that your buyers need, it also identifies the marketing tools you’ll use to reach each of those personas. These personas will drive whether you use social media, case studies, email marketing, website FAQs, webinars, or print collateral.

When we build marketing campaigns, we start by creating a working spreadsheet based on our campaign goal and the selected target personas. The spreadsheet clearly states the name of the campaign and what personas we’re going to use in that campaign. We lay out our strategy and we list our goals.

We survey the marketing assets and content we already have available to ascertain whether it fills a need in the customer journey towards our goal. Because what we use for one persona will be different than what we use for another persona, we assign available content to the appropriate personas and where it fits in the lead nurturing campaign.

We then assess what materials we still need to influence the personas’ movement through the stages of the journey. We ask, “What are the materials that we need to build to get them through those three major stages?” And then we build them.

With this working spreadsheet, it’s easy to see what content matches which persona.

A campaign is not just an ad. It’s a combination of all of the collateral, the outbound and inbound marketing tactics, and all of the engagement.

The next step is to build your campaign week-by-week in your spreadsheet. I suggest taking it persona-by-persona and working through each one – assigning the journey stage, each activity and content type, and message to keep them engaged and coming back for more inspiration as they’re working through their buying decision.

Success and Scorecards

No marketing should ever take place unless you’re measuring your results. Guess what? You’re going to give your campaign a score. Look back at and review your goals. Ask what was our goal for lead generation? What were our actual lead generation results? What percentage did we close?

After the Close

And don’t forget after you’ve got them to buy, you need to keep them engaged. Why?

First, your engaged, vocal, and loyal customers are one of the best sales assets you have. Second, you want to keep them engaged because you may have new products or services and new updates for the products they’ve already purchased. You need to retain your customer and keep them viewing you as their problem-solver.

Have questions on how to develop a persona-based marketing campaign? Reach out 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 Dec 5, 2019 in Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy | 0 comments

Should You ‘Dumb it Down?’ Write Smarter: 5 Rules for Marketing Copy

5 Rules for Marketing Copy

I’ve got to agree with Alison Davis: I’m not a fan of the expression ‘dumb it down.’

As she points out, the phrase first emerged “as movie-business slang in the 1930’s, and was used by screenplay writers.” It was used to describe rewriting content “to appeal to those of little education or intelligence.”

It feels cruel, however, and as someone who works with scientific firms to convey complex ideas in digestible formats, it incorrectly summarizes what our team does.

Besides, do we really need to dumb it down? Are we actually getting dumber?

As it turns out, no, we’re not.

I’m with Davis when she says, “I love the fact that people everywhere are getting more intelligent.” That’s right, a recent meta-analysis found “an average gain of about three IQ points per decade, or roughly 10 points per generation.”

(Yes – that means our children are probably smarter than us.)

But how smart or dumb we are (or are becoming) isn’t the key takeaway. What matters is that the ways in which we all consume content have been changing. Reducing our content to the lowest common denominator isn’t the right answer. Understanding how people consume it is.

Do you seriously want to deliver something that is considered ‘dumb?’ And how far down should you go?

For our life science, pharma, healthcare & B2B clients, we can’t dumb down content. But it can be synthesized, and rendered into formats that lend themselves to rapid consumption.

Scanning Society

So if, in fact, people are becoming smarter, that means we have to write smarter. Let’s face it – people don’t read like they used to. Even as far back as 2008, research found that only about 20% of online text was actually read word-for-word.

Why?

It’s a numbers game. Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day, and it’s only going to grow from there. By 2020, it’s estimated that 1.7MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth.”

The scanning-instead-of-reading phenomenon isn’t new, and as marketers, we see it across every industry. And when you are tasked with conveying complex scientific or technical concepts, it affects how you develop and present content.

Writing for the Journey

The ‘we need to dumb it down’ school of marketing thought is that people are moving so fast, they won’t stick to a traditional buyer’s journey anymore. It’s too long. They don’t have the time or attention span. So because some marketers think there is no longer a customer journey they put every possible piece of information in their materials right up front.

It’s not true.

The buyer’s journey still very much matters – but how they consume content on the journey itself is changing.

Here are 5 rules for writing copy:

  1. Be clear about your value.
    Be sure to communicate your value proposition but leave them wanting to know more. Don’t try to cram every product you offer into one piece of content. If you give away your entire message up front, the reader will be overwhelmed and your message lost. Focus on simple and clear language that targets your customer’s pain points. Your materials should be a conversation in which you clearly share elements of the value of your product or service.
  1. Deliver scannable content.
    Since you know readers are going to scan your content, it’s important to ensure your content is clear. Your value proposition should be easily identifiable, and readers should be able to take away key points from every piece of content you produce.
  1. It’s a journey – not a pit stop.
    In many cases – especially at the start of the buyer’s journey – your content serves as a first touch. Make sure it’s a relatively quick read that makes them want to learn more. Whatever the content format – web, brochure, case study, landing page, email – provide a path for prospects to follow to acquire further information. Ensure your links are clear and easy to follow. The journey needs an easily-decipherable path in order to bring the reader along the path and into your funnel.
  1. Create visual impact.
    The data or technical information you share with prospects and customers is critically important, but it also has its place. Being (rightfully) proud of their accomplishments, some companies want to emphasize it and so they’ll overwhelm a content piece with multiple visuals.Let’s just talk software marketing for a minute. Imagine a brochure with multiple screen shots. Now imagine that the screen shots are so small that no one can read them. How well do you think those visuals are going to work to attract your potential customers? They aren’t. If you think that screen shot is a selling point, you’d better make it big enough to make an impact.
  1. “Me, me, me…we, we, we…us, us, us.” Arrghh. Please stop.
    Long after marketers (should have) learned that bragging and self-congratulatory writing won’t help sell products or services, many companies (with their marketers in tow) are still at it. They fill brochures with references to “We at ACME Corp.” I get it…you are proud of your company, its products or services, and its accomplishments. But customers want to hear you talking about their problems and their challenges. They need to know you get it, so they can feel confident that your solution adequately addresses their needs. There you have it – five rules for developing copy and keeping your content smart. Remember, prospects are smart and getting smarter. They are also consuming content in quick, scannable bites, but that being said – a prospect will read every word if they are interested in the value you provide.

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 12, 2018 in Integrated Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

The Sales & Marketing Departments: Friends or Foes?

When a company launches a product and it fails to attract much notice or move the revenue needle, the result is always predictable – and unhelpful. The internal response is something like this:

Sales: “Marketing didn’t do their jobs.”

Marketing: “Nope, Sales didn’t do their jobs.”

Sound familiar? It should, because the push-and-pull between the Sales Department and the Marketing Department is as old as the Sales and Marketing structure itself.

So what should be the response? Sales, Marketing and Management should all be asking the same questions:

  • If we aren’t reaching our numbers, it can’t always be Marketing’s fault. So what aren’t we doing right?
  • How did we market the product/service?
  • How did we hand it off to Sales?
  • Maybe the product isn’t right?
  • Did we do enough due diligence when we were developing the product?

By working closely together throughout the entire sales & marketing process and asking & answering the same questions, your company could avoid contributing to the $1 trillion dollars per year lost due to the misalignment of these two departments.

Marketing & Sales: Different Perceptions

When newly-developed products are handed off from the product manager to marketing, marketing immediately looks at the product and wonders: “Why is this product better than the previous generation? How is this product different from everything else in the marketplace? What’s the value to the customer?

Product Managers can be so entrenched in the product itself that they tend to focus on new or improved features/benefits as selling points rather than why the customer will buy. Marketing, on the other hand, wants to focus on end user value – the real reasons why the customer will choose this product over a competitor or even upgrade their existing system.

Features/ Benefits Don’t Always Translate Into Value Propositions

When a product is handed off to marketing with a list of features, marketing must determine if they can be translated into value propositions. Marketing has a story it needs to tell and if the customers haven’t been brought into the story until product launch-time, it is often too late to craft a customer-focused narrative. The key to this is thinking about the product from the customer’s perspective. Marketing must find the customer’s ultimate: “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?” or WIIFM to develop that story.

Sales: We Want Leads!

The sales team, in order to meet their numbers, wants to get a hold of the product as quickly as possible. Their immediate reaction to the marketing team is to demand leads.

Marketing’s role typically begins six to nine months ahead of the sales cycle. To create an effective sales & marketing campaign, marketing needs to create collateral, including brochures, sell sheets, web pages, white papers, case studies, social media and more. These are the elements with which marketing builds the product story, being sure to weave in customers with their challenges and needs while delivering the WIIFM Value Proposition.

Too often, these elements – and the customer journey – are overlooked in the race to launch and start selling.

“We’re going to a trade show and we need the product ready for the show.”

With barely enough time to complete a key piece of marketing collateral, Marketing often pushes back at Sales when they ask why they haven’t been provided any leads. In many cases, Marketing has launched campaigns in advance of a trade show and provided leads to Sales, feeding them into the CRM – where the ball was dropped.

Creating a Sales & Marketing Relationship

For a product launch and subsequent lead generation and lead nurturing to be successful, there needs to be a solid working relationship between the Sales and Marketing departments – along with the realization that both teams have ongoing work to do and must nurture leads. Not everyone is ready to buy at the exact time you launch.

When marketing and sales work together to achieve the same goals, it’s not uncommon for companies to experience some stellar results:

Leads vs. Customers

Leads are often just that – leads, not customers. Marketing is constrained by how much information it can reasonably expect to collect from prospects – even more so now due to the EU’s GDPR requirements. It’s common to request a name, company name and email address to begin nurturing the relationship using the marketer’s toolbox of channels and tactics – requesting too much information up front discourages people from filling out forms. Limited information is preferable to no information.

Sales can’t just be closers – they have a critical role to play in lead nurturing too. With today’s tools (LinkedIn, Company websites, and the internet at large), leads can be filled out. There are many tools that can be used to find somebody’s phone number, or determine their email address format.

Here is an excellent example of the role Sales can play in lead nurturing:

If a lead comes in with only a first name, last name and company name, it’s quite easy to determine a particular company’s email format. It may be ‘first name.last name @company’ or ‘lastname.firstname,’ or ‘first initial.last name,’ etc. A company’s website might contain clues to the proper formula, as will LinkedIn. Sales can take the information Marketing has gathered and entered into the company CRM and to do a little research to begin the sales conversation with the prospect.

Teamwork: Collaborating to Improve Lead Gen

It’s very rare that Marketing can hand off a lead that is already a sale. In almost all cases, the lead requires nurturing and follow-up. Instead of finger-pointing between departments, Sales and Marketing should ideally work together to improve lead quality.

It’s not Marketing’s fault that there aren’t enough leads, and it’s not Sales’ fault that all the leads they were provided have been closed. In addition to collaboration being a more constructive approach, it’s also a way to ensure better leads.

The Sales-Marketing relationship becomes even more important in cases of long lead cycles. Some sales cycles have 12-18 month timelines. If you’re working in the contract pharma sector and you’re trying to lock down a contract with Big Pharma, it’s going to take 18 months to close.

Eighteen months is a long time, and both Departments will need to work closely together to ensure the lead is nurtured along the way. Sales can provide Marketing with valuable real-time feedback as to what works and what doesn’t. With that information, the two departments can work together to improve the quality of leads and further target marketing tactics.

The Importance of Customer Perception

People buy based on perception. If Marketing is helping raise customer perception about the company and the product, Sales has got to pick up their end to work the leads. Management can’t blame Marketing and they can’t blame Sales, they all need to work together and figure out a marketing and sales plan for success.

It’s never any one department’s fault that revenue isn’t generated – it could be a mutual problem. But when Sales and Marketing work together as a team to solve any issues, you’ll find that any challenges are solved far more elegantly than you might imagine.

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