Posted by on Nov 12, 2018 in Integrated Marketing, Uncategorized | 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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Posted by on Jun 15, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Is it Time to Re-Visit Your Buyer Personas for Marketing After COVID-19?

Is it Time to Re-Visit Your Buyer Personas for Marketing After COVID-19? New on the Brandwidth Solutions Blog.

by Deb Harrsch

If you haven’t created buyer personas for your marketing campaigns, this is the perfect opportunity to start working through the process of what your buyer looks like. If you have created customer personas, have you considered what about your buyer has changed in the post-coronavirus lockdown world?

What is a buyer persona?

Let’s take a step back for a second and start with what a buyer persona is and why you need one. It’s a phrase that’s tossed around a lot, but what does it really mean?

A customer (or buyer) persona is an archetypal representation of every individual in your customer’s buying process.

Many of our clients are very technical business-to-business companies selling software, contract pharma services, or lab equipment. In cases like these, there are always multiple people involved in the buying process.

For example, let’s explore a lab. If the company needs an informatics solution, you’ll need to sell to the person at the bench (or the person who will use the product), their manager, the IT manager, and the person who makes the financial decision. Each of those people is a “persona” you need to create. You’re going to build a fictional character around each of those four individuals.

Why?

The reason you create these personas is to have a crystal-clear idea of who you are marketing to and what each of those people needs in order to choose your product. Personas allow you to focus on the customer’s perspective as you take them through the buying journey. If you create them correctly, you’ll be able to develop successful collateral marketing materials, campaigns, and a value proposition that is specific to them. The ultimate goal is to close the sale and make them a buyer of your product.

Before we dive into what you need to have in a buyer persona, let’s talk about who should be building these profiles.

Who builds the buyer persona?

Is it all on marketing’s shoulders? Or does sales need to do the heavy lifting? This may surprise you, but the answer is both. There is zero value to sales and marketing arguing about anything. In fact, sales and marketing should be best friends (here’s why sales and marketing should be partners).

Both sales and marketing should be in the room when you build your customer personas. Sales is key to the process, since they are calling on your customers all of the time.

What comes first when building customer personas?

The first thing I do when building a customer persona is identify all the decision-makers in the buying process. I ask about who we need to target with our marketing:

  • Is there an influencer?
  • Is there a gatekeeper?
  • Is there a finance person?
  • Is there an IT lead?
  • Is there anyone else involved in the process?

Once you identify the key people along the buying process and their titles, you’ll need to build out the persona for each of those positions.

What’s in a persona?

Our next move is to build composite models of the positions you have identified.

What does that mean? It means we’re going to create a fictionalized summary of each individual. We will mine the sales team for information on each customer and summarize it to build those models.

Here is a good example of a blank customer persona. This your starting point.

Is it Time to Re-Visit Your Buyer Personas for Marketing After COVID-19? New on the Brandwidth Solutions Blog.

We always begin by giving each individual a name. We also like to use pictures, because it’s so much easier to visualize our customer with a face attached to a name.

Then, we fill out the demographic information:

  • What are the job titles associated with the position in the buying process? For example, our influencer Isabella could be a lab tech or research scientist. This tells you what they are responsible for and what they do every day.
  • What is the age of the typical influencer? You may want to include an age range. Age range is particularly important, because we find this – in many cases – drives the techniques they use to get data on a product or service.
  • What is their educational background?
  • What size company do they work for? This would be the size of your target clients.
  • What is the size of the budget they control? Or do they control budget at all?

The next set of questions goes deeper into your customers to provide a more detailed and thorough understanding of everyone in the decision-making process for your product or service.

Here is where you’ll identify their situational profile. It includes how they function, what’s important to them, what their daily challenges are, their goals, and motivation.

Some folks like to include information about whether they are female or male, tend to be married or single, and whether they have kids or not. I would argue that that information isn’t critical to a buyer persona in most business-to-business industry spaces.

With all that said, this is our next set of questions:

  • What characteristics do they have in common? Do they have an assistant? Do they tend to have a certain personality or behavioral commonalities? How do they research products?
  • What motivates them? What are their goals and what problems do they need to solve?
  • Buying influences? This is a two-fold question. What level of influence do they hold over the buying process and who/what influences their purchasing decisions?
  • What is their buying timeline? Is it urgent – in the next month? A year? 18 months?
  • What are their challenges? What do they need to know and what hurdles do they need to overcome to buy your product?
  • What is their digital footprint? I would expand this question to include how much print material they consume.

These are the details that will drive the type of marketing collateral and campaigns your marketing team will create for your product or service. This information will also drive where your marketing campaigns will run – whether it’s digital or print – how much needs to be published in third-party publications, on your website, on your social media channels, etc.

While it’s possible to do a “quick-and-dirty” buyer persona, it’s always better to take your time and dive deeper for a more meaningful understanding of your customer.

I promise you, your marketing will be better and more successful if you do.

If, however, you want to create a fast persona, ask these questions:

  • How would you describe your target buyer?
  • What is their technical and personal demographic information?
  • How do they describe their job title?
  • What education level have they completed?
  • What special skills do they need to have to do their job?

The value of targeted buyer personas throughout the buying process

A buyer persona exercise also allows your organization to zero-in on your target audience. Your sales team won’t waste time on outliers which are unlikely to become your customer. A deep dive into your customers and their buying process will always produce valuable information – and your marketing team will be more successful.

When you understand your customer on this level, it allows you to create marketing materials that help your customer understand how you can solve their pain points and the value you provide.

Next month, I’ll be talking about how to build marketing campaigns based on your new customer personas. Stay tuned!

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 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.

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Posted by on Jan 22, 2019 in Integrated Marketing, Tradeshows, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Maximizing the Value of Trade Show Attendance Part 1: How to Exhibit, Promote & Network

What is the one event that makes even the sales and marketing departments work together in complete agreement?

A trade show.

Did you know that the minimal cost for a 10×10 booth at a tradeshow is $10,000- 15,000? Think about it – by the time you reserve the booth space, book hotels, ship your booth & products, and add your team’s travel costs, your all-in cost is around $10 – $15k. That’s not a small expense in the budget so it’s important to make it work for you.

Managing a successful presence at a conference or trade show has staff from every level of science-based companies working towards a common goal. (Click here to find out why this shouldn’t be the only time Sales and Marketing work in harmony.)

Why Trade Shows are Valuable

We can all agree that while email and other digital marketing efforts provide a solid return on investment, the value of face-to-face sales & marketing meetings (such as those at trade shows and conferences) is enormous.

It’s at in-person meetings where you build trust and engage deeply with your audience. Rob Murphy’s article cites a Meeting Professionals International report which states that “40% of prospects are converted to new customers via face-to-face meetings.”

How to Choose the Right Conference or Trade Show

Trade shows and conferences are key events where your company can get that valuable face-to-face time with prospects. In the U.S. alone, there are hundreds of science, medical and pharma trade shows each year. But with so many available to you, how do you choose which shows and conferences will be most beneficial for your bottom line?

To identify the best events for your company, you first need to look at your business goals. Are you focused on the U.S. market or is your market international? If it is U.S. only, you’ll need to build a list of all the relevant conference and trade shows in the U.S.

If you want to reach other markets, you’ll need a list of all of the international events applicable to your product/ service. Get a demographic list from the show organizers to ensure your target audience will be there.

These lists give you a starting point. The real work starts after you have the lists in hand.

You’ll want to research each event. Before you decided to exhibit, you should consider attending and walking the show to ensure that your audience is there. You’ll also want to make sure that the show has a good reputation in your industry and that it delivers:

  • Large numbers of attendees in your target audience (although what you’re really looking for is the right audience – quality versus quantity. Remember, some shows are for niche audiences and can the best ones!)
  • Attendees who make buying decisions

Once you’ve identified the conference or trade show to attend, you’ll need to put a plan in place to:

  • properly prepare for your attendance
  • take advantage of all the networking possibilities at the show
  • keep conversations going through follow-up after the event
  • build your follow-up campaign.

How to Prepare Before Attending a Trade Show

Of course, you’ll need an exhibit booth. (Make sure that your booth has both clear signage and excellent brief messaging- no one is going to stand and read your booth.)

Beyond putting your booth together, there are significant pre-show marketing actions to take in order to maximize your company presence.

  1. Communicate. You need to get the word out that you will be attending the show. Create postcard, email, & social media campaigns along with press releases to communicate to your list and your social media audience that you will be available to meet at the show or conference. Add messaging to any advertising you are doing before the conference. If no one knows you’ll be there, you won’t have visitors to your booth.
  2. Let your audience know where to find you. (I’ve seen companies tell their audience they would be at a show only once via social media – and then not give out their booth number!) But just telling everyone your booth number is not enough.

You’ll want to investigate the marketing options the show’s organizers have available to attendees. This may include marketing opportunities such as renting the list of attendees, sponsoring events or content in the pre-show communications or – depending on the conference – attendee swag. Send out newsletters to your list offering the option to pre-schedule meetings at the show. Create press releases highlighting new products or events and presentations you’ll be hosting while at the show.

If you don’t communicate and promote your presence, you won’t see the foot traffic you expect at your booth.

Need help putting together a comprehensive trade show promotion plan? Contact Brandwidth Solutions.

Take Advantage of Trade Show Networking Opportunities

Being in attendance at a trade show is not the same as attending a trade show. Your company has invested a great deal of time, energy and money to be at the show. Therefore you need to do more than sit in your booth and hope that leads drop by for a visit.

You want to have your A-list staff working the booth at the show. You want staff that engage prospects and expertly move them forward along the sales path.

The booth isn’t the only place you need your sales staff engaging with prospects. Make sure they are attending the cocktail receptions, presentations, education sessions, breakfast events or other special events being held at the show. Check whether the show’s organizers provide a ‘matchmaking’ service connecting potential buyers or partners with sellers.

Follow-Up Leads to Success

None of these trade show attendance efforts will mean anything at all if your company doesn’t follow-up effectively. If you don’t follow-up with leads you’ve collected, it will be marketing budget wasted.

After you’ve entered prospect information into your CRM, you’ll need to design a communications plan to ensure that your new contacts don’t feel you’ve forgotten them. (Although you should have created your first follow-up communication before you even leave the office to attend the show!)

Nurturing leads is critical to the ROI of trade show attendance. Be sure you have marketing assets such as white papers or case studies to send your prospects as follow-up. Once you return to the office, you may want to create webinars addressing audience needs, additional white papers and newsletter content to further nurture your leads and reinforce that face-to-face connection your team built at the trade show.

Trade show or conference attendance may be a bit more complex than most companies realize. But with a strong plan you can implement for each event you attend, your company can achieve a solid ROI from trade shows.

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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