Posted by on Jan 4, 2021 in Advertising, Brand Strategy and Design, Digital Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Automation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Tradeshows | 0 comments

Why You Should Take a Breath and Re-evaluate Your Marketing Plans

by Deb Harrsch

Welcome to January 2021! It’s finally here.

We’ve made it through the holidays. We figured out how to visit with our families and how to be safe doing so. We’re still in the midst of this major wave of COVID-19 and we’re all eagerly awaiting vaccines to make life a little easier.

Now, your boss wants to know, “What are we doing for marketing in 2021?”

Before you start reeling off a list of marketing activities, let’s stop for a minute. I think that while you may have started the 2021 planning process in December, this particular January it’s important to take a breath and reset your expectations. I know there is still uncertainty as to what this year will serve up.

We do know we are still in a world where digital communications are the primary marketing method, and that’s not going to begin to shift until at least the second half of 2021. You also must keep in mind that some things will never go back 100% to how we used to market.

So, How Are You Going to Tackle 2021?

Your 2021 marketing will be a combination of how we marketed before the pandemic and what we did last year.

You began a digital rebirth and learned how to function in a virtual world last year, and that same buyer behavior is going to continue this year. This January, you should start your marketing planning with a re-evaluation of where you are now. Have a look at the assets you created last year. Review the work you did around your buyer personas and what your customers’ awareness-consider-buy journey is today.

Take a deep breath and first make sure you’ve matched each persona’s awareness-consider-buy journey with strong calls to action. Then lay out all the assets you have and map them to the journey.

Applying Your New Marketing Skills

Now it’s time to figure out how to apply all the new skill sets you learned about last year – and how you are going to implement them going forward. If you need a refresh on those skills, check out these blog posts:

Next you’ll begin building out – and documenting – your marketing strategy and the implementation plan. This is where integrated marketing is most important, because you can think through and use all the marketing tools in your toolbox. Be sure that you have everything working together and working toward the same goal – your web copy, your white papers, your case studies, and your videos.

2021 Strategies

In 2021 and beyond you’ll need to outline strategies for both virtual marketing and in-person marketing as we start working our way back to in-person meetings. We need to keep in mind that we might be able to attend trade shows in the second half of the year once vaccines are available, but that is up in the air for now.

But, remember that even if we do get to attend trade shows in-person, they will likely never again look the way they did in 2019. In 2021 at least, they will probably become a hybrid model of virtual and in-person. I think that every single one of us over the course of this past year has realized how important the personal touch really is. We’ve tried to duplicate it with virtual events and tried to do it with Zoom calls and it has worked to some degree, but we all know that shaking hands and being together on the trade show floor is important.

There are several good things that have come out of adapting to pandemic lockdowns, however. The situation has given us an opportunity this last year to increase our marketing toolkits, whether it’s:

  • creating assets like white papers and case studies
  • learning to use social media to increase brand awareness and leads
  • reviewing our traditional marketing
  • building story videos, proof point videos, and how-we-work videos
  • or experiencing the cool technologies that build virtual trade shows.

I think that you should be rolling out and using all the new tools in your toolbox both while we’re at virtual trade shows, and when attending in-person trade shows. We’ve talked to clients for a long time about building video tools or interactive marketing tools. Some have executed and some have not, while others are in the process of building those tools. If we consider that at least the first half of your year is still virtual, then you need to dive in and do some videos or podcasting so it’s available in your toolkit.

Let’s Get Going!

We endured a lot last year. We’re still working on coming to grips with the pandemic. We continued building our businesses. We tried to figure out what we needed on the fly. But, we are starting to see a little light at the end of a long tunnel and it’s time to implement some of the strategies we worked on last year. Lay it out and make sure your plans are tight.

If you need help, 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 Dec 1, 2021 in Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

Growing Marketing Leads Quarter-Over-Quarter: Challenges and Opportunities

Brandwidth Solutions Growing Marketing Leads Quarter-Over-Quarter

By Debra Harrsch

In most companies. marketing is seen as an expense item. And, when something’s a line-item expense on the P&L, there needs to be accountability. To support the marketing budget, your efforts need to generate enough leads to justify the expense.

At the same time, those leads need to be nurtured and turned into conversions.

Smart companies are monitoring how they are doing each month against their goals. But, there’s another important thing to measure: momentum.

When you think about momentum, we often think about examples in sports. In baseball, batters go on streaks where their batting average jumps by a hundred points or more. When a basketball player hits four or five shots in a row, he’s got the “hot hand” and can’t seem to miss. It gives them more confidence to take even more shots.

The same thing happens in business. Sales teams get on a roll and build revenue month-to-month. When you have momentum, you are bringing in more marketing qualified leads (MQLs), nurturing them until they become sales qualified leads (SQLs), and then closing deals.

Here’s an example. We work with one of our clients as their marketing department. We pay close attention to the month-to-month lead generation. One metric we track is quarter-over-quarter growth in leads.

We saw very clearly the results of the marketing strategy and momentum. Leads in one quarter went from 1,000 to 1,300 in the next quarter. The following quarter grew to 1,500. The more the momentum grew, the more effective the efforts became. By the end of the year, the momentum generated more than 4,600 leads and 168 demo requests — a dramatic improvement.

When there’s momentum, people are seeing your advertising, your content marketing, and your social media. You are building campaigns that drive awareness and demand. Buyers are seeing your marketing efforts more often and in more places. The result is you see momentum and growth.

As you are growing leads, the impact gets magnified. Those Q1 leads get nurtured in Q2, Q3, and Q4. As you drive more leads into your sales funnel, you’re turning more and more MQLs into SQLs while continuing to deliver new leads at the top of the funnel.

Challenges to Building Momentum

One of the challenges most marketers face, however, is when the new fiscal year begins. It often seems to take forever to get budget approval for an ad buy. In many cases, the whole marketing plan may still be waiting for approval in the first quarter as companies wrestle with expenses and margins.

This makes the marketing department late for the dance. And it may become almost impossible to make an ad buy, for instance.

When the fiscal year has started, but marketing doesn’t get the OK for an ad buy until the end of Q1 (or even into Q2), we’ve seen this delay in decision-making bring marketing efforts to a screeching halt. It makes it increasingly difficult to deliver the leads needed to feed the sales machine.

You see, momentum works both ways — especially when it comes to marketing. Content marketing, advertising, and social media all have a cumulative effect, a combination of reach, frequency, relevancy, and recency. When marketing stops, your momentum can stop dead in its tracks — and it can be more expensive to rebuild it.

With a strong plan and the funding to market consistently, we see positive momentum. When inconsistency is applied to a marketing plan, however, it can create negative momentum and it snowballs. You’ll see fewer MQLs lead to fewer SQLs, which results in fewer sales.

Momentum is…Monumental

When you cut back on marketing, you not only lose your share of mind, but also put new and existing accounts at risk. Once you lose that momentum, it takes time — and money — to rebuild it.

For B2B buyers, there needs to be enough visibility in the right places to drive buyers quarter-to-quarter.

Thomas Smith, in his book Successful Advertising, said consistency and frequency are essential. He suggested it takes five times before consumers even notice and pay attention to your ad. It’s not until the 12th time they see your brand that they actually start to think your product or service has some value, and 20 times before they get serious about buying.

Here’s the kicker. Smith wrote that in 1885 — before radio, TV, social media, and the internet. Can you imagine how many times it takes to cut through the clutter and noise today?

You need to get exposure to the right buyer at the right time on the right platform consistently to build momentum, to drive people to your landing pages and generate a lead.

Hopefully, you’re using a marketing automation platform to continue nurturing leads and feeding your CRM — building momentum to fill your funnel quarter-to-quarter. It’s definitely a year-over-year, quarter-over-quarter challenge to build momentum as you’re scaling and maintaining that share of mind.

Marketing Momentum Takes Planning

When you map out your year, recognize that there might be a delay in getting your budget approved. To avoid stopping that momentum, one little marketing trick we might suggest would be to hold back some of your budget dollars to the end of the year. Why?

You can use some of December’s budget for first quarter ad insertions and other marketing channels to keep the momentum building.

Tracking momentum also helps make the case in the budget process. You need to show ROI and value and tie your lead generation to results.

As a marketer, your goal is to build those leads quarter-over-quarter. Nurture them all the way through, so you’re bringing a marketing lead or marketing qualified lead into your CRM, scaling it up to a sales qualified lead, and then prepping for sales engagement to create conversions.

Be Digitally Agile and Know What Works

Digital marketing provides multiple ways to reach your buyers: podcasts, video, interactive, blogs and social, print, and more. It all has a cumulative effect that can reinforce and magnify your messaging and help build momentum.

The key to effective spending, of course, is knowing what works. Fortunately, in today’s digital marketing environment, we have access to a wealth of data. For instance, when you pick the right places for your ad placements, you can see what works and adjust to optimize your effectiveness.

COVID taught us the need to be agile and aware and quickly pivot when needed. Another strategy we recommend is to keep enough budget in reserve to jump on opportunities when they arise. When something’s working, you can pour fuel on the fire.

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 Sep 1, 2021 in Brand Strategy and Design, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media | 0 comments

KOL: When to Use a Key Opinion Leader in Healthcare Marketing

KOL: When to Use a Key Opinion Leader in Healthcare Marketing

by Debra Harrsch

Before we start looking at when you should use a key opinion leader (KOL) in your marketing, let’s first explore exactly what a KOL is.

Key opinion leaders are industry leaders who are experts on their topics. They are well-known and viewed as highly trustworthy and credible resources in their field. KOLs are particularly important in the healthcare space and life science technologies. These individuals are experts who promote the science associated with your product, create indirect awareness about your product, and lend credibility to your company among the target community. They have a significant impact on how their peers think and what they purchase.

As Steven Arless states:

A KOL is either a clinician and/or scientist that has developed and earned visionary leadership in their medical field. They typically have earned peer respect and admiration, and can influence future treatment solutions. KOLss are typically prominent at regional and medical conferences, and often dominate the scientific programs, panel discussions and debates. Most KOLs are excellent speakers, and present their work in a very clear and compelling manner. Publications in peer-reviewed journals are regularly written by KOLs.

While KOLs tend to be physicians or academics, there are many other roles which can produce a persuasive and talented influencer. We’ve seen nurses, social workers, patient advocates, lab directors, PharmDs, and researchers all provide exceptional KOL value.

When to Use a KOL

From a marketing viewpoint they are ambassadors for your product. What I mean by this is they are very device-, diagnostic- and treatment-agnostic, so they are ambassadors in terms of educating an audience about why a test or product is important in the treatment of a disease. They don’t mention your specific product. In fact, they likely also work with your competitors!

Your KOL’s job is to educate the market as to why they need a product. For example, they can support or confirm why the market should do a certain test, or why they should use a particular therapy. It’s then your job to promote your product, show how well it matches the ‘why’ the KOL explained and show how it delivers results.

Because these individuals are able to reach and influence a specific audience niche in the market, they are a valuable resource for any healthcare or life science company. You want to use a key opinion leader to educate your market space through:

  • webinars your company is sponsoring on the disease state
  • speaking engagements at conferences or events
  • user meetings
  • social media
  • podcasts on related topics
  • educational videos
  • article authorship

A KOL educates the people you’re selling to with real facts and data. There is no hearsay, no so-called Facebook ‘expertise’ and no marketing fluff. It’s the facts and only the facts. KOLs are not part of your sales team, but they do help to educate your sales team.

Key opinion leaders aren’t just for clinician education. They can also be valuable resources for patient-facing markets. If you are marketing a medical device or software device, your KOL can educate patients on why this type of device is important.

Where to Start Once You’ve Identified a KOL

It starts with building a KOL slide deck. A slide deck for a healthcare KOL is a deep scientific conversation, usually around 60–90 slides in length. When we build a deck, it’s comprised of reference materials, it is entirely non-promotional data – the Holy Grail of thought leadership.

What you want to do is provide your thought leader with all of the data and all of the prep work that went into the creation of your test or product. In addition, you’ll include all of the outside research – every single relevant journal article should be included in this deck – along with the results doctors are looking for. A doctor no longer needs to go out and track down every article, you’ve already centralized it all conveniently in one place.

What you won’t include is why your test or product is important. In fact, you’re not going to mention your product at all. The science around why it’s needed is what is important here. Think of it as a subtle sale.

The Value Beyond the KOL

When you develop a slide deck for your KOL strategy, you may think that it’s only good for webinar education or some of the other activities mentioned above.

But, you’d be wrong.

A KOL deck is what I call ‘marketing rich.’ It’s rich for the sales team. It’s rich for the marketing team and it’s rich for your customers. Not only do you educate your customers and sales team, but by having all of this information, the marketing department gains a real understanding of the product’s background. Because of this, marketing is able to build out webinars, white papers, blog posts, social media content, email campaigns, landing pages and web copy – all of which can help drive leads. The initial investment in a slide deck continues to pay dividends beyond your direct work with the KOL.

For example, for one of our clients, an in vitro diagnostics testing solutions pioneer, we developed a lead generating webinar using noted KOLs to discuss a disease state and the importance of testing. This webinar ultimately produced more than 1,100 high quality leads.

A KOL Strategy Keeps You Top of Mind

Incorporating a key opinion leader strategy in your overall marketing can be a very smart decision for healthcare, pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies. Think about it – who do you think will be top of mind when your target audience is ready to buy? It’s going to be the company that educated that audience.

If you need assistance planning and implementing a KOL strategy, reach out to us.

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 30, 2021 in Advertising, Brand Strategy and Design, Digital Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Automation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

How to Create a Well-Planned White Paper

How to Create a Well-Planned White Paper

by Debra Harrsch

Do you know how important digital content is in your customer’s buying decision? I think by now we can all agree that it is a critical factor in moving your prospects forward on their journey. The word ‘content,’ however, covers quite a bit of territory – from email and blogs, to case studies and web content, to ads and white papers – and that is just some of today’s common content types.

Last March, I talked specifically about white papers in my Why White Papers are Important and How to Use Them blog post. I just saw a statistic in AZO Network’s Scientific Purchasing Survey – 2021 that puts a little more perspective around how important white papers are in your marketing toolbox. The survey found that nearly 75% of people viewed whitepapers as having an influence on their purchasing decision.

Just as a quick reminder, white papers are an essential part of your overall content strategy. They are the main asset that audiences researching and evaluating products are willing to trade their contact information for. Readers will expect the content to be educational and helpful – not promotional.

Remember that white papers should speak to a relevant topic that your customers view as a pain point. Your paper should also be presented in a way that shows your thought leadership on the subject. If these two elements are not a part of your project, why are you writing a white paper at all?

Since white papers are typically used for lead generation, it is critical that the topic you choose is one that readers are interested in. If it isn’t valuable, you won’t be able to drive traffic.

As I also mentioned in my last blog on white papers, you need to promote them just like any other content. Before you even write a white paper, you should plan how you’re going to disseminate it. Here are two thoughts on how you can use your new white paper:

  • Promote it as a download from your advertising to generate leads.
  • Share it with customers and prospects as a follow-up to sales engagements or trade show meetings.

Smart marketing partners will leverage the heck out of this content. Here are some of the ways Brandwidth Solutions uses white paper content. We:

  • Promote them via social media, repurpose the content as blog posts, and convert it into an original article for publication in third-party periodicals.
  • Create a lead-generating ad campaign – offering the paper as an asset.
  • Use it as part of an email nurturing campaign.
  • Include it in your newsletter.
  • Post it on your website (we prefer to gate it for more lead generation).
  • Look at the material with an eye towards converting it into a podcast or webinar.

Planning Your White Paper

White papers written by vendors are educational, informative, non-promotional papers that share expertise, perspective, and solutions for either specific or broad challenges their readers face (for example, “best green chemistry techniques” or “what are the benefits of outsourcing?”).

Last time we talked a little about how to structure a white paper. Here, I’ll show you how we create well-planned white papers for our life science and technology clients.

Scientists are used to lots of different kinds of papers – peer-reviewed articles, technical documents, and application notes, as examples. Because they are familiar with technical papers, your goal in developing a white paper should be to educate and inform your scientific audience in an area where you have expertise. White papers, when done well, help you build credibility with your target audience – especially as they look to you for guidance and information when researching products and services.

White Paper Length

Consider this: a 2018 DemandGen survey found that 61% of respondents share white papers with their colleagues. The survey also found that the majority of those surveyed (28%) spent 10-20 minutes with a white paper, while 24% spent just 5-10 minutes and only 16% spent more than 30 minutes.

The point of this data? Make sure your paper is easy to read and to the point.

I’ve seen white papers vary wildly in length, but we recommend around 2,000 words. This length keeps the information easily digestible, but with enough depth to help readers with their due diligence when investigating a product or service. If your topic is more complex, you can always create a two-part series.

What to Include

White papers are a vehicle for covering what questions readers should ask about a product or service, what to look for, primers on best practices…or to help them understand a product, service, process, or approach. Your white paper will share your point of view and solutions to the problem without being overly promotional. It’s your way of helping readers understand key information – all without using a hard-sell approach. This is what makes white papers a good lead generation tool. Customers and prospects are willing to register to download a white paper.

Because white papers need to add value, you must be very clear about what you have to say and why you want to contribute to the conversation when you start a project. Remember, white papers are not created using only your perspective. You must understand what the reader needs and what they will get from your content.

Our process helps you figure all of this out.

We start with a kick-off discovery call where we take time to find out about you and what you have to offer – what makes your expertise unique and valuable. We discover who you are trying to reach, what information they most want to know, and what you have to say about the topic.

And then, we dig in further, following up with an interview(s) of your subject matter expert(s). We choose one of our writers who is best suited to work with you. They then develop an outline, and after your approval, get to work on writing a white paper that best serves your prospects’ needs.

Whether your audience is highly technical and scientific, or business decision-makers focused getting comfortable with your offering, your white paper needs to be well-written. You must craft it in the right tone and style for your audience, and it must be engaging – or they won’t read it. We believe that a good design, with informative graphics wherever possible, is part of the process of engaging readers and should be part of any white paper project.

And Finally…

We make sure your white paper has a compelling call-to-action. Never forget to tell your reader what they should do next! Once you have reviewed and approved the content, you’ll have a well-written asset that can be used not only for lead gen but as the basis for additional content marketing.

White papers are just one tool in your marketing toolbox, but they are an important one! They are an authoritative voice from your company – designed to be a persuasive document that builds credibility and moves your prospect along their journey in discovering your solutions. When you marry the white paper to other forms of communication for an integrated approach, you help your readers see the value you bring to their challenge.

Considerable time and effort go into creating a white paper that can be used for multiple content marketing purposes. If your team needs assistance, we’re here to help. Give us a call to learn more.

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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