Posted by on Jan 29, 2021 in Brand Strategy and Design, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

The Messaging Platform and Why It’s Essential for Your Marketing

by Deb Harrsch

Marketers talk a lot about messaging platforms. They talk about the need for one, and how to use it in marketing. But, not everyone understands what a marketing message platform is or why it’s an essential part of your marketing strategy.

What is a Messaging Platform?

A messaging platform empowers you as a marketer, and it empowers you as a business. It is the basis of everything you need to communicate with your buyers. Your integrated marketing plans are built from the information in your message platform.

Any message platform should include:

  • Your target audience and their needs
  • A position statement
  • A long elevator pitch
  • Your brand (or product) pillars and headline benefits
  • Support examples
  • Tone of voice

It doesn’t sound like much, but it delivers deep ongoing value to every area of your business – from the C-suite to sales to marketing. If you think about your business today, each department is likely delivering different messages about what you do and what benefits you give customers. In addition to those mixed messages, each person is probably using different language and support examples to demonstrate your value. They may even be chasing customers outside of your target audience. None of this is helpful to growing your company – or its revenue.

A marketing message platform gives everyone in your company very clear language, proof points, and positioning – ensuring that your brand is consistent in every engagement with a potential customer. It tells everyone in your company:

These are our brand pillars. This is how we talk to our customers. This is what we do.”

That’s what a messaging platform is.

Developing a Message Platform

The six elements of a message platform are the basis of all communications and they do take some significant upfront work.

Who is involved in creating a message platform? Everyone.

  • Your C-suite needs to be in the room
  • Sales needs to be in the room
  • Marketing needs to be in the room
  • Every department with customer-facing communications needs to be in that room

This may sound like there will be too many cooks in the kitchen, but what actually ends up happening is this: it brings your entire team together. It is an outstanding exercise for your company, and everyone ends up on the same page.

No, it’s not a bing, bang, boom, five-minute conversation. It’s a process. I’ll be honest, it can take weeks to get this done right.

Developing this platform gets to the core of what your company does, what you want to be, and how you want your customers to perceive your brand. Those are big questions, and you may think you know the right answers, but when you dig down deep everyone may have different viewpoints.

I understand that as a marketer you need to move fast and it’s hard to take a step back, to spend time and money on messaging. But, you can either set yourself up for success by focusing now and getting it done right, or you can go on about your business and find out that your messaging isn’t right and lose your audience.

Your messaging is critical to your business. If you don’t follow a solid proven process and develop the right messaging, you’re going to lose out.

How do You Create a Message Platform?

Every messaging process starts with discovery. Whether you’re working on a company brand messaging platform or a product messaging platform, you need to have a discovery session to begin figuring it out. What are you going to talk about?

The discovery process digs deep into your business. Here are the areas that you’ll explore to create your platform:

  • Define the background of the product or in the case of a brand platform the company. What are your business goals for your company or product or service?
  • Ask what exactly does the company or your product or service do. You’ll work on listing out all features and benefits and how they solve customer pain points.
  • Talk about the target market and your buyer. This is where you’ll spend considerable time. You want to confirm who your target markets are. Who’s your audience? Who are your buyers? If you haven’t developed your buyer personas, do it now. You’ll look at what their roles are and what their individual journeys are in moving from awareness, to consideration, to buyer. Analyze your customer’s pain points.
  • Develop competitive positioning. Where do you fit in the marketplace and where do you want to fit? Explore your business intelligence. Look into anything that you can get from third parties or marketing trends or information you may have inside.
  • Explore why your product or service or company is different from your competitors. What makes you better at addressing your customer’s pain points? Develop your SWOT analysis. What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? What makes your company or product/service special?
  • Determine the value you offer. You need to know what the value proposition is for what you’re doing – whether it’s for a product or service or your company. The value could be all wrapped into one proposition, or there could be multiple value propositions. For example, big companies tend to have multiple value propositions for multiple products or services, while smaller companies may be much more integrated. Develop a short value proposition and a long value proposition.
  • Figure out what the brand pillars and benefits are for your messaging – what’s important to your company and customers. For example, if one of your brand pillars is security, what does that mean? Is the benefit reduced risk?
  • Each of your brand pillars must be substantiated with support examples. Use cases are a good source for this information. These support examples are what sales and marketing will use to talk about your company or products and services. In the case of the brand pillar – security – above, the support examples could be end-to-end solutions, or geographic diversity, or an alternative supply, or all of the above. All of this supports your security brand pillar and you’ll need this information when you develop your content.
  • While everyone is in the same room working on the big vision for the company, it’s also a good time to figure out what the sales strategy is and what the marketing goals are. Sometimes the marketing goal is just developing a message platform or web copy or a brochure, but you need to figure out what your marketing goals are for the near-term and long-term.

For brand platforms, the process does deviate somewhat and is much more visionary in nature. You need to develop clear vision and mission statements. Everything else remains the same in terms of your target audience, value statements, brand pillars and benefits, as well as the support examples.

If you have a messaging platform from a corporate standpoint, the information in your brand pillars needs to flow through all of your content and assets, including your graphics. We also work on the tone of voice, which ties directly into content development. It skis into your social media and into your website copy. It skis into ads and all your marketing collateral. All of this work is done in service to your buyer personas – to get them from awareness, to consideration, to buy.

What Does the Application of a Messaging Platform Look Like in Practice?

We had a recent example where a client was developing a sell sheet. The copy was essentially a bullet list. When they showed it to me, I said, “Wait a minute, we just did a messaging platform. Tell me, how does that sell sheet relate to the message platform we just worked so hard on?”

Can you guess the response? It was, “Oh, my, it doesn’t.”

My next question was, “What does that mean?”

“We can’t use it.”

Ouch. No one wants to spend time and money developing collateral that doesn’t meet the needs of customers.

Messaging platforms give you a way to be consistent in your content and how it is used. It does everything from give you the keywords you need in your copy (especially digital copy) to how you build your integrated marcom plan.

A messaging platform that everyone in your company has weighed in on and worked together to develop is essential to your sales and marketing efforts. Yes, it takes work, but the ROI far outweighs the investment.

Sometimes it helps to have an impartial outside firm facilitate the discovery process and develop the platform. At Brandwidth Solutions, we have a proven approach to building an integrated marketing plan – one part of which is a brand or product messaging platform.

Our approach takes your team from discovery into strategy development. After those two critical steps, we build the plan and implement branding and marketing tactics. Give us a call to learn more about developing your marketing message platform.

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 – that want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

Read More

Posted by on Jan 3, 2022 in Marketing Strategy, Website Strategy | 0 comments

Why Marketing is Now Responsible for SQLs Instead of MQLs

By Debra Harrsch

Lately, we’ve seen that marketing departments are now responsible not only for generating marketing qualified leads (MQLs) but also sales qualified leads (SQLs). While every company is different, there are certainly growing trends redefining the relationship between marketing and sales.

Although it does happen occasionally, it’s exceptionally rare for marketing to deliver a lead that’s ready to buy without interaction from sales teams. However, as companies move towards digital marketing and sales, many have started to blur the lines between roles.

It can be a challenge.

The Traditional Role of Marketing

Typically, leads come in two flavors: junk leads and MQLs. Junk leads have no value and can be quickly eliminated. MQLs, however, usually require a fair degree of nurturing to get them until the point they turn into SQLs. That’s the traditional function of marketing teams.

Once a prospect sends a buying signal, such as asking for a demo or a quote, they’re ready to talk to somebody. As a potential customer moves through the buyer’s journey from awareness to consideration to buy, it takes a different skill set to close deals.

In life science industries, there’s a heavier lift, however. Tech and pharma companies are buying big-ticket items and often have questions or need specific information to move forward. Skilled sales teams are best equipped to answer these questions, provide the information, and even customize deals.

The New Sales & Marketing Alignment

In practice, marketing and sales need to be aligned. Here are two statistics that show the power of alignment:

  • 87% of marketing and sales leaders say it’s collaboration that fuels critical business growth.
  • Conversely, 60% of sales and marketing teams believe misalignment causes financial damage.

Alignment is not a given. Nine in ten marketing and sales teams say there is a disconnect across strategy, process, content, or culture when it comes to alignment.

Think about the way a typical prospect comes to your company and advances through the buyer’s journey. There are several steps and it is marketing’s job to get them to move to each new stage until they are ready to convert.

For example:

  • Prospects come to your website or landing page.
  • They might provide their email to access a whitepaper or register for a webinar.
  • Prospects become MQLs.
  • Marketing automation kicks in to keep track of all of the prospect’s touchpoints and deliver relevant content designed to drive them through the buyer’s journey as part of your lead nurturing program.
  • As prospects continue to interact with you, you are constantly monitoring for buying signals that say it’s time to involve sales.
  • When prospects send the right signals, such as asking for a demo, it becomes a SQL.

However, marketing’s job isn’t done at this stage. Besides letting potential customers know, “Thanks for signing up for the demo,” additional new nurturing sequences are launched. There are reminders and new messaging trees that queue up relevant information based on their behavior.

You might program your automation platform to send out a whitepaper based on the demo, for example, or to follow up. Because you are tracking behavior, you know whether they opened the email and engaged with the content. If not, you might send another message with a different subject line. This sequence continues until you decide there’s no further benefit.

Even while prospects are waiting for a demo, you don’t want them to stop thinking about your products or solutions. Your nurturing sequence may have branched off because of their demo request, but it shouldn’t stop. Maybe you’ll send a case study or a thought leadership piece at this point to keep them engaged and keep your company top of mind – and keep them moving towards the end goal.

Marketing Doesn’t Stop at the Purchase Stage

Even after a prospect buys, marketing continues. The salesperson will try to maintain and build the relationship for future sales, but marketing needs to continue to nurture your current customers. You might create a newsletter or send out links to blog posts or press releases.

Newsletters are a great way to keep your company top of mind. It’s fairly simple to do since you can aggregate much of the content you’ve already developed. For example, you can pull together your press releases, most current blog posts, product information, videos, and bundle them into an email to get additional exposure.

When customers remain engaged, it keeps awareness high. The marketing focus shifts to making them aware of other products and services and driving them right back to the consideration phase and then, ultimately, into the buying stage.

That’s why the sales funnel is outdated. In the sales funnel, leads go in at the top and come out as customers at the bottom. In today’s B2B environment, the customer journey is more like a circle where you drive customers through the buyer’s journey and then bring them right back to the start to encourage future sales.

Success is about managing the entire customer lifecycle

This new iteration of the lifecycle continues to blur the lines between marketing and sales, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Alignment is key to success, and the lifecycle has forced sales and marketing to work together to create more seamless and targeted results.

The goal for marketing and sales is to keep your customers engaged and satisfied. You need to make sure they know what’s coming out and why it’s important, such as what problems you’re solving by updating their software or a new asset for their instrument in the case of the clinical market.

While finding new prospects is always essential, making sure you’re taking care of your existing customers is crucial.

Higher Quality SQLs

There was a time when marketers threw everything over the fence and delivered lists of leads for sales, regardless of the quality. Sales teams were forced to spend time evaluating leads. As we’ve become more sophisticated about our marketing, we all realize this is a waste of time for sales reps. New marketing tools have helped us sort the leads and provide the highest-value leads and SQLs for sales.

These tools and new processes create a more efficient marketing system. Is marketing now responsible for SQLs? In essence, they always have been.

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Posted by on Oct 1, 2021 in Marketing Strategy, Website Strategy | 0 comments

Why UX is the Key to a Website That Converts

User Experience Image

by Debra Harrsch

In today’s world, your digital presence is even more important than ever before. Looking into the future, your website and other digital channels will remain critical to your ability to win business – even as in-person events come back online. In fact, in-person events and meetings now play a supporting role instead of a leading role as 57–70% of prospects research their purchase decisions online before engaging with your sales team.

Now that you see how vital your website is to your business’s success, take a look at it and see whether it’s time for a refresh or redo. In the past, we’ve talked about how to build a B2B website: Who Owns Your Website?, Should You Build a Website in Phases? and How to Redo Your B2B Website. This article will help you understand why user experience (UX) is critical to a website that converts, and how to begin the process.

What is User Experience?

User experience, at its core, is how someone feels about your website – at the time they’re using it. As they move through your website they encounter your words, your images and the functionality of the site. All of those things are either going to relate to the site visitor’s needs…or they won’t. Website elements can be easy or be hard to use – or they may be frustrating for the visitor.

What you want as a website owner is to make it easy to do whatever it is you want a prospect to do. This is what creates a satisfying user experience.

User experience is not a discipline, like coding a website. UX is an all-encompassing understanding of what a customer needs, what they want, and how they think. It includes:

  • Findability – by search engines, and search within the site itself
  • Usability – how easy and intuitive it is to use
  • Usefulness – how relevant the content is

Why You Should Prioritize UX

Think about the last time you visited a website. You were there for a reason, weren’t you? You were focused on a task, and you wanted answers as quickly as possible, didn’t you?

Well, your prospect is visiting your website for the same reason. From the user’s perspective, they’re very task-focused. They want to get in and out and not have to think about process. So, as you can imagine, if there’s any kind of hesitation in flow or even a broken link, then that is going to degrade the user’s experience.

Why does it matter?

People are very loyal to a good user experience. In fact, after a bad user experience, 88% of visitors are not likely to return to a website. Further, 75% of a website’s credibility is judged on aesthetics alone!

The point is, while you could be the absolute best at what you do, if your website serves up a terrible user experience, people aren’t going to stick around to find out how wonderful your product is – and their experience will translate to your brand.

For example, you could make the best widget on the planet, but because of a negative experience on your website prospects will think your widgets are substandard. I’m not making this up: 67% of users say that a poor website experience negatively affects their opinion of a brand.

While it’s not often that your website’s UX alone will win new business, it can definitely cause you to lose business. If you’re in a competitive situation (and who isn’t?), a bad user experience will knock you off somebody’s shortlist.

It may not seem fair, but this is why website UX matters so much.

When Do You Start the UX Process?

Very simply, you start the UX process right after you think, “Oh, I need to redo my website.”

As I’ve mentioned, your website is for your customers – not your sales department or your marketing department or your product departments. UX is a practice that starts with research about your user, and it fits in perfectly with the messaging process.

It’s all about digging into what is unique about the users for your products or services. You want to make sure that the content and the functionality that you’re providing on your website aligns with your users, with how they specifically want to interact with you, and with their decision-making process.

Crafting an effective UX starts with doing customer research upfront. It’s necessary to talk directly to your audience (really – they don’t mind and are frequently happy someone asked!). It’s also important to talk with stakeholders in your organization – particularly those who are on the front lines, like your customer support people or salespeople. The people that are answering the phone are your front-line workers – they’re getting all the questions and the complaints.

At Brandwidth Solutions, we start with customer personas. From there we dive more deeply into UX research using a unique framework called an empathy map, and then we create a customer journey map.

How to Do User Experience Research

An empathy map is a little bit different from the customer personas that everyone is used to because it focuses more on how your customers and prospects are behaving and feeling at the time they realize a problem. It lays out their motivations, their expectations and what influences their decisions, as opposed to their demographics such as how old they are, what their salary is and whether they have 2.6 kids.

You might think about the empathy map as a set of life stages. For example, if I tell you that the target audience is a new mom, you automatically apply all the experiences that go with that, right? Sleepless nights, doing everything with only one arm because there’s a child in the other, not being able to wash their hair for a week, and so forth.

BUT…what if I were to tell you that the new mom is 14? Or if I told you that the new mom is 50?

You immediately have very different thoughts about that person. Your bias kicks in and you assign things that don’t matter to the situation. What is important is that they still need sleep and they still need to shower. The basic issues a new mother has don’t change.

We focus the empathy map on the point in time when the prospect realizes they have a need or an issue that your company can solve.

Once we have completed our empathy map, the second framework that we apply is a customer journey map.

We explore every stage of the customer journey. We typically talk about the customer journey in the

abbreviated terms of awareness, consider and buy. But, a customer’s journey is more complex than these 3 steps.

The decision-making journey map starts at the point where the prospect has awareness of an issue. Then they decide to take action and begin researching solutions. In their information gathering stage they might find 20 different solutions. After that, they enter an evaluation stage in which they edit those 20 options down to three or two.

Once they’ve streamlined their possible solutions, they are in the decision phase. This is the time where they make the decision to do business with your organization. After that, there’s a review or validation phase where they review what they think about the product they purchased and what the experience was like. They examine if they have issues and how they can follow-up with your company.

For every stage in this customer journey, we work to identify all of the questions that your prospect has during the process.

Keep in mind that at every stage this prospect is likely sharing their user experience with colleagues and their external network. They may be sharing whether their experience is good or bad, and how that colors their view of your product or solution.

With this clearer understanding of UX, next month we’ll talk through how to implement what we’ve discovered through our research – and the keys to a good user experience. Stay tuned!

If you’ve got a website refresh in your future plans and want to explore UX further, 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.

Read More

Posted by on Apr 30, 2021 in Advertising, Brand Strategy and Design, Digital Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Automation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

How to Implement Integrated Marketing in Your Organization

How to Implement Integrated Marketing

by Debra Harrsch

Marketing covers a lot of territory these days, and it’s easy to get confused about what you should do and when – never mind the abundance of tools to help you execute your ideas. Perhaps more important than making all those individual decisions is launching your marketing activities with an integrated marketing approach.

An integrated marketing approach ensures that you provide a consistent experience with your brand to your customers. Think about it. If you deliver multiple messages across marketing channels, you’ll confuse your customers instead of achieving brand awareness or the leads you need to meet your revenue goals.

Integrated marketing always starts with your messaging

Whether you’re selling a product or a service, marketing always starts with your messaging. Your messaging must be targeted and remain consistent across every marketing channel from your website, to email marketing, to advertising, to social media, and across all of your content assets. It’s not until you have the messaging for all your buyer personas nailed down that you build out the engine to drive your marcom plan.

Building an integrated marketing plan

I love analogies, and I think about integrated marketing plans in terms of a car engine. There are many moving parts in a car engine, and we all know that a car will not work if a part of your engine is either missing or not working properly. You can’t move forward if every part of that engine isn’t running smoothly.

The same thing is true of integrated marketing plans.

You’re building a marketing engine to accelerate your business. In creating your marketing engine, you’ll need to assemble all your marketing choices and assets into a cohesive plan. You want to make sure all parts of that engine – from your social media and website to your white papers, case studies, videos, and podcasts – are working together to propel your business forward.

And you need to remember that while you can build an engine, you can’t expect it to drive anywhere unless you maintain it. It will need oil and gas (or electricity), and it will need to be monitored and tuned-up periodically.

Marketing is the engine that will take your sales team to where they need to be

You’ll maintain your marketing engine based on shifts in market trends and on what your sales team is saying. The business development team is closest to your customers. Because the marketing department isn’t always in the room when sales is doing their pitches, it’s essential to have ongoing conversations with them. Open communications allow you to understand what sales is seeing and what kinds of questions the customers are asking. One of the most beneficial moves any marketing department can make is to work together with the sales team.

(I find that going to trade shows with our customers and listening to them pitch is incredibly important, and it helps laser-target their marketing campaigns.)

Engine building sounds complicated

Do you need to build a turbocharged marketing engine to get started?

No. I think the best integrated marketing plans start simple and grow from there. We don’t start with a Lamborghini. We begin with a little Honda Fit. Marketing engines need to start simple, and then you can keep upgrading the plan. We do get to the turbocharged engine, but that level of work isn’t going to happen in a few months.

As you are building your marketing plan, you’ll need to keep in mind that you may need to create multiple engines. This will be the case if you sell into different markets or deliver products or services with a complex buying process (for example, many people in a company are involved in the buying decision). In these cases, you’ll need to build engines that speak to the different personas involved in that process. For instance, if the chemist, the IT department, and procurement are involved, you’ll want your brand messaging to address each of those people and their unique challenges or concerns in your marketing.

The point is to put the most efficient and robust lead-generating engine together. To do that, you need to review your assets, figure out where you are, and figure out what has to change. Ask yourself if there is anything that needs fixing, if you need to add assets to your mix, or if you need to repurpose older content?

What’s in a plan?

We know that the engine parts include all your marketing elements like social media, website, white papers, blog posts, case studies, videos, podcasts and ads, etc. But, it doesn’t just include the elements themselves. It also includes where you are placing those elements.

For example, you may decide to use print and digital ads to target that chemist I mentioned above. The marketing action isn’t just a matter of developing the creative for the ads.

When you use an integrated marketing approach it means that the ad in question has the right messaging for the chemist’s stage in the buyer’s journey, along with a landing page which completes the marketing message in the ad – and drives the chemist through to a back-end asset (such as a white paper) that moves them forward on their journey. It also means that the ad creative may be used in social media, and that the white paper may be developed into a blog post and organic social media content to drive the chemist to the landing page and white paper.

Do you see how by keeping your messaging tight and assets working together, you are able to explain the full story of your product or service to your customers and help them in the journey to buy? You’re also able to re-use and repurpose your marketing assets, which can help your budget stretch further.

Everything works together and drives leads

Let me share a case study with you. We have a software client who has seven distinct vertical markets. Those range from highly regulated pharma to oil and gas (O&G) to food and beverage (F&B). We need to build integrated plans for each of those verticals, so we treat them as separate engines.

When we built the plan for the pharma vertical, for instance, we didn’t just look at building ads. We built a messaging platform for the personas in that vertical. And then we built the assets for that vertical. In this buying process, there are multiple personas. They have a chemist and a senior lab director who both need to solve a scientific problem. There is an IT department that has to integrate the software with other internal systems. And there is the procurement office which is not intimately involved in the science.

Expanding this thinking across their business for each vertical’s plan, we created ad campaigns to use across all of their marketing opportunities – from Google display ads to digital and print publication ads, to podcast and webinar sponsorships. We also created videos, white papers, case studies, brochures, tech sheets, and PR based on new offers that have been launched in each vertical. We made sure that all of these elements worked together across every channel, from advertising to social media to trade journals to audio and visual media.

When we built their campaign for the year, that campaign flowed throughout all six verticals. It looked slightly different for O&G than it did for pharma, but it has the same theme and the same energy driving it forward.

(You may not realize it, but ad campaigns have longer legs than you might think. You don’t have to change your ad campaign every year. I know people will say to me, “oh, you know, we’ve seen that for a while.” Yes, maybe you’ve seen it for a while, but your customers/prospects may not have.)

The result?

Last quarter we generated more than 1,600 leads with 55 requests for demos and an RFQ from our digital pharma campaign. In addition, we had 64 Google search phone calls last quarter requesting demos.

Keep it running and producing leads

And just like tuning up an engine – to keep your plan operating smoothly and getting you everywhere you want to go – you need to run diagnostics on your marketing actions and measure performance.

When you’re measuring your ROI, keep in mind that the challenge in marketing is people need to see things six to eight times before they react to it or remember it. Your ROI may in fact be attributable to several of your activities. For example, you may not know if the first ad you ran made the difference or if it was the non-promotional thought leadership article that ultimately drove the lead conversion – or if it was a combination of four or five different marketing actions you took that made the difference in your prospect’s mind. This is why it is called a buyer’s journey, moving from “aware” to “consider” to “buy.”

Drive your business forward with integrated marketing

Marketing’s job is to produce leads to help propel your business forward. But, to drive anything forward, you need an engine. That engine is your integrated marketing plan.

If you need help developing an integrated marketing plan to drive your business forward, give us at 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 – that want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

Read More