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

The Sales & Marketing Departments: Friends or Foes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing & Sales: Different Perceptions

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

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

Features/ Benefits Don’t Always Translate Into Value Propositions

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

Sales: We Want Leads!

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

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

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

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

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

Creating a Sales & Marketing Relationship

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

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

Leads vs. Customers

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

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

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

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

Teamwork: Collaborating to Improve Lead Gen

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Customer Perception

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

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

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Posted by on Jan 10, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Strategy | 0 comments

Acquiring Lab Customers: Demystifying the B2B Sales Process

Brandwidth Solutions - Acquiring Lab Customers: Demystifying the B2B Sales Process

by Larry Worden and Deb Harrsch

Do you know why you lost that big sale to the hospital lab? Chances are you don’t. Not really. All you know is that you submitted the RFI/RFP response and…nothing.

MDxI (Market Diagnostics International) surveyed a sampling of laboratories and found that the main reasons vendors weren’t chosen to provide services were:

  • Failure to meet the basic requirements of an RFI/RFP
  • Delays and lack of focus on the customer’s evaluation process
  • Absence of a solid relationship with decision makers
  • Ability to meet the customer’s requirements efficiently and economically
  • Challenges in prior service delivery
  • Aggressive sales tactics or personnel
  • Lack of appropriate assays

If anything here rings a bell for you, then you’ll want to dig into the following information.

How Customers Make Buying Decisions in Hospital Systems and Laboratories

M&A in the hospital and laboratory space has increased in the last several years, leading to fewer opportunities due to consolidation. But, the vendor selection process hasn’t changed. The length of the buying decision for lab and hospital laboratory systems has also remained the same – a nine-to-24-month time frame.

MDxI reports that virtually all labs have a similar 13-step process for identifying needs and potential vendors, producing RFIs & RFPs, evaluating vendors, and ultimately choosing a supplier. As a sales rep, you’ll want to study this process to ensure that you understand what your target customers will expect from you.

Behind the Scenes in the Lab – 13 Steps to Successful Vendor Selection

  1. Identifying the Need: Lab staff drives the process when older equipment needs replacing.
  2. Establishing an Evaluation Team: Participating team members typically include the lab manager, section supervisor and key medical technologists. Team members may also include the medical director and an IT representative. The lab manager is the team lead.
  3. Gathering Preliminary Information: Team members research and identify potential vendors through web searches, laboratory trade shows and conferences, and conversations with lab colleagues.
  4. Notifying Potential Vendors: Once the evaluation team has qualified a selection of vendors, they invite those companies to present to the team.

When can you ask to be included in the evaluation process? If your company already sells to the lab in question, or if you have developed a relationship with the potential customer, you can ask to be included in the evaluation process at this stage.

  1. Developing and Prioritizing Evaluation Criteria: The team will create a categorized list of requirements in order of importance.
  2. Issuing the RFI: During this key phase, all potential vendors are provided the lab’s list of requirements. You may need to visit the lab to ensure your company thoroughly understands the lab’s layout and workflows. You must make detailed recommendations on how your solutions will address the customer’s needs.
  3. Sourcing Additional Input: The lab’s evaluation team will continue to gather information on all the potential vendors. They’ll tap third-party resources to validate your claims. Sources could include: CAP proficiency survey results to review equipment performance, adverse incident/recall information, MD Buyline service ratings, and site visits to labs which use your equipment.
  4. Rating Vendors: After gathering all of their research and your RFI answers, the lab evaluation team begins ranking the potential vendors against their requirements.
  5. Narrowing the Playing Field and Sending the RFP: Once the rankings are completed, the team sends out the RFP. Typically only two or three vendors are in the running at the time of RFP.

If you have a strong relationship with the lab manager and your company is not invited to participate in the RFP, you can ask to be included in the RFP process. But, be warned, it may not be in your best interest to participate. Many labs prefer to restrict the RFP process to only those companies they believe best meet their needs.

  1. Vendor Presentations: Vendors may be asked to present their responses to the RFP directly to the evaluation team.
  2. Assessing the Finalists: If the finalists are tied or if none of them can provide the perfect solution, the evaluation team requests additional information or alternate solutions from the vendors in question.
  3. Selecting the Best Vendor: When all the information has been submitted, including the financials, the evaluation team meets to vote on the winning vendor.
  4. Negotiating and Signing the Contract: Once the team has selected the best supplier, the contract is then negotiated and signed by the business manager or procurement department.

Knowing your customer’s process allows sales teams to add value at critical stages of the buying process.

What Your Sales and Marketing Departments Need to Do

Now might be a good time to review what ‘customer acquisition’ means. As BusinessDictionary.com states, it’s “The process of persuading a consumer to purchase a company’s good or services.”  Yes, there’s a cost associated with customer acquisition as well, but what we really need to think about here is the process.

The process involves both sales and marketing. The sales team is responsible for the customer relationship and driving the sale. MDxI shared that there are certain do’s and don’ts to sales rep actions.

Do

  • Communicate monthly or quarterly with your contacts. Ask your contact which they prefer and follow directions!
  • Connect by email or make an appointment.

Don’t

  • Don’t assume a phone call is better. Customers report it’s hard to get on the phone.
  • Don’t show up without an appointment and expect your contact to be available.
  • Don’t go around laboratory decision makers. Executive teams, administration, or purchasing will not help you get your foot in the door.
  • Don’t try to visit your contact too often – they’re busy.

Marketing is responsible for making sure that sales has everything they need to nurture and close the sale – from marketing collateral to white papers and case studies to web content the customer may access prior to speaking with a sales rep.

Marketing needs to work closely with sales. Regular communication delivers a crucial understanding of what the customer needs to know. With that information, marketing can design exactly the right tools to enhance your sales efforts.

How to Win at Customer Acquisition

What happens when sales and marketing work together? Sales success. When MDxI surveyed labs to understand what was behind successful sales, they found that the key drivers were solid relationships and time and attention to detail.

  • Relationships: When sales establishes a solid relationship with all the key decision-makers in a lab system – and maintains those relationships over time – regardless of their status as a customer or future customer, they are invited to bid. These relationships provide the sales rep with inside knowledge of open bids. They also allow sales reps to ask decision-makers to participate in upcoming vendor selections. If you can’t bid, you can’t win a sale.
  • Time and Attention to Detail: It takes time to develop a relationship. It also takes time to respond to an RFI/RFP thoroughly – and ensure that each step of the acquisition process is completed by the deadlines requested. Customers are watching and they will notice if your team doesn’t meet expectations. You need to show decision-makers that you value them and their business. If not, guess what? No sale.

But, don’t assume that these are the only keys to winning new lab customers. MDxI found that breadth of product lines, automation capabilities, and other contracts with the customer also played important roles in driving vendor choice. While you may not be able to do much about current contracts with a health system, your marketing and sales teams can certainly ensure that your potential customer understands the scope of your product line and advantages of your automation solution.

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.

Larry Worden co-founded MDxI in 2006 and is now the principal at IVD Logix. Larry has spent 40 years in the fields of medical and scientific marketing research and syndicated data services. Today, he focuses on the in vitro diagnostics marketplace, providing market information solutions to clients using qualitative and quantitative market research methods. Contact Larry at 214.434.1923.

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2019 in Digital Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Automation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy | 0 comments

How Can You Optimize Webinar Results?

Once your company has achieved brand awareness (and even while you’re still working on it!), lead generation is the most important activity for any marketing department.

What is one of the most valuable tools for B2B lead gen? Inside Sales.com’s Optimal Lead Generation Methods report states that “75% of respondents (B2B sales and marketing representatives) say a webinar is the best way to generate high-quality leads.”

 But to generate those high quality leads, you’ve got to design an effective webinar and follow-up marketing campaign.

Designing an Effective Webinar

For science-based businesses, a third-party webinar is a smart choice. When you hold your webinar via third party trade publications, it is viewed less as a direct marketing campaign and more as higher-value educational information.

You need to choose a topic your audience is interested in. Then choose speakers for the webinar who are not associated with your company, as that drives higher interest in the webinar for your target audience.

You should know that third-party webinars can be pricey. You’ll be paying quite a bit of money for their email list in addition to the hosting and all the marketing they will do to their audience. But sometimes their list isn’t complete, and you’ll want to supplement it with additional lists – including your own – to make the most of your investment.

Once you’ve held the webinar, I often say to clients, “Now what? What are we going to get out of the webinar?”

Yes, you’ve got a webinar. You’ve got this great piece of collateral that’s going to live on and be accessible for a year. You can market it, you can do eblasts reminding people to log on to the archived version of the webinar.

But what’s the next step in generating leads from a webinar?

Creating ROI from Your Webinar

Sometimes companies who hold webinars think that once they’ve created, promoted and produced the webinar the job is done. It’s not.

If this is what happens in your organization, you’re walking away from leads. Obviously, you don’t want to do that. You need to keep marketing.

How?

When a webinar is scheduled, many people will sign up. But only half – 40% to 50% – of that audience usually attends. This is when you segment the audience who was interested in the material. You’ll divide the list into “Those Who Attended” and “Those Who Did Not Attend.”

For those people who attended the webinar, you’ll create an email drip campaign starting with a “Thank you for attending” message along with a next step call to action. Your next email could include an Executive Summary of the webinar or the PowerPoint slides in a PDF format. The emails following that could include white papers, case studies or articles relating to the webinar topic.

But for those interested parties who didn’t attend, many times they are completely left behind by marketing and sales departments. You can’t assume they didn’t attend because they weren’t interested. Anything could have happened – life, emergencies, important meetings, etc. This situation calls for a different email drip campaign.

For these folks, you’ll want to create a starting email with a “Sorry we missed you on the webinar!” message. You can also include an executive summary with a call to action link to the archive for the webinar. Your next email in the drip campaign might be the PDF of the PowerPoint slides from the webinar along with a link to the the archived webinar – providing a way for them to attend at a more convenient time.

As this audience gradually attends the webinar, you’ll receive monthly reports from your webinar vendor identifying them.

What Happened With This Clinical Company’s Webinar?

One of Brandwidth’s clients in the clinical space did a webinar on PCT testing and Sepsis.

The first step? Identify the audience. In a hospital, sepsis falls under the antibiotic stewardship team. That team consists of three audiences: the laboratory director, the infectious disease director and the pharmacist. In every hospital, that’s the team for an antibiotic stewardship program.

The webinar was being run through College of American Pathologists. Now, CAP is an outstanding place to have a third-party webinar, but their list is specific to laboratories. They don’t have infectious disease doctors in their database, and they don’t have clinical pharmacists on their list either.

The next step? We rented two lists to fill out the audience – a clinical pharmacist list and an infectious disease doctor list. We gave the infectious doctor list to CAP so when they sent out the invite to the PCT & Sepsis webinar, both the labs and the infectious doctors received it.

The clinical pharmacist list rental required a different process. They needed an HTML version of the invite to send to their list. So we provided the messaging for the invite in HTML for them.

The set-up? We structured the webinar to ensure that our client spoke very little. While they sponsored the webinar, they chose a clinical pharmacist and an infectious disease doctor to speak about sepsis, why PCT testing is so important and how it affects diagnosing sepsis. In addition, we structured the presentation slides for both leading experts.

On the day of the webinar the company had 1,100 registrants for the webinar. It was a one-hour webinar, and more than 600 people attended. But what’s fascinating is this: that one-hour webinar lasted an hour and a half due to the questions the audience asked.

Post webinar marketing steps?

Now we had the list of registrants, and they included the clinical pharmacists, infectious disease doctors, and labs.

What we did first was create an email blast to those who attended from the registrant list. To those who attended the message was, “Thank you for coming.” For those who did not attend we crafted an email message of, “Sorry we missed you.”

And because we had rented the infectious disease doctors list for a three-month period, we were able to see which doctors did not register for the webinar. For those individuals we created a special email message around, “Sorry we missed you at the webinar. Here’s a link to the webinar archive.”

The ongoing email marketing campaign looked like this:

  1. The first email provided the webinar’s executive summary and PowerPoint slides.
  2. The second email provided an FAQ. This FAQ was created from the Q&A from the webinar.
  3. The third email provided attendees a white paper on PCT testing and sepsis.

By structuring the ongoing communications, we kept the audience engaged. It was obviously a very germane topic, because 1,100 people registered and even more importantly – 600 attendees stayed on the phone for an hour and a half. Not one attendee left the webinar before the end.

A Successful Webinar Delivers ROI

A successful webinar includes the right topic and the right audience. You need to make sure you’re reaching all of the audiences that pertain to the topic. If you’re producing the webinar through a third-party organization, they may not have the list for your entire audience – so go and rent more lists. Be sure that you have a plan for a proper follow-on marketing campaign.

Remember that in science-based businesses, sales numbers are not always immediately reflected. You won’t be in the position to have a “Buy It Now” button, so ROI can occur 18 months or more after an event such as a webinar. It’s important for your marketing and sales teams to track whether their conversions have attended and engaged with the webinar, or any follow-on marketing efforts.

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, energy and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

 

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Posted by on Sep 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 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.

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