Posted by on Jul 6, 2021 in Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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

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

by Debra Harrsch

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

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

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

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

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

Life Science Manufacturers Still Need to Market

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

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

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

Why Does a Manufacturer Need a Blog?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Science-based Manufacturers Must Promote Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More

Posted by on Sep 12, 2019 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

5 Ways B2B Blogs & Social Media Can Transform Your Marketing Efforts

BWS B2B social media and blogAre you ready for some surprising statistics about B2B social media, corporate blogging and purchasing decisions?

It’s no wonder B2B companies are placing more emphasis than ever on blogs and social media.

Here, we’ll be covering the five most compelling reasons you should incorporate social media into your B2B marketing approach – and why corporate blogging should be at the top of that list.

B2B Blogs: A Crucial B2B Marketing Strategy

When we think of ‘social media,’ sites like Facebook or LinkedIn generally come to mind.

I believe blogs – due to their role in marketing content distribution and community engagement – occupy a unique space. They are located right at the intersection of content marketing, social media and SEO. Blog posts range from thought leadership reflections to keyword-rich industry content to educational content, events, and product announcements. In addition to copy, they often incorporate video, infographics, images, charts and more.

They are also among the top methods for attracting new customers. In fact, HubSpot reports that 55 percent of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.

Here’s why.

  1. Better SEO & Increased Web Traffic
    Blogs drive traffic to your website. Period. One reason is that websites featuring a blog have a 434% chance of ranking higher on search engines, according to Tech Client. That ranking is important as research shows that 75% of users don’t scroll beyond the first page of search In the first two years after introducing a blog and all organic social media program, a Brandwidth client saw significant increases in website traffic.

When no new content is added to a website, the website is ‘spidered’ or indexed less frequently. Fresh blog content encourages search engines to visit the website more often – leading to better search engine ranking. It also ensures your content is seen & ranked by Google soon after it’s posted.

  1. Generating More Leads…and Better Qualified Leads
    Would you like to receive 67% more leads? This is how.

Blogs are a favorite of search engines. When a potential customer enters words or phrases into a search engine to get their questions answered, blogs with those topics appear high in the search results. So if you’ve created the right content speaking to the challenges of your potential buyers and populated it with the right keywords or key phrases, customers will benefit and search engines will rank your company content higher.

This strategy is so effective that companies with blogs as part of their content marketing mix get 67 percent more leads than those who don’t.

  1. Increasing Brand Awareness
    You put a lot of time and effort into creating compelling marketing content. It makes sense to cross-promote that content across all B2B social media channels to increase awareness of your brand. Blogs also give you the opportunity to showcase your brand personality.

Blogs offer a fertile starting point for a suite of content. For example, let’s say you write a blog discussing the ‘Top 10 challenges facing the XYZ industry.’ You can transform those 10 points into an infographic, and promote it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. You can take one or two items from the list and create a short ‘how-to’ video on that topic. You can develop social posts teasing some highlights to pique interest and drive traffic to the content on your website.

Whether your customers are searching social media platforms to see what you are talking about today, or are using search engines to learn more about you, social media and blogging net you visibility.

  1. Improving the Buyer’s Journey

Blogs are a great place to start prospects out on the buying journey. Inbound marketing with blogs allows prospective customers to seek you out. Blog content should be more educational and informative, rather than sales-focused. As a result, it’s seen as less ‘threatening,’ and more likely to be considered objective.

Long-form content is also ideal for sharing ideas, fostering discussion and introducing visitors to your brand in a way you never could in, say, a tweet. Blogs are also the perfect environment for embedding a call-to-action – driving visitors through the sales funnel to specific landing pages or product or service pages.

  1. Engage With Your Prospects & Customers
    Effective B2B social media functions as a community where your business can engage with interesting data, visuals, video and more. LinkedIn and Facebook Groups can offer the ability to reach wider audiences and drive traffic to a blog post demonstrating your thought leadership in the industry. Twitter allows you to engage in real-time discussions happening in your space. With social media and blogs, companies can address key industry challenges customers or prospects are facing right now.

When it comes to customers and prospects, social media also delivers more ‘touches.’ It is commonly reported that it takes 6 to 8 touches to generate a viable sales lead. We’ve become impervious to traditional advertising and sales, and people are conducting more web research on brands than ever before. The use of blogs and social media allows you to make more of those critical ‘prospect touches.’

Use Your Blog & Social Media to Transform Your Marketing

One of the keys to a successful blog strategy is posting consistently, either with more frequent (likely shorter) posts or longer, less-frequent ‘anchor’ content. Keep your social profiles active, and share industry-relevant information that engages your audience and demonstrates your brand’s knowledge and capabilities.

 

This post was first published by Jen Mizak at www.LMwrite.com. Jen heads up Brandwidth Solutions’ social media team. She helps businesses increase visibility & boost sales by tapping into their customers’ needs with engaging blog and social media content.

Read More

Posted by on Oct 22, 2018 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Science & Social Media: Does it Work?

Wheels create power and movement – and you definitely want to have movement in your marketing! So far, in recent blog posts we’ve talked about all of the sections of the Brandwidth Solutions marketing wheel except for one – social media.

Sometimes I hear, “Well, scientists don’t use social media.”

But that’s just not true.

Scientists & Social Media

Social media not only works in the B2B space but also in our science-based world. Our clients are talking to (and want to talk to) decision makers in pharma, healthcare, life science, and in the energy sector. They’re interacting with lab directors and managers, bench scientists, doctors, practice managers, I.T. administrators, C-level execs and others.

Scientists are just like the rest of the population.

They behave the same way we do when we’re searching for information. They all have smartphones, tablets and laptops, and they use them when they’re looking for the tools they need. They search the web for information – and they also search social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

That means they are looking at white papers, case studies, blog posts, conversations – all of which can be found online.

Social Media and Science-based Marketing

When I talk to potential customers about social media, I use this analogy because I think it helps science-based marketers understand how social media will fit in their marketing mix – and how it works.

Think about social media as a tree. You have the tree trunk, you have the branches and you have the leaves. For me, the tree trunk is the blog. That’s where all of your information resides – it’s your knowledge center. The branches are all of your social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and the leaves are your customers who over time, through engagement with your brand, convert into leads.

The Blog Content Feedback Loop

Using analytics, you get ongoing feedback on the content you create. The more people who read certain posts and certain types of posts – whether it’s channel choice or content type – the more likely you will be to post that kind of material and continue the conversation.

Many brands want to push the conversations they are interested in promoting, rather than learning what the customer wants to know. But the analytics rarely lie, and the implications are clear: don’t post things people won’t read or share.

Here’s how that social media tree fits into your marketing mix.

Say you’ve created all of your marketing collateral about your product or service – your whitepapers, your case studies, your sales sheets, etc. You’ve done a press release about the new product or service, you’ve attended a trade show, set-up your e-marketing, and started doing digital and print advertising.

The key to making it all work is telling your story cohesively across all the marketing channels your customer is using to learn about your company. You need to provide information through your blog and social media that ties in all of your other content marketing elements, from white papers to press releases to awards to what you’re sending out on e-marketing as you’re generating leads. (Another bonus of a blog? Continually updating your website can improve your organic SEO!)

If you miss a marketing channel (on the ‘branches’ we talked about earlier) your customers are using to gather information, you risk ceasing to exist – and you won’t be part of the conversation when your buyer gets ready to make a decision about the product or service you offer.

All of this information needs to link back to your website. That’s where your customers are going to go before they even talk to you – especially scientists, since they always research their questions before they talk to a sales rep. It’s just their way.

Social Media Works

In the science and healthcare worlds, the sales process isn’t 24 hours.

We’re not selling a pen – we’re selling a $300,000 bit of kit or a $600,000 that’s an enterprise software platform. In some cases (outsourced drug manufacturing, for example) you may be selling a long-term relationship.

Sales cycles can run 6 – 18 months, and that means you need to nurture your leads.

If you’ve got that long of a sales cycle, you want to remind potential customers that you’re still there. You don’t need to talk to them every day (that’s not good), but you’ve got to stay in front of them and nurture them with useful information. It might let them do their job better, educate them, or provide them key information to make better business decisions. But you need to give them a reason to keep your company in their sights before they make a decision.

This is where your blog and social media excels – long-term lead nurturing and ongoing brand awareness.

For one major analytical equipment firm, a number of competitors had seized the online & social space and were driving the conversation in key markets. Several competitors had established blogs which were attracting hundreds of repeat visitors each month in search of relevant content. We implemented a social media program designed to (among other things):

  • Increase their visibility to analytical equipment decision makers in the life science industry
  • Establish thought leadership
  • Educate scientists and decision makers on new technologies
  • Increase reach in the life science industry.

We integrated the social media program with their overall marketing program. Via in-depth research, we identified the key content topics of particular interest to prospects.

In the first year, we increased their online reach to 100,000+ prospects each month, grew LinkedIn referrals to website from 0 to 300+ a month, increased social media referrals to the website 40-fold, and saw blog visitors expand to 1,000 per month.

The company established a dominant presence in the online space in fairly short order – all due to the use of targeted, well-researched content that appealed to readers. Scientists like information, so the use of the blog as a content anchor turned out to be a key success factor – giving the company the ability to expand the discussion beyond the short-form content common to social media.

The goal of marketing is to help drive sales.

It doesn’t mean you don’t need a sales force – you do. But marketing should partner and integrate with the sales team to increase brand awareness, identify & convert leads and grow revenue. Given the role social media plays in our lives today, it is a key tool in furthering these objectives – especially when your competitors are already there.

Read More

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Corporate Social Media Initiatives: 4 Lessons Learned in the B2B Trenches

Social Media Best PracticeI work with single-employee businesses as well as multinational Fortune 500 firms. Small business owners tend to have this impression (it’s almost a complex) that large companies are in possession of secret social media knowledge and they’re killing it online.

Here’s a little secret: it’s a myth.

Lesson 1: Successful Social Media is Driven by Focused Strategy & Commitment

Yes, best-in-class companies have strong, well-aimed, well-directed programs. But most companies don’t. In fact, many larger businesses still don’t have a budget line for social media initiatives. I’ve worked with multi-million dollar firms that squeezed tweets and an occasional blog post out of their PR budget.

Many businesses haphazardly employ social media, with no clear objectives or strategy. That’s the lowdown: the one advantage huge companies have over everyone else – a larger marketing budget – is being spent only grudgingly (at best), and many times not at all.

Lesson 2: Social Media is a Viable Option for Increasing Brand Awareness & Leads

While social media is a well-established, primary marketing channel for B2C companies, adoption has been slower in the B2B space as companies struggle with measuring the effectiveness of “touching” prospects through social. The slower adoption of social media in the B2B space has allowed brands the time to establish and differentiate themselves. So there is room for you!

Lesson 3: It’s Still Newfangled & Savvy Social Media Users Can ‘Rise Above’

Social media’s relative newness is itself a leveler in the marketing playing field. Big companies tend to be slow when it comes to adapting new technologies or avenues, and this has held true of B2B social media. Companies large and small have struggled to harness social media’s potential, but savvy companies have learned the #1 lesson of social media: the whole “social” part. Engagement.

Smart social media operators know that constantly tweeting about a service you offer – with no other information sharing – isn’t useful at all. It’s about as effective as walking into a networking event and throwing a handful of business cards straight up in the air before walking out. The point is to entice your audience to engage with you. That means you need to engage with them, and not just tout your latest, greatest gizmo once a week.

Lesson 4: The Speed of Social Media – The Advantage Goes to Savvy Companies

One thing I’ve found that differentiates savvy companies from other corporations is response time. As you would expect, response times at some companies can be slow.

How slow?

Agonizingly-Long-Hundred-Years-War-kind-of-slow.

Remember, social media is all about engagement. When someone engages with you online, they are engaging right now. Social media travels worldwide at gigabit speeds. Most attempts to start an online conversation will have ended before the Marketing Manager passes the question along to the Product Manager – who just happens to be traveling and out of touch. Remember, you’re not explaining Einstein’s theories…you’re just having a conversation.

What are your questions about implementing social media in your company?

Jen Mizak heads up Brandwidth Solution’s New Media area. She has worked with both startups and Fortune 500 firms helping businesses increase their visibility and boost sales by tapping into their customers’ needs and engaging them with persuasive social media content. Jen specializes in integrating content marketing with companies’ yearly marketing calendars. 

[subscribe2]

Read More

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Social Media for B2B Companies

BWS-Social Media

Click to Zoom

Technology- and science-focused B2B firms typically have an interesting reaction to social media marketing. It usually goes something like this:

“Social media?
Oh yeah…like live-tweeting a Kardashian wedding or friending my high school daughter?
Neat stuff. But our company’s a B2B, so we don’t need to be on social media.”

Wrong.
Totally, flat-out, stifle-your-business-growth wrong.

Do Business-to-Business Companies Need Social Media?

Some clients believe that operating in the B2B world means they don’t need to use social media, that it’s only for the B2C world. Not true. Remember – every ‘B’ has a ‘C.’ Your business may market to other businesses, but there’s still a consumer (a human) making the buying decisions. And humans, if you haven’t heard, are active on social media – whether only on business channels or business and personal channels.

Social Media: The Future of Marketing or Fleeting Annoyance?
Social Media
– like other marketing techniques before it – can be frustrating for businesses and corporate marketing departments. We can just imagine what it felt like at the start of television advertising: “I’ve got radio, newspaper, trade journal and billboard ads. Now I have to make it move on a little screen, too? When will this madness end?”

Yes – social media can be annoying. Yes, social media is a starving beast that must constantly be fed fresh, original material. And yes – it requires time and resources.

The question isn’t whether or not your science or technology B2B should use social media. It has already proven itself to be a powerful tool for boosting lead generation, increasing brand awareness, exposure & reach, and developing thought leadership. Social media is here to stay, and yourcompany should be using it as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.

B2B Social Media Overview

The real challenge is knowing how and where to use social media to engage with clients and prospects. So what do you need to do to use social media in the B2B space?

Obviously there is far more involved in analyzing and implementing a marketing tool such as social media, but for the purpose of this short article you must:

  • Research and decide what channels to use
  • Create a content calendar
  • Develop & post content, and Engage, Engage, Engage!
  • Track your results & adjust strategy
http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/B2B_Research_2014_CMI.pdf

Click to Zoom

What Social Media Channels Are Right For You?

When it comes to implementing a brand new social media strategy you can’t just post information haphazardly. You also don’t have to be on every channel. Many Brandwidth Solutions clients get excited and think they have to be on every channel available.

But just like everything else in your marketing toolkit, you need a strategy. There are too many social media channels to count so you need to research your target audience. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the most used social

media channels for B2B marketing were (in order): LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook .

Social media research, analysis and planning involves more than just picking which social media channels to use. A comprehensive social media plan should be developed based on where, what and how your clients, competitors and prospects are using social media.

Content Is King

Once you’ve chosen where to engage with your clients, it’s time for the “how” and “when.” You need to develop and implement a content strategy which includes the type of information to post, and when to post it.

It is important to create a content calendar for the year so you’re not writing last-minute posts. A content calendar not only helps your marketing department organize thoughts and marketing initiatives, but also lets you create a library of content to maintain consistency throughout the year. Events such as tradeshows, conferences, publications, special press conferences and breaking news should be used to add “live, breaking” content to your social media stream.

If your business already has a blog, an easy way to get started with content on social media is to share your blog across your corporate social media channels.

Don’t forget this key point: SEO matters! (Read our earlier post about writing for SEO). Your blog post should be written to comply with the latest search algorithms. And don’t just copy and paste a line from your blog into each one of your social channels. The goal is to get people to want to read your post, and engage with you.

Analyze Your Efforts

Social media – like any digital marketing technique – can be tracked. Basic data can include:

  • Growth in Company followers/fans
  • Click-throughs
  • Growth in visitors to Company website from social channels
  • Shares and likes of Company content

Measuring the true impact of social media marketing on a B2B’s business operations, however, requires close monitoring of the sales process as well as how and where sales or leads arrive.

Social media is here to stay and it’s time to get onboard – or should I say online. For more, check out this article over at Inc. on social media for B2Bs.

Are you ready to get social?

Read More