Posted by on Dec 5, 2019 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Should You ‘Dumb it Down?’ Write Smarter: 5 Rules for Marketing Copy

5 Rules for Marketing Copy

I’ve got to agree with Alison Davis: I’m not a fan of the expression ‘dumb it down.’

As she points out, the phrase first emerged “as movie-business slang in the 1930’s, and was used by screenplay writers.” It was used to describe rewriting content “to appeal to those of little education or intelligence.”

It feels cruel, however, and as someone who works with scientific firms to convey complex ideas in digestible formats, it incorrectly summarizes what our team does.

Besides, do we really need to dumb it down? Are we actually getting dumber?

As it turns out, no, we’re not.

I’m with Davis when she says, “I love the fact that people everywhere are getting more intelligent.” That’s right, a recent meta-analysis found “an average gain of about three IQ points per decade, or roughly 10 points per generation.”

(Yes – that means our children are probably smarter than us.)

But how smart or dumb we are (or are becoming) isn’t the key takeaway. What matters is that the ways in which we all consume content have been changing. Reducing our content to the lowest common denominator isn’t the right answer. Understanding how people consume it is.

Do you seriously want to deliver something that is considered ‘dumb?’ And how far down should you go?

For our life science, pharma, healthcare & B2B clients, we can’t dumb down content. But it can be synthesized, and rendered into formats that lend themselves to rapid consumption.

Scanning Society

So if, in fact, people are becoming smarter, that means we have to write smarter. Let’s face it – people don’t read like they used to. Even as far back as 2008, research found that only about 20% of online text was actually read word-for-word.


It’s a numbers game. Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day, and it’s only going to grow from there. By 2020, it’s estimated that 1.7MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth.”

The scanning-instead-of-reading phenomenon isn’t new, and as marketers, we see it across every industry. And when you are tasked with conveying complex scientific or technical concepts, it affects how you develop and present content.

Writing for the Journey

The ‘we need to dumb it down’ school of marketing thought is that people are moving so fast, they won’t stick to a traditional buyer’s journey anymore. It’s too long. They don’t have the time or attention span. So because some marketers think there is no longer a customer journey they put every possible piece of information in their materials right up front.

It’s not true.

The buyer’s journey still very much matters – but how they consume content on the journey itself is changing.

Here are 5 rules for writing copy:

  1. Be clear about your value.
    Be sure to communicate your value proposition but leave them wanting to know more. Don’t try to cram every product you offer into one piece of content. If you give away your entire message up front, the reader will be overwhelmed and your message lost. Focus on simple and clear language that targets your customer’s pain points. Your materials should be a conversation in which you clearly share elements of the value of your product or service.
  1. Deliver scannable content.
    Since you know readers are going to scan your content, it’s important to ensure your content is clear. Your value proposition should be easily identifiable, and readers should be able to take away key points from every piece of content you produce.
  1. It’s a journey – not a pit stop.
    In many cases – especially at the start of the buyer’s journey – your content serves as a first touch. Make sure it’s a relatively quick read that makes them want to learn more. Whatever the content format – web, brochure, case study, landing page, email – provide a path for prospects to follow to acquire further information. Ensure your links are clear and easy to follow. The journey needs an easily-decipherable path in order to bring the reader along the path and into your funnel.
  1. Create visual impact.
    The data or technical information you share with prospects and customers is critically important, but it also has its place. Being (rightfully) proud of their accomplishments, some companies want to emphasize it and so they’ll overwhelm a content piece with multiple visuals.Let’s just talk software marketing for a minute. Imagine a brochure with multiple screen shots. Now imagine that the screen shots are so small that no one can read them. How well do you think those visuals are going to work to attract your potential customers? They aren’t. If you think that screen shot is a selling point, you’d better make it big enough to make an impact.
  1. “Me, me, me…we, we, we…us, us, us.” Arrghh. Please stop.
    Long after marketers (should have) learned that bragging and self-congratulatory writing won’t help sell products or services, many companies (with their marketers in tow) are still at it. They fill brochures with references to “We at ACME Corp.” I get it…you are proud of your company, its products or services, and its accomplishments. But customers want to hear you talking about their problems and their challenges. They need to know you get it, so they can feel confident that your solution adequately addresses their needs. There you have it – five rules for developing copy and keeping your content smart. Remember, prospects are smart and getting smarter. They are also consuming content in quick, scannable bites, but that being said – a prospect will read every word if they are interested in the value you provide.

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 Nov 12, 2019 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How to Redo Your B2B Website

How to Redo Your B2B Website

Last month we explored the first phase in the development of a B2B website. It doesn’t matter if you’re redoing your current site or you’re just starting out with your first website, you need to lay a proper foundation before beginning to design.

If you haven’t checked out what you need to do in phase 1, take some time and read it now.

Are You Ready for Phase 2?

In phase 1, we laid the foundation for a successful website by:

  • defining the customer’s journey of engagement with your products and services,
  • identifying the ‘look and feel’, your value proposition & key messaging, and
  • aligning the navigation with your customer’s journey.

Now it’s time to dive into phase 2. This is when you’ll build the site and launch.

Phase 2 takes time. The amount of time phase 2 of a website development project takes can vary greatly. Much depends on the scope of the project. Some of the factors which will drive the length of your project are: how large is your site, how complex is the design, and how quickly can your internal team turnaround approvals? There are more variables, but these three are some of the key factors.

What does ‘building the site’ mean? It includes:

  • actual design of the site – both user experience and visual
  • choosing images
  • coding and development of the site
  • creating or uploading the website content
  • writing and adding the meta tags and description
  • any changes in navigation
  • thorough testing before the site’s launch.

When we design a site, we use the ‘look and feel’ developed during the project’s phase 1 as well as the links to the websites your team liked (and didn’t like). As I mentioned in my last post, we also take into account the user experience (UX). The work we do around UX always results in better design, better content, better navigation, and most importantly, a great experience for your customer. Our user experience expert ensures that your website is actually useful to your customers. I always say that your website is not “yours” – it belongs to your customers. It’s about your products and services, but it’s for your customers and their needs.

All of this information is used to develop the home page and page templates for the internal pages. The internal pages would include pages such as “About,” “Services,” and “Products.” More time is typically spent on the home page design since it is usually (but not always) the first page a visitor encounters.

When you design your website, you need to be certain that you’re choosing the right colors – and you need to follow your brand guidelines. If you don’t have brand guidelines, you run the risk of having all of your sales and marketing materials – of which your website is one – not look like they are from the same company.

Imagine going to a trade show and receiving marketing collateral. Then you decide to visit the company’s website and when you get there it looks nothing like the collateral you picked up. How would you react? You might second-guess doing business with that company.

You want to avoid this situation and that is why it’s important to ensure that you’ve chosen the right colors and your brand guidelines are followed.

Choosing Picture-Perfect Website Images

Selecting website images that make sense for your company and your message is another key aspect of developing a website. You may choose to use stock photography, hire a photographer to create custom photos, or engage a graphic designer to develop images for you – or all three.

If you use stock photography, you’ll want to be certain to select images that aren’t seen everywhere. And if you choose to do a photo shoot or develop graphics, you’ll need to review the photographer’s or graphic designer’s work to ensure that the content and quality of images you receive fit your website’s messaging.

While we typically source the images and photos, your team will review and approve all of the images.

Website Content

If you’re re-doing your website, you may already have much of the web copy you need. But, if you’re doing a new website or your company has developed different messaging since your last website was rolled out, you’ll need to create new website copy. Sometimes it’s far easier to create new copy instead of trying to update old language – which may not fit the new organization or design.

Development and Testing

Your new website will be built in a staging environment. This ensures that your live site is not impacted by any development activities.

Once your site has been completed, it’s time to test it. No one wants to roll out a website with mistakes or broken links! It is industry practice to test the site in different browsers and on different devices. Your team will also review each page of the test site and we’ll make any final changes to content, layout, or images you need.

Website Launch

And finally it’s launch time. Phase 2 of your website development initiative ends when you take your website live.

What Happens in Phase 3?

You may or may not need a phase 3 for your website development project. If there is an outstanding list of items that need to be completed and didn’t fit the budget in phase 2, you’ll need to assign these to a phase 3 initiative.

Typically, if you have a phase 3 of your web project, it’s likely because your customer base needs the website to be translated into multiple languages.

But, should you do translations?

There is no simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question. In some markets, like pharma for instance, English is the language of choice. In other industries, it is not the preferred language. So the answer to whether you need to translate your website depends on your audience. Ask yourself (and your sales team) what your market wants. Does your audience demand your website in local languages? Knowing the answer to this will determine whether you need to invest in website translation.

Two Quick Tips

Here are two quick tips to remember as you’re thinking about translating your website.

  1. Be sure that if you do make the move into multi-language websites, you always keep them up-to-date. It is critical that you do not drop this task from your list of to-dos when it comes to keeping your website current.
  2. If you think there is a possibility of translating your site later on, it’s important to communicate this to your designer during the initial design process. This is key, since as they source images for the site, they’ll need to know not to choose images that have writing in them. The writing in photos won’t be translated when you translate your site.

Website development projects are intense and complicated, but – if done properly – they provide a significant return on investment and increase in customer engagement. If you’re ready to re-do your website and need help getting started, give us a call.

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

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Posted by on Oct 14, 2019 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Should You Build a Website in Phases?

Should You Build a Website in Phases?

You already know your website is important. You also know your site is more than a digital brochure. It’s your online identity and the hub of all your sales and marketing activities. Your customers use it to get to know you by engaging with your content. They may even use your website to purchase your products.

That’s why your website should be more than good. It needs to be great. And above all, it needs to deliver an excellent user experience.

This is why developing (or re-doing) your website is not a quick or simple project. There’s a lot at stake, and that means there is a lot to consider before starting the design process.

Where do You Begin?

Recognizing what a successful website means to our science-based clients, we always approach a website development project in phases. By working in phases, it’s easier for your sales and marketing teams to think through their needs and for your web partner to design a user-friendly site. So yes, you should build a website in phases.

The first phase of any web project is all about discovering who you are and defining what the website navigation should look like. In fact, until we understand what your goals are for your website, it’s impossible to quote the second phase! Phase 2 always depends on what we learn during phase 1.

A typical website project has two phases. Sometimes, though, depending on the scope of what needs to happen and budgets, a website development project can have up to three phases.

What is Phase 1 of Website Development?

Phase 1 is strategically important. It forms the basis upon which your website will be developed. This phase ensures that all key stakeholders are on the same page with goals, strategy, site organization, and design. It also gives your website design team time to figure out what’s going on in your current site and to identify the strategy and content you need to meet your goals. Phase 1 delivers a plan to execute your website.

Phase 1 typically includes a full creative brief session, assigning stakeholders, creating your digital strategy, developing wireframes, agreeing on navigation and sub-navigation, and finalizing the decision regarding the best platform for your website.

But, success can’t happen without the foundational discovery process – an exploratory brainstorming session with your key stakeholders and our team. We’ve also found the most success is with a process centered around our creative brief, which allows us to gather critical information while building a partnership with your team.

If you’re wondering what this achieves, just wait for it…

From one session, we’re able to identify your value proposition from your customer’s point of view – by audience and segment – perform a SWOT analysis, deeply understand your differentiators, capabilities, and product and service road map, and identify what content is needed.

My guess is that in reviewing this list, you automatically see the value in this exercise. How much more successful will your website be if all of this information is taken into account from the beginning?

Digital Strategy Development

Based on the information gathered and synthesized from the discovery process, it’s time to build a digital strategy. What does a digital strategy mean in the website development process?

Creating a website digital strategy is all about reviewing the website’s goals, target audiences, and channels to document the key questions that need to be resolved. With that list, we’re able to identify changes that may be needed. We also provide expert guidance and recommendations on how best to achieve your website’s goals.

Since nothing is without risk, it is at this stage of phase 1 that we pinpoint risks that must be resolved or mitigated to ensure success.

Digging Into Site Infrastructure

When was the last time your website was updated? If you’re like most companies, you want to pretend you didn’t hear me ask that question, right?

Chances are it’s been years. That’s why it’s so important to have a neutral third-party review your current website and infrastructure. It avoids any finger-pointing at team members and provides a clear picture of where things stand.

You may not know which programming platform your website uses. And where it’s hosted may also have become a mystery.

As part of phase 1, we take a deep dive into your website infrastructure. What this means is you’ll be providing us with admin-level access to your site and we’ll be testing your site as a super user.

We’ll search to see if it’s been well-programmed on your platform – whether it’s Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, or a proprietary platform. We’ll identify broken links and whether your site has been updated appropriately.

If you haven’t implemented security patches sent out by your programming platform on a regular basis, the security of your website may be compromised. You do NOT want your website security to be out-of-date and vulnerable to hackers.

As part of the website infrastructure review, we analyze whether your current website technologies will support your business efforts both today and for your future goals. You need to ask and answer – will your current website tech help or hinder your digital strategy?

How are Users Interacting with Your Current Website?

Have you reviewed your website’s analytics lately? Understanding your analytics gives you insight into how your customers and prospects are using your site now. When we look at your analytics and set-up heat map tracking, we can gather information about what users are visiting and where they’re focusing. This tells us what matters most to them.

Content Organization and Design

Once you know what your needs are and how customers use and engage with your current website, it’s time to start talking about design, navigation, and content needs. During phase 1 of development, we also look at your website from a creative and content point-of-view.

One goal of phase 1 is to get your new website navigation identified and approved.  Once we have finalized your navigation and sub-navigation, we can move into creating mockups or wireframes of what the site will look like.

We think you need to love your website, so one of the things we ask you for is some links to websites you both like and don’t like. Sometimes, what you need actually works really well with the sites you like and sometimes the web designer will need to adapt the design for your needs.

Building the wireframe allows us all to identify where the site’s content will come from and link to. You may, in fact, already have some of the content you need on your site.

What it all Means and What to do Next

Phase 1 of your website development ends in a report summarizing what we learned and what we’ve decided together is best for your future goals. We always include recommendations and structure for the actual development of the website, as well as the scope of phase 2.

Bottom line: building a website in phases gives companies a clear understanding not only of their infrastructure and physical web design needs, but also what matters most to their customers.

Are you ready to redo your website? Let’s talk. Give us a call at 215.997.8575.

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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