Posted by on Sep 4, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How to Develop Your Ad Plan

by Deb Harrsch

Today sales and marketing departments are adapting to a new method of prospecting and selling. Since we’re not traveling to trade shows or prospects’ labs and offices, we have to find creative ways to generate leads and deliver content.

Last month we discussed the importance of digital marketing, like social media and digital advertising. We also explored the new lead generation products available from life science and trade publications. Today, we’re going to share how to develop an ad plan that delivers leads to your sales team.

Smart advertising is all about making the right choices – placing ads in the right spots at the right times, and strategically spending your ad budget.

But, how do you do that successfully?

Ad Budget

We always need to start with the budget. Some customers will ask, “How much should we spend?” While other customers say, “We have X amount of dollars.” But, in the end, everybody’s got limited budgets so you’ve got to be smart about how you spend it.

Your budget determines the kind of advertising you’ll be able to do. You may do print ads or you may do digital ads, or you may be able to do a mix of both.

We often recommend a mix if you have the budget for it. (The reason for this: in some markets your audience is still reading print publications. They don’t fully engage with the digital version of the publication.)

Identify Your Audience and Research How to Reach Them

Once you’ve decided what your budget is, and you know one of your goals is to generate leads for the sales force, you’ve got to decide who your target audience is. Then you need to figure out what publications fit that target audience. And what publications overlap.

Above all, you need to understand your market and know how your customers consume their media. For example, in the pharma and contract pharma space there are still many who prefer print publications. There is one publication with a readership of 60,000 and they’ve told with us that one third of the readership only consumes print.

When you are researching publications, you need to do your homework on the demographics they reach – and whether the reach is in print or digital. Don’t let the reps sell you! You’ve got to dig deep and figure out what the best product is for you to reach your client, to get them from A to B and meet your objective of generating leads.

Now that you’ve decided what your goal is, what you have for a budget, and who your target is, you can develop your ad mix and identify what assets you’ll need for delivery.

Advertising Mix

There is a surprising amount of choice when it comes to life science advertising from publications and from search engine marketing. As you develop your ad plan, you’ll be working with the following ad mix:

  • Google Ads and Google Display Ads. For more information on these two options, see this blog post.
  • Print Ads
  • Digital Ads
  • Text Ads
  • Webinars
  • Webinar sponsorships
  • Podcast sponsorships
  • Publication website advertising
  • Targeted newsletter sponsorship to specific audiences
  • Promotional gated content
  • Ad retargeting
  • Email blasts

What you need to remember, however, is that creating a successful lead gen ad is more than a pretty graphic and punchy copy. You do need that, yes, but you also need the lead capture landing page and a case study or white paper to make it all worth the prospect’s time and effort. We’ll talk more about getting the most from your ad spend next month.

Flexibility in Digital Publication Ads

When you are designing your ad mix you should keep in mind a particularly unique feature of digital ads through publications: flexibility.

Typically, in B2B publications, you pay by the month. That’s not true of search engine ads. But it is with digital publication ads. This means you’ve purchased that ad space and you aren’t limited to just one ad. You can use it for more than one ad.

Digital ads can be updated quickly. If you have more than one service or a product that answers audience needs in the same publication, you can start with one set of creative for a specific product or service. Then, at any time during your three or six month run, you can provide new creative for a different product or service and the publication will digitally swap them out – allowing you to rotate your ad.

Once you’ve identified your publications and negotiated with the ad reps to maximize your spend with them, the next thing you have to do is develop the actual ad plan.

Developing Your Ad Plan

The ad plan is what we use to make sure all of the ads get placed throughout the year at the right time for each publication. This spreadsheet gives you the ability to know exactly what ads are running, where, and during which month.

When you’re creating your plan, there are two ways you can lay it out. One, you can lay it out by vertical market, or two, you can create a schedule by month and publication. This allows you to see quickly details such as:

  • What type of ad it is (e.g., print, digital, promotion, email)
  • What size it is
  • The demographics
  • The audience
  • A short description of the copy

TIP: You might consider an internal ad plan as well. Your production people (graphics and copywriters) will thank you for it! This internal plan provides your team with exactly what is due and when. It lays out everything required, the landing page requirements, and what the deliverable is.

When you build your ad plan, keep in mind that old rule on brand touches – that your audience needs to see things seven times before they remember it. Be sure to mix your ads in a way that’s smart. For example, if you do the right print advertising (if your audience is more print-based), and do enough digital to support that print, your audience is going to recognize you. Just to be clear, even if your audience is print-focused, I can promise you they still access the web for research and for fun – so digital ads do make sense.

You’ve got to balance your ad mix, not only in terms of the product choices you make, but also in terms of the deliverables you offer through the ads. Be sure you sprinkle in some gated white papers because they will give you the leads you need. And remember that the audience will always download a case study before they will register for a white paper.

When to Buy Ad Space

Design your ad plan on an annual basis. Let me say that again. Your ad plan MUST be annual.

We have clients that say, “Is it okay if we go month-to-month?”

The answer? No. You won’t ever see an ad.

Don’t think you can do it month-by-month? Most of the ad inventory will be already bought out and you will have nothing. And that is not where you want to be when your sales team is counting on you to deliver leads.

There’s only so much advertising inventory that’s available. So you’ve just got to be smart. As soon as you get your ad budget approval, you’ve got to lock in your ad spend because the digital spots sell out.

If you try a month-to-month approach, you’ll find yourself in an extremely stressful situation. You’ll end up spending more time recreating that ad plan each month and losing opportunities left and right. You’ve got to develop a plan for the entire year. This way, you’ll get the ad space and positioning you want – and you’ll be eligible for any free value-adds offered – as well as the best price from the publications or associations.

This is a challenge for those companies whose fiscal year starts in April or June. We do have some clients whose fiscal years start in April and it’s a challenge because most of the ad inventory is bought out in Q1. It’s critically important to create your ad calendar right at the end of Q3 or Q4.

Questions on creating an ad plan? Give us a call! Tune in next month when we talk more about how to maximize your ad spend.

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 Aug 7, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Tradeshows | 0 comments

How to Generate B2B Leads in Our New COVID-19 World

How to Generate B2B Leads in Our New COVID-19 World

by Deb Harrsch

We’re not going to trade shows anymore. In fact, I don’t see us (meaning all businesses globally) going to trade shows for the remainder of this year – and possibly into 2021. This means a couple of things:

  1. We’re not going to have customers or prospects walking up to our booths.
  2. We (sales and marketing) still need to produce leads.

Well, you might say, “But what about virtual trade shows?” It’s a valid point. Many shows did pivot to an online format. Some have worked (sort-of), while others have been significantly less successful at producing leads.

As you move forward with virtual trade events, you should be very careful and do your homework. Ask how the show organizers will provide your company with contact information for attendees. After all, you can’t scan a booth visitor’s card, get their business card, or talk to them at a virtual event.

So, where else are you going to go? Where are you going to get leads from?

You need to find a way to get those leads and be smart with your dollars.

It’s a Digital World After All

We’re living in a very different world. Some people are no longer at their office desks and perhaps they’re not getting their print publications at home. So, now what’s happening? Print publications are stacking up at the office and visibility is limited. Right now, it’s all about making sure potential customers can see you in multiple ways and you can generate leads in multiple ways.

That’s why digital marketing and advertising are important.

In this post-COVID world, social media and advertising have become even more important marketing tactics. At Brandwidth Solutions, we are very focused on lead generation for our clients.

Produce Solid Leads from Advertising

Smart advertising is one way to create leads. It starts with smart spending and ends with creating specific types of digital and print ads.

What I often hear is, “I don’t have a big ad budget.” My answer to that: You aren’t going to all of the trade shows you had scheduled this year, are you? This gives you dollars you can reallocate. Now, I know the trade show companies want you to shift that budget to next year – but perhaps it’s possible to just move the deposit. But you and I both know, if you don’t spend it now, you’ll lose it. So, let’s use those dollars wisely.

Look at it this way: because you’re not going to shows where you would have spent $50,000 to $80,000, you have an opportunity to increase your budgets in other digital marketing areas that are working right now. Let’s use some of those dollars to increase your ad budget, your content development budget, and your social media budget so that you can deliver more leads.

But, all the ad budget in the world isn’t going to produce leads unless you create the right type of advertising. Brand awareness ads aren’t going to cut it. You’ve got to develop ads that speak to the value your company offers. You’ve got to deliver assets that help your prospect (remember, you need to deliver content addressing your customer’s journey). And then you’ve got to collect their contact information.

The World of Life Science Advertising Has Changed

It used to be that life science software, contract pharma services, and lab equipment advertisers had a choice of search engine ads (like Google Ads) or print ads in trade publications. But, the world of life sciences advertising is very different now. There are many more ad opportunities available.

This shift had already started prior to COVID-19. Now, it’s a whole new ball game.

Yes, we have search engine marketing (SEM) with Google Ads and display ads. We have paid social media. We still have print ads.

However, we also have newer products, like webinar sponsorships and podcast sponsorships. Trade publications and association publications have all introduced more lead generation advertising products. In addition to advertising on their websites and in print, we’re now able to sponsor targeted newsletters to specific audiences. In some cases, it may be a vendor ad, but in other cases it’s possible to sponsor an entire newsletter.

Publications also offer promotions of thought leadership interview videos and podcasts. In addition, there are promotions of gated white papers that produce spreadsheets of leads, text ads which drive traffic to your landing pages, and digital ad retargeting.

Choices, Choices and More Choices

Before you can develop an ad plan that delivers the leads your team needs, you’ll have to do some research and make some choices. You’ll need to think through where and how you’ll get the most leads for your budget. You’ll also need to identify all the assets you have on hand – or need to create – to give your prospects a reason to engage. Most importantly, you need to think about your customer’s journey from awareness to consideration to buying.

Or, you can call us.

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 Jul 8, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How to Create Marketing Campaigns Using Your Buyer Personas

How to Create Marketing Campaigns Using Your Buyer Personas from Brandwidth Solutions

by Deb Harrsch

Last month, we looked at how to refresh (or create) your post-COVID-19 buyer personas. This month, we’ll look at how to use them to create marketing campaigns that make sense in our new sales environment.

Mapping the Customer Journey

The whole point of a buyer persona is to create targeted social media and marketing campaigns with the content your prospects want. Having built your customer personas based on actual conversations your sales team has held with buyers, you can confidently drive your prospective customer through the customer journey.

Keeping it simple, there are three objectives in the buyer’s journey: awareness, convert, and close. There are a lot of other steps in there, but these are the main stops on the journey.

  1. First, you want to attract prospects and create awareness.
  2. Next, you want to convert them, to make them consider your product or service.
  3. The final goal is to close the sale.

But, the question is, how do you get them to go from awareness to consideration to purchase?

It’s a really important journey. And you don’t want to lose them along the way.

The personas you build dictate everything. They dictate how your website functions and navigates. They dictate the kind of collateral you need and how you’re going to take a buyer from awareness to purchase. How you get them from point A to point B to point C is what persona marketing is all about.

Sales teams understand the journey. This is one reason why marketing needs to work closely with sales. A brochure is not a journey. That’s a factoid. There’s nothing of value in that brochure that’s going to get somebody from awareness to consideration to a purchase. You need more support than that.

The journey needs to make prospective buyers think: “This the best service or product for me.” Your job is to build content and collateral around that journey.

Different Buying Needs

In each company there can be multiple buyers, right? So when you’re looking at your marketing material you have to look at it from each of those personas, because their buying needs and decision-making processes are different.

Our clients typically have several levels of buying personas. For instance, a software client has personas for:

  • The user – the person that will use the software in the lab.
  • Their boss – who will make the buying decision.
  • The IT person who must implement it.

When we’re creating content, whether it’s for the website or marketing collateral, we have to consider those individual personas. Other life science clients can have four or more buyer personas for products or services. In every situation, we need to build content that addresses their individual needs because each of them will be very different.

Think about it – maybe the conversation starts with an influencer, then it moves to the gatekeeper, and then it goes to a decision-maker. In the above case of software, the IT guy may say, “We only want SaaS, we don’t want anything on a server.” The buying person may ask, “How am I spending this money and is it going to deliver ROI for me?” Both of those people are going to need content and value propositions that address their specific needs.

Designing Persona-Based Marketing Campaigns

Using customer personas not only allows you to choose and create material that addresses the pain points and values that your buyers need, it also identifies the marketing tools you’ll use to reach each of those personas. These personas will drive whether you use social media, case studies, email marketing, website FAQs, webinars, or print collateral.

When we build marketing campaigns, we start by creating a working spreadsheet based on our campaign goal and the selected target personas. The spreadsheet clearly states the name of the campaign and what personas we’re going to use in that campaign. We lay out our strategy and we list our goals.

We survey the marketing assets and content we already have available to ascertain whether it fills a need in the customer journey towards our goal. Because what we use for one persona will be different than what we use for another persona, we assign available content to the appropriate personas and where it fits in the lead nurturing campaign.

We then assess what materials we still need to influence the personas’ movement through the stages of the journey. We ask, “What are the materials that we need to build to get them through those three major stages?” And then we build them.

With this working spreadsheet, it’s easy to see what content matches which persona.

A campaign is not just an ad. It’s a combination of all of the collateral, the outbound and inbound marketing tactics, and all of the engagement.

The next step is to build your campaign week-by-week in your spreadsheet. I suggest taking it persona-by-persona and working through each one – assigning the journey stage, each activity and content type, and message to keep them engaged and coming back for more inspiration as they’re working through their buying decision.

Success and Scorecards

No marketing should ever take place unless you’re measuring your results. Guess what? You’re going to give your campaign a score. Look back at and review your goals. Ask what was our goal for lead generation? What were our actual lead generation results? What percentage did we close?

After the Close

And don’t forget after you’ve got them to buy, you need to keep them engaged. Why?

First, your engaged, vocal, and loyal customers are one of the best sales assets you have. Second, you want to keep them engaged because you may have new products or services and new updates for the products they’ve already purchased. You need to retain your customer and keep them viewing you as their problem-solver.

Have questions on how to develop a persona-based marketing campaign? Reach out and let’s talk.

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 Jun 15, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Is it Time to Re-Visit Your Buyer Personas for Marketing After COVID-19?

Is it Time to Re-Visit Your Buyer Personas for Marketing After COVID-19? New on the Brandwidth Solutions Blog.

by Deb Harrsch

If you haven’t created buyer personas for your marketing campaigns, this is the perfect opportunity to start working through the process of what your buyer looks like. If you have created customer personas, have you considered what about your buyer has changed in the post-coronavirus lockdown world?

What is a buyer persona?

Let’s take a step back for a second and start with what a buyer persona is and why you need one. It’s a phrase that’s tossed around a lot, but what does it really mean?

A customer (or buyer) persona is an archetypal representation of every individual in your customer’s buying process.

Many of our clients are very technical business-to-business companies selling software, contract pharma services, or lab equipment. In cases like these, there are always multiple people involved in the buying process.

For example, let’s explore a lab. If the company needs an informatics solution, you’ll need to sell to the person at the bench (or the person who will use the product), their manager, the IT manager, and the person who makes the financial decision. Each of those people is a “persona” you need to create. You’re going to build a fictional character around each of those four individuals.

Why?

The reason you create these personas is to have a crystal-clear idea of who you are marketing to and what each of those people needs in order to choose your product. Personas allow you to focus on the customer’s perspective as you take them through the buying journey. If you create them correctly, you’ll be able to develop successful collateral marketing materials, campaigns, and a value proposition that is specific to them. The ultimate goal is to close the sale and make them a buyer of your product.

Before we dive into what you need to have in a buyer persona, let’s talk about who should be building these profiles.

Who builds the buyer persona?

Is it all on marketing’s shoulders? Or does sales need to do the heavy lifting? This may surprise you, but the answer is both. There is zero value to sales and marketing arguing about anything. In fact, sales and marketing should be best friends (here’s why sales and marketing should be partners).

Both sales and marketing should be in the room when you build your customer personas. Sales is key to the process, since they are calling on your customers all of the time.

What comes first when building customer personas?

The first thing I do when building a customer persona is identify all the decision-makers in the buying process. I ask about who we need to target with our marketing:

  • Is there an influencer?
  • Is there a gatekeeper?
  • Is there a finance person?
  • Is there an IT lead?
  • Is there anyone else involved in the process?

Once you identify the key people along the buying process and their titles, you’ll need to build out the persona for each of those positions.

What’s in a persona?

Our next move is to build composite models of the positions you have identified.

What does that mean? It means we’re going to create a fictionalized summary of each individual. We will mine the sales team for information on each customer and summarize it to build those models.

Here is a good example of a blank customer persona. This your starting point.

Is it Time to Re-Visit Your Buyer Personas for Marketing After COVID-19? New on the Brandwidth Solutions Blog.

We always begin by giving each individual a name. We also like to use pictures, because it’s so much easier to visualize our customer with a face attached to a name.

Then, we fill out the demographic information:

  • What are the job titles associated with the position in the buying process? For example, our influencer Isabella could be a lab tech or research scientist. This tells you what they are responsible for and what they do every day.
  • What is the age of the typical influencer? You may want to include an age range. Age range is particularly important, because we find this – in many cases – drives the techniques they use to get data on a product or service.
  • What is their educational background?
  • What size company do they work for? This would be the size of your target clients.
  • What is the size of the budget they control? Or do they control budget at all?

The next set of questions goes deeper into your customers to provide a more detailed and thorough understanding of everyone in the decision-making process for your product or service.

Here is where you’ll identify their situational profile. It includes how they function, what’s important to them, what their daily challenges are, their goals, and motivation.

Some folks like to include information about whether they are female or male, tend to be married or single, and whether they have kids or not. I would argue that that information isn’t critical to a buyer persona in most business-to-business industry spaces.

With all that said, this is our next set of questions:

  • What characteristics do they have in common? Do they have an assistant? Do they tend to have a certain personality or behavioral commonalities? How do they research products?
  • What motivates them? What are their goals and what problems do they need to solve?
  • Buying influences? This is a two-fold question. What level of influence do they hold over the buying process and who/what influences their purchasing decisions?
  • What is their buying timeline? Is it urgent – in the next month? A year? 18 months?
  • What are their challenges? What do they need to know and what hurdles do they need to overcome to buy your product?
  • What is their digital footprint? I would expand this question to include how much print material they consume.

These are the details that will drive the type of marketing collateral and campaigns your marketing team will create for your product or service. This information will also drive where your marketing campaigns will run – whether it’s digital or print – how much needs to be published in third-party publications, on your website, on your social media channels, etc.

While it’s possible to do a “quick-and-dirty” buyer persona, it’s always better to take your time and dive deeper for a more meaningful understanding of your customer.

I promise you, your marketing will be better and more successful if you do.

If, however, you want to create a fast persona, ask these questions:

  • How would you describe your target buyer?
  • What is their technical and personal demographic information?
  • How do they describe their job title?
  • What education level have they completed?
  • What special skills do they need to have to do their job?

The value of targeted buyer personas throughout the buying process

A buyer persona exercise also allows your organization to zero-in on your target audience. Your sales team won’t waste time on outliers which are unlikely to become your customer. A deep dive into your customers and their buying process will always produce valuable information – and your marketing team will be more successful.

When you understand your customer on this level, it allows you to create marketing materials that help your customer understand how you can solve their pain points and the value you provide.

Next month, I’ll be talking about how to build marketing campaigns based on your new customer personas. Stay tuned!

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 May 1, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When to Use a Case Study in Your Marketing

Brandwidth Solutions: When to Use a Case Study in Your Marketing

by Deb Harrsch

Have you ever met anyone who said case studies don’t work? I sure haven’t.

Using case studies in your marketing is a no-brainer. In fact, we previously explored how important case studies are and how they work.

But, the question is: When should you use them in your marketing?

If you’re creating case studies, publishing them on your website, and then calling it a day, then you’re not getting maximum value from your work.

A Quick Case Study Refresh

Case studies are deceptively simple, and they get right to the point. They enable you to do a bit of storytelling (which is a great marketing tool) and focus on a specific challenge, solution, and result. They are also fairly short – typically around 1,000 words.

The biggest challenge for the marketing department when creating case studies is being able to name the customer. Every B2B industry experiences this issue, so if you’re thinking, “Well, I can’t do any case studies because I’m not allowed to talk about my customers,” you’d be wrong.

It’s okay if you can’t name your client. It’s okay to create a case study with a story and not a name. If your company isn’t allowed to talk about a customer project in detail, think about what you can say. It’s possible there is enough of a story to tell about a challenge and solution, even if you eliminate all of the identifying features.

There are several creative ways you can protect your client’s confidentiality, while also demonstrating your accomplishments. If you can name the who, great! If you can’t name the customer, well that’s okay, too.

What Prospects Want to Know

Case studies are an opportunity for you to show customers that you know who they are, what some of their challenges are, and how you help solve those challenges.

How? Think about it from their perspective.

Your prospect really wants to understand your product or service and how you work with customers. A case study gives them a perfect example from beginning to end: “Here is where we started, this was our solution, and here are the results our customer experienced.” Whether you cut time out of a process, you did it better than they were able to previously, or you were able to deliver some other benefit, you’ve now got results no one else could get. Case studies are great stories that demonstrate how efficient and innovative you are when you’re working with your customers.

When to Use Case Studies

Right, so you’ve created your case study and you’ve published it on your website. Now what? I’ve already told you that isn’t the only way to use them – but it is a valuable use.

What do you think are the most downloaded items on your website – white papers or case studies?

It’s actually the case studies. You see, they aren’t something your prospect needs to register for, so that’s what they’ll download when researching your company. The case study gives them key information and gets them thinking, “Gee, this company has tackled problems similar to what I’m experiencing and they’ve come up with elegant solutions and had great results. I should talk with them.”

But, to truly get full value from your case studies, you’ll also want to use them for your:

  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Print collateral at trade shows
  • Social media content
  • White paper supporting evidence
  • Video stories

Curious about case studies we’ve done for clients and how we’ve used them? Give us a call and let’s talk!

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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