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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Posted by on Mar 26, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Tradeshows, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Marketing in Uncertain Times: Should You Do It?

For Ideas from Brandwidth Solutions on marketing during coronavirus or a crisis, read on.

by Deb Harrsch

The coronavirus COVID-19 has thrown all of us off course seemingly overnight. Every marketing department has been stuck in crisis mode for almost a month now (depending on your industry and global location). We’ve had trade shows cancelled or postponed until Q3. We’ve had marketing campaigns planned and ready to execute which no longer make sense. Fear, confusion, and paralysis about what to do next is the order of the day in our remote offices.

That was okay – initially. We all need to adjust to new realities.

Now, however, it’s time to ask: “How am I going to make up for the leads I’m not going to get at the trade show?”

A lot of audiences, especially in the pharma and the healthcare world, don’t want you in their offices. Many have sent their employees home. In healthcare settings, they don’t want you coming into their offices for sales calls. In the B2B space, we miss out when we don’t have the face-to-face meeting.

Right now, the marketing field is level. Your competitors are dealing with the exact same situation. They are also not able to walk into hospitals or pharma companies for sales calls either. You’re all in the same boat. It’s not like your competitor can get a leg up on you because they’re not travelling either.

Don’t be afraid.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen the following quote from JFK a lot – on social media, in articles and newsletters:

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

It’s a great quote and perfect for the times in which we find ourselves now. This is when you need to move from the scary part of the crisis to the opportunity side of the crisis. Your marketing department needs to reframe this crisis as an opportunity.

Marketing During a Crisis: Shifting Mindsets

We need to shift our mindset from panic to opportunity. Doing something differently always feels dangerous somehow – even if it’s not.

The first step is to take a deep breath, step back, and survey your marketing landscape. You need to assess what you had scheduled in your marketing plan. I know you already started implementing it in January – before you knew about this crisis – and before you knew all your trade shows were going to be cancelled.

But, guess what? Your competitors are also stepping back and figuring out a way around the hand we’ve been dealt. Your job is to do it sooner and spend less time in crisis mode.

You aren’t alone, though. You can work with your agency to figure it all out. It’s time to prioritize what you’ve got to deal with immediately and what still works from your plan. Then you need to make a new plan for the rest of the year. That’s when you can go to your boss with a solid plan.

Part of that “taking a step back and taking a breath” is shifting your marketing mindset from crisis reaction to opportunity. This is where you can show-off your marketing skills and try new tools and tactics. Doing something new is fun and exciting – and can potentially pay big dividends.

What to do first? Asset Audits and Internal Relationships

First up is an asset audit. What marketing tools do you have? What content assets do you have? Part of that asset audit needs to be conversations with your new best friends – your sales team. Who better to tell you what your prospects need than the folks who talk to them all the time?

Now that those trade shows and onsite meetings are cancelled for the next few months, your sales team has some idle time on their hands. Yes, they’ll be making phone calls instead, but they will have time to talk to you.

So talk with your sales team. They may be able to tell you what you’re missing in your marketing toolbox, what literature they need, what case studies they need, what white papers they’re looking for, and what application notes they need. They can tell you all of that.

The other key activity your sales team has time for now is the CRM (customer relationship management) system.

Yup, it’s time to update the big scary CRM! But, you need to frame the need properly with sales. Don’t just say, “Oh, you haven’t updated the CRM in the last few months.”

You’ve got to explain why. Say: “Because we are now in a position where we can’t meet our customers at trade shows, we need our CRM to be complete. We need to know what people are interested in and the last time you talked to them. Please use this time so we can leverage it from a marketing perspective to help you.” Let them know that their efforts in updating the CRM can help you build lead generation and nurturing campaigns to both your customers and your prospects.

This is a golden opportunity to forge new relationships and solid partnerships between sales and marketing departments (for more on why they should be best friends, check out this post).

Questions to Develop a New Marketing Plan

Since the marketing plan you developed and budgeted for last year isn’t 100% viable any longer, you need to ask yourself some questions. The key question is: “How am I going to help my sales team – who can’t get on a plane – reach their audience?”

The next question is: “What tools do I have that I can use to make up those leads?” This is a time that gives you an opportunity to assess new tools to add to your marketing toolbox.

You also need to look at whether you can find your sales team tools to help them communicate, such as conferencing methods or virtual meetings. We have clients who hold user group meetings. If they can’t switch the date, and it can’t be held live – we need to look at switching over to a virtual model and stream it.

As you figure out how you’re going to make up those leads and what tools you’re going to use, you’re likely going to find that you’ll need more collateral. You’re going to need more assets to share and you’re going to need more conversation.

Now, how are you going to fund tool and collateral development? That might, for once, actually be the easiest part.

Repurposing Your Marketing Budget

Are you asking how you’re going to fund the changes in your marketing tactics? Well, there’s one spot where you’ve got quite a lot of marketing dollars that aren’t going to be used – trade shows, travel, and the related activities.

If your trade shows have been cancelled, there are a couple of areas where you can find budget. For instance, if you hadn’t finished paying for the trade show, there’s some money there. Then there is the travel, the promotion, the ads and you had email marketing scheduled, PR – all of that is now “found budget” you can repurpose to fund your new marketing tactics.

So repurpose those funds, use those blasts for a different campaign, and have dialogues with publications on how you can reach their audiences.

What Can You Do Differently?

If you’re not used to being able to think outside the box, here are a few tactics you can use.

  • B2B Social Media: You’re going to have to rely on social media to keep conversations going, but you’re going to need assets to do it. So all of those collateral pieces your sales team told you about in your asset audit? The case studies, white papers, application notes, and literature – you’ll need to start creating all of that in order to use it for social media, email, and advertising.
  • Digital and Print Advertising with Downloads: It’s not advertising as usual anymore. Whenever you run an ad, whether it’s print or digital, make sure you’ve got an engaging landing page – and make sure the prospect can download something valuable to their buying journey.
  • Comprehensive Email Marketing: Start building your own list. Don’t just rely on list rentals. Then build email campaigns using your new assets. After webinars (see below), follow-up with lead nurturing campaigns. And when trade shows come back (and they will), use your email list to promote, follow-up, and nurture.
  • Webinars: Use webinars more. Or start using webinars. It’s basically a trade show in a box!

But, when you’re doing a webinar, make sure it’s not a hard sales pitch with only your company doing the talking. We’ve found the most successful way of running a webinar is for the host company to speak for a very short time, with one of their customers doing the bulk of the presentation. You will always have more interest and registrations if your webinar shows people what your company can do from a customer’s point of view.

And Finally, a Note of Encouragement

We can’t forget that we are in a global crisis and we need to be sensitive to what our customers and prospects are dealing with, but this is a perfect opportunity to develop your sales and marketing organizations. At the end of this – as hard as this is – you are going to have a stronger marketing department.

And remember, during the Great Depression, the companies that marketed through it were stronger on the other end. Now, we’re not in a depression (at least not yet), but globally – just like the Great Depression – we are all in it together.

Don’t back away. Don’t be frightened of it, and don’t let anybody keep you stuck in crisis mode. There are some things you’re going to have to do that are pretty critical now, but take a breath and make a plan.

Don’t let the coronavirus quarantine your marketing efforts. Whether you need help assessing how the coronavirus could impact your upcoming marketing campaigns or guidance on what opportunities your marketing department can take advantage of, let’s connect and talk about how we can help.

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 Mar 10, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why White Papers Are Important and How to Use them

Why White Papers Are Important and How to Use them - From Brandwidth Solutions

by Deb Harrsch

“I want to put out a white paper, but I don’t have anything to talk about.”

Believe it or not, that is a real statement – and I’ve heard it from more than one client over the course of the past fifteen years.

I am always amazed when clients tell me they have nothing to talk about. Of course, you do!

I usually say, “Have you ever done a poster at a trade show?” The response is inevitably, “Well, yeah.”

Guess what? We can use that as the basis for a white paper!

What is a White Paper?

Let’s take a quick step back for a second and start with what is a white paper? Why are they important?

A white paper tends to be a focused, technical document which delivers information around a complex topic, and provides a company’s solution or viewpoint. It’s designed to help readers understand the topic and potential resolutions.

It’s not typically an overly-formal document, but it’s not casual like a blog, either. It usually delivers information around a process, a product, or an application. A white paper could also be based on an application note or a poster you presented at a conference.

But, it doesn’t necessarily have to be about a product or a service. Sometimes white papers are about big, broad topics and cover an industry like digital transformation, pharma 4.0 or AI. An example might be a white paper on AI and how it’s impacting markets.

Why Are White Papers Important?

This section is arguably the most important part of this blog post. This is why you want to use white papers in your marketing. They:

  • Educate not only your prospects, but also your sales team and the media
  • Provide decision-makers with relevant information when considering purchases
  • Produce qualified leads
  • Develop your reputation as a thought leader

And isn’t this what you really want from your marketing efforts?

White papers allow you to talk to your prospects about topics which are important to them. They explain your intellectual property via technical, process-driven content. While we obviously don’t give away your trade secrets, we do dive deep into your subject matter, demonstrating the processes you use to solve key issues for your customers.

Eccolo Media’s 2014 B2B Technology Content Survey reports that “white papers rank as the most frequently consumed content type (49%) when decision-makers consider a technology purchase.” With that many decision-makers consuming your whitepapers, it’s clear that they are an excellent lead gen tool for your marketing efforts.

While you shouldn’t “gate” or require a registration for your case studies or other literature or marketing collateral, your white papers are another story. Because the level of information and detail is more comprehensive, you can – and should – have a ‘register to download’ form gating your white papers. This gives your sales team an ongoing stream of qualified leads.

How Do You Structure a White Paper?

White papers are at least two to three pages in length – and more typically around four pages – or approximately 2,000 words. I always say that a white paper should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words. You don’t want to make them more than that, because people aren’t going to have time to read it. If you do have more information than comfortably fits into this format, you may want to consider breaking it up into several white papers focused on narrower sub-topics.

Great! So now we know how long a white paper should be – but how should you structure it?

When you think of putting together a white paper, especially a technical white paper, it will be focused in much the same way as you would approach a poster. Our typical formula for creating a white paper starts with a short abstract, which is essentially a lead into the conversation. We move on to providing information on all the elements that our client brought together to achieve the product or the service they developed. We then describe the process which created the product or solution and wrap-up with the results.

It’s very technical, and ultimately reads like a thought leadership piece.

An interesting way of adding support for the info in the white paper is to include one or more abbreviated case studies. This provides not only reinforcement of the topic and shows how your customers are using your product, but this tactic also provides a good entrance for those who are hesitating to register for the white paper.

How to Use a White Paper in Your Marketing

While people won’t give up their email and register for a case study, they are more likely to do so for a white paper, because it contains technical expertise. As I discussed earlier, white papers are a great download deliverable for lead generation. You can also use your white paper as a deliverable for gated content on third-party sites.

You should be using your white paper in your advertising as well. Whether you’re doing print or digital ads – be sure to develop a great landing page that finishes the marketing message from your ads. Once you’ve created the infrastructure, you can use the white paper in any ad you do – from trade journals to Google display ads. This gives the audience an opportunity to learn about a topic from you.

Caution! The topic of the white paper you use in advertising must match the ad or it won’t work. You can’t do a white paper on topic A and run an ad about topic Z.

By using a white paper in your advertising, you put your company in a thought leadership role. We’ve seen many situations where a prospect was not familiar with a particular company, but through advertising and white paper exposure chose to go with that company because they had discussed the topic before.

Other ways to use your white paper in your integrated marketing efforts include:

  • Social media – Because your prospects and customers are likely following you on your social channels, you should promote your white papers on your social channels along with a link to the landing page.
  • Blogs – You can re-purpose some of the white paper content into a blog post, which also pushes to the landing page where visitors can download the full white paper.
  • Press Releases – If you’re doing a press release about a certain topic and your white paper addresses that topic, you can include it as a possible download in a press release.
  • Trade Show Follow-up – You do send out mails after a trade show is over, right? In a simple “thank you for stopping by our booth” email, you can include a link to the download form for the white paper.
  • Email Newsletters – In your e-newsletters you have another opportunity to provide your customers and prospects with a link to your white paper.
  • Lead Nurturing and eMarketing Campaigns – White papers are a perfect tool to use when nurturing leads. Whether it’s a lead you met through a show, social media, or a sales call, sending a white paper as part of an ongoing lead nurturing program delivers key information to prospects when you aren’t there.

When you think about it, one single white paper can provide an ongoing abundance of qualified leads for your sales team. Every download delivers a solid reference point. “This person downloaded my white paper, so they are really interested in learning more about this particular process or thought leadership piece.” It gives your team a warm lead to follow.

Are you ready to put white papers to work? Call us today and get started.

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 Feb 7, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Tradeshows, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Effective Trade Show Booths: The Dos and Don’ts of Booth Design

Effective Trade Show Booths: The Dos and Don’ts of Booth Design

Photo Courtesy of LGM Pharma

by Larry Worden and Deb Harrsch

There’s a lot of information out there about the best ways to exhibit at a trade show and follow up with leads (including on this blog here, here, and here). What I don’t see a lot of information about is what your prospects are thinking when they attend a trade show.

Let’s take a short journey from your customer’s perspective – and figure out what could make your trade show booth one your customers want to visit.

Why Are Your Prospects at the Show?

Let’s first think about why your prospects are at a show like AACC, for instance. After all, it’s not all fun and games or an excuse to get out of the lab for a few days.

They might be attending because they are in an acquisition cycle. If they are, this means they want to have a close look at your technologies, and the advancements and efficiencies of your equipment or assays. They need to talk to your R&D personnel and service staff to understand what you have, its operational life span, and what’s on the horizon for you.

Or – if they aren’t looking to buy right away – they’re investigating new technologies or solutions from up-and-coming companies. They’re also talking to staff from companies they currently use to express concerns or seek solutions to challenges. No matter where they are in their purchasing cycle, they are always studying available techniques and innovations. They also are researching what they need in order to bring new testing capabilities into their labs.

Trade Show Booth Elements: What Works and What Doesn’t

Open, Clearly-Organized Booths

Show attendees prefer booths that are open and welcoming. Your booth is not a castle to be defended. Visitors don’t want to feel like a mouse in a maze. Lay out your booth in a way that allows visitors (from outside the booth) to select the product areas they want to visit. Use signage to help your prospects navigate your trade show real estate.

Appropriate Booth Lighting

It’s surprising what people remember about your booth. Lighting is one critical element to consider. Of course, you want to highlight important areas, but you don’t want to make it hard to see what you’re highlighting. You want to make the experience of your booth calm and relaxing – not have visitors feel as though they need sunglasses or are under a harsh spotlight. You can still highlight important areas, but use more diffuse lighting. Consider placing the lighting higher above your exhibit or use lower-wattage bulbs.

Walkable, Comfortable Flooring

Believe it or not, your booth flooring choice matters. Yes – everyone recognizes that your booth staff needs (and deserves) some padding. Visitors also appreciate the relief from those unrelenting concrete floors. But, you need to be certain that the matting you choose is trip-proof and easy to walk on. I’ve heard some of those plush carpeted booths referred to as “walking through mud,” “quicksand,” and “a mattress” well after a show ends. Consider the floor choice of your booth.

Provide Interactive Experiences

Prospects enjoy being able to self-direct their booth visits. Nobody likes the used car salesman treatment. Many visitors feel that booth staff often hound them and can be too aggressive. Allowing prospects to interact with the information in your booth and approach your staff when ready is a far more effective way to advance the sales conversation.

With the technology available today, automation is a valuable tool for your visitors. Provide multiple interactive screens with presentations and allow your customers to educate themselves the way they choose. But, ensure you always have enough staff on hand to help visitors on demand.

Give Opt-in Educational Presentations

Short 15-minute presentations are a hit with attendees, but only if they provide solid information. Your prospects have a lot of ground to cover at these shows and they don’t appreciate their time being wasted. So, consider holding a small schedule of brief educational seminars and focus on content – not fluff.

Booth Staffing

Trade show attendees aren’t just looking for the equipment they need right now. They’re also exploring what they are going to need two to five years from now. Your prospects are digging into what products you have under development and how they might serve future needs. Also, you should be aware that your customers could visit your booth with very specific questions on technical issues they may be experiencing with your products. So, it’s critical that you have the right people staffing your booth.

You need staff from R&D, service, sales, and marketing. People with real experience with your products – whether they are developers, service personnel, or trained sales individuals. What you don’t need and shouldn’t hire are professional actors or presenters. Believe me – your prospects will know, and they don’t like it one bit. They are scientists and they want to talk to people who can solve their problems…who can get into the technical aspects of using the kit.

What is also extremely important to your prospects? Your staff needs to stand out. Make it easy for your customer to identify who is staffing your booth. One simple way to do this is have everyone wear the same color shirt.

How to Save Money and Deliver an Effective Trade Show Booth

Let’s talk literature for a moment. It drives me crazy that people insist on bringing a ton of high-dollar literature to a show. Guys, let me tell you – it’s going in the garbage. You spend a ton of money, cut down a bunch of trees, and it ends up in the trash. Did you know that 64% of trade show literature is thrown away?

Think about the last time you went to a trade show. You walk the floor, pick up a bunch of literature, take it back to your room and then – as you’re packing – you say, “Oh gee, I can’t possibly take all of this home.” So you do a quick sort through it and take only a few pieces back. The rest? Into the waste bin it goes.

Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring anything. Just carefully consider what you do take. We advise exhibitors to bring limited literature and use a PDF version of your brochures as a follow-up to nurture your contact. By providing a PDF, your customer can share the literature with their colleagues and other decision-makers. You might also consider stocking your booth with less costly print pieces and perhaps holding some of your higher quality literature in the back to give to highly qualified prospects.

Whatever you decide to do with trade show materials, make sure they are valuable and communicate the benefits your kit provides users.

So, Let’s Recap

Your trade show booth will be more effective if you:

  1. Staff it with people with actual experience with your products.
  2. Design your booth to be open, welcoming, and easy to navigate.
  3. Choose appropriate lighting and avoid bright, harsh lights.
  4. Watch your flooring choice.
  5. Provide interactive experiences and allow visitors to self-direct their visit.
  6. Hold 15-minute educational seminars.
  7. Make sure your staff is easily identifiable to visitors.
  8. Bring the minimum amount of lower-cost print materials and follow-up with electronic marketing materials.

Need help organizing and implementing a trade show booth plan? 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.

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 Jan 10, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Uncategorized | 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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