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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Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Marketing Budget Season Has Arrived!

Business Hand Clicking Budget Button On Touch ScreenIt’s that time of year when every marketing manager has to look into their crystal ball and determine what the marketing communications spend will be for the next year. It can be a very daunting task to try to figure out how you will spend your precious marketing dollars – and also show your boss how this year’s spend produced quantifiable results!

How to Define Your Marketing Budget

You need to start with the Assessment. My first suggestion is to take a very deep breath and review what you did during this last year. Dig into what marketing tools and channels worked and find out what could have worked better. This yearly marketing assessment process will lead you to discover the even more important answers to what did our company not do that we should have?” to produce better results

Here are a few marketing assessment questions to get you started:

Assess

  • What was last year’s budget and where did we spend it?
  • What were the core and key components to last year’s spend?
      • How did we measure them?
      • Did we course-correct when our measurements showed steps weren’t as productive as we wanted?
      • How would we have done things differently?
  • What works best?
      • How will we know
  • What tools did we use in the MarCom Elements Wheel?
  • Where is our audience going for their information?
  • Are we moving with them?
  • Can we show direct lead to sales, and what were the sales amounts?

It’s only after you’ve assessed the performance of your marketing success throughout the past year that you can truly create a realistic marketing budget for the next year.

What You Need to Develop Next Year’s Marketing Budget

To develop the overall plan for next year, you’ll need to start thinking about the big things such as the channels you need to use. After that, you’ll need to look at company planned events, refine your channels and fill in the details. One of the key ingredients to any MarCom budget is showing what worked based on your measurements matrices’. These measurements enable you to prove what worked, what didn’t and how you will adjust your spend.

Here are some questions to think about as you develop your budget:

  • What elements do we think we will need? Choose from broad stroke categories like:
      • Website updates or development
      • Public Relations
      • Conferences
      • Collateral
      • Social Media
      • Advertising
      • eMarketing
  • What are our objectives and matrix for measurement for each component?
  • What is the cost per element?
  • Can we course-correct if needed?
  • Are there any big product/service introductions for next year? What is the launch budget?
  • What MarCom elements will we use for this launch and what is the cost per element?
  • How will we measure success?

Marketing Is Constantly Changing

We all know that marketing is changing, and you need to determine how you’ll handle it going forward. That’s why doing the assessment is so important. You’ll also need to remember that social media will likely play a big role in your plans because that is one way people learn about products/services. Social Media doesn’t preclude using the other elements at all. It’s those other elements that help feed your social media.

The best part of developing next year’s budget is you get to find out what worked and what didn’t. Once you have that 20/20 look-back, you can plan for the future. It also enables you to show that – while marketing is considered an expense category for accounting – you can drive leads that sales people use to close business. With the right tracking tools you may even be able to show actual sales based on leads you brought in.

What is your biggest challenge in creating your marketing budget?

For over two decades Debra Harrsch has been providing marketing expertise to Fortune 500 and other companies and contributing to brand recognition and profit growth, even in a declining economy. Serving in executive, directorship, and consulting positions in healthcare, life science, biotech, energy, and chemical industries, Debra has structured research, marketing and PR plans, and online and print media advertising campaigns.

As CEO of Brandwidth Solutions, LLC, Debra provides marketing and brand management expertise to domestic and international companies, often driving paradigm shifts that contribute to significant and unanticipated growth.

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