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

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

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

by Debra Harrsch

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

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

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

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

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

Life Science Manufacturers Still Need to Market

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

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

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

Why Does a Manufacturer Need a Blog?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Science-based Manufacturers Must Promote Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on Feb 15, 2021 in Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

Going Further with Google Display Ads

by Scott Fuhr

As we’re well into month two of our 2021 journey we’re seeing incredible shifts to digital channels as ways to reach customers through our marketing efforts. Let’s continue to re-evaluate our marketing approaches in this all-new pandemic world.

One way to join the digital shift is by leveraging the power of Google.

It’s widely acknowledged that Google is the best and biggest search engine in the world and it could hence write its own book on creating and managing paid digital ad programs. As such, the fact remains that digital ads can be a major force in creating differentiation – especially in an environment where an online presence is paramount in lieu of in-person events.

We’ve already touched on getting started with Google search ads (formerly known as “AdWords”) – and these ads should, without a doubt, be included in today’s mix to create exposure for your business-to-business company. A mix that further includes many other vehicles in your ad spend, social media and of course email marketing.

As a reminder, Google search ads are text-based and appear above the organic listings on the search engine results page when you search for specific terms in the Google.com search window. Here’s an example of what a paid Google search ad looks like after typing in “office chair” into the search box:

In a nutshell, the organic search results are the naturally occurring listings served-up by an online vehicle’s content and SEO optimization (think your website) and are not paid placements.

Introducing the Display Ad

Another type of Google ad is the display ad, and that’s what we’ll look at now.

Google display ads are graphics that show up on websites in its network. They will appear while you’re on your bank’s website, for instance, to increase awareness of a product that Google believes you’ll be interested in.

Here’s what a display ad can look like, in a billboard style:

Google tries to determine which sites are most relevant to your audience. It does this based on what it knows about an individual’s profile, search history, and what the ad creators have submitted for examples of sites they believe your demographic would be interested in or have already searched for in the past.

The technology is complicated. However, if we take a step back and realize that just ten years ago many considered this type of “matching” technology to be relatively new, Google has committed every year since to consistently improve the targeting technology.

As such, this is where the power of display ads can be seen. These ads can offer a much cheaper CPC (or cost-per-click) than search ads. And, if you have a goal to build awareness for your brand, these ads can reach prospects as they travel around the web and will keep you – not your competitors – top of mind.

Tip: An example from one our clients shows a Google display ad last quarter in a particular category had a CPC that was five times less than the CPC of the Google search ad.

When creating a display ad, set some time aside. Google requires four graphic images, and text for a short headline (up to five versions), a long headline, and descriptions (up to five versions). All of these elements depend upon what your ad is offering. For example, are you offering a white paper download, or a free product trial, or a way to contact a representative for a conversation?

Here’s another example of a Google display ad, in a box style:

Tip: To see many more samples, try Googling “examples of Google display ads” and comb through a few to get an idea for what your ads should look like. Make sure the look and feel match your organization’s overall branding guidelines to create a more seamless experience for the user.

Selecting the Audience

For the audience, you input key terms (formerly “keywords”) that describe topics you believe your prospects are interested in or have purchase intentions around, and you can even list other websites you believe they would be likely to visit.

Tips: For help with determining what key terms to input, research terms that are popular with visitors and that are being used by your competitors. One tool to use for this is SpyFu, which has a free option. Just sign-up, put in a website, and take a look at its available ad data. Another tool is Google’s own keyword planner – which can even estimate what the historic search volume is for a term.

What Am I Supposed to Do?

While you’re creating your ad, it’s also time to think about what you want your prospect to do when they click on your ad – your call-to-action (CTA). This will depend upon the thinking you did a few paragraphs back, where you determined what you’re going to offer in the ad.

At Brandwidth Solutions we most often create Google display ads for companies that offer an exclusive piece of content, like a white paper download. We take them to a landing page in their marketing automation system, and they can complete a form on that landing page to download the white paper (a PDF document). In the process, we track them in their marketing automation system as a lead and the information can be uploaded automatically into the client’s CRM.

Your CTA may differ if your ad is about registering for an event, for instance. In that case, your ad may take a prospective attendee to an event registration page.

Time to Bid

As we mentioned above, Google Ads are based on a CPC model. This means you only pay for each click on your ad.

You can start your bidding by selecting a bid strategy that is based upon your campaign objectives. Your goals might be to garner impressions or to simply get web visitors. While bidding consists of some mix of trial and error, analysis, and constant adjustment, a good place to start is with the “maximize conversions” strategy. Google will help you constantly adjust to the best maximum bid automatically by leveraging its growing machine learning engine.

You can learn more about bidding here.

Google Power

Ready to try the display ads? Let us know how it’s going. If you’d like us to help you out and devise a strategy for your B2B goals, contact us now.

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing that 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 Jan 4, 2021 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

Why You Should Take a Breath and Re-evaluate Your Marketing Plans

by Deb Harrsch

Welcome to January 2021! It’s finally here.

We’ve made it through the holidays. We figured out how to visit with our families and how to be safe doing so. We’re still in the midst of this major wave of COVID-19 and we’re all eagerly awaiting vaccines to make life a little easier.

Now, your boss wants to know, “What are we doing for marketing in 2021?”

Before you start reeling off a list of marketing activities, let’s stop for a minute. I think that while you may have started the 2021 planning process in December, this particular January it’s important to take a breath and reset your expectations. I know there is still uncertainty as to what this year will serve up.

We do know we are still in a world where digital communications are the primary marketing method, and that’s not going to begin to shift until at least the second half of 2021. You also must keep in mind that some things will never go back 100% to how we used to market.

So, How Are You Going to Tackle 2021?

Your 2021 marketing will be a combination of how we marketed before the pandemic and what we did last year.

You began a digital rebirth and learned how to function in a virtual world last year, and that same buyer behavior is going to continue this year. This January, you should start your marketing planning with a re-evaluation of where you are now. Have a look at the assets you created last year. Review the work you did around your buyer personas and what your customers’ awareness-consider-buy journey is today.

Take a deep breath and first make sure you’ve matched each persona’s awareness-consider-buy journey with strong calls to action. Then lay out all the assets you have and map them to the journey.

Applying Your New Marketing Skills

Now it’s time to figure out how to apply all the new skill sets you learned about last year – and how you are going to implement them going forward. If you need a refresh on those skills, check out these blog posts:

Next you’ll begin building out – and documenting – your marketing strategy and the implementation plan. This is where integrated marketing is most important, because you can think through and use all the marketing tools in your toolbox. Be sure that you have everything working together and working toward the same goal – your web copy, your white papers, your case studies, and your videos.

2021 Strategies

In 2021 and beyond you’ll need to outline strategies for both virtual marketing and in-person marketing as we start working our way back to in-person meetings. We need to keep in mind that we might be able to attend trade shows in the second half of the year once vaccines are available, but that is up in the air for now.

But, remember that even if we do get to attend trade shows in-person, they will likely never again look the way they did in 2019. In 2021 at least, they will probably become a hybrid model of virtual and in-person. I think that every single one of us over the course of this past year has realized how important the personal touch really is. We’ve tried to duplicate it with virtual events and tried to do it with Zoom calls and it has worked to some degree, but we all know that shaking hands and being together on the trade show floor is important.

There are several good things that have come out of adapting to pandemic lockdowns, however. The situation has given us an opportunity this last year to increase our marketing toolkits, whether it’s:

  • creating assets like white papers and case studies
  • learning to use social media to increase brand awareness and leads
  • reviewing our traditional marketing
  • building story videos, proof point videos, and how-we-work videos
  • or experiencing the cool technologies that build virtual trade shows.

I think that you should be rolling out and using all the new tools in your toolbox both while we’re at virtual trade shows, and when attending in-person trade shows. We’ve talked to clients for a long time about building video tools or interactive marketing tools. Some have executed and some have not, while others are in the process of building those tools. If we consider that at least the first half of your year is still virtual, then you need to dive in and do some videos or podcasting so it’s available in your toolkit.

Let’s Get Going!

We endured a lot last year. We’re still working on coming to grips with the pandemic. We continued building our businesses. We tried to figure out what we needed on the fly. But, we are starting to see a little light at the end of a long tunnel and it’s time to implement some of the strategies we worked on last year. Lay it out and make sure your plans are tight.

If you need help, give us a call.

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

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

Managing Marketing Through the Fog: What We Learned About Marketing in 2020

by Deb Harrsch

This is our last post this year and I don’t know about you, but I’ll be glad to see the end of 2020. I know that everyone is tired of dealing with COVID, and tired of trying to find the silver lining. We’re tired of thinking about it and preparing for it every time we leave our homes – and even tired of being at home.

It’s not just about business, it’s about our personal lives too. Everyone is thinking, “What’s it going to look like for the holidays? When am I going to see my family again? When am I going to see my friends again?” And you know what, the answer is this: it’s unfortunately going to be a bit longer. I wish it wasn’t the case.

Yes, it’s hard. There’s no doubt about that. But, the good news is that we can absolutely get through this. It is just another challenge in our journey, and we will all have stories to tell about how we survived both personally and professionally. We just need to be patient and hang on.

We are all managing through this fog of indecision and uncertainty. If anyone still feels like they are the only one feeling that way, please give me a call because I will tell you that you’re definitely not alone.

And guess what? Not only are we managing our day-to-day activities in a fog, but whole companies and sales and marketing and product management departments are managing business in a fog. We’re all struggling for clarity, we’re trying to manage it, we’re all trying to figure things out – and we can’t rely on last year’s data.

How to market without historical data

Marketing departments tend to do things based on data. We ask: “What did we do last year? What publications did we advertise or publish in last year? What trade shows did we do? And how well did that provide sales leads and awareness?”

I don’t think a lot of that data is relevant anymore. While I think you should look at your data and should monitor it monthly, 2020 has been a challenge for all of us. Many marketing departments are lacking clarity and struggling to manage this mass of marketing without any data relevant to today’s environment.

Yes, we can learn from history, and we should always learn from history, but things have changed. We must pay attention to the fact that things have changed. We need to process the change and collect and act on current data while keeping aware that there could be more changes.

What did we learn over the course of this year?

  1. We learned that as organizations we have to be more digitally focused and think more broadly.

As I mentioned, the old data doesn’t apply here so you can’t do the same thing you did last year just because that’s the way it’s always been done. Frequently, marketing departments tend to do the same things that worked the year before. But, now you have to figure out what tomorrow might look like. And yes, that’s going to mean educated guesswork and testing. The best part about this is we get to put on our creative hat and think outside of the box.

We learned that a strong digital strategy is key. Without a digital strategy and without a place for people to find out information about your products or services, or go buy your product, you’re sunk. Take a hard look at your website – are you marketing to your customers? Are you being the thought leader in your industry? If not, it’s going to impact your sales more now than ever, because there’s nowhere else for people to go to get the information.

  1. We learned that we need to be able to pivot our marketing at almost a moment’s notice.

It may be time to pull out our copies of “Who Moved My Cheese?” for a refresher. When someone moves your ability to market in the ways that always worked in the past, as marketers, we need to be able to pivot and that’s not always as easy as you’d like it to be.

For example, look at trade shows. They disappeared – except for virtually – this year and the truth is, you’re probably not going to any trade shows at the beginning of next year either. It’s scary, but very true. And looking ahead to how conferences are held, it may not go back to the way it was. We all learned that trade shows and conferences are very important, but they cannot be the only way to get our message out and reach our customers.

In order to easily pivot your marketing, you need to have a full range of tools in your toolbox. This means the right marketing software coupled with the right content.

  1. We learned that it’s crucial to be organized and have a real marketing plan. When marketing departments didn’t have a marketing plan with a digital strategy and the organizational ability to implement it, they weren’t able to pivot – they were stymied. Instead, what happened was companies tried to bolt together random sections of pipe (the ‘pipe’ being a metaphor for marketing activities) creating a new marketing initiative to replace what had been budgeted based on prior years’ marketing efforts. The result of bolting small pieces of pipe together was a very leaky pipe – those leaks were all their potential leads and customers disappearing through the holes in their marketing.

We learned that you can’t just bolt pieces together. Every time you do, you add a joint and every joint represents a potential problem. You have to think about your audience holistically and create a solid length of pipe – an overall marketing plan.

Marketing is not just a website. It’s not just your print advertising. It’s not just your digital advertising or social media. It is a whole functioning organism that needs all of its parts and systems to work together to keep the entire body healthy.

What this has proven to even the most doubtful of marketing managers is that you need a holistic and integrated marketing plan which includes a strong digital strategy as well as a non-digital strategy. You also need the right messaging and assets to deliver on both those plans.

  1. We learned that the market has shifted and sales and marketing must improve collaboration.

I have talked about how sales and marketing need to be best friends in the past and it’s never truer than right now. Both sales and marketing need to step up. Sales needs to start contacting customers one-on-one to get real facts which drive the development of messaging and KOLs. Marketing needs to use that information to continue reaching out – to keep the brand front and center.

Overall we’ve learned that things can change quickly and we have to be prepared as organizations to not just look at what we have right here and now, but to see the full picture. We have to continually evaluate strategies and how you’re marketing. We must re-think how you spend your marketing dollars.

We need to remember that when we get back to whatever “normal” looks like now, it will change again. 2020 is not the first change, but I do think this particular change has forever altered how we think and deliver marketing in a B2B world. Companies should embrace the holistic marketing approach to succeed.

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

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Posted by on Oct 2, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

10 Tips for Getting Results from Your Life Science Ad Spend

by Deb Harrsch

The year 2020 has introduced us to a whole new situation where the only way to generate leads is through digital media. Because of COVID, advertising has become even more important. In fact, I would say that social media and advertising are the two most important digital channels right now. And both of those are supported by useful and creative content on your website.

After all, where else are you going to get leads from?

That’s why advertising is important to have in multiple formats, from print and digital to publication websites and search engine marketing. Your prospects need to see you in multiple places. If they do, you can generate leads in several ways.

It’s important to put all of the ad puzzle pieces together in a way that makes sense. Your puzzle is your budget for producing leads. Your job is to figure out which pieces fit together to achieve the best results in the most cost-efficient way.

And all of the normal rules are out the window.

There are lots of moving pieces when it comes to developing advertising that delivers solid results. It starts with knowing your audience and developing your ad plan. Because it never hurts to have some useful tips to help you choose your puzzle pieces wisely, here are ten points you’ll want to dig into.

  1. Maximize your publication ad spend

Should you be in every publication your audience reads? Well, sure – if you have an unlimited budget. But, who does? I can’t say that I’ve met anyone with one!

The point here is that you need to choose publications wisely. You also need to understand the audience demographics for each publication – and match that with what you’re trying to deliver. For example, publication A has an audience of 13,000 readers. A solid audience number for sure. But, say publication B has a larger audience – and reaches the same 13,000 person audience as publication A. Which publication do you choose?

Well, if I have a limited budget, I’m not going to run my ad in both. Unless there is something spectacular happening in publication A, I’m going to choose publication B since it has a larger audience for the same market. With a limited budget, instead of spreading your budget across five publications, think about choosing the three which cover your audience best.

Another aspect of maximizing your ad spend is the value you receive. You can stretch your budget by negotiating with publications. For instance, if you run a print ad, you may be able to negotiate a free digital ad – or perhaps a free podcast sponsorship.

We work hard to negotiate with publications on behalf of our clients and publications really do try to help clients achieve their end goal. While our clients pay the publication directly for advertising, we try to make sure that they also get some free value-adds as well.  Many times, publications are able to discount an ad product or provide a free opportunity if we build an advertising package of products with them. While you can’t always make it happen, we try to deliver the value-add. A good place to start is with your ad rep.

  1. Put ads in the right places in publications

Once you’ve got your publication list nailed down, choosing where in those publications to place your ads becomes critical. It’s always optimal to have a mix of both digital and print ads. But, how can you get the most out of print ads?

Editorial calendars are the key.

While editorial content isn’t as important for digital ads, it is extremely important for a print ad. Think about it. If a print article focuses on something your company offers, isn’t that the very best place to insert an ad?

We only ever place print ads where the editorial reflects what our client does. For example, if a publication is running a piece on selecting API suppliers, we’ll run a print ad for one of our API manufacturing clients. We always try to get those ad insertions placed in the feature story itself.

We know that clients have limited budgets and you can’t always do a full-page ad buy. In those cases, our strategy is to do what are called half-page island ads. The reason we choose the half-page island ad is because there won’t be other ads on the page competing for a reader’s attention. The only copy on the page other than the ad is the article copy. You really can’t ask for a more targeted ad placement than that!

As I said, it is optimal to have both print and digital ads running. The best mix is when you place print ads in editorial content specific to your company and balance those with digital ad placements in multiple publications in that market segment. Of course, this strategy depends on the publications that serve your audience.

  1. Make your digital ad buy do double duty

Digital ads in publications have a particular advantage – they are extremely flexible. Once a print ad is published, there’s nothing more you can do until you run another insertion. But, a digital ad can be updated quickly or you can rotate two ads within one ad buy. This is called a split run, and makes your ad dollars work harder for you.

For digital ads, we typically run a three- or six-month campaign with a publication. This ad block usually consists of multiple ad sizes. For example, a large block ad down to a small mobile ad. (This helps us control the look of the ad everywhere.) During this ad buy, our marketing plan may call for promoting multiple products or services to the same audience. When this happens, we’ll start running the digital ads with our first set of creative and then at any time during the run we can swap the initial ads out with new creative.

For example, we are working with a life science software client. They have a product which helps companies manage COVID-19 research. They also have a product that helps employers get staff back to work safely. The publication we identified has a pharma audience – and it tends to be the managerial C-suite. This group of folks has not only the responsibility of getting their employees back to work, but they also have the responsibility of doing research. Both products answer this audience’s needs. Therefore, we are running separate digital ads for both products on this publication’s website. The publication is rotating the ads for us in our ad slot.

Even if you don’t have multiple products, the important thing to remember is that your ad buy can be updated for almost any reason. If you’ve got a new white paper coming out and you’re promoting it, or if you’re going to a trade show (when we can do that again!) and want to drive booth visitors, all of these can be reasons to create another set of ad creative and request the publication rotate them in your ad buy. You won’t even need to tell them when – they’ll automatically arrange it.

  1. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Ads

Don’t forget about search engine ads. But, what type of SEM ads work best? Should you dive into Google Ads and the complex bidding and building process for search ads? Or is there another option?

I am an advocate of Google Display ads. When budget is tight, I’m able to spend less money for a wider audience than I can achieve using search ads. We find that display ads perform very well for our clients – and they are far less expensive.

The reason? Display ads target people who have already searched for something similar to your product. Remember that pillow you searched for a couple of weeks ago? Well, that’s why you see nothing but ads for bedding – everywhere!

The purpose of display ads is to provide you with content that is relevant to your needs. This serves up a niche audience who is already pre-qualified for your ad. Additionally, because display ads rotate, the user doesn’t get tired of seeing the same ad and doesn’t start ignoring it.

Search advertising can be complicated, so it’s important that you work with someone who is Google-certified. You must know what you’re doing to avoid wasting budget. Never forget to measure your ads to see what is working and what needs changing (see number 10 below!)

  1. Animated versus static ad results

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to digital ads. One of those choices is whether to run a static ad or an animated ad. A static ad means the ad doesn’t move or change while it’s on the screen. An animated ad has movement and changes messaging.

You might think that since video is a key content choice today that animated ads perform better than static ones. That’s not actually the case in practice. We’ve found that clickthrough rates are the same. There’s no need to develop flashy animated content for display ads.

If you think about it, how long are you going to wait for an ad to animate on your phone? Not long enough.

People are scanning faster; they are using mobile more and aren’t sitting around waiting for the ad to rotate through its content. And that’s not just for mobile users. They may not even give it that amount of time at their desktops anymore either.

There is another challenge with animated ads. Some publication websites have tight restrictions on the size of the file which limits your ability to put more information in an ad.

We focus our efforts on static ads. There’s no negative to an ad being stationary, because the truth is most of the display ads from Google are, in fact, static – which means users are used to them.

You need to remember, too, that when you run ads in newsletters, Outlook does not accommodate rotating banner ads. In addition to static ads, we mix up the allocation with text ads, making sure we monitor and measure what works best.

  1. Improve performance with A/B testing

This is one area that is continually forgotten in the rush to deliver results. But, A/B testing can mean the difference between an ad spend that didn’t work at all and a successful ad spend.

When we create a digital ad for a customer, we sometimes run two different versions – an A and a B version. It’s a great way to test your ad copy – especially headlines and your call-to-action (CTA). The key to digital ads is a strong headline and a strong CTA. A/B testing allows you to experiment with all areas of your ad to achieve the best results.

More importantly, it gives viewers something new to look at when they’re on that web page – and when they re-visit that page.

  1. Deliver value and receive leads via ads

What good is an ad without giving the audience something of value? It turns out – not much.

We’ve learned that digital ads with deliverables (such as white papers or case studies) perform far better than ads without them. Our secret sauce is an ad that drives to a landing page, which finishes the marketing message begun in the ad. That landing page allows the audience to download (usually) a case study or white paper, giving them real information that helps them understand more about:

  • your product or service
  • how it works
  • how you work
  • what it’s like to work with you
  • results customers like them have achieved.

Another option for you is having a publication run a gated promotion of your white paper. In many cases, this is the better choice for lead generation, because people are more willing to give their information to a publication than they are to a company’s direct landing page. In this case, the publication will gate your white paper and provide you with a spreadsheet of the names and contact information for the people who downloaded it.

  1. Think outside the box with sponsorships

Sponsorships are another advertising opportunity. A webinar or podcast sponsorship is an excellent way to put your company in front of a targeted audience. But, it can’t be just any webinar or podcast topic.

The first step is to always – always – make sure that the content being delivered matches what your company does. For example, we found a webinar was being offered on COVID-19 and research. Well, we have a client with a COVID-19 software product. Our client doesn’t do COVID-19 research, but their product supports it, so they sponsored the webinar. That produced a list of leads for companies doing COVID-19 research, which were perfect targets for the salesforce.

  1. Publication sponsored email campaigns target hard-to-reach audiences

Another product available from publications is the sponsored email. With certain client bases, our only option to reach them is via an email campaign. It’s extremely important to only use this advertising method when you have something newsworthy to promote – such as a whitepaper about a new product offering. With sponsored email, you need to have some solid information or offer with a strong CTA – a new brochure won’t cut it!

  1. Monitor and measure

The key to successful advertising is monitoring what’s happening and measuring your results. Don’t throw money at something without measuring it. We measure social media, we measure email, and we measure advertising. We constantly look at what’s working and what’s not working. If it’s working, we don’t need to change it. If it’s not working, it’s time to change it.

Again, ad buys get snapped up fast, so you’ve got to be on your game. Create your ad plan and make sure that the puzzle pieces fit together. Always be sure you have all the assets in place to deliver measurable results.

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 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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