Posted by on Jul 30, 2021 in Advertising, Brand Strategy and Design, Digital Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Automation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

How to Create a Well-Planned White Paper

How to Create a Well-Planned White Paper

by Debra Harrsch

Do you know how important digital content is in your customer’s buying decision? I think by now we can all agree that it is a critical factor in moving your prospects forward on their journey. The word ‘content,’ however, covers quite a bit of territory – from email and blogs, to case studies and web content, to ads and white papers – and that is just some of today’s common content types.

Last March, I talked specifically about white papers in my Why White Papers are Important and How to Use Them blog post. I just saw a statistic in AZO Network’s Scientific Purchasing Survey – 2021 that puts a little more perspective around how important white papers are in your marketing toolbox. The survey found that nearly 75% of people viewed whitepapers as having an influence on their purchasing decision.

Just as a quick reminder, white papers are an essential part of your overall content strategy. They are the main asset that audiences researching and evaluating products are willing to trade their contact information for. Readers will expect the content to be educational and helpful – not promotional.

Remember that white papers should speak to a relevant topic that your customers view as a pain point. Your paper should also be presented in a way that shows your thought leadership on the subject. If these two elements are not a part of your project, why are you writing a white paper at all?

Since white papers are typically used for lead generation, it is critical that the topic you choose is one that readers are interested in. If it isn’t valuable, you won’t be able to drive traffic.

As I also mentioned in my last blog on white papers, you need to promote them just like any other content. Before you even write a white paper, you should plan how you’re going to disseminate it. Here are two thoughts on how you can use your new white paper:

  • Promote it as a download from your advertising to generate leads.
  • Share it with customers and prospects as a follow-up to sales engagements or trade show meetings.

Smart marketing partners will leverage the heck out of this content. Here are some of the ways Brandwidth Solutions uses white paper content. We:

  • Promote them via social media, repurpose the content as blog posts, and convert it into an original article for publication in third-party periodicals.
  • Create a lead-generating ad campaign – offering the paper as an asset.
  • Use it as part of an email nurturing campaign.
  • Include it in your newsletter.
  • Post it on your website (we prefer to gate it for more lead generation).
  • Look at the material with an eye towards converting it into a podcast or webinar.

Planning Your White Paper

White papers written by vendors are educational, informative, non-promotional papers that share expertise, perspective, and solutions for either specific or broad challenges their readers face (for example, “best green chemistry techniques” or “what are the benefits of outsourcing?”).

Last time we talked a little about how to structure a white paper. Here, I’ll show you how we create well-planned white papers for our life science and technology clients.

Scientists are used to lots of different kinds of papers – peer-reviewed articles, technical documents, and application notes, as examples. Because they are familiar with technical papers, your goal in developing a white paper should be to educate and inform your scientific audience in an area where you have expertise. White papers, when done well, help you build credibility with your target audience – especially as they look to you for guidance and information when researching products and services.

White Paper Length

Consider this: a 2018 DemandGen survey found that 61% of respondents share white papers with their colleagues. The survey also found that the majority of those surveyed (28%) spent 10-20 minutes with a white paper, while 24% spent just 5-10 minutes and only 16% spent more than 30 minutes.

The point of this data? Make sure your paper is easy to read and to the point.

I’ve seen white papers vary wildly in length, but we recommend around 2,000 words. This length keeps the information easily digestible, but with enough depth to help readers with their due diligence when investigating a product or service. If your topic is more complex, you can always create a two-part series.

What to Include

White papers are a vehicle for covering what questions readers should ask about a product or service, what to look for, primers on best practices…or to help them understand a product, service, process, or approach. Your white paper will share your point of view and solutions to the problem without being overly promotional. It’s your way of helping readers understand key information – all without using a hard-sell approach. This is what makes white papers a good lead generation tool. Customers and prospects are willing to register to download a white paper.

Because white papers need to add value, you must be very clear about what you have to say and why you want to contribute to the conversation when you start a project. Remember, white papers are not created using only your perspective. You must understand what the reader needs and what they will get from your content.

Our process helps you figure all of this out.

We start with a kick-off discovery call where we take time to find out about you and what you have to offer – what makes your expertise unique and valuable. We discover who you are trying to reach, what information they most want to know, and what you have to say about the topic.

And then, we dig in further, following up with an interview(s) of your subject matter expert(s). We choose one of our writers who is best suited to work with you. They then develop an outline, and after your approval, get to work on writing a white paper that best serves your prospects’ needs.

Whether your audience is highly technical and scientific, or business decision-makers focused getting comfortable with your offering, your white paper needs to be well-written. You must craft it in the right tone and style for your audience, and it must be engaging – or they won’t read it. We believe that a good design, with informative graphics wherever possible, is part of the process of engaging readers and should be part of any white paper project.

And Finally…

We make sure your white paper has a compelling call-to-action. Never forget to tell your reader what they should do next! Once you have reviewed and approved the content, you’ll have a well-written asset that can be used not only for lead gen but as the basis for additional content marketing.

White papers are just one tool in your marketing toolbox, but they are an important one! They are an authoritative voice from your company – designed to be a persuasive document that builds credibility and moves your prospect along their journey in discovering your solutions. When you marry the white paper to other forms of communication for an integrated approach, you help your readers see the value you bring to their challenge.

Considerable time and effort go into creating a white paper that can be used for multiple content marketing purposes. If your team needs assistance, we’re here to help. Give us a call to learn more.

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 Jan 4, 2021 in Advertising, Brand Strategy and Design, Digital Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Automation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Tradeshows | 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 Nov 6, 2020 in Advertising, Digital Advertising, Lead Generation, Marketing Automation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy | 0 comments

How to Improve Your Ad ROI with Landing Pages

by Deb Harrsch

Do you remember when every ad pointed to a company’s home page on their website? It wasn’t all that long ago either – especially for B2B companies in the life sciences and software industries.

Did you ever experience that? When you clicked on a web address listed in an ad and landed on a home page, did you feel lost and left wondering what on earth you were supposed to do next?

That particular use of an ad spend always frustrated me and left me asking customers, “What do you want visitors to do?” The response I used to receive was typically, “What do you mean, what do I want them to do?”

Yikes!

If you expect to show an ROI for your ad spend, you’ve got to do more than drop an interested visitor on a random web page with no instructions.

What you’ve got to do is ‘marry’ the ad to a landing page. That landing page needs to:

  • Look the same as the ad your potential customers viewed
  • Finish your marketing message from your ad
  • Tell the visitor what they should do next

It’s only by helping your visitor finish their journey that you’ll produce a measurable ROI from your ad spend.

What is a Landing Page?

Let’s begin with some basics. A landing page is a web page built specifically for an ad campaign. It is the spot on your website where someone lands (hence “landing” page) after they have clicked on the link in your ad. It has one goal – to deliver the call-to-action (CTA) of your ad campaign.

Whether your ad is a print ad, Google display ad, a digital ad from a trade publication or a LinkedIn ad, in every single case it will drive to a specific landing page to finish your marketing message and deliver your CTA.

The call-to-action is almost always a form for potential customers to download an asset that will provide them with information they need. Assets include white papers and/or case studies – these are the deliverables for any kind of advertising campaign. The trick is this: you cannot ask people to register for a case study, it would be like asking people to register for a brochure. The best practice is to provide both. Remember, at the end of the day it is about lead generation.

Every single ad should drive to a landing page. In this time of COVID marketing, the landing page has become so much more important than ever before.

There is no option, you’ve got to use them.

Why You Need a Landing Page

Your print or digital ads can’t just drop a prospect onto your website home page – or even a product page. If they do, your prospect will be lost. They won’t know what they are supposed to do next and you won’t capture their information. Your lead generation opportunity will be lost – and also the ROI on your ad spend.

A landing page does the heavy lifting in guiding ad prospects through the journey from your ad to your lead generation tool to your website and its content. It does three things for you remarkably well:

  • One, it finishes your marketing message
  • Two, it guides your customer and prospect on their journey
  • And three, it’s rich in SEO

Here’s what I mean: the prospect clicks on the link in your digital ad or types in a vanity URL and travels to your landing page. The copy on your landing page finishes your message to the prospect and tells them what to do next (e.g. fill out the download form for your white paper). They’ll receive the white paper, and you’ll receive their contact information for follow-up. They’ll then follow the marketing path you set up within your website for them to explore.

In addition, search engines see every display ad or digital ad. And when they touch that ad, they follow the link that goes to your landing page. When search engines get to the landing page, they then follow the links on the landing page to the next step. For instance, if you’re sending them to a case study, it takes them there. If you’re taking them to a blog post, it takes them there. It’s a very rich source of organic SEO.

Where Do You Build a Landing Page?

There are two places where you can create your landing pages. One is inside your marketing automation platform. The other is inside your website.

The easiest – and most comprehensive way is through a marketing platform such as Marketo, Eloqua, HubSpot or SharpSpring. Some of our clients have marketing automation tools and we build landing pages in their specific platforms. But, we also have some clients that don’t have a marketing automation tool and we can use their website to help them meet their goals.

Most marketing automation platforms interface with your CRM systems and can track exactly who submits their information on the landing page’s download form. This gives you the ability to log and follow all these interested parties and allows your sales team to follow-up with the people who downloaded your content. You can also use this data to create an email marketing campaign which offers another related piece of content or even create an ongoing drip campaign. In addition, you can see real-time how your ad is doing without waiting for the publication to let you know weeks after the ad ran.

Many companies don’t have a marketing automation platform. While we do recommend one – and there are many reasonably priced ones available now – if a customer does not have one and doesn’t wish to use one, the default is to build the landing page on their website. If your website is developed using a content management system, like WordPress, this is a good substitute and it worked well for one of our clients.

One of our pharma clients didn’t have an automation platform, but did have a WordPress website. We were running an extensive ad campaign for them and needed a landing page. Our goal was to take prospects on a journey and focus the marketing message while ensuring we captured valuable leads. Because their website was WordPress, we had the flexibility to build the landing page right inside their site. The WordPress content management platform allowed us to create and publish a page that was only available to visitors through a unique URL or by clicking on a link in a digital ad.

There is one challenge to building landing pages within a website. It’s more difficult to create what we call ‘clones.’ Essentially, we create one landing page for the ad campaign and make copies of that page – each with a unique URL. Each cloned page with its unique address is assigned to individual ads. While this is more easily managed in a marketing automation platform, it still helps your website’s SEO and finishes your marketing message. It’s also a way to keep costs down.

3 Reasons Why You Need a Separate Landing Page for Each Ad

Why do you want to clone the same landing page? Doesn’t that get messy? Why would you want that many versions of the same page?

Well, no – it’s actually not messy and the reason behind why you want that many versions of the same page speaks to tracking and measurement. You do want to know exactly how each ad performs, don’t you?

I know that when I run ad campaigns for our clients, I want to know – and so do they!

Whether you’re placing print ads or digital ads, you should always create a landing with a specific URL for each ad placement. If you have the same ad in multiple places, but a different URL for each one, you’ll be able to tell which ad placement performed best.

This unique-URL-by-ad-placement approach also serves to measure any A/B testing of ads you do. Say you create two versions of an ad in your campaign and those two ads are placed in the same publication – but you use the same landing page for both. How do you know which performed better?

You won’t.

The only way to differentiate the A version from the B version’s performance is by using a different landing page.

Another reason you want to create specific landing pages is because publications can only tell you what your open rate was and that you received a certain number of click-throughs. (If you are running a gated white paper promotion, the publication will also provide you with a spreadsheet of names.)

Having individual landing pages is smart marketing and you get immediate monthly confirmation of what’s happening, what’s working, and what’s not working. By having your own landing pages, you receive far more data on your campaign, faster. With specific landing pages, you’ll be able to tell exactly who downloaded which asset from the landing page.

One of our clients is a software company with a product that helps labs dealing with COVID-19 research and testing. We placed several ads targeting different audiences. For our first one, we placed a digital publication ad which targeted researchers struggling to find good solutions to help them with the increases in COVID testing. The landing page had a custom URL specific to the ad placement and had 30 downloads. Another ad targeted professionals grappling with how to test their employees for COVID. This was also a digital publication ad with a different publication. This landing page also had a unique URL and had 22 downloads. That same client ran a promotion where the publication created and hosted a landing page for our client. That landing page produced 27 downloads. Having individual landing pages provides instantaneous data on our ads – and how each one is performing at any given time.

What Do You Need to Build an Ad Campaign that Delivers?

As I mentioned, in addition to targeted ad copy and proper ad placement, you’ll need landing pages and assets to deliver measurable ROI on your ad campaign.

But, what are some of the key things you need to do when you create your landing page?

  • Landing page content should be tailored to your ad placement.

You’ll want to be sure you customize the copy and download offering to match the audience of each ad. For example, don’t create copy on the landing page focused on what software needs a researcher wants if the landing page is linked to an ad targeting non-research people (such as an HR professional).

  • Match your download asset to the ad and make it exclusive!

The topic of your downloadable asset (like a white paper) should match what the landing page copy is talking about and offer exclusivity. For example, your download should be created from original content produced by your company that the prospect wouldn’t be able to get by going to your competitor. You can use your company’s mined data to create a white paper and prospects wouldn’t be able to get that information anywhere else.

  • Update your landing pages.

The beauty of landing pages is that they can be updated at any time. As your campaign progresses and you learn more about what works, you can update landing pages to reflect that learning.

Still have questions about landing pages and ads? Give us a call!

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

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Posted by on Oct 2, 2020 in Advertising, Digital Advertising, Lead Generation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 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 Advertising, Digital Advertising, Lead Generation, Marketing Strategy, Social Media | 0 comments

How to Develop Your Ad Plan

by Deb Harrsch

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

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

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

But, how do you do that successfully?

Ad Budget

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

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

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

Identify Your Audience and Research How to Reach Them

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

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

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

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

Advertising Mix

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

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

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

Flexibility in Digital Publication Ads

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

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

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

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

Developing Your Ad Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

When to Buy Ad Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on Aug 7, 2020 in Advertising, Digital Advertising, Lead Generation, Social Media | 0 comments

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

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

by Deb Harrsch

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a Digital World After All

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

That’s why digital marketing and advertising are important.

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

Produce Solid Leads from Advertising

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

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

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

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

The World of Life Science Advertising Has Changed

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

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

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

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

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

Choices, Choices and More Choices

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

Or, you can call us.

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

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