Posted by on Apr 2, 2021 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

Big Rebrand Versus Small Brand Refresh: A Look at Two Brands

A Big Rebrand vs. a Small Brand Refresh: A Look at Two Brands - From Brandwidth Solutions

by Debra Harrsch

If you’re thinking it may be time to revisit your visual branding, there are two ways to approach your update. You may only want to do a brand refresh or you may need a complete rebranding.

But, what do these terms actually mean?

The complete rebranding of a company is a large-scale project. It includes an entire overhaul of all the elements of your brand identity – your logo, tagline and potentially even your company name. Most often a full rebrand occurs when a company has changed significantly – for example, perhaps they’ve expanded services or gone through an acquisition or merger. A full rebrand typically pays homage to an old logo while delivering new branding aligned with the company vision that will take them into the future.

A brand refresh is a smaller-scale project. You might think of a refresh as a facelift. In these cases, the company has an existing identity and tagline that still fits the company and its vision, but needs modernizing. Brand refreshes usually consist of new font selections, color palette expansion or updates, and visual design tweaks to stationary, collateral, and digital assets.

Whether you choose to rebrand or refresh your brand, the strategy and the creative process remain the same (we discussed the creative process for re-branding last month here).

Two Brands: What to Expect When Rebranding or Refreshing a Brand

The LGM Pharma Rebrand

LGM Pharma is a client for whom we recently completed a full rebrand with a new creative platform. The drug intermediate and API sourcing company had expanded dramatically through acquisition, adding contract development and manufacturing capabilities. Their change in service capabilities and company vision meant that a full rebranding was in order.

LGM Pharma's New Logo - From Brandwidth Solutions

In LGM’s case, while their name remained the same, they needed a new tagline because their offerings had changed. In addition, they went through a full messaging platform exercise and development to match their “new” brand.  After the logo and tagline rebrand process, we began developing the core assets the company needed to launch a new brand. When we do this, we break the project into a couple of buckets. The first bucket includes all corporate communication materials – the stationary suite which is comprised of letterhead, envelopes, business cards, email signatures, and PowerPoint templates.

LGM Pharma's New Brand Assets - From Brandwidth Solutions

The next bucket is all of the marketing tools. This bucket is more in-depth, covering everything from collateral like case studies, white papers, product sell sheets, brochures and trade show booths to digital assets such as email templates, landing page designs, icons, the photo library, and the website. The website is a huge critical component of a full rebranding.

When your company implements a new creative brand platform everything changes and that change needs to be driven across your company at the same time. This is not a project for the faint of heart. It is an immense undertaking, and it means digging out every single asset and changing each and every one of them. This is the time to make sure your collateral and content match the updated messaging, tone, and value proposition of your “new” brand. It’s also an excellent way to review all of your content – giving you the opportunity to decide what to keep and what to update.

The Brandwidth Solutions Brand Refresh

There were two main visual reasons we decided we needed to refresh our own brand. The first was our tagline. We knew it worked. We knew that when our market saw it they immediately understood what we can do for them. We had trademarked it, but it wasn’t integrated into our brand. The second reason that drove us to refresh our brand was our services graphic. There simply weren’t enough spaces to cover everything we provide anymore. Overall, our brand was solid – the logo and the colors still worked for us, but the logo type wasn’t aging well.

Even though we’ve worked together for years, we decided to put ourselves through the same creative process we take our clients through. Everyone was involved in the discovery process to refocus on who we are, what we are, and where we are going. The process is important – whether you do a refresh or a rebrand.

During a brand refresh, we work with some of the pieces that already exist and eliminate those that don’t fit in anymore. Then we go to work refining and reshaping those pieces – essentially giving the brand a facelift.

For Brandwidth Solutions we knew that much of what we had was going to remain. The logo, the color palette, the tagline, and name all stayed. We refreshed the logo with new typography, and changed the scale and relationship between the company name and the mark. We also chose a new color and typeface for the tagline.

Logo Refresh for Brandwidth Solutiions

These refinements to the brand meant a fresh new look for all of our key communication tools – from our stationary, proposal covers, and PowerPoint presentation templates to our business cards and blog masthead. Typically, a smaller scale brand refresh also means a reskinning of the website. This is when the new visual brand platform is applied to a current website without changing architecture or rewriting the content. In our case, we’ve chosen to reskin our site for the short-term while working on a larger website revamp to roll out later in the year.

Brand Refresh Elements for Brandwidth Solutions

Whether you choose a small refresh or a rebrand, all of your communications materials must change. Everything from the most basic email signature to your website gets a new breath of life when it is updated with your new branding.

Need a brand refresh? Or a completely new creative brand platform? Give us a call to talk through how we can help you bring your company into the future.

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 26, 2021 in Marketing Tips | 0 comments

Is it Time to Rebrand? What to Expect from a Rebranding Process

What to Expect from a Rebranding Process from Brandwidth Solutions

by Deb Harrsch

How do you know if you should rebrand your company – or whether it’s time to refresh your brand? Rebranding your company isn’t something you do simply because you’re bored with your current look. While I know that can happen, a brand refresh (or an entire rebrand) should only occur when you ask yourself the following questions and the answers are no.

  • When you look at your brand, does it represent who you are?
  • Is your brand consistent across all divisions and regions, as well as marketing collateral?
  • Does your brand deliver on the value and vision that you have for the company right now?

The reasons behind starting a brand refresh or rebrand process all come down to this: your company has changed. You aren’t who you were when your current brand was developed.

Maybe you’ve grown, adding new divisions along with products or services far beyond what you used to offer, or maybe as you look around at all of your communications properties you found that every department or division has been doing their own thing – creating chaos and inconsistency across assets and digital platforms.

If any of these have you saying, “Yes, that’s us.” Well then, it is likely time for either a brand refresh or a full rebrand that will take your company into the future.

Consider Pfizer’s recent rebrand, for example. The former blue pill-shaped oval representing the medications they have made for 171 years has been transformed into a fresh new logo representing the new vision for the future of the company.

What Drives a Company Rebrand?

I’ve seen companies do brand refreshes without a major need to do so. To me, that is a waste of your budget. This is why the people inside your company are so important. You can be with a company for many years and not realize that a change is even needed until everyone gets in a room (virtually these days, of course!) and starts talking.

Because it starts with the company’s vision for the future, leadership needs to drive the process. They are responsible for executing on the vision and mission of the company. It’s critical to have everyone involved, and that means the entire C-suite. The CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, sales and anyone who interacts with your customers – because it all comes down to your customer. They should be at the forefront of your mind throughout your branding exercise.

Before the creative process can start, however, you’ll need to go through a strategy-setting exercise in which you’ll answer two overarching questions and develop the key information needed for your graphic design team.

You’ll first answer:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we want to be in our market?

From those answers, you’ll develop your company’s:

  • Mission statement
  • Vision statement
  • Values
  • Core attributes

The Rebrand Working Group

When it’s time to get the rebrand process rolling, the same critical players at the table for the strategy-setting will be back in the room. Everyone who will be involved in the sign-off of the new brand must be engaged from the start.

Why?

What do you suppose would happen if the CEO, CFO, COO and sales and marketing all need to approve the new branding, but the CEO wasn’t engaged from the start and throughout the process? What if the CEO was only presented with the final versions of the creative work then turned around and said, “Oh no, this isn’t right for us at all?” I’m fairly certain you can imagine the turmoil, wasted time, and resulting budget overruns to redo the work!

None of the C-suite needs to manage the project. A rebranding project is typically managed internally by marketing, but involves key players from every critical part of the company.

What Should You Expect from the Rebrand Process?

It can be challenging to grasp the full scope of a rebranding creative process. There is significant upfront work which involves understanding the company’s customers and goals, in addition to the visual work.

To the creative team, the input of every individual in your working group is incredibly valuable. All of our work is developed using the mission, vision, core attributes, and values. For instance, if innovation is identified as a number-one priority, then that will be worked into the visual and brand delivery – but creative needs to know that innovation truly is the number-one priority and that everyone agrees with that assessment at the very beginning of the process.

The development of the visual aspects of the creative brand platform is an iterative process. Typically, creative presents two to three distinct visual directions for the client. We always want to ensure that what we present can be utilized across all the company’s different communications platforms, both print and online.

We’ll pull together all the different components of a brand platform, including a color palette, typography, imagery and photography styles, icon styles, an overall look and feel, and tone and mood to set the foundation for all those different elements.

Then we typically apply all of those elements to a couple of select marketing tools to show proof of concept. Most of the time we’ll choose tools that are print-based, digital-based, and social media-based so that the client can clearly see how each visual concept would look in use. We find it’s easier for clients this way and they are able to say, “Oh, so this is what my business card would look like if we use this palette of choices. This is what my website’s home page would look like if we used this brand platform.”

We do all of this in two or three very different, distinct directions and give the client the ability to “try” things out and see a broad range of the options in action. Then the client will select one of those directions, and creative will go through the necessary refinement until we get brand platform approval.

We always deliver “the logo house.” This includes the logo and the tagline in all of the different files and formats for both print and online use. At the end of the process, the client always has that as an asset.

Creative works in tandem with the content writer so that what is being developed visually resonates with the messaging. We always conduct internal reviews before presenting any work to ensure that it aligns with strategy and we’re showing our best work.

Every client is different – some can be very definitive in their review process, while others need more back-and-forth. Moving each client to a brand that fits them now and for the future is what is most important.

What Timeline Should You Assign to a Rebrand Project?

As you plan for a rebrand you’ll need to factor in time for roll-out. A complete creative brand platform development process could range between 12 and 20 weeks (3-6 months), while a smaller brand refresh could be done in about 4-6 weeks. Much of the timeline will depend on your working group and how quickly and clearly feedback is provided to the creative team.

Next month we’ll explore the difference between a brand refresh and a complete rebranding effort and share stories of two we’ve recently completed.

Ready to rebrand or need a brand refresh? It can be difficult to do the entire process in-house. An outside agency can provide a valuable outside perspective, as well as proven strategy and creative processes to guide you through the project. Give us a call if you’d like to explore how we can help.

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 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 29, 2021 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

The Messaging Platform and Why It’s Essential for Your Marketing

by Deb Harrsch

Marketers talk a lot about messaging platforms. They talk about the need for one, and how to use it in marketing. But, not everyone understands what a marketing message platform is or why it’s an essential part of your marketing strategy.

What is a Messaging Platform?

A messaging platform empowers you as a marketer, and it empowers you as a business. It is the basis of everything you need to communicate with your buyers. Your integrated marketing plans are built from the information in your message platform.

Any message platform should include:

  • Your target audience and their needs
  • A position statement
  • A long elevator pitch
  • Your brand (or product) pillars and headline benefits
  • Support examples
  • Tone of voice

It doesn’t sound like much, but it delivers deep ongoing value to every area of your business – from the C-suite to sales to marketing. If you think about your business today, each department is likely delivering different messages about what you do and what benefits you give customers. In addition to those mixed messages, each person is probably using different language and support examples to demonstrate your value. They may even be chasing customers outside of your target audience. None of this is helpful to growing your company – or its revenue.

A marketing message platform gives everyone in your company very clear language, proof points, and positioning – ensuring that your brand is consistent in every engagement with a potential customer. It tells everyone in your company:

These are our brand pillars. This is how we talk to our customers. This is what we do.”

That’s what a messaging platform is.

Developing a Message Platform

The six elements of a message platform are the basis of all communications and they do take some significant upfront work.

Who is involved in creating a message platform? Everyone.

  • Your C-suite needs to be in the room
  • Sales needs to be in the room
  • Marketing needs to be in the room
  • Every department with customer-facing communications needs to be in that room

This may sound like there will be too many cooks in the kitchen, but what actually ends up happening is this: it brings your entire team together. It is an outstanding exercise for your company, and everyone ends up on the same page.

No, it’s not a bing, bang, boom, five-minute conversation. It’s a process. I’ll be honest, it can take weeks to get this done right.

Developing this platform gets to the core of what your company does, what you want to be, and how you want your customers to perceive your brand. Those are big questions, and you may think you know the right answers, but when you dig down deep everyone may have different viewpoints.

I understand that as a marketer you need to move fast and it’s hard to take a step back, to spend time and money on messaging. But, you can either set yourself up for success by focusing now and getting it done right, or you can go on about your business and find out that your messaging isn’t right and lose your audience.

Your messaging is critical to your business. If you don’t follow a solid proven process and develop the right messaging, you’re going to lose out.

How do You Create a Message Platform?

Every messaging process starts with discovery. Whether you’re working on a company brand messaging platform or a product messaging platform, you need to have a discovery session to begin figuring it out. What are you going to talk about?

The discovery process digs deep into your business. Here are the areas that you’ll explore to create your platform:

  • Define the background of the product or in the case of a brand platform the company. What are your business goals for your company or product or service?
  • Ask what exactly does the company or your product or service do. You’ll work on listing out all features and benefits and how they solve customer pain points.
  • Talk about the target market and your buyer. This is where you’ll spend considerable time. You want to confirm who your target markets are. Who’s your audience? Who are your buyers? If you haven’t developed your buyer personas, do it now. You’ll look at what their roles are and what their individual journeys are in moving from awareness, to consideration, to buyer. Analyze your customer’s pain points.
  • Develop competitive positioning. Where do you fit in the marketplace and where do you want to fit? Explore your business intelligence. Look into anything that you can get from third parties or marketing trends or information you may have inside.
  • Explore why your product or service or company is different from your competitors. What makes you better at addressing your customer’s pain points? Develop your SWOT analysis. What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? What makes your company or product/service special?
  • Determine the value you offer. You need to know what the value proposition is for what you’re doing – whether it’s for a product or service or your company. The value could be all wrapped into one proposition, or there could be multiple value propositions. For example, big companies tend to have multiple value propositions for multiple products or services, while smaller companies may be much more integrated. Develop a short value proposition and a long value proposition.
  • Figure out what the brand pillars and benefits are for your messaging – what’s important to your company and customers. For example, if one of your brand pillars is security, what does that mean? Is the benefit reduced risk?
  • Each of your brand pillars must be substantiated with support examples. Use cases are a good source for this information. These support examples are what sales and marketing will use to talk about your company or products and services. In the case of the brand pillar – security – above, the support examples could be end-to-end solutions, or geographic diversity, or an alternative supply, or all of the above. All of this supports your security brand pillar and you’ll need this information when you develop your content.
  • While everyone is in the same room working on the big vision for the company, it’s also a good time to figure out what the sales strategy is and what the marketing goals are. Sometimes the marketing goal is just developing a message platform or web copy or a brochure, but you need to figure out what your marketing goals are for the near-term and long-term.

For brand platforms, the process does deviate somewhat and is much more visionary in nature. You need to develop clear vision and mission statements. Everything else remains the same in terms of your target audience, value statements, brand pillars and benefits, as well as the support examples.

If you have a messaging platform from a corporate standpoint, the information in your brand pillars needs to flow through all of your content and assets, including your graphics. We also work on the tone of voice, which ties directly into content development. It skis into your social media and into your website copy. It skis into ads and all your marketing collateral. All of this work is done in service to your buyer personas – to get them from awareness, to consideration, to buy.

What Does the Application of a Messaging Platform Look Like in Practice?

We had a recent example where a client was developing a sell sheet. The copy was essentially a bullet list. When they showed it to me, I said, “Wait a minute, we just did a messaging platform. Tell me, how does that sell sheet relate to the message platform we just worked so hard on?”

Can you guess the response? It was, “Oh, my, it doesn’t.”

My next question was, “What does that mean?”

“We can’t use it.”

Ouch. No one wants to spend time and money developing collateral that doesn’t meet the needs of customers.

Messaging platforms give you a way to be consistent in your content and how it is used. It does everything from give you the keywords you need in your copy (especially digital copy) to how you build your integrated marcom plan.

A messaging platform that everyone in your company has weighed in on and worked together to develop is essential to your sales and marketing efforts. Yes, it takes work, but the ROI far outweighs the investment.

Sometimes it helps to have an impartial outside firm facilitate the discovery process and develop the platform. At Brandwidth Solutions, we have a proven approach to building an integrated marketing plan – one part of which is a brand or product messaging platform.

Our approach takes your team from discovery into strategy development. After those two critical steps, we build the plan and implement branding and marketing tactics. Give us a call to learn more about developing your marketing message platform.

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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