Posted by on Oct 14, 2019 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Should You Build a Website in Phases?

Should You Build a Website in Phases?

You already know your website is important. You also know your site is more than a digital brochure. It’s your online identity and the hub of all your sales and marketing activities. Your customers use it to get to know you by engaging with your content. They may even use your website to purchase your products.

That’s why your website should be more than good. It needs to be great. And above all, it needs to deliver an excellent user experience.

This is why developing (or re-doing) your website is not a quick or simple project. There’s a lot at stake, and that means there is a lot to consider before starting the design process.

Where do You Begin?

Recognizing what a successful website means to our science-based clients, we always approach a website development project in phases. By working in phases, it’s easier for your sales and marketing teams to think through their needs and for your web partner to design a user-friendly site. So yes, you should build a website in phases.

The first phase of any web project is all about discovering who you are and defining what the website navigation should look like. In fact, until we understand what your goals are for your website, it’s impossible to quote the second phase! Phase 2 always depends on what we learn during phase 1.

A typical website project has two phases. Sometimes, though, depending on the scope of what needs to happen and budgets, a website development project can have up to three phases.

What is Phase 1 of Website Development?

Phase 1 is strategically important. It forms the basis upon which your website will be developed. This phase ensures that all key stakeholders are on the same page with goals, strategy, site organization, and design. It also gives your website design team time to figure out what’s going on in your current site and to identify the strategy and content you need to meet your goals. Phase 1 delivers a plan to execute your website.

Phase 1 typically includes a full creative brief session, assigning stakeholders, creating your digital strategy, developing wireframes, agreeing on navigation and sub-navigation, and finalizing the decision regarding the best platform for your website.

But, success can’t happen without the foundational discovery process – an exploratory brainstorming session with your key stakeholders and our team. We’ve also found the most success is with a process centered around our creative brief, which allows us to gather critical information while building a partnership with your team.

If you’re wondering what this achieves, just wait for it…

From one session, we’re able to identify your value proposition from your customer’s point of view – by audience and segment – perform a SWOT analysis, deeply understand your differentiators, capabilities, and product and service road map, and identify what content is needed.

My guess is that in reviewing this list, you automatically see the value in this exercise. How much more successful will your website be if all of this information is taken into account from the beginning?

Digital Strategy Development

Based on the information gathered and synthesized from the discovery process, it’s time to build a digital strategy. What does a digital strategy mean in the website development process?

Creating a website digital strategy is all about reviewing the website’s goals, target audiences, and channels to document the key questions that need to be resolved. With that list, we’re able to identify changes that may be needed. We also provide expert guidance and recommendations on how best to achieve your website’s goals.

Since nothing is without risk, it is at this stage of phase 1 that we pinpoint risks that must be resolved or mitigated to ensure success.

Digging Into Site Infrastructure

When was the last time your website was updated? If you’re like most companies, you want to pretend you didn’t hear me ask that question, right?

Chances are it’s been years. That’s why it’s so important to have a neutral third-party review your current website and infrastructure. It avoids any finger-pointing at team members and provides a clear picture of where things stand.

You may not know which programming platform your website uses. And where it’s hosted may also have become a mystery.

As part of phase 1, we take a deep dive into your website infrastructure. What this means is you’ll be providing us with admin-level access to your site and we’ll be testing your site as a super user.

We’ll search to see if it’s been well-programmed on your platform – whether it’s Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, or a proprietary platform. We’ll identify broken links and whether your site has been updated appropriately.

If you haven’t implemented security patches sent out by your programming platform on a regular basis, the security of your website may be compromised. You do NOT want your website security to be out-of-date and vulnerable to hackers.

As part of the website infrastructure review, we analyze whether your current website technologies will support your business efforts both today and for your future goals. You need to ask and answer – will your current website tech help or hinder your digital strategy?

How are Users Interacting with Your Current Website?

Have you reviewed your website’s analytics lately? Understanding your analytics gives you insight into how your customers and prospects are using your site now. When we look at your analytics and set-up heat map tracking, we can gather information about what users are visiting and where they’re focusing. This tells us what matters most to them.

Content Organization and Design

Once you know what your needs are and how customers use and engage with your current website, it’s time to start talking about design, navigation, and content needs. During phase 1 of development, we also look at your website from a creative and content point-of-view.

One goal of phase 1 is to get your new website navigation identified and approved.  Once we have finalized your navigation and sub-navigation, we can move into creating mockups or wireframes of what the site will look like.

We think you need to love your website, so one of the things we ask you for is some links to websites you both like and don’t like. Sometimes, what you need actually works really well with the sites you like and sometimes the web designer will need to adapt the design for your needs.

Building the wireframe allows us all to identify where the site’s content will come from and link to. You may, in fact, already have some of the content you need on your site.

What it all Means and What to do Next

Phase 1 of your website development ends in a report summarizing what we learned and what we’ve decided together is best for your future goals. We always include recommendations and structure for the actual development of the website, as well as the scope of phase 2.

Bottom line: building a website in phases gives companies a clear understanding not only of their infrastructure and physical web design needs, but also what matters most to their customers.

Are you ready to redo your website? Let’s talk. Give us a call at 215.997.8575.

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 12, 2019 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

5 Ways B2B Blogs & Social Media Can Transform Your Marketing Efforts

BWS B2B social media and blogAre you ready for some surprising statistics about B2B social media, corporate blogging and purchasing decisions?

It’s no wonder B2B companies are placing more emphasis than ever on blogs and social media.

Here, we’ll be covering the five most compelling reasons you should incorporate social media into your B2B marketing approach – and why corporate blogging should be at the top of that list.

B2B Blogs: A Crucial B2B Marketing Strategy

When we think of ‘social media,’ sites like Facebook or LinkedIn generally come to mind.

I believe blogs – due to their role in marketing content distribution and community engagement – occupy a unique space. They are located right at the intersection of content marketing, social media and SEO. Blog posts range from thought leadership reflections to keyword-rich industry content to educational content, events, and product announcements. In addition to copy, they often incorporate video, infographics, images, charts and more.

They are also among the top methods for attracting new customers. In fact, HubSpot reports that 55 percent of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.

Here’s why.

  1. Better SEO & Increased Web Traffic
    Blogs drive traffic to your website. Period. One reason is that websites featuring a blog have a 434% chance of ranking higher on search engines, according to Tech Client. That ranking is important as research shows that 75% of users don’t scroll beyond the first page of search In the first two years after introducing a blog and all organic social media program, a Brandwidth client saw significant increases in website traffic.

When no new content is added to a website, the website is ‘spidered’ or indexed less frequently. Fresh blog content encourages search engines to visit the website more often – leading to better search engine ranking. It also ensures your content is seen & ranked by Google soon after it’s posted.

  1. Generating More Leads…and Better Qualified Leads
    Would you like to receive 67% more leads? This is how.

Blogs are a favorite of search engines. When a potential customer enters words or phrases into a search engine to get their questions answered, blogs with those topics appear high in the search results. So if you’ve created the right content speaking to the challenges of your potential buyers and populated it with the right keywords or key phrases, customers will benefit and search engines will rank your company content higher.

This strategy is so effective that companies with blogs as part of their content marketing mix get 67 percent more leads than those who don’t.

  1. Increasing Brand Awareness
    You put a lot of time and effort into creating compelling marketing content. It makes sense to cross-promote that content across all B2B social media channels to increase awareness of your brand. Blogs also give you the opportunity to showcase your brand personality.

Blogs offer a fertile starting point for a suite of content. For example, let’s say you write a blog discussing the ‘Top 10 challenges facing the XYZ industry.’ You can transform those 10 points into an infographic, and promote it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. You can take one or two items from the list and create a short ‘how-to’ video on that topic. You can develop social posts teasing some highlights to pique interest and drive traffic to the content on your website.

Whether your customers are searching social media platforms to see what you are talking about today, or are using search engines to learn more about you, social media and blogging net you visibility.

  1. Improving the Buyer’s Journey

Blogs are a great place to start prospects out on the buying journey. Inbound marketing with blogs allows prospective customers to seek you out. Blog content should be more educational and informative, rather than sales-focused. As a result, it’s seen as less ‘threatening,’ and more likely to be considered objective.

Long-form content is also ideal for sharing ideas, fostering discussion and introducing visitors to your brand in a way you never could in, say, a tweet. Blogs are also the perfect environment for embedding a call-to-action – driving visitors through the sales funnel to specific landing pages or product or service pages.

  1. Engage With Your Prospects & Customers
    Effective B2B social media functions as a community where your business can engage with interesting data, visuals, video and more. LinkedIn and Facebook Groups can offer the ability to reach wider audiences and drive traffic to a blog post demonstrating your thought leadership in the industry. Twitter allows you to engage in real-time discussions happening in your space. With social media and blogs, companies can address key industry challenges customers or prospects are facing right now.

When it comes to customers and prospects, social media also delivers more ‘touches.’ It is commonly reported that it takes 6 to 8 touches to generate a viable sales lead. We’ve become impervious to traditional advertising and sales, and people are conducting more web research on brands than ever before. The use of blogs and social media allows you to make more of those critical ‘prospect touches.’

Use Your Blog & Social Media to Transform Your Marketing

One of the keys to a successful blog strategy is posting consistently, either with more frequent (likely shorter) posts or longer, less-frequent ‘anchor’ content. Keep your social profiles active, and share industry-relevant information that engages your audience and demonstrates your brand’s knowledge and capabilities.

 

This post was first published by Jen Mizak at www.LMwrite.com. Jen heads up Brandwidth Solutions’ social media team. She helps businesses increase visibility & boost sales by tapping into their customers’ needs with engaging blog and social media content.

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Posted by on Aug 19, 2019 in Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Who Owns Your Website?

I always ask this question when I talk to clients about their websites. What do I hear? They proudly tell me that they own their website. Why? It’s because when companies develop websites, they tend to be internally focused.

What do I say back to the client when I get that answer?

I tell them that they don’t own their website. Their customers own their website. Websites are not about companies, they’re about ‘what’s in it for me’ – the customer.

Yes, the company owns the domain and they own the content. They own taking care of the site and updating it regularly. But, the focus of that website should be on their customers and their needs.

Your Customer and Your Content

Today, your customers are constantly reaching out to read through and interact with your content before they have a conversation with your salespeople. So when your customers visit your website, they should see themselves. They should immediately know that you know who they are and what they do every day.

If your website talks more about your company than the value your products or services bring your customers, then you’ve missed the point of a website.

Website Challenges with Multiple Markets

Some clients serve multiple vertical markets. It could be that your product works the same in multiple vertical markets but each of those markets has different workflows or pain points. So, when someone goes to your website, you need to ensure your site is organized in a way that is easy for your multiple vertical markets to find themselves (and, of course, the content that’s relevant to them.)

To make things even more challenging, your multiple verticals each may have several different individuals involved with the buying decision. This is an area where your persona marketing will need to be applied because – while the vertical is the same – the audience need can vary.

For example, in a buying decision for an enterprise software product, your customer will have the IT person who has to make it work, the manager who will need to know costs and how it will interrupt business while they’re making the changeover. Also involved for a variety of reasons is the department chair or the department head, the lab manager, and the laboratory staff who will need to know how they’re going to interact with that software. All of these individuals need to know that you know how they work and what makes them tick.

Choosing Your Website Audience

When you’re building your website, you have to decide who your audiences are. Are they your multiple verticals? Or are they the same target vertical but different audience personas within that vertical? And you need to address the audiences so that they can see themselves in your messaging. Remember, each one of the personas mentioned in the above example has a different need or challenge.

Now, you don’t need to build your website out to the point where you answer every question a potential customer could possibly think up. There would be no point in talking to your salesperson! The reality is that the salesperson is going to sell your product or service better than your website can sell it. But if you give your prospect enough ‘meat’ on the website to want more information, then they have a reason to talk to your sales team.

Website Messaging

The right messaging and value propositions are key to a successful website. You need to be able to tell prospects, within the first couple of paragraphs, why they should be looking at your website for any information on your product or service.

Many times, messaging and the value proposition get lost when companies get busy in the mechanics of building the site. This happens because we lose sight of our customer and revert to our comfort zone – making the site internally focused as opposed to appropriately externally focused.

A Story from the Trenches

We have a client, LabVantage, who makes software for multiple vertical markets. Their laboratory information management system (LIMS) platform is used in labs across many industries. While in some regards the backbone of the software is the same, each vertical market has a special need and most industries have a prepackaged solution.

In building their new website, we focused on developing the site for their target industry verticals. We were trying to achieve a clean, fresh, easy-to-navigate look and feel. So the question became, how do we build a navigation that speaks to all of those audiences?

We needed to speak to each of their vertical markets and explain how the software solution was going to benefit them. We worked with LabVantage’s sales, product and marketing departments to develop a value proposition.

Our goal was to make certain that each one of those verticals were able to see themselves on the website – and more importantly on the LabVantage platform. We created messaging around:

  • what they want to do,
  • why they want to buy this software,
  • why a prepackaged solution is better, and
  • why they would want a web-based platform versus a non-web-based platform.

We also created a section that talked about the actual software platform, the technology and the architecture which addressed the needs of the IT staff and the individual making the case for buying the software.

At the same time, we created supporting documents (or collateral) – not just a brochure but white papers and case studies – that were focused on each vertical market. In this way, when the food & beverage lab person or the pharma lab manager or the oil & gas individual or the biobanking department visits the content they’ll react with “LabVantage understands my needs. They understand what I face every day.”

To make finding information as easy as possible for prospects, LabVantage chose to house this information in a Knowledge Center as well as in each individual vertical.

Another key area of LabVantage’s website for customers is their blog. They have an incredible blog targeted to their multiple audiences. The blog is important because it enables them to consistently refresh the content on the site to improve search engine rankings. It also offers regular new content addressing concerns, challenges and industry-related issues facing customer and prospects. We created a search feature specifically for the blog allowing customers and prospects search capabilities for topics of interest.

Our goal was to provide enough information for their buyers so they would reach out to ask more questions of LabVantage’s salespeople.

It’s all about the Customer.

Your website might look beautiful, clean, and professional but if it mentions your company name in every single paragraph, you’ll need to re-think your content. It’s not about your company, it’s not about your internal product department or your marketing department. Customers don’t need to see that. It has to be about what your customer needs to see on the website.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post: What You Need to do in Phase One of Your Website Development Project!

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 Jul 15, 2019 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How Do I Choose the Right Marketing Tactic for My Project?

BWS Marketing Tactic TipsYou need a marketing campaign. But where do you start? And what tools should you use? There are so many options available to marketers today it can be hard to know which way to turn and which will work for your company. What’s the best marketing tactic to use?

I know the first thoughts that jumped into your mind. They were:

  1. What tools do we use?
  2. How can we get the most out of what we already have?
  3. How do we measure it?

 What is Marketing Success?

Before everyone starts enthusiastically yelling, “Social media!”Ads!” “Brochures!” let’s back up and start with creating a marketing strategy. What are your objectives and goals? Think about your goals in terms of campaigns. This will help you understand how to assign your budget to each tool and tactic you’re considering.

The next choice you’ll need to make is messaging. You’ll need to ensure that the messages you deliver in your marketing campaigns address the customer’s viewpoint of “What’s in it for me?” (Otherwise known as WIIFM.) Do your marketing materials talk about features and benefits or do they talk about the value you provide customers? I sincerely hope they discuss the value!

After you’ve got your messaging nailed down, you’ll need to decide from where and/or whom the content will come. Will you use posters, white papers, publications, or subject matter experts to produce the content for your marketing campaigns?

The final (and key) question when thinking about marketing campaigns is: What results do you want? You’ll need to decide how you’re going to measure performance before deciding what tactics you’re going to use.

Say you’re trying to drive sales leads. What does success look like to you? Are you going to measure registered downloads of a white paper or webinar? Will you measure landing page visits? Or click rates for an ad?

Understanding what your goals are and how you can measure them gives you a head start on choosing the tools you need for your campaign.

What Marketing Tools and Tactics Are Right for Your Campaign?

The short answer to that question is: Everything that will work for your audience and your business that is within your budget.

You should start with the question: What does your audience read? This will help identify specific tools and tactics to use. For example, if your prospect or customer base doesn’t read trade journals (not very likely!) then you wouldn’t use print ads or article development.

You have a multitude of tactics and tools to use. A short list includes:

  • Public Relations – press releases, speaking opportunities, press interviews, article development
  • Conferences – pre-show direct mail, pre-show e-blasts, educational seminars, show graphics, booth development
  • eMarketing – eNewsletters, products/services e-blasts, banner ads, webinars, podcasts
  • Advertising – print and digital ads
  • Social Media – strategy development, blogs, social channels, video
  • Collateral – brochures, sell sheets, case studies, tech notes, white papers

Remember to always integrate as many marketing elements as possible to ensure that your campaign is everywhere your customer is. Keep in mind that people still need to see your message a minimum of 6 – 8 times before they remember or recognize it.

How to Integrate the Tactics Targeted to Your Audience

The most important step in using these marketing elements is proper integration. As I mentioned above, your customer needs to see your messaging a number of times before they act. And they need to see that same message in multiple places. Using only one tactic may not deliver the results you need.

How do you integrate your tools and tactics?

Here are 6 tips for integrating your marketing campaign.

Tip 1

Know what you want the customer to do. Only use urls or links that go to the next step towards your goal. This may mean a landing page or a sign up for a download or a registration for a webinar – not the Home page of your website or a product or service page.

Tip 2

Keep your message simple and consistent. Make sure you’ve delivered the WIIFM value. Don’t make the customer guess what your message is. They won’t come up with the same answer as you!

Tip 3

Your website is the hub of all your marketing efforts. Make certain it is responsive design, that all your activities drive traffic to your site and you use landing pages to finish your marketing message.

Tip 4

Tell stories so customers can see how your product or service will fit into their work environment.

Tip 5

Ensure your gated downloadable content is high value. Your customer is giving you a valuable piece of information (their email address) so you need to make sure that you are delivering value to them. A simple rule of thumb is: marketing brochures, case studies and sell sheets are all free. White papers, reports, eBooks have deeper content, are more valuable and should be gated for lead gen.

Tip 6

Develop and reuse content in multiple formats. For example the same content can be rewritten or reformatted for use on social media, eBlasts, advertising, landing pages, and display ads. It’s critical to ensure that ads in your campaign are all related – having the same look, feel and message whether they are print ads or digital ads.

Measure Your Results & Reassess Your Tools

Marketing success depends on measuring results. If the tool is working, keep it. But if the results don’t meet your goals then you need to reassess and change tactics. Doing the same thing that doesn’t work over and over simply because it fits within your budget will not suddenly create a marketing success. You’ll need to identify what does work and either ramp up that tactic – or change your campaign tools and test something new.

What Does This Look Like in Practice?

Let’s take one of our clients, MeMed for an example. MeMed is a diagnostics company dedicated to reducing the use of antibiotics. The company had a peer-reviewed and validated study scheduled for release in PLOS One and wanted to reach a larger audience in the healthcare community.

We developed a media plan specific to MeMed’s goal and market segment for both North American and international audiences. We started with a press release to provide trade media and researchers detailed information and to drive traffic to the PLOS One article.

The press release was both sent on a wire service and embargoed on EurekAlert for scientific writers and reporters one week before the PLOS One article was released. We worked with PLOS One to obtain permission for this strategy and to delay their article release in order to maximize MeMed’s exposure.

What were the results? We achieved:

  • more than 10 interviews and articles from trade and popular publications – both print and online
  • website press release pickup on more than 39 sites
  • articles in Time and BBC News Health
  • an interview on BBC Germany
  • an invitation to be part of a documentary on antibiotic usage
  • a story on Select Science ranking in the Top 10 most read news stories for 2015 (No. 6)
  • and more than 100 requests/orders for their ImmunoXpert product.

Choosing the right tools and tactics for your marketing campaign is based on your overall strategy, budget and goals as well as what your audience reads. Marketing success depends on ensuring you integrate all of your tactics properly. Have questions on how you can enhance your marketing campaigns? 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 May 20, 2019 in Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Are You Stealing from Your Future Revenue? The Risk of Cutting Marketing Expenses First

When it’s time to tighten the belt on the budget, what’s the first thing that goes? Other than employee perks like free coffee, that is. It’s marketing.

Why? Because it’s easy.

It’s hard to cut operating costs, research investments, or sales expenses. But it’s easy to cut advertising and PR campaigns, social media, email marketing and even content marketing. Those are simple nos.

To the CFO, marketing looks like a line item. It doesn’t show direct revenue – it just shows an expense, making this category an easy target to draw a line through. But it’s getting harder to do that now because there are marketing communications tools that can show ROI for a range of activities.

Don’t Cut Marketing Expenses First.

The economic market is always changing. We’ve had bull and bear markets. And now – after enjoying a long bull market – the forecast is that we’re headed into a down market. It’s anybody’s guess at this point. But once the bad news begins, your CFO will take a harder look at expenses and the first thing he may want to cut is marketing.

Just because it is an expense doesn’t mean that it isn’t an important expense. The way we look at it at Brandwidth Solutions is that it’s a critical investment in your future.

Remember the classic studies done on companies that invested in heavier advertising, radio program sponsorship and creative pricing tactics during the Great Depression? Those companies ultimately became the market leaders in their respective industries: Kellogg, Procter & Gamble, MGM Studios, and Yuengling among them.

The companies that cut marketing? They disappeared.

During a depression, money is tight – much tighter than in a bear market. But guess what? Human behavior remains the same and therefore this dynamic hasn’t changed. So if you’re thinking that you can eliminate your marketing budget with impunity, you may want to think again.

4 Reasons Why Cutting Marketing Spend Puts Future Revenue at Risk

There are solid reasons why you really don’t want to cut investments in marketing. Marketing activities make an impact nine to 12 months ahead of sales. If you cut marketing now, you will lose your momentum nine to 12 months later.

  1. The Challenge with Long Sales Cycles

For most of our clients, long sales cycles are the norm. If your sales cycle is 12 to 18 months long, it can be really hard to match the marketing expense you made 12 to 18 months ago to the actual sale of your product or service today. Calculating your ROI in this case is difficult.

Sometimes you can easily understand marketing ROI if your CRM is used properly or if you’ve submitted a quote. But sometimes, even when you are presented an opportunity or a request for proposal, you don’t know how or from where it came. You won’t always have a handle on exactly what marketing event generated enough interest to ask for a quote.

If you have a sales force that’s well-trained, they’ll know to always ask, “How did you hear about us?”

But let’s face it, usually the sales person is so excited about the opportunity that they’re not thinking about how a simple question like this can drive future sales. Instead, they’re thinking, “How do I get this sale? What are the things I need to do to get this sale?”

For long sales cycles, the marketing ROI is usually in the form of lead generation. If you cut marketing, you’ll cut your lead generation activities – ultimately, cutting your sales.

  1. Lasting Brand Awareness Takes Time

Your customer isn’t going to remember you just because they saw your product once. It takes time to build awareness of your brand. It takes time to build your product’s reputation. It takes time for your potential customers to understand your expertise. It takes even more time for them to make a buying decision.

It used to be that it took 5-7 “touches” (meaning exposures to your brand) before a prospect remembered your brand. Today, that number is even higher. This means that building your visibility and thought leadership is an ongoing process.

If you cut your marketing budget, you won’t be able to capitalize on the marketing investments you’ve made and like those companies in the Great Depression who cut their budgets, you’ll also disappear from the conversation in your industry.

  1. It Takes Money to Make Money

There’s a reason why this adage exists. When sales aren’t fully funding operating expenses, or when the economy looks bleak, the tendency is to try to cut costs and save your pennies to ensure your survival.

Let’s look at it another way. If no one knows about you, you don’t exist. Or, if you’ve disappeared from view (say, all of the advertising or articles you used to publish are discontinued), the assumption is you went out of business.

Not a good feeling, is it?

If you are not participating in your industry’s conversation in some fashion, you won’t be able to generate any leads. If you can’t generate leads that convert to sales, you really will cease to exist. You’ve got to continue to market your product or service even in lean times to ensure that you stay top of mind for prospects that need your product.

  1. Stand Out: Do What Everyone Else Isn’t Doing

Let’s go back to the successful companies in the Great Depression, or we can look at examples of some of the greatest investors like Warren Buffett, Jim Rogers, or John Templeton. In both cases, the choice was made to do the opposite of what everyone else was doing. That choice ensured visibility and created immense success.

If your product is “best in class” but your industry is experiencing a pull back, get out there and keep marketing. When you stay visible during downturns, your customers will see you and confidence in your company will increase. When they are ready to buy, they’ll remember you.

What Can You Do To Reduce Marketing Costs without Harming Your Business

All is not lost if you absolutely must make changes in your marketing budget. You can look at that line item and say, “Okay, we need to reduce spend.”

There are certainly elements that will keep you visible and in the decision-making mix. Your customer audience is shifting and getting younger. They search for products and services in the B2B space like they do in their personal life. These are the behaviors you’ll want to take into account when you seek to reduce your marketing spend.

What do you cut and what do you keep?

When you think about your customer profiles, you’ll want to keep social media and advertising. Maybe you decide to not do any print and you chose more digital advertising. Perhaps you use Google display ads instead of Google AdWords to cut your spend.

You should never cut down on your content because your content is your thought leadership. You can reuse it over and over. And certainly, you need to stay in the press and you’ve got to keep attending trade shows.

To make marketing a line item expense and then just put a line through it and say, “I’m not going to do this anymore,” puts you in the position of losing out on your future sales.

Don’t steal tomorrow’s revenues by cutting your marketing efforts today.

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 Apr 19, 2019 in Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Where Did Life Science Innovation Go?

The good old BHAG had quite a run in the ‘90s, but in large part it seems to have disappeared – along with true innovation in larger companies.

I’m not seeing larger life science companies shooting for Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) anymore. Lately, it seems the only growth plan large companies have is acquisition. They’ve left their vision at the door. Instead they watch and wait. They let all the innovation happen at small and start-up level companies. Then they buy them.

Psst…acquisition is not a BHAG.

I think we’ve missed an opportunity, or we’ve lost sight of the opportunity. When Collins and Porras wrote Built to Last, they included visionary companies such as Johnson & Johnson and General Electric but look at where we are now. Did we not follow the rules of Built to Last? Did we not pay attention to the value of BHAGs?

I’ve been wondering why this is happening. Are you?

A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)

Granted, it’s not the most appealing of names but it does deliver the concept of outside-the-box thinking and long-term objectives quite clearly.

In 1994, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras introduced the business world to the BHAG in their book “Built to Last.” The book set the business world on fire and got companies thinking – and acting.

As Jim Collins states:

A true BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort—often creating immense team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal … A BHAG engages people—it reaches out and grabs them in the gut. It is tangible, energizing, highly focused. People “get it” right away; it takes little or no explanation.

Passion/Best in the World/Economic Engine

The bottom line is your company’s BHAG has got to have passion. It’s got to be ‘best in class’ and it’s got to be a financial driver.

Where Have All the Good Times Gone?

While every goal has an economic driver, are we developing ones with passion? Are they high energy goals with clear finish lines?

For some companies, marketing plans aren’t approved until mid or end of Q1. Due to the delay, marketing teams struggle to get plans in place, editorial opportunities are missed and overall marketing momentum is lost.

Large companies seem to be simply playing with numbers and managing to stockholders’ expectations, shooting for quarter-to-quarter earnings.

You can say BHAGs were a 90’s thing, but I disagree with that assumption.

You can still find companies shooting for BHAGs. Some may be small start-ups who have created their entire culture and product delivery based on BHAGs. And then there are large companies like Netflix, Virgin and other visionary companies shooting for their own BHAGs.

When Built to Last was published in the 90’s, we – as a nation – were doing well. We had great economic growth, the stock market was thriving, and we were building funds in our treasury. In 2000, we had a surplus. So, what happened?

When did goal-setting move from long-term vision to quarter-by-quarter earnings? I have a feeling maybe we got lazy during the good times. It escalated when we had the bubble, and shifted after the dot-com bust. Then everyone started thinking, “Okay, what’s the next quarter? What’s the next quarter?”

Unfortunately, we are living in a month-to-month, quarter-by-quarter environment. I get it. Everyone is hanging on the earnings report. The market is volatile and worldwide trade uncertainty seems to be the order of the day.

But somewhere there has to be a vision for what a company needs to look like 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now.

There’s got to be a roadmap.

Long term economic growth doesn’t come from stockholders whose sole focus is “What’s my return on investment? How much did we make?” It comes from C-suite vision and shareholders who are willing to care about the long-term health of the company they have invested in.

But really, would you need stockholders’ goals if you had Big Hairy Audacious Goals?

Is This Our Opportunity for Big Hairy Audacious Goals?

I think when companies stop striving for BHAGs – whether in product development or larger global impacts, like the moonshot – we all lose.

Here we are in 2019 and it’s the end of the first quarter. Half of the companies out there probably haven’t had their marketing budgets approved yet, and many companies don’t even have their sales quotas out for their sales teams.

Now is the time. You’re planning what you are going to develop during the course of the year. What big challenge needs to be overcome?

It’s time to think about that next revolutionary product or service. It means you need to start to do your homework and create that product based on real information and research. Then market it.

What are we waiting for?

Set Your BHAG

The great thing about big hairy audacious goals is you can set a BHAG any time you want. It’s not driven by a start of the year; it’s not quarter-by-quarter. A BHAG has nothing to do with the quarter.

It has to do with vision. Passion and vision.

These projects can take longer than a year to achieve. But the results will impact future years.

It doesn’t matter when you set them.

Netflix was founded on a BHAG and has continuously set them as part of their growth plan. From “becoming the Amazon of something” at their founding, to transforming movie viewing through streaming to their latest BHAG of “becoming HBO faster than HBO can become Netflix,” Netflix is a perfect example of industry innovation through BHAGs.

Go Get ‘Em

Right now it’s all about enabling your teams to have BHAGs – to want to have BHAGs. So, perhaps now while you’re putting your budget together, you put some money aside to explore BHAGs. And this year, you say, “In 2019, I’m going to encourage our teams to come up with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.”

You could say, “Look, I want each division to pitch me a BHAG. What’s in your back pocket that you’ve been thinking about that you’re too afraid to talk about?”

Start small, or start in a small market, but encourage your people to think outside-of-the-box. It’s your team that will come up with the Big Idea. There might be a voice in your team that’s very quiet, but there’s a BHAG in there and you’re missing the opportunity.

Are You Ready to Create Opportunity & Innovation?

What are your thoughts about BHAGs? Where do you think we should be going?

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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