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 Apr 30, 2021 in Advertising, Brand Strategy and Design, Digital Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Automation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

How to Implement Integrated Marketing in Your Organization

How to Implement Integrated Marketing

by Debra Harrsch

Marketing covers a lot of territory these days, and it’s easy to get confused about what you should do and when – never mind the abundance of tools to help you execute your ideas. Perhaps more important than making all those individual decisions is launching your marketing activities with an integrated marketing approach.

An integrated marketing approach ensures that you provide a consistent experience with your brand to your customers. Think about it. If you deliver multiple messages across marketing channels, you’ll confuse your customers instead of achieving brand awareness or the leads you need to meet your revenue goals.

Integrated marketing always starts with your messaging

Whether you’re selling a product or a service, marketing always starts with your messaging. Your messaging must be targeted and remain consistent across every marketing channel from your website, to email marketing, to advertising, to social media, and across all of your content assets. It’s not until you have the messaging for all your buyer personas nailed down that you build out the engine to drive your marcom plan.

Building an integrated marketing plan

I love analogies, and I think about integrated marketing plans in terms of a car engine. There are many moving parts in a car engine, and we all know that a car will not work if a part of your engine is either missing or not working properly. You can’t move forward if every part of that engine isn’t running smoothly.

The same thing is true of integrated marketing plans.

You’re building a marketing engine to accelerate your business. In creating your marketing engine, you’ll need to assemble all your marketing choices and assets into a cohesive plan. You want to make sure all parts of that engine – from your social media and website to your white papers, case studies, videos, and podcasts – are working together to propel your business forward.

And you need to remember that while you can build an engine, you can’t expect it to drive anywhere unless you maintain it. It will need oil and gas (or electricity), and it will need to be monitored and tuned-up periodically.

Marketing is the engine that will take your sales team to where they need to be

You’ll maintain your marketing engine based on shifts in market trends and on what your sales team is saying. The business development team is closest to your customers. Because the marketing department isn’t always in the room when sales is doing their pitches, it’s essential to have ongoing conversations with them. Open communications allow you to understand what sales is seeing and what kinds of questions the customers are asking. One of the most beneficial moves any marketing department can make is to work together with the sales team.

(I find that going to trade shows with our customers and listening to them pitch is incredibly important, and it helps laser-target their marketing campaigns.)

Engine building sounds complicated

Do you need to build a turbocharged marketing engine to get started?

No. I think the best integrated marketing plans start simple and grow from there. We don’t start with a Lamborghini. We begin with a little Honda Fit. Marketing engines need to start simple, and then you can keep upgrading the plan. We do get to the turbocharged engine, but that level of work isn’t going to happen in a few months.

As you are building your marketing plan, you’ll need to keep in mind that you may need to create multiple engines. This will be the case if you sell into different markets or deliver products or services with a complex buying process (for example, many people in a company are involved in the buying decision). In these cases, you’ll need to build engines that speak to the different personas involved in that process. For instance, if the chemist, the IT department, and procurement are involved, you’ll want your brand messaging to address each of those people and their unique challenges or concerns in your marketing.

The point is to put the most efficient and robust lead-generating engine together. To do that, you need to review your assets, figure out where you are, and figure out what has to change. Ask yourself if there is anything that needs fixing, if you need to add assets to your mix, or if you need to repurpose older content?

What’s in a plan?

We know that the engine parts include all your marketing elements like social media, website, white papers, blog posts, case studies, videos, podcasts and ads, etc. But, it doesn’t just include the elements themselves. It also includes where you are placing those elements.

For example, you may decide to use print and digital ads to target that chemist I mentioned above. The marketing action isn’t just a matter of developing the creative for the ads.

When you use an integrated marketing approach it means that the ad in question has the right messaging for the chemist’s stage in the buyer’s journey, along with a landing page which completes the marketing message in the ad – and drives the chemist through to a back-end asset (such as a white paper) that moves them forward on their journey. It also means that the ad creative may be used in social media, and that the white paper may be developed into a blog post and organic social media content to drive the chemist to the landing page and white paper.

Do you see how by keeping your messaging tight and assets working together, you are able to explain the full story of your product or service to your customers and help them in the journey to buy? You’re also able to re-use and repurpose your marketing assets, which can help your budget stretch further.

Everything works together and drives leads

Let me share a case study with you. We have a software client who has seven distinct vertical markets. Those range from highly regulated pharma to oil and gas (O&G) to food and beverage (F&B). We need to build integrated plans for each of those verticals, so we treat them as separate engines.

When we built the plan for the pharma vertical, for instance, we didn’t just look at building ads. We built a messaging platform for the personas in that vertical. And then we built the assets for that vertical. In this buying process, there are multiple personas. They have a chemist and a senior lab director who both need to solve a scientific problem. There is an IT department that has to integrate the software with other internal systems. And there is the procurement office which is not intimately involved in the science.

Expanding this thinking across their business for each vertical’s plan, we created ad campaigns to use across all of their marketing opportunities – from Google display ads to digital and print publication ads, to podcast and webinar sponsorships. We also created videos, white papers, case studies, brochures, tech sheets, and PR based on new offers that have been launched in each vertical. We made sure that all of these elements worked together across every channel, from advertising to social media to trade journals to audio and visual media.

When we built their campaign for the year, that campaign flowed throughout all six verticals. It looked slightly different for O&G than it did for pharma, but it has the same theme and the same energy driving it forward.

(You may not realize it, but ad campaigns have longer legs than you might think. You don’t have to change your ad campaign every year. I know people will say to me, “oh, you know, we’ve seen that for a while.” Yes, maybe you’ve seen it for a while, but your customers/prospects may not have.)

The result?

Last quarter we generated more than 1,600 leads with 55 requests for demos and an RFQ from our digital pharma campaign. In addition, we had 64 Google search phone calls last quarter requesting demos.

Keep it running and producing leads

And just like tuning up an engine – to keep your plan operating smoothly and getting you everywhere you want to go – you need to run diagnostics on your marketing actions and measure performance.

When you’re measuring your ROI, keep in mind that the challenge in marketing is people need to see things six to eight times before they react to it or remember it. Your ROI may in fact be attributable to several of your activities. For example, you may not know if the first ad you ran made the difference or if it was the non-promotional thought leadership article that ultimately drove the lead conversion – or if it was a combination of four or five different marketing actions you took that made the difference in your prospect’s mind. This is why it is called a buyer’s journey, moving from “aware” to “consider” to “buy.”

Drive your business forward with integrated marketing

Marketing’s job is to produce leads to help propel your business forward. But, to drive anything forward, you need an engine. That engine is your integrated marketing plan.

If you need help developing an integrated marketing plan to drive your business forward, give us at call.

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – 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 Apr 2, 2021 in Brand Strategy and Design, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Website Strategy | 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 Brand Strategy and Design, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 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 Advertising, Digital Advertising, Marketing Automation, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 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 Brand Strategy and Design, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 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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