Posted by on Jan 29, 2021 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips | 0 comments

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

by Deb Harrsch

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

What is a Messaging Platform?

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

Any message platform should include:

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

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

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

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

That’s what a messaging platform is.

Developing a Message Platform

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

Who is involved in creating a message platform? Everyone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do You Create a Message Platform?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We can’t use it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Deb Harrsch

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

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

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

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

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

How to market without historical data

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

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

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

What did we learn over the course of this year?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Develop Your Ad Plan

by Deb Harrsch

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

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

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

But, how do you do that successfully?

Ad Budget

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

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

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

Identify Your Audience and Research How to Reach Them

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

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

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

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

Advertising Mix

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

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

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

Flexibility in Digital Publication Ads

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

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

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

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

Developing Your Ad Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

When to Buy Ad Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on May 1, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Channels, Marketing Tips, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When to Use a Case Study in Your Marketing

Brandwidth Solutions: When to Use a Case Study in Your Marketing

by Deb Harrsch

Have you ever met anyone who said case studies don’t work? I sure haven’t.

Using case studies in your marketing is a no-brainer. In fact, we previously explored how important case studies are and how they work.

But, the question is: When should you use them in your marketing?

If you’re creating case studies, publishing them on your website, and then calling it a day, then you’re not getting maximum value from your work.

A Quick Case Study Refresh

Case studies are deceptively simple, and they get right to the point. They enable you to do a bit of storytelling (which is a great marketing tool) and focus on a specific challenge, solution, and result. They are also fairly short – typically around 1,000 words.

The biggest challenge for the marketing department when creating case studies is being able to name the customer. Every B2B industry experiences this issue, so if you’re thinking, “Well, I can’t do any case studies because I’m not allowed to talk about my customers,” you’d be wrong.

It’s okay if you can’t name your client. It’s okay to create a case study with a story and not a name. If your company isn’t allowed to talk about a customer project in detail, think about what you can say. It’s possible there is enough of a story to tell about a challenge and solution, even if you eliminate all of the identifying features.

There are several creative ways you can protect your client’s confidentiality, while also demonstrating your accomplishments. If you can name the who, great! If you can’t name the customer, well that’s okay, too.

What Prospects Want to Know

Case studies are an opportunity for you to show customers that you know who they are, what some of their challenges are, and how you help solve those challenges.

How? Think about it from their perspective.

Your prospect really wants to understand your product or service and how you work with customers. A case study gives them a perfect example from beginning to end: “Here is where we started, this was our solution, and here are the results our customer experienced.” Whether you cut time out of a process, you did it better than they were able to previously, or you were able to deliver some other benefit, you’ve now got results no one else could get. Case studies are great stories that demonstrate how efficient and innovative you are when you’re working with your customers.

When to Use Case Studies

Right, so you’ve created your case study and you’ve published it on your website. Now what? I’ve already told you that isn’t the only way to use them – but it is a valuable use.

What do you think are the most downloaded items on your website – white papers or case studies?

It’s actually the case studies. You see, they aren’t something your prospect needs to register for, so that’s what they’ll download when researching your company. The case study gives them key information and gets them thinking, “Gee, this company has tackled problems similar to what I’m experiencing and they’ve come up with elegant solutions and had great results. I should talk with them.”

But, to truly get full value from your case studies, you’ll also want to use them for your:

  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Print collateral at trade shows
  • Social media content
  • White paper supporting evidence
  • Video stories

Curious about case studies we’ve done for clients and how we’ve used them? Give us a call and let’s talk!

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 Mar 26, 2020 in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Tips, Tradeshows, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Marketing in Uncertain Times: Should You Do It?

For Ideas from Brandwidth Solutions on marketing during coronavirus or a crisis, read on.

by Deb Harrsch

The coronavirus COVID-19 has thrown all of us off course seemingly overnight. Every marketing department has been stuck in crisis mode for almost a month now (depending on your industry and global location). We’ve had trade shows cancelled or postponed until Q3. We’ve had marketing campaigns planned and ready to execute which no longer make sense. Fear, confusion, and paralysis about what to do next is the order of the day in our remote offices.

That was okay – initially. We all need to adjust to new realities.

Now, however, it’s time to ask: “How am I going to make up for the leads I’m not going to get at the trade show?”

A lot of audiences, especially in the pharma and the healthcare world, don’t want you in their offices. Many have sent their employees home. In healthcare settings, they don’t want you coming into their offices for sales calls. In the B2B space, we miss out when we don’t have the face-to-face meeting.

Right now, the marketing field is level. Your competitors are dealing with the exact same situation. They are also not able to walk into hospitals or pharma companies for sales calls either. You’re all in the same boat. It’s not like your competitor can get a leg up on you because they’re not travelling either.

Don’t be afraid.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen the following quote from JFK a lot – on social media, in articles and newsletters:

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

It’s a great quote and perfect for the times in which we find ourselves now. This is when you need to move from the scary part of the crisis to the opportunity side of the crisis. Your marketing department needs to reframe this crisis as an opportunity.

Marketing During a Crisis: Shifting Mindsets

We need to shift our mindset from panic to opportunity. Doing something differently always feels dangerous somehow – even if it’s not.

The first step is to take a deep breath, step back, and survey your marketing landscape. You need to assess what you had scheduled in your marketing plan. I know you already started implementing it in January – before you knew about this crisis – and before you knew all your trade shows were going to be cancelled.

But, guess what? Your competitors are also stepping back and figuring out a way around the hand we’ve been dealt. Your job is to do it sooner and spend less time in crisis mode.

You aren’t alone, though. You can work with your agency to figure it all out. It’s time to prioritize what you’ve got to deal with immediately and what still works from your plan. Then you need to make a new plan for the rest of the year. That’s when you can go to your boss with a solid plan.

Part of that “taking a step back and taking a breath” is shifting your marketing mindset from crisis reaction to opportunity. This is where you can show-off your marketing skills and try new tools and tactics. Doing something new is fun and exciting – and can potentially pay big dividends.

What to do first? Asset Audits and Internal Relationships

First up is an asset audit. What marketing tools do you have? What content assets do you have? Part of that asset audit needs to be conversations with your new best friends – your sales team. Who better to tell you what your prospects need than the folks who talk to them all the time?

Now that those trade shows and onsite meetings are cancelled for the next few months, your sales team has some idle time on their hands. Yes, they’ll be making phone calls instead, but they will have time to talk to you.

So talk with your sales team. They may be able to tell you what you’re missing in your marketing toolbox, what literature they need, what case studies they need, what white papers they’re looking for, and what application notes they need. They can tell you all of that.

The other key activity your sales team has time for now is the CRM (customer relationship management) system.

Yup, it’s time to update the big scary CRM! But, you need to frame the need properly with sales. Don’t just say, “Oh, you haven’t updated the CRM in the last few months.”

You’ve got to explain why. Say: “Because we are now in a position where we can’t meet our customers at trade shows, we need our CRM to be complete. We need to know what people are interested in and the last time you talked to them. Please use this time so we can leverage it from a marketing perspective to help you.” Let them know that their efforts in updating the CRM can help you build lead generation and nurturing campaigns to both your customers and your prospects.

This is a golden opportunity to forge new relationships and solid partnerships between sales and marketing departments (for more on why they should be best friends, check out this post).

Questions to Develop a New Marketing Plan

Since the marketing plan you developed and budgeted for last year isn’t 100% viable any longer, you need to ask yourself some questions. The key question is: “How am I going to help my sales team – who can’t get on a plane – reach their audience?”

The next question is: “What tools do I have that I can use to make up those leads?” This is a time that gives you an opportunity to assess new tools to add to your marketing toolbox.

You also need to look at whether you can find your sales team tools to help them communicate, such as conferencing methods or virtual meetings. We have clients who hold user group meetings. If they can’t switch the date, and it can’t be held live – we need to look at switching over to a virtual model and stream it.

As you figure out how you’re going to make up those leads and what tools you’re going to use, you’re likely going to find that you’ll need more collateral. You’re going to need more assets to share and you’re going to need more conversation.

Now, how are you going to fund tool and collateral development? That might, for once, actually be the easiest part.

Repurposing Your Marketing Budget

Are you asking how you’re going to fund the changes in your marketing tactics? Well, there’s one spot where you’ve got quite a lot of marketing dollars that aren’t going to be used – trade shows, travel, and the related activities.

If your trade shows have been cancelled, there are a couple of areas where you can find budget. For instance, if you hadn’t finished paying for the trade show, there’s some money there. Then there is the travel, the promotion, the ads and you had email marketing scheduled, PR – all of that is now “found budget” you can repurpose to fund your new marketing tactics.

So repurpose those funds, use those blasts for a different campaign, and have dialogues with publications on how you can reach their audiences.

What Can You Do Differently?

If you’re not used to being able to think outside the box, here are a few tactics you can use.

  • B2B Social Media: You’re going to have to rely on social media to keep conversations going, but you’re going to need assets to do it. So all of those collateral pieces your sales team told you about in your asset audit? The case studies, white papers, application notes, and literature – you’ll need to start creating all of that in order to use it for social media, email, and advertising.
  • Digital and Print Advertising with Downloads: It’s not advertising as usual anymore. Whenever you run an ad, whether it’s print or digital, make sure you’ve got an engaging landing page – and make sure the prospect can download something valuable to their buying journey.
  • Comprehensive Email Marketing: Start building your own list. Don’t just rely on list rentals. Then build email campaigns using your new assets. After webinars (see below), follow-up with lead nurturing campaigns. And when trade shows come back (and they will), use your email list to promote, follow-up, and nurture.
  • Webinars: Use webinars more. Or start using webinars. It’s basically a trade show in a box!

But, when you’re doing a webinar, make sure it’s not a hard sales pitch with only your company doing the talking. We’ve found the most successful way of running a webinar is for the host company to speak for a very short time, with one of their customers doing the bulk of the presentation. You will always have more interest and registrations if your webinar shows people what your company can do from a customer’s point of view.

And Finally, a Note of Encouragement

We can’t forget that we are in a global crisis and we need to be sensitive to what our customers and prospects are dealing with, but this is a perfect opportunity to develop your sales and marketing organizations. At the end of this – as hard as this is – you are going to have a stronger marketing department.

And remember, during the Great Depression, the companies that marketed through it were stronger on the other end. Now, we’re not in a depression (at least not yet), but globally – just like the Great Depression – we are all in it together.

Don’t back away. Don’t be frightened of it, and don’t let anybody keep you stuck in crisis mode. There are some things you’re going to have to do that are pretty critical now, but take a breath and make a plan.

Don’t let the coronavirus quarantine your marketing efforts. Whether you need help assessing how the coronavirus could impact your upcoming marketing campaigns or guidance on what opportunities your marketing department can take advantage of, let’s connect and talk about how we can help.

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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