Published by Rebecca Miller, September 25th, 2014
Would you ever consider driving your car blindfolded, buying shoes that are the wrong size, or leaving your hand in a pot of boiling water? Each of these scenarios sound ridiculous, but this is essentially what you are doing when you skip out on research.
In a recent study, global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company examined 90 global B2B companies and found that they are weakening or handicapping their brands by emphasizing what doesn’t matter to B2B buyers and neglecting to talk about the things that do like transparency, acting responsibly across the supply chain and how they align with customer values and beliefs.
Research isn’t everybody’s favorite thing to do or pay for, but in the long run, it pays off. Whether it’s done formally or informally, every little bit can help you improve your marketing strategy in three ways.
You know where you’re going.
While you might have a place in mind of where you want your marketing strategy to take you, say a 15 percent increase in sales, you have to actually be looking at the road to get there. Conducting market research removes the blindfold and provides you with a much needed map.
This way you can pin down who your real competition is, see what they’re doing, carve out your target market and learn what their needs are (and how you’re competition isn’t meeting those needs). The insights gleaned from research allow you to arrive at value propositions and unique selling points – the reasons your customers choose you over your competition.
You don’t waste money on things you don’t need.
Marketing tactics are a dime a dozen, but not literally. Communicating your brand message across as many platforms, channels and mediums as you can is expensive and delivers a poor ROI. Research allows you to identify where your target market likes to spend their time and what kinds of messages they respond best to, so you can tailor your marketing strategy to produce the best results for your business.
You can react and adjust.
Marketing strategies aren’t set in stone, and they shouldn’t be. They are designed and implemented to be responsive to whatever is taking place in your industry, “meeting the wants and needs of your target market better than the competition does,” if you want the textbook definition. This means that you have to be aware of how your customers’ wants and needs are changing, and how your competition is responding. Yes, this means more research. Monitoring what is going on in your industry allows you to be flexible, addressing issues and capitalizing on opportunities as they arise. Sticking to the marketing plan and ignoring your surroundings will get you burnt.
Most would agree that doing your homework before launching into a business endeavor is crucial. Why should it be any different for your marketing efforts?
If your marketing strategy isn’t delivering the results you’re looking for, contact Bill White today at 1-800-606-1610, and we’ll help you get the insights you need to meet your goals.
Published by Jane Cirigliano, September 18th, 2014
How often should you redesign your website? The simple answer for the life science community is every 2-3 years. Based on your company's unique goals, how your products tie into the latest technology and how you interact with your customers, your timeline may vary.
According to Hubspot’s “The Science of Website Redesign," 68% of companies surveyed had redesigned their websites within the last 12 months. An additional 16% had redesigned their sites within the past two years.
What Is Redesign?
What does a website redesign entail? Redesigning a website is more than just making it look pretty or more modern than your competition's websites. During a redesign, the structure of your website can be changed to allow for new functionality. You can incorporate ecommerce, a CRM or connect your website to your accounting software. A redesign is also a perfect opportunity to connect your site to social media or set up your architecture to be more search engine friendly.
In the biotech market, it is imperative that new products and technologies are explained, shown and launched in ways that match today's online and device-based technological capabilities. For example, a new medical device with a selling proposition based on sleek design and ease of use should have an online experience that matches its claims.
Do You Need a Redesign?
If you answer no to any of these questions, you should consider a website redesign to ensure that you are reaching your customer base on its preferred browsing medium (see WebUsability for information on devices and demographics).
1. Is your website responsive?
Your website should give each user the best possible web experience regardless of whether they are accessing your website from a desktop or a device.
2. Is your website easy to update?
Regular updates to your website keep visitors coming back and help with your SEO efforts.
3. Is your website converting visitors to customers?
Many companies redesign their websites to incorporate lead generation techniques or integrate a CRM.
4. Is your website traffic growing?
Healthy websites show constant growth in visitors, or at least hold steady. Your traffic over time can indicate visitor satisfaction with the information provided on your site.
5. Are visitors navigating past your home page?
Clear, user-friendly navigation helps visitors convert to customers quicker.
6. Do search engines know you exist?
Building your site with the proper structure in place assists both human eyes and search engines, which drive those human eyes to your website.
7. Are your competitors’ websites more impressive than yours?
If your website looks out of date compared to your competition, it is time for a facelift.
8. Are parts of your site not functioning properly?
Older websites may not be compatible with the latest browsers, which can have a negative effect on your website traffic.
9. Does your website accurately reflect who you are and what you do?
Product and service information, distributor lists, company profiles, etc. can quickly become outdated without regular website maintenance.
10. Does your website take advantage of new technologies?
If your business is on social media, your website should reflect that activity. Animations, interactive PDFs, videos and other digital media can help you communicate the benefits of your products and services.
Get Measureable Results
Redesigning your website provides multiple opportunities to increase your website’s ROI. Whether you need a design facelift to outpace the competition or reflect corporate changes, or you are looking to update functionality to improve user experience and increase customer engagement, website redesigns typically result in a 70% - 500% ROI (Forrester).
Here are just a few of the many ways a website redesign can affect your bottom line:
Increased Conversion Rates
According to Forrester, B2B websites see an increase of 20-50% on their conversion rates following a redesign. Websites redesigned with calls to action and a user experience that guides visitors through your lead generation process see the greatest return.
As you improve the quality of your website content and hone your top-level navigation to make your website easier to use, your SEO will be impacted positively. Keywords that help you target quality traffic can be built into your content and website structure during a redesign.
Your website should accurately reflect how you want your company to be perceived, and must coordinate with all of your other marketing initiatives. A redesign gives you the opportunity to not only increase your level of professionalism in terms of the look, but also to apply any existing rebranding efforts to your online presence.
Reach New Users
If you don't have a mobile-friendly website, you are not putting your best foot forward to 30% of your potential audience. Creating a responsive or adaptive website increases your reach to tablet and smartphone users, providing them with information and calls to action designed to function on their devices - allowing you to do business with anyone, anytime.
Returning website visitors tend to increase with redesigns that put a focus on content that will be updated regularly. Giving visitors a reason to come back to your website keeps you top-of-mind and helps nurture leads through your sales cycle.
A website redesign is the perfect opportunity to integrate social media (links, sharing, blogs, apps, feeds, etc.), making it easier for customers to connect with you and your message socially. It is also important to remember that customers may interact with you on multiple mediums in different capacities. Perhaps they connect with a sales rep on LinkedIn and then visit your website to find product features. Be consistent in your messaging on all networks.
Is a Website Alone Enough?
Once your new website has been launched, it doesn't end there. Regular content updates are imperative to maintain customer interest. Your new website can also be integrated with other marketing initiatives ranging from SEO and social media to email marketing and direct mail.
According to Forrester's "Multichannel Maturity Mandate," 40% of companies employing integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels saw more than a 15% increase in revenue that was directly attributable to those marketing efforts.
Published by Abby Spung, September 11th, 2014
Have you ever said something like this before?
“I’m starting a new company and we need a website. Our customers just don’t understand what it is we do.”
Stop right there. A communication channel is not going to solve your branding problem.
Where Does Branding Start?
A small handful of things bring about the need to start looking at your brand. The most obvious but not necessarily the most common reason is the much anticipated launch of a new company or product. Incidentally for us designers, while this is the most appealing project scenario, it has potential to be deceptively challenging, because getting the opportunity to work from a truly “blank sheet of paper” is rare.
Other situations that tend to prompt some brand introspection are a change in name, the need to revitalize the brand, or a desire to establish a more integrated image or message, and finally – and perhaps the most prevalent in business today – a company merger and the need to preserve the equity of both brands while creating something new.
Make no mistake; resolving any of these objectives properly will be a lengthy and very involved process. And no matter which one is the cause for initializing this process, there is one thing you can do that will help ensure a successful outcome for your branding efforts – involve the right people at the right time.
The strongest brands are built from the inside out. From the very beginning, your top level management must champion the effort, passing their enthusiasm and support on to your staff. You will also need to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your company, seeking outside counsel for support where required.
In-House May Be Too "Inside the Box"
After evaluating the structure of many B2B companies in the life sciences and technology industry, a rising trend toward in-house marketing is apparent. Some factors that may be driving this trend are the desire to maintain control—after all, who doesn’t want to be in control— and the belief that the product is so technical that only someone who has been directly involved in its development or who has worked intimately in the field would be able to sell it or market it to such an intelligent niche audience.
The drawback to relying soley on in-house marketing is that while those charged with the responsibility for developing or managing the brand have extensive insight and understanding of the market and product, they too often have little to no experience in brand identity development.
Two Heads Are Better Than One
The best way to compensate for this is to supplement the branding process with some outside expertise. It’s not a new idea. Many successful companies are doing it; and, frankly, it’s likely to be one of the differentiating factors in their success.
Because branding is truly about seizing every opportunity to express why people should choose your brand over another, you would be wise to consider at the onset of building a brand identity just how many opportunities there are to account for. Each touch point, be it a website, blog, business card, speech or even the way you answer the phone calls, is a unique opportunity to reach your audience. Thinking about this and planning for it early in the process is critical. Building this collective toolbox takes time, managing it takes discipline, and knowing when to deploy the tools requires a top-down perspective of the overall goals for the brand.
Consulting with creative agencies who are rich with expertise in building and managing brands should be a part of your planning process. By sharing your business goals and objectives with them early you can better anticipate the costs and timelines for going to market with a tangible brand message.
Agencies are populated with talented individuals who have spent their entire careers mastering ways to take a message and package it for multiple mediums and audiences, capitalizing on each variance in the medium, leveraging everything from sound, color, space, image, and typography to touch your audience and appeal to them on a visceral level. That, combined with intimate knowledge of the product or company and its stakeholders, is what it takes to be found in a sea of images, brands and competitors across our global market.
Is your brand identity sinking or setting sail?
Published by Bill White , September 4th, 2014
People are the most valuable assets of any organization. Developing employees increases productivity, enhances performance, and ensures quality service throughout the organization. The first step to a holistic professional development program begins with consistent, interactive training. Corporate training programs can be implemented in one of two ways: 1) developed and integrated internally, or 2) constructed and launched by an outside firm.
There are benefits and downfalls to both methods. If you force an already busy internal staff to determine what training materials need created on top of their list of other duties, there will likely be inconsistency and gaps in information. If you contract an outside firm to deliver your training, information may be missed or overlooked simply because they do not have the same background and expertise as your internal staff.
At OffWhite, we have developed a “hybrid” method to help create and launch your training program. Through initial information gathering and collaboration with your internal staff, we can develop an outline for professional development that eventually turns into a standalone, online training system that can be managed and populated by your staff from anywhere with internet access.
Step-by-Step Curriculum Development Process
- Curriculum Outline - We become familiar with your company, your goals, and the corporate culture. Once we understand what you need to say and how you need to say it, we then develop an information map which turns into a hierarchical model of your curriculum. During these discussions, we also help you determine what delivery platform will work best for your particular situation and user group.
- Raw Materials Review - All currently available digital and hard copy raw materials are gathered and organized into informational repositories as staging materials for the upcoming curriculum build.
- Copy Development - A full length narrative is written based on the curriculum outline and the gathered raw materials. This narrative provides the directives that drive the remainder of the content housed in the curriculum and serves as the main copy narrative that will be placed in each module or course to engage students that learn best by reading.
- Beta – Branded Prototype - Once all of the content files are created, the branded prototype of your curriculum is built and delivered for testing. Trial accounts and passwords are issued so that you can review the content, take quizzes and offer feedback prior to full deployment.
- Build Out - The build out phase of the curriculum involves finalizing the content management customization and completely populating the system with the remaining content pieces, including copy narratives, presentations, videos and audio files. Once completed, our team provides you with the administrative rights to begin setting up user groups.
- Ongoing Training and Maintenance - Our team can help train your staff on how to use your new curriculum program and will assist in maintaining content and administrative oversight until you are comfortable taking over program leadership.
OffWhite has always been systematic in our approach to developing marketing campaigns for a wide range of scientific and technical markets. This approach works equally well for curriculum development, regardless of overall size and market.
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Offenberger & White, Inc. (OffWhite) is an integrated marketing solutions company based in Marietta, Ohio, USA.
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