Content Marketing

Content Marketing for Medical Devices

Did you know that 60% of business decision makers say that digital content helps them make better buying decisions when it comes to products?*

Decision makers are relying more and more on “company” content to guide them through the buying process. So, medical device companies need to create company content on their websites that is engaging, insightful, and well-produced to help buyers through the following phases and gain a competitive advantage in the process:

Awareness

This is the phase of the process when decision makers are informed and educated about companies that might help them. Instead of pitching products, the content that is developed delivers information that assists medical professionals in making informed decisions; the content makes them more intelligent. Tailor the right content to your potential customers, and you can position your company as a thought leader. This can be accomplished via blogging on popular industry websites or on your own website, email campaigns, and eBooks. The goal is to create content that resonates well with your target audience—content that may lead decision makers to consider your company when they advance in the sales cycle. The most relevant content results from a strategy of focusing more on your target audience’s interests and less on your company.

 Consideration

During this phase of the process, potential customers are preparing to make a purchase and are evaluating options from one company to another. Content development at this stage provides your audience with details on your products and how well those products deliver benefits that align with customer objectives. Content here may include existing customer testimonials, research/case studies, white papers, product brochures/videos, and “how-to” webinars. Comparative product information is highly relevant because that is what prospective customers are looking for at this stage.

Decision

This is the phase when your potential customers have gathered all of the necessary information and are ready to make a purchase. This is the time to present them with content centered around pricing and detailed product specifications. This may be accomplished by having sales reps deliver live product demonstrations or perhaps by using eBooks that include product demos or tutorials.

Content development is an ongoing process that requires a sustained commitment, but it can be leveraged by integrating it into your overall marketing strategy. If you deliver consistently valuable information to potential customers on an ongoing basis, you will “outsmart” your competition—and you will likely be rewarded with new customers and their loyalty.

*Roper Public Affairs Survey

Crisis Communications

Are you ready to communicate during a crisis?

 Natural disasters, scandals, product recalls, work stoppages; there are a multitude of crises occurring constantly. A crisis is simply defined as a major occurrence with a potentially negative outcome.

In a crisis, emotions run on overdrive, minds race, and events happen so quickly that writing a plan amid this situation is impossible–just following one is hard enough.

Crisis management is a process of strategic planning for a crisis–one that removes some of the risk and uncertainty from the negative occurrence and allows an organization to be in greater control of the outcome.

Crisis communications is defined as the dialogue between an organization and its publics prior to, during, and after the negative occurrence. The dialogue created is intended to minimize damage to the organization’s reputation.

Effective crisis management includes crisis communications, which not only can alleviate or eliminate the crisis, but also can sometimes bring an organization a more positive reputation than it may have had before the crisis.

There are various public relations programs that can be utilized during a crisis. They include media, community, employee (internal), consumer, government, and investor relations.

Research indicates that companies with ongoing two-way communications often avoid crises or endure crises of shorter duration or of lesser magnitude. Research also shows that companies with a crisis management or crisis communications plan generally come out of a crisis with a more positive image than companies without a plan.

Crises typically go through distinct phases. The first is detection. The detection phase—or prodromal phase—may begin with the appearance of warning signs. Some crises have no noticeable prodromes, but many do.

When an organization in the same or similar industry suffers a crisis, that can serve as a warning sign. The Tylenol tampering case was a prodrome to other over-the-counter drug manufacturers. Most heeded the warning and converted to tamper-proof containers.

An organization should watch for prodromes and make attempts to stop a crisis at this initial stage, before it develops into a full-blown crisis. A corporate culture conducive to the positive and open interaction of stakeholders can minimize the effects of crises, as can the inclusion of crisis management in the strategic planning process.

Depending on the type of organization, crisis prevention tactics can involve many actions, such as safety training, a whistleblowing policy, and ongoing community engagement.

Crisis preparation is necessary for dealing with crises that cannot be prevented. For example, Pepsi had no way of anticipating the scare in which hypodermic syringes were being found in some cans of Diet Pepsi. The crisis communications plan is the primary tool of preparedness. The plan tells all key people on the crisis team what their roles are.

Containment, the second phase, refers to the effort to limit the duration of the crisis and keep it from spreading to other areas of the organization.

The third phase is recovery, which involves efforts to return an organization to “business as usual.” In addition to restoring normalcy, recovery can involve restoring public confidence.

The fourth and final stage, learning, is the post-mortem phase; this is where procedures are analyzed in order to make the event a lesson for the future.

One way to look at crisis communications is to dissect it into three stages: prevention—preparing before a crisis occurs; management—communicating during the crisis; and recovery—communicating post-crisis.

Prevention involves planning and preparing communications procedures before a crisis occurs. Research and preparation in this first stage are key. An organization’s main goals are to anticipate and prepare for potential crises, and attempt to prevent them before they occur.

The second stage of crisis management is managing the response and communicating it to all interested parties. Time is of the essence in responding to a crisis effectively. A delayed response can be devastating to an organization’s reputation.

The third and final stage of crisis communications is recovery—communicating post-crisis. This look-back stage begins immediately at the end of a crisis.

Post-crisis communication is what an organization says and does after a crisis. In this stage, an organization will attempt to salvage its reputation, while gathering key learnings and undergoing the healing process.

Today’s instant communications environment places a higher premium on crisis management; unprepared organizations have more to lose than ever before. The factors that increase the need for effective crisis management are an increased value of reputation, stakeholder activism through communication technologies, negligent failure to plan, and broader views of crises.

Martino Flynn can help your organization prepare a crisis communications plan. Contact Ray Martino, rmartino@martinoflynn.com, or call 585-641-4540.

sm4b2b-1000

SM4B2B

SM4B2B? That’s social media for business-to-business, and yes, it absolutely exists. Social media has grown from a person-to-person, or business-to-consumer voice and is now a top channel in any integrated, strategic communications plan. With social media driving brand awareness, boosting your website and company’s SEO rankings, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are tools that cannot be ignored. Ready to get started? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Identify your audience.

Even as a B2B company, remember that you’re talking to a person. There are typically a few folks who weigh in on any purchase decision, so make it a point to know who those people are, what they like, what they’re interested in, and what channels they are on. Once you know who to target, take it a step further by using nominal advertising dollars to target your message so it is seen by those decision makers. By putting some dollars behind key posts, you can be sure that your message is being delivered to the people who need to see it.

Reaching your customers on Facebook.

If your business plans to maintain a Facebook page, it’s important to keep in mind that the platform has evolved into a pay-per-play channel, and you’ll need to invest in “Like” campaigns to grow your following. Additionally, Facebook’s “EdgeRank” algorithm heavily sensors business page content and delivers only about 1% of published content to a fan’s timeline. The lesson here is that your company will need a mix of organic (nonpaid) and sponsored (paid) content. That is, in addition to engaging, incentive-focused organic content, a consistent cadence of promoted posts will guarantee that content will be seen in your fan’s timeline.

Using Twitter correctly and effectively.

Now that you know who your audience is, get your Twitter page up and running. Whereas targeting people on Facebook can be viewed as intrusive (because it’s a lot harder to do as a business page), Twitter makes it easy to find, follow, and engage people in a more professional way. In the beginning, find, follow, and listen to your target audiences and industry thought leaders’ tweets. Jumping in right away without fully understanding your audiences will turn them off. Re-tweet content relevant to your brand or business to get on their radar without a direct introduction.

Think about it like dating. Initially, you need to get to know each other first before you introduce him or her to your parents. So long as you have fun, engaging content, you’ll build a following (see below), but even though the ultimate goal is closing a deal, don’t forget to be human.

Using LinkedIn as a resource.

A strong network on LinkedIn can go a long way toward building relationships between businesses and employees, and businesses and potential customers/clients. B2B marketing is built through word of mouth; therefore having shared connections makes it that much easier to establish new online relationships. Ask customers and clients for reviews and reciprocate. Post blogs and relevant third-party articles a few times weekly to populate your newsfeed. This way, when prospects come to your page, they will see an active, engaged, and referred business.

LinkedIn Answers is a place where your sales team executives and reps can establish authority in your field by answering questions from prospective clients and/or customers. You’ll quickly build online rapport and relationships as you have more discussions. Many businesses have seen success in the form of sales leads after continually engaging in discussion and offering business services via LinkedIn.

Content, content, content.

Similar to the “location, location, location” real estate mantra, content is king online. Until your business has reached an iconic state on social media (i.e., millions of followers), simply posting content about your products and services will only achieve one thing: alienation. We all follow that one person on Facebook who posts about the same stuff over and over. It’s annoying and we probably hide their posts. At Martino Flynn, we generally recommend an 80/20 ratio of content: 20 percent original, branded content and 80 percent other (lifestyle, industry trends, etc.). Ask questions, provide data and insight, create original content like product videos and blogs, and offer incentives. Give your fans a reason to come to your page. Think about the business pages you follow. What gets you to type in those businesses’ name in the search bar to see what they’re up to?

Monitor, measure, and follow up.

Are people responding to your content? Social media monitoring is a full-time job. Not only is staying up to date with what’s being posted everywhere online incredibly important from a content and relevancy perspective, it’s also vital to be in the know on what people are saying about your company, industry, and competitors. Set up alerts using a search engine or media monitoring service, cater your content to what’s popular, and monitor engagement on your social channels. Respond to everyone you can and build those relationships.

Once you’ve figured out a posting and monitoring strategy, set benchmarks to work toward. Using website analytics, you should start to see when your social communications make a difference. Trackable (and shortened links) help to monitor traffic, and ad platform analytics on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will show you what’s working and what isn’t.

Does it still seem like a lot to handle? Martino Flynn’s team of social gurus can help get your social pages up and running, and we have the capacity to fully manage your platforms.

social-media-ambassador-1000

Cultivating Brand Ambassadors with Social Media

Regardless of the industry, the evergreen goal of a B2C company is to leverage its brand amongst consumers. In an age when traditional advertising isn’t a two-way relationship, targeted social media has become so forced that it’s not genuine; there’s a gap in communication with the consumers. According to Marketwired, 68% of millennials are unfazed by celebrity endorsements, while 93% read reviews prior to purchase. Brands need to start thinking like consumers and understanding how their customers are sharing and consuming content.

Influenster, a third-party, product discovery platform, has recognized this need for engagement for both consumers and brands. The platform’s success is evident with revenue in the first quarter of the fiscal 2015 year, which started in April, matched its full year of revenue from 2014. This online community gathers savvy social media consumers who love to give opinions on products and experiences and makes them brand ambassadors to Influenster’s already established and trusted network.

For the consumer, it’s simple:

  1. Create a profile: link to all social media accounts to potentially earn a high social impact score
  2. Diversify your profile by obtaining expert and lifestyle badges through quizzes and surveys
  3. Take a pre-qualifying survey with no knowledge of up-coming campaigns to possibly be eligible to receive a brand box (brands can target groups specifically based on survey questions and consumer profile and impact)
  4. If you receive a brand box, you may begin to share your opinion on the product and brand with the Influenster community

I recently joined Influenster with the interest of learning more about the platform and what I thought was an unlikely chance of getting free products to review. Luckily, in my first month, I was selected for not one, but two branded box campaigns. The boxes were vastly different; one contained a new coffee maker, while the other one included sports apparel. In order for me to win the coffee maker brand badge, I needed to register my product on the brand’s website, tweet and Instagram about it with specific hashtags provided, and write a review on its website- all about my opinion of the new product – all while stating that I received the product for free testing and reviews. For a consumer who is on social media frequently, that was easy. For a brand that doesn’t reach its target audience with traditional advertising, and who just enlisted hundreds of brand ambassadors, it was easy.

To put it simply from the standpoint of a success story: Goody Hair targeted a female community with an interest in fashion to help launch its new QuikStyle Paddle Brush. Janki Gambhir, director of marketing, Rubbermaid, said her primary goal was to ramp up the company’s social presence. The results? A 40% increase in Facebook fans, and 26% increase in Twitter followers – all while sales of the product increased by 40%.

Search Engine Optimization

The Importance of Medical SEO Marketing

Why does search engine optimization (SEO) work well for medical device companies? It’s really pretty simple. Typically, the sales cycle is longer and search engines play a significant role in the research and evaluation of products.

With a strong medical SEO campaign, a medical device company can distribute its brand message and showcase product offerings using an increased visibility in search engines in order to:

  • Shape perceptions in the buying cycle
  • Target qualified prospects from the beginning of the cycle
  • Position itself as one of the premier solutions

According to the 2013 State of Digital Marketing report, SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation. With business-to-business marketing, approximately 60% of decision makers say that content helps them make purchase decisions. With an effective SEO program, a company can expect:

  • A lower cost per lead than traditional channels
  • Long-term lead generation from existing website content
  • Visibility in the marketplace with appropriate keyword targeting
  • Qualified prospects visiting its website

In order to thrive, stay ahead of the competition, and ultimately grow its business, a medical device company needs to ensure that SEO initiatives are top of mind and that it is working closely with its marketing communications partners to maximize this effort.

The Official Blog of Martino Flynn