Don’t Let Numbers Lie To You, Use Research Data Correctly

If someone with no knowledge of carpentry were asked to build a shed, his or her lack of experience and skill would quickly become noticeable. Unfortunately, it’s not always quite as obvious when people work with data. It’s easy to draw incorrect conclusions from numbers, which sometimes can be more harmful than not having data at all.

Know your source.

Knowing the makeup of data (e.g., knowing what is included, what is not included, and how it was obtained) is essential when considering how to interpret information. A great example of this comes from a retail client that I worked with many years ago.

In an effort to gauge customer satisfaction at its stores, the client invited customers to take an online survey after each visit. The incentive to take the survey was a high discount coupon that could be used on their next visit.

The market research company that handled the reporting noted that more than half of the respondents used a high discount coupon on their subsequent visit. Without taking all of the factors into account, some within the client’s organization drew the conclusion that customers were too reliant on coupons – and that revenue was being lost unnecessarily.

However, a closer look at the source of the data led to a different conclusion.   

The incentive offered for completing the survey helped to provide context for the coupon usage behavior. People who were more apt to take the survey because they were being offered a coupon were, in turn, more likely to use a coupon. As a whole, these customers were more price-sensitive and were prone to go elsewhere without a discount. It may sound obvious, but things like that often are overlooked, as initially happened in this case.

When the sales data for all customers, regardless of whether or not they completed the survey, was factored in, the results were much more accurate. The overall rate of high discount coupon usage was much smaller for the general population than it was for just the group of individuals who took the survey.

Thinking critically about the source of the data helped properly interpret the numbers. Before putting the survey data in context, the client questioned if its marketing approach was “giving away too much.” Taking the source of data into consideration and reviewing broader sales data helped remove those questions, thus keeping a well-established and profitable couponing program in place.

This is just one example of how important it is to judiciously think about the data you receive, view, and analyze. Consider the source of the data, how it was gathered, how complete it is, and how it is being presented.  Most importantly, use your experience to determine if it makes logical sense. Critical thinking about data should lead to a deeper understanding of the information and how to apply it to your business.

Remember, data is there to help make decisions. In the end, your own experience and judgment will help you properly apply it.

Looking Outside The Box For PR Opportunities

Media pitching may be the bread and butter of public relations, but it doesn’t need to be basic and boring.

PR is constantly changing its look as new technologies and tools emerge, but media relations hasn’t evolved as much as other aspects of PR. Sure, PR pros are now using email and Twitter in addition to calling reporters, but nobody is trying to reinvent the wheel—the basic level of communication is the same as ever.

To break the media relations mold, PR pros need to be flexible in their approach. Keep the basic rules of reporter outreach in mind, but explore the new and unexpected, too. Before diving headfirst into outreach, take the time to learn these tips to help bring your media relations to new heights.

First, you must know your audience and where to reach it. That’s a given. For example, if your product or campaign is targeted to dog lovers, it’s reasonable to think that publications like Bark and Modern Dog would be top targets. And for your client, it’s likely that these publications would immediately come to mind, and where the company hopes to earn coverage.

Yet, think about the characteristics of “dog people.” Many dog lovers also love the outdoors, own homes, and have children; so why limit your media pitching to only pet-specific reporters and publications? Picture those reading Family Circle or Country Living magazines—aren’t they also likely to have dogs in their homes? Build out a robust media relations strategy that has your audience in mind and goes beyond the top-of-mind publications.

Part of that strategy should include the newest wave of media: bloggers. With thousands of social media followers, the power of dog bloggers shouldn’t be underestimated. Clients may be slow to warm up to the idea of a blogger campaign, but it’s a great way to reach a whole new group of people, using similar principles that are often applied to traditional media relations. Modern Dog may have more than 200,000 subscribers, but the Positively Woof dog blog has an audience of more than a million across its social media channels. Sometimes the smallest dog has the loudest bark.

It’s important to know your audience and reach for new media targets, but that strategy means nothing without a compelling story. If your client tasks you with pitching a certain product, or telling a story, to a slew of publications and, now, bloggers, be sure to stay flexible in your messaging. Crafting a compelling story about your client’s company or product is one thing, but tailoring it based on your target publication and its readership takes it to the next level.

For instance, if you’re tasked with getting press coverage for a product that cleans and whitens fur, but you see that the blogger owns two black labradors and lives in a rural area, change the pitch. Tell a story about your client’s flea and tick repellent, emphasizing that ticks are difficult to spot on dark fur. Always try to identify opportunities to tell writers a story they want to hear, and cater to their interests. Often, there may be other products from the same client that are more relevant to your audience, or new pitch angles that are sure to get them on the hook.

Media relations isn’t being reinvented, but it is evolving. To thrive in this changing landscape, embrace the growing blogger movement, integrate social media into your strategy, and expand your targets beyond the obvious. Above all, think outside the box.

Making the Most of Your Trade Show Booth Interactions

The success of a trade show is no longer defined by having the biggest booth or the coolest tchotchkes. It all comes down to having meaningful booth interaction, while providing value to attendees, in order to achieve the highest ROI possible.

To get the most from trade show booth interactions, there are a few things a company should consider during the planning process:

MichelinCreate an interactive experience.  Many brands are turning to interactive experiences, creative design, and cutting- edge technology to draw attendees into their booths and really stand out against competitors on the trade show floor. A great strategy for creating an interactive experience is tying technology to a demo with critical product or service information. The interactive quality of the technology with the demo will likely draw attendees in and create a memorable experience.

During the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, Michelin featured two floor simulators that allowed attendees to “become the tire.” An attendee would step onto the floor mat and place his or her hands on the dashboard to experience the road—including road vibrations, bumps, and dips—from a tire’s perspective.

Promote on-the-floor learning. A booth should not only be a spot for attendees to gather product or solution information, but brands should consider providing additional educational content that turns the booth into an educational hub. Showcase and leverage employee expertise as thought leaders with in-booth presentations and demos and/or conduct exclusive on-site Q&As from the booth.

Engage via social media. Using social media while exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to extend the reach of a brand’s on-site presence. Looking to promote a speaking session? Hosting a booth contest? Want to drive attendees to the booth? Social media provides another layer of opportunities for brands to engage with attendees. Not only is it key to leverage the official trade show hashtag for distributing content, but it’s also essential for driving engagement. Hashtags are a great way to monitor and jump into trending conversations during the trade show.

Tip: Find a balance between online activities and face-to-face engagements. You don’t want to spend too much time with your face buried in your phone.

Scan, scan, and scan some more. Capturing booth data is essential to the trade show ROI equation. Scanning leads and collecting attendee information at your booth can significantly help maximize the trade show investment.

If you’re looking to make the most of booth interactions at your next trade show, contact Martino Flynn to develop an integrated trade show marketing program for your brand. To learn more about our trade show marketing capabilities and our ideas that do more, call us at 585.421.0100 or submit an inquiry here.

A Winning Strategy: Introducing Playbooks To Your Med Device Sales Process

Physicians are busy people; often, your sales representatives will only have a few minutes to try to pitch your medical device product to a practitioner. The amount of preparation that goes into getting ready for those few minutes can mean the difference between device adoption and a complete loss of interest.

That’s why it pays to have all of the information on your products readily available—especially when you’re launching a new one. And one great way to do that is with product “playbooks.”

A playbook compiles all of the essential information on a medical device product into a comprehensive yet concise reference guide. Its basic structure incorporates these key elements:

  • Product Features and Benefits

It’s a simple fact: your sales people need to know what they’re selling. The Features and Benefits section provides a refresher—complete with diagrams and callouts—on how your product makes life easier for the practitioners who use it and, more importantly, improves patient outcomes.

  • Selling Tools and Resources

Recalling all of the stats, figures, and nitty-gritty details about a given product is nearly impossible. That’s why supplementary resources exist. This section provides a brief description of substantiating pieces that your sales team might find useful, such as: product collateral, analytical data, clinical compendiums, procedure videos, publication references, and economic benefit data. The descriptions should also include how your sales team can acquire these pieces—whether they’re available in a digital repository or need to be ordered as printed materials.

  • Competitive Overview

How does your product stack up? What does it bring to the table that comparable products can’t? This section concedes what your competition does well, and then highlights how you do it even better. Visual references and summary tables that provide an apples-to-apples comparison of features can be particularly helpful.

  • Product Demonstration Tips

Demonstrating a product correctly is critical for its future adoption. When you provide your sales team with a step-by-step guide, they’re able to provide a more accurate demonstration—and more easily coach surgeons, for example, on how to use your product. Include photographs whenever possible; also consider a link to a video demonstration that uses role-playing for additional benefit.

  • Sales Process

Yes, your salespeople already know how to sell. This section, however, outlines how to sell a particular product—complete with key selling points, what to emphasize in discussions with potential customers, and how to overcome anticipated objections. It summarizes the unique strategy and dialogue that goes along with the featured product so that your sales representatives can focus their efforts and sell more effectively.

  • Device Troubleshooting

Even though you spend years developing a foolproof product, things may go wrong when it’s in the hands of a first-time user. This section advises your sales team how to identify the root causes of potential issues, and then how to correct them.

In addition to these key elements, consider including branding and market strategy information—as well as any other support that you think might give your sales team an edge in the field.

By ensuring a consistent marketing message, a smoother launch for new products, and a more motivated sales team, playbooks have the potential to fill a crucial role in your marketing strategy.

How The Consumer Is Changing The Way People Think About Health Insurance

If you look at nearly any assessment of how the health care industry is evolving, the word “consumerism” comes up regularly. What exactly does that mean, and why does the consumer have so much power all of a sudden?

It wasn’t many years ago that nearly everyone got their health insurance from their employer, and today, nearly 60% of people still do. But even for the 60% of people who still get their insurance through their employers there is a significant shift that is occurring as employers are contributing less to their coverage, making employees more aware of the cost of their health insurance.

Let’s face it, before people make a purchase, especially one that is as expensive as the cost of health insurance, they research the product, read customer service reviews, and shop for the best price. Taking this idea into the health insurance segment is exactly what “consumerism” is all about.

So what are consumers looking for when interacting with their health insurance companies?

  • Access – to information, to doctors, to pricing. Consumers are looking for everything from transparency in pricing, in other words knowing the cost of a medical procedure before scheduling it, to a physician review.
  • Partnership – with a shift to a more holistic approach to patient care, consumers are looking for an insurer and a health system that provide collaborative treatment programs. Since patients are more financially responsible than ever before, many want to be part of the discussion before deciding on a treatment path.
  • Simplicity – information overload is not going to help consumers make any key decision; instead, it will slow them down. Clear, concise, and personalized communications will help provide the best pathway moving forward for consumers looking to purchase health insurance.

Certainly, the way that a consumer interacts with nearly all brands has changed significantly over the last 10 years and the health insurance industry is not the only industry facing this challenge. Online shopping has become the norm, and the reference to a shopping cart rarely has anything to do with a piece of equipment that is pushed around a retail store. Some consumers even order their groceries online and just pick them up at the store or have them shipped directly to their homes. So, understandably, these interactions are changing the way that consumers want to interact with all products and services that they use.

It is an exciting time to be in the health care industry, as many will agree that this new level of engagement with consumers is challenging yet refreshing! Consumers are taking responsibility for their health and are looking for insurance companies to help lead the way to a healthier lifestyle.

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