“Sometimes the most effective isn’t necessarily the sexiest,” stated Dave Chaney, senior vice president for Lam-Andrews, a healthcare marketing and public relations agency based in Nashville.
Chaney went on to explain that it’s important to remember the audience when crafting not only the marketing message but also the delivery method. The first step in the process, he continued, is to sit down with company officials to assess where the organization is in terms of brand awareness, what their message is regarding products and services, what customers they are targeting, and what that audience needs to hear.
“Every single company is different, therefore every approach has to be custom,” he said. No matter how big or successful an organization, he continued, “Everybody is dealing with a limited budget. They want to make sure the dollars they are investing are effective for them.”
Chaney said Lam-Andrews tries to meet clients where they are and proceed from there with a mix of marketing tactics to support the client’s overall objectives. A start-up, he noted, must have a web presence but doesn’t necessarily need a $50,000 website right off the bat. Similarly, social media might or might not be the best investment for a specific client, particularly one focused on business-to-business (B2B) marketing.
“B2B is so much different than providers going after patients,” said Chaney. “A lot of B2B companies don’t frankly need the fan engagement that a lot of more retail-oriented companies gain from social media.” In fact, he continued, “Creating a social media presence and campaign may divert attention away from something that might be more effective.”
Chaney isn’t opposed to social media at all and often incorporates new media into an integrated campaign. However, he cautioned, “It’s got to make sense as part of the overall strategy. Even with B2B companies … and maybe especially with B2B companies … the tendency is to say ‘we’ve got to do this because everyone else is.’ That’s not the right approach. Consider it, it can be very effective … but does it support what you’re trying to achieve?”
He added that even in B2B marketing, social media might be the best solution if trying to reach a younger audience. If, however, a client is targeting C-suite employees, the often slightly older audience might better be reached through direct mail or email, with presence at a tradeshow, or by sponsoring an event.
There is a broad mix of delivery tools available. A website is an absolute must these days. “If you can’t be found online, you’re not going to be found,” Chaney stated emphatically. Other options include direct mail, tradeshow materials, advertising in niche publications, collateral print materials for sales support, public relations efforts, online advertising, social media and video clips. “Video has become huge. It can be a repository for content that you want to push out to different audiences,” he noted.
“And you can’t forget internal communications either. Employees need to be kept in the loop about communications so they can help ensure that brand consistency,” he added.
Chaney said businesses with a specific geographic reach might also look at traditional print ads and outdoor ads. One way to integrate more traditional approaches with newer, interactive options is through the use of QR codes, which are scan codes for smart phones. “It’s such a no-brainer because they really don’t cost any extra,” Chaney said of adding the call to action, which redirects the person scanning the code to a site with additional information. “It’s easy to monitor and measure,” he continued. “If you set up a specific landing page, you can see how many people scanned the code and went to that page by looking at the web page analytics.”
No matter what delivery tools are ultimately deemed to be most effective, it’s critical for clients to be intentional in their B2B efforts with a good grasp of who their audience is and what they need to hear to make a decision. “The most important element of successfully creating an integrated campaign is to make sure all elements work efficiently together,” Chaney said. “It’s got to be consistent so the audience recognizes the brand.”
Chaney concluded, “The marketing is successful if it opens the door to the meeting. In the end, it’s got to translate into more leads.”