Published by Jane Cirigliano, May 14th, 2015
Digital marketing platforms give companies the opportunity to increase their productivity and reach by incorporating everything from CRM systems, web content management, email marketing, social interactions, website traffic, online advertising and more under one "roof."
The major advantage of a digital marketing platform is the ability to see all of your marketing programs side-by-side. It's easier to compare ROI and determine what drives your clicks, engagements, leads and sales. You can tell what is working for your company at-a-glance, and you can make better business decisions based on what you see.
If you are unsure whether a digital marketing platform would help you grow your business, ask yourself these questions:
- Can I tell if my marketing efforts are paying off (and which programs are the most profitable)?
- How much effort do I have to put into tracking my targeted programs?
- Do I want to automate any of my marketing campaigns?
- Do I want to simplify my reporting process?
- How many different places do I have to go to analyze customer behavior (Google Analytics, email software, CRM, etc.)?
- Am I notified when a customer or prospect returns to my website, opens an email or places an order?
If you want to move to a digital marketing platform, there are several out-of-the-box solutions available. We have experience with most of them at OffWhite, but we seldom recommend them for our clients. Why not? Our reasons are two-fold.
- When you purchase software that was built with a specific application in mind and then commercialized for the masses, customization is typically cumbersome. If your needs are specialized, building a custom system may actually be more cost effective for you. Think square peg, round hole.
- Large companies don't always understand - or relate to - the needs of small- to medium- sized businesses. Big box solutions come with a hefty price tag. To realize the full value of the software, which is often more complex than what an SMB truly needs, your company may need to hire a programmer and a strategist to run the system. You end up paying for features you can't even use becuase the software is one size fits all.
So what do we look for?
- Systems that are open source - you have access to the code, and it can be altered to meet your specific needs.
- Individual solutions that provide exactly what you need and have APIs available so they can be integrated with other tools (Google Analytics is a good example).
- Opportunities to build something unique that will solve a problem for a company.
Creating a unique solution is exactly what we did 13 years ago when we built the first version of our Ed.it software. It's evolved a lot since then, morphing into a full Digital Marketing Platform. The original concept remains the same: building and customizing a software solution to meet each client's specific needs. From website content and email marketing to social media and analytics, the Ed.it2 Digital Marketing Platform can be customized and scaled to meet any need.
Published by Bill White , May 1st, 2015
I’ve often told my students and our clients that we don’t sell perfume. That’s just selling hope.
But last week I had chance to watch hope being sold, delivered and devoured. On Sunday, April 19, 2015, the exhibit hall opened at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
After a morning of walking the aisles, the intensity of this conference was revealed to me in an obscure corner of a food court above Reading Station where we escaped the exhibit floor to dine on overpriced salads and sip overpriced water. At the table next to us were two oncologists, oblivious to the lunch crowd, reviewing a case that had one puzzled and the other mesmerized. Before you call the HIPAA police, nothing about the patient was disclosed. And I really wasn’t eavesdropping. But here, in the middle of the day, two doctors from two different parts of the world were zeroed in on one patient with a rare form of cancer that demanded an audience.
These two physicians shared images as they threw ideas across the table. The only language I understood was their body language. They could have been having the same discussion in the middle of I-95 with the same focus and sense of purpose.
Today, back to their home bases, they are likely commiserating on the case that may lead to a better understanding of what might work just because they agreed on what wasn’t working.
The AACR meeting was an intersection of ideas, theories, peer reviewed outcomes and peer reviewed false starts. It was interplay of educated guesses, hunches and politics; after all, what is the chase for grant money without politics? It would be cynical to suggest these researchers work in a vacuum, more interested in science than money. There was enough entrepreneurial spirit in the exhibit hall to confirm that finding a cure for cancer would dish an economic tsunami from Wall Street around the world and back. Not all good. I will leave that cynicism for another time.
A sad byproduct of the AACR conference was meeting scientists who were presenting their last research, defending their work via a last poster session, slipping into the job fair and tucking their vanity and egos into a place that would permit them to do something . . . anything . . . to stay in the game.
For many generations the United States has led the way in government funding for primary research into cancer, a public policy boost that has given rise to hundreds of start-ups through commercialization or license agreements. Today, this funding is under enormous stress. Humanity prefers to burn down the farm and behead our hopes for the future. As always, it’s the war on cancer vs. the war on everything else. Guns and butter.
A quick look at the National Cancer Institute Fact Book reveals funding through NCI grants and research contracts leveling out and trending down over the last few years. There’s no need to perform an economic analysis of the interplay between federal funding and corporate or private equity investments in the pharma sector; it is clear that the entire equation, suitably driven by money, is undergoing changes that scientists doing basic research find hard to predict. As the weak look for jobs, the strong collect more post-docs to run their labs and the wheel goes round.
Supporting this ballet are the businesses that line the exhibit hall with new products and services that literally boggle the mind. Analytical instrumentation is more powerful than ever and the ability to see what has never been viewed on the molecular level puts another weapon into play. The war on cancer is being fought with statistics.
The public and private collaboration that steers equity capital and competitive efficiencies to and from brilliant scientists has become a core business model for some companies who find success through mutual benefit. In the spirit of the free-enterprise system, perhaps this is the perfume we need to wear, the perfume that leads us to hold hands.
There’s nothing more powerful than a scientist with a vision, the will to sacrifice for it, the strength to fight for it and the means to pursue it within an environment of open discourse among peers. With today’s light-speed communications, what happens at The James Cancer Research Center in Columbus in the afternoon can be the talk of the town in Singapore by daybreak.
The scientists are mostly anonymous, deep thinkers. But don’t let them fool you. They’re working hard, always talking, texting and creeping out of their own skin a few times a year to share ideas face-to-face over an overpriced salad, sipping overpriced water.
They also bring gifts, better than perfume. What I saw in Philadelphia was more than hope. I saw a fistfight for a fistful of dollars played out over research posters tacked to the wall with push pins and a Hail Mary. On the drive home I realized that I saw a cure for cancer in the making.
It’s on the way. I can smell it.
Published by Bill White , February 26th, 2015
In Early February I took a walk through the Global Center for Health Innovation, part of the Cleveland Convention Center. This facility is one of its kind in the world, an interactive showroom of healthcare innovation, technology, education and commerce, all supported with wide open spaces, hands-on programs, virtual presentations and an epic view of the Cleveland skyline. While on-site I met a technician who was sprucing up a display area in advance of a film shoot over the weekend.
I’m not sure what the movie will be about or who will be starring in it; perhaps a futuristic tale in a glass walled emporium, Terminal Tower in the background, with the Cleveland Indians battling evil and the curve ball with light sabers while sausage mascots race about the room.
During the course of our discussion the technician was wiping down a European-manufactured fume hood. Great piece of equipment, he said, real classy engineering, like a Mercedes. More expensive on the front end, but a real bargain overall.
How so, I asked?
Well, he said, one of the leading USA brands next to it sells for about ten grand. This European version is thirteen. But this cheaper American hood sucks more air out of the lab, which means more heating and air conditioning wasted into outer space (where the light sabers actually function, I thought). The European product costs less to operate, he added. Way less.
I know there are some wonderful, high-efficiency hoods produced here in the USA; this wasn't one of them. So, I asked, reaching deep and righteously into my sustainability suitcase, the difference should be easy to measure and the payback should be easy to calculate. An easy sell to a smart architect or lab planner, yes?
No, he said. That’s what’s so pathetic. We showed them the numbers; payback on the purchase cost differential was a little over a year based on their own HVAC calculations. But they wouldn’t budge. They bought the cheap ones, a hundred of them, saved three hundred grand on the acquisition price and stuck the facility managers with an operating cost differential of more than a million and a half dollars over the next six years. The folks paying the bills down the road are in for a rude awakening. It’s a disconnect and a waste.
Who made the decision, I asked. The architect, he said. Didn’t you make the case for total life cycle cost differences, I asked? Sure, but you know what they told me? They said it “wasn’t their job”. Their job was to bring the project in on time and on budget, nothing more.
This conversation irritated me like a blown save after a two run lead.
Not their job, I questioned? Whose job is it to save a research institution a mil and a half over six years?
Hell if I know, he said, but until these research folks here in the USA start managing resources like the Europeans, we’ll continue to see ignorant purchasing decisions made by smart people who simply don’t talk to one another. In this case, that million and a half should have been plowed back into research instead of exhausted through the roof. It’s like – you know – they’re not even thinking.
This wasn’t news to me. But hearing it from a dude wiping down a piece of sheet metal in advance of a photo shoot reinforced a reality – again - that marketing is about building and communicating a value proposition far beyond the obvious, far beyond the purchase price, and deep into the ninth inning.
For me, marketing is education. One of the greatest assets we can create for a client is a smart customer. Conversely, smart customers make our clients better.
Consider this. From home to first base is a 90-foot sprint. For those of you who dress in pink shirts and run the 10k and feel good about it, perhaps it’s time to send a message to the folks who spend your money. Research is not a sprint to first, it’s a marathon. We expect you to work together and invest wisely. This is the key to efficiency in the marketplace.
Efficiency means that over time one obscure product that sucks too much heating and air conditioning into the ozone layer will suck less. The Americans are getting more efficient every day and leading the way in innovation. Over time the Europeans will find a way to reduce their price. Over time those research dollars we drip like sweat into medical research through 10k’s, marathons and baseball promotions with pink bats and sausage races will end up where they belong. And where is that, you ask? Well, it’s not such a good place in baseball but in the lab, it’s golden - on the bench.
I won't disclose the architect, the facility or the state where this project occurred. My thoughts are directed to the lab managers, facility managers, service technicians, architects, specifiers, contractors, CFOs, researchers and others who want a piece of our pink ribbon contributions but think they live in silos: Cut it out.
Talk to one another. Have some meetings. Find a perch high enough, even if it’s in the cheap seats, so you can see the big picture, shift the defense, define the problem, sniff out some rebates, identify the savings and map the solution. Do the right thing. Let’s find the cure.
You can make a great save. Don’t blow it.
Published by Jane Cirigliano, February 20th, 2015
Business partnerships drive all parties involved to be better. They encourage trust and collaboration. When you partner with another company, you gain new skill sets and the opportunity to mentor others.
Two recent partnerships in the search engine world are affecting the strategies we employ in Search Engine Optimization and social media.
Yahoo and Firefox
In November 2014, Firefox announced it would be ending a 10-year partnership with Google, and Yahoo would become the browser's new default search engine in the U.S. As a result of this partnership, Yahoo has already improved its search user experience with insights from Firefox. The contract mentions "other" joint ventures over the next five years.
Over the past few months, we have watched as Yahoo's traffic on websites we manage has increased. Google traffic hasn't taken as large a hit as one might expect, but there is a noticeable difference.
This partnership has serious ramifications for anyone investing in SEO. Where once the largest focus was on Google rankings, Yahoo has honed in on a larger market share, escalating the need to appear on Yahoo search results. If your organic traffic has been down since the holidays, compare your Google and Yahoo sourced visitors to find out if this new partnership is affecting your web traffic.
Google and Twitter
Twitter announced earlier this month that the social network will partner with Google to bring tweets back into search results. Twitter will give Google access to its feed of data, and Twitter's advertisers will gain more coverage with non-Twitter users via Google. By the way, Twitter already has similar deals in place with Yahoo and Bing to display tweets on their search engines.
So what does this mean for businesses? Real-time information is going to have a more prominent place in search results. We've already seen this with Google+ results and previous social network deals (i.e. Twitter and Google from 2009-2011).
If you are not actively posting on social media, especially Twitter, you are missing an opportunity to reach more potential buyers. You must post strategically and often, choosing keywords carefully to tie into your SEO program.
Why Partnerships Matter
As seen in the two examples above, the way that we do business, market our products and services, and reach our prospects is constantly evolving. Not only do new innovations, technologies and tools change the way we communicate with our customers, but also outside forces alter the way we do business.
Do you need a partner who can help you navigate this constantly-changing environment to keep you in front of your customer base?
Published by Bill White , February 3rd, 2015
On February 28, 1953, Cambridge University researchers James Watson and Francis Crick presented to the scientific community their cardboard model of the double-helix. It marked the first three-dimensional expression of a secret – the secret of life. Watson and Crick articulated an insight and discovery that revolutionized the understanding of molecular biology. They introduced the concept of the Central Dogma which set the stage for the life sciences industry we now serve.
Fast forward. In 1978, while making a sales call with my boss on Dr. Cesar Milstein at his Cambridge University laboratory in the UK, he led us to the lab down the hall where Watson and Crick worked. Later, Dr. Milstein walked us through a fundamental explanation of his work on fusing cells into hybridomas; these would form tiny factories which manufactured antibodies. The industry would call them monoclonal antibodies.
Years later, I’ve come to value even more my encounter with Dr. Milstein who, in 1984, shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine with Niels Kaj Jerne and Georges J. F. Köhler. While their team worked in relative obscurity, the outcome of their research turbocharged a revolution in genetic engineering that continues to generate exponential progress in drug discovery and development. My contribution was nothing; I simply helped calibrate one of his cell culture incubators. It was sort of like putting air in the footballs.
But our support of his work, and the work of countless others laboring as bench techs, post-doc researchers or primary investigators, has always brought me back to a comforting but awesome reality: What we do in product innovation, development, manufacturing and marketing has value. What we do matters to the world.
As marketers, we work hard to shape messages designed to educate people who have waded far deeper into biological weeds than those of us with economics degrees. Our job in marketing is to help our clients deliver solutions. The joy of serving the life science market - and those who, in turn, serve life scientists - is that we are a substrate upon which the real creators do their work. These are the anonymous imagineers and molecular biologists such as Watson, Crick and Milstein who must rely on dependable, repeatable performance from a conglomeration of sheet metal, controllers and flashing lights. After all, if we can't sell it, what does it matter?
As Crick set forth, his Central Dogma drives an imagination engine. In his case, it was the thread that ties together DNA, RNA and proteins. While they wired the building, Milstein and his team turned on the power.
In our case, our Central Dogma is the thread that connects our understanding of technology, a sense of why it’s important, what it means to the research at hand, and the effort it takes to place it into context. Our job is to make sure customers are informed and educated. Our responsibility is to not leave them guessing about what to buy based on an offer of a free toaster or dinner after the exhibits close. Those days are over.
Our Central Dogma of marketing is as basic as the nucleic acid sequence in DNA, transcribed into RNA and articulated in the form of proteins. After all, with Watson and Crick illuminating a life code so nearly perfect, and seeing how it worked for Dr. Milstein, should we not follow nature and copy the sequence as well?
Here it is: Understand. Establish context. Articulate value. Educate.
We think it’s a good sell.
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