BIONEWS   July 24, 2021

Advice on Choosing an Ad Agency From an Ad Agency

Finding a tight match for your brand and an ad agency can seem like a quest for the holy grail. If you haven’t noticed, there are thousands of agencies, ranging from billion-dollar multinationals to mom-and-pop shops. Here’s what our three partners came up with to help you get it right. Finding a tight match for your brand and an ad agency can seem like a quest for the holy grail. If you haven’t noticed, there are thousands of agencies, ranging from billion-dollar multinationals to mom-and-pop shops. Here’s what our three partners came up with to help you get it right.
  1. Find the second-best agency. Perdue asked Sam McCabe, the legendary copywriter, how he should choose an agency. McCabe's advice was to ask every agency head which two agencies were best suited to handle his account. He reasoned that everyone would pick their shop for number one, so the agency that showed up the most as the second choice was the winner.
  2. Insist on seeing work by the people who will work on the account. Agencies, including us at times, can be long-in-the-tooth with their portfolios. You don't want to hire an agency based on work by the art director five art directors ago. Agency personnel turns over just as quickly as marketing directors.
  3. Hire the agency you need to succeed right now. For example, are you on the brink of marketing automation (say the next six months), or are you dreaming of it? Don't pay for more agency than you need.
  4. Find out who will handle your account day-to-day. Take the account team out to lunch. What's the chemistry like? It should be excellent because you'll be spending a lot of time in the trenches together.
  5. Give the agency your budget and ask them to spend all of it in a proposal. Otherwise, you may find yourself on an elevator to the bottom floor, where interns and junior people cobble together your website or ads. Find the agency that can give you the best value for your money instead of the one that's the cheapest. And, if you value your agency, you'll pay them well, so they'll be around next year or when you move to your next job.
  6. Ask your agency if they ever fired a client and why. You want your agency to speak truth to power, but you don't want a bunch of hotheads running your account, either.
  7. If you absolutely must ask for spec work, pay something for it – at least enough to cover expenses on a campaign or set of mock-ups. The agency will peg you as fair, and you can count on more oomph in the thinking for your business.
  8. Ask if they handle pro bono work and what their criteria are for taking a pro bono account. You'll get a read on what they value. Are they the type to walk a grandmother across the street or push her into traffic?
  9. Loyalty. Your agency should be loyal to your business and provide exclusivity in your category. You don't want the best social media program going to your competition.
  10. Skip the awards ceremony. Awards mean the agency produced excellent work according to the award show's standards. They favor hamsters and monkeys, but they're not the barometer of the agency's effectiveness. Lean on the agency attributes that will drive the results you need.
How to choose an ad agency

Keep Your Email List Healthy for Best Results Mailing

Care and Feeding of your Mailing List for Email Marketing Campaigns

We've seen things. Bad things. Ugly, gnarly, twisted spreadsheets bulging with wonky email addresses, inconsistent fields, and shocking gore. Oh, the humanity.

If you’re engaged in email marketing, you know that, in addition to emails that seize people’s attention, the recipient email list is critical. (And why wouldn’t you be using email marketing, it has the highest ROI of any digital marketing strategy!)

When your lists are full of bad addresses, people who don't know anything about your company (or even your industry!), and old enemies who hate your guts, your campaigns will suffer and suffer mightily. Because those folks aren't engaging with your emails, and they're going right into the trash unopened or even bouncing back due to crummy addresses.

Learn from the churn

Email churn is the number of people leaving your list through unsubscribing, reporting you as SPAM or an address that results in a bounce, or aged-out folks who just don't open your emails. The average churn rate is 83%, which means that 17% of your medical marketing emails are not making it into your target audience’s inboxes. We don't like that. We want every email we send to be like a birthday present from your favorite Aunty in your inbox. Like death and taxes, some churn is inevitable. But if you use these four email list best practices, you can rejuvenate your list and slow the churn to a manageable rate.

1. Keep It Clean

List hygiene, much like personal hygiene, is mandatory. Consider cleaning your list several times a year or as often as your new crop of interns allows. And if you see a spike in bounce rates, get after it right away! Cleaning your list is easy, if tedious. Remove duplicate addresses, remove, or fix addresses with typos, remove or fix invalid email addresses, and delete those addresses that bounce. People move around a lot, and things change, so cleaning up your list should be happening on the regular. Cleaner lists mean lower bounce rates, which is good. Higher bounce rates hurt your sender reputation, making it less likely your mail will be delivered except to the Spam folder. This is bad. Bad lists also result in poor analytics, so if you want higher click-through rates and opens, you’ll get a nice boost by cleaning up your list.

2. Let subscribers choose the frequency.

If you’re loaded for bear with your email marketing, let subscribers choose how often they hear from you. For some, they want to see every little thing you send out. For others, they only want to see you about as often as they see their in-laws. Not they don’t love them, but absence can make the heart grow fonder. Most major email platform offer subscriber preferences as an option.

3. Make unsubscribing easy. If people don’t want to get your emails, they’re not looking at them anyway, so there’s no reason to keep them around. Let them wave bye-bye and engage them in other ways if you still consider them a hot prospect.

4. Don’t buy lists.

Not only is it in violation of CAN-SPAM regulations, but it's also ineffective (most buyable or rentable lists are of inferior quality). And icky. Eww. If you want help getting a handle on your lists or email marketing campaigns, let us know!

Engage readers with storytelling

Are thought loops polluting your thinking?

HEADLINE: Are thought loops polluting your thinking? I have an earwig. It's the trumpet solo from the beginning of Mahler's Fifth Symphony. When I'm trying to be quiet and work, it blares through my head, and soon without noticing it, I start to sing along. It's annoying to my colleagues and me. But not all earwigs are so benign. Some people replay worrisome events, conversations, and looking backward and forward to distraction. Either way, earwigs aren't helpful to the creative process or to clear thinking. Fortunately, psychologists have developed ways that you can give your earwig the boot.

Earwig: To attempt to influence by persistent confidential argument or talk.

– The Free Dictionary

Think about something else

In what psychologist Bruce Hubbard, Ph.D., a visiting scholar at Columbia University Teacher's College and president of the New York City Cognitive Behavior Therapy Association, calls "the premier cognitive diffusion strategy." You choose a target of attention (usually the breath) to laser in on when intrusive thoughts take over.

Why, why, why?

Have a conversation with yourself about the purpose of your thoughts. When do these patterns ebb and wain? Understanding more about your earwig can help banish with the help of diffusion strategies.

Describe your earwig with a term.

I'll call mine Gustav. Says Hubbard, "take on the role of a passive observer." For example, there goes Gustav again, or Gustav is here again. Engaging with the loop will bring you back to reality and put you back in control again.

Tell us more about your earwig on Twitter @bioticahealth

Happy thoughts!

tracking the big idea

Tools to Monitor Your Brand Influence on the Internet

Are you eavesdropping on the Internet for your brand? Are people talking (or typing) about you, and if so, what are they saying? Are you involved in the conversation? Because you should be. And they can be a great window into how your current healthcare marketing campaign is going.

Here are three tools you can use to aid you in your monitoring.

First, make sure you sign up for Google Alerts for your brand names, keywords, and any other subject that might be germane to your marketing efforts (like the competition!) Google Alerts is free (hooray!) and notifies you via email when the words you establish are mentioned on other websites. For example, suppose you've selected the keyword/s cataract surgery. In that case, you'll get alerts when those keywords show up on the Internet, like a news article on an Ophthalmology website about new techniques in cataract surgery. Keep your keyword specific, so your inbox isn't inundated with alerts.

You can customize the service in various ways, including frequency, kind of sites to keep an eye out for, and the type of information you want to receive. Also, did I mention it was free?

For something more robust (and, of course, it comes with a price tag), Talkwalker is a potent tool that provides insights into what’s going on with your brand in online media and across social media channels.

If you’re a consumer-facing company that’s prone to customer complaints in online forums, a tool like this can save your bacon by helping you react quickly. Talkwalker can also help you spot trending stories on your brand and in your industry as they're happening. Plus, it provides tools to help you measure the impact of your social media campaigns, identify influencers for your brand, and provides all the training you'll need to take advantage of all those features.

Another choice is Mention which also helps you monitor key terms across various sources, including news articles, reviews, and blogs. Mention lets you analyze data and determine trends to help with your planning. And speaking of planning, you can use Mention to schedule and publish your social media posts right from the platform. Mention has many plans to choose from, whether you're a medical device manufacturing megalith or a start-up with a fantastic innovative healthcare solution, there's something that will fit the bill.

And if your Social Media Strategy or Public Relations Strategy is to hire someone to take care of all that stuff for you, get in touch.

brand monitoring

To Approve or Not to Approve?

  1. Approving copy, concept, or a video can be a heart-wrenching moment. What if they (my boss, my subordinates, my wife, my rabbi) don't like it? If you haven't experienced this anxiety, you're just not human. Fortunately, there are systematic ways to evaluate creative. This is how we do it at Biotica.
  2. We commence the meeting with a reading of the strategy. If you've done it right, it shouldn't take more than a minute. How does the work stack up?
  3. Do the main visuals and headlines communicate the message without additional support?
  4. Is the layout clean and free of superfluous elements, like your seal from the Chamber of Commerce?
  5. Will the idea itself separate your brand and product from the competition. For example, water splashed is a tired metaphor for contact lens solutions. The look of the communication should be ownable – the layout, colors, the message. “Me, too” work will not advance your cause.
  6. Ask yourself if the creative will provoke a strong response from your audience. Will they laugh, cry, rush to your website, and share it with others. If your gut says yes, that’s a good sign.
  7. Does the work “sound” like your brand, and does it build on previous work? Without standards and strategy, it’s difficult to make the impression necessary to stick in the memory of your audience.
  8. Can you afford to produce it? Does the idea require elaborate photo shoots, animation, costumes? But falling in love isn’t the same as paying for it. You should receive a rough budget when the work is presented to you.
  9. Don't be afraid to say no and send the crestfallen creatives back to work. It's okay to be a little scared. Good work should challenge the audience and you. And before you deep-six anything, consider the cost of not being heard.

Is Corporate Activism Good Marketing Strategy or Bad Politics?

Corporate Activism. Good Marketing Strategy or Bad Politics? It’s generally agreed that companies should be in the business of doing good in the communities where they are located and from where they draw their employees. Large companies like Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly have full-bodied foundations to plan and manage their corporate giving. And most mom-and-pop shops I’ve known give back to their communities in at least equal proportion, in ways like sponsoring little league teams and donating to every little local fundraiser that comes a-knockin’. But lately, we've seen something different. Some Brands are taking stands that many deem "political." Think Nike giving voice to Colin Kaepernick in a series of ads or the Black Rifle Coffee Company selling a coffee roast supporting Blue Lives Matter. Conventional wisdom in the public relations community has usually been philanthropy good, but keep the politics on the down-low. "Get woke, go broke" is a common refrain bandied about in PR circles. But is it true? Nike saw an increase in sales with the Kaepernick campaign. And Ben & Jerry’s has never been shy about wearing their politics on their ice cream scoop, and they continue to grow, come up with new flavors, and shout their opinions into the maw of the current zeitgeist. So, what's the answer? Well, that depends on the company, the brand, and your risk tolerance. Is the strategy in line with core brand values? And how's your ability to ride the bucking broncos of public outcry, calls for boycotts, and your brand name being dragged through the muck on social media. As with any marketing strategy, you must weigh the upside against the downside. There is something said for being willing to put yourself out there. Companies distinguish themselves by taking chances and standing by their values. Think long term, not short term. Think chess, not checkers. We can help you weigh the rewards and risks of any marketing strategy or corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. Contact us here.
lessons from the Stoic

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