In a pharmaceutical industry landscape that’s constantly changing, branding has never been more important. A strong brand can help you maintain your target audience, provide a competitive edge in a crowded industry, and produce growth. In 2016, after some award-winning digital initiatives and pharma PR “firsts,” my team and I updated our brand to reflect our status as difference-makers in the digital world.
New branding has heightened awareness of our capabilities, mission, and culture in our target audience—becoming a much stronger brand, without much added cost. If your brand needs an update, this is a great time to do it. Once you go through the rebranding process, you are ready to strengthen your position through brand promotion. We do that by promoting our updated brand in a strategy that employs multiple channels to position us for enduring strength—whether the market is calm or volatile. I hope that by sharing these strategies and some insider tips, I can help you strengthen your brand.
Refresh Your Social Media Platforms
With 73.4% of Internet users following a brand due to interest in a product or service, it only makes sense to use social media to enhance your brand. For example, we maintain an active social presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Each platform lends itself to different objectives for the company, making it difficult to choose which social platforms are right for your brand. Some tips:
- Facebook is the mothership of social media platforms. With over 1.8 billion monthly users, its audience attracts people of all ages, which allows you to tailor content and advertise to your target demographic. You can strengthen your brand on Facebook by creating a unified appearance in your profile and cover photo, highlighting your services, and providing a clear call to action, such as “Call Now.”
- Instagram focuses on visual moments, lending itself to images of your team and your clients, branded wear, and infographics. Instagram is composed of a younger demographic (majority ages 18-29), which means you should use a different content strategy than you choose for Facebook for the best results. The perfect mix for a quality Instagram feed is beautiful visuals, authentic content, and a delicate combination of targeted hashtags.
- Twitter is best for sharing industry news and interacting with other leaders. For instance, we boost trade show presence and tout industry events by using and following the specific event hashtags. This allows us to connect with the people attending the event. If you have a news release or appear in any publications, share those on Twitter.
- Lastly, LinkedIn is a great platform for connecting with other businesses and recruiting potential new hires. If you’re promoting B2B, then LinkedIn is where you should be putting your ad money to target specific businesses and their employees. Compare this capability to Facebook, which can only target people in your specified workplaces if they have expressed interest in the industry and list their job titles, which can be vague. LinkedIn is also the place to promote company news—an anniversary or award. Twitter and LinkedIn can go hand-in-hand to disseminate information about your business. LinkedIn followers will interact in a congratulatory manner, whereas Twitter followers will be more likely to retweet information, reaching a larger audience.
Craft Engaging Content
The most important aspect of any social page is the content. To create content that engages your target audience and boosts your brand, first you’ll have to define exactly who that is. Ask yourself: Who uses my product or service? What does the ideal patient/consumer care about? What information do they want from me? Once you identify your ideal target consumer, you can determine what platforms your demographics are likely to use.
When creating content for any platform, stick with short, sweet, and to-the-point messages. Posts with streamlined messages and paired with a call to action are sure to get engagement and encourage web traffic.
I interact with the company’s social channels through shares and retweets to my own personal channels to boost our brand. I also use the hashtag #pcviews (the company’s hashtag) when creating my own content relevant to the brand. Not only does this help me develop my own personal brand in conjunction with the company’s brand, but it helps people put a face to the company, too.
Advertising on social media is significantly more cost efficient than advertising on traditional media. With Facebook’s easy-to-use advertising platform, you can readily sponsor content on your own—and learn how to effectively boost a post.
Build on “Real World” Events
We’ve found immense success in enhancing our brand in the offline “real world” with earned media, industry awards, and branded holiday gifts. When featured in industry publications, it raises our profile as thought leaders and impresses current and potential clients. Leveraging editorial calendars, identify opportunities for team members to author articles for a variety of publications. It is mutually beneficial for both you and the publications, which are always looking for relevant, high-quality content.
Industry awards can complement earned media and bring a higher credibility to your organization. Award wins validate the strength of your skills, dedication, and leadership among your peers and potential clients. Look for awards that have the potential to give your company another level of credibility. Also, brand holiday gifts. People love getting packages in the mail with branded hoodies, tote bags, and car fresheners. I include a card asking recipients to post a picture to social media with their branded swag and hashtag #pcviews.
These brand-building strategies—earned media, industry award wins, and images of branded holiday gifts—can all be easily repurposed for social media, websites, and corporate presentations.
Updated branding is often used to get new clients and connections, but it is worth making the effort to convey your enhanced brand to existing connection. By sharing your excitement, you’ll be giving these people a bit of the behind-the-scenes view and nurturing relationships.
Never underestimate the power of face-to-face meetings with your connections, particularly clients. Being a virtual agency, our team communicates with clients through email and phone, which are great tools for sharing information and keeping projects moving, but holding only follow-up, in-person meetings help to:
- Reach everyone. Social media is a great way to reach social media users. But in-person meetings help us ensure that we are reaching everyone. Connect with people whose relationships we value, but who very well may not follow our social media channels. We also connect with those who do follow us through various channels in another, more personal way.
- Build trust and knowledge. When sitting down with clients to establish shared goals and priorities, do it in person instead of through a conference call. We have candid conversations and get to know each other. We convey honesty, expertise, and dedication, and can sense when ideas are greeted enthusiastically or fall flat. Be open, interested learners, who ask questions. For instance, part of our brand is working as an extension of the client’s team, so these in-person connections and knowledge-building moments are essential.
- Collaborate. Meeting in-person offers opportunities for collaboration that cannot be achieved via phone or email. You can get a lot done on a client’s social media strategy, including brainstorming content ideas and collecting sources, and leave a collaborative meeting with a great deal of work accomplished. Again, these interactions continue to build relationships.
To keep your brand at the top of people’s minds, reach out to connect via social media, so they will get your updates. You can also send a quarterly newsletter to keep past and potential clients and partners up-to-date on current activities and capabilities. Like social media content, newsletter content needs to be engaging, so include a combination of video clips, blurbs, infographics, and images. Send shout-outs to clients, highlight accomplishments, feature team members pursuing their passions, and cover industry-relevant PR topics.
Amp Up Visibility and Networking
Updated branding nurtures your current connections, can help you raise your company’s visibility, and build new connections. Even people who have seen your company before may respond to your new branding, perhaps by becoming more aware of your capabilities.
For me, networking opportunities frequently arise from being involved in industry organizations. I am currently the president of OWL: Advancing Diversity in Leadership, an organization that aims to promote and develop diverse leadership to advance ophthalmic innovation and patient care. Over the years, I have formed connections with other members of the organization who have become my mentors, friends, and even clients.
But to take networking to the next level, secure speaking engagements at industry events. Through these events, you can share your knowledge and expertise with a roomful of industry folks, while building your brand and confidence in your leadership.
In both certain and uncertain times, the kind of broad-based approach we take to building brands helps ensure continued growth. You don’t need to jump feet-first into these tools and strategies. Just develop a strategy that feels right for your company and build from there if and when you need to. Whatever approach you choose, make all of your efforts at brand promotion match your carefully crafted brand, so every connection with your audience is authentic and productive and helps meet your all-important goals.
York, A. (2017, February 27). “47 Social Media Statistics to Bookmark for 2017.” Retrieved January 9, 2018, from https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-statistics.
Cricks, M. (2017, February 2). “The Power of Facebook Advertising Just Got Better.” Retrieved December 20, 2017, https://annenberg.usc.edu/communication/digital-social-media-ms/dsm-today/power-facebook-advertising-just-got-better.