Guest Post By Hans Wernke, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Inhance Digital
A few things interactive agencies should do (more of) in 2013
Since the year 2013 is well underway, and there are already plenty ‘Things to expect in 2013’ lists available online, I thought I’d spend some thoughts not so much on the things that will happen, but those that should happen. Or, rather, should be happening already.
For us interactive agencies, there is nothing wrong with our constant quest for the latest awesome technologies to help create that wow-factor our clients like to talk about. First, because it pleases our inner geek, and, second, because it helps us identify new opportunities to address our clients’ challenges. However, in our efforts to find the next great thing, we run the risk of overlooking the fundamental requirements that ultimately make the difference between success and failure. Let me share some thoughts on what we have learned over the years.
To be clear, I do not profess to offer anything groundbreaking in this article. I freely admit that there is a certain ‘duh!’ quality to most of the ideas presented here. But sometimes, there is a disconnect between what we all know is the right way to do things, and what is actually done.
Make it purposeful
While interactive technology offers great potential, it also poses a bit of a challenge. It is not always easy to balance the excitement about new gadgets with a healthy focus on practicality. How many companies have rushed to the market with a cool iPad app, just to find out that the audience doesn’t see the value? And how often do we see an interactive solution go under-utilized because it is disconnected from the broader brand message and booth design, or because the concept is not aligned with the specific audience? It is important that we look at each solution as a vehicle, not the endpoint.
Make it measurable
It is hardly a revelation that our clients want the outcomes of their customer engagements to be measurable. What has been a revelation, though, is how often this is merely an afterthought in the planning process. As a result, companies often walk away with no more data than the number of people who showed up at the booth (in the event of tradeshow exhibits), and the number of leads they were able to generate. Aside from the fact that the definition of ‘lead’ often leaves much to be desired, there is much more valuable data to be gathered during and after the engagement to measure the Return on Engagement or Return on Investment. With the significant investments made in tradeshows and other promotional engagements, it is not just imperative for companies to understand how many people they spoke with, but who they were, why they came, what they looked for, where they spent their time (and, where not), whether they are current or prospective clients and how we can stay in touch with them after the initial contact.
While it is up to the clients to define success and, as such, what they would like to measure, it is up to the interactive agency to provide the tools to measure the actual performance.
Make it scalable
When considering a multimedia/interactive asset, clients will most likely want the content to run on a touchscreen for tradeshows, an iPad for sales meetings, online for the harder-to-reach customers, and ideally also on a PC in the event not all reps have been set up with iPads yet. This means that no matter what solution we aim for, even if its initial use is just for tradeshows, it should always be developed with a clear focus on what other environments it will be used in.
Make it flexible
Clients understand that when it comes to interactive solutions, there are some things better left to the agency that developed the solution. While functional changes, design changes or significant content updates should probably be managed by the agency, clients often prefer to make minor changes to the content or the way information is structured in-house. This means that our solutions need to offer companies the ability to make minor changes at any time, or to sort the content differently for specific audiences. Some clients may just want a simple file manager, while others may need a sophisticated content management system. Regardless, if you can’t offer a simple, intuitive way for your clients to make simple changes, they will find someone else who can.
Make it stick
Interactivity is a great way to have people participate in a promotional experience, whether at a tradeshow or other event. But, in the case of an exhibit, the true success of the event is not just measured by what happens at the show, but what happens afterwards. Make sure that your interactive solutions facilitate post-congress engagement with your key targets. For example, by allowing visitors to request eLiterature (“Click here if you would like to receive a copy of this paper”). Or by providing a map of local company representatives (click on your region to find your local representative. Check the box if you would like to receive a follow-up visit”).
In other words…
As interactive agencies, we have an important role to play in the success of our clients’ promotional engagements. But, our work adds value only when its purpose, design, structure and output makes it the perfect fit in the broader marketing puzzle.
Today’s guest blog post is by Hans Wernke, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Inhance Digital. Hans is an experienced marketer and business development leader, with more than 8 years of experience in the field of medical communications. As Vice President, Business Development, Biomedical Division, he helps pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies optimize their communications with healthcare professionals through a broad range of strategic and tactical interactive marketing solutions. With his focus on quality and innovation, Hans has become a trusted resource for clients looking to effectively manage the intersection between technology and scientific communications.
Hans holds a B.A. in Education from Hogeschool Holland in Amsterdam, and prior to moving to the US, worked for more than 8 years in training and development.