This interview with Joe Hage provides insight into the discipline that underlies highly effective marketing.
There are many tricks and tips for marketing success, but most of us quickly get frustrated when what we try doesn’t yield results or doesn’t yield results fast enough. In fact, those tricks often work for great marketers because these folks are strategic in their approach, tireless in their experimentation, quick to bounce back from failure, and relentlessly honest with themselves and with their clients.
For the past six years, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with a leader in the marketing field, Joe Hage of Medical Marcom. I’ve seen Joe work with the CEOs of established international companies and the founders of small businesses and business organizations. I’ve seen Joe harness the power of the ever-changing field of social media (including communities and crowd sourcing) and get down in the trenches to drive traditional marcom projects like rebranding, conferences, and collateral.
If you’re in marketing and looking to improve your game, check out this interview with Joe on MedGadget (he’s currently focusing his work on the medical device industry, where marketing is a very high-stakes game).
If you’re outside the field and think marketing is a lot of fluff, this interview will give you an insight into the discipline and thought that underlies highly effective marketing. (You’ll also see some highly effective marketing at work in Joe’s answers to the interview questions. But of course.)
How much should you expect to pay a freelance writer to do a case study or testimonial?
Nothing brings more credibility to a B2B website than detailed case studies and testimonials from customers about how a product or service benefitted them.
Just about every company I’ve done work for has asked me to interview a major client and craft a testimonial for marketing purposes. Before I start the work, they ask me what it’s going to cost. After six years of tackling these projects, I finally have an answer:
“Five hours of my time for a great case study or four hours of my time for no case study at all.”
I can explain with — what else? — a case study of two testimonial projects.
Case Study #1: Company A and their client WidgetSoft
Company A’s project got off to a great start. Even before they contacted me, their VP of sales called the CEO of WidgetSoft and asked if we could get a testimonial from their head of IT. The WidgetSoft CEO agreed.
Company A’s VP sent me
background on their product
the history of the relationship between the two companies
phone numbers for the IT folks WidgetSoft.
I studied the materials, set up two phone interviews (mentioning the CEO’s agreement when I called), conducted the interviews, and wrote a draft. After Company A reviewed my draft, I sent a revised version over to WidgetSoft for review, along with a request for a photo of Company A’s product in use at WidgetSoft. When the draft came back, I incorporated their comments and changes and submitted the final version to Company A — along with a bill for 5 hours of my time.
Case Study #2: Company B and their client Gadgetron
Company B’s PR person called me to say that one of their salespeople had a buyer at Gadgetron who just loved Company B’s product. They wanted me to write a testimonial after talking with the exuberant salesperson and his customer.
I set about contacting the Company B salesperson, with repeated emails and phone messages. A week later, he got back to me with
links to background on their product
some numbers on how many units they’d sold to Gadgetron at various times over an unspecified period
a phone number for the IT buyer at Gadgetron.
I studied the materials and called the number. Sure enough, the IT folks at Gadgetron did indeed love Company B’s product. But the buyer’s numbers for how many products they’d purchased were considerably lower than the numbers from Company B. I also found out, at the end of the 30-minute interview, that Gadgetron’s PR department does not let employees endorse products, so I couldn’t quote any of the nice things the buyer told me. When I reported all this back to the Company B PR woman, she said “Well, can’t you write something?”
It was downhill from there. I called the Gadgetron PR guy, who’d never heard of Company B. He said I needed to send him all of my interview questions and he’d see if he could get an executive to comment. Emails went back and forth, and eventually he sent a feeble quote to the effect that “Gadgetron believes that every company needs to buy products such as those made by Company B and other companies.” A photo? Get real.
By now, the PR person at Company B was impatient and exasperated. She sent me the original email from the salesperson, full of vague claims and what I now knew to be overstated numbers, and suggested that based on that I should be able to write some sort of case study. When I suggested that she ask the VP of sales at Company B to call one of the executives at Gadgetron, her response was that she couldn’t “bother” the VP of sales with “that sort of thing.” They’d hired me because I write testimonials, she noted, so why hadn’t I written one? With a sigh, I emailed her the name of her PR counterpart at Gadgetron — along with an invoice for the four hours of my time spent failing to write her testimonial.
The Bottom Line
If the second scenario above sounds familiar, it’s time to make some changes. If you’re the PR person, take a lesson from Company A (or, better yet, look for a job at Company A). If you’re the writer, take a firm stand. Say that you’ll be happy to conduct and write up an interview with an executive at their client company — as soon as they line one up for you.
It’s no secret that people are more likely to pay attention to a movement, a brand, or a product that has a human-interest story attached. Naming a program after a survivor (or a victim) has a powerful impact.
We’ve all heard of the Amber Alert (named after a 9-year-old kidnap victim in Texas). And most people are familiar with the Brady Bill (named for presidential press secretary Bill Jim Brady, shot during the Reagan assassination attempt) that mandates background checks for gun purchasers. Since 1948, the Jimmy Fund (named after a 12-year-old cancer patient who went on the radio to talk about his disease) has been raising money for pediatric cancer treatment.
It’s no secret that people are more likely to pay attention to a movement, a brand, or a product that has a human-interest story attached. Naming a program after a survivor (or a victim) has a powerful impact. Nonprofit fundraisers know this (Gilda’s Club and the Susan G. Koman Foundation). But government agencies rarely use this dramatic marketing tactic — even when lives hang in the balance.
Marketer Seth Godin, noting that more than 50 percent of parents in New York City initially kept their children out of the government swine flu vaccine program there, says “If I was marketing the swine flu vaccine, I’d name it after a kid who died last season.”