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A quick guide to marketing your pharmaceutical packaging digitally



The first thing that every packaging professional has to figure out is that the term "marketing" can mean a lot of different things to many different people, and that "digital marketing" is a horse of a different colour. At its core, the purpose of any digital marketing endeavour is to generate awareness of a product, though the end goal of said exposure may vary from company to company. Some professionals consider it an aspect of public relations while others are more apt to add it to their sales mix. In either case, the primary goal is to do more business, whether through new lead generation, increased upsell opportunities, or facilitating online interaction with prospective or existing customers.

The component parts of a successful digital marketing campaign are normally threefold.

An excellent website: you need to have an inviting home
Your website is your company's home online. It's the virtual space that represents your firm and offers visitors a guided view of what you can do for them. You probably wouldn't invite company over if your house were messy, but many companies fail to see a problem with offering virtual visitors a terrible environment. You don't need to change your site every year and be at the forefront of digital marketing, but you DO need to have a space that's clean and easy to use. If your website is difficult to navigate, if it has links that fail or go nowhere, if you have nothing for users to do while they're there, there's no point in maintaining an online presence. Every page your company creates needs to have a purpose, it needs to provide some benefit to the visitor. The more pages you have like that, the more compelling the site will be to users and to robots that index pages and rank them on search engines.

Compelling web content: you must have something to say
Simply putting up some low quality images and a couple of catalogue scans don't set the scene for an engaging experience. You can have the loveliest website on the planet but if you only have a couple of pages with nothing to do, visitors will come and go with no effect on your business. Visitors are there to gather information, which can be news about your products or company, video content, images, documents for download - just about anything that might prove of interest. Bear in mind two key points with regard to content: it needs to be good and it needs to be consistent. If the content is of no use to visitors, they won't return. What you post can't simply be for the sake of posting, it needs to serve a purpose. With regard to frequency, when a visitor sees that the last piece of content was a lonely tweet posted in 2002, they'll assume nothing is happening on the page and they won't return.

Proactive web marketing: tell people you're there
You can have an amazing website AND amazing content, but if nobody knows about it there's no point to it. It's like an amazing novel that's been forgotten in a kitchen drawer, buried under take-out menus and doohickeys. Unless someone points it out to you, you'll probably never pick it up. Visitors need to be told a number of details, including where to find you, why they need to visit your online home, what benefit they'll obtain from visiting, and myriad other details. Further, you can't just do it once, it needs to be consistent to be heard above all the digital noise.

Each part of the digital marketing process can be divided into a number of actions. Companies don't have to engage in all of them so long as they're covering at least a bit of each to ensure the bases are covered. Take a look at the diagram below for some marketing inspiration.

"By creating and publishing remarkable content in the form that educates, informs, inspires and entertains, marketers can begin to build relationships with prospects early on in the buying cycle." - Jonathon Lister

Click/tap on the primary items for more details

Excellent website

Content management

Search Engine Optimization

Architecture & usability

Brand, image, & design

Objectives & measurement

Proactive web marketing

Marketing database

E-mail marketing

Industry portals

Social media & RSS

Search Engine Marketing

Compelling web content

Sound bites, blogs & tweets

Documents & downloads

Video & multimedia

Product information

News & press releases

How does all this apply to pharma packaging specifically? Well, it simply doesn't exclude it. Too often companies that work in pharma packaging think they don't need to market for a variety of reasons. Comments like "We only work on bespoke projects" or "We have a stable client portfolio" or "We attend shows" seem to creep up frequently. All of these may be true but they don't obviate the need to let the market know what your own company is doing. Perhaps you only work on unique pharma packaging solutions and can't offer a product catalogue online, but you can spread the word about successful projects and offer an attractive gallery showcasing successes. If people aren't talking about you, you'll soon be lost in the miasma that is digital information today.

As an example, a company with which Webpac has worked for some time is Virospack, a firm based in Spain that is also known as "The Dropper Company". Virospack creates some of the world's best droppers for the beauty market but has edged its way into the pharmaceutical crossover space by offering droppers for upscale cosmeceutical items. No special considerations were required for this, it was simply a question of detecting a market need and then positioning products properly to ensure that the messaging was just right for the market.

Bona Pharmaceutical Packaging is another long time Webpackaging member that started out serving a small part of the Asian region. They realized that the only way to become an international player was quite simply to present themselves as an international player. In marketing, it often comes down to creating the brand image in order to grow into it. Bona completely overhauled its website, began to offer bilingual content for an international audience, and developed a more consistent communication strategy in order to inform both existing and prospective customers of their technological advancements. Since then, they have consistently demonstrated an ability to market internationally and have become what they sought to be.

Many firms, in fact, begin with local customers and then decide to branch out. One of the biggest mistakes an SME can make is to claim perfect security: "We don't need to market online because we already have enough customers and can't handle any more". This sort of thinking has often proved disastrous when a customer decides not to renew a contract for whatever reason, taking 80 to 100 percent of the producer's business with them. Make sure you have room to grow and are always looking for new opportunities, even if you have to rent production facilities or outsource parts of the project to keep up.

A perfect example of this is Italian closure manufacturer Giflor. The company has set up an extensive network of partner manufacturers to pitch in when a higher production volume is required.

As Paolo Lobba told us during an interview, "If we need to increase our production for a short period of time, we can add resources from manufacturing partnerships we have, which means we have few fixed costs."

You can't keep all your eggs in one basket. If you devise a clear digital marketing strategy, make sure you have the infrastructure to deal with it. In the end, being able to deal with contingencies will be well worth the trouble.

The bottom line is this: If you think that digital marketing is a waste of time, effort, or money, you're not doing it properly. If the only thing you've done is put up an unnavigable website or hired an intern to tweet banalities every hour, your ROI on your efforts will be abysmal. Marketing is about setting the stage for a performance by sales. If you don't market, your sales team is going to wind up facing a brick wall rather than an open door. If your clear objective to generate business and you're willing to spend time planning, refining, and launching your campaigns, you'll wind up being much more successful.

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  • Modified 30 Nov 2017
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