In this new blog post, we will examine the four key components that make up effective communication strategies for nanotechnology.
Tracy Gay, from Cerion Nanomaterials, joined us on the #MarketingScience Podcast and Webinar Series to share her tips for simplifying your nanotechnology communications whilst still coming across as an authority.
The discussion focuses on four key areas: audience, messaging, content development, and future-proofing. You can listen, read or watch the discussion by clicking one of the links below.
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Listen to Communication Strategies for Nanotechnology
Read Communication Strategies for Nanotechnology
Q: What is the first step you take when developing communication strategies for both highly technical and generalist audiences?
There are a couple of critically important things when you're developing your strategy.
Always start with the customer, tell them what you do and what value it provides to them.
Secondly take a look at industry organizations, peers, and key themes at trade shows, webinars, and other public events that are happening in the nanomaterials industry. That will help you to strategically develop key themes that you can import your messaging into.
We develop both technical and non-technical content. For example, we have a global trends theories series that's more of a thought leadership piece. And then we have articles on characterization and synthesis. Some very technical content as well as some content that's more interest-based and higher level.
Q: What is your opinion on marketing personas when developing communication strategies for nanotechnology?
Initially, when we were developing the overall messaging and value proposition for the business, we took a fresh look at everything. During that process, we absolutely went through the process of developing each one of our target personas in a brainstorming process with the entire team; technical representation, C-level representation, and sales representation.
We then took that information and segmented it into those personas and developed messaging for each that included key topic areas and keywords that are important to each one of them.
Q: How do you go about gaining customer insights?
We recently ran a survey to validate some of the data points that we were seeing coming in as we track our marketing performance. The survey focused on asking folks how they like to receive content and what topics were important to them.
The results served to validate some things that we were doing and invalidate some things that we were doing, so I think it's a really good way to get at least some kind of an idea of what your base is thinking about.
Q: How can you simplify the core messages, whilst still coming across as an authority?
There could be two schools of thought here. It goes back to your initial value prop and building from there. There are some core things that you do as a business really well and those are the things that you talk about all the time. Cerion Nanomaterials, custom design, and manufacturing. It says what we do and who we are. Who you are and what you do and what does that mean for your customers?
But sometimes in this industry, you don't need to simplify the core message, especially if you're publishing an article, a blog or speaking at an event. Chances are your audience is of the technical persuasion so simplifying to a large degree might not even be necessary. The messaging goes back to your audience.
Q: How can communication professionals support their internal teams when presenting on a webinar or recording a video?
I would absolutely recommend media training. It really helps to get more technical folks comfortable with communicating because during that process you're talking about your core messaging which helps get them comfortable with the messaging of the company.
Typically the communications team are the ones that are putting them out there to speak at events so we help them outline ahead of time and practice. Do some dry runs. Walk them through the presentation. Help them develop their presentation. Add those charts, add those images. Help them juice it up a little bit so that they're feeling comfortable with the content. It's a really good process for them.
You can also develop some Q&A that you think might happen during the event ahead of time and really try to get them comfortable with answering those questions. It's a pretty simple outline, practice, practice, practice.
Q: How important is it to work with external KOLs when building authority?
I think it's a choice. What we've done is developed our executive team as thought leaders. Primarily our CEO who is a key opinion leader in the space.
Right now he's the chairman of the Nanotechnology Industries Association. We have him out front in a lot of keynote speaking engagements, articles, doing webinars, etc. He's been in the industry at Cerion for 13 years, so he is very well connected in the industry, and has a terrific network of go-to folks, industry leaders, government regulatory folks, as well as industry associations which we partner with on events and webinars sometimes.
That's the way we use key opinion leaders, by trying to develop them on our own internally.
Q: What are your first steps when developing communication strategies for nanotechnology?
The strategy should naturally develop out of your groundwork.
If you put in the work to understand your audience, listen to your internal stakeholders, you should know where your audience is and how they digest content and what content they prefer.
The topic areas will develop naturally out of the daily conversations your team is having with your customers and then it's a matter of being consistent. Make sure you're providing information consistently to your audience and via a number of different channels.
I would absolutely recommend trying a number of different vehicles to deliver your content and see what works.
Q: When developing content for specific channels, how do you maintain consistency of message whilst adapting to the formats required to reach new audiences on that channel?
Every month my team gets together, and we talk about how we evolve. Is the baseline messaging still correct? Is it working?
We look at each channel to examine the different vehicles and tactics that we're using and which messaging is resonating, what's causing people to convert? What's causing people to click through? We manage the message from there.
Q: What focus do you put on content creation v content distribution?
We put equal amounts of effort into creation and distribution. It's really important to develop good content but if it goes nowhere and doesn't get to your key audience then I think you've failed.
You really need to understand, again, where is your audience? How are they digesting content? And get yourself in front of them.
Future-proofing your communication strategies
Q: How do you measure success, what sort of data points are you looking at to determine the success of your communications?
We look at data points across all of our communications channels, from the website to social media to more direct engagement, trade shows, webinars, downloads, etc. The data helps us determine the demographics of our visitors, how engaged they are, and how much time have they spent with our content.
This helps us to determine if we are hitting our key audience and if they are engaged with the content. The data helps us to see what content is getting conversions and forming part of that customer journey.
We've started to do some customer journey mapping which helps us to really understand the points at which someone converts to a contact or a sales qualified lead. We look at the path that took them there to analyze patterns and understand which content is actually part of that conversion process. These insights then help is to develop other similar pieces around that.
Q: What steps can you take to develop both internal and external brand champions?
Internally it's really all about communication. Keeping the internal teams engaged in what we're doing and how we're doing it.
From an external brand champion perspective, there are two things. Firstly, customer success. Providing the best products and services because at the end of the day that's what matters.
The other part of creating external brand champions is really being a great resource. AZoNetwork knows this all too well. Provide the content, the information, and the data that helps people educate themselves and make decisions.
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