Tag Archives: digital marketing

How important is brand in the B2B space?

B2B or Business to Business Marketing is an extremely competitive space today and its becoming extremely difficult for even good marketing companies to keep pace with their own industries. Today they face competition not just from their traditional peers but from the aggressive startup companies who are lean and are nimble footed.

B2B marketing is often looked upon as a lead generation process and the success is measured by the cost per lead and the number of leads. And yes their b2b sales counterparts will also add in another factor, lead quality which is important but not accurately measurable. And BtoB marketers will often be pushed on the above parameters only which makes them a lead generation machine.



But often they tend to forget the value of the brand while doing the B2B marketing and the entire marketing piece becomes offer or price oriented. The startups will focus on these because they don’t have the brand lineage and will push the sales on this front. But little do they realize that this in the long-term makes the entire team dependent on pricing/discount and doing this year on year makes this a process which in the future is very difficult to change.

Also if we look at global brands who are leading the B2B space they follow a completely different strategy where they focus on the brand that has been built over time but they too did start somewhere. Brands like Microsoft, IBM, Well Fargo, UPS, GE, SAP, Accenture, Oracle, FEDEX, etc have been focused on ensuring that the product service is immaculate and rest of the job is done by the brand name itself.

And in today’s world there is no shortage on the mediums that one could achieve the same there is digital marketing, affiliate marketing, network marketing, social media marketing which offer extremely economical options if run well to not just generate leads but to build a brand as well. Yes in certain less developed economies one may need to look at traditional mediums as well but every penny spent (if one has a right creative) will add value to the business int he long run.

A prime example of brand and technology by a B2B brand – Huawei jumped 22 per cent post investing heavily in innovative new technologies such as software-defined networks and cloud solutions that enable business agility on the product side. But along with that to boost their brand they also signed A-list movie actors and footballer Lionel Messi as brand ambassadors to create a positive perception of the brand in the business fraternity via advertisements.

Brand strategies do take time but its never too late to start building a brand because the more your delay the more damage is done by either becoming price dependent or being a good lead generation company. Both for me is not something which is sustainable in the long run. There needs to be a balance between the brand and lead generation for any marketing plan or marketing strategy which not just enables revenues but long term benefits as well. And one must not forget an important aspect of business – SPEED, the faster you respond the better chances of deal closure.

Source : Payperformance.com

WOW Marketing

In today’s competitive world there are so many options for a consumer that he is spoilt for choice. Today differentiation between products is very fine and it’s the one with better articulated claims that actually wins the share.

Spends on marketing are increasing relatively in comparison to spends on R&D. This puts more pressure on the consumers in their decision-making process as they are now confused that which product has an edge. Most brands are extremely proactive to make sure one-upmanship w.r.t other brands by constantly updating their communication. Some companies have also taken marketing as their new R&D. Ideally both the functions are part of the same coin as R&D provides brilliant technical solutions and marketers introduce  brilliant creative ideas and customer insights into the new-product-development process.

In highly competitive industries, top brass  resist making R&D too dominant to dazzle customers with a steady stream of new products and the latest technologies. But this would mean significant investments in NPD and even more investments in the marketing of those products. Therefore role of marketing is extremely important to keep the organization abreast with the market and its future trends. But that being said a brilliant idea or proposal can come from anywhere and R&D also needs to constantly updating their knowledge via any sources to come up with new breakthrough innovations.

But I think what’s missing in this race of gaining market share is the end benefit for the consumer as brands push for market share and equity scores. Select organizations actually deliver products or services that actually resolve a real consumer problem.

But I think for any brand to be successful the first thing they need to do is define why do they exist and more importantly how can they resolve a real consumer problem. Take an example of Uber in 2008, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had trouble hailing a cab. So they came up with a simple idea—tap a button, get a ride.



What they started as an app now has taken the globe by surprise that empires can be built atop a great insightful idea with literally no investment. Uber is now changing the way we travel today across major cities around the world. When you make transportation as reliable as running water, everyone benefits. Especially when it’s snowing outside.

And if the insight is genuine that really resolves a problem incase of Uber of getting a cab during difficult times then there is no better brand ambassador for the brand. Business will follow without you breaking your head about how can I scale my business now.

mission_statement

Hence the mission is extremely important and then later it’s important to wow the consumer at every touch point. It would start with the communication which needs to hit the right chords emotionally and functionally to drive consideration. Post which there has to be a fantastic distribution to make sure availability and a good incentive for the sales channel to promote the brand. Then there has to be a wow offer or hook point at the point of sale to make sure that once the consumer is in to shop he is directed straight to the product and feels that the product has excellent value for money. Take an example of IKEA, their mission statement could have been a promise for beautiful, affordable furniture, but instead, they decided their mission is to make everyday life better for their customers. It’s a partnership: IKEA finds deals all over the world and buys in bulk, then we choose the furniture and pick it up at a self-service warehouse.

packaging 1

Next is the packaging which helps breaks clutter on the shelf and just does not look attractive but also functionally differentiates itself. Then comes the product itself that has to wow them the most via its efficacy or performance to make sure repeat purchases. In certain cases like electronics or automobiles after sales also plays an equally important role to push the decision-making.

packaging 2

And today there is more to this, consumer engagement that happens not just during the purchase cycle but post that as well in the form of updates and upgrades on the current product and secondly sharing relevant insightful content which today, is considered to be the biggest thing in Marketing. And one needs to wow the consumer here as well by being able to share the right content at the right time and today in the right medium as well.

content marketing

I know this is an ideal scenario and most marketers face resource crunch but we should in our capacity try to wow the consumer wherever we can to make it a memorable experience. The more pleasant experience, the better will be the brand pyramid. It takes time a lot of effort and patience to make this happen, and for this the learning or understanding of the consumer should never stop. Complacency is the brands worst enemy and will completely destroy all the goodwill created over time.

Marketing in the Future – Push Button

3d-push-button

Today we all are aware of the different channels or mediums through which marketing is done. And one of the biggest challenges that any manager today faces is integration of channels and more importantly simultaneous launch timings of each channel.

But I think in the near future also of these things will ease out and rolling out and a massive marketing campaign will be as simple as pushing a launch button like you see in some of the movies (like launching rockets). Take for e.g. Google they know exactly where a person is going to click next through their tracking mechanism that is embedded in most browsers. So if they were to come out with a product like this where from their knowledge they can predict the next move of every consumer, this will make way for a new way of launching impact campaigns. This will enable corporations to launch campaigns globally with just a click across multiple mediums and countries assuming in a few years time everything will be digital right from hoarding, print, on air TVC, etc. Impact marketing will achieve new heights with this phenomena.



All the creative’s will be online and all the media vehicles & channels will also be digital which will bring in pin point accuracy for decimating information via creatives. We are now experiencing global launches but in a few yrs, one will be able to see global launches in a true sense as all countries will see a launch of a product or service at the same time across the globe.

I know everyone would be thinking that implementation is the easy part but today a lot of time and efforts goes behind implementation. I find the most difficult part is to have a creative thought which is executed well via a Creative. Taking this into consideration I think the role of traditional marketer is bound to reduce due to the influx of digital mediums and penetration of digital medium across the globe. Clearly one would see 2 very important teams in an organization, team 1 which is the brand team (who would work along with the agency to come up with fantastic creatives) and second would be the digital marketing team who would look after execution.

I hope the automation stops at the execution bit else there will be no creativity/dynamism left in marketing and everything becomes boring and predictable. Making creatives is a challenging proposition since its subjective and involves different skill set which currently is dominated by us and should stay that way.

Co-branded Marketing, is it the in thing?

 The Unilever Yum Brands Tie-up 

kissan and pizza hut

Co-branding as a concept has been around for years, but recently we have witnessed considerable activities in this space. But still relatively this is an unused strategy, that helps  boost revenues and brand equity scores for their respective brands that tie-up.
This recent tie up of behemoths Unilever and Yum Brands via their respective brands Pizza Hut and Kissan is a live example of co-branding and executed well via multiple mediums like TVC, POS, etc in the market.
Co-branding is increasingly becoming important as a marketing strategy, as it allows brands to combine their strengths and loyal customer bases, while sharing advertising and promotional expenses to get a better ROMI. With this kind of strategy one brand gets exposed to the consumers of the other brand and increase their prospective consumer base instantly.  More importantly each brand gets a massive sampling via the other brand which if done via the traditional route would cost millions that mean more cost efficiencies.

nike_apple

Why Pizza Hut and Kissan decide to Co-Brand? To start off, both the brands are popular and one of the strongest brands in the food industry which makes them an even match. It’s a powerful way of introducing one company’s products and services to the loyalists of another.



Co-branding also help a brand to get some brand equity rub off from the other brand to oneself, in the current case both signify quality food and naturalness both the brand compliment each other very well. In some cases, companies co-brand to charge a premium, such as Ford’s (F) two-decade partnership with Eddie Bauer and its more recent creation of the “450 horsepower supercharged Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Super Crew” with an MRP of more than $42,000.

Harley and Ford

Co-branding is an often-overlooked strategy by which the whole can truly be greater than the sum of the parts. While it should be used sparingly and judiciously, it could generate a new level of interest and excitement around your products and services. In this case I truly believe it’s a good fit as in India Pizza is not complete without the tomato ketchup. It’s not just a matter of having the correct brand fit but sometimes it’s also about organization/brand beliefs and goals that may help unite 2 brands.

Online v/s Offline Marketing

Online vs Offline Marketing

 

I know its a little too late for this discussion but still the I think both these mediums have their place in most markets especially developing countries, even in developed markets both these mediums are used but their role in marketing changes. For e.g. offline marketing is no longer the lead awareness medium but a support medium or a reminder medium in developed countries whereas in developing markets offline is still the lead awareness medium (in terms of reach).

In developing markets like even the BRIC countries offline spends are still much higher and it continues to be the lead awareness medium although spends on online have increased tremendously over the last few yrs. Online in these markets is more of a engagement and lead capturing source rather than awareness medium.



Today only 2 nations North America and West Europe have internet penetration of 80+% and South Asia has only 19% penetration which makes it extremely difficult to have one global marketing plan since mediums in both these nations vary significantly. But since the population in Asian region is much higher in absolute numbers it makes sense to explore the online side despite the penetration being low. The global average for internet penetration is 42% so countries with lower penetration the marketing strategy to use this medium will have a different role.
Source : InternetLiveStats Q1 2015, InternetWorldStats Q1 2015. Wikipedia for population data


That being said one can not ignore the potential of the new medium (online) as its the future and I guess the marketing gurus have given their stamp of it being the star in the future. But its taken decades for the developed markets to master it and take the best out of this medium and the developing counterparts see this as a replicate model and try everything that their developed allies have done. Not knowing that its taken them years to master and juice out of the maximum of this medium as there is a lot of learning’s that come only out of experience.

There are so many options available to explore on the online platform and one is really spoilt for choice here especially if one is from the developing nations its a 7 course meal after being hungry for ages so one wouldn’t know where to start so one hogs on everything and ends up not eating whats best for him. For e.g. first step is to ensure that the landing pages and all the material which is in the organizations control have to be made the best before doing any other online marketing but here typically organizations would start everything together a brand new HTML 5 website, SEO, SEM, Search, Display Networks, Banners, Mailers, Whatsapp, etc and then websites don’t function or tracking is faulty and they end up messing up the entire medium. This is because the their core TG may not be ready for such kind of online marketing explosion. Recently in India there is again a online retailer dotcom bubble being formed but its not that they are spending million of dollars online they are spending major part of their budget offline to generate awareness of an online medium.. In developed nations this would seem like a silly and illogical idea where a manager will be asked the question of why should I spend dollars offline when the medium is online and high internet presence.

Just by taking an agency who is willing to give the best the world has to offer does not mean its the most intelligent piece of marketing one has ever done. Its really important to understand the dynamics of the country and its population and then dish out marketing strategies that will help deliver the desired results. For e.g. mobile as a medium has almost 75% + penetration in Indian markets but only 10% + mobile connections have a high speed 3G connection in India. So here if we had apps or content that is heavy on bandwidth then your definitely losing out on our TG unless your TG is premium kinds.

Hence its imperative for brands and organization to have accurate understanding of their markets and their TG before crafting out global best practices that may not be relevant for their markets. In most developing nations offline still is seen and will continue to be the lead awareness medium as of now I feel and probably in the next decade when these countries have better infra this medium will or may become the lead medium for awareness as well as engagement.

That being said a good marketing strategy will always have both these mediums as their must haves its just that the roles of both mediums will change depending on the geography and TG of the brand.

Evolution of Marketing

All of this started during the pre-industrial revolution during the 18th century where everything was hand-made and was made to order. Barter of goods and services was the way, trade operated in those times. This was known as the trade era where traders had an upper hand in selling stuff for a margin in terms of getting upgraded products/services in return for their offerings.
 
Then came the production era where mass production was the name of the game. One size fits all was thought that all believed in and the belief that “people buy what we make”, it worked well especially considering that there was no or extremely limited competition. This era lasted from industrial revolution from 1860’s to early 19th century.
 
Following the production era was the era where sales played a pivotal role in the industry forming it the sales era. Due to the mass production markets got saturated which resulted in product demand plummet. More and more companies entered into the production era and commoditized the market making it difficult for the companies to sell their products as there was hardly any differentiation. Pricing played a pivotal role in convincing the consumers to buy products from a particular manufacturer. This era lasted till the middle of 19th century.



 
After sales era there was dire need for the companies to give the consumers products that they needed rather than what they could make. This innate need started the era of marketing where companies realized that consumers now had multiple options and they would need to differentiate their products from other manufacturers. In other words real branding started emerging during this phase where all companies started targeting certain segments in the society to ensure that they catered needs of that particular segment through their product/services. Later on during the same era customization also played a key role and changed the way companies made products. Businesses existed because they fulfilled some unmet consumer need, and they realized that consumer is now the king who needs to be served with what he wants and how he wants.
 
And today in the marketing era the role of digital marketing is not just a fad but whole new way of reaching and engaging consumers. A couple of years back, large companies mandated the use of this medium and allocated specific budget like 10% of the total media spends have to be on digital but today, the medium has not just proved itself but redefined how marketing has to be done. I would say it has enabled marketers to achieve individual marketing rather than segment/mass marketing. With the help of tools made by companies/brands like Google, FB, etc it has enabled marketers to market their products and services to an extremely specific set of people which is the IDEAL TG. Products and services are now being launched online and that launch has a much better impact / result as compared to traditional launch since it reaches the right audience, in time and is completely measurable. A simple e.g. to showcase importance of this medium is to see any established company today when they dish out a role for a brand manager / marketing manager it has a mention of a particular skill-set i.e. Digital Marketing.
 
 
I think the future of marketing will be something where consumers will try and create products themselves by just customizing everything. Depending on he consumer preferences which is tracked by Google and many other companies marketers could show them creatives that they are more likely to get influenced from. Although this may be an expensive proposition of creating multiple edits but if we look at the end result I think the effort will really lend value as it will generate higher sales.

Your True Brand Ambassador – An Awesome Product

Millions of products in the market but not everything sells like hot cakes. There could be many reasons for the sales of these products to not happen
– Bad Marketing
– Bad Product
– Bad Distribution
– Bad Positioning
– Wrong Market
– Wrong TG
And the list can go on and on……
But there are certain brands where people await the launch of new products, stand in long ques or book the product well in advance to get their hands on the same. Companies or brands like Apple, Harley Davidson, Ikea, WV Beetle, etc are not just known for the latest offering but most people can remember what they started with and what is their current offering. Now think the same about say for e.g. a Samsung who is competing with Apple for the best smart phone, what was the first product they launched, some of us would know but a lot of consumers will not be aware of their first product.
One thing the emerges common among most cult brands is that they have a product which is just awesome. Everything that is put in the product has a purpose and more importantly that same purpose is something that the consumer also relates to and finds its beneficial. Their products are so well made that just a PR leak of they are coming up with a new variant is enough to generate tremendous buzz in the market.



So I guess for me the learning is that if you wanna create a brand / product line which yields revenue over a longer run invest in the product do not leave behind anything to ensure that its the best in class product. Yes there are pressures on budget and this may sound idealistic but ultimately in the market the brand / product pays the price for not being the best. All the other elements like the distribution, marketing mix, etc can be played around but once a product fails its really difficult to make it a success.Often hear from people that these bigger organizations have lots of money to waste on R&D; and MR but ultimately that same research helps to narrow down the likely list of successful products rather than launching products and failing in market.