Tag Archives: marketing jobs

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.

Converting Shoppers into Consumers Part 2

Don’t treat or see window shoppers are ticks who pile on, but see them as potential opportunity that they give you, to convince them to become your consumer.  Window shoppers are not actively seeking to buy stuff or don’t have that on their mind as of now but given the right push it doesn’t take long for them to become shoppers. Some of the key reasons why an person does window shopping:

They aren’t thinking of buying what you sell immediately but after sometime
They’re researching information before making an informed  decision
They’re considering multiple brands and are testing/checking each brand
They’re loyalists and want to just see what’s new in the brand

shopper in doubtOne of the keys things that can turn any window shopper to an real consumer is that if a brand can get them to take an action. If the shopper is actually forced to take an action and it could be as simple as taking a peek at the price tag or feeling the fabric or go online and research more about it, half the job’s done. And the focus on the call to action at every touch point is extremely crucial. And adding a call to action can be about different things at different touch points at POS it should shout buy now on the site it could be sign up the newsletter on a hoarding it could be visit the website, etc.

Brands should take one step at a time to make sure that overselling or brand dilution does not happen. Every touch point or communication needs to have specific aim and should build positive perception about the brand. To take a look at the example visit my earlier blog: http://wp.me/p6kIEO-29

Sampling in certain industries help to convert a lot of shoppers to real consumers. They key reason could be that the shopper isn’t sure of the benefits of using a particular brand and hence doesn’t find value for money. Or there are consumers who want the product to be accepted by earlier adopter and post looking at reviews they may buy the product. This brings in another critical aspect of marketing which is testimonial marketing which in today’s online world is one of the biggest promoters for the brand. The more positive comments the likelihood of the brand picked up is higher. Take an example of the hotel industry without looking at Tripadvisor ratings hotels aren’t being booked or hotels choices are changed basis their ratings.



If it’s the store a shopper can be converted to a consumer even by the most basic of human action of a greeting the consumer with a smile and wishing them. Still believe first impression is the last impression and if impressed while you enter the store then 20-25% of the selling is already done. Secondly treat every shopper as a potential consumer and not someone who will waste time. If this shopper doesn’t convert he/she will tell 10 people about the fantastic experience at the shop and other will come in and convert. Customer experience today has a lot of importance and not too many brands focus on this. Read another article on this at http://wp.me/p6kIEO-34

Finally if you know the shopper isn’t going to convert then the best thing to do is to counsel them about where he would get what he/she is looking for. This will build an extremely positive perception of the store/brand and is very likely to become your future consumer. Treating the shopper well and ensuring that he/she leaves a positive feeling will help the brand in the long run. But do remember to get contact details so that the brand could be in touch via various online mediums and keep the shopper engaged with the brand.

Confused shopper

Some key aspects that the sales/customer facing teams need to have particular focus on

-Highlighting the USP of the brand/product which helps in a better conversion rate
-Ensure that there is uniform experience (not pitch) across different people in the team (not being robotic but hygiene factors to be standard)
-Always have a how can I help you attitude keeping in mind consumers demands/needs rather than what I offer to sell.
-Dynamic sales pitch, although everyone knows about it but seldom practice it.

-Most importantly teams to understand and share learning’s on why the product/brand isn’t selling

Considering these basics and ensuring that these points are implemented with proper tracking will definitely convert more shoppers into consumers for brands.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE – HOW TO DELIVER AN ENRICHING EXPERIENCE

To deliver on an excellent and enriching customer experience an organization has to ensure that every touch point for the consumer has to be delightful experience. It could be as trivial as a call centre script or actually sending him a greeting card on a special occasion all of them are equally important. And most leading brands don’t consider this a priority and hence don’t pay enough attention to this critical aspect of the business that is the new mountain to be conquered. A lot is written about this but seldom brands practice this and those who do like Harley, IKEA, etc have made their brands EPIC.

CX Steve jobs

  1. Reviewing the current CX practices

Understanding the current practices or the performance of the organization in the customer experience (CX) domain is the first step in upgrading the current CX. This exercise will involve challenging the obvious and looking at other evolved categories like airlines, banking, insurance, etc that map their customers and use that information to offer better solutions in a customized way. Every process in the organization will have to be rigorously monitored like call monitoring, constant feedback from customers at all touch points and research on how the current CX can be bettered, CSAT (customer satisfaction survey), etc. All this data combined will throw up insights about how the customer wants the sequence of activities to take place and which are the non-value adding activities that are to be removed from the current CX. For e.g. banks have now started automated IVR services to cut costs but from a customer’s perspective it at times resulting many call-backs which spoils the entire customer experience.



Various malpractices, false promises by marketing, process disobedience and lack of control over customer facing teams is often the cause of lower customer experience. For the sake of selling products services or converting prospect into leads sales/call centre team give false promises and convert the prospect to customer. But eventually over the course these prospects become hostile and start negative reviews over social media which hampers overall brand’s CX. Lack of processes whether it’s the sales pitch process, script adherence or interaction with teams is another big pain area that spoil the customer’s experience. One simple thing like when a customer lodges a complaint he is given a ticket number and is asked to give that the next time he calls but often he has to narrate the entire story of his harrowing experience again and again till the resolution is found. This happens not just with local players but also with global MNC giants as well. Rather than recording the data and using it as an opportunity to delight the customer by resolution companies make the customer go through the experience 10 times before giving an answer forget about the resolution.

Infographic on CX

  1. Analysing Key Customer Journeys

This is the most important step in uplifting the CX for an organization as it will tell you where you need tweaking or revamping in the current CX. This could be data driven or gut driven (informed estimate) or could be as simple as laying down certain processes and asking the team to follow. Ideally it should be a mix of all since each method has its own merits.

To cull out the pain points within an existing CX one could start research that helps gather data on the customer volume in a given journey, reasons for call center complaints, and obvious gaps in performance—for example, discrepancies between promises made in marketing materials and services actually delivered. This will give a laundry list of key issues that now plague the CX and the same 80:20 rule applies here as well where 20% of the nature of complaints will impact 80% volume. This helps narrowing down the focus and next steps are thought upon.




A company should gather customer and employee surveys along with working data across various functions to assess performance and gauge how it is doing on the competition. Best-in-class companies use regression models to understand which journeys have the greatest impact on overall customer satisfaction and business outcomes, and then run simulations to get a picture of the potential impact of various initiatives. This exercise isn’t a small task and may take months to get a true picture of the current CX but the benefits far outlast the effort put in to do the exercise. This allows the CXO level to find various aspects of CX and decide which ones will worked upon on priority in their experience strategy.

customer_experience_lifecycle

  1. Re-modelling the Experience and Alignment

This first step in this phase is to actually show entire customer journey cycle to the respective team along with the pain points as identified earlier. The priority pain points are to be highlighted well with an impact in monetary terms to make the team understand the depth of the issue. Even if a fix appears obvious from the outside, the root causes of poor customer experience always stem from the inside, often from cross-functional disconnects. Only by getting cross-functional teams together to see problems for themselves and design solutions as a group can companies hope to make fixes that stick.

Secondly the most important aspect is to set up a goal or a benchmark which the team needs to meet, this will enable them to draw up plans about how to meet the goal and what help it needs from the management team. This ensures that there is complete alignment to a common goal and work towards the same with full conviction.

  1. Changing the mind-set

Plans made on paper are of no value till they are executed well. And even here re-modelling the CX is of no use till all the teams live and breathe the new model. Getting the changes done is hugely important and at the same time extremely challenging as well since it will mean a shift of mindset from the current ways of working. However, delivering at scale on customer journeys requires two high-level changes that merit mention here: (1) modifying the organization and its processes to deliver excellent journeys, and (2) adjusting metrics/KRA and incentives to support journeys, not just touch points.

And since CX does not fall under any particular teams KRA, it may mean there needs to be a team of people under the leadership of Chief Customer Experience Officer who would look into this, in case of a smaller organization added responsibility is to be given to members of the functions. This team needs to drive change by aligning and pushing the agenda in every aspect of the business keeping the customer in mind.

Once this its done the biggest differentiation for the brand would be the CX which cannot be duplicated by any other brand and will definitely help bring in more business at much reduced costs.

Great CX for a brand then translated into commercially rewarding experience for the brand as well

  • Amazon Q4 14, net sales increased by 15% over Q4 13
  • Apple 39.9% profit per product (3 months to end Dec 14)
  • First Direct Moneywise “Most Trusted” and Which? Best Banking Brand
  • John Lewis profit before tax up 12% in 2014 vs 2013
  • Disney Earnings per share up 27% in year to Dec 2014
  • Air New Zealand Earnings before taxation up 20% in H1 15 vs H1 14
  • Mercedes Revenue increased 12% from 2013 to 2014
  • Starbucks Revenue rise 13% in Q1 FY15
  • BMW 7% increase in vehicle sales in Jan 15 vs Jan 14
  • Boden Shipping 12,500 parcels each day

Customer Experience – The Next Warzone

Quote on Customer expereience

Treat your consumers like royalty and they are yours for life

In today’s era where the brands are at the mercy of the consumer and products have become more and more like a commodity, it become imperative for brands to up the ante. Earlier the brands edge was purely based on product superiority and that era has ended as most brands have figured a way to match competition products. Today these brands want to offer more than products more experiences and touch points for the consumers to engage with the brands. And hence brands that strive for excellence customer experience triumph in today’s world.



Everyone wants to be treated like kings and queens and the ones that do get this treatment are the ones that solidify the brand pyramids for brands. Look at cult brands like Harley Davidson, Apple, Ikea, Zappos, etc. These brands don’t just offer products but offer an experience to their consumers which makes the die-hard fans of the brand.

harley, ikea, wwe, VW

According to the 2015 Forrester Research Customer Experience Index, improving the customer experience management is a strategic priority for 73% of businesses, yet only 1% of companies deliver an excellent customer experience.

marketers-the-dreaded-customer-experience-gap_54de4101492a0

Leaving apart a few brands (not considering local ones) most brands have understood the meaning of having a world-class products and they strive for product excellence. It enables them to confuse the consumer with stronger claims that are further amplified via marketing and more often or not that tilts the buyer preference towards their brands. This makes it extremely difficult for the consumers to decide as again they face a problem of brands being seen as a commodity.

The deal just gets better and better for marketers as first we need to first get a great insight and then make sure the insights is relevant and profitable enough to make into a good product. Then make sure the product is delivered as per the brief and better than competition. Post which the create excitement in the market via a robust communications strategy that is in-line with that the brand stands for. This used to work till sometime back but today most brands as mentioned deliver these things so how can one differentiate your product?

One of the key ways to differentiate the brand/product is the uniform experience across multiple touch points. Normally in a business the phase which is the decision-making cycle where the front-line team are interacting with the customer is considered to the most important  focus area. Here the businesses make sure that they create most satisfaction for the prospect to actually become a customer. These organizations fail to recognize that it’s not just about bagging a deal it’s about how this deal becomes beneficial to all in a larger context especially for service industries.

For e.g. an organization would receive hundreds of calls in a day and their priority would be to ensure all calls are handled with extreme care and understanding of the prospects need so when one does a Customer Satisfaction survey on that aspect the rating are normally high, but post experience rating for most organizations drop significantly due to the experience falling short of expectations.

This tells me that every organization that believes in retaining and excelling at customer experience needs to map the customers journey that will throw a tremendous amount of learning’s for the organization which will make sure that customers at every stage are provided with the best customer experience journeys with the brands. By doing so it help the organization in ensuring 2 things – better retention of customer lower acquisition costs and second they being our brand ambassadors and give of more business via more revenue per customer and referrals.

There are multiple ways of improving the Customer Experience or customer journey with brands, will list down my thoughts in my next blog.

WILL BE CONTINUED….

Fresh is the new healthy….

heinz

Do you think this bottle of ketchup is strange, yes it is since its got no sauce in fact its got only the ingredients that is fresh tomatoes. The need of the hour is that consumers today want everything fresh, unfortunately for certain products fresh isn’t possible as of now. Like a ketchup which is bottled but like the pepper seeds which now are available in a bottle where you twist and freshly cut pepper pieces come out there will be some technology in future where the same pepper concept will be available across food and beverage items.

Imagine a bottle fill in with juicy oranges that can be converted into a juice in an instance instead of a tetra pack filled with preservatives. Now imagine drinking the freshly crushed juice as compared to a canned juice you can feel the difference without even drinking it. Since technology is advancing at such a rapid pace they are discovering ways and means to ensure how can the shelf life of a product be increased but is this what a consumer wants is the question to be asked.



Consumer demand is to give them fresh foods may be as fresh as plucked from the field directly to their house. A similar example of that is pepper in a pepper crusher where at least instead of having pepper in powdered form the consumer feels that at least one of the processes is done by him/her making the pepper slightly fresher.

pepper crusher

I perceive that the consumers believe that fresh is healthy and hence the dire need of having food/juices/drinks fresh and they are willing to pay a hefty premium if this is done. A lot of nutrients are lost in the process of ensuring better shelf life and more importantly freshly derived food items have a higher water content and therefore offer natural hydration that is important for cellular health. In comparison to that preserved things would have more salt and ultimately unhealthy.

This means that current organizations who deal with F&B categories have a huge task at hand to make sure that the consumer demands are met. Am sure that they are currently thinking about how they can make this and pretty certain in the near future we will have a bottle of ketchup full of real tomatoes and not crushed.

The next set of claims these FMCG companies will come out will be 2 days since tomatoes are plucked and the race will be who get the fastest to the consumer.

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.