Tag Archives: marketing strategy

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

Brand Pooooo-ooositioning

Brand positioning statement is often confused with a company tagline or slogan. At some level that isn’t completely wrong but if one tries to understand the true meaning of both, in fact they are very different.

Positioning statements are for internal usage and understanding the broader concept for the internal audience, about what is expected from them. Business is driven basis these statements which includes the marketing and the operating aspects.

Whereas a tag line is developed for the consumers to portray the same positioning for an external audience, used in primarily the marketing efforts. Insights from your positioning statement can be turned into a tagline, but it is important to distinguish between the two.

Examples of Positioning & Tagline

Mercedes-Benz:

Positioning: fascination, perfection and responsibility

Tagline: Engineered like no other car in the world

BMW:

Positioning: Quality, technology, performance and exclusivity

Tagline: The ultimate driving machine

Brand positioning means owning a piece of real estate in the consumers mind. The key here is to make sure that one captures an empty slot and not trying to win over an occupied one. Hence the key is to be first else some other brand will occupy that space. It helps the brand get the preference over competition, it also ensures that Positioning needs to be based on an extremely strong insight else getting the mind space is impossible.

Mind space occupied by brands

Brand positioning refers to “target consumer’s” reason to buy your brand in preference to others. It is ensures that all brand activity has a common aim; is guided, directed and delivered by the brand’s benefits/reasons to buy; and it focuses at all points of contact with the consumer.



In the book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Reis and Trout’s, positioning means the idea is to find and attempt to “own” a marketing niche for a brand, product, or service using various strategies including pricing, promotions, distribution, packaging, and competition. The idea is to create a unique impression in the customer’s mind so that the customer associates something specific and desirable with your brand that is distinct from rest of the marketplace.

Every business is unique and offers its products and services with their personal touch and hence the positioning also needs to have the same differentiated touch else it will be easily adopted or copied. Each and every employee of the brand needs to have the positioning in their mind and make sure in their own way this is driven. For e.g. if positioning is to offer performance car than right from the build quality of the car to the dealership everything should shout out performance.

But this is easier said than done, many marketers themselves forget about the positioning of the company and in the quest of trying something new deviate from this. And if the creators deviate other don’t even bother following. Turning everything you do into an expression of your desired positioning and you can create something special. Only once the internal audience accept and follow the positioning will the external start believing in the same.

There are various ways to position a brand

Own a category benefit
Volvo: Safety
Miller Lite: Great Taste, Less Filling
Walt Disney Company: Magic

Consumer Centric
U.S. Army: Be all you can be
Budweiser: For all you do, this Bud’s for you
Pepsi Generation

Company Operation
Burger King: Have it your way
United Airlines: The friendly skies of United
WalMart: Always the lowest price

Competition based
Avis: We’re #2. We try harder
Seven-Up: The Un-cola
Apple: Think different

 

Selecting one of the above is completely dependent a combination of all the above factors like the category, consumer, brand & its competition. Whichever one gives a stronger differentiator then it should be picked and explored further to be articulated in a consumer friendly language.

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.

Coke no label cans in Ramadan

Coke Ramadan

Masterful advertising yet again by Coke. With each campaign Coke bring out something new and unexpected which in today’s competitive world looks seemingly impossible. Its their way of to promoting a world without labels and prejudices. Coke wants to encourage people not to judge each other based on their appearance.

Coca-Cola is removing its logo from its cans of soda in the Middle East to encourage people not to judge one another throughout the Ramadan. One side is blank, other than the brand’s iconic coloring. The other side reads: “Labels are for cans, not for people.” It’s an excellent attempt at abolishing prejudices based on religion and to forget stereotypes.

Coke no label cans

The film starts with introducing a few strangers in a dark room and they are asked to talk on various topics and what is common between them. And when the lights come up and it shows that the diverse group who normally wouldn’t interact with each other ever had a good chat. The group consisted of a guy with facial tattoos, two men in Arab dress, a man in a wheelchair, and another man in smart business dress. This tells us that based on our own mental perception about others determines our behaviour towards them which may not be always right.



And this isn’t the only campaign where the campaign idea is based more on a social cause with a product’s ability to help resolve/elevate or at least bring that issue up and highlight it.. Earlier Coke had also come up a with a campaign Choti Badi Khushi (open happiness) which was based on the fact that  in today’s world, we have become insular and self-focused. The ‘I’ tends to stop caring for the ‘we’. Being kind to a stranger is often considered crazy. When you do something good for others, happiness is inevitably the result.

Coca-Cola-open-happiness1

Over the years the Cola war is dying down and I suppose both giants Coke and Pepsi are focusing on more meaningful campaigns.

pepsi-vs-coke

Maruti Suzuki’s premium segment strategy

Maruti is setting up a chain of retail outlets under the Nexa brand which will cater to only premium products. The first car to be launched through Nexa is the S-Cross and soon will be followed by Kizashi. The move is specifically done to cater to a premium audience who want a much richer buying experience which I suppose in the current outlets is difficult to achieve as the company has always been known for its small/economical cars.

Maruti, Suzuki, SCross, Maruti SCROSS, Suzuki SCross, Premium Maruti
Suzuki S-Cross

The company plans to take off the ‘Maruti’ brand from the new premium models it will be rolling out henceforth, which could also mean the end of Maruti brand in the coming years as already Suzuki has started taking charge of the company in the day to day working.



To start with they have  replaced the ‘M’ logo, which stands for Maruti, on the grill with the ‘S’, which stands for Suzuki. And with this setting up of 100 dealerships this year under the Nexa brand may the death knell for the brand Maruti and may be its dealers if they don’t choose to upgrade to Nexa.

And to offer this premium luxury experience the company is hiring aggressively from the service industries like hotel, tourism, aviation, etc to ensure the differentiated experience is delivered.

In light of the Japanese companies new mantra of aggressive growth the organization is taking up the easy route of expand the base, increase the segments and reap the benefits. Now does that really work for a brand like Maruti is really a question mark.

Maruti has struggled in the past to be as successful in premium cars segment with Ciaz & Kizashi. But rather than learning the lesson and staying away from this category they are introducing a new premium variant S-Cross to test the waters for the 3rd time now. Not a very wise move despite knowing that their brand stands for reliability, economical/value for money and good resale value they have again dared to enter into this segment.

As mentioned in my earlier blog about marketing & branding, the marketing team did a fab job in terms of launching the S-Cross at the IIFA awards where they would have got considerable traction as the hosts and guests mentioned S-Cross more than IIFA. But the issue lies in the branding where is this the right brand strategy to launch a premium car under the Maruti or now Suzuki that is known for its low maintenance and value of money attribute. Does the premium segment like other automobile companies need a different brand name altogether for the new lot of premium cars to survive.

Premium Maruti, Nexa, Suzuki Premium

Classic example of multiple brands to different segments in the market are General Motors with 4 brands or Toyota and Lexus or Fiat and Ferrari or Ford and Lincoln. And most of these brands have been successful with their brands as each brands caters specifically to a segment and more importantly to a specific need of that segment.

For now we shall just have to wait and watch the how the launch of the S-Cross unveils the entry of Suzuki in the premium segment.

 

Marketing and Branding, how are they different?????

BRANDING IS STRATEGIC WHEREAS MARKETING IS TACTICAL

Branding defines who we are while our marketing defines what we do for whom. We create a brand strategy first and then follow it up with how through marketing we shall deploy resources to decimate information w.r.t what we stand for. A true brand strategy will also entail detailed insights about the targeted consumers which will help build the strategy in the first place.

Through branding an organization wants to create a pull for its brands and underlie any marketing effort. It is communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not. It defines why this particular brand is different from its competition and lets consumers know why they should go for a particular brand. In plain words it says “This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me to your friends.”



Unilever, P&G, Canon, Ebay, CAT, Levis, Shell, WD, Apple, Harley Davidson
Global Brands

Building a brand isn’t a onetime exercise it’s an ongoing one with multiple variables impacting a brand. Very important among these things is the lived experience of the brand. Did that car deliver on its brand promise of reliability? Did the maker continue to uphold the quality standards that made them what they are? Did the sales guy or the service center mechanic know what they were talking about? All of this together, is a part of the making of a brand.

Brand is bigger than any marketing effort I feel since the brand is what remains after the marketing activity has happened. It’s what sticks in your mind associated with a product, service, or organization—whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy. It communicates a promise to your intended audience, and creates a distinct and memorable image in the mind of your customers.

Brand manager, marketing manager, marketing jobs, digital marketing Consumers become loyal to brands and not to their marketing efforts. Marketing activity will drive the consumer to the store or the website but it’s the brand experience which will make him buy or reject the customer. Good brand management will make loyalist, advocates and even evangelists in case of cult brands which will drive the brand equity scores.

Branding Strategy highlights:

  • Branding is a pull strategy
  • Branding is strategic — it involves crafting out the vision, strategy and evolution
  • Branding build loyalty and conviction in a brand pyramid
  • Branding simplifies the existence of a brand
  • Branding differentiates a product, services from those in its category
  • Branding influences purchasing decisions by occupying a place in the mind

Then, there is Marketing….

What is marketing, marketing management, brand management, digital marketingMarketing strategy is basically a road-map to deploy the brand strategy using various media vehicle, it is in lay man’s term actively promoting a brand’s product or service. It’s a way of reaching and engaging people. Effective marketing ensures that one’s brand is always top-of-mind among its consumers and awareness scores in a brand equity model are high.

Everything that includes communicating a brand strategy to a consumer is Marketing. This includes running a TV commercial on channels, full-page or half page print ads, signage’s on streets, leaflet distribution, events, banner sign, business card, social media management, gifting, etc are part of the marketing plan or a strategy. Basically a marketing strategy is something where millions of dollars are spent on and hence for most people marketing is an extremely important function as there are huge investments made apart from CAPEX.

Marketing Strategy Highlights:

  • Marketing is a push strategy
  • Marketing is tactical — traditional, digital and unconventional
  • Marketing develops customers by making them aware
  • Marketing is one-on-one communication, no matter what the form
  • Marketing promotes a brand’s products or services in the market
  • Marketing can trigger a customer’s immediate decision to purchase

The main difference between branding and marketing is that marketing highlights the intended value of a product or service whereas branding reinforces the same. If you have a substandard product to begin with, marketing may help you make the first time sale but repeat sale will become an issue as the product experience during the first time was not convincing.

Branding is “What you are”

Marketing is “What you do”