From Internet of Things to the Internet of Me, what according to you is the big thing that will define IT marketing in 2016?
Marketers will need to use personalized information about the consumer as they now are dealing with smarter group of potential customers. Marketing will now need to be tailored and highly personalized, be it through the form of campaigns or sales interactions, social media, webinars and roundtables etc. The current scenario demands for multi-disciplinary marketing where the function should move increasingly towards the centre of all company-wide efforts.
I predict the following shifts in 2016:
- Greater brand authenticity and transparency- Gone are the days when you could just exaggerate and attract, as the consumers are becoming smarter and more cynical. They are aware and do not fall in the trap of first-impressions. They have access to information with which they can analyze the available options and hence are channelizing resources in a more fruitful manner.
- Rise of marketing-as-a-service- Marketing needs to be less direct and be more of a service. The consumers are now looking for how the brands can engage them. The new marketing strategy needs to be more around how to use content, analytics and community as a service to keep the consumer involved and feeding their desire to make smart decisions.
- Shift from B2B to B2i – It’s highly important to understand the effectiveness of influencing the influencer. The marketers will have to probe into what the key-decision markers prefer. It’s not just the business you’re marketing to but also the individual decision maker which demands for a personalized campaign as they are connected and interact, look for information online and will not hesitate to make their negative/positive opinions public on social media.
- Embracing the ‘science of marketing’ – Marketing will evolve into more of a science. Performance driven analytics will be on the forefront to demonstrate the tangible business impact of strategies, specifically around top-line revenue growth. It will be ruled by figures and metrics and measures of ROI.
- More multi-disciplinary marketing – Marketing will not remain a single department function and will need to be integrated with all the other disciplines such as HR or the CIO. The emphasis has to be on collaborating as it’ll be critical for the company’s growth.
Two ways in which the digital lives of people, things and organization is impacting the way companies are marketing to them?
We are way past the days where we had to put hand out to hail a cab. Gone, also, are the days where we walked into a showroom for a test drive. Case in point? Didi Kuaidi from China – a ride-hailing app that has partnered with 20 Chinese auto makers to allow its users to book test drives of more than 100 models, including Mercedes-Benz. Occupying such a strategic space in the manufacturer-meets-dealer-meets-ride-hailing-app market warrants huge business potential in providing more targeted marketing services for the auto-business through its mobile test drive service. The attraction is in the simplicity and ease of use, as the test drive can be scheduled right from a smartphone. Couple this with the imminent launch of the self-driving car and we have a world where marketers would have to disrupt themselves again to emerge victorious! The challenge currently, is to break down barriers between products, services, marketing, social connectedness and think of them holistically. Here’s another example of how consumer habits are set to change soon: Your trolley at the supermarket on which you’ve placed your smartphone on knows by talking to your fridge at home that you’re out of eggs. It sends you a notification in the form of a vibration on your smart watch. You pay and head out of the super market to hail a cab that’s actually a test-drive. It, obviously, knows where you’re going. The cab ride is free since you’re paying by consuming ads – of stores along the way home. You try on a jacket here, a shoe there (whilst in the cab) virtually; bookmark what you like, discard what you don’t.
The companies that perform the best in such an environment would be the ones where marketing is practically invisible. Think about it.
How has sales function transformed in the changing times WRT to changing consumers and organizations?
Sales function is no longer transactional. Transforming over the period of time, today sales and marketing is differentiated by a very thin line; and due to the shift of consumers and organizations towards digital media, it’s essential for both of them to be closely integrated. The shift towards social media network has led to a 360 degree transformation in the way sales works. Sales team now reach out to their potential consumers directly, thanks to the powerful social platform, which has widened the arena for the businesses to develop. The current social selling scenario dotes on the point of creating a compelling persona of the brand across channels to find the right audience with a strategy to fully ‘exploit’ these platforms. Though the old school philosophies are still alive, but the consumer is now quite knowledgeable and makes informed decisions. It has become vital to transform one’s nature of business keeping in consideration the consumer you need to serve. It is not only their social presence that matters, but the online presence also plays a key role. Long gone are the days when sales person had to put in extensive effort with long laborious hours to rope in target audience. Sales teams have now access to social media tools that can be deployed to learn about the prospect even before approaching them, simply to understand what might interest or excite them. Simply by tracking prospective customer on social media network, and targeting them through various mediums, the task has become less tedious and more compelling, which 10 years back was a dream to achieve. Infact my recent book on social selling, “You are the Key – Unlocking Doors through social selling” explains this phenomena and how to become a social seller in detail.
How do you see the role of IT marketer changing in the coming year and what has been the transition that you are already witnessing?
In the 21st century scenario, everyone has gone digital! Marketers need to understand that customers are transforming quicker than we think. And we need to think fast and act faster if we need to make a difference. In the current industry landscape – marketers should look at their firms having independently owned digital platforms, disseminate digital content that is quick to consume and ensure a higher budget allocation for digital spends. The other major aspect is understanding your target audience. You can plan a huge campaign with brilliant artworks and messaging that clicks, but if you’ve not spent time understanding the ethnicities of the geography and what exactly does your TG wants, then it’s an epic fail. Marketers need to be abreast with the changing interests and time their campaigns accordingly. In the current industry landscape, the line between catering to B2B and B2C is blurring. Today, it’s more B2i and this is something IT Marketers need to grip of. Your TG is not a firm or a group of people, it’s an individual and as Mark Zuckerberg once said, “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend.” Hence, all your campaigns, propositions and strategies have to be of top quality, tailored, customised and personalised. At HCL, we’ve moved from the repetitive banners and standard brochures to creatively designed infographics and light, fresh and easy content in the form of videos.
The year 2015 for IT marketing has been a golden period. Firms have extensively re-looked at their strategies to integrate focus on customer experience – ensuring a seamless delivery experience for the customer; digital transformations – disruptions, new trends and going with the tide. A lot of focus has been on integrated content marketing and leveraging thought leadership marketing, this should also be a prime focus in the coming years because more than brand building, relationship building is the key.
Apurva Chamaria is the Vice President and head of global brand, digital, content marketing and marketing communications for HCL Technologies (HCL), a 7 Bn US$ global IT major.
He is also a speaker at Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards 2016.
Under his leadership HCL became the fastest growing brand in the Interbrand top Indian brands league table for 2 years in a row (No. 18 in 2015) and debuted in the Brand Finance Global 500 2015 league table at No. 497 with a brand value of 3.1 Bn US$. In the last 2 years the HCL campaigns have won 70 prestigious global and regional brand and marketing awards. In his 11 years at HCL, he’s performed various roles including being CEO’s Vineet Nayar’s EA, Sales Director at HCL America driving business development and leading Marketing and Strategy for Enterprise Applications Business.
He has worked in various sales & marketing positions at Ranbaxy Laboratories , been a journalist and a client servicing executive at an advertising agency. In various parts of his career he’s worked in Asia-Pacific, India, Africa, U.K. and North America.
He’s also a regular speaker at international and national conferences and teaches a full credit digital marketing course at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) & Great Lakes Institute of Management. He’s a member of the advisory board at Mudra Institute of Communications (MICA), Ahmedabad. He’s a columnist for the Pitch and Digital Market Asia magazines. His upcoming book on “You are the key – unlocking doors through Social Selling” is being published by the international publishing house Bloomsbury.
He holds a double master’s in business management (PGP from IMI) and advertising (from IIMC, JNU). He completed his schooling from Mayo College, Ajmer.