What are the two rules to follow when it comes to B2B marketing?
First would be to stay close, and stay relevant, to the customer. Clients are faced with constant change – within their markets, the economies in which they operate, and technologies they deploy. Companies need to be constantly diligent to make sure that their offering, messaging and approach to the market are in-synch with their clients.
Second, to do things that have business impact, and quickly remove things that no longer have impact. While it’s always challenging to start new initiatives, sometimes it’s harder to stop doing activities that no longer make sense or that have marginal benefit to the business.
How do you think the role of marketing and marketers has changed over the years in B2B Marketing?
In some ways B2B marketing is starting to look more like B2C marketing. This is especially true in the digital realm where many of the same techniques are being used to influence buyers or purchasers. The role has become more important in B2B companies as compared to the past when marketing was all about events and collateral. There are a number of reasons for this including the fact that it is becoming harder and harder for sales to make personal connections with potential buyers. The days of connecting via the phone, dropping by the building for a meeting or even getting a response to a direct email are gone. Marketing plays an ever-increasing role in nurturing relationships across multiple touch points, and creating in-bound sales opportunities in the process. Also, it has become more difficult to distinguish yourself in a crowded market – just doing good work isn’t enough any longer. Clients are looking for thought leadership and new ideas on how to improve their business, and they expect this in a variety of ways, through a variety of channels. Marketing plays a critical role in this process.
When it comes to customer engagement, what is your view on the way players are exploring it today? Also suggest ways by which customer engagement can be made more meaningful?
While the term may be a cliché, ‘Customer Centricity’ is really the Holy Grail. The key is to stay close to your customer and agile toward new opportunities and needs. Many organizations, including TCS, have organized around the customer – structuring their business by industry vertical. This not only fosters industry expertise, but also makes resource development and allocation much more specific and efficient.
To make client engagement more meaningful, TCS has explored the development of ‘one-to-one thought leadership’ – where points of view are developed specifically for one client, and their unique situation and pain points. This is different than a proposal for services – it’s a longer term, strategic view of the impact of certain drivers on the clients business.
What is your view on the way B2B can explore social media/ digital media and where can it be used?
Obviously social media has become a critical channel for a number of key stakeholders. Whether it’s building and sustaining a strong employer brand, staying in touch and ‘influencing the influencers’ or seeking ways to nurture dialogue with potential or current clients. While social media in the B2B context is different, and perhaps lagging compared to the B2C environment – it is clear that it will be leveraged by decision makers on an increasing basis. If not for the top-managers today, certainly for those rapidly moving up the ladder.
How can research be used effectively to understand its customers and better the offering, suggest two ways?
First use is of course in profiling of individual decisions makers – better understanding their backgrounds, peer group connections, their interests (both personal and professional). Another mechanism is to make sure that each offering is associated with larger business or industry trends and the implications of those trends are well understood plus the possible alternatives are identified. This helps in clearly positioning the offering in the context of the client’s perspective – as opposed to ‘inside-out’.
Profile: As Vice President, Global Head of Marketing at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), John Lenzen is responsible for all brand building, market awareness, lead generation, and sales enablement activities for TCS globally. John has worked at TCS for seven years and has driven the development of TCS’ global marketing positioning, messaging, and brand standards.