Tag Archives: marketing

Are your sales and marketing aligned across Segments?

Robert De Nero and Anne Hathway starer “The Intern” has a particular scene wherein the sales analysis shows the company has been spending more marketing dollars on low value segments and practically nothing at all on high margin low volume segment.  Does not this sound familiar? While companies realize Sales and marketing need to be tightly aligned, but that seldom is the case.  A senior marketing director in a recent conversion blurted out that while her marketing budget has increased YoY, the ROI seems to be elusive. What was bothering her was the fact the company spends substantially in curated events managed by respected analysts, and yet sales find the coverage insufficient.

Companies spend a fortune on the conferences and events but the outcomes belie expectations. It is not surprising for many corporates to find 75% of the participants who attended their events came for free lunch or a swanky dinner. Many of the participants may not be the decision maker or influencers, but pretty junior in their organization. Corporate gifts, industry exhibitions cost a dime, and yet ineffective. Albeit companies continue to pursue many of these acts they are afraid to pause and question fundamentals. What is the objective of the event?. Why this city and this hour?, How this format will help sell their ware?. Unfortunately, many leaders want to just follow the herd. Therefore it is not surprising when studies across industry indicate:

  • 50% of marketing budget is totally wasted
  • Only 34% of feel their content marketing works
  • 25% had no marketing strategy
  • 44% had no alignment between various marketing media

So how can companies ensure their marketing dollars are well spent and drive intended sales outcome. On the outset, it is important to realize marketing function serves three objectives. These are inform, influence and advocacy.  Any marketing activity is to help consumers associate with the brand, help differentiate its offerings and seek higher revenues. Companies use various marketing assets to communicate to the interest group their unique existence, product/service offering set, pricing and other advantages. The objective is maximize reach at an affordable cost. Companies use several approaches to drive influence. Awards, citations, sponsored industry events, directed online community forums, endorsements are all effective mediums of influencing consumers. Advocacy is to enlist willing individuals who would eschew the role of brand ambassadors and drive positive word of mouth.

Different marketing assets serve different purpose and effective at different stages of sales cycle. Assets such as breakfast meeting facilitates more personalized one on one discussion that may be more effective in later stages of sales cycle. On the other hand,   assets like newsletter or blog may be more useful in the early stages of sales cycle. Marketing assets also vary by their cost and impact. Some of these cost a dime and more effective to lock-in, while some may be low cost approaches to increase reach only.

Companies can realize better return on investments in their sales and marketing when these functions are congruent and well-coordinated. Congruency can be gained by ensuring same goals drive their quarterly activities, common goals entwine both functions at various levels and incentives encourage them to support each other. Coordination improves when event plans, promos, content marketing and other assets are aligned with sales motions. It is important to realize sales motions differ across segments within a company. Segments vary on the “value” of purchase and the number of customers in that particular segment. It is common to have a segment A that has few numbers of customers with a high purchase value. B and C segments are those with lower values of purchase and incumbent sizes. Each of these segments exhibit different sales behaviour. Purchasing cycles may be longer and more formal in Segment A, while the decision making could be shorter in Segment C.  Sales may have to interact and influence multiple owners in enterprise segment. Order qualifying criteria may not be just enough in Segment A. Marketing must be able to push the company over to order winning plateau.

Segment A requires an enterprise sales approach where formal decision structures and vendor registration and assessments exist. Customers in this segment may be well informed about the happenings in the markets, and well-endowed to invest high ticket investment. Many customers in this segment may already been served by your competitors and would only move if there is a compelling value proposition in terms of cost, or innovation advantage. Sales function is completely managed by direct sales as relationships and continuous coverage matter to enter and grow the revenues. While inside sales functions support the direct sales with deeper profiling of people and secondary data analysis, direct sales has a key role in engagement of the segment.

Customers in segment A place a high premium on scalable and proven solutions. Prior experience and in depth expertise of the vendor play a key role in awarding the project. Marketing platforms must facilitate experience sharing and credibility reinforcing functions for direct sales to influence and close deals in this segment.  Thought leadership vehicles including standards, industry frameworks and innovation ideas fly well in face to face meetings with the customers.  Breakfast meetings, Industry association, standard setting bodies, and Knowledge sharing conferences serve as valuable platforms for direct sales to position the company at state of art knowledge.  These platforms allow discussions to be personalized and centred on solving the problems the clients face, hence meeting service immediacy.

On the other hand, segment C, which has large number of customers with low ticket value may need a marketing and sales approach where the total transaction costs are optimised.  It is practical to have inside sales as the champion to host and on board customers in segment C. Marketing functions role for this segment is to improve the reach across the market and reuse the content to improve the richness of various marketing assets.  Companies can improve the reach and engagement with Segment C by adopting a consistent campaign blast policy. Mail them a newsletter, case studies and customer wins to increase awareness about your brand. Emphasize on content creation, curation and extension to reduce investments in content development. Content can be text, video and other formats. Use social media platforms to connect owners and decision makers and also to run campaigns.  Figure 1 presents the alignments between Segments and Marketing assets.

Figure 1: Alignment between segments and marketing assets.

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Sales efficiencies can be gained only when direct sales team are running after few accounts with a deeper insight and ownership. Also, how the inside and partner (indirect) sales team complement the direct sales matters for Segments B and C. What works best is when companies know how to mesh mash both sales and marketing functions for each segment. Have a quarter-wise marketing plan aligned to sales expectations. Content development and curation can happen in stages and stronger stories and messaging will emerge with each asset to engage and influence customer. Having a common Head of Sales and marketing or marketing aligned with sales in another structural approach that can be tried. Cross functional teams tasked with joint activities across sales and marketing will also be useful.

Dr TR Madan Mohan

 

 

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Congregation Branding: Insights from Indian Mela’s

Congregation branding or mass branding is a unique method to reach a large number of peoples at a very low cost. It is when a large number of people congregate for a short duration, often for religious or faith interest. Events like Kumbh mela, Sabarimala or Pushkaraulu are mega congregations where the millions attend. Kumbh Mela which occurs once in 12 years, witnesses more than 100 million thronging the banks of River Ganges and its tributaries. Similarly, Sabarimala, a hilly place in Pathanamthitta District of Kerala State in India, has about 40 million peoples visiting the shrine annually. On the grandeur scale is the shrine of Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh, the second richest religious institution in world which attracts at least 60,000 devotees on regular days and 8 -10 times the number on special occasions. Local festivals like Sonepur Mela, Asia’s largest cattle fair, in Bihar or Velankanni in Tamil Nadu attract about 2 million people and these footfalls are for just 3 days.  It is not only religious events that offer a platform for branding, festivals like Kadalekhai Parikshe in Basavanagudi or Fish downing sessions at Goud treatment center for asthma patients at Hyderabad or New Year crowds around Taj Hotel in Mumbai are all perfect platforms for congregation branding.  Holi Milan Samaroh or Baisakhi celebrations are apt for congregation branding to reach out to mass consumers. With India celebrating 120 festivals in a year where more than 100,000 people congregate, congregations offer a unique platform to reach out and engage with customers.

The advantage of congregation branding is it helps brands to reach out to consumer who may reside in media-light or are low TV and print penetration areas.  Congregation branding helps to marry the essence of the event with the brand proposition.  These events are not only attracting FMCG companies, but are finding new takers like agricultural equipment manufacturers and FMCD companies. Congregation branding exposes people to various brands to become potential buyers as well as opinion leaders and brand ambassadors.  Congregation branding drives social approval and recommendations.  It is a low cost approach to reach out to large user base. It offers the opportunity to consumers to touch and feel products. Pepsico uses the congregation for sampling of new innovations (Nimbooz Masala Soda or Butter Masti flavor of Kurkure) and enhance brand visibility.

Congregation branding is a high visibility and high impact strategy.  Companies use five types of branding approaches:  a) Freebies, b) small packs, c) service centered, d) artifact based and e) entertainment led. Freebies, small packs and entertainment led are excellent approaches to expose product consumption experience and win over customers. Service centered and artifacts based are effective approaches for surrogate branding.  Freebie is a common strategy used by FMCG companies. Tata swatch water purifiers installed 300 water purifiers for Kumbh Mela. Similarly, Marico provided Rs 1 Parachute sachet packet. Dabur put up automatic toothpaste dispenser with the tagline “Kya aapne dant snan Kiya? (Did you wash your teeth), with images of Dabur Meshwak and Red prominently displayed on the container. Tata Salt distributed 35 tons of Tata Salt to various akharas. They also gave away disposable plates with “Shubh Bhojan ki Shubh Shuruwat” (auspicious beginning for an auspicious lunch) with Tata Salt prominently embossed on it. Godrej provided hair die salons and Shanthi oil installed free oil massage centers at various akadas (sectors) for product experience. Small packs are fit for occasion and value for money propositions that help brand association and recall. Coke offers 150 ml of cola at Rs 5 and HUL offers Vim bar (washing bar for utensils) for Rs 4. The products are appropriately packed and priced to meet “use and throw” requirements of the rushed Pilgrim.

Companies can also purse surrogate or indirect product branding approaches. For example, a cement company can provide water or sanitation tanks or paper fans for convenience of the attendees.  Companies could pursue surrogate branding in multiple ways.  Surrogate branding could be fashioned around the “event” or something that is of regular use and not necessarily associated with the event. Using service mapping tools such as blue printing companies can gain a complete view of the customer experience cycle. They could identify physical infrastructure, hygiene and health related requirements, crowd control and management system that may be required to provide a safe and complete event experience. Companies could choose to adopt highly repetitive and commonly consumed services or infrequent selective services. Companies can identify service that has higher impact and one that is closer to its product/service.  Aligning branding with the moment of truth is key to effective crowd branding. Eternit Everest cements provided tents and roof shelters to pilgrims and telecom companied offered branded Umbrella’s, and light holdings at night times. Vodafone provided scarfs with their logo on them so that pilgrims can protect themselves in cold nights. A cement manufacturer may offered free rides or free group housing. Such an offering would be group based. A pharmaceutical company can offer free health care center and ambulance services, which are critical and personal in nature. A telecom company can provide a public address system and location based identification for missing persons. Such an offering could be context dependent and critical in nature. Healthcare, travel and personal loss related services offer longevity of WOM, while food and hygiene related may have shorter WOM.  Surakhsha Wrist Band, a water proof band promoted by Nerolac, received high appreciation from families.  Children and elders who received the bands were seen raving about it and flaunting it prominently.

Amulets and Idols are appropriate mediums to reach out to pilgrims and others thronging the meals.  Companies find idols of Lord Ganesh or Lord Hanuman are the most accepted across different pantheons and sects. Their child like innocence and simplicity of faith make them highly amenable to various socio-economic groups.  Amrutanjan, the popular pain balm erected a 16 feet statue of Lord Hanuman made with empty Amrutanjan boxes.  Ranbaxy offered Hanuman chalisa to pilgrims who visited kumbha mela. MNC have also pursued this strategy very aggressively. HUL engaged Sudrashan Patnaik, the noted sand sculptor to create sand art installations of Lord Jagannath on the beach in Puri. HUL Dalda oil was subtly placed on the canvass. While men and women do involve in crowd branding, it is women fold who tend to carry the artifacts back home.  Whether brochure or religious books or other artifacts, care must be ensured in designing it useful and colorful from the other gender perspectives. Marketing professionals must consider the investment, impact and reusability of artifacts before they choose a particular approach.

Entertainment, the wholesome kind is the best way to reach out to the crowd. Once Pilgrims have completed their faith related ablutions and associated rituals, they tend to have some time before their return journey home.  Tholatta, and Throw a ring are what GlaxoSmithKline found useful to draw and engage customer to get in touch with Horlicks. Throw a hoop and gain a sachet is an excellent strategy to gain interest, interactions, sense of achievement and brand association.

Sai Vinoth T R

 

 

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Priming your Industrial (B2B) sales…..

Industrial or B2B presents unique set of challenges.

Vendors may be selling to an intermediary for example an EPC or a contractor who in turn may be executing the project for an end user. While the intermediary may be more concerned with price, speed and availability, end user may focus on quality and performance. Managing diverse decision criterion requires fine balancing of relationships and strategies.

  1. Getting the product as an industry standard or emerge as a default choice is most important part of marketing. This may require informing and influencing not just the end user, but intermediaries like EPC also. Importantly the design folks within the client organization and outside need to be influenced and won over.
  2. B2B environment is highly competitive, in fact in some segments your former employees may be working for your competition with complete tacit information about sales strategy. Often there would be handful of customers with balance of purchasing power tilted towards them.
  3. B2B markets also highly exposed to commoditization. Pricing pressures could be high. Product cycles may be shortened by innovations and substitutes emerge often to displace the markets.
  4. Replacement market is a major growth opportunity. But the decision-making can be short, and unscientific. Replacements are made are 3rd party advice, availability, and price rather than quality or performance.
  5. White labelling or contract manufacturing is yet another sales growth opportunity that brings its own challenges of cannibalization of focus.
  6. B2B sale requires sales process to be customized to the procurement process. Unlike B2C business cold calls by themselves will not get business. According to a Forbes article, more than 50% of B2B sales resources consistently miss their targets. Many orders fail to materialize as the arc of meeting; educating, influencing and closing the order have been missed.

 

How can one ensure their B2B sale is firing? Right structural alignment, adherence to process to capture the activity at each sales stage, and appropriate incentive systems help a company realize right sales outcomes is what I actually needed to make B2B sales happen.

Get the right rhythm of activities between arc of initial meeting, mapping of key decision makers, product education and influence, defining right commercial terms and closure. End users need to have a solid reason to place an order, may need to follow up documentation and hierarchy before the decision is made.  Customer segmentation, need analysis, profitability and associated risks must be weighed much before you respond to an RFP.  If the end user happens to be government or large organization additional challenges of bank guarantees, penalties and receivables must be evaluated in detail.

With increased adoption of mobility and availability IT tools, companies can use appropriate structural arrangements to minimize the cost of sales and yet improve reach and conversion. Sales structures must include not just direct sales teams, but inside, partner and product teams that complement the direct sales. Create a dynamic sales organization that not only covers the markets, but builds partners and ambassadors for it. A dynamic sales organization must include:

  • Inside sales – Identify people, Google search, secondary data
  • Sales Executive – Feet on street, Coverage, Meet people, Verifying data and collect Information
  • Branch Manager – Administrative Cover, Link with Technical and Project people, Pre-order and post-order point of contact
  • Product Manager – Technical specialist, Influence Design/ Technical team, Identify the cost saving technical options, Match/ Improve technical
  • Regional Manager – Business Leader for the region, Price and Margin manager
  • General Manager – P&L leader, management representative, maximum interest with company and across company, Revenue Leader

With new technologies B2B companies must realize sales resources are not the only one to open door and neither opportunities nor marketing is the exclusive promoter. With many B2B buyers self-educating using tools like social media, vendors need to effectively empower and promote product and application engineering teams to network and influence the ecosystem, right from design companies, EPC contractors, Standard setting bodies and user community. Role of product management that helps in inform and educate, influence the design and procurement teams by its expertise and bring alignment between requirement and solution is often under invested. Product managers are key to requirement gathering but also define the specs of an RFP.  Promote product management –client and design interactions at all levels.

Invest in sales operations. Sales operation has different meaning for every company. In some, sales operation does number collation and crunches data. In some they are responsible for system, programs and process. In some they are responsible for pricing and participate in large complex deals. Fundamentally, the role of sales operations is to capture the data related to sales activities, and help sales team to make decisions based on data rather than subjective assessment. Sales operations more than just being a data sink, helps integration benefits to the organization by linking various activities.

Make available non-sales oriented platforms and information content to inform, educate and advocacy of their expertise and products.  More educational content from a B2B vendor helps in build trust and respect for its expertise. Share original content on social media platforms and optimize for search. Companies that go beyond their product range and address the complete industry are seen as leaders and more such content augments the credibility of the company’s brand.

A major change B2B vendors need to make to their sales strategy is to consciously move away from the decades old sales playbooks they treat as mantras. B2B vendors who just moved their sales process to modern technologies without fundamental changes in the sales engagement find the results are always below expectations. With the new technologies and information intensive markets, B2B vendors may have to rework their sales playbooks but also rethink how they are enabling the sales person to decipher and deepen the customer’s knowledge. While adopting the new technologies ensure the playbooks allow sales resources to adjust their individual strategies and styles to add value to the sales engagement process.

T R Saivinoth

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How B2b companies can benefit from Youtube marketing

While many of us associate YouTube with videos of cats or people falling off their skateboards in new and interesting ways, the reality is that YouTube can be an extremely powerful weapon for a B2B marketer. In a recent study, the top three social networks for online B2B marketing are Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. With more than 800 million unique visitors each month, YouTube is now the world’s second biggest search engine. More than 100 million people take social action (likes, shares, comments, etc.) on YouTube every week.

In addition to providing your prospects with information about your product or service, a YouTube channel is also important from a brand equity perspective. HP, for example, has a large part of their channel devoted to their work in health and education. In a press release or blog format the average prospect may not ever bother looking into this kind of material, as it doesn’t have a direct connection to the buying process. But if a prospect is considering purchasing a new printer for their business and is watching a product demonstration video on YouTube, they are more likely to do so. By establishing an emotional connection, HP is able to position its brand in the prospect’s mind as caring and trustworthy.

Youtube is humungous. Each minute about 400 hour worth of video content is uploaded, but only  5% may elicit more than 10K views. 50% of all YouTube views come via a mobile device and the average time spent on YouTube per mobile is about 40 minutes. YouTube has more than 1 billion active users surfing the site. Importantly, for most companies the promotion is free and always available. Even if your content may not reach top 5% of the post, it could serve as an alternate marketing asset to inform, and influence customers.

As a B2B company, you can gain the most from YouTube marketing if you can stick to some fundamentals listed below.

  • Making content stand out: Well we all know the power of viral videos. People will actively share unique content on their social media networks, even if it’s associated with a brand. The key is to include your brand or product in the video in a way that’s not so invasive that it feels like an advertisement. A common technique used to encourage sharing is humour, but it might also be the format that captures the prospect’s attention (e.g. using a unique animation or live action scenario to tell your product’s story). You need to plan out the needs and essence your video is going to fill in your prospect’s mind and heart.
  • Make it easy to find and share: After uploading a video to YouTube, make sure to give your videos searchable titles, well described & brief descriptions and lots of tags. Embed videos on your business website as well as its social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+). If the video resonates with the prospects, they will react to it and might share it on their own social media accounts.
  • Put faces to your brand: Great thing about YouTube is that it allows you to put a face to your brand; this is extremely important in building trust with your prospect. It’s often better to use real people from business or mascots representing your brand or company. Prospects get attached to these adding a layer of transparency which is often extremely difficult to establish using traditional online marketing such as blogs, whitepapers, online forums etc.
  • First few seconds to impress: YouTube is all about small sized (length) video content. Use it to get attention in short span and condense your videos to 2-3 minute on specific areas of interest, e.g. product feature demonstrations or testimonials. According to 8-second rule, research has indicated that if users have to wait longer than 8 seconds without any attention seeking action or interest, they will go elsewhere. Because there is an ocean of information waiting online to get their precious attention. You have only 8 seconds to impress a person & to get him watch your whole content, so make first 8 seconds impactful and rather creative than just showcasing your product or feature. You need to take an innovative route to enter into the mind of the prospect for a sustaining impression. Be creative and sometimes be more natural. Shoot, animate, use info graphics etc. in your video to make it more compelling and informative according to your content.
  • One video many use or a particular use: More specific content is also helpful from the perspective that you can utilize the video or the YouTube link to focus on a particular product/service in your target email marketing campaigns & product description pages in your website. Whereas generic informative and rather flexible branding videos can be used in you landing home page to describe what your brand is all about. This will increase the engagement time prospect surfs information about your brand & will generate an impactful visit to your website.
  • Take time to create your own brand space with a YouTube channel to make it easier for your users to find all of your video content at same place. Include links to your site, campaign information, conference updates etc. Encourage comments and subscriptions from viewers. Listen and react to what’s being said as feedback or comments. Take positive notes and keep on the light glowing around with more inputs and changes. Treat your prospects comments as advices & necessary recommendations giving your marketing a continuous boost for years to come.

Vikash Prasad

 

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How effectively are you using your marketing assets…..

A senior marketing director in a recent conversion blurted out that while her marketing budget has increased YoY, the ROI seems to be elusive. What was bothering her was the fact the company spends substantially in curated events managed by respected analysts, and yet Sales find the coverage insufficient. Look familiar. This is a common problems with most companies where marketing focus on few vehicles. Some believe in only the physical networking events and other lean heavily on social media platforms. Here again companies do not follow an “embellish” strategy.  Consider the broad marketing asset a company has its disposal. On the social media front, the assets range from infographics, blogs, extended blogs, videos, case studies, white papers, publications and community platforms. On the physical front, a company could use industry events, workshops, analyst meets, association forums, and breakfast meetings. What works best is when companies know how to mesh mash both physical and online assets and the assets within each category.  One strategy that could be effectively followed is to have a quarter-wise marketing plan aligned to sales expectations. Then follow up a “embellish” strategy where in the messaging starts from basic assets and progresses to high scale assets. The advantage of this is that content development and curation can happen in stages and stronger stories and messaging emerge with each insert. For example, an infographic can be used to reward the reader with rich insights with high level cause-effect. Marketing team adopts a Tufte approach that may be high on information density and distilled functionality, focus on connectedness, and communicate through high imagery. Next level, a blog, which is used to influence, informative or thought provoking, may extend the infographic content using Kafka model. The blog could contain rich arguments and silver line conclusion. Whitepaper an extensive write up of blog may be used as a teaser before all material are tested, or position credibility and promote advocacy. Beauty of the embellish model is the content not only unfolds in a consistent manner, content is richer and all of them form independent hooks to improve visibility. Similar extensive strategy can also be used for physical platforms. Companies realize focus group meetings, followed by industry forum and curated events including analyst shows provide improve coverage and affinity. Moral of the story?. When planning for marketing, consider the complete assets at your disposal and build a embellish strategy that improves reach and richness of marketing communication complementing sales.

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Bridging the craters between Sales and Marketing

Most companies in traditional industries during the formative years typically have marketing and sales managed by a single department. On the marketing front, companies usually make rudimentary investments as part of sales efforts. They at best participate in related industry events or advertise in local media. However, as organizations grow, the need to manage marketing and sales as independent and yet complementary functions becomes necessary. In our observation, most companies run into the puddle of creating silos with no tight alignment between marketing and sales departments. In some companies the lack of synergy permeates product development and delivery functions also. The result is that product development does not use marketing to get market inputs, marketing does not use sales as their antennae in the market, and sales does not use marketing to drive a marketing led sales approach to grow revenues. The need of the hour is for greater co ordination between the two functions to succeed in the highly competitive and uncertain environment. Integration is ensuring the team coordinate and complement each other as in a relay rather than a 100 meters dash.

Mechanisms to integrate: Sales and marketing need to be consistent, congruent (same goals, support each other) and co-ordinated (event plans, time promos, content marketing with sales visits). Some mechanisms in Process, Structure, people and Goals can be used by managements to achieve integration.

Processes is all about ensuring communication flow is seamless, no information hoarding happens and internal latency is nil. Process is to ensure the owner has the complete info and authority to drive the outcomes and outputs. that are well designed and implemented are most useful. Process are effective only when the actors are embedded deeply. Defining a process for marketing where certain inputs are mandated to be obtained from sales, and outputs shared with sales can help to tie down integration and embed this in the process itself. Same thing can go for sales, where they seek marketing inputs into presentations, collateral required, target customers etc. Defining a detailed process with inputs, outputs, metrics and persons responsible is very useful.CRM systems can be used to achieve a degree of integration between sales and marketing, especially when it comes to co-ordinating marketing campaigns, lead management, getting information through call reports from sales etc. Marketing and sales have different customer experiences and information. The experience a sales person has with the customer can be very different from the experience a marketing person would have in interacting with customers. Somewhere these need to be woven together to build the real picture. When integrated with an effective CRM to provide one view, it becomes a powerful tool for insight and effective action.

Structure can be used to integrate sales and marketing. Having a common Head of Sales and marketing will allow effective integration.  In large companies, cross functional teams tasked with joint activities across sales and marketing will be useful. They will be driven, there will be ownership and it will be effective.  Though. At times, it could be slow due to consensus issues and expensive as well, due to the redundancies built in. The new trend is for companies to have Integrators or SDR (Sales Development Reps) who act as co-ordinators between sales and marketing. This can be an effective low cost structure, But the KPIs of the SDR, sales and marketing folks need to be tied down to common objectives.

People aspect needs attention as well. When the culture in the organization is such that people have too much affinity for functional areas, and there are interdepartmental politics and fights, integration is not easy, and one knows for sure that this needs to be ironed out. The level and experience of people at the boundary units (like sales) makes a big difference and determines structure, process maturity, etc. When sales persons are mature and experienced, companies can work with loose processes, informality and uncertainty. But when we have in experienced and junior teams, and there is churn, systems have to be robust to help the organization withstand the confusion at the boundaries. This is a call leaders need to take – if the role is critical and processes weak, then place mature people in such roles. Co location of product development, marketing and sales is good, especially for large dispersed companies. It builds affinity and cohesion, but there could also be some trade-offs here. On the cultural front, facilitating Informal social ties, having an open environment, being job oriented rather than individual oriented, being result oriented rather than process oriented, are issues that need attention and tweaking.

Goals Integrated: In many organizations the adage “what you measure gets done” is the norm. Companies can use common objectives and goals to tie up complementary functions. Marketing and sales responsibilities can be designed around the customer buying processthe steps that the customer goes through – some call this the revenue cycle and not the sales cycle. Hence how do marketing and sales together funnel leads through awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation and purchase is the key. Earlier, only the TOFU (top of the Funnel) activities qualified as marketing and the rest was sales. But as consumers research &educate themselves, 75% of buying decisions are made even before the sale begins. Hence marketing now extends all the way to the bottom of the funnel as well. Marketing is becoming more about content while sales is more about expertise, and these need to be well knit. Incentive design and linking good performance management systems are keys to get teams to work together. A lot of attention needs to be paid here, but companies are typically weak in this area, and a schism in inter-functional coordination always exists. Job rotation programs also help in getting sales and marketing folk to appreciate the challenges on either side and enable them to work well as teams.

When the above systemic, structural, cultural/people, and goal oriented issues are analysed and designed to be integrative in nature, high levels of sales and marketing integration can be achieved, leading to substantial performance improvement.

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Late but not too late; late market entry strategies

Nobody remembers the second person who climbed Mt. Everest or set foot on moon. Why? Because we have a culture in which only the pioneers are revered. Everyone is in a hustle to get that one sacred spot on top. 21st century companies are no different than the humans in this endeavor. They crave to become the pioneers in their respective fields even though it comes at a huge cost and risk. But is that the only way to enter a market? The answer is no! The good news is that late market entrants can also make substantial profits and at times outperform pioneers with right set of marketing strategies at hand. Let’s dig deeper into these strategies.

Penetration pricing is one of the classic strategies used by the late entrants while entering an already cluttered market. The prices are set lower than those of incumbents to attract the customers. This pricing mechanism assumes that the customers will switch to the new offerings if the price is low. Take Xiaomi for that matter. This upstart Chinese electronic company has been successfully selling smart phones in the highly competitive Indian market. Apart from their innovative distribution strategy and low cost of production, their pricing is one of the main reasons for the success. Xiaomi phones are comparatively cheaper than any other smart phone with the similar features. With this strategy, they have managed to taste success in the market, and will most likely follow up with high end products once a brand name gets established. They have been able to identify the gap i.e. non availability of an affordable smart phone with the features of a high class smart phone. This brings us to the next late entrant strategy.

No matter how good or successful a product or a service is, there is always a scope for improvement. This is mantra of the late market entrants. By identifying the gaps in the current offerings of the pioneers, some of the companies have been able to differentiate their offerings to gain the market share. The Indian truck market was dominated by companies like Ashok Leyland and Tata before Volvo entered. Leyland and Tata trucks used to take around 6 days to travel from Bangalore to Delhi, were uncomfortable, difficult to drive and maneuver, and had reliability issues. Volvo cleverly identified this gap and came up with trucks though more expensive, adopted a value based pricing strategy, and pitched on total cost of ownership, business benefits over the long term (like more load carrying capacity, lesser inventory on road, higher safely and comfort for drivers, reliability and 24 hour service by Volvo). Leveraging existing gaps, and educating consumers on long term benefits, Volvo has successfully managed to enter the market with high priced products.

Niche marketing is another strategy followed by the late entrants. A peculiar segment of the market is targeted which is unexploited by any other players. The rise of specialty hospitals and Montessori schools are some examples of niche marketing. Chobani yoghurt which entered US market 9 years later than the pioneer Fage total yoghurt has been tremendously successful because of niche marketing. Unlike other strategies, niche marketing strategy doesn’t require “demand generation”. The demand is already there, only the identification and exploitation of the demand with the correct offerings is required.

Therefore, when presented with opportunities to enter a new market, companies need to take a step back and evaluate their options before taking the leap. After all, it’s not about grabbing the first position but rather about making more profits and establishing a brand, and being in business for the long haul.

Ajita Poudel

Young Dolphin Fellowship

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Frugal branding approaches

How do companies with low investment attain High Impact!.  Companies are realizing there smarter ways to get noticed and generate revenue than blow tons of dollars on advertisement. Companies across the world are recognizing the value of going frugal, yet innovative.

Being frugal! in business means gaining higher goals with relatively lower investments and efforts. Frugal also refers to optimal use of means to reach goals.  Frugal is not just an effective strategy for new entrants to market, but also the incumbent. Frugal strategies for newbies is more to make noise and getting notices, while the focus of frugal for incumbents would be to increase richness and affinity of engagement.

Fremium is not just a customer acquisition strategy, but also a proven strategy for brand building. It is a strategy that not only works with IT products, but also with other physical goods. A good story here is Grand sweets, an Indian Sweets and Savories chain in Chennai India, which was the first to employ widows, but also shares a small portion of “Puliyogare” free for all walk-in in customer. Founder’s logic was children and elderly would walk-in for the freebie and the parents and other accompanying them would end up buying some items. This is also a strategy used by many Indian restaurants in USA and Canada where they offer free meals to deserving students instead of throwing out the left-overs. Lo, they have won a battery of converts who canvass for them whenever a white or native asks them for a reference.

The newbies can follow the experience sharing strategy. This can include sharing free info, case studies, videos, blogs or any content online. This is an effective strategy not just for IT intensive businesses but also physical products such as engineering goods, medical devices, etc.  Experience sharing can also be with respect to sharing an article about your brand\offering for free online or offline. The content in the article will be read and eventually might get you a free publication in the newspapers. Entrepreneurs these days become members of StartUp movements and fests which directly gives them exposure to media, even before launching their brands in the market.

Another approach well practiced by restaurants in USA and other parts of world, is what is known as Chinese Cab strategy. Chinese restaurants in these markets offer good food at reasonable price when they open and attract Cabbies, Guides and journalists because they are open later hours. Once they have established a reputation, these restaurants slowly start upscale themselves and price themselves out of reach of their old patrons. This sour grape strategy works well even in times of Zomato as many key informational sources fondly remember and vouch for the restaurant.

Some companies imitate a natural phenomenon, host-parasite approach, to grow their brand. Companies use industrial associations, church groups, Haj Committees or Pooja Pandals to get noticed and build a brand community. Choosing the host is an important element of this strategy. Most effective ones are when the products/services are unrelated or at best complementary.

While freebies by themselves may not work, exploiting sociological aspects like communities of interest or communities of work can quickly build +ve WOM and brand.  NIRMA, which created quite a buzz and competed with Unilever worked on a community approach to build attention and brand. They identified a specific user group in India, the washer-men community in the dhobighats of Gujarat and gave packets of NIRMA for free. This worked out well for Nirma as the WOM went viral among the Washer-men communities. With its competitive pricing NIRMA acquired a major chunk of 35% the market share in a shorter span of time.

Some brands pursue a any attention is good to build branding approach. This strategy works best in the creative industries, where controversies lead to promotion. Playing on greed is a good old strategy used by traders  and con artists. Some companies, especially in consumer goods have exploited this strategy. Classic case is an Indian Biryani group which advertised 1 GM gold coin in any of its packs and ensured the wins get advertised at their local stores attracted enough eyeballs and foot falls.

Sai Gopika

Junior Consultant

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How to orchestrate effective viral marketing campaigns?

What do ALS ice bucket challenge, P&D Tampax, Unilever “Dove campaign for real beauty” Volkswagen: The Fun theory, Old Spice man aftershave or KLM surprise have in common. They are all good examples of how to plan and execute a successful viral marketing. Many believe viral marketing needs to have a whacky idea to attract interest/create suspense, and conversations amongst users and brand. Successful viral marketing campaigns go beyond these. Some common elements of good viral campaigns include: 1) surprise/interest element, 2) scalable idea unlimited by culture and religious restrictions, 3) persuasion by influencers, 4) exploit common motivations, and 5) market the marketing.

Surprise element is undoubtedly very important in viral marketing campaigns. The exhilarating moment packs the required spice of experience for individuals to stay connected with the campaigns. But the potential for disaster also lies within it. Toyota’s “the other you” game for advertising Matrix is a classic example. The rules of the game went like this; a person would sign up for his unwitting friend and then that friend would get stalked by strangers. The game not only scared the hell out of people, but also annoyed them. People felt that their privacy was infringed. Toyota focused too much on the surprise element while ignoring a very important factor – the emotions surprise is going to evoke. If the surprise doesn’t bring any pleasant emotions then the whole campaign goes for a toss.

ALS ice bucket or Volkswagen’s Fun theory campaigns like many other successful ones are scalable ideas that take an everyday activity and make it fun to positively affect people behavior. Volkswagen involved its targets/customer to series of experiments to find how these could make people healthier, environmentally conscious and safer, all the while creating a parallel experience with brand elements and the campaigns. Same goes for ALS which used a mundane daily activity of bathing into a ritual to raise awareness about ALS and seek donations through crowdsourcing. Co-creation where the company encourages users to become actively involved in the brand or product is a key component of viral marketing. This helps companies to stop selling to them, but instead market with them.

Persuasion by influencers, whether active or passive, is an important element of spread of viral marketing. Insights from social network theory reveal that “network central” influencers (one with many connections) are most effective to communicate the campaigns and if there is an element of persuasion, like invitation or challenge, people networked with influencers are baited to participate. ALS influencer invites are a case in point.

Social stigma’s of refusing a challenge or the need to be seen in the company of Page 3 is a “primal” drive which most successful campaigns cleverly exploit. The common motivations of Homo sapiens to be seen as the social animal, higher up in hierarchy helps people to donate and participate in events.

KLM using a similar surprise-and-delight strategy as Toyota identified irate passengers waiting for their flights ad presented them with thoughtful presents. The clincher in the campaign was actually the act being completely filmed live by a camera crew and that led to positive human emotional drama. This helped KLM use an effective marketing to connect and appeal to customers, but also market their marketing effectively.

Now onto some marketing campaigns that brought more bricks and bats than bouquets. The mistake of putting popularity above purpose is another factor. AT&T’s tweet had to face the consequences of doing it. AT&T uploaded a picture of a smart phone clicking 2 streaks of light at ground zero as a tribute to 9/11. The tweet had to be withdrawn immediately as it was considered offensive by a lot of people. Here the purpose was to pay the tribute but instead they tried to capitalize off of the emotions surrounding 9/11 for profit. A separate ad only for smart phone without linking it to 9/11 would have served the purpose. Well, they did get the popularity but only to tarnish their own image.

The marketers also seem to be overlooking the kind of conversations which are going to surround the campaign. Hyundai’s pathetic attempt to make suicide look funny created a lot of negative conversations. Some of the audiences could relate it to suicides of their closed ones and were tormented by the ad. It evoked bad memories and people went around talking about it which gave it a multiplier effect.

The 21st century audience is unforgiving as social media has emboldened them. Plan well to pursue viral marketing campaigns, ensure all elements are well packaged. With a small dosage of common sense and focus on objective, this aim is not unachievable.

Ajita Poudel

Young Dolphin Fellow

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Traditional yet Trendy, Marketing and branding insights from Paper Boat

August 2013, Hector Beverages forayed into the Indian juices and beverage market, dominated largely by MNC’s Coke and Pepsi, but with difference. It introduced two common irresistible Indian flavors ~ Aamras and Jaljeera, under the brand name of Paper Boat.  From a starry-eyed start up, Hector beverages has gained lots of fans and market. By clever dip into childhood memories of most average Indians, positioning itself as a health alternative, Paper Boat as captured the young and young-has been alike. How did they achieve this?

For a start, the brand name is unique and easy to remember. The name evokes the nostalgic days when one cajoled paper boats to sail through the rivulets or rain pods, with the feet kissing the wet earth and head covered by nothing more than a piece of cloth. The name ‘Paper Boat’ automatically recalls Childhood memories that subconsciously lead the customer to a ‘happier place’ or a ‘happier time’. Even though the brand name does not synch with the product category or the beverages industry, Paper Boat manages to create a Pleasant Experience with its unique combination of ‘Drinks and Memories’.

Second the product itself. As most of the ingredients are naturally available spices and condiments. It helps differentiate itself from the crowded aerated soft drinks with loads of sugar.  By going to back to “desi” roots and sticking onto natural bandwagon, Paper boat could very effectively play the health card. As the products can be used as starter drinks or post-meal digestives, “time of the day” were not a challenge. The flavors one sweet and other slat helped it to reach out to diabetic capital of the world and others at same time. Contrasting flavors found the plate of people with various palates. By keeping the taste closer to mom’s recipe the product endeared itself to ipad and no-pad generations.

Packaging also played an important role in accelerating sales of Paper Boat. With a unique and extremely appealing Packaging with sophisticated ‘matt finish’, the pack had a dignified and yet interesting look. The dynamically vibrant colors, cute doodles at the bottom and the Call out at the back recreates the Magic moments associated with every flavor of the drink served.

Most traditional drinks have bitten dust not because they got their milieu wrong, but the pricing. In a market dominated by Big sumo’s capable of quashing out competition through cheap product supported by heavy marketing and distribution, Paper boat got two things right. Its pricing of less than 50 cents (US) for a 250ml, and $2 for 1000ml, Hector beverages has cleverly positioned Paper Boat as a high quality and healthy beverage by setting competitive pricing.

Paper boat adopted a new style when it comes to distribution. It not only got shelf space for itself in local kirana stores to push the product into the market but also was willing to go that extra mile, well in this case a thousand miles perhaps. Yes, Paper Boats were served at around 10000 feet above sea level to the IndiGo Airline Passengers. Paper Boat also realized the need to as an aspirational brand and present in aspirational platforms like Coffee Shops like Barista and Star hotels like Trident etc.

For a company short on dollars, Hector beverages, cleverly used facebook posts to drive the product. With theme around bringing back childhood memories, connecting Paper Boat was easy. As bloggers and reviewers relived their first experiences of the two flavors with Paper Boats, taste buds were on fire and word of mouth raging.

It is a great story so far for a one year old. What lies ahead for Hector beverages?. What next steps?  To address these questions, I looked at similar upstarts in other markets. While there are many examples of traditional beers (most recent being Utah based beer brands taking on Budweiser), Adam Pritchard “Pomegreat” serves as a good example, what happens to a health brand that spread itself thin.  Launched in 2004,  it managed to get shelf space in Sainsbury and that is when the sales kicked off. It quickly moved from a £600,000 turnover company in 2005, to £15m in 2007. But the economic turndown in 2009 affected the company’s sourcing and revenue was reduced by over 20%. Recently acquired by Simple Great Drinks Company it is being rebranded as Simply Great.

The best Hector beverages must do is to imitate, a very successful brand in beverage market. Red Bull has built itself as a beverage brand by being frugal and focusing on functionality. With no significant investment in mass-marketing campaigns and endorsements, Red Bull marketing is largely community and WOM led. It carefully build customers for life, by allowing them to creatively interact with the brand, build their own “wings”. With no major investment in print media, banners or bill boards, promotions are amusement oriented. Its branding is deliberately “underground”, so that it can appeal to young people.  One size and one packaging has done wonders for Red Bull. Paper boat can become Beverage Partners for Events like Marathons or Run For a Cause etc. or even sport tournaments like IPL or the Kabaddi League.

To be successful and go international, Hector must also do some things Red Bull has not done. Since the Jaljeeras and Amras are all “utility” drinks, unlike Red Bull, Hector must focus on campaigns to reach out to convenience stores, Modern trade outlets (petrol stations, Pizza chains, Food courts at SEZs and IT Parks), Goli Vada pav (and other complementing players).  Product expansion into several “limbo”, “aam”, “seethapal” extensions is a must. Of the $6 Billion Indian soft drink industry (fuzzy drinks, juices, packaged water, 660 million cases by volume, packaged juices is just about 87 million cases. Of the remaining million cases, lemon segment is about 50%. Hector can use its increasing fan base to its benefits and come up with crowd sourcing ideas where they can set up an online social media campaign of people sharing their ideas and thoughts for Paper Boat. They must pursue “What’s your paper Boat story?” or “Introduce us to a long lost Indian flavour” strategy.

Hector beverage can also play a strategy that is more by accident than design. Paper Boats have found themselves into the shelves and kitchens of restaurants to be used for making Mocktails. Paper Boat Golgappe Mojto and Jaljeera Ice Tea are served in many restaurants. Can Hector exploit partners to increase revenue, popularity and visibility if the drinks are named after PaperBoat, just like McDonald’s Oreo Shake. That is worth pursuing.

Sai Gopika Ranganathan

Junior Consultant – Marketing

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