Archive for the Marketing Category

“We’re just chucking stuff out there and hoping something sticks!”

Posted in Marketing, PR, social media on October 23, 2013 by Tom Leatherbarrow

The startingSKMBT_C28013102309560 point for our latest research was a conversation with a commercial director of a major supplier of valves and other equipment to industry.

As the conversation turned to PR support for a new product launch he came out with the quote I’ve been using ever since to convince clients, and potential clients, of the need to integrate PR into their wider marketing activities, pull people into them and provide real measurability.

“Our marketing has to change,” he said. “We’re just chucking stuff out there, direct mail, adverts, PR, catalogues, and hoping something sticks.”

This was by no means a criticism of his marketing director. Both realised, as do a lot of B2B marketers, that the web was going to force them to change their marketing strategies.

Essentially both were asking themselves the same questions that many are asking. “How can I get real measurability to prove marketing’s worth?” “Is our marketing selling the value-add message, such as technical support, advice and consultancy, not just product?” “Is there a better, more cost-effective and measurable way to fill the sales funnel?” “Can social media enable us to engage with potential customers more directly?”

The truth of the matter is that many B2B marketers are on a journey. Moving away from “just chucking stuff out there” towards more inbound and content-based marketing, which empathises with the customer not just sells to them.

We wanted to find out where B2B marketers are on that journey. The results of our research suggest that B2B marketers, far from being conservative and “stuck in their ways” are taking a very strategic approach, evaluating and measuring not just jumping in with both feet. By way of evidence 46% of respondents regard their current social media stance as “cautious, still considering.”

Yes, there are obstacles in the way, not least the fact that many B2B marketers do not regard their company websites as being in a fit state to drive traffic towards, but these obstacles are not regarded as being insurmountable.

Perhaps the most telling statistic is this: 91% of respondents say their use of social media will increase in the next five years.


Beyond silo marketing

Posted in Marketing on January 13, 2010 by Tom Leatherbarrow

How many times have you phoned an organisation as a customer only to be told “that’s another division, you’ll have to phone another number” or “we can’t do that, they’re a separate company”.

A classic example of this is the UK financial services sector, multiple product companies which organise themselves by silo (mortgages, savings, current accounts, insurance etc) all with separate contact centres and customer contact details.

Let me give you an example. At the moment I have a current account, a mortgage, two ISAs and a long term savings product with the Nationwide Building Society. I am a good customer and they want more, regularly bombarding me with information about other products. I was in the Bromsgrove branch on a Saturday a few months ago and one of cashiers tried to sell me yet another savings product.

“What’s in it for me?” I asked.

“Well it’s a good rate of interest” was the reply.

“Yes, but its no better than what I could get by going online” I countered. “Perhaps if you offered me an incentive, an eighth of a percentage point off my mortgage for example.”

I know it was never going to happen, I was just feeling difficult, but you can imagine the reply.

“We can’t do that, they’re separate divisions.”

I was therefore intrigued to read a profile of the Santander Bank in this week’s Time Magazine. Buried deep in the profile is one of the secrets of Santander’s success, namely a computer programme, called Parthenon, which does nothing more impressive than group information by customer rather than product. That’s right, all of an individual’s interactions with the bank grouped in one place, no silos or separate divisions.

Parthenon has enabled Santander to strip out millions in costs from its acquisition of Abbey National, it has aided cross-selling opportunities and, crucially, enables Abbey to offer incentives in the form of highly competitive interest rates, to good customers.

Apparently, this is revolutionary for the banking sector, but there is a lesson for all business here. You may think you are being customer focussed by being terribly polite and attentive, but if you are forcing customers to navigate your own internal organisation then you are not and ultimately you will pay for it.