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“B2B next normal”: from passive to strategic marketing

The evolution of the marketing approach is not a due and automatic process from passive to strategic. Of course many trends push more and more companies to be attractive in understanding their markets. However, the ability to move forward to the next stage is really depending on the situation of that specific sector in a specific moment.

The so called “Passive Marketing” approach is used mainly in technical sectors were the competition level is very low and there is a high demand. In this case, marketing is needed only in supporting the product presentation. Companies in this situation are assuming to know better what is good for their customers and they decide for them. The problem with this approach starts with the increase of competition level. Moreover, since the marketing in this case is inside driven, the company tends to lose the touch with reality and there is a high risk  not to be able to innovate in the right direction.

The “Operational marketing” is driven mainly by sales and it is focused on sales support in the short term (no long-term interests of Company or Brand) and here the attitude is also almost inside-out  driven.

“Strategic Marketing” is moving the focus from inside-out to outside-in and is reflecting customers’ needs in order to diversify the product portfolio and identifying segments to enhance growth. The starting point is the deep understanding of markets and user experience in order to become more desired.

The next generation and where several companies are already trying to go into is the so-called “Market Driven” approach where they drive innovation and trying to be ahead using maximal potential of the market and customers. Creating value for customer and continuous search for competitive advantages is the main centre of the strategy.  In the approach the entire organization needs to anticipate customer requests and market conditions, as well as strategic thinking and the role is not delivered only to marketing professionals.

For traditional B2B companies it becomes more and more urgent and important to move from the passive to the strategic or market driven approach. This because into mature markets, companies are not strong enough to drive the growth only in an organic way focusing on products.

The recent crisis we are living with Covid19 will create a further demand’s constriction and this will force the organizations to move faster and,  where the internal mindset is not ready for this innovation process and the adaptation of the new market needs, they risk to be too slow affecting in the midterm their competitiveness.

To be able to create a so deep change, three factors are mostly needed:

  1. A strong vision from the top management to get a change in this direction.
  2. A strong pool able to speed up the Go to market process: clear understanding on who is our target and what is the value proposition. Reflecting needs of people into the outside world. This is what needs to be done on top of the communication process.
  3. All internal relevant stakeholders needs to be engaged on the challenge that should be applied in all different areas and not delegate only to marketing departments. This could be achieved with concrete facts and example trough external analysis and feedback.

I have had the lucky to be part of a similar process into the company with whom I’m collaborating and it has been (it is still today) a very interesting journey. If I can list some of the actions that were helping us to move froward from a Marcom perspective I would summarise the following:

  • Surveys and results (external data) in order to get the internal understanding and engagement on a management level. Actually, we discovered very interesting feedback that were not matching with our internal assumptions.
  • Focusing on strong and single minded campaigns able to engage a broader audience and with a strong internal involvement into the creative development process.
  • Analyzing our budgets to reduce its fragmentation and to understand how much were we able to dedicate to the awareness. This made us able to set clear priorities.
  • International collaboration: all creative concepts were develop together with the countries to ensure an international approach starting from the beginning (analysis) and a consequent central development and production plan for all regions.
  • Thinking about the media strategy already into the creation phase
  • Driving the activation plan all across countries in constant alignment on strategy and overall monitoring process to ensure the same positioning and generate synergies.

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