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“Ground-level engagement with consumers is important”

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Dr. Alok Bharadwaj, Executive Vice President, Canon

Dr. Alok Bharadwaj, Executive Vice President, Canon

Following the decline in the market of compact digital cameras last year, Canon, a leader in the fields of professional and consumer imaging equipment and information systems, announced its focus on B2B services. Dr. Alok Bharadwaj, Executive Vice President, Canon spoke to Devansh Sharma about the challenges of marketing in the B2B space, about entering new domains like document management and the importance of customer experience.

What has been the impact of the growing popularity of smart-phones and tablets on the compact digital camera market of Canon?
The smart phone popularity has caused a decline in the compact camera industry as a whole. The impact is both negative and positive. The negative impact is that the demand for compact digital cameras declined and the positive impact is that it has increased the demand for Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras. Canon has recorded a growth of 20 per cent in the DSLR category and a decline of 35 per cent in the compact digital camera market. So the overall impact is neutralized.

How difficult or easy is it to market in the B2B space?
B2b space essentially targets large enterprises and offers various opportunities. The challenge is to help organizations to save without compromising on the efficiency, help them with various programmes in document management area.

What strategies have worked till now for Canon and what will the marketing be like in 2014?
The first is offering of outsource services. We are now looking forward to expand by entering into new domains like document management and print room services. Buying documents, making manuals, offset printing are a few domains we are looking at. We are looking to provide all kinds of printing and document management services.

Besides, in the near future we will also be providing record management services. Security is one of the challenges these days and organizations are on the lookout for enterprises which are reliable and can provide a secure environment.

The third big area is the area of optimization or cost saving. When you go to small agencies or fragmented agencies you don’t know whether you can save costs holistically in the current transaction, or not. Our offers are such that provide holistic cost savings to the company. From that angle, we can develop an organized segment from an unorganized segment. Through our entry in this area, we are hopeful of creating an organization in the business process outsourcing industry. There are a large number of opportunities in large enterprises where document management can be modernized and that is the future requirement which people are not aware of. Our marketing challenge is to be able to sensitize our customers and make them aware of futuristic trends and to help them prepare for that scenario with complete immunity to future technology innovation.

How important is customer experience for B2b companies. And what technologies and marketing campaigns do you see enabling better customer experience?
One of the most important experiences in B2B areas is the experience of trust. When you are dealing in outsourcing of services there has to be a reasonable amount of trust we have about the experience we offer. We are the domain experts and are not doing experimentation with the client. We are gaining expertise in various verticals essentially in the area of insurance and banking, pharmacy, and real estate. These are very document centric companies. So, this is one of the most important parts when it comes to experience.

The second important experience in B2B area is to provide simple solutions instead of a complicated solution to the consumer. We do not want our consumers to invest heavily in a complex manner. We offer them modular architecture cost of our outsource services so that they have choices.

There is a very clear, visible cost saving that we are able to produce besides the optimized process, excess of information retrieval and archival facilities.

How does digital marketing fit into the B2B marketing plans of Canon?
Our offering is a technology offering and our target audience is also technology driven. When it comes to the digital medium, it comes as an important part of our communication strategy. But in order to create conviction or give compelling reasons to our customers to respond, we have to resort to ground level engagement with the consumers.

What is the role of content marketing in the B2B space?
In the B2B space, content can be used to create awareness among people and create endorsement of our offerings. We use various websites to create content on endorsements. So the role of content in the digital medium for B2B is to create credibility, trust and awareness.

-Devansh Sharma

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