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The balancing act in the era of Digital Communication

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C. K. Sabharwal, Managing Director, Crop Health Products

Technology is all pervasive in our times and so is digitization – dynamism is the hallmark of both.
Some refer to it as Digitalisation and some Digitisation. The difference in my mind has been a
struggle. I have simplified it to understand that Digitalisation refers to business transformation
involving processes and tools impacting revenue and Digitisation is moving from analog to
digital and a way in which information is transmitted. So, can we resolve that Digitalisation is
more inward and Digitisation is more outward?

Technology is not just part of our everyday life it is practically the backbone of every industry
too, from manufacturing to retail, from entertainment to education and to marketing of a product,
brand or organisation.

In search of the Right Balance
From Digital media contributing to 10% or even lesser of marketing budgets today it goes to as
high as 85%. The definition of marketing has advanced significantly over the last few years and
are now in the phase of ‘Marketing 4.0’. An era that has moved in its entirety, from the traditional
to digital ways of influencing and doing business. Having said that it is constantly about striking
the right balance between offline and online modes of communication.
Interestingly while creating this balance comes the new age of multi-screen marketing: TV &
smartphone. Both trying to influence the customer sequentially clearly mapping out the
customer journey and actions
Moving away from the traditional ways of influencing and nurturing audience, digital channels
have made marketing far more intense, effective and result oriented. With various tools
available as options, including social media, digital networks, electronic direct mailers, mobile
advertising, SEO, SEM, drip marketing and In-app communication, marketing can be as robust
as one would like to make it.
Marketers today are playing the role of not just influencing and building an awareness but also
an irreplaceable business tool. After facilitating an initial handshake with customers Marketing
today plays a vital role in nurturing that relationship to revenue closure. Owing to Digitisation
there are marketing automation tools which track progress of communication and inclination to
buy, recommendation engines help influencing customers at the right time This then brings me
to the most debated argument about how Marketing needs to change in a B2C environment vs
a B2B company. The fundamentals of marketing do not change, the intent of marketing remains
intact, the application of the marketing tools remain, the processes leading up to an effective
marketing campaign is the same. What changes is the messaging, target segment influences
and the decision-making period.

B2B marketing in the digital era – From Brand to Order
Demonstrating the Return on Investment of Marketing spends in a B2B environment needs
special attention owing to complex decision-making periods. The more there is a record of
proven ROI the more budgets get allocated. The measurement needs to be assessed at
various levels of impact: Brand, Digital Connections and Revenue. With digitisation ROI
measurement should be trackable but needs to be looked at through a game changing lenses.

Some of the interesting ways for B2B companies to drive measurable marketing:
(i) Brand: Given that the impact the Brand has on a daily basis can be measured through
tracking social listening and social conversations. Companies today have relative (to
competition) scores attributed to this which keeps the pressure on brand salience
(ii) Partner Relation Management (PRM): For a B2B organisation forming a robust
ecosystem of partners, distributors and channel forms a critical Go-To-Market model.
Therefore, a structured PRM portal forms the backbone of any business-to-business
firm. The digitised portal can operate in the form of the age-old Customer Relationship
Management (CRM) methodology, making a robust and strong partner eco-system,
further working on a strong sales pipeline.
(iii) Impact on Revenue: Another classic argument is who really played the most critical role
in the order. Was it influenced by sales or marketing. Who should the success be
attributed to? In these situations, I am constantly reminded of the adage: Success has
many fathers and failure is an orphan! Digital tools allow marketers to look at the various
stages of the order and influence the closure through powerful, real-time messaging
(iv) Marketing Generated or Marketing Influenced: Real time measurability through data
analytics is one of the revolution and power to marketers…Owing to this marketers can
laser zoom into deep assessment of orders which were influenced, generated, nurtured
by marketing /marketing campaigns vs the campaigns which helped play the role of
powerfully influencing the decision maker and order nurturing and fulfilment takes places
through other channels
(v) Content Marketing – Content is king and Distribution is Queen. Content has become the
soul of marketing activities. Good content with the right keywords is the need of the hour
for B2B marketers.

There is no set formula for marketers: Try, Experiment, Learn and Adapt
While technology is defining the segment in an unprecedented way, it has however, not
replaced the true meaning of marketing. At the centre of the marketing universe lies the
consumer/customer. Whether we look at offline or online or a hybrid model it goes back to
answering a few fundamental questions revolving around the customer pain points and need
gaps, ways to keep the brand alive and finally why should they believe a brand among others
Let us not try to change the basics of marketing, let us not get carried away by buzzwords. Let’s
bury our heads in the ground and listen to what the customer is looking for. Being disciplined
about this can change the game forever.

 

Bidisha Nagaraj, CMO, Schneider Electric India

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Bidisha Nagaraj

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