The next 12 months promise to be interesting ones for business-to-business (B2B) marketing in the telecommunications sector. For one thing, B2B continues to gain importance within the telco marketing agenda as the market rapidly outpaces business-to-consumer sales.
At the same time, though, B2B telco marketers will be at the forefront of educating customers on a host of technology trends that are reshaping the telecommunications market and the products and services it offers. Perhaps the most high-profile example of this is the arrival of fifth-generation mobile technology, or 5G.
This standard will enable communication speeds of anything from around 50 megabits a second to over a gigabit, potentially opening up a massive new range of applications. For telcos, the implications are massive. As EY, the consultancy, notes, “The post-2020 landscape will be transformed by 5G.”
Plan for 5G marketing
Telco business customers are keen to understand how 5G will transform their operations and will look to telcos for inspiration and guidance. But the technology is so new that applications are still emerging. For mobile service providers, it may be enough to promote the capabilities of 5G to business customers.
Telcos without a mobile offering, however, will need to reassess …
Telecommunications companies face a challenge: growth in business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, the biggest revenue stream for most companies, is slowing. According to Bain & Company, the consumer market is only expected to grow at about 0.6% a year, barely enough to keep many telco revenues treading water.
This stagnation in B2C growth is increasingly forcing telecommunications players to look at business-to-business (B2B) opportunities, an area has traditionally played second fiddle to consumer sales. Compared to B2C, B2B offers considerable growth potential. Bain & Company believes the B2B telecommunications market is growing at around 2.6% a year.
Deloitte, meanwhile, estimates the global B2B telecoms market will have seen a 2% annual compound growth rate between 2010 and 2020, based on Gartner data from 2015. B2B IT services could grow twice as fast. Focusing on this market makes sense, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Deloitte warns that “to make the B2B value creation engine run you must transform the operations and build new capabilities.”
Adopting a new approach
Deloitte and Bain & Company both recommend that telcos should carry out strategic realignments of their business to capture the B2B opportunity. For example, Bain & Company says it is important to …
A recent report from the accountancy firm PWC paints a challenging picture for business-to-business (B2B) telecoms marketers in 2019. “Revenues across the B2B segment of the telecom industry are slowly declining,” says the report. “The needs and desires of buyers are not being fulfilled.”
Furthermore, it says: “New competitors are circling, with capabilities that many telcos can’t easily match.”
Against this backdrop, what can you do to make sure your brand stands out? Here are five strategic pillars you could consider, all based on thinking carefully about your customers and their experiences.
Understand your top-spending customers
Most marketers will be aware of the Pareto principle, which states that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. In 2019, successful marketing begins by understanding who these clients are, and how you can nurture them.
Identifying your top accounts is easy but understanding how you can serve them better might require more work. It’s an essential task, though. If you are missing data to provide an accurate customer profile, then don’t be afraid to engage with these clients, for example through email surveys.
The chances are they will be glad to offer you the information you need to give them …
At the beginning, a global marketing strategy gives birth to a plan. That plan then reaches out to the right people. And those right people then need to know how to implement the common message through a scalable approach… with consistency. So what’s the solution? We’d say solid, effective, efficient processes, that’s what. Though our thoughts may be best illustrated with an example.
Let’s look at digital marketing…
If digital marketing is your thing, content is your king. Whether you’re going local or global, outstanding content will still be one of the key ways you engage your audience and drive them towards a purchasing decision. So what do you need to do to pull together the right processes for extending your current operation to accomplish your global plans?
Audit your current content operation
When you’re gearing up for a global marketing attack, doing an audit of your existing content is a must. Let’s face it, if you discover literature that can be used globally, and not just locally, it will put you ahead of your plans. The problem is, though, if you’ve been going for a while, finding out what and where that content actually is can be a bit …
Whether you’re planning on taking over the world and going global with your marketing, or wanting to simply hit a new ‘locale’, making the right impression takes more than just being brand consistent. There are some chunky actions you need to take…
Get thinking area specific
At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs, we feel this needs saying: Regardless of whether you’re going to be operating at a regional level, a country level, or an extensive common-language level, catering for cultural differences and population tastes matters. Not being seduced into thinking a single language makes things easier is important, therefore, from the start. True enough, implementing marketing plans in one country does open up options for then extending campaigns to other countries that speak the same lingo, but ‘normal’ marketing rules still apply. A blanket approach to more than one country is unlikely to be as effective as you’d like. Language is one thing, but legal frameworks, financial constraints, and social expectations are another.
Start tackling translation
But if you’ve straightened out your thinking on language, the next thing to tackle is the realities (and potential opportunities) springing from that decision.
Opening up new French markets, for example, …
Implementing a global marketing initiative requires a carefully considered strategy that’s been agreed by key stake holders… and a lot of energy. As we wrote last month, you have to do your homework first, within your organisation and without, before you can develop your strategy. But once that’s done, and you can see that the picture looks promising, the next step is to outline your plan.
Putting together your global marketing plan
If winning support internally for your global marketing aspirations is the glue that will hold your strategy together, data is the fuel that will energise your plans.
To create a plan you need information – details of what you’re aiming to achieve internally, and why – because this will provide the focus. You’ll want to establish various facts and figures to get started, and these will include aspects such as the revenue you want to achieve, how many customers that revenue will require, and what your conversion rate is likely to be etc. You’ll also want consider in detail how your sales cycle is likely to run, as well as what peculiarities the new overseas markets have that mean you need to tailor your approach differently to the …
A global marketing initiative has to be based on a sound strategy that fully supports the business objectives. It’s planning has to be informed by market data that’s specific to each location. And it MUST have the right team collaborating and driving it forward. People matter, people.
Pulling together the right team
You may have the luxury of some dedicated heads, you may not. Either way, though, you’ll want to pick your helpers carefully. We’d always recommend choosing marketing talent over language skills. Yes, it’s tempting if someone speaks German to have them overseeing the German campaigns, but actually an outside pair of hands who can speak the lingo will give you the interpreting skills you need, when you need them; the marketing excellence is much harder to find.
Also choose those with a genuine thirst for global expansion. It’s up to you how you detect this, of course. Asking the question in an interview will elicit a set of standard responses; you’ll have to read between the lines. But someone who sees the role as a step in the right direction for their career (not necessarily with an increased salary) will work with enthusiasm and be keen to grow …
You are in business. You have customers, prospective customers, loose connections, people who have never heard of you, and people who would gain from having heard of you. Your data universe is a mix of existing contacts and prospective contacts; the problem is knowing who the latter actually are.
To get the most out of your marketing, you run different types of campaigns depending on the people you’re hoping to engage, and that is influenced by their profile and where they currently are in their buying journey. But reaching the people you don’t yet know exist, and who have never heard of you either, is a key component of growing your sales. And the only way to do that… is to understand your data universe.
What is out there?
Did you know that there isn’t actually a single database containing all private sector businesses in the UK? The closest to it is the Inter-departmental Business Register (IDBR), which is managed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). But this only includes VAT/PAYE registered businesses. To find out about unregistered (or non-employing) businesses you need to do a bit more digging. However, if that sounds like a lot of effort, don’t …
Matching your global aspirations to your business priorities
Is your company thinking about expanding beyond its current market? Considering pushing past the borders you know so well and extending further afield? Most of our clients already have and we have been privy to their learnings and helped them in the journey.
The only way to have any chance of success is if a solid global marketing strategy is in place.
This month, we thought it was worth a look at the groundwork a business should do develop a global marketing plan, no better starting place than developing the right strategy.
Step 1: Clarify your business purpose
Think, how do you define success for your business? You can’t grasp how a global marketing initiative is going to make a difference, and thus set it goals, if you don’t have a clear vision of what success looks like for your organisation.
Are there geographical hotspots for your audience? Is your primary focus revenue? Are you wanting to diversify to mitigate risk?
For the initiator, yes you, getting ‘buy in’ from others across your business, helps you to know how your vision is going to make a difference to the budget holders …
First things first, consider this: 1. Revenue generation from online ads now exceeds that of newspaper, television and desktop advertising. 2. Decision makers now go online to both research and purchase for business as much as they do privately. The B2B marketer cannot afford to overlook their company’s digital presence, branding, engagement, and communications, therefore… full stop.
You might reckon we’re not telling you anything new there, but if we then introduce the term, “AI”, you might also start to wonder if your competition knows something you don’t.
Big data and AI
Canny businesses are now collecting, collating, and analysing every byte of precious data coming into their possession. Customer engagement, fleeting clicks, shares, likes, purchases… and abandoned conversations. All these interactions are tiny pieces of the huge picture B2B marketers need to be able to strategise, react, and plan.
That’s where AI comes to the fore. Big data is called that for a reason. It’s a HUGE amount of information that’s just sitting there as an amorphous virtual mass. Nobody can make proper sense of it, let alone glean new golden nuggets of information, on their own. They need computer power, intelligent algorithms, and the ability for those algorithms …
First quarter of 2019 is done and dusted, but the wheel of marketing never stops turning. So we thought we’d take a peek at what the B2B marketer should be reviewing in their strategy for the rest of the year.
Getting back to basics with branding… then boosting big time
Being able to cash in on a fad or going viral will always be a nice whirlwind in which to get caught up; nobody is going to deny that. But riding by the seat of your pants (to mix our metaphors, but you get what we mean) is not a long term strategy on which to rely. Good old-fashioned focus on getting your branding and positioning right, and then doing all that you can to ensure it appeals to your market, however, is. And never has the right messaging at the right moment mattered so much to B2B marketers. With a multitude of digital channels available 24/7, ensuring your brand values are consistently communicated is critical.
What does this mean for B2B now? B2B marketers, you need to sharpen up your branding act. Fine tune your value messages. Review every touchpoint. Ensure consistency. Engage, engage, engage.
Think variety of media… …
The data universe can be a huge, complex and scary place in the post-apocalyptic wake of GDPR, what is available out there, where did it come from and is it safe to use? But firstly, do you really know what you are looking for?
Understanding your targetable and available data universe can often become complicated but in order to do so you need to start somewhere.
In our experience and indeed in that of our clients you must firstly attempt to define what your ideal prospect company and Decision Maker Contacts (DMC) looks like.
For some this can seem relatively easy. For instance, a company has a niche product focused very much on one vertical, in one country aimed at a specific DMC.
For most however this isn’t the norm. For instance, a company with multiple products, service offerings and solutions that are available to prospect companies over a wide geographical spread such as EMEA and that have a complex mix of DMC, will need to conduct analysis to determine what the ideal prospect company could look like, for what solution or offering, in which geographies and determine who within those companies should be contacted.
This can seem like a …