Archive for the ‘Market Intelligence’ Category
Monday, September 20th, 2010
From visionary entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 CEOs, MeetTheBoss TV interviews focus on the business challenges that matter today, clearly explaining the solutions, competitive strategies, people, and thinking around them.
All this week, B2B International is sponsoring the latest thoughts from business leaders around the world:
- Vinton Cerf, VP and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google – the so-called “Father of the Internet”, discusses the power of Google, the impact the recession has had on the Internet and what the future holds for how we use the Web
- Ozwald Boateng, OBE, talks about the business of fashion and how to bring something unique to the world of business
- Eric Ryan, Founder, Method, explains how to create a solid corporate culture and discusses how culture drives leadership
- Anne Sweeney, Co-Chairman, Disney talks about being ‘The Most Powerful Woman In Television’ and how to sustain success in a cut-throat industry
- Don Knauss, CEO of Clorox, explains why effective communication is critical to business success
- Nick Hague, Director of B2B International, talks about the importance of market intelligence, how to build your market position and how to target your customers more effectively
Here are just 10 of the many key skills explained on Meet The Boss TV:
1. How leaders interpret situations and what they learn
2. How to develop the next generation of business leader
3. Proven, key strategies to improve innovative thinking
4. How to keep energy levels high in your sales team
5. How to deliver an effective marketing message
6. What companies want from today’s technology leaders
7. How to win hearts and minds during company-wide transformation
8. How to kill projects AND win internal battles
9. Proven, key strategies to make social media work for you
10. Personal management systems and what really gets results
Click on the following link – Meet The Boss TV to listen to this week’s business leaders
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
This article by Stefan Stern in the Financial Times this week caught our eye. It makes the point that marketing services have become the butt of procurement teams who are eager to save money and feel that this fluffy subject of marketing is fair game. We know the feeling! This is, of course, a tactical move and we wonder what the effect will be in the long-term of cutting back on marketing spending.
In the article Stern leans heavily on Philip Kotler who is always good for an insight or two. Kotler believes that marketing professionals in corporates are better at tactical rather than strategic decisions. He postulates that maybe it would be better to split the marketing teams in to one working on current products (and therefore be responsible for tactics) and another team looking longer term (and therefore be responsible for strategic moves). These are interesting thoughts.
The marketing team must aim higher
By Stefan Stern
Published Financial Times 2nd March 2010
The C-suite just got bigger, again. The US advertising agency TBWA/Chiat/Day has appointed a new “chief compensation officer” to lead their negotiations on the fees they charge their clients. It is a sign that this agency has had enough of being squeezed by its clients’ procurement officers. Marketing is fighting back. The Mad Men would be proud.
It is easy to see why, of all the services that a company might buy in from outside, marketing is likely to be the most energetically haggled over. Chief executives have long bemoaned the difficulty of knowing exactly what value they have derived from their marketing spend. Out of that frustration arises a natural desire to be extra tough on the costs of marketing activity.
But it is not as though marketing has got any easier in recent times. The opposite is true. Experienced consumers in mature markets have been exposed to just about every trick in the marketing playbook. Cynicism over the claims made by businesses for their products can be deep. Unsurprisingly, marketing departments can find themselves becoming a convenient scapegoat for the leaders of struggling businesses. But in a downturn the real difficulty lies simply in selling anything to world-weary customers who may be satisfied with good-enough but unexciting products.
One person who displays no world-weariness at all is Philip Kotler, the 79-year-old “father of modern marketing”. I met Professor Kotler in London recently and, even after five decades pursuing his subject, he was eager to look ahead and consider new directions for the discipline.
While the current economic climate was not making life easy for marketers, Prof Kotler told me, the crisis had brought one refreshing development: “At least it’s the finance people who are getting blamed for a change.”
Wise-cracks aside, Prof Kotler has chosen this moment of crisis to ask some big questions about what marketing actually does. “Is marketing the enemy of sustainability?” was one of them. For years the task for marketers was to persuade customers that the latest upgrade, the newer model, was a must-buy. But it is time to challenge that orthodoxy, he said.
In a resource-deprived world, businesses cannot hurl more and more product at customers, supported by extravagant marketing budgets. Prof Kotler recalled the message of a book published three years ago, Firms of Endearment, written by Rajendra Sisodia, David Wolfe and Jagdish Sheth.
The authors found that some of the most successful companies in fact spent much less on marketing than their weaker rivals. But they used the word-of-mouth effect of unpaid advocates – loyal customers – to boost their reputation.
Marketing needed to think not just about the company’s “share of wallet”, but also its “share of heart”, these authors said. “Earn a share of the customer’s heart and she will gladly offer you a bigger share of her wallet.”
Prof Kotler plans to develop this idea in his latest book – called, perhaps inevitably, Marketing 3.0 – to be published in two months.
Another challenge for marketing is to assert itself at the heart of the company’s strategic thinking (an idea also suggested by London Business School’s Nirmalya Kumar in his book Marketing as Strategy). “If you have the right people in marketing it could become your engine for growth,” Prof Kotler told me. But while they might be quite creative on tactics, he added, not so many marketing professionals can do the strategic work.
So why not split the department in two? A larger, downstream marketing team working on current products, with a much smaller, strategic team looking at new markets and new ideas for the coming two to three years.
This could work – as long as the interests of customers do not fall between the cracks of organisational silos. As Harvard Business School’s Ranjay Gulati has shown, for all that businesses talk about being “customer-centric” (and marketing is supposed to represent “the voice of the customer”), many simply are not. “They look at customers only through the lens of existing products,” Prof Gulati says.
Right now marketing needs to aim high. That is what Prof Kotler is urging people to do. And he was happy to concede that, as so often, Peter Drucker was ahead of everyone on this topic, too. He even provided a handy mission statement. “The aim of marketing,” Drucker once said, “is to make selling unnecessary.”
Thursday, July 30th, 2009
Following yesterdays post on ‘Market Research In A Recession’ is today’s post detailing the seven steps to minimize the impact of reduced market research spending. These steps from John Quelch (a professor at Harvard Business School) confirm a lot of what we have learnt in business to business markets over the last few months:
- Stay focused. Savvy marketers focus their research on the products, brands, and markets that are key to their marketing strategy. In a recession, it’s essential to get a clear read on existing core customers, including those who are most loyal to the brand and those who are most profitable, rather than fritter away research resources on potential or peripheral customers. When times are good, there is budget available for increased research on secondary products or customers. Now, nice-to-knows that are not essential will have to wait.
- Enlist trusted research partners. Marketers and research suppliers who trust each other and have established long-term relationships can jointly plan how to extract more insights and make better decisions based on fewer expenditures. For example, combining data sets may reveal new leading indicators of changes in customer behavior. Tracking studies may have an edge over one-off projects. CMOs who trim costs by consolidating their budgets with an integrated research supplier should insist that the supplier aggressively explore synergies across its various component agencies as well as eliminate research redundancies.
- Value experience and judgment. CMOs should tap the knowledge and intuitions of managers and researchers who’ve lived through previous recessions. In setting prices, for example, such insight can help calibrate the optimal level of price promotion offers. Experience also reveals proxies: in tough times, some marketers use research results from Sweden as a proxy for Scandinavia, rather than conducting the same research in all Scandinavian countries.
- Seize opportunities overseas. Some large multinational marketers, such as Unilever, are shifting market research expenditures away from Western Europe and toward emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. Relative to the developed economies, the costs of research in emerging economies are less and the payoff from incremental insight can often be greater. Brand preferences and consumption levels in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil tend to be more fluid. Customer research is therefore critical to aid marketers trying to cement brand preferences early on as these economies develop.
- Use online market research with a dash of skepticism. Online research is cheap, fast, and the wave of the future. Tools like SurveyMonkey allow non-expert users to create custom surveys in minutes. As an alternative to offline focus groups, custom online panels can be formed for qualitative research on new product ideas or new ads. Taking the do-it-yourself approach rather than outsourcing to a market research firm is attractive in a cost-cutting era, but you risk getting no more than what you pay for. The opinions of convenience sample of an enthusiastic online brand community may not represent all users.
- Don’t cut market research across the board. Just as important as knowing where to cut research is knowing where not to cut. When marketers are creating fewer new ads and introducing fewer new products, it is doubly important to use rigorous pretesting to select the strongest alternatives. In categories where the bases for customers’ value judgments are changing, modest expenditures on copy research can prevent blowing much more money on ineffective messaging. Adding a few questions to standard tracking studies is a low-cost way to shed light on changes in customer attitudes and purchase behavior. For key products, running conjoint studies to check on shifts in price elasticities of demand and price-attribute tradeoffs can usefully improve the profitability of pricing decisions at a time when cash is king.
- Keep an eye on the new customer. No one has a perfect record of predicting the future, and the recession is making it harder for customers to envision or articulate their needs. Even so, and despite budget pressures, smart marketers devote a portion of their market research to getting a handle on future changes in customer behavior. Are customers of your brand going to revert to previous consumption patterns when the recession ends? Or are they developing coping mechanisms that will endure, especially if the recession is lengthy? What new products and services will customers be open to embracing? If, as in the financial services category, customer confidence and trust in brands have been seriously eroded, how long and what steps will it take to regain them? Eventually, the recession will end, and future success depends on being well-positioned, based on sound research, when it does.
To view the latest marketing strategies of large multi-national corporates in a recession, click here.
Original article viewed at http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/
Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s latest Marketing Trends survey shows hints of increasing business confidence among UK marketers.
While 72% of the 1,223 marketers surveyed still do not think that the UK will completely pull out of recession by the end of this year, the number of respondents believing the situation will worsen over the next year halved – to 34% – compared to the last Marketing Trends survey conducted in autumn 2008. 35% expect business to improve throughout 2009, and more than a quarter (26%) believes the UK economy will improve over the next 12 months, a figure that compares favourably to just 11% in the previous survey.
However, almost a third of respondents are concerned over losing their jobs in the next 12 months and 18% of self-employed marketers worry that the recession may force them to close their business this year. Nevertheless, while 2009 is still anticipated to be a tough year overall, there are definite signs that British marketers believe the worst may soon be over.
Backing this belief, a survey of global marketers recently carried out by B2B International showed almost half of the respondents (47%) to be feeling optimistic about their own organisation’s prospects over the coming year.
Meanwhile, the latest Business Trends report by accounting firm BDO Stoy Hayward LLP shows that UK businesses expect the pace of economic decline to slow markedly over the next quarter, supporting the UK Chancellor’s predictions of a recovery starting in Q4 2009.
Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
Matthew Harrison, B2B International’s Director of International Operations, was featured in Marketing’s recent special issue on emerging markets.
Drawing upon his time spent working in our China office and using his extensive experience gained through managing research projects in such far-reaching geographies as Russia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania, Matthew offers invaluable advice to Western companies looking to establish or build a presence in any emerging B2B market. The full published article is as follows:
Some years ago, the chief justification for Western companies entering emerging markets was to establish low-cost manufacturing operations.
However, in the past five years there has been a revolution in strategy as the purchasing power of emerging economies has grown and these companies have now shifted their focus from supply to demand.
The casual observer watching a Muscovite sip a Starbucks cappuccino could be forgiven for thinking that customers in developing markets want Western products in Western packaging, promoted in a Western style at Western prices.
While many Western brands have developed a cachet across the developing world, the real picture is more complex, particularly in B2B markets. There are six factors that must distinguish B2B marketing in emerging markets.
The first is the importance of conveying higher product quality. In developing markets, companies’ product requirements often place less emphasis on product durability and quality of materials than in Western countries, putting greater importance on a lower cost. This is a huge challenge to Western companies seeking to enter the market, as they may find it hard to convey the value of the technical superiority of their product.
Second, when it comes to the services associated with a product offering, buyers in emerging markets are frequently as demanding, if not more so, than Westerners. For example, branches of Subway in China often take telephone orders for their sandwiches, and deliver these free of charge to customers’ homes or workplaces. A service such as this would be seen as extravagant in the West, but is often a basic requirement in Beijing and Shanghai, and no economic value is attached to it.
The third factor is the importance of local presence. Western companies entering developing markets often assume that the prestige of their brand excuses them from establishing a local presence. This is not the case. While customers in developing countries may be willing to pay more for the quality, prestige and technical know-how of an established Western company, all these advantages must be in addition to, not instead of, the basic requirements of spare-parts availability, access to technical support and face-to-face contact with local-language speakers.
Then there is promotion. If a Western brand can deliver on its promises, its name and values can prove a huge advantage and allow extremely large margins to be achieved. This is particularly true in consumer markets, where products such as luxury clothing and perfume brands frequently collect higher premiums than they do in the West.
In B2B markets, Western brands carry a particular weight if they can boast international accreditations such as ISO or a prestigious client list. These demonstrations of a company’s aptitude are often vital.
Fifth, relationships are key. As developing markets open up, buyers are only gradually becoming comfortable with dealing with people and companies they don’t know. Relationships are widely used as a substitute for brand when it comes to verifying provenance. Most B2B offerings also involve repeat purchases or after-sales support, and this makes attendance at events, face-to-face contact and local language capability essential.
Lastly, market research is vital. This is commonplace among Western companies, and the necessity of obtaining independent information is even more critical when it comes to operating in foreign markets. Not only do many Western companies lack insight into the developing markets, but cultural barriers and a lack of familiarity between managers in different locations can often mean that the exchange of information within international companies is wanting.
The most successful multinationals conduct frequent research across geographies, challenging their own thinking as well as the flow of information within their companies.
More of Matthew’s white papers on developing markets are available on our website: