That is quite the paradigm shift from what others have said about predicting the future. Steve Jobs said that the best way to predict the future is to invent it. Alan Kay said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. Bonin Bough is tremendously passionate about digital and social media and his point of view is a new twist on disruptive marketing. He is responsible for driving business growth and audience engagement for global consumer brands such as Oreo, Trident, and many others under the Mondelēz International umbrella. His perspectives on marketing for the digital economy are, however, thought-provoking even for B2B organizations.
To dispel any negative connotations of damage, Bonin clearly states that by “hacking”, he means the act of breaking something down in order to achieve better results and unlock the greatest value. An organization has to break free from tradition and legacy in order to accelerate growth and drive change. A good example Bough cites is that of 3 corporations—P&G, Kraft and Unilever—that embraced television as a medium of advertising and marketing at a time when radio was the tried and tested (and far less expensive) medium. A similar “inflection point” today is that of mobility and the brands that have embraced the mobile revolution are ahead of others in terms of audience engagement. This kind of connectivity and the opportunity of sight, sound and motion offer a whole new vista of marketing innovation.
It’s not just mobile marketing though, but an integrated approach of multi-channel brand marketing across digital, social, mobile, app marketing, gamification, print, inbound, outbound, direct marketing, etc. that allows these brands to stand out. You have to think different and be different to make a real difference to your customers.
“Create a Culture of Hacking”—Operate As A Real-Time Marketing Organization
Among the most common challenges faced by large organizations include the rigidity of processes and systems, sluggish decision-making, analysis-paralysis syndrome and inability to keep up with the pace of change that customers demand and want to see sooner rather than later. Bonin encourages large organizations to think like a startup and create a culture of hacking within the company. To make a system or a process work better and deliver greater results, you have to break it up, take it apart and rebuild it to function in real-time. If your customers are finding online videos from third parties to solve a problem with your product, they are not going to wait until your tech support responds to their ticket, returns their phone call or replies to an email. They want answers and solutions now.
While a startup may or may not have funding, and will rarely have deep pockets, Bonin reminds us that a successful model has in place the essentials of: Speed, Agility and Scalability. For instance, a big company struggles to create more (unique) content at a faster pace. A smaller startup is able to do this through trusted partnerships with content agencies and a less rigid review and approval process. How can a big company do this? Bonin gives the example of how Mondelēz uses 6-second Vines and 15-second Instagram videos to change the dimensions and scale of brand marketing. Of course, these social channels may not be the most appropriate ones for a B2B brand, but there are others such as LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, SlideShare, and even your own company blog, that are powerful channels for business.
You have to start listening to social conversations involving your brand. These conversations may not always be about your brand specifically, but if they are about the industry, your competition, your channel partners, your associates and staff, then they involve your brand. By listening and paying attention, you can shape your stories to become relevant, personalized content your audience wants to consume. By responding to customer queries and addressing their concerns in real-time, you can start functioning at the same pace that startup companies do. At Mondelez, some middle to senior managers are deputed to go and work within partner organizations so that they can learn about these partners from the inside; working closely with them and experiencing the same pain points they do.
If you assigned one of your senior managers to work within a customer’s organization for 30 or 60-day period, perhaps even longer if required, it would open up your eyes and ears to what really keeps your customers awake at night. It would light the way for your product and service teams on how to customize your offering to deliver the best fit for that customer. Remember that it is a significant investment for both parties. While you may think that you are putting money into paying for an employee who is working for your customer, the customer on the other side too, is investing time and resources to train your employee on their systems and processes. So for an arrangement like this to work and bring actionable insights to the table, you need, first and foremost, a strong relationship based on trust.
Can your B2B organization commit to physically stepping into your customer’s shoes? Imagine the wealth of knowledge you would acquire by doing so! How will you work to establish that level of trust where a potential customer or even an existing one feels confident and comfortable enough to allow you an up-close look at their day to day operations?
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