Innovation in B2B marketing: 4 senior decision-makers reveal their secrets
From adapting to new structures and implementing completely new ways of working, four senior marketers reveal the trials and tribulations of innovating in order to adapt their teams to the ever-changing B2B marketing landscape.
Global marketing director
Innovation isn’t always about implementing radical, shiny new processes, says Jeremy. It’s also about reviewing and improving your current practices
Ironically, in marketing innovation is often about going ‘back to basics’. While we may add to our technology stack, the simple purpose is to increase our audience understanding and targeting. Our corporate challenge is to deliver greater, more measurable impact on sales pipeline, so accurate segmentation and message targeting are essential.
As Domino turns 40, 2018 will see sustained innovation right across the business. We’ll be squeezing everything we can from our existing investments in web personalisation, social promotion, retargeting and in nurture-based marketing automation to enhance that.
In terms of content, I’m a great believer in the ‘challenger customer’ approach. Its mantra of ‘leading to, rather than with, your USPs’ means knowing our customers and their industries in great detail. In 2018, customer-centricity isn’t an option; it’s imperative.
Innovation is so much more than tech
Of course, innovation isn’t just about technology. We’re looking to improve the whole ‘people, process and technology’ matrix, so we’re changing our marketing structure and ways of working too. Alongside gathering customer feedback, we’ll be fully exploiting the expertise of regional marketing, sales, service, product management and every other customer-facing team. We aim to use that insight to maximise our content’s rational and emotional impact even earlier in the buyer journey.
In addition to all that, we’re transitioning each product and solutions marketing manager to a full-portfolio, industry sector-based role. We’re seeing that this brings deeper understanding of our customers’ market challenges, and improves collaboration with our regional marketing colleagues by sharing the burden of campaign lead targets.
Managing this change has required a clearly communicated and defined vision; people want to know what’s in it for them, as well as what’s in it for the business. We’re part way through that transition and many specifics need to be finalised, but the feedback so far is all positive.
Simon O’Mahony expects to uncover hidden gems from customer conversations when his company introduces speech analytics to improve customer experience later this year
All that is good and bad about Nisbets – the UK’s largest catering equipment supplier – is crystallised in the conversations our customers have with staff at our contact centre. And there are a lot of conversations.
We employ more than 2000 people and operate across nine countries, offering the food service industry over 25,000 items, from cutlery to commercial ovens. We knew there was gold in the conversations generated over such a wide spread, but we didn’t have the tools to access it.
We’re shortly going to introduce speech analytics software in our UK contact centre and after-sales service unit, which will open us up to an array of customer insight.
The software will record all inbound calls, convert the calls to text and combine the data together with all written communication in a single hub. Call recording, transcription and tagging are already underway and we anticipate the phased rollout to start in March.
A new dawn in customer service opportunities
We expect multiple benefits across a number of areas of the business, including a daily measure of customer sentiment, instant feedback to the buying team on product performance (allowing us to immediately identify and investigate quality issues) and customer feedback on channels.
It’s the channel feedback that really excites the digital teams. Via daily feedback, we’re anticipating the opportunity to quickly identify and address customer pain points on the website before they affect the majority of users.
Tracked feedback will also identify common questions that can be converted into self-serve content, improving the web experience and reducing traffic into the contact centre. We can also determine customers’ view of our multi-channel offer to find out whether the experience from website to store is as seamless as we’d like.
For Freshfields’ CMO Lucy Murphy, meeting the growing demands of a round-the-clock business required the marketing team to adopt innovative new structure
The need to innovate in marketing and business development is constant, but delivering the expected outcomes with constraints on resources requires ingenuity and creativity.
At Freshfields, we’ve restructured the marketing and business development function to create a model that’s becoming truly global. In the not-too-distant future, it will enable us to pass work seamlessly around the clock to meet the 24-hour demands of both our clients and our legal colleagues.
This is not without its challenges, particularly as we’ve moved away from a set-up aligned to business structure, and towards a model more oriented to strategic solutions and client-centric capabilities.
The real challenge has been in finding the right people. It requires staff that can operate very effectively within a more ambiguous structure. They need to be able to influence and persuade, often at the highest levels in the firm and deliver something that resonates with clients.
Increased focus on technology
To help with this, we’ve analysed the various tasks we deliver across the function to identify things that require day-to-day contact with clients and advise them on the most effective way to achieve their desired outcome.
It’s also given us the ability, largely through our Manchester legal services centre, to develop highly-specialised teams for core areas such as pitches, design, insight and analytics, and directories.
Our restructure has encouraged us to become much more focused on technology. This runs to parallel the ongoing transformation in the firm; we have to understand the wide range of legal issues that digital and tech are presenting our clients.
We have work to do as we overhaul our marketing technology suite, but our time to market, which once took weeks and months, is increasingly measured in hours and days. I consider this a genuine advantage in differentiating the firm.
Senior marketing manager
Peter has found that an Agile approach to marketing is unlocking the innovation that already exists within the business
I believe innovation in marketing comes from being able to prioritise, produce, deliver, and measure the results. Agile does all that.
In the year ahead, PFU will be applying Agile marketing, working in teams with key suppliers to rapidly release results – whether that’s website releases, social media or channel partner resources. We test frequently and roll the results into adapted approaches to our markets.
So what is Agile marketing? Just another buzzword, right? No. The most useful way to start with Agile marketing is probably to explain what it isn’t.
It’s not just another word for efficiency, or just another way of doing marketing quicker. It’s not a new marketing technique.
Agile marketing focuses on teamwork and responding to the changing market. It allows small teams (usually no more than six marketers) to complete a project, then release, test and inspect the results, adapting the campaign if required.
We’ve found that marketing projects are completed more efficiently, releasing more frequently and saving on both budget and resources.
Simple things like Kanban boards (which sound complicated, but are essentially boards that map out what’s being worked on and what still needs to be done) have also really improved communication and collaboration, both within the team and the wider business.
Agile also helps to avoid scope creep. By focusing on agreed tasks, agile marketers complete work rather than being diverted by things that have been thrown at them. That tends to increase the team’s motivation. They like being given the responsibility of prioritising their own work, and working together to see rapidly measurable results.