Tag: marketing

Uber is Struggling in the UK. Can India’s Ola Do Things Differently? | In the News

India’s largest ride-sharing service, Ola, is coming to Britain. It’s news that will make not just Uber sit up and pay attention.

A major challenge to succeed with customers and to hire drivers will be brand recognition. “It is not known,” says Yugal Joshi from Everest Group, a research firm. “[It will need] a meaningful marketing blitz around its entry, create incentives for drivers, work with regulators to better understand the constructs, and understand the taxi habits of UK passengers,” he adds. What it shouldn’t do is market taxis as an alternative to other modes of transport, as it does in India. Instead, Joshi argues, it should make it essential for British commuters.

Read more in Wired UK

Marketing Services: You Can’t Outsource Creativity…Can You? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

At the Procurecon Indirect conference in Copenhagen a couple of weeks ago, three senior procurement people from different corporations approached me with their woes about the lack of control and the high levels of procurement indiscipline their marketing departments exhibit. They wanted to know how and if Everest Group could solve the problem of rogue spend with external agencies for marketing services. It’s an interesting and very valid question.

Marketing services is one area in which many enterprises’ Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) have had neither the evidence nor the mandate to challenge established thinking. Furthermore, unlike IT and non-core business process outsourcing alternatives that have been around for 20 years, outsourcing options for marketing didn’t exist until recently. Now that they do, CPOs are sensing the opportunity, in partnership with Chief Marketing Officers, to transform the way marketing services are delivered.

Benchmarking Can Help, but…

Benchmarking can certainly provide rate-card analysis, SLA review, a breakdown of the cost-stack, and any number of other elements from the contract, to give a view of pricing and equitable contracting. But there are problems:

  1. Marketing services engagements are often part of the long-tail of spend, ad hoc in nature, sometimes not subject to a formal contract, and often worth not much individually. Benchmarking these could cost a CPO several-fold more than would likely be saved
  2. If a contract did exist, benchmarking would drive the discussion between a procurement team wanting to understand whether marketing services suppliers are delivering value and a marketing department wanting to defend the status quo. Typically, however, benchmarking informs the commercial negotiation between client and supplier
  3. The nature of marketing services engagements are sometimes niche and specialist, based on knowledge of a vertical or channel acquired over time. Providing meaningful points of comparison is likely to be difficult
  4. Buyers will doubtless maintain that it is impossible to benchmark creativity.

But, as one of my Procurecon conversations suggested, the issues for CPOs aren’t high levels of spend or a desire to be in control of every spending decision. Rather, they’re concerned about fragmented spend and lack of overall visibility.

5 Steps CPOs Can Take

They can begin by promoting the procurement function as an exemplar of best practice by pointing to examples in other spend categories of how procurement has driven cost savings, improved quality, or stimulated innovation. Doing so establishes CPOs’ leadership credentials.

Next, they can introduce some level of technology that will deliver at least visibility into spend. Several speakers at the conference cited the need for the procurement process to generate data to increase efficiency. Many CPOs without a mandate for category management seem reluctant to push for integrated procure-to-pay or source-to-contract systems. But less invasive approaches, such as customized applications in Salesforce, could still generate useful information about spend categories, transaction volumes, and whether suppliers are being contracted by separate groups within an enterprise.

Third, they can consider portfolio rationalisation, against these rationales:

  1. unravelling large numbers of small, often informal arrangements is hard, but the disconnected procurement of “specialized” or creative skills by separate parts of the business can produce a rate-card premium of up to 25 percent
  2. buyers may have contracted long-term rates for specialized skills; in this age of rapid obsolescence, the skills may have become commonplace, but the long-term contracts continue to charge contracted premiums
  3. a specific resource requirement may indeed be specialised for a provider with low capability in a particular area, but may fall into another provider’s delivery sweet spot; in our experience, transitioning such skills to a best-fit provider can save between 1 percent and 3 percent of contracting costs.

Next, they can investigate alternatives. Arguably, marketing services and creative agency spend are still immature enough to offer the opportunity to arbitrage. And providers with capability are rapidly emerging. Accenture has acquired over 20 agencies since 2010. Onsite digital design agencies such as NuFu, Oliver, and Spark44 have a growing impact. Every major service provider – Atos, Cognizant, Sutherland Global, Wipro, etc. – is investing in or acquiring digital agencies, and these investments will allow enterprises to consider accessing marketing services alongside a suite of outsourced IT or business process services.

Finally, they can benchmark the status quo with an alternative. Can a sourced solution give the enterprise not only a cost advantage but also faster delivery, access to global talent, measurable outcomes, and real transparency?

So, CPOs, there’s little reason to ask yourself “how do I do it?” Instead, the real question is, “why wait?”

You can find out how Everest Group helps enterprises optimise global procurement operations here. We also help enterprises rationalise complex portfolios of external suppliers.

Digital Marketing? Digital Will Kill Marketing | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

“When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This quote from The Psychology of Science easily, and disconcertingly, applies to many of today’s marketers, who are vigorously using digital technologies to “nail” the multiple customer touch points – e.g., context-based services, IoT, mobility, and social collaboration – at their disposal.

Indeed, there is significant vendor sponsored “research,” from the likes of Adobe, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce.com, SAP, and marketing consultants, that hammers home the idea that marketing has no future without digital technologies. Volumes of literature debate and explain how digital technologies are changing the role of traditional e-marketing, and that these technologies are providing the needed ammunition in terms of social conversations, mobile interfaces, and consumer analytics.

But there’s been surprisingly little discussion on whether marketers are overdoing it, whether all marketers are equally equipped to drive such technology-heavy initiatives, and whether digital marketing strategies benefit everyone, all organizations, across all industries. Here’s my take on a couple of these points.

  1. Most marketers do not fundamentally understand technology: For example, they get carried away by Facebook likes, and overwhelmed or too excited by what they see from marketing technology vendors, such as a new content management platform, irrespective of the value delivered. Though there is “hot money” flowing for digital marketing, this should not drive the adoption of digital technologies. For example, the business case of data analytics may become an “availability heuristic bias” without realizing whether it delivers good or bad data, or whether it can produce meaningful insights and business value or just become another academic exercise to please business leaders.

  2. Digital marketing is not about only marketing anymore: Earlier marketers could operate in their ivory towers with somewhat limited integration with the broader organization, as digital technologies were limited to email marketing, surveys, and/or occasional mobility projects. Today, however, with the plethora of customer touch-points, the fundamental shift in consumers’ interaction with a brand, the confluence of big data, the IoT, context-driven services, and mobility, marketers must realize that digital impact is broad-based across the organization. Many different departments, including production, support, supply chain, procurement, operations, customer service, and IT, need to be in synch to drive a meaningful digital marketing strategy. If the entire organization is not geared toward this transformation, the digital marketing efforts will eventually turn into traditional e-marketing, creating little business value.

Effective digital marketing should result in seamless excellent customer engagement, and requires an overhaul of multiple interconnected processes within an organization to avoid actually driving a disconnect with the customer. A plethora of digital technologies cannot improve a bad business process. Therefore, marketers have the difficult task of taking the entire organization together, explaining why process changes are required, how to improve customer touch-points, and how to build a customer experience lifecycle.

But, are marketers capable of doing this? Do they have the needed support and mandate from senior executives? Do they have the required organizational standing and stature to drive these changes? Can they fathom and swim across the political landscape and inertia of their organization?

Most importantly, marketers must keep the customer top of mind when considering use of digital technologies. The reality is that extreme technology leverage may confuse, frustrate, and overwhelm the customer. The branding message may get convoluted, confusing, and irrelevant. Though increasingly marketers are becoming more tech savvy, they should never forget their role is not to adopt latest digital technology but to serve their customers.

Digital channels are means to an end, not the end by themselves. For marketers, it is easy to get carried away by believing new technology is “digital marketing.” But what they may not realize is that “digital” may actually be killing marketing.


Photo credit: Flickr

Don’t SMAC Your Customer! | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The service provider community is very fond of clever terms, and SMAC — standing for Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud — is a good example of that. However, if you’re a service provider looking to sell to new or existing clients, talking about SMAC may not be the most productive way to hold the conversation.

The most productive way to uncover a significant opportunity is to talk to your customers in their language about the business issues they have. Sure, they’re looking for technology answers to their issues, but very few of them use the term SMAC of their own volition.

So if you’re talking to a retailer about their out-of-stock condition, for instance, talk about the practical ways that your solution will help them identify where they’re out of stock and how you can help them prevent that from happening.

Software tools can be very powerful. But as I’ve blogged several times in recent months, decision rights and buying influence are flowing toward the business users rather than CIOs. Providers must change terminology and communication to successfully capture their attention and serve them well.

Use simple business terms to communicate what you can do for a customer. If you use clever technology terms, you’ll probably just marginalize your impact and consign yourself to the realm of being a geek.

My advice: Keep the acronym out of your sales toolkit. Don’t SMAC your customer!

In Services Marketing, Fruitcake Won’t Bring You New Business | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

One of my favorite quotes of American humorist Mark Twain is: “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” He knew the secret of creating effective content: less is more. This is absolutely the case when creating content for marketing your service offerings and capabilities. But it’s not the dominant view, which is why so many service providers’ odds of getting new business sink when they launch new content — sort of like fruitcake.

Fruitcake is dense and heavy. Although it’s sweet and looks like a dessert, many people just pass it around without sampling it. Don’t let your marketing content be like fruitcake. It needs to be like a buntini — light, snack size, easily picked up and memorable. Your marketing intellectual property needs to be short, easy to digest, and easy to refer to other people.

I’ve blogged before about problems with ineffective thought leadership and marketing content. Often the issue is people and companies want to be stars. To be effective and memorable, you need to check that mindset at the door and focus on creating content that is compelling, interesting and based on real experience.

It’s even better if you serve up your content as a story or illustration rather than presenting it in a theoretical context. People gobble up stories. But theories, like fruitcake, are difficult to digest. If you go the theoretical route, you need to increase the level of synthesis and brevity.

Yes, it takes more time and effort to be concise. But your content will be more effective if you whip up a compelling topic, synthesize it down to its essence, present the essence in a short story and then stop. This way you’ll leave your potential customers hungry for more instead of wondering how they can squeeze in a nap to digest what they’ve eaten.


Photo credit: Richard Elzey

The World Doesn’t Need Another White Paper | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Would you maintain a marketing strategy that has shifted to a disadvantage? The answer seems like a no-brainer, but the reality is many providers in the global services market are indeed marching forward with a disadvantaged strategy.

In the increasingly competitive services marketplace, providers are running to thought leadership as a differentiation. That’s great. But here’s the problem: they use white papers to present their thought leadership but, frankly speaking, the world doesn’t need another white paper.

Nearly every provider has dozens of white papers; some have hundreds. Hoping to get past purchasing and get access to more senior people and business stakeholders, providers write white papers with the hope that they will percolate new business.

But the papers are not compelling enough to help increase their customer bases. They don’t differentiate in the area of thought leadership, because most of the providers are talking about the same topics or angles. The strategy might have worked when the topics were new; but that’s no longer the case. White papers usually sit on people’s desks and don’t get read. Even if they are read, they don’t make a strong impression and rarely result in new customers or serving an existing customer better.

For a white paper to work, it has to be different. It needs to be simple, profound and short. Buyers are looking for a practical vision of how to improve their business — they want something different than another paper about the capabilities of some tool or process. The paper won’t be remembered if it just tells the reader how to use a tool or process to do something.

Instead, a white paper with an effective message must ask penetrating questions. The right five questions will open the door.

IBM’s is doing this very well. So is Accenture. Think of their paper that gives an illustration of how a company saved $1 billion. The message is simple, clear, and leaves the potential customer asking questions. It invites a conversation between the buyer and the provider.

Webinars are similarly not effective. Like white papers, everybody is doing webinars and talking about the same thing. There is nothing compelling.

So you’re probably asking: Why is Everest Group doing webinars?

The audience for our webinars is a group of people who have subscribed to our content agenda on certain topics. In the webinars we effectively have a conversation with an intimate group invited to that conversation based on their expressed interest in it. We don’t attempt to evangelize through webinars; instead, we attempt to advance the knowledge of people who tell us they want to learn more about a topic and what’s going on in a particular space. Then we seek to move past the webinars to personal interactions and conversation with individuals.

It’s not that white papers or webinars are wrong in today’s marketing maneuvers. They have their place. It’s just that they are bad vehicles for projecting and demonstrating thought leadership to new people. They tend to be not insightful, all providers have them and the intended audience for the papers and webinars aren’t reading them or attending.

In the global services world marketing leaders depending on white papers or webinars to convey their message need to reinvent their strategy.

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