Getting Closer to your Customer in the B2B Realm

Interview with Ray Kloss, Head of Direct Marketing, SAP Australia.

In this Interview, Head of Marketing for SAP Australia Ray Kloss discusses future trends within B2B and what to focus on in the data space…

1. What are the 3 biggest trends in the B2B industry at the moment?

Most of the big trends now are about re-thinking the buying journey in businesses, re-thinking how they make their purchases.  First, it’s time to think B2P instead of B2B.  Brands, businesses, have to speak to people.    Reference-ability and networking is more important than ever in an environment of ever increasing ROI required from the P&L.  Second, marketeers need to think past the business / customer, and think further out to the customer’s customers.   The big question to ask is, “How do our offerings help our customers serve their customers?”  Answering this question is key “creating” market and achieving growth faster than the market.  Finally, business customers (and governments) are keen on smaller transactions, but within an overarching offering that allows business return within a quarter, but with a view to multi-year returns.

2. Social for B2C has taken off; do you think there’s a real benefit for B2B marketers to be engaging in the social space? And if so, how can B2B marketers improve their current tactics?

The answer on this question is very straight forward, if you are not using social networking in your B2B marketing, you are completely missing the trend of moving from B2B to B2P marketing.  That being said, it’s very complex to build a social strategy where the end-buyer is a professional, as opposed to a consumer.  Emotions are still involved, but it’s much more about ROI and risk, and there is a strong immunity to messages that don’t deliver value to their role and their teams.

3. As a company, what are SAP focusing on at the moment within the marketing area, and why?

Within SAP Marketing, we are focused first on getting closer to our customers.   Some of our best performing investments in marketing have actually been developed in conjunction with what are customers have asked us for – more opportunity to network with other customers and business thought leaders.  People want to know how we help other people enable their companies to run better.  It’s all about personalising our brand promises to unique situations and to individuals.

4. What role do you think CLOUD will play in marketing in the next few years?

Cloud is one of the main markets SAP is moving into.  We’ve had our SAP Business byDesign cloud offerings for a few years, signing up over 1,000 customers in 2011, and SAP purchased Right Factors (15 million cloud customers) in Q4 in 2011 for just this reason.  Customers are keen on fast access to new capabilities, and Cloud enables us to supply this.   New innovation enablers, ready in days instead of months meets the needs of that trend of smaller transactions with faster ROI.

5. Where do you seek out industry trends and thought leadership?

I am following a number of CMO’s of the top 30 global brands, they are good at outlining other sources and their own ideas can be gold.  I also find that following Fast Company, Wired and the Economist gives me quick access to breaking ideas around the world, especially in emerging markets.  Finally, I prioritise face-time with our customers.  Whenever I get the chance to meet with our customer executives, I take the chance.  I now have a network across some of the biggest brands we service, and some of the smallest, and I can reach out to them ad hoc for fast market testing of ideas and concepts.  That connection helps me keep our efforts focused on delivering value and enable us to personalise to different customer scenarios.

6. Where do you see the B2B industry headed in the next few years?

Interested customers have to be able to have a full experience of a company’s offerings, without leaving their device.  Notice, I didn’t say “leave their office” because they’re not in offices much these days.  The decision makers in business and government have truly gone mobile.  Mobility devices permeate this market, and people are using them everywhere.  Those devices are the marketplace of the next few years.  People are getting very used to the online experience, and they’re expecting it from their key suppliers.

Ray will be presenting at the upcoming B2B Seminar in February, and will be providing the audience with predictions and key trends to look into for 2012. For more information visit B2B Marketing Seminar.

Ray Kloss is Head of Marketing for SAP Australia.

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