Dec 3, 2013

when the apple does fall far from the tree

Today's story is about apples [b2b kind of apples, to keep my blog topics relevant].

Let's consider that your company sells apples. Say your company was established in a market where the tastiest apples are [almost] exclusively grown in your orchard.

That places your company in a very comfortable position vs. competitors and potential new-comers on the market. Customers have little choice if they are looking for good quality apples - they know you and have to come to you whenever they want their fruit.

Now think that your master-of-apples company expands internationally.

Nov 16, 2013

international marketing: cross cultures model

Let me start this pompous post* on cross cultures worldwide by undermining my credibility: my international marketing experience is not at all THAT international. 

Nevertheless, I'm interested in globalization and worldwide business cultures. Particularly, I was looking to learn about what market approach works depending on the targeted regions or countries.

So I did some reading about the Lewis Cross Culture Model, very interesting tool for international marketing specialists, such as myself. This Model was published in the 90s, but the cultural categories couldn't have changed much since, therefore the recommended behaviours, communication manners and channels remain pretty much the same.

The Lewis model offers a blueprint for cultural analysis and simplifies cultures' categorization. Valid, marketing-applicable conclusions can be drawn from understanding the particularities of each category, as well as recommendations regarding the best way to interact with each typology.

Oct 25, 2013

new to a new market?

OK, maybe this post's title holds too much newness, but when a company expands internationally, there are two types of market situations it can encounter: either the sector is well established & pretty much everyone in that market knows the product, or the company brings a new-to-market kind of service.

The later is the most interesting marketing challenge: how to market your new b2b service and find early adopters. 

Sep 11, 2013

country-of-origin effect in international marketing

Are you aware that, whey your (say Romanian) company's products are judged by a (say German) buyer, your country's reputation plays a role in the decision making process?

Yes, this is another challenging thing about international marketing: you have to be aware of your country's historical or cultural aspects and understand that, although these aspects have nothing to do with your products' quality, they exist in the mind of your foreign client.

Add to that the fact that the clients tend to form a general opinion on the quality and performance of the products originating from a given country based on their previous experiences with other products from that country.

Aug 24, 2013

sales battle cards

In my previous post about competition analysis, I was talking about a system to collect and disseminate information about the company's competitors.

Rather than piling up PDF brochures, Powerpoint presentations or scanned articles originated by the competitors, and have your sales people read through them in order to understand what they might be facing during a sales negotiation, you can collect all this intel in a unique, easy-to-update structure, under the name of Battle Cards.

Aug 12, 2013

don't call us, we'll call you

In business technology buying process, 75% of influencers and 80% of decision-makers said that they are the ones to find vendors (through research) rather than responding to a campaign [source: MarketingSherpa]. Outch.

Which shows without a shadow of a doubt where the marketing effort needs to be invested: your technology company must be visible and found in those channels and places where your prospects could be searching for vendors such as yourself. 

For those active, control-obsessed, results-driven marketers, this might sound terrible. I do many direct marketing campaigns, myself, and expect results from each of these. But if the moment and the path are not in my hands, what else is there?

Actually, lots and lots of harder and smarter work. The outcome that you're after is called Attention.

Jul 16, 2013

standard, simple, global

Standard, simple, global: sounds impossible, doesn't it?

That's my take: there is no standardization in b2b when going global. Just to be clear from the start.

In regard to the global marketing strategies, there are two main questions a company has to answer:
  • Will you standardize your product / service while extending your distribution market?
  • Will you adapt your product / service to each new country? Even create new products, if that's the case, for new markets?
I'm extremely biased towards adaptation or even creating new service from scratch, in the right market circumstances. 

It's clear enough if you read this post about adapting your products for international markets or any other labeled under 'localization'.

But there are merits to the standardization, and I want this point of view present in my blog as well.

Jul 9, 2013

translation, let's not get lost in it

Google Chrome translate feature 

I totally have to praise Google Chrome and the huge progress they brought in overpassing language barriers.

I can't really imagine how things were done prior to this translation feature embedded in Chrome browser; much more expensively, I imagine.

On my side, I like to investigate on my own before committing resources to ordering a study. I couldn't really justify paying study after study just to tell my stakeholders: look, it's not worth pursuing this or that market. I could argue the savings done by not going into the wrong directions, but I actually prefer to pay for documented opinion to confirm my hunch that there's potential in a certain market.

Jul 2, 2013

trust me, I'm a marketer

Having worked in the credit risk management services, I've found out firsthand how difficult marketing of fiduciary services is and what it takes for the company you represent to be taken into consideration as possible supplier.

What I had in front of me was a highly specialized target market, of credit analysts, CFOs, risk managers, the professionals in financial services industry.

Being a start-up, our company was relying on marketing to initiate the conversation with our targeted, specialized audience. We eventually started a good one, after lots of trials and tunings.

May 4, 2013

cold calling: how to book no meetings

I'm sticking around the cold calling topic some more, on how NOT to set up a meeting.

It's verified that, in business-to-business, consultative sales, closing deals is a numbers game that starts with picking up the phone for setting up meetings.

So here is a list of mistakes I did when I started calling to schedule meetings, without any prior training:

Apr 3, 2013

localization in international marketing

The localization is defined, in marketing, as the process of making a product or service more suitable for a particular region or country.

It's important to know that there's more to localization than just the translation of the content and information about the company and its products.

Depending on the target market, localization can go as far as using a whole different marketing mix, e.g. having different positioning of the products.

Mar 12, 2013

how we made our product best on the market

This is a story about a B2B international company entering the Romanian market a while ago, finding a rocky territory, taking the challenge and achieving to produce and market the best product available in its sector - fiduciary B2B services.

You have to know that the raw "material" used by this int'l company to create its product - company data - is found, in Romania, in a diversity of sources, more or less known, accurate, concurring or updated. Ergo the difficulties, later turned opportunities, of creating a complete and coherent product to offer to the market. 

Initially, this company came with a product similar to what the competitors were offering, but soon it stepped out of this "safe" zone and steps were taken in the direction of leadership:

Feb 21, 2013

drivers in brands' internationalization

Today I'm writing about how and where to start developing an international brand from a strong local brand, and which are the main drivers for integrating the international attribute into the brand architecture.

Feb 20, 2013

opposable marketing

We were all taught manners in our commercial relationships; we should not speak badly about competition in front of our clients, but we should differentiate; we should not ransack for competition inside weaknesses, but we should monitor them and stay informed.

Competitive intelligence. Everybody does it, but only few talk about it.

Here's something nobody talks about: how to market substitute products. So I'll call it Opposable Marketing.

Feb 12, 2013

don't judge me [only] by my leads

As this Entrepreneur turned VP said it here, selling is about 3 essential questions:
  • Why Buy Anything?
  • Why Buy Mine?
  • Why Buy Now?
I'd like to spend some time on the Why Buy Now, as I'd like to rehabilitate the shady side of marketing, the one that's not generating direct leads: brand awareness.

Jan 23, 2013

the silent victories

I was gonna wait and build more content before getting to the communication side of marketing, but today I figured out why some successes need to be silent.

I'm in the type of business where references help you sell: software. So I'm always looking to produce press releases announcing new clients, case studies, testimonials, clients' logos uploaded on our websites.

And there's often the opposition I encounter from the sales team: Don't say a word about this client yet. Do not mention this customer name anywhere.

Jan 21, 2013

competitiveness or why awards matter

Almost every medium and large company from relatively competitive industry have a section on their website called "Awards and Prizes".

Awards are a seriously exportable fact regarding the quality of your company & of its products and they can be leveraged in all kinds of marketing communication.

These corporate competitions are typically organized by research companies, media groups, event organizers, non-profit associations or various other organizations.