Rajesh Kumar is a technology industry B2B marketing, channel ecosystem strategist & business professional. His assignments have spanned across brand, demand, communication, media both at the field & regional HQ level in large Multinationals, mid-sized local organizations, and start-ups. Rajesh has worked in multiple emerging market entry, incubation & early growth scenarios besides a bootstrap scenario.
Excerpt From The Vision Board Interview With Mr. Rajesh Kumar.
Based on your diverse experience, how do you see the marketing world getting impacted by technology today by lot of data and automation that is supposed to be driving marketing? Is that really happening in the corporate place?
Yes, I think it will look at it the business overall today, you know, cannot operate without technology. At some level, every business is a technology business, and marketing is a mirror to business or reflects what’s happening in the business. But I would say, compared to many other functions in the organization’s marketers are a bit slower than, you know, I would think they should be. But I look at adoption of Technology across different functions, Marketers Don’t show up in the lead, they are third or fourth, you know, they’re behind Finance for sure, you know, and from the other functions. So yes, I think technology has become imperative for marketers to adopt that much as they know the overall business knowledge has become imperant. I always argue marketing uses technology for, there are lots of applications but they are used for far fewer things they can use. I mean, I still see much lower use of the ample things like, you know, artificial intelligence, or even Automation in marketing then, then marketers do. Because marketers are responsible for overall customer experience today. And technology has a lot more impact at the front end, the point which business meets the customer then traditionally, everyone thinks of backend first. So, that’s where I think the frontier for billing is, yes, for all and a lot of adoption but I think there is lot of scope to take it further.
We see that some culture of Technology adoption and investment into technology in larger Enterprises. But when it comes to smbs, do you see the same culture also kind of transcending to the smb sector as well, what do you see they are still lacking in some ways?
I think the pandemic has accelerated a lot of Technology adoption in all methods of business and across all Sizes of business, because the businesses which traditionally thought of, always comes up, you know, people being on the ground, but forced to think how to run Business without a manual handoff.
And how do we see this in the specifically in B2B companies, where lot of B2B companies traditionally we have seen that they were investing in exhibitions and PR and direct sales or direct marketing, some form of direct marketing. But with the use of technology and automation, how do you see this specifically, the B2B marketing, transformation with technology?
So, I think it kind of, you know, made us go to the drawing board and say, well, If you think of a typical, you know, why did people go to a large event or why people went to conference. They wanted to meet more prospects, they wanted to get their story out. It made them rethink, what is the story? Who do I want to get it out to? And then how do I work in this new environment to get it out effectively? And I would give credit, you know, also the clients and prospects have opened up. They also realized they just didn’t have the option to meet people in person, and they had to get things done. So, they opened up as well. And once people started realizing the amount of time they’ve saved in commuting, amount of and they say potential in travel and the virtual events, hangouts broke the barrier of multiple geographies. And the last thing I would say, somehow digital got associated with non-human touch, I think of digital can be human digital can be, you know, sort of emotional touch oriented and so on. Doesn’t fully replace sort of the human connection, but it can do a lot of it. I think as things open up, w e will find a new balance of human and non-human touches, where digital will play an increasing role. But it will definitely not take away the physical connection part.
So, my question, Rajesh, I think you raised a very important point of the human face of an organization, the emotional part in decision-making. And, you know, so far, we have seen that the emotional part played a very important role in the B2C market but in the B2B marketing side, we see that there is a high involvement product or a service, there are multiple decision makers, and the impact of buying is very huge, not just on a group but in the entire Organisation. So, decisions have so far being very very rational. But do you see that there is a scope of emotional marketing, or what part emotions play here in B2B Market?
: I am a believer that emotions are as important, If not more, in B2B marketing. You know, with or without the digital and you know before the pandemic as well. I don’t think that has changed. If you look at a typical B2B versus B2C, in B2B, the complexity is higher, the decision-making is the more complex because the product offering is complex. In B2B, if you made a large decision, that invest million dollars in software, it doesn’t work, you can’t reverse it so easily. And usually, the decisions are for very long term, because you start with something, then you deploy it and you grow in it. Unless there is really a reason, people don’t change. And if you mention decision makers, decision is complex, but I don’t feel it is devoid of pushed. You know, the decision maker is practically putting their professional success on the line. They make a great decision, their career gets a boost, if it’s a bad decision, you know, it also comes in the way.
You raised the point about trust. And I think when you talk about trust, is it the trust of the product, or is it the trust of the person behind the product, the brand? I think, in one of your earlier interviews I read, you were talking about this part also that the CXO and people behind the brand, that face is very important, that also builds a trust for the brand. They would like to, you know, hear more about it is?
It’s a good question you ask. The question is, what is the Brand made of? In B2C, typically, there is the corporate brand, and then there are multiple categories and visual product brands under it. And in many cases, people know only the brand that they use. You know, brand of chocolate may not so much brand of the company. But in B2B, usually it is the company is the brand, there aren’t most cases sub-brands under it. So, in that sense, the principles don’t change. But a B2B brand is expressed a lot more in interaction with the people from the company. The way they present their business Story, the way they present their case, you know, starting from simple things like a PowerPoint template to how they receive emails and so on. So, you know so them to be, you know, be their authentic selves and be aligned with what brand represents and that comes in every interaction is very important. That’s why I think of every employee of a B2B company and any company actually is their brand. You know, that’s how people read the brand, not by what we tell them with 20 advertisements or other creative things. If they don’t align, then actually it works other way around, because then people see it as, you know, not authentic. And that’s not a good place to be.